Consumer Demand Spawns New Freelander Model

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Since its launch in 2006, Land Rover dealers have been inundated with requests to provide a commercial version of the Freelander 2. Customers wanted the practicality of a commercial vehicle, but without losing the luxuries and comfort of their normal SUV. LandRover listened and believe they have found the solution in the form of the Freelander 2 Commercial.

The Freelander 2 Commercial will be available in ‘S’ and ‘XS’ trim. Essentially the models will be exactly the same as a standard Freelander with the modifications being applied to the rear compartment only. The Freelander commercial will come equipped with a floor support frame, floor panel with lashing points, fixed rear side glass, rubber loadspace mat, tail door and side window guards and rear cargo lighting. All this will be separated from the driver’s cabin via a full-height solid bulkhead with an inserted mesh panel. The ‘XS’ model spoils the tradesman even further by offering 17” alloys, climate control, quality ICE system and even part leather trim. The Landrover is fitted with either a 3.2L straight 6 cylinder engine borrowed from its now estranged relative, Volvo, or a 2.2L turbo diesel 4 cylinder engine.

The Freelander Commercial also benefits from the award winning Terrain Response System, making it extremely capable offroad too. This video demonstrates the abilities of the Terrain Response system on a Freelander.

BBFC to Monitor UK Internet Downloads

Gaming, The Interwebs, TV & Film No Comments »

News released today has told of plans to monitor internet downloads of video content and games in the UK by introducing certifications to websites that offer such services.

Overseen by the British Board of Film Classification certificates will appear on sites via set-top boxes and portable players.

The news comes a the same time as new data was released from a survey on internet consumer trends that states people with broadband connections spend more time online than they do watching television.

They voluntary scheme is called and is due to launch by the end of the month with leading Hollywood studios Disney, Warner and Fox having already signed up to the scheme. Other leading players are also tipped to join soon.

The scheme will provide help put “age verification or gate-keeping systems in place for parents to monitor and control underage viewing”. The announcement was made after independent research showed 74% of parents were concerned about the lack of ratings on downloads.

The technical side of enforcement has not been made entirely clear with Peter Johnson of the BBFC stating

“It’s up to individual systems to work out how to introduce these technologies, but we will police it through test purchases”

More than 1,000 videos will have rating on them by the end of May. There is also the potential for the scheme to be rolled out on the Xbox live console, PS3 and Nintendo Wii, as well as video on demand service such as the iPlayer.

The BBFC have stressed that the scheme does not signal any attempt to censor the internet or regulate online video gaming.

Mr Cooke director of the BBFC did however go on to say

“I’m hoping there won’t be any need for legislation to underpin this scheme,”

At The Shelf we remain pessimistic as the big brother eye looms a little bit closer.

Facebook Plans Facelift

Social Networking 1 Comment »

Social networking site and regular feature of The Shelf is due to have a face lift four years after it was first launched.

Having grown rapidly in popularity since its launch with a vast expanse in the number of applications available on the site, for those who adopt each and every new tool into their profile Facebook has itself changed from a simple user friendly interface into an un-navigable mess.

A result solely of its explosion in popularity over the four years it has been live, the amalgamation of endless applications on user profiles has recently be touted as a reason many have been switched off from the site.

Currently there are over 25,000 different pieces of software available ranging from dating games to music players and time-wasting quizzes.

The facelift plans are due to include several tabbed section that will effectively hide all the ‘super wall posts’ and silly gifts that users can send to each other, often resulting in an cluttered interface more associated with rivals MySpace than Facebook.

That roll out of the new design is planned for next month and Facebook has been consulting users over its plans. 85,000 Facebook users around the world have been able to comment on new features as they are proposed.

Screen shot of plans from BBC Facebook redesign

Facebook currently leads the social network market in the UK with 8.9 million members according to Nielsen Online, but a significant proportion of these are threatening to leave if it become a victim of over commercialisation. A delicate balance is needed between the traditional clean interface users expect and the third party add-ons that have driven its vast growth.

Government Launch Noise Maps to Monitor Urban Areas

Health and Fitness, Politics No Comments »

The government has released a series of maps for 23 UK cities and towns showing urban noise levels. Residents will be able to interactively access the maps via a government website

At the time of launch this morning the site collapsed due to unprecedented demand.

Users can search for their town by postcode, and will then be able to monitor noise levels in cities including London and Manchester. Other areas included in the project are Blackpool, Brighton, Coventry, Hull, Leicester, Nottingham, Portsmouth, Teesside, Tyneside and West Yorkshire.

The project is aimed at monitoring noise levels caused by factories, planes and cars and signals the most thorough attempt by the government to tackle the problem of noise pollution, a problem linked to serious illness and educational difficulties.

The maps will only monitor ambient noise and won’t include noise pollution form sources such as noisy neighbours.

The project was set up to meet an EU directive between the department of transport, the highways agency, network rail and the environment agency. It will aim to help cut noise in the worst effected areas of the country, covering 50,000 miles of roads, 3,000 miles of railway as well as industrial site and airports.

“They will provide a springboard to go forward and tackle unnecessary and unreasonable noise pollution,” – environment minister Jonathan Shaw.

The maps will be used to draw action plans on where best to tackle noise pollution across the UK which could include the provision and protection of quiet zones. Where roads are concerned quieter surfacing materials on new motorways and trunk roads might be suggested, as well as noise barriers at a number of locations where traffic noise has been considered problem.

“Factors like transport and industry are a necessary part of modern life. But we need to look at what further practical steps we can take to make people’s lives more tranquil.” -environment minister Jonathan Shaw.

Back in February of this year the a European Commission funded study of those living around airport concluded that the noise from plane engines instantly raised blood pressure which can in turn lead to a stoke, heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure.

Friends Connect : Google’s UN Role

Social Networking, The Interwebs 2 Comments »

Google has developed it OpenSocial platform by introducing a series of tools aimed at enhancing the way in which users interact with friends over the internet.

The service called Friends Connect is aimed at allowing sites that are not part of the social network scene, to provide a more social experience for their users. This can be done through the provision of various social gadgets created by Google and OpenSocial.

It works by providing social gadgets through a Friends Connect administration site which can then be used based on the needs of an individuals site. The site owner simply copies across the necessary code across to their site providing a range of social features without the need for sophisticated programming.

As part of the service site owners can then link to a range of sites for various functions, including Facebook, Yahoo and AOL. Users can also user the Google talk instant messaging system.

With this a list of contacts and friends can be imported from other social networks, where you can see names and photos of friends who are members of a specific site.

“Google Friend Connect is like giving Webmasters a salt shaker full of ’social’ that they can sprinkle on their sites to add social capabilities,” David Glazer, a director of engineering at Google told a conference call of reporters Monday.

One of the early advantages to sites is that Friend Connect provides a means of user identification through an existing log in on AOL, Yahoo and many more from the emerging OpenID standard.

The Friends Connect service is based on the OpenSocial platform that up until now has remained a way to write applications for a range sites across the partnership.

Recently MySpace announced plans to loosen its hold on data of an estimated 200 million personal profiles that currently use it’s site, a deal that would enable members to share information to be shared with four partners, Yahoo, PhotoBucket, Twitter and eBay.

The user would be tied to MySpace as a central profile for use across all sites, encouraging users to store all their data needed for a complete web experience at the site to begin with.

Facebook also entered a deal a day after the MySpace announcement with its 70 million users, allowing profiles to be shared with any site wanting to host them.

“It’s a smart move by Google which is trying to play the role of United Nations secretary general by making sure everyone talks nicely to one another, getting the data to where they want to move it back and forward, and participate in open standards.” – Charlene Li, principal analyst at Forrester

Currently 99% of sites are not socially enabled so there is a huge market for the Friend Connect service, and the user data flow through the service is a lucrative offering.

In these early stages however there are things that are yet to be decided. One major decision is how Google intends to share the information that is collated through the Friends Connect service with web publishers. Currently user details of those who log into a site through Friends Connect will not be given to site owners. This may change in the future, but there are issues residing as to how sites like Google, and Facebook or MySpace have very different privacy objectives.

As can be seen with the Facebook and MySpace data sharing announcements, existing social network sites are looking to make their networks the place for a central profile from which users will adopt a complete identity across the web. Google on the other hand is not currently prioritising these social network profiles, instead focusing around small web publishers harvesting the flow of data with its AdSense advertising network which is already serving millions of sites.

With Google expected to approve a few dozen more sites to the Friends Connect service, and MySpace and Facebook due to roll out their offerings over the next few weeks I guess we will have to wait and see how this one develops.

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