BBC TV & Radio Trial On UK 3G

The BBC are going to start of a trial to syndicate a range of its television channels and radio networks via 3G to mobile phones within the month.

BBC TV & Radio Trial On UK 3GThree UK operators will be taking part, Orange, Vodafone and 3 giving subscribers to the trial the ability to watch BBC One, BBC News 24 and BBC Three streamed on their mobiles. Beyond some sports programmes and programmes where they don’t have the necessary rights.

As well as the TV channels, eight radio stations will also be included – Radio 1, 1Xtra, Radio 2, Radio 3, Radio 4, 6 Music, BBC 7 and Asian Network.

Appropriately enough the announcement by Richard Halton, BBC Controller of Business Strategy, was made at the Broadcast Mobile TV Congress.

The BBC haven’t done a great deal of content on mobiles, not that they’re not keen on it, as you’ll be able to tell from the comments of Richard Halton, “The BBC believes that mobile content is an important part of the broadcasting landscape and is looking at ways in which mobile devices will shape services of the future for licence fee payers.”

They hope to learn lots from this trial, as Ashley Highfield, Director of Future Media and Technology at the BBC said, “The findings, combined with quantitative and qualitative consumer research, will inform the BBC’s future mobile strategy.”

We’ll keep our eyes on this.

.xxx Porn Domain Defeated By ICANN

After a long time, the organisation behind the domain names on the Internet has voted against .xxx.

The idea behind the .xxx p0rn domain extension (or Top Level Domain TLD, in domain -ese) has been floating around for a very long time.

Back in March 2004 ICM Registry, based in Florida, put a formal application in for .xxx, in response to ICANN’s request for proposals for new TLDs.

Over the time since then, there’s been many back and forths between ICM and ICANN to try and reach a settlement.

There’s been signs of encouragement from ICANN when it has gone to votes twice back in 2005.

Today the ICANN meeting in Lisbon has voted against .xxx. The reasons they list are

  • ICM’s Application and the Revised Agreement fail to meet, among other things, the Sponsored Community criteria of the RFP specification.
  • Based on the the extensive public comment and from the GAC’s communiqués that this agreement raises public policy issues.
  • Approval of the ICM Application and Revised Agreement is not appropriate as they do not resolve the issues raised in the GAC Communiqués, and ICM’s response does not address the GAC’s concern for offensive content, and similarly avoids the GAC’s concern for the protection of vulnerable members of the community. The Board does not believe these public policy concerns can be credibly resolved with the mechanisms proposed by the applicant.
  • The ICM Application raises significant law enforcement compliance issues because of countries’ varying laws relating to content and practices that define the nature of the application, therefore obligating ICANN to acquire a responsibility related to content and conduct.
  • The Board agrees with the reference in the GAC communiqué from Lisbon, that under the Revised Agreement, there are credible scenarios that lead to circumstances in which ICANN would be forced to assume an ongoing management and oversight role regarding Internet content, which is inconsistent with its technical mandate.

Reading their application back in March 2004, there’s chance for a bit of a laugh.

The proposed .xxx string is clearly appropriate for the sponsored community as other strings were deemed too Anglo-Saxon and had the potential to lead to confusion (see above).

“too Anglo-Saxon” – brilliant.

.xxx Porn Domain Defeated By ICANN

Many people feel the .xxx TLD to be a good idea, the theory being that if all porn is pushed on to it, children and those not interesting in seeing p0rn won’t just stumble across it by accident. Given the sheer amount of p0rn on the Internet, that’s not a bad idea, but thinking that p0rnographers will adhere to any rules is wishful thinking.

Frankly if ICANN’s thinking is that by not allowing .xxx they think people won’t think there’s p0rn on the Internet, they’re living in a different world.

Rejection of Proposed sTLD Agreement with .XXX
Public comments on .xxx

Flexion ePhotomaker Review (90%): Handy Mini Studio-In-A-Bag

With more and more people shifting their goods via eBay, auction sites and online shops, it’s important to be able to back up your sales patter with some high quality images.

Flexion ePhotomaker ReviewAlthough digital cameras make it easy to quickly snap product shots, the built in flash often creates unflattering shadows and reflections, so Lastolite are hoping that people will be prepared to shell out for their economy-priced ePhotomaker kit.A much smaller and less complex affair than the three hundred quid Lastolite Cubelite Portable Studio set-up we reviewed last September, the ePhotomaker comes in two sizes, and promises pro-quality, studio-style shots at a cut price budget.

The package comes in a small round blue bag, with the igloo-shaped light tent almost bursting out, thanks to its super-springy wire skeleton.

Flexion ePhotomaker ReviewAlso lurking in the bag is a sheet of blue ‘gel’ (to compensate for the yellow hue of the average light bulb) and two crocodile clips for attaching it to a desk lamp.

Inside the igloo
Looking inside the igloo-like tent, there’s an all-white interior with the right side covered in reflective silver material.

The idea is that you shine your desk light through the left hand side of the tent, with the material diffusing the light inside and the silver material ‘filling in’ shadows from the opposite side.

In general, we got pretty good results, although you’ll almost certainly have to fiddle about with the EV compensation and/or white balance controls on your digital camera to get the best results.

Fortunately, the included illustrated instructions do a fairly good job of talking newbies through the process of setting up the camera, with directions for both digital and film users.

The desk lamp isn’t included by the way, but just about any old light source will do (indeed, we got excellent results sitting the light tent on a sunny table top).

Also included in the kit is a grey card for setting exposure and a wee tripod, but unless you want to see your expensive dSLR nose-dive into the ground, we would only recommend attaching this to small digital compact cameras.

Flexion ePhotomaker ReviewConclusion
If you’ve ever battled to produce a decent product photo at home and suffered the inevitable distracting backgrounds, inconsistent shadows and disappointing results, it may well be worth investing in the ePhotomaker.

Although you could just as easily make your own home studio with a white sheet, some stickyback plastic and a few shoeboxes, the ePhotomaker kit has the advantage of being easy to set up and quick to pack away – and it’s pretty cheap too.

Once you’ve delved into your digicam’s menus to work out the best settings for your camera, you should have no problem knocking out high quality images – and if the better product photos help you sell your stuff on eBay, the ePhotomaker kit may well end up paying for itself sooner than you think!

Our verdict
Features: 75%
Ease of Use: 80%
Value for Money: 85%

Overall: 90%

0Small ePhotomaker kit
Price: £50 inc. VAT.
Large ePhotomaker kit
Price: £80 inc. VAT.


Complete My Album Launched By Apple iTunes

As is often the case, there’s been rumours circling for a long time about the possibilities of Apple launching an add-service for iTunes, to give credits for tracks purchased.

Complete My Album Launched By Apple iTunesToday they’ve announced it’s for real. The new Complete My Album will give iTunes users 79p credit per track for each track on an album that they decide to purchase, if they’ve bought the tracks individually first.

To illustrate, a user who’s already purchased three 79 pence singles and decides to buy the corresponding £7.99 album would be able to download the remaining songs to complete the album for just £5.62, without having to pay for the same tracks again.

Well done for Apple for launching this, but frankly, it only seems right anyway.

There’s two caveats. Customers only have 180 days from the purchase of the first track to buying the whole album, and it doesn’t looks like it’s going to be all albums as they’re referring to “qualifying albums.”

The music industry don’t really have an option in increasing the likelihood of punters buying more music from them. Complete My Album is just such a offering. As to whether people will be tempted into buying those extra tracks from the album, that they purposely didn’t buy when they were originally buying the track is quite another matter.

Yahoo Mail To Go Unlimited

Yahoo Mail will be upping the ante in the Web-based email market.

Yahoo Mail To Go UnlimitedThere’s been back and forth between Yahoo and Google, following Google launching Gmail with an at-the-time world-shattering 1GB of storage back in April 2004.

To mark their 10-year web-mail birthday, Yahoo are proposing giving people unlimited storage for their email, quite a step up from the 4MB that they launched with.

To put some numbers to the escalation of the demands for email, David Nakayama, Yahoo’s group vice president of engineering, points out that in the early days, Yahoo’s “total capacity for mail accounts back then was 200GB for all of our customers. At Yahoo!, we’re now receiving more inbound mail than that every 10 minutes.”

Yahoo Mail To Go Unlimited

Now don’t expect all of this to be available today, as even Yahoo’s mighty mass of server farms might buckle under the demand. Instead they plan roll it out gradually over the coming months.

Don’t go thinking that you’ll be able to use your Yahoo mail account to hold all of your data, Yahoo will have anti-abuse limits in place to protect users, the details of which are currently unclear.

Many of us at Digital-Lifestyles swear by Gmail as our email package of choice, but we’ve hit the 2.8GB limit a few times of late and if Google don’t make the jump to copy Yahoo’s infinite offer, that may be enough for some of us to jump over to Yahoo. So come on Google.

Ofcom To Regulate VoIP In UK

Ofcom To Regulate VoIP In UKOfcom have just announced a new regulatory code for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers operating in the UK.

With predictions estimating that there could be as many as three million VoIP users in the UK by the end of this year, Ofcom clearly felt it was time to set some base rules for the industry to adhere to.

They’re broadly divided in two – prescribed information to tell the consumer before they sign up and once they have signed up, making them aware of the limitation of their access to the emergency services.

For a long time the lack of solid emergency (999) number access has been used by the incumbent telecos to try and stem the growth of VoIP. Their argument? If someone calls 999, there is no assured way of telling if that person is calling from Basildon, Birmingham, or Beijing, as the handset just needs to be on an IP connection, to attached to the end of a specific piece of wire, like a landline is.

Ofcom To Regulate VoIP In UKBefore June 2007, all VoIP providers will be required to make it clear :-

  • whether or not the service includes access to emergency services (some operators may choose not to provide any support at all);
  • the extent to which the service depends on the user’s home power supply (Standard telephones are powered by the phone line itself, where as Broadband services require external power to a number of different boxes to function);
  • whether directory assistance, directory listings, access to the operator or the itemisation of calls are available; and
  • whether consumers will be able to keep their telephone number if they choose to switch providers at a later date. (This is known as number portability, and would seem reasonable to offer, given it is standard throughout the rest of the telecoms markets).

If a customer decides to sign up for a VoIP service, the provider has additional obligations around emergency calls:-

  • secure the customer’s positive acknowledgement of this at point of sale (by ticking a box, for example);
  • label the capability of the service, either in the form of a physical label for equipment or via information on the computer screen; and
  • play an announcement each time a call to emergency services is attempted, reminding the caller that access is unavailable.

Driven Mad By A Whining Asus Fan

Life in Digi-Life towers has become considerably more stressful recently after our Mesh PC started to give out an annoying high pitched whine from one of the PC’s fans.

Driven Mad By A Whining FanAt first, it was just an occasional background noise that would start just as quickly as it would stop. Then it started to become more regular. And louder. And more irritating.

Put the boot in
We noticed that a highly unscientific boot to the PC’s case (carry out at your own risk) often stopped the noise, but in the past few weeks the fan has become so noisy that we feared we may end up committing GBH on the machine.

With a level of grumbling that would make Mr Grumpy on Tax Return Day seem like a happy chap, we reluctantly pulled open the PC to look for the culprit.

Naturally, the machine decided to switch to ‘absolutely silent’ mode for the first ten minutes, but eventually we tracked down the culprit: the chipset fan on our ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe motherboard.

Driven Mad By A Whining Fan‘No problem,’ we thought, we’ll just pop along to the nearest PC fair and grab a £2 replacement fan and silence will be, once again, truly golden.

Before shelling out for the fan, we thought we’d take a quick look on the Web to see if there were any issues about fitting replacement fans and that’s when the expletive count started to hit Gordon Ramsey levels.

It’s the chipset, Jim
It turns out that our motherboard is not only near legendary for its incessantly whining fan, but worst of all, Asus fitted the mobo (Motherboard) with a stupid, steeenkin’ non-standard fan. Aaargh!

Although we can only admire the near-Klingon-esque sci-fi looks of the Asus fan in question, its proprietary fitting means that you can’t simply slap in an off-the-shelf replacement.

According to some online forums, Asus will apparently send you a free replacement fan once you’ve filled in several forms in triplicate, but we haven’t heard back from them yet (the mobo comes with a three year warranty).

Driven Mad By A Whining FanA request for help on the urban75 forums brought forth disturbing tales of folks fitting their own replacement fans, a process which involves the enormous hassle of removing the entire motherboard – not a job for an impatient journo with pressing pub deadlines.

Some had simply botched up a solution, with one user wedging in a standard chipset fan with a zip-tie, while another had manoeuvred a case fan to blow over the chipset at low revs.

Others suggested plumping for a passive cooling solution, employing a Zalman Silent Motherboard Heatsink – a bargain at under £3, but once again requiring the entire PC be taken apart.

We’ll be keeping you informed if Asus honour their free replacement fan offer (we’ve also written to Mesh, the PC makers), but for now you’ll have to excuse us if a few of our posts get a little tetchy as the ruddy thing has started making a whining noise all over again.

In the meantime, may we recommend that users looking to upgrade or build a new PC invest in a motherboard with passive chipset cooling rather than risk suffering the slings and arrows of an outrageous PC racket.

LG-Google Handsets Coming From Deal

LG have signed a deal with Google to put some of their mobile services pre-loaded onto its handsets.

LG-Google Handsets Coming From DealLG have committed to release at least ten new mobile phone and will jointly market them as LG-Google handsets.

The apps covered by the deal are Google Maps – which lets people view maps and satellite imagery, find local businesses, and get driving directions, Gmail – the Java-driven, mobile focused version of their email service and Blogger Mobile – which, err … lets you blog while on the move, using images taken from the mobile phone.

Mr. Paul Bae, Vice President of the Product Planning Team at LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company really wants us all to know that “LG’s mobile devices, combined with Google, will provide consumers with easy access to their favourite Internet services even without a PC and make it easy for them to stay connected while in motion.” Wooo!

As we know LG don’t just do mobile phones, but a whole panoply of electronic bits, with a major focus on the home, so it’s interesting to hear from LG that they’ll be extending their relationship with Google to “develop digitalized home in the future.”

The financial terms of the deal were not revealed, indeed it’s unclear if LG will be sharing the income Google will derive from its advertising.

LG are being a little tarty about this. It’s not too long ago (end of 2006) that they signed a deal with Yahoo to pre-load Yahoo! services, including Yahoo! Go for Mobile 2.0, Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo Messenger on many of its mobile phones. Clearly that wasn’t an exclusive deal and it will have covered different handsets we imagine.

Xbox 360 Elite Announced

There’s been lots of speculation going around the various blog sites about the release of a new version of Microsoft’s Xbox 360.

Xbox 360 Elite ReleasedYesterday Microsoft confirmed that the Xbox 360 Elite is a real product and will begin arriving in US stores on 29 April with an expected retail price of $480.

The confirmed spec of the 360 Elite is a combination of a 120Gb hard drive, new accessories bundled in, and to all of those HD TV fans, an HDMI port built in. Oh, and a return to a black case like the original Xbox. Microsoft tell us that the retail price of all of the bundled bits is over $600 if bought separately.

The HDMI port is an interesting move – yes it will make it simpler to get High Def screens connected (if you have a screen with an HDMI in port), but importantly it will let Elite owners play protected HD-DVD discs on the long-discussed add-on HD-DVD drive. HDMI connection is needed for the HDCP content protection scheme.

Xbox 360 Elite Announced

The new, large hard drive is a big step up from the previous version of 20Gb to 120Gb – all the more space for Microsoft to sell you TV shows, films and software to download – oh … and save you game positions to as well of course.

The hard drive is detachable and will also be sold separately so standard Xbox users will be able to get hold of them too. Expected US price is $180.

Alongside the goodies above are an Xbox 360 Wireless Controller in black and a headset, in … err, black. Do you get the black theme? There’ll be a couple of other new bits available separately too, a Play & Charge kit for the the wireless controller ($20) and a black rechargeable battery ($12)

Xbox 360 Elite AnnouncedPeter Moore, Corporate Vice President – Interactive Entertainment Business, Microsoft, turned the hyperbole meter way up to deliver the following, “Today’s games and entertainment enthusiast has an insatiable appetite for digital high-definition content. Xbox 360 Elite’s larger hard drive and premium accessories will allow our community to enjoy all that the next generation of entertainment has to offer.”

It’s worth noting that the first shots of the Elite, while looking slightly underground, are in fact taken by ‘Major Nelson,’ the pseudonym for Larry Hryb, Xbox Live Director of Programming. So ‘leaked’ photos are now coming from official sources!

Images courtesy of Major Nelson

Clipboard Recorder 4.0 Review (84%)

Clipboard Recorder 4.0 Review (84%)Sometimes the simplest applications can make the biggest difference to your productivity, and we reckon that freeware Clipboard Recorder by LW-Works could be such a fella.

As the name suggests, the program extends Windows clipboard functionality by keeping a full record of whatever you’ve copied into your your clipboard (annoyingly, Windows normally only lets you store one piece of copied content in memory).

The program is a mere slip of a thing at just 1 meg and equally light on system resources, and once installed provides several ways for you to access content stored in its clipboard.

Once running (it can be configured to start up automatically), Clipboard Recorder lurks in the system tray, quietly monitoring and storing what’s going into your system clipboard.

Clipboard Recorder 4.0 Review (84%)The neatest way to can access the extended clipboard is by selecting the Windows+V keys or clicking on the system tray icon and selecting the desired text from a list of ‘headlines.’

If that’s not enough, you can also choose to have a floating window on your desktop or go the whole hog and have the full application window open, giving you the opportunity to preview the full content of the pasted clips.

The program supports a variety of formats including RTF text, HTML, CSV and images (although we couldn’t get it to store images copied in Firefox) and can even let you transfer clipboard data between computers.

Big time cut’n’pasters can set up separate clipboard records by creating new categories and drag and dropping clipboard contents over.

Clipboard Recorder 4.0 Review (84%)Although it doesn’t possess the most attractive interface we’ve ever had grace our desktop, Clipboard Recorder does a very useful job without any fuss and for free, we’re not complaining.

In use, we found the program a real boon and short of some calamitous program malfunction in the future, it’s earned a permanent place in our system tray. Recommended.

Score on the doors
Features: 70%
Interface: 60%
Ease of use: 80%

Overall: 84%

Clipboard Recorder

Pro version and developments
There is also a professional version available offering extra features for £30, as well as a downloadable preview version of the forthcoming v4.1.

This lets you exclude clips from specific applications (so you don’t fill up your clipboard with passwords, for example) and offers the ability to export clips to external files.

The developer seems fairly active on the site too, and seems open to user feedback, so if you like the program give the fella some feedback!