Posts Tagged ‘Technology’


January 19, 2009

partner tracker

If you ever brave the murky depths of cable channels, you’ll find yourself swamped with hundreds of tiny advertising nuggets. These aren’t proper ads. They’re visual and sonic assaults on the mind designed to tattoo a brand on your brain with deft swiftness. You fnd yourself remembering the product and the company name completely involuntarily – usually items which are of no use to you whatsoever, taking up valuable brain space you’d alloted to be filled later on in life with the works of Heidegger, Kant or Linsey Dawn McKenzie.

Jamster, the mobile ringtone, wallpaper, gimmick and pornography augmentation service, indulge in such examples of advertising. Their marketing output is the equivalent of an infectious sales-rottweiler, dribbling on the sidelines of MTV2, ready to pounce when the ads come on and happy to sink teeth into your temples when you’re buried to the hilt in the middle of their ten minute ad breaks.

The ad that got me scratching my head and shouting at the television set (again – I must curb this habit) came on this morning without warning, and was attempting to sell an X Ray mechanism that you can apparently download onto your mobile and, as a result, see through your hand and, at a push, LADIES’ PANTS using its incredible machinations.

I am an adult and am aware that this is guff. Though if I were a child, I might not. I invested in some X Ray Specs from a ‘Smiffy’s Joke Shop’ catalogue (anyone remember them?) when I was pre-10, so if I were a nipper now and blessed with a cell phone – they seem to dish them out at birth these days – I’d probably waste a fiver or however much they sell this shit for on this useless, unamusing and rip-off rubbish.

Even more disturbing is the advert for a mobile phone ‘Partner Tracker’.

Apparently this enables the user to find out where their other half is using mobile technology. So if you’ve jumped to the conclusion that your beloved is up to no good, you can find out if they’ve gone where they’ve said they’ve gone as you sit alone, drinking own-brand gin in your bedsit. Healthy!

So, jealous lovers, if you’re an untrusting brute or you feel you’ve been saddled with a two-bit, cheating swine who may be making a cuckold of you, for three or four quid you can use this application to ruin your life whether your suspicions are confirmed or not.


Except it’s not brilliant. The small print sadly gives away the cold hard facts… and they make for saddening reading. I’ve been duped.

This software is for entertainment purposes only and does not require GPS or a network connection. It doesn’t locate your real whereabouts but nevertheless it is a fun application

I’m sure it is, Jamster. I’m sure it’s a lorry load of neverending fun, you shameless, no-good shysters.

BBC iPlayer

October 17, 2007

2 pint overload 

Since broadband was available for a reasonable price throughout the UK, people have been downloading films over it. My friend downloaded a wobbly copy of Episode 1 of Star Wars months before it came out over here and got to discover that Jar-Jar Binks was shit way before anyone else. That was in 1999. I’m saying this so that you can get an idea of how behind the times ‘Auntie’ is in launching a program downloading service.

The BBC have realised the internet exists and now let you watch shows through BBC iPlayer. The sign up process is confusing, but provided you have at least a PhD in Computing and the sort of relentless optimism that got Haig through the Somme, you should be able to manage it. Your computer will be filled with a bilious slob of a program that will swallow up resources and works very slowly.

I bet at this point you’re thinking ‘well at least I’ll be able to watch my favourite programs whenever I want’. Well, no, you can’t. You can watch a tiny selection of programs for about seven days and then they are gone forever. Thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded you don’t get to watch the programs you have already paid for whenever you like because the production companies have realised this might dent their sales of compilation DVDs at Christmas. So all the programs are limited.

The searching is clunky and slow, you can’t download a series in one go, or even a few episodes from a series. You have to find a program, click the first one on the list, go into the item of it and click download. Then you have to go back to the menu, find the program again and click the second one on the list and then go into it’s page to download it.

It doesn’t even realise that if you always download Mock the Week, you might want to be able to ‘subscribe’ to it and get it whenever a new one comes out, as Podcasts have done for a while. Is that too much to ask?

Oh and it’s just full of crap at the moment, the image above is an actual screen shot from their ‘comedy’ selection. Provided you like watching Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps you will be delighted. What makes this worse is that there are naughty websites on the internet who provide this service illegally and they do it much better. You can be sat at your desk at work at watch classic episodes of Dr Who or the second season of Heroes with only the occasional danger of adverts for ‘hot girls in Slough’ flashing up.

The BBC does some things brilliantly. In my head the license fee I pay is split between Radio 4, the BBC website and the cast of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.


October 3, 2007


Are you registered on Facebook? I bet you are. Or were. If not, you’re probably not quite sure what it is. Or are very wise.

One of the above.

It’s a weird thing, Facebook. I find it’s the modern day equivalent of the executive toys yuppies used to have on their desks in the 80s, weird constructions made out of massive ball bearings and strings. Strangely absorbing but completely useless. Facebook is fleetingly amusing but it’s also totally pointless in so, so many ways.

Firstly, Facebook’s Scrabble application, Scrabulous. Definitely a good point. Nowadays, in a quiet moment, I can fire up Scrabulous and lay a few tiles on the old board. It’s important not to get too many games on the go though, or this can actually take up entire afternoons as you realise you’ve landed yourself in an interwebular tournament and find yourself searching your mind (and google, if you are a pathetic cheat) for a word containing ‘Q’ that doesn’t require a ‘U’. I don’t actually do that though, as I am a decent, upstanding individual. In small doses this is all excellent larks, but spend more than half an hour at a time at it and you become little more than a hapless scrabjunkie.

Next up – photos. If you’re an exhibitionist you can store as many photos as you want on facebook. Stick up photos of your wedding day, your birthday party, your Facebook-arranged school reunion, your christening, your new baby, your old baby, your grandpa. I’ve seen examples of all of these. Personally I only stick up photos of myself wearing false moustaches or pulling stupid faces. Family photos belong in a photo album I find, not up online for the whole world to gawp at. It’s bizarre finding yourself looking at photos of balding school friends on their wedding days, or holding weird shaped babies. It’s unnatural at best, voyeuristic at worst.

Occasionally photos of me from the past have been ‘tagged’, meaning other people have pictures of you that they attach a tag to so others are notified of it’s display. This is often mortifying, as they are usually pictures in which you have inexplicably gained or lost two or three stone and look like a confused skeleton or a drunk and hirsute Matt Lucas. It’s not pleasant.

Another facebook feature is the wall – a startlingly obnoxious way to have a conversation in which two people can publically have a conversation on one another’s profile. You receive an email saying ‘Peter Pim (or whoever) has written on your wall!’ which immediately makes you think someone’s vandalised one of your internal organs. Then you see that the message is from Facebook, log in and write on their wall in retaliation. As the conversations are public they are either so bland and dreary that nothing good comes of them or, at best, you might occasionally get in a public slagging match, which sadly usually tends to peter out before anyone gets too insulted. No gossip can be shared and no solid drinking appointments can be made as this is essentially a public forum, so really, there’s no point using it at all. Imagine if everytime you received a text message a massive neon sign appeared displaying the content of what you’re reading beside your confused face. You’d be slightly embarassed I’ll wager.

Sometimes people see fit to draw graffiti on your ‘wall’. This is more fun than writing you a message as they generally only use it to insult you or vandalise your profile with surreal (and rubbish) artwork. I recently worked out how to do quite intricate drawings on graffiti, then worked out how many hours I’d spent making those intricate drawings, then had a breakdown as I realised how much of my life I had spent vandalising an umimaginably tiny portion of an incomprehensibly minute fraction of the internet.

What other functions have we got on there? Well there’s all this crap like zombie, vampire, aquarium, garden and fortune cookie applications, all totally arbitary and nonsensical – designed for children or people who still have soft toys on their bed past the age of 10. There’s also a bizarre ‘poke’ function where you virtually ‘poke’ people, nudging them for no other reason than you like annoying other human beings no matter how the receiver feels about it.

There’s the ‘ask a question’ application that is pure Ronseal. You ask a question of all your friends. It’s sick and wrong, but I do use this from time to time, making such flippant queries of my associates as ‘what’s the best bar/pub snack’ or ‘which is better: the north or south of england’. There are no excuses for this other than the fact it passes a handful of minutes and takes the mind off paperwork.

Facebook also allows you to note what books you’re reading, what music you’ve been listening to and all the films you’ve been watching. Sadly, this is quite dangerous, as the human impulse is to boast, or at least act economically with the truth. Instead of being honest and saying that they watched Rocco’s Anal Winnebago and read Heat whilst on the bog, most people stick up art house flicks and trendy/classic books. If the truth was genuinely out there, we’d all be very disappointed with one another.

The fundamental problem with Facebook and many other social networking sites is the question of ‘friendship’. You’re obliged to ‘add’ friends or be added by them. ‘Friends’ is a completely flexible term in the virtual world. It starts off being the friends you interact with on a day-to-day basis. Then family becomes involved. Then old friends from college you’re glad you resumed contact with. Then school friends you probably would never have resumed contact with. Then people you once met at a party when you were 15. Then people you shared a paddling pool with when you hadn’t yet developed memory function.

It’s not a natural thing to have contact with all these distant memories and might actually be quite unhealthy, I reckon. The odd sociopath might be able to use his new divine powers to wreak terrible vengeance on former lovers or schoolground enemies. I’ll admit in the past I’ve looked over the odd bully’s profile and been tempted to send them a spiteful message, which is the equivalent of turning up to a school reunion with a knuckleduster. It’s a pathetic impulse and demonstrates that Facebook has the potential for triggering MASS MURDER.

My intention, from hereon in, is to start the ball rolling and head back to sanity by doing the following, in this order:

  • Deleting people from school I only vaguely remember and don’t speak to, even through facebook.
  • Deleting people from school I wouldn’t otherwise be back in contact with (unless they are easy to beat at scrabble).
  • Deleting people from college I wouldn’t otherwise be back in contact with (unless they are easy to beat at scrabble).
  • Deleting people from University I wouldn’t otherwise be back in contact with (unless they are easy to beat at scrabble).
  • Deleting people I know currently but don’t particularly like.
  • Deleting people I know currently and like.
  • Deleting everyone else.
  • Deleting myself.

Hopefully none of this will affect what happens in the real world.



September 28, 2007


There are no adverts around for this at the time of going to press (clicking save), but there is a hell of a lot of the old ‘word of mouth’ marketing going about. Some say they’re brilliant and live up to the whispered hype. Others say they’re not all they could be, but are still pretty great. I say they’re rubbish, and I haven’t even mucked about with one yet.

I own an iPod. It is now dead after two years’ usage. One day it broke down and, though it had survived a few crashes in the past and only required a quick reformatting, this time it couldn’t withstand the pressure and buckles everytime I try to save it’s sorry little arse.

So I’m buying a new one, foolishly. I’m buying it today in fact – one of those iPod ‘classics’ that hold 80 gigabytes of shit. Weirdly, it only costs 160 quid. Compared to the 180 quid I shelled out for my loved one in April for a Nano that has only 8 gigs, it seems to me that Apple’s pricing system rips people off left right and centre.

Before I bury myself in a geeky mess of compu-speak, let’s have a think about why the iPhone is bound to be shit.

  • According to reports, you have to set up an account with O2 before you can get one. O2 are rip-off bastards.
  • I like having my phone separate to my music. It means that if I get mugged and have left my mp3 player at home then I won’t have lost everything of value in one fould swoop. iPhone is all your precious eggs in one basket.
  • Every mugger, for six months at least, will want one. Or a few. They will be your average mugger’s holy grail.
  • The touchscreen thing would have been appealing a decade ago, maybe seen on something like Tomorrow’s World. In actual fact it’ll be incredibly impractical. I have enough problems with my phone calling people of its own free will in the middle of the night and leaving them voicemails which are made up of me shouting at people in pubs, from a distance, over garbled music and the sound of smashing glass.
  • If the iPhone has a cover, disregard last bullet point.
  • They’re bloody expensive.
  • Every trendy sod will have one. Actually, even worse, because all the trendy sods probably already have one, the slightly late sods will jump on the bandwagon the moment they go on sale, so they will be absolutely everywhere. Every conversation you hear will be about them – on buses, in pubs, in old people’s homes, on the moon, in your coal-shed.
  • Even worse, people will get them out and show them off to other people who have one anyway, and both parties will explode in a paradoxical miasma of pointlessness.
  • Actually, that last one might be a ‘pro’ rather than a ‘con’.
  • Imagine the ringtone nightmare when people can use music from their iTunes library as a ringtone. Or play it at will on the bus. Our ears will burn to music we can’t stand.
  • Christ, I hate the world. I hate people.
  • I hate change and I hate the future.
  • I am turning into a bitter old man.
  • I’m 30 in a year. What happened to my youth?
  • Where’s me shopping?
  • Who am I?

NB: Some of the features described and slagged off might not actually exist – the author couldn’t be arsed to read an iPhone spec before writing.