Archive for the ‘Links to my Articles’ Category

The start of another Eurovision season means a new podcast

Monday, September 11th, 2017

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Imagine if the only football you watched was the FA Cup Final in May? If the only baseball game of interest was the World Series. If the only American Football match was the Superbowl. And imagine the delight if you found out that there was a season’s worth of action…

Well, it’s time for the Eurovision Song Contest season to start. Sure, everyone will tune in on Saturday May 12th for the Grand Final, but there’s a world of music before that point. IT;s one I follow with the team at ESC Insight, and the first podcast of the season is now online.

Its going to run fortnightly for a few weeks, so don’t worry about being overwhelmed, but it’s a great place to jump on board this year’s fun.

You can follow the ESC Insight podcast through its RSS feed, or subscribe in iTunes.

From The Sublime… To The Cliffhanger

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

I know there are a million ‘media/sci-fi/genre‘ podcasts out there, but here’s another reason to listen and subscribe to ‘From The Sublime‘… I’m making an appearance this fortnight!

FTS (because every good show needs to have a good abreviation) is hosted by Iain Hepburn, and works on a magazine-style format, with discrete topics introduced and presented as monologues from Hepburn and his “finely honed fighting force.” Yes, it’s ‘Nationwide for Nerds’, with just a little bit more attitude than Frank Bough.

Anyway, Hepburn asked if I would take a swing at a topic for the current episode, and I decided to look at the staple of genre television the cliffhanger, taking in the current season of Doctor Who, some of the classic series, Star Trek The Next Generation, and a few easter eggs hiding in the script (there’s a free badge for the first person to name them all).

It’s been fun being able to concentrate on ‘just the audio’ for once, and not worry about long term goals, website, promotion, or anything else. Let me know what you think!

Listen to the full show on the website, alternatively subscribe to FTS in iTunes or by RSS to get every episode.

The Edinburgh Fringe Is Nearly Here

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Back in August 2005 I started a podcast around the Edinburgh Fringe. It’s now August 2015, and I’m still doing it. The Edinburgh Fringe Show is coming up to the boil, with blog posts, preview podcasts, and diary entries, before the daily on-ehour show kicks off next week on Monday 10th.

Head over to to keep up to date with all the fun of the Fringe.

The PSP is leaving the Japanese train station

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

As Sony retire the PSP in Japan, I look back at one of my favourite PSP franchises. To me, Densha De Go was the PSP.

I’ve moved on to the PS Vita now — that was a Day Zero purchase on the strength of the PSP system, and again the long-lasting games are the ones that attract me (notably another Need for Speed, in this case Most Wanted, and Little Big Planet). But if there was one game (indeed franchise) that I think of when the PSP is mentioned, it’s Densha De Go.

Read on at

Reviewing the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet

Monday, May 26th, 2014

Sony continue to iterate their Android line-up to good effect. I reviewed the Xperia Z2 Tablet over the weekend, and while owners of the first Z Tablet don’t need to be looking yet for an upgrade, anyone looking to the market for a new ten-inch Android tablet should seriously consider this tablet.

…every piece of hardware is about compromise, and Sony has made different decisions to Samsung, Amazon, and Apple with the Xperia Z2 Tablet. Those decisions (go for a thin design, focus on media consumption, and beef up the IP55 and IP58 protection) have created a distinctive tablet range in the Z series. There’s not enough here that would give any owners of the Xperia Z Tablet a solid reason to upgrade, this is very much an iterative design.

If you are on the lookout for a new Android tablet and one of your key considerations is power and specifications, then the Z2 Tablet has to be considered. It’s quick in operation, it’s light enough to not be a burden when traveling, it has good battery life, and the lower resolution is more than compensated by the vivid colors and fast response times.

The full review is at Forbes.

Reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S5

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

I’ve spent some time with the Samsung’s Galaxy S5 (and the Gear 2 smartwatch), and the three-part review can be found over on Forbes.

Last year’s Galaxy S4 felt a safe bet of a device. It continued Samsung’s smartphone plans, and the familiarity helped the sales. Iterating the Galaxy S5 was the easy option that would ensure nobody’s job was at risk. Like a Ford pick-up truck, this smartphone is a workhorse that gets the job done. That approach trades the impact of a fashionable and cutting edge device, it trades away the idea that you are an innovator and working at the edge of the hardware envelope, and it trades away the ‘must have’ status for guaranteed sales from people looking to make a ‘safe’ choice of smartphone.

The Galaxy S4 was clearly a safe device. The Galaxy S5 continues that impression, but one year later I was expecting more from the hardware and the design. Instead the S5 has a few more gimmicks that don’t appreciably add any value to the handset.

It’s still going to sell like hotcakes, and it’s able to do pretty much anything developers and consumers will ask of the handset, but the Galaxy name no longer means cutting edge or definitive in terms of Android devices.

Read on for the S5 hardware, S5 software, and Gear 2 smartwatch over on Forbes.

If there are smartwatches, there are featurewatches. Meet the Touch Time

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Just as your smartphones had some competition with features phones and their limited apps, longer battery life, and in many cases better designs, so the smartwatches of the world have the oncoming storm of the featurewatches. Starting with the Phosphor Touch Time:

Just like the feature phone, the Touch Time stands out against a field of smartwatches thanks to a limited but focused set of applications. Through these applications, and the hardware in the watch, the idea of a smartwatch is implied. The capacitive touch-screen, as well as contributing to the name, also allows a smartwatch like UI to be employed. Switching between the top level screens is accomplished by a swipe across the screen to either the right or the left; app selection is through a tap on the screen; and switching through views in each individual application is accomplished with either an upwards or downwards swipe.

The UI is consistent across the seven applications, the settings screen, and the clock faces. That’s important in a small piece of consumer technology, so congratulations to Phosphor for focusing on the UI to enable this consistency

Read more of my thoughts at Forbes.

Seven days of Apple action in my latest Forbes column

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

Users flocking to iOS 7, teenagers ready to spend $350 on an iWatch, US market share continues to rise, paperwork from the patent case, product predictions, Lightroom Mobile, Sir Jony Ive’s collection of workers, and Facebook is pushing their Messenger app.  Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many things that happened around Apple over the last seven days.

Apple Loop continues on Forbes. This week’s round up is ready to read….

I feel a great freemium disturbance in The Force

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

What the world needs is another poorly implemented collectible card game on a mobile phone, with far too many freemium elements grafted on top of it. But it’s okay, because this one has a Star Wars theme…

Er, no. See my review of Star Wars: Assault Team on All About Windows Phone for the reasons against.

My Apple highlights from the last seven days

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

I;ve been keeping an eye on Forbes’ weekly Apple column, ‘Apple Loop‘,  over the last few weeks. This week’s column covers a number of areas, including the ‘honestly we don’t know if it’s an Apple Store or not’ on Princes Street here in Edinburgh.

The iPhone 6 screen size is debated online, Microsoft Office arrives on the iPad, staff are being sought for the iWatch, Mavericks reaches 40%, what is happening with the sapphire production, diversity in emojis, iBeacons at MLB parks, and the secret Scottish Apple store plans are a little less secret.Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many things that happened around Apple over the last seven days.

Read this week’s Apple Loop over on Forbes.

Announcing the 7th SXSW Baby Social Breakfast

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Okay, so a little bit last minute, but hey, isn’t that the Southby way? Now that I’ve made it to Austin and caught up with the rest of the  SXSW Baby! team, everyone has been asking if we’re organising our regular breakfast on the Saturday morning of Interactive at Magnolia Cafe (South Congress), I guess it’s time to make it official.

This year’s ‘SXSW Social Breakfast‘ will be on Saturday March 8th, starting at 8am at Magnolia Cafe on South Congress. Everyone is welcome, and the SXSW Baby! team will be there so make sure to say hi!

A big thank you as always to the staff at Magnolia, who’ll be opening up the patio area early for the Social Breakfast so you can all mingle, meet old friends, make new ones, and set yourself up for the rest of the day. If you’re keen to get back to the Convention Center, most folk are finished by nine and there’s a local bus that will take us all back to town in time for the first morning sessions.

You can RSVP on Facebook.

The SXSW Music Sampler for 2014 is now available

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Over on SXSW Baby!, the annual 80 track sampler of the SXSW Music Festival has just been posted. Covering a wide range of musical styles, sounds, genres, and performers all playing in Austin this week and next, it brings together YouTube videos, Soundcloud clips, and other media in one handy file for you to unzip and pop on your current ‘device with an MP3 player’.

DOWNLOAD the SXSW Baby! “Best of SXSW 2014″ sampler link (314 Mb)

I wanted to create some great moments when listening to the songs, to have the music flow into each other, to have sequences that would allow you to both dip in and out of the sampler, or stick it on a five hour playlist (which should just about reach from the TSA screening at your local airport to the reception desk of your hotel – or twice through if you’re flying from Europe).

If the eighty tracks feels too much for you, then you can break it down to eight ten-track playlists.

  • Welcome to SXSW (Tracks 1-10)
  • The Second Bite Sounds Just As Nice (Tracks 11-20)
  • Chill Out And Kick Back (Tracks 21-30)
  • The Music Of America (Tracks 31-40)
  • Foot On The Amplifier (Tracks 41-50)
  • The Wonderful World of Music (Tracks 51-60)
  • Turn On The Electrics (Tracks 61-70)
  • We Hope It Never Ends (Tracks 71-80)

If you’re not sure, here’s the deal. Listen to the first ten tracks. I’m confident that not only will this give you a great hit of SXSW Music, but you’ll want to listen to the rest of the sampler.

Oh and our 2014 performers in full?

Adam Arcuragi, Ages and Agesm Air Traffic Controller, American Authors, The Apache Relay, Band of Skulls, Barcelona, Basia Bulat, The Belle Brigade, Black Books, Blacklist Royals, Boy & Bear, Bring Me The Horizon, Caroline Rose, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Cello Fury, Charli XCX, The Crookes, David Ramirez, The Devil Makes Three, East Cameron Folkcore, Elle King, Ezra Furman, Gabby Young and Other Animals, Good for Grapes, The Griswolds, Heymoonshaker, Hollis Brown, Honeyblood, Hozier, Hunter Hunted, James Bay, Jeetta, Judith Hill, July Talk, Kashmere Stage Band, Katie Herzig, Kill it Kid, Kongos, Kyle Andrews, Leif Vollebeck, Lincoln Durham, Lions in the Street, Little Daylight, London Grammar, The Lonely Wild, Los Lonely Boys, Magic Man, Mandolin Orange, Matrimony, Mia Dyson, Mighty Oaks, MisterWivers, Moon Taxi, Neulore, Nonono, Only Real, Pockets, Poolside, Quiet Company, Saintseneca, San Fermin, Shelby Earl, Skream, Sleeping At Your Door, Social Studies, Streets of Laredo, The Strypes, Talib Kweli, Timber Timbre, Tinariwen, Tom Easton, Typhoon, The Unlikley Candidates, Vnace Joy, Wardell, The Whigs, Wild Party, and The Wilderness of Manitoba.

Flappy Bird disappears, but Google’s mobile advertising inventory will grow

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Now that everyone on the planet knows that Flappy Bird was earning the author $50,000 a day (that’s set in stone, no matter what the numbers say), every developer is going to try and replicate that success. Not the big boys, but the bedroom coders and the hobbyists will think that ‘the next title’ will be the one to make it big.

And they’ll carry on churning out countless ad-supported games that bring in maybe $100 in total for a ridiculously low per hour rate for the developer.

In the meantime , Google slices a significant percentage off the top of every single banner space. For them it’s not a $100 game, it’s an aggregation game for ad inventory on mobile. The next million or seven will be distributed around millions of developers, while Google reaps the rewards of a ‘success myth’ that sound remarkably like the old ‘record label / new talent’ days.

Coding really is the new Rock and Roll.

Another commentator notes the ‘Normandy’ name and the hidden message to Microsoft from Nokia

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

Charles Arthur at The Guardian pitches an interesting idea to Microsoft’s new CEO. Drop Windows Phone and fork Android.

Windows Phone was a wonderful project, but it was too late; the benefits of integration across handset, tablet and desktop simply haven’t appeared. The vast majority of people who use a desktop PC don’t use a Windows smartphone, and there’s no chance of that changing any time soon – or ever, actually.

AOSP offers Microsoft the chance to remake its mobile strategy so that it exploits all the strengths of its most bitter rival – it’s free, widely available – and grab mobile developer interest. An all-out war between Microsoft and Google using the Android platform would be absolutely fascinating; both would be pressed on their strengths and weaknesses. For Microsoft, presently a distant third in this race, it could be the answer it needs.

Sounds remarkably like one of my editorials last month at Forbes, arguing that Nokia’s leaked Normandy handset running a variant of the Android Open Source Project, should be seen to completion by Microsoft and tie in with the Windows Live account and cloud services.

What does it take to build a smartphone in Russia?

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

My interview with Vlad Martynov, CEO of Yota Devices – the company behind the smartphone with a regular screen on one side and an eInk display on the reverse – is up on Forbes:

“We asked ourselves what we liked and didn’t like with our current smartphones. While we loved the way it made us more productive and connected, there was one fundamental thing we all determined we didn’t like. Most of the time, the display is sleeping. It’s just a black box. While it’s sleeping, it’s useless. It has no value.

“So, we asked ourselves how to solve it. Interestingly enough, the solution was on the surface. I’m, of course, talking about battery-saving electronic paper displays. Technology that already existed and is used in e-readers. So where do we place it? Again the answer was right in front of our eyes. Or actually on the back of our smartphones — a surface that had no practical use until today. The backside of the smartphone is a dead space. We decided to give it life.”

“We turned this useless space into an always-on display.”

You can read the full interview here.