Archive: phones

For some reason, I always find myself paying attention to weather presenters. Perhaps it is the fact that I have had an interest in meteorology since I was a small child.

Or maybe it’s the break in style compared with the rest of the news bulletin. Weather forecasters have much more freedom to express their personality than news, sport or business presenters do. Whatever it is, some weather forecasters are among my favourite television personalities.

Tomasz Schafernaker

Tomasz Schafernaker has long counted among my favourites. Many will have seen him in the proper news following his gaffe where he accidentally gave the middle finger gesture while on the air.

It is by no means the first time Tomasz Schafernaker has been involved in on-air hilarity. There is, for instance, his reaction to being told about his “frozen ball”.

Most infamously of all, there was his slip-up when he talked about Glastonbury’s “muddy shite”.

Laura Tobin

Laura Tobin came into focus after this astonishing incident.

The initial gaffe is surreal and hilarious. Her reaction is adorable. But the way she copes with it is the most impressive. If you tuned in five seconds after the bulletin had started, you would never know anything had happened! What a professional.

Rob McElwee

Cool as a cucumber, Rob McElwee would announce the apocalypse with a shrug of the shoulders. He is often so laid back I suspect he has had quite a good lunch! Here he is talking about severe winter weather in his normal unruffled manner.

Francis Wilson

Rob McElwee may sometimes look like he has enjoyed his lunch, but Francis Wilson looks like he has been lunching all day long. He is not a great forecaster though. His tendency to just list a series of consecutive numbers instead of actually giving you a temperature leaves the viewer perplexed as to whether to wear a duffle coat or hot pants.

Still, you can’t fault his personality. Here is a rare clip of Rory Bremner being funny, impersonating Francis Wilson.

Daniel Corbett

But the granddaddy of weather presenting personalities has to be Daniel Corbett. His enthusiasm for any kind of weather event is surely unrivalled, and his descriptions are without question the most entertaining around.

Even Tomasz Schafernaker seems to think Daniel Corbett’s style is the way to go, judging by the way he signed off from this bulletin.

Years ago, this blog had a little button on it. Where today you see little logos for Amnesty International and No2ID, there used to be a button that said “I believe in the BBC”. It was to back this campaign, which was one of the things that got me hooked on blogging. I couldn’t believe how much of a stitch-up the Hutton Report seemed, and I wanted to stand up for what was the best broadcaster in the UK.

Some time during the intervening five years I removed the button from my blog. I had decided that I actually don’t really believe in the BBC. Of course, over time I have become more and more disillusioned with the mainstream media in general, and my opinion of the BBC has fallen south along with the rest of the mainstream media.

But I have found myself becoming particularly frustrated with the BBC’s apparent fear of its own shadow. It is pretty clear that this neurotic period of the BBC’s history began with the Hutton Report, and has been more recently exacerbated by a never-ending stream of overblown tabloid-generated nowtrage.

Of course, the lame tabloid stone-throwing is practically as old as the BBC itself. The difference is that after the Hutton Report, the BBC has appeared to actually believe that the tabloids have a point. What we needed after Hutton was a BBC that stood its ground and believed in its principles. Instead, it has become a blundering, self-loathing embarrassment; a stumbling colossus.

Nowadays, if a tabloid kicks up a bit of a fuss over, say, a bit of post-watershed swearing, the BBC doesn’t roll its eyes and ignore it like the majority of its viewers and listeners do. Instead, it trumps the tabloids, immediately making it the top story in all of its bulletins.

BBC News journalists then begin conducting fierce two-ways with BBC managers, and viewers are treated to a bizarre self-flagellation session lasting several days. The BBC sternly questions the BBC about its own outrageous conduct. After several days or even weeks have passed it quietly snaps out of it — only for another scandal to come along and the whole cycle begins again.

Take the television fakery scandals that engulfed the BBC a couple of years ago. Somehow, the fact that Blue Peter changed the name of a cat became the most shocking thing ever and threatened the very future of the BBC. I knew that because the BBC itself kept on saying so.

The fact that the commercial broadcasters had spent the previous few years building an entire genre of programming — the late night phone-in quiz programme — that was dedicated to deviously extracting cash from its viewers got swept under the carpet. Everybody was too busy watching the BBC break down in what you might call a Cookie crumble.

It was right that the BBC made changes following the scandals. But the difference in approach between the commercial broadcasters and the BBC was huge. Premium rate competitions were quick to make a return on commercial channels, with a bit more small print. But on the BBC, to this day the world “competition” is practically a swear word. Pre-recorded radio programmes are littered with apologies and warnings about the fact. The BBC’s paranoid fear of another scandal is getting in the way of its programming.

Then there is the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brandwagon, when the BBC inexplicably allowed a rather rude phone call dominate the news agenda for several days. While the economy was actually collapsing, the BBC almost willed itself on to implosion. When a bold BBC should have been responsibly reporting important news (which there was plenty of), instead the nervy BBC we’ve got occupied itself by poking its navel.

I found the BBC’s reaction quite seriously worrying. Even though the phone calls were a bit over the line, the reaction was completely out of proportion. And it has the potential to set a worrying trend, for the reasons Charlie Brooker pointed out.

The BBC is surely supposed to be there to do things that commercial broadcasters are either unable or unwilling to do. By definition, this means making challenging programming — programming that might not meet with popular approval. And in comedy in particular, that means pushing the boundaries.

The BBC’s decision to wave the white flag over the Russell Brand hoo-ha was basically a conscious decision to undermine the principles by which the BBC is supposed to exist. It follows that if the BBC believes it shouldn’t make distinctive comedy programming, why should it make distinctive programming at all?

The result is that we now have a BBC which is paralysed by a fear of criticism. It has become too self-conscious, and when the spotlight is on it nervously stumbles around. It’s not exactly the BBC we’re all supposed to be proud of.

The latest scandal to hit the BBC, over the DEC’s Gaza appeal broadcast, exhibits the BBC’s fear well. Knowing that the Israel–Palestine issue is so thorny, particularly given the right wing’s frequent criticism of the BBC’s coverage, it was caught like a rabbit in the headlights.

The first of the justifications given by Mark Thompson for choosing not to broadcast the appeal is that aid might not be delivered properly. That would be fair enough. It would be strange, though, if the BBC knew better about this than the DEC, a group comprising of thirteen charities dedicated to delivering aid properly.

The other (“more fundamental”) justification was the fear that the BBC might be seen to be impartial. It’s interesting to note that Mark Thompson never says that broadcasting the appeal actually would undermine the BBC’s impartiality. He is just concerned about the perception.

The BBC is perfectly entitled to decline to broadcast a DEC appeal. But the fact that it has allowed its fear of the public’s reaction to get in the way is worrying. It is yet another sign that the BBC is no longer prepared to be the bold public service broadcaster it’s supposed to be. And, of course, it brought a fresh round of awkward interviews between BBC journalists and BBC bosses.

It all makes for uncomfortable viewing and listening. It is clear that just now the BBC has very little belief in itself. So how should license fee payers be expected to believe in it?

Here is a post that demonstrates how somebody can “hack” your Twitter account as long as they know your phone number.

Basically, you can use some dodgy site called FakeMyText to pretend that you are texting Twitter from somebody else’s number.

But wait a minute. This is a website that lets you spend your whole time pretending to be using someone else’s phone. Why bother hacking somebody’s Twitter account when you can just go around texting everyone? That way your entire phone life is hijacked!

I mean, if I was given a choice between telling jokes about dead babies on somebody else’s Twitter account on the one hand, and texting an enemy’s girlfriend posing as said enemy saying she has a face like a baboon on the other, I know which I would go for.

This FakeMyText business isn’t a problem with Twitter. This is a problem with phones.

Via Hell Yeah Bitch!

Despite my frightening net addiction and general interest in techy stuff, I am a bit of a Luddite when it comes to mobile phones. I got my first phone only three years ago, which probably made me among the last ½% in the country. I have only owned two phones, including the one I currently use. I have never bought a phone — my first was a gift, and the second is a hand-me-down.

By and large, I’ve been fairly happy with the situation though. I can’t believe the way most people go through phones. Seemingly many people go through them at the rate of about two a year, or sometimes even every other weekend when they forgetfully drop their phone down the drain in a mad binge drinking-fuelled bum-bum performance.

In a way, I’m like one of those insufferable people who go, “OH, I just can’t set my VCR!” People who boast that they can’t set their VCR are stupid posers who really need to find something better to be proud about.

Me? I just go around saying, “Look! My phone doesn’t have a camera on it! It takes me half an hour to send a text! I don’t phone anyone cos I can’t be bothered to top it up!” Yes, I’m one of those terrible people who almost takes pride in how rubbish their phone is. I mean, this is probably three years old, which in mobile phone terms makes it a proper dinosaur. I mean, no camera!

But a certain website has come along and changed my phone habits for the better / worse [delete as applicable]. Yes, that Twitter nonsense means that I now receive about a dozen (probably more — believe it or not, I don’t count!) texts a day. This can be a bit embarrassing. I now receive such a large amount of texts that it suggests that people want to talk to me, when in reality I’m am just getting loads of tweets complaining about hangovers.

Also — I don’t know whether this is down to O2 or Twitter, or just the way that phones work — but often my messages come in clumps of about a dozen or even more. When I’m sitting there in a dull lecture, my pocket is sporadically buzzing away like a short circuiting dildo. All I can say is, thank goodness I don’t have a really annoying ringtone.

Actually having to use my phone has made me realise how clunky and slow it is. For instance, I can’t believe the fact that I run out of memory after about 50 texts. I assume today’s phones can hold a few more messages on them. Also, because of Twitter, I have come to appreciate how handy a mobile phone can come in. And I have occasionally felt out of the loop.

Counter-intuitively, Twitter might be making me less of a geek. (Well, it might be fostering a new era of net addiction for me. But I just like to see it as “engaging with society”. Of course.) Because of my busy modern hectic 24 hour lifestyle, on many days I might not find my way onto a computer all day until well after 9pm. Beforehand, I don’t think I really noticed. It didn’t bother me too much — besides, it’s probably good to stay away from the computer for most of the day.

But now with Twitter, I am being constantly reminded that stuff is happening, and I am missing out on it. What if there was a vaguely important email sent to me this morning? I might not see it until late on in the evening. An interesting blog post? I might miss it entirely. Important news event? My face will be nuked off before I know about it.

As somebody who, over the past few years, has been a bit of a “news junkie” and pale blogger, the realisation that I am actually not informed has unsettled me. And the sporadic stream of texts that I receive via Twitter has made me appreciate that this stupid thing in my pocket could actually come in useful.

Also, I didn’t really get anything interesting for my birthday, apart from money. It feels wrong to have turned 21 and only have the Borat DVD (thanks Gordon!) as a memento. I could get an iPod (and believe me, this is a particularly good opportunity for me to get an iPod), but since I just wrote the other day about why I’m not getting an iPod that would be silly. I mean, my iRiver still works…

So, a phone it (probably) is. But, as you might have guessed from what I have written above, I do not have the first clue about phones. So what’s what? Are there any particular good phones that I should go for? Any dodgy things I should know about?

I don’t want anything too swish — after all, that would make me look like a poserish iPod owner / Porsche driver. But I am looking for something that will allow me to check my email, Google Reader, maybe Facebook mobile and the odd news story. And I suppose I should join that mob of happy slappers and get a camera as well (although I don’t imagine you can actually buy a phone without a camera these days).

Of course, I could do the research myself, but I have actually tried and I really don’t know what’s what. Most of it goes straight over my head. So I would be grateful for any suggestions, should anyone be so kind as to pop into the comments.

Update: (Working my way through all the blog posts that I missed during the week) Blood & Treasure: i am a lonely node

Here is iRiver’s “PSP killer”, the G10 (via New Links). Looks nice, but the PSP is bound to win for two reasons:

  1. WipEout Pure (a return to form for the WipEout series!)
  2. Lumines (the most addictive puzzle game I’ve played in ages)

While we’re on fancy new-fangled gadgets, I’ve been hearing one or two people predicting that 2006 will herald the end of mobile phones, MP3 players and hand-held games consoles being separate. I doubt this. It’s been tried several times before. As far as I’m concerned, phones are only ever successful as phones.

Sure, camera phones took off, but only as a novelty as far as I’m concerned. If you really want to take a photograph, you are going to reach for the digital camera every time, not the piece of crap that was appended onto your phone as an afterthought.

As for gaming, remember the N-gage? It didn’t kill anything apart from itself. Then there’s the music. Rokr anyone? Here’s a neat article I found via Wikipedia:

What [the Rokr] seems to lack, is any realisation of the fact that actually, it is difficult to make a device which is both a great phone and a great iPod.

The problem is that power limitations mean you don’t want to play too many tunes before your phone goes dead; that you don’t want to have too many calls before your MP3 player goes quiet; and that the controls are a compromise.

I’m sure this time last year Sony were banging on about their “iPod killer” — did it kill the iPod? I bet nobody can even remember what it is now (I certainly can’t). I have a friend who has a Sony Ericsson phone with Walkman branding on it. Another friend asked him if he actually listens to music on it, and he just laughed — of course he uses his iPod to listen to music.

My iRiver can play music (obviously), but you can also view images and text files on it. Have I used either of the latter two functions? Of course not. The images do look quite nice, but why would I need to look at images when I’m on the move? The text function, meanwhile, is really fiddly, and I don’t know what on earth I could use it for. As one entertaining iRiver fanboy told me in the comments once:

your [sic] a twat… the [iRiver] h340 now plays videos aswell (full length movies to watch) … hmm why would you want that you will probably say… and you dont even deserve to know why it has picture and text capabilities, READ YOUR MANUAL!

Translation: “I don’t have the foggiest either!”

If there ever is a decent device that can be used as an MP3 player, a games console and a mobile phone all in one, I’d love to see it — but I’ll have to see it to believe it. In the meantime, I’d use an iRiver for listening to music, a PSP for playing games and, er, my phone to use as a phone.