A great picture of the West Pier in flames. It gives you an idea of quite how badly damaged it has been.
Clay has written a piece on the differences between permanet – the idea of permanent, impervious connectivity – and nearlynet, the ad hoc, semi-permanent networks characterised by 802.11b. It’s well worth a read, but I think there are a couple of points that Clay is mistaken about.
First of all, the lesson of in-air phones isn’t that permanet is less powerful than nearlynet: It’s that being able to receive a call is more important than being able to make one. Like the Rabbit system in the UK, the big turn-off was that you had a phone that no one could contact you on, which significantly reduces its usefulness. The most powerful feature of a mobile phone is that people can get hold of you, not that you can call anyone at any time.
This is the key difference between airphones and Iridium, Clay’s second example of permanet. Quite correctly, Clay claims Iridium as an example of permanets, and that it failed because of the fact that people simply didn’t need phones that would work anywhere enough to pay the high prices that the huge investment costs demanded. It’s worth remembering, though, that Iridium is actually alive and well, and serving the niches that do need phone service anywhere – governments, NGOs, and the like. Those satellites haven’t gone away: the cost of putting them up there has just been written off in order to turn Iridium into a niche service.
Clay isn’t wrong about 3G, though – I have yet to see an application that would persuade me to buy a 3G phone, and I’m an ideal early adopter. But I don’t think the comparison with airphones holds water.
Dan Hon’s dirty little secret is out: He’s bought the Avril Lavigne CD. More importantly, he’s found that the copy protection scheme used by the that CD doesn’t work on a Mac – you can rip the tracks happily using iTunes. Once again, proof that the record companies are stupid.
An interesting piece on BBC 1 right now, in which an academic from Birkbeck compares the structure and ethos of the B’aath party in Iraq with that of the Nazi party in Germany. The interesting point is that – like the Nazi’s – the B’aathists are likely to fight to the last bullet and not surrender. Could be a nasty little war.
Salon has a feature on the differing approaches of Tony Blair and George W Bush towards arguing for the war, and finds Blair’s performance much more impressive. It’s certainly true that Blair is clearer and more honest about his war aims, and I think genuinely believes in the moral right of what he’s doing.
However, that doesn’t mean that Tony isn’t prepared to tell a few porkies when he needs to. Blair is consummate political operator – anyone that can bend the will of the Labour Party is a political in-fighter of the highest order – and knows that there’s no point pretending everyone loves the war. What will be interesting is if the war starts to go wrong. Will Tony bite the bullet and be honest about that?
Steve Bowbrick posts wondering if there’s a next generation of the “admirable, enlightened, imaginative old men” like Arthur C Clarke and Freeman Dyson. It is interesting that the generation of scientists that emerged post-World War II appeared to have no limits on how far their imagination would go. Dyson wanted to move planets around and make rings and spheres from them. Project Orion would have converted nuclear power from bugbear to boon. And there’s many more examples. Have we lost our imagination? Where’s the grandiose plans of today?
It’s always nice to find an inventive congressman. Obviously Darrell Issa (R., San Diego) saw a chance to push local business Qualcomm under guise of bashing the French (currently a hugely popular US media sport) and so introduced a bill to ensure that CDMA is preferred over GSM in any phone system installed in post-war Iraq. Why? Because GSM is French. Which it isn’t, of course.
Swoon. Maybe it’s time to give the Dell that functions as a game machine at home the Alienware treatment. It would certainly look a whole lot better.
Henry Norr, who the Mac users among you will know as a former MacWEEK editor, has been suspended from his job at the San Francisco Chronicle because he was arrested at a peace demonstration (along with about a thousand others). The Hearst Corporation insists it’s a simple time card dispute – Henry was (obviously) late for work the next day. However, it’s difficult not to conclude that had, for example, Henry been arrested for a parking violation the company would have been more sympathetic.