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Showing posts from April, 2010

iPhone travel coolness

During a recent visit to the Czech Republic, I put my iPhone 3GS to good use as a general tool for blogging, notetaking, translation and navigation. Some of these uses are obvious; the compass is invaluable for getting your bearings when lost in Prague's maze of tiny streets, and the Maps application is very useful as long as you have connectivity. Unfortunately, there is no Orange service in the Czech Republic so I had to rely on the numerous wifi hotspots located around Prague city centre. Fortunately most of these are genuinely free, and do not require the user to log in to a service. Just connect and go. For translation, I used iSpeak Czech. The translation engine is Google Translate, so real-time translation without a network connection is impossible. There is facility to perform translations and save them, though, and the speech synthesis requires no network connection. In fact, it's possible to just type phrases into the relevent text box and press the speech butt

Statistically oblivious

The Liberal Democrats are popular at the moment. Whether it's for their policies, or just because the people tire of the Labour/Tory tug-o-war that's being going on for over 6 decades, there's something in the air this election. Unfortunately a basic grasp of voting seems to still elude the bovine masses. Yougov released an article on the growing popularity of the LibDems . In it, voters intending to vote LibDem are reported to be 33% which is a sizeable amount, but not enough for an absolute majority. The scary part is in the next sentence. Just under half the country (49%) would vote for the Liberal Democrats if they were seen to have a reasonable chance of winning. So let me get this straight; people would vote for the LibDems if they thought they were going to win, but against them if not? The wrong-headedness of this behaviour boggles my mind. I honestly cannot fathom this line of thinking at all. If they like LibDem and want their policies, how on earth is voting agai

The world feels much bigger today

Since most European airspace has been shut down due to the giant ash cloud from Eyjafjallajökull the world has started to feel much bigger. I'm supposed to be flying out to Prague next week. I might be able to, or I might not. There's no way of knowing. It sounds like something out of a speculative SF story; a natural occurence renders the technology humans rely on for everything from food transportation to holidays useless. The vast distances travelled on a daily basis by thousands upon thousands of people suddenly comes into sharp relief. Of course, there are alternative ways to get places in the world. Europe is accessible by ferry, train and even by car. It would be possible to get to Prague in a few days by taking the ferry and driving through Belgium and Germany, but it's a far cry from the couple of hours it would take to fly there. The "long haul" 12 hour flight to California suddenly becomes a week long expedition. When the main obstacle to internat

Something is afoot - Opera Mini on iPhone

Strange things are afoot. 20 days ago, Opera submitted the iPhone version of Opera Mini , their mobile browser, to the Apple AppStore. 20 days later, it was actually approved, despite previous browser technologies and the like being rejected for "duplicating iPhone functionality". Strange indeed. Having used Opera Mini before on many different devices, both touchscreen and traditional keypad based, I have long appreciated its raw speed, excellent rendering engine and intuitive navigation controls. But can it stand up to Safari on iPhone for browsing excellence? The answer: sort of. The Good Like its predecessors, Opera Mini for iPhone is blazingly fast. Using Opera's own proxies, web content is compressed to within an inch of its life to reduce bandwidth requirements, and the browser itself renders what it downloads so fast that the likes of Safari just can't keep up. Even on a GPRS only connection it is almost as fast as Safari on 3G for largely text based page