GNER Offer Free On-Train WiFi Trial

GNER Offer Free On-Train WiFi TrialGNER is so chuffed by the fact that all its East Coast trains will be offering Wi-Fi by August this year, it’s offering the service free of charge to all passengers, sorry, customers, this summer.

Of course, the announcement might just be a marketing stunt to make more people aware of the service (and hey! it’s working!), but we’ve no problem bigging up freebies when we hear about them.

Although first class passengers already get free Wi-Fi, serfs in cattle class, second class, standard class usually have to shell out wildly inflated prices for miserly chunks of Wi-Fi access; £2.95 for half an hour, nearly a fiver for an hour and a whopping tenner for just two hours access.

GNER Offer Free On-Train WiFi TrialThanks to GNER’s offer, summer travellers on their trains can trial the service and gorge themselves on a freebie, one-off unlimited 24-hour Wi-Fi session, from Monday 5th June to Monday 31st July.

Punters looking to hook up to their piece of wireless freebie action simply have to flip open their laptops, open up a browser window and let it automatically detect the GNER gateway page to Wi-Fi heaven.

GNER Offer Free On-Train WiFi TrialWi-Fi proves a hit with travellers
GNER has seen strong demand for their in-train Wi-Fi service, bringing forward the cross-fleet rollout from its planned May 2007 deadline to August this year.

The service works via a roof-mounted satellite dish and mobile phone antenna using 3G and GPRS, connected to each coach along the entire length of the train, making a train-long mobile WiFi ‘hot-spot.’

GNER Offer Free On-Train WiFi TrialAccording to GNER, this will make them the first UK train operator to offer a fully wi-fi-enabled service.

Speaking last month, GNER chief executive Christopher Garnett was awash with Wi-Fi praise: “For a business user, wi-fi creates a truly mobile office, while leisure users can shop, keep up to date with news and sport or book a weekend break at the end of their journey.”


FinePix Z3 Zoom For The Laydees

FinePix Z3 Zoom For The LaydeesThinner than a whippet with Montezuma’s Revenge, Fujifilm’s new FinePix Z3 sports a 5.1 million pixel sensor, ISO reaching down to the dim lights of 1600 and a 36-108mm (3x), F3.5 – 4.2 lens.

Apparently created with the laydees in mind, this minor update to the Z2 camera comes with improved resolution, an Intelligent-Flash mode and an improved 2.5-inch screen, with the camera available in silver, metallic blue and girly-girly light pink.

Fluffing up their announcement with a bit of cod-science, Fujifilm reckon that their research has revealed that most photos taken by women are ‘people pictures’* snapped in low light situations and in close proximity to the subject – the kind of photos that are notoriously hard to grab without camera shake or bleaching out faces..

FinePix Z3 Zoom For The Laydees(*A quick straw poll around the office found this claim to be total bollocks, by the way).

We’re sure that the ladies of the world will be lining up to thank Fujifilm for the Super CCD and Real Photo Processor II in the Z3 which combines with the camera’s high sensitivity (up to ISO1600) and Intelligent-Flash system to help banish those low-light photo blues.

Fujifilm’s Intelligent-Flash system claims to work by combining a well-exposed background and ‘natural skin tones’ on subjects in the foreground, with a ‘Dual-Shooting Mode’ blasting off two consecutive shots (one with flash and one without flash) to see which comes out best.

Rounding off the feature set is 14 pre-programmed scene positions, high resolution (230K Pixels) 2.5 inch LCD screen, 10 MB internal memory and ‘TV-quality’ VGA movie recording of 30 fps with sound

Availability and pricing to be announced.

FinePix Z3 Zoom For The LaydeesSpecifications:
Sensor – 5.1 million effective pixels
Image sizes – 2592 x 1944, 2736 x 1824 (3:2), 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480
Movie clips – 640 x 480 @ 30fps, 320 x 240 @ 30fps, Mono sound
File formats – JPEG Exif v2.2, DPOF, AVI Motion JPEG
Lens – 36 – 108mm equiv, F3.5 – 4.2
Image stabilization – No
Conversion lenses – No
Digital zoom – up to 5.7x
Focus – Auto focus, Normal: approx 60cm – infinity, Macro: approx 8cm (wide)
Metering – TTL 256 zone
ISO sensitivity – Auto, ISO 64 – ISO 1600
Shuttter speed – 4 – 1/1000 sec
Aperture – F3.5 / F5.0 / F8 3 steps
FinePix Z3 Zoom For The LaydeesModes – Auto, Anti-Blur, Scene Position, Macro, Movie, Burst / Continuous
Scene modes – Natural Light, Natural Light with Flash, Portrait, Landscape, Sport, Night, Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Museum, Party, Flower, Close-up, Text
White balance – Auto, Manual (Fine, Shade, Fluorescent Light (Daylight, Warm White & Cool White), Incandescent Light
Self timer – 2 or 10 sec
Continuous shooting – Top-3 (max 2.2 fps up to 3 frames), Final-3 (max 2.2 fps up to 3 frames), Long-period (max 0.7 fps up to memory card size)
Flash – Auto, Red-eye reduction, On / Off, Slow sync, Red-eye reduction + slow sync
Range – Wide approx 0.3 – 3.0m, Tele approx 0.6 – 2.3m
Viewfinder – No
LCD monitor – 2.5-inch, 230,000 pixels
Connectivity – NTSC / PAL, USB 2.0 High speed
Storage – xD-Picture Card, 10MB internal memory
Weight (no batt) 130 g (4.6 oz)
Dimensions 92.7 x 56.7 x 27.8 mm (3.6 x 2.2 x 1.1 in)


LG’s KG810 Announced

LG's KG810 'Chocolate Phone' AnnouncedLG has unveiled the KG810 clamshell phone; a super slim, quad band GSM handset which will be sold in Asia, China, Europe and CIS markets.

Although we’re not generally fans of the clamshell phones (our attempts to casually flip the things open one-handedly invariably saw the phone flying off into the distance), but the KG810 is certainly a bit of a looker.

Like the slider KG800 chocolate phone, the KG810 features the same external “Infrared Sensor” buttons on the front for controlling music playback.

These work by heat detection, so there should be little chance of you activating the controls when the phones in your pocket – unless you’re in the habit of carrying hot coals around in your pants, of course.

LG's KG810 'Chocolate Phone' AnnouncedUnder the screen there’s a touch-sensitive keypad and a fairly healthy 128 MB of internal memory.

Naturally, the phone comes with all the usual multimedia widgets we expect to see on ‘lifestyle’ gadgets, with a 1.3 megapixel camera with video recording, bluetooth, FM radio, voice memo and music player bringing up the feature set.

It’s a pipsqueak of a phone too, measuring a handbag-unbulging 14.6mm thick. Pricing and availability is not known yet.

There’s been wide confusion over this, so let’s clear it up for you. The KG810 isn’t part of the Black label, design-driven phone line. The KG800, the ‘Chocolate phone’ is – and is currently the only phone in the Black label range. Thank to LG for getting in touch about this and clearing it up.

Barrel scraping celeb-fest
LG have been keen to insist that their ‘Black labal’ range of phones will lead punters into a world of impossible glamour and sophistication, with a recent glitzy London launch seeing freebie phones dished out to schlebs like Pierce Brosnan, Gwyneth Paltrow and Claudia Shiffer (our invitation must have got lost in the post).

LG's KG810 'Chocolate Phone' AnnouncedAlthough these stars were clearly happy to scoop up any expensive freebies coming their way, when it came to electing the UK’s “primary Chocolate phone ambassador,” LG found the celebrity cupboard somewhat bare.

Finally settling on a barrel-scraping Z list ‘celebrity’ – whom we suspect wasn’t their first choice – LG awarded Colleen McLoughlan the ambassador’s job, enthusiastically insisting that she is a ‘fashion icon.’ LG _insist_ that Colleen was their choice numero uno, seeing her and her recent transformation to a ‘girl of style’ as perfect for the phone.

Just in case you’re not in tune with the world of ‘fashion icons’ we can inform you that Ms McLoughlan is in fact the girlfriend of nobbled England footie star, Wayne Rooney.

We can see that impressed you.

“The LG Chocolate phone is working as an accessory for any outfit. It’s unique, sleek and exactly the right size to pop into any handbag for any occasion. The black and red theme really makes this phone stand out and the touch sensitive buttons make it beautiful,” she enthused to anyone who would listen.


Meizu Mini Pint Sized PMP Player

Meizu Mini Pint Sized PMP PlayerAfter consulting the well thumbed iPod design book, Chinese electronics manufacturers Meizu have rolled out their new Meizu Mini, a truly Lilliputian Personal Media Player.

Despite its me-too design influences, the pocket-sized Meizu looks to be quite an interesting PMP device, sporting a large 2.4″ 260K-Color QVGA (320×240) TFT LCD screen, backed by up to 4GB of memory.

Meizu have also bolted on FM support (76Mhz-108Mhz) with up to 50 preset channels, and there’s a microphone socket for voice recording – pretty impressive for a device smaller than a credit card (79mm x 48.2mm x 10mm, weight 55g).

Media compatibility comes in the shape of support for MP3/WAV/OGG/WMA audio files, Xvid for video and BMP, JPG, GIF photo playback up to 1024×1024 resolution.

Meizu Mini Pint Sized PMP PlayerOther onboard gizmos include Synchronized Lyric Display, E-book, alarm clock, calculator, calendar and some (unspecified) games.

Battery life is claimed at a decent 20 hours of battery life for audio and 6 hours for video playback, with charging taking less than 2.5 hours.

Meizu Mini Pint Sized PMP PlayerSo far we’ve only seen Chinese language screen shots but the interface seems crisp and slick enough to us.

PC connectivity is via USB 2.0 with claimed transfer speeds of 8MB/s Read and 5MB/s Write.

Meizu Mini Pint Sized PMP PlayerThe player comes with a white or black finish and a metal back just like the – yep, you’ve guessed it – iPod.

There’s multi-language support onboard covering English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages, which suggest there’s a remote hope it may find its way into the UK (or at least be available by mail order). Or maybe not.


Apple Loses Court Bid Against Bloggers

Bullying Apple Loses Court Bid Against BloggersApple’s attempt to identify the sources of leaked product information that appeared on Mac enthusiast websites has fallen flat on its face after a Californian court ruled that on-line reporters and bloggers are entitled to the same protections as traditional journalists.

Apple filed the lawsuit in December 2004 in Santa Clara County after ‘trade secrets’ related to GarageBand, their recording and editing music software, were passed on to bloggers at,, and

Looking to strip the bloggers of the protection afforded to journalists under California’s shield law, Apple claimed that by reposting “verbatim copies” of Apple’s internal information while exercising “no editorial oversight at all,” the bloggers were not ‘legitimate’ journalists.

Bullying Apple Loses Court Bid Against BloggersThe court was having none of it, with a unanimous ruling giving the three online publications protection under the shield law, as well as the constitutional privilege against disclosure of confidential sources.

Writing in a 69-page ruling, Justice Conrad Rushing of the 6th District Court of Appeal underlined the legitimacy of bloggers as bona-fide news-gatherers: “In no relevant respect do they appear to differ from a reporter or editor for a traditional business-oriented periodical who solicits or otherwise comes into possession of confidential internal information about a company”

“We decline the implicit invitation to embroil ourselves in questions of what constitutes ‘legitimate journalism,” he continued.

Bullying Apple Loses Court Bid Against Bloggers“The shield law is intended to protect the gathering and dissemination of news, and that is what petitioners did here,” added Justice Rushing.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, who filed the petition on behalf of the journalists, declared the decision a “victory for the rights of journalists, whether online or offline, and for the public at large.”

“The court has upheld the strong protections for the free flow of information to the press, and from the press to the public,” said EFF attorney Kurt Opsahl in a statement.


Vodafone Make Record £14.9bn Loss

Vodafone Make Record £14.9bn LossIn the normal world, if you’d just discovered that your business had lost £14.9bn ($27.9bn) in a single year, you’d be blubbering into your laptop or heading to the pub to down a vat of Old Scrote’s Badger ale.

But in the crazy world of uber-corporate business, such a loss – the biggest ever recorded for a UK firm – has been spun around to be grrrreat news, with Reuters reporting that Vodafone has gleefully, “unveiled plans to return an extra 3 billion pounds to shareholders.”

So how does the “the biggest annual loss in European corporate history on write-downs” turn out to be a cash feast for shareholders – who are already looking forward to a slice of the £6bn earmarked after the sale of its Japanese venture?

Well, it’s all down to corporate assets not matching their buying price – in this case, German business Mannesmann, which Vodafone bought for £112bn ($183bn) six years ago.

With the actual income generated by the company not living up to its mighty price tag, Vodafone has shunted the value of the Mannesmann subsidiary downwards on its books – a process known in the hip’n’exciting world of accounting as a write-down.

Conversely, Vodafone has been raking it in recently, scooping in monster £8.8bn operating profits last year, while adding 21 million new customers.

Vodafone Make Record £14.9bn LossIn the white-hot mobile phone segment, Vodafone continues to create growth in key markets such as Germany, Spain and the United States, despite being forced to scuttle out of Japan – selling the business for £8.9bn – after failing to make much of a mark in the country.

Vodafone insists that its business remains fundamentally healthy, despite the whopping losses, with CEO Arun Sarin purring, “Vodafone has met or exceeded expectations, outperforming its competitors in an increasingly challenging marketplace.”

“Vodafone is well positioned to deliver on its strategy,” he continued, thumping the table in a positively aligned, upbeat manner.


MP-B200 and MP-B300 MP3 Players From Sharp

MP-B200 and MP-B300 MP3 Players From SharpDetails are still a bit sketchy on these shiny new fellas, but Sharp’s new range of flash based MP3 players sure look mighty purdy to our jaded eyes.

Boasting a stylish crystal mirror-finish, the new flash-based MP3 players look set to keep even the tightest of trousers unruffled, with the sleek-n’slimline beasties measuring just 8.9mm thick and weighing a mere 65 grams.

The players come in four natty shades – silver, blue, black and lead grey – with the Sharp MP-B200 offering 512MB of flash memory and the top of the range MP-B300 coming with 1GB memory.

To keep music mad punters fully stocked with tunes while on the move, both players offer extra capacity in the shape of a miniSD slot, with the audio player offering WMA-DRM and MP3 file format support.

MP-B200 and MP-B300 MP3 Players From SharpAs is de rigueur these days with (non Apple) MP3 players, there’s an FM tuner onboard with direct audio encoding – great for recording radio shows or capturing your mobile mumblings via the built in microphone

The built in audio player comes with WMA-DRM and MP3 file format support, and sports a useful audio in function.

MP-B200 and MP-B300 MP3 Players From SharpThe measurements of the MP-B200 and MP-B300 are 49 x 87.6 x 8.9mm – pretty damn small, but positively bun-scoffing compared to 6.8mm thickness of the Apple iPod.

No news of pricing or UK availability yet, but it should be in Japanese stores from next month.

Sharp [Japan}

Ripped Off On eBay? Start A Blog

Ripped Off On eBay? Start A BlogA number of people that we know who have at one time or another had very serious eBay habits have, at one time or another have been ripped off on eBay. Some see it as a right of passage, one that makes you pay that little bit more attention the next time.

Clearly problems on eBay are the exception rather than the rule. We’ve also had some really great experiences with people who have been more than generous, going above and beyond what was required.

One of our bad ones was bidding for and winning the chance to send someone some money for a train simulator (it was for a friend, honest). The bit that we missed was that the money went to someone who had no intention of giving us the software for the money we’d sent.

Ripped Off On eBay? Start A BlogWhen you realise this is the case you then get angry; contact eBay; they tell you about the scheme they have in place to provide financial recompense; you find out it’s actually not worth doing because the difference between what you paid and the admin charge makes it not worthwhile. You put it down to experience.

laptopguy , take it into your own hands
We live in a world of user-generated content, where the individual can have a voice as loud as the wealthiest newspaper owners. All they’ve got to do is get a blog.

One enterprising fellow, who goes under the moniker ‘laptopguy’, who claims to have been ripped off by buying an incorrectly described and broken laptop on eBay has taken matters into his own hands.

Warning: Given this is the Internet, we’ve really have no idea if any of this is true or not.

The story goes that after extracting the hard disk from the laptop, laptopguy proceeded to find all of the information that had been left on there when it was sold. In the process he says that he found out much more about Amir Massoud Tofangsazan (the seller we’re told) than he would probably want shared with the general public.

Some of this collected information (details of passport, bank account details, hotmail accounts, etc) and photos (friends, porn, foot fetish, secret photos of women in tights on the underground, etc) were then loaded on to a blog with blow-by-blow details of the alleged unhappy transaction.

This isn’t the first time a hard-drive has caused some embarasment to its seller on eBay. Back in April 2005, Brandenburg police in Germany made the same mistake.

True or not, in this recent case, the blog appears to be attracting the attention of the world with 117 comments posted as we write. We can see this story blowing up globally.

Direct action appears to have got laptopguy his redress, if not his £375.

Take care with the comments, some of them are NWS, and other just plain offensive.

The broken laptop I sold on ebay

Yamaha YSP-1 Review: Digital Sound Projector (70%) (pt.2)

Here’s the conclusion of the Yamaha YSP-1 speaker system review, following on from yesterday’s first instalment. YSP-1 YamahaThe geek bit
The technology behind the YSP-1 is similar to how modern radar systems work using phased arrays. These work by using lots of little speakers (or radars) and combining their outputs to steer the beams (by phase shifting the output of each speaker). So although the sound originates from a single unit, the ear puts all the sounds back together again in such a way that it “hears” different beams coming from different parts of the room. It’s all very complicated maths, but it works.

YSP-800 and YSP-1000
The biggest criticism of the YSP-1 must be the set-up, it’s complicated and takes considerable time to get right. Yamaha have taken this into consideration and the next generation of sound projectors come with a microphone and an auto-set-up feature.

The YSP-800 is designed for 32″ inch systems and will retail for £600 (~$1,126,~e878), while the YSP-1000 is a replacement for the YSP-1 offering the same basic unit with the added microphone for easy set-up/tuning.

YSP-1 YamahaTech specs
120W of multi-channel sound produced from a unit about 42″ across with 42 speakers inside (2 bass speakers and 40 small speakers that steer the beams). 3 digital inputs (2 optical and 1 co-ax), stereo input and sub-woofer output. Decodes Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS.

Sound Quality 8/10 it really does give you multi-channel sound from a single unit.

Ease of Set-up 5/10 the main gripe of the YSP-1, though vastly improved with the newer models.

Overall 7/10 you can get better quality by installing multiple speakers and a decent amplifier, but wiring it all is a complete pain. The YSP-1 really does make it easy though it still doesn’t completely remove the need for connecting wires, at least there’s only one set.