Friday, 20 August 2010

I don't want to be wired for sound

A bloke from Sky knocked on my door the other day asking me if I'd like to part with eleventy billion pounds a month for the privilege of watching more rubbish on television.

Needless to say I turned him down. There are a couple of reasons for this: Firstly I had Sky a few years ago and it was rubbish. Out of the 66 million channels available only 3 or 4 are ever worth watching and you usually have to pay extra for those anyway. I already have 33 million useless channels courtesy of freeview and, as far as I can tell, Sky is just like Freeview. Without the free bit.

The other reason I don’t want Sky is because I don’t particularly want to add any more to the spaghetti junction behind my TV. The last time I ventured into that jungle was 2 years ago at Christmas when I hooked up the Wii. I went missing for a month.

So far I have wires for the TV itself, wires for the aerial, wires for the DVD player, wires for a separate NTSC Region 1 DVD player, wires that connect the DVD players to the TV, wires for the Wii and wires for the Wii remote chargers. There are about a thousand of the damn things that connect the surround sound system to various holes in the TV and 5 different speakers around the room. Then there are the dozens of leads lying around the plug socket for my iPhone charger and my girlfriend’s phone charger and the lead to the digital camera so that we can view our holiday snaps on the television.

It is the same problem with computers as well. There is the wire for the unit, the wire that connects the unit to the monitor, one for the printer, one for the scanner, one for the mouse, one for the keyboard… you get the picture.

Of course there is wireless technology but even a wireless mouse needs a wire connecting the remote to the PC. It’s not really wireless is it? And have you tried using a wireless mouse and keyboard? They are great until the batteries die. They don’t give you any warning either. The cursor will suddenly freeze on the page somewhere, meaning that you can’t do anything apart from leg it down the shops and buy some spare batteries.

I use a laptop at home now. Not just because they take up less space and are generally more convenient but because there are fewer wires involved. With things like iPhones, iPADs, Kindles and all manner of wireless gadgets being released now my hope is that wires will become a thing of the past sooner rather than later. The technology is already there to do away with wires altogether but for some reason it’s not catching on fast enough.

Of course now we have these eco mentalists telling everybody that all this wireless technology is giving us brain cancer and killing all the bees. I think this is going to be an even bigger problem than solving the dilemma of batteries running out in wireless keyboards. Speaking of which, I better finish writing now before my keyboard runs out of ba

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Keep the noise down please

There are some things in this world that just annoy me. Take Jamie Oliver for instance. He is a perfectly nice man; as well as single-handedly solving the world’s obesity problem he is such a normal down-to-earth kind of guy. And I still want to punch him in the face. I can’t explain it. There is just something about his face that makes me want to take a hammer to it.

This bizarrely brings me on to the subject of adverts. More specifically adverts on websites. Now, I use Google AdSense on my websites and I’ve made quite a few quid from them over the years. Generally I don’t have a problem with normal banner ads and content driven text ads that just sit there quietly on the page. I have occasionally seen one that takes my fancy and clicked on it.

However, some adverts do annoy me. I’m sure all of you have experienced those annoying pop-up ads. Everybody hates them and they have been the bane of the Internet for years. So much so that pop-up blockers have become standard in all browsers now. But just when we thought we were safe from these annoying intrusive ads, some idiot decided it would be a good idea to invent video adverts.

Again, the basic concept is OK. If a video advert just sits there innocently on the page and gives you the option to play it then fine. What I hate are these annoying videos that just auto play. Apart from scaring the living daylight’s out of me sometimes, they just irritate me. When I view a website it is because I’m interested in the content on the site. I am not interested in seeing an advert. That is why I have a mute button on my TV remote than you very much.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Using Amazon might make you go blind

There is an age-old tradition of parents telling porkies to their children to stop them doing certain things. You all know the kind of lies I’m talking about: “Don’t pull faces because if the wind changes, you’ll stay like that”, “If you watch too much telly you will get square eyes” and the well known “stop playing with it or you’ll go blind”.

Now, I never believed any of these little white lies my mum used to tell me, especially because I had perfect eyesight throughout my teens. However, when I was in my early twenties I suddenly went blind. My eyesight literally vanished overnight. Since then I’ve had to put up with wearing horrible bits of Perspex on my face.

I put it down to the fact that I started working in the web business around that time and sitting in front of a computer screen for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week just put too much strain on my eyes.

This is something that concerns me about these new Kindle things. For those of you who don’t know, the Kindle is a new device that has been developed by Amazon to display e-books and other forms of digital media.

They are already being touted as a replacement for the traditional paperback but will it catch on? Although I am a great one for encouraging technological developments I have to admit to having reservations about these things. Firstly there is the inevitable question mark over eye strain. I personally find it difficult to read too much on a computer because the glare from the screen makes me go cross-eyed. Then there is the problem about power. Assuming they use rechargeable batteries, it is going to be a pain the backside if you are half way through reading an exciting chapter and the screen blacks out.

Given that everything is going down the electronic route now and more and more data is being stored using cloud computing I guess it is inevitable that the Kindle will soon replace books completely. Still, there is something pleasant about holding a big fat paperback book that I will personally miss if the Kindle takes off. Plus I find the old traditional ink on paper much easier on my eyes.

Of course the loss of my eyesight could equally be as a result of reading the old fashioned books. It was around the same time I started working in the web industry that I started reading novels – several a week in fact. This would make my argument about screen glare null and void.

This leaves just one plausible explanation as to why I lost my perfect vision. Maybe they aren’t white lies after all. Perhaps my mum was right all along.

Check out Amazon's Kindle