When’s a phone not a phone?

One day the other week I was more than half-way to work and suddenly realised that I didn’t have my phone with me. I half-contemplated turning around and going home for it but dismissed this idea as an over-reaction; it was just my phone after all, right?

Wrong.

I thinned my wallet down about six years ago to avoid getting to the same situation as George Costanza. Until NFC is built into my phone and contactless payment is globally accepted, I now have a Vaultskin to carry banknotes, my security pass and a few other cards alongside my phone.

As well as being a phone, my phone is now my bus ticket, boarding pass, stills and video camera, torch, alarm clock, TV remote control, satnav, heart rate monitor and car key.

Greatest Gadgets?

The other night I dipped in and out of a Channel 4 countdown of Stephen Fry’s top 100 Greatest Gadgets.

An interesting postulation and countless people jumped on Twitter to claim that the Internet was the greatest ever gadget. The fact that the Internet isn’t a gadget appears to have escaped them. Many others suggested things that either also weren’t gadgets as defined in the dictionary or weren’t actually invented by man, like the wheel for example. A wheel is simply a circle which is a natural feature that was just harnessed by man, along with the inclined plane, electricity, radiation and fire.

I have to agree with the item that Mr Fry chose as his number one: the lighter. The apple corer he demonstrated during the programme was brilliant but we could quite happily live without it. The impact that a handheld, on-demand flame could have on a person is life-changing. Fire sets us apart from the beasts and in lots of parts of the world, being able to control it is a valuable, hard-learned skill.

As an aside, in one of the celebrity talking heads that seem to be mandatory in programmes like these, Suzi Perry lauded the digital camera claiming that its ease of use means that “everybody can be a professional photographer”. What tosh. Just owning a digital camera doesn’t give you the experience to know how to light a scene, the eye to compose a shot, which lens to use or any of the myriad other things that are necessary to truly be a professional photographer. A dedicated website — as is so often the case — exists to highlight this: youarenotaphotographer.com

Time keeps on slippin’

So sang the Steve Miller band back in the ’70s. Time marches on inexorably to the mathematically rhythm of the universe. The almost clockwork movement of the planets allows highly accurate predictions to be made about things like eclipses – and not just in the modern world in which we live.

Case in point: this Lego1 reproduction of the 2,000 year old Antikythera mechanism is simply amazing.

Despite what many may think, science and religion are not mutually exclusive. The tension between the two – with notable exceptions – is a relatively recent development. In fact, were it not for clerics and religeous scholars in the Middle Ages we may not be as an advanced civilization as we are now.

1 Most definitely not Legos

It’s somehow already December.

Traditionally, I like to do a little end of year review during the final month of the year. Unlike Popular Mechanics who – at the start of October – included the Techcrunch Crunchpad tablet computer in their “10 Most Brilliant Products of 2009”.

Things weren’t looking promising at the start of November with no sign of any actual product and, sure enough, yesterday Michael Arrington of Techcrunch announced that the aforementioned device wasn’t going to happen after all due to their hardware partner boning them at the last minute. Still, despite reading Arrington’s claim that the Crunchpad “went hours without crashing” (which didn’t exactly fill me with enthusiasm), it’s a shame that we won’t get to see this latest renewed attempt to tackle the tablet form factor just yet.

Update: Google also released their annual Zeitgeist today covering 2009 in searches.

To buy, or not to buy, that is the question

Is it really though? Those of you who know me well enough would probably be expecting me to rush out and buy the iPhone 3G as soon as I set foot back on British soil. There’s no denying that I’m an Apple fan boy but I’m also not stupid. The next generation of the iPhone doesn’t represent enough of a change over the original version that I already own. Sure it has GPS navigational capabilities but I tend to know where I am most of the time anyway. The obvious upgrade is the 3G bit – it’s obviously a big enough revelation to even be included in the product name instead of it being simply iPhone v2 or something.

I have never found the EDGE (2G) speeds to be all that crippling to be honest. Besides, like most people with an iPhone, I use the wifi connection a lot. I’m usually at home, in the office or within range of a wifi hotspot from The Cloud or the newly announced partnership with BT Openzone.

That’s the new stuff on the hardware front far as I can tell apart from a crappier back to allow the GPS signal to be of any use. No new camera (optic or sensor), speaker, microphone or chipset. There will need to be something pretty awesome to make me upgrade to the next version too – whenever that may come be pass.