Cybercars could be the Future

Technology No Comments »

I came across a nice article that interested me today which detailed plans for towns to adopt driverless Cybercar routes to ease both congestion and pollution in towns.

Instead of a driver, Cybercars as they have been dubbed, are controlled by computers utilising laser technology to navigate obstacles and other cars. The laser guided cars can drive within .5 of a second of each other, a quarter of the recommended two seconds, meaning four times as many Cybercars could fit on the roads. This would combat the increasing congestion in towns, and no doubt create a cleaner, safer environment.

The Cybercar concept is ideally suited for town driving as they are designed for short trips at low speeds in urban environments. Cybercars need only a light track to operate and are fairy easy to implement, meaning that they could be suited for the school run or even short commuter trips into work.

These Cybercars which could be called by pressing a button at any one point on the route, and would go directly to their destination relieving the grievance of passengers on current commuter routes.

A similar concept is already being developed at Heathrow airport to shuttle passengers to and from terminal buildings. The first town to adopt the concept could be Daventry, where already a test track is in use so that the results can be evaluated. The scheme was put in place as part of the local councils investigation into ways to increase the use of public transport and reduce reliance on cars.

Whether the scheme goes ahead or not I think is great to see local councils looking for alternatives to existing commuting lines in order to reduce the reliance on cars in town centres. This will no doubt create a safer and cleaner environment within towns such as Daventry.

Pingo International Calling Cards

Travel 1 Comment »

If you have friends abroad, keeping in contact regularly can be difficult and expensive. That is why the international prepaid phone cards from Pingo are a great way to ensure you stay in touch with close friends abroad.

Pingo calling cards can be used for both domestic and international calls and can save you up to 90% on international mobile phone calls, and when you sign up you will receive up to 5 hour of free International calls as a sign up bonus.

Pingo also offers a special phone card blog discount coupon: “ppp3” valid for $3 off Pingo. You will also receive $25 phone card for just $17.

Pingo can not only lower the price of your international calls, but strive to deliver the best calling card experience around. With a dedicated customer service team, you can also get more out of your account by creating sub accounts for additional family members, an extra saving on holding multiple calling accounts.

Pingo’s is a service of iBasis, providing a reliable network that delivers over 1.1 billion International phone card minutes a month. Worth investigating if you make a lot of international phone calls.


The Cost of Social Networking

The Interwebs 1 Comment »

Following on from yesterdays post detailing how Facebook has now overtaken Myspace in unique UK visits, I started thinking about the impacts of this explosion of social networking across the interweb.

The key factor that people find most luring about social networking sites is that they enable users to seek old/ new friends and extend existing social networks onto the internet. They provide way of communication that fits modern lifestyles; it is convenient, fun and free. But although financially free, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a price to pay.

The catalogue of social networking sites on offer cater for a diverse range of audiences, but the interaction they offer within an online social network is fundamental to all of them. To participate users have to provide a certain amount of personal information so they can become a part of these constructed networks, and this is seemingly a price that users are increasingly willing to pay.

Subsequently there are vast amounts of personal data stored within these sites, protected only by the policies that each site chooses to adopt at any one time, understandably becoming a concern for some. Perhaps more concerning in the short term are the stories of how various established internet brands have, or intend to muscle in on the success of the social networking craze. Recently Facebook confirmed it intends to open up user profiles to search indices, enabling user profiles, and all the personal data within them, to be indexed by search engines such as Goolge. These profiles will then become publicly available to all web users. Currently only members can search the Facebook database, and only then see a limited profile before a friend’s confirmation.

In its defence other sites such as Myspace already do this, and Facebook has put in place the chance to restrict profile access to Google, but by default this is not activated and users only have a month to change their privacy settings. Although this option is provided, it defiantly shows a shift away from the once restrictive privacy policies that Facebook adhered to, and in my opinion was a core reason people opted to use the service over other less restrictive social networking sites.

These concerns can only be further reiterated with the news that Microsoft have also announced it is in discussions for taking a 5% stake in Facebook. This would reportedly cost around £150m – £250m, and certainly be part of an overall strategy to use Facebook profile information in the development of more personalised ad delivery or search engine results. This is merely speculation at this point, but clearly demonstrates how social networking sites may not be as free as first thought for those that respect their right to personal privacy.

Facebook Leads Social Networking

The Interwebs 2 Comments »

Yesterday news broke that Facebook has overtaken Myspace as the most popular social networking website with 6.5 million unique visitors in the UK recorded in August 2007. Launched originally as a US college social networking site, Facebook went live outside of the US a little over a year ago, and was founded as an social networking site solely for American colleges.

Although other popular social networking sites such as Bebo and Myspace have also showed similar growth rates Facebook currently tops the tree with over 200,000 more visits than Myspace and dwarfs Bebo’s 4.5million visitors. Together these three sites attract a larger share of user’s time than all other social networking sites combined, and account for a fifth of the UK web population.

Surprisingly however neither of the aforementioned sites recorded the biggest growth rate of UK social networking sites. That accolade goes to PerfSpot, which recorded a 756% growth rate amongst it unique music loving audience.

Although the user bases are relatively small compared with longer established social networking sites, the fastest growing sites in this sector are those that are being developed to cater for niche audiences. Specialising in such topics as travel, business and music the growth rates of these sites demonstrate how even in its infancy, social networking is changing, and what we can expect from the future of social networking on the web.

iAudio 7 Multimedia Player

Technology 3 Comments »

As demonstrated in previous posts on The Shelf I am always on the look out for new media players that come to the market. That being said, I recently stumbled across the new iAudio 7 multi-function MP3 player from Cowon and was impressed with what it had to offer.

Marketed as the ‘Extreme MP3P –iAudi0 7’ I was interested to find out what made this MP3 player so ‘Extreme’ in a fiercely competitive market, so I done some investigating and compiled some of my thoughts.

Having looked at a range of MP3 players in the past it seems that the two golden qualities of a successful model are the time of playback capability provided by the devices battery, and the storage capacity. Other attributes of portable music players merely act as additional extras that often highjack customers, but these fundamental capabilities provide the foundations of any model and as such are the first things I look at. After all a portable media device needs to be playable for as long as possible without a mains electrical supply in order to remain ‘portable’, and the diversity of content within the player is parallel to the capacity options available.

With the iAudio 7 player these features were competitive with other players around, and so provide a good foundation for the range of additional extras on offer. The iAudio 7 offers 60 hours of continuous playback and comes with up to 8GB fast flash memory.

The unique selling point of the iAudio is the JetEffect facility, and with the iAudio 7 launch this now includes an enhanced EQ filter to improve the quality of stored music files and manipulate them to particular user’s tastes. This portable MP3 device also comes with touch sensitive controls and a smooth pad interface that allows users to scroll through stored media libraries.

The iAudio 7 ticks all the boxes as an MP3 player, but also takes steps towards becoming a complete multimedia player. It supports MP3, WMA, ASF, OGG, FLAC and WAV formats, and with a 1.3 inch LCD display allows for video playback too, supporting additional video formats as well. One feature I liked about this device was the provision of a TV output so users can watch stored video files on a range of televisions.

Lastly the iAudio 7 allows for DAB and FM radio, along side a voice recording facility. This means it can also be used to catch favourite radio shows that it would otherwise be inconvenient to listen to, or used as a Dictaphone when at work or studying.

Some great features included within this device, and it ticks all the boxes for a high quality MP3 player. Even more impressive is the way it braches out into the market for people looking for a complete portable multimedia device.

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