Using mute filters to make Twitter better.

I'm done with arguments on the internet. Done with reading them and done with participating in them. Be it in comment sections, chat rooms, forums, or on Twitter. The latter is probably the worst place to have an argument because your severely limited in what you can say and the more people that join in the more limited you get (I've long said Twitter should remove usernames from the character count). You're also having this argument in public where people can easily share and retweet your comments. Ultimately, nobody wins either. You both end up looking like a couple of idiots.

I'm all for nuanced discussion, I get regular email from readers and it's always way more pleasant. I have a “virtual workspace” in  the form of Slack as well and we have many great discussions about a wide range of topics.

Twitter is still a valuable tool though. I gave up on RSS last year due to a combination of it being another box of unread items and feedlys shady business practices. Twitter has largely filled that void. Probably 80% of what happens in my twitter timeline is good stuff. So I've set up some mute filters, with help from this site.

I started by muting my own username first but only from my timeline. This means that tweets to me only appear in my mentions tab. This means if I'm having a lengthy conversation with someone it's not bumping other tweets out of my timeline. 

I also muted ^@ and switched regular expression on. This mutes tweets that start with a reply. This means that all those petty arguments are now gone. I can still see tweets where a username appears later in the tweet. If I want to see replies to a tweet or a conversation I can swipe in Tweetbot and see them without a problem.

I also mute certain clients like foursqaure and those daft horoscope ones.

All this has made Twitter much better. The tweets I see now are the ones intended for everyone. These are typically higher quality as they've normally got a modicum of thought. There's still a problem with those who think they are going to change things in less than 140 characters and things like subtweets but I find these are the same people over and over again.  I'll leave them to it and mute them or unfollow them if needs be.

I realised I might not be in control of everything I see on Twitter but I am in control of whether or not I choose to keep seeing it.

iPad only, one week in.

The first major test was probably recording last weeks episode of Cultivate but that actually ended up going a lot better than we could have hoped. Strictly speaking  I didn't actually use the iPad for the audio as that was handled by my iPhone 5s but the notes during the show were still done on an iPad. I mounted my iPhone on my desk stand and started a Skype call with Ben. Once I was sure he could hear me I then started Voice Memos and began recording. It all worked perfectly. A word of advice though: if you use headphones with a built in Microphone, such as Apples EarPods, then the microphone on those will be used instead of the phone and you won't get the same quality as you can expect from the phone. My advice is to use headphones without a mic so that the iPhone defaults back to its internal mics.

Next up is writing. Not everything I write is published here but everything I have written in the last week has been done in Editorial. This is a perfect example of desktop class software running on an iPad. It has so many different  automation options that Federico Viticci wrote a book on it. When I'm done writing this piece all I have to do is push the “send to Squarespace” workflow and it will convert my Markdown to HTML and then email a copy directly to Squarespace. No copying and pasting needed for me. I can fetch links, I can do word counts on specific paragraphs, the list really is endless.

Editorial isn't perfect, it still hasn't been updated for iOS 7 but it's by far my favourite app on the iPad. I've tested numerous Android tablets and nothing gets even remotely close. i actually prefer writing on my iPad than I did on my Desktop now.

I thought keeping in touch with colleagues and peers might be harder on the iPad as I typically had iMessage, Tweetbot, Slack, Skype and my Email open at any time on my Mac and I'd constantly be swiping between them. I can honestly say that being on an iPad hasn't slowed me down a bit and I think it's safe to assume nobody I communicate with regularly has even noticed. I can still use 4 finger gestures to swipe between apps and I can type almost as fast on the on screen keyboard as I can on a physical keyboard.  All those apps have counterparts on iOS and they all work really well.

When it comes to relaxing and consuming rather than creating, the iPad comes into it's own. I watched the Malaysian Grand Prix at the weekend in bed and on the iPad I had the Sky Sports app open showing me different cameras, audio, the driver tracker and timing screens. It was the epitome of second screen experiences. Disclosure: I own shares in Sky

If you follow me on twitter you'll have no doubt seen me lament my awful internet. Since moving house last month I've gone from 120Mb down to 2Mb down. 4 on a good day. This makes using streaming services difficult, or at least, it used to. The iPad handles poor bandwidth by much better than my Mac does. On the desktop I'd constantly experience buffering on the iPlayer or Netflix but I don't get that on the iPad. This is due to the fact the API's in iOS are designed to deal with fluctuating bandwidth where as flash need silverlight are not. These media players were designed from the ground up to cope in these circumstances. Listening to podcasts is easier now as well, I was using Downcast on OS X and iOS but now I'm using pocket casts. I'm no longer tied to apps because they have a Mac equivalent. This applies to a few apps.

There are some things you can do on both that the iPad is just vastly superior at. Reading books, taking photos, even surfing the web. The iPad overall just feels a lot more intimate and a lot more personal. Steve Jobs described it as magic and I get the same feeling from using an iPad as I do when watching magic. “Wow, how did they do that?”

A lot of it is down to hardware. I've bought  every previous model of iPad on day one apart from the iPad 4 and the Air really is a leap forward. Its just so thin and light and the reduced bezel means I can slip it into my jacket pocket and not have to worry about carrying a bag or even a charger because the battery life is ridiculously good. I've been working since 9am almost constantly save for one 30 minute break and the battery is only down to 73%. I've yet to have it die on me and know it's there when I need it is liberating.

I could write pages and pages about all the things I love about iOS and all the apps I can't live without but these are the most important ones. The ones that make my life easier and that have made me fall for the iPad all over again.

Now I will say this isn't for everyone and there are some bad points. If you like to block ads on the web, you can't do that on an iPad. Nor can you download torrents or pirated apps, Jailbreaking excluded, something I haven't done to my devices since 2010. There's no expandable memory or storage. None of these things affect me though. I don't block ads on the web, I don't pirate movies and most new high end computers don't have expandable memory or storage either. I always buy the 16gb models and it's never been that much of a problem for me. I run out of space maybe once a year. I'd like to see Apple turn iCloud into a dropbox competitor but that's a whole other discussion.

I have enjoyed this past week immensely. It's been great fun. I think this is the start of my future computing habits. Turns out you can do real work on an iPad and I don't even need Microsoft Office to arrive.

Sent from my iPad


A reader has asked me what case I use. I tried the official cases but the Smart Cover is no use to me because it doesn't protect the back. The Smart Case is better and very well made. It's useless for typing though because the 3 fold design is a step backwards as it continually came undone when I was typing on it. I'd lift the iPad up slightly to adjust it or show someone something and it would unfold. I'd then have to do it back up again. This was never a problem on the old design. 

I needed a case quickly as a stop gap so I purchased this one in green and it's actually quite well made for the price. I paid £1.95 but the price varies a lot. I'll likely replace it with something a bit better in the future but I'm in no rush. 



Using an iPad as my only computer - Take 2

Back in November I spent about a month trying to use the iPad as my only computer. For the most part it went really well but sadly iOS 7 was just a little bit too buggy for me to make the commitment. Since then Apple has released iOS 7.1 and the experience is much improved. So, I'm trying again with an iPad Air.

The portability and more intimate nature of the iPad really appeals to me. Coupled with the battery life and 4g networking it does seem to make sense on the outside. I've gotten rid of my Macs completely and I've committed to this wholeheartedly.

In the last 6 months or so I feel that a Mac (and by mac I really mean any PC as well) had just become like an anchor. I was always either tethered to a desk whilst using my iMac or trying to get comfortable somewhere in reach of a power supply whilst using my MacBook.

Then there are the things I can't do as well on a Mac as well as I can on an iPad. I can jot things down quickly using my finger in Paper, I can take photos, I can read books, I can FaceTime, I can control my Apple TV and my Sky+ box. The list goes on and on. I can even fit the entire computer in my jacket pocket!

In terms of actually getting work done; I use the brilliant Editorial for all my writing. I'll still be using Skype for podcasting and recording into a nearby iPhone as a backup in case of signal problems. I already used my iPhone to record interviews in my other job and for watching football the iPad still has Sky Go and BT Sport so I'm all set there as well. YouTube works just fine also. I tried to make a list of pros and cons but I was honestly struggling to find any reasons not to do this.

Now I'm not saying this move is for everyone and that the iPad is now on par with a Mac in terms of power or software. But for my usage it's more than capable and is in many ways superior. I'm confident it will work out for the better this time around.

On conflicts of interest and perceived bias

There’s been a lot of talk over the last few days about whether or not accepting money to advertise a product makes you conflicted or in any way biased. As someone who does this, I’ve been intrigued by the conversation and I can see why people have taken offence to it. Having your integrity questioned is never a good thing especially when it’s so difficult to prove you are not biased or conflicted.

Much of the conversation centred around podcasts and whether or not the host(s) of a podcast would be able to freely discuss a topic that may potentially paint a sponsor in a bad light. As far as I’ve seen this is all still hypothetical because nobody actually has a solid example of where this has already happened. 

The way I see it, podcast ads aren’t that much different from ads in other forms of media, such as product placement, endorsements or RSS sponsors. You’re being paid to say something nice about a product or service in the hope that your readers, whose trust you have earned over time, will buy or use the product. The key component though is that because there is an implied trust, the content creator will usually only accept sponsorships from products they are prepared to endorse. Podcast ads, generally speaking, are far more accurately curated than something like Adsense, The Deck or Fusion (Disclaimer: This site is supported by Fusion ads.) If I have a problem with a product or service being advertised then I can ensure it isn’t displayed on my domain in the future but with podcasts, I can ensure it never appears in the first instance. There’s no obligation to accept a sponsor if you don’t want to.

The problems arise because the types of sponsorships that run on these shows (and sites) mean that one day they may become part of the news for negative reasons. There is a belief that this could then potentially cloud the judgement of the person discussing it because they have, in the past, received money from that company and so would be unwilling to b brutally honest.

To use an example I’ve seen thrown around: what if Squarespace has a major issue, would podcasts be able to cover it honestly? I’m unsure why it’s been limited to podcasts because Squarespace advertises on websites and television as well. I also don’t know the answer to this question and neither does anyone else because it hasn’t actually happened yet. It’s reminiscent of “If all your friends jump off a bridge would you do it too”. It’s hypothetical. 

I would like to think a few things that would mean the issue would be dealt with appropriately though. A) Listeners/readers are smart enough to know the difference between an ad and the content and the content creator is smart enough to differentiate between the two as well. B) The sponsor (in this example, Squarespace) would understand that if there was going to be bad press they would have no problem with it being covered in an appropriate manner by the shows that they sponsor. They aren’t buying immunity and to suggest they are without evidence is folly.

I’m not sure why this is being touted as a problem all of a sudden because if anything this is becoming even less of an issue. A lot of podcasts now don’t do direct sponsor sales, they are done through an ad agency, much like the website model.

Conflicts of interest aren’t new and depending on how you paint them they can be used as a weapon against multiple places. Here’s some examples.

* I can’t talk about Apple or Samsung because they have paid me in the past

* I can’t talk about any of Apple’s competitors because Apple have paid me in the past.

* I can’t talk about BSkyB because I own shares in that company

* I can’t talk about Twitter because I have advertised with them in the past.

* I shouldn’t have a podcast, because Podcasts go on to iTunes and my podcast Cultivate was featured on iTunes, I used to work for Apple so that’s a conflict of interest.

* Anyone who has an app on a store cannot talk about that store because they have to submit apps to that store for approval and if they have said negative stuff about that store in the past the people running that store might take it personally and not deal with their issues in an appropriate fashion.

* Anyone that owns a product can’t talk about that product because if the company isn’t successful then that product will become obsolete faster.

As you can see, depending on how ridiculous you want to get, I’m confident you can imply bias or a conflict of interest in most peoples work (and they are all ridiculous). Unless you have actual evidence of it happening then please refrain from implying or inferring it’s happening. 

My best guess would be that if something bad happened with a sponsor then either it wouldn’t be discussed at all so as to avoid a conflict of interest or would be done in a pragmatic and measured fashion, which is what we all want from the media nowadays anyway isn’t it? Perhaps less hyperbole is a good thing?

All I know is the people who read this site are smart enough to figure out what’s going on. If you don’t trust a person enough to be honest and upfront with you then don’t listen to their shows or read their websites. It’s really not all that difficult. We shouldn’t be in a situation where people are having their integrity questioned because of someones opinion. You wouldn’t say “In my opinion you drown puppies, prove to me you don’t” so don’t do it here either.

I have noticed a trend in those discussing this subject though. There are people who think it's an issue and there are people who think it isn't. Those 2 groups also just happen to be divided into those who don't have a podcast with sponsors and those who do. I'm inclined to trust the people who have skin in the game and are aware of how the process and mindset works. 

**Update** Myself and Ben discussed this topic further on this weeks episode of Cultivate. You can listen below

Getting out of the "insider info" game

I've been mulling this one over for a while and whilst I haven't made a final decision yet I think my mind is almost made up. I'm probably going to stop publishing the info I am able to get through my various contacts in the tech industry. Rather than just make this decision quietly, I thought it deserved an explanation as there is some degree of reasoning behind it.

Firstly, I'm not a big time writer. I'm just a one man band who has access to the kind of info some technology journalists could only dream of. I don't publish all of it. I'd say 80% of the time it turns out to be spot on but I know people will concentrate on that 20% that is wrong. I try to keep it under my hat until I'm able to confirm it with a few more sources to give me piece of mind. 

Secondly, sometimes people risk their jobs to tell me this stuff. I do my utmost to protect those people because they aren't coming to me because I'm a writer, they are coming to me because I am their friend. I'd never compromise my sources for anybody nor do I share them with anyone else.

Thirdly, there's no confidence in doing things this way. I don't write for a well known site so my info is often disregarded by most people. I have a comparatively small following that has grown to learn over time that my info is good, more often than not. I appreciate those people very much and some of them have afforded me opportunities to work elsewhere that I am very grateful for. I know this makes me sound like an attention hungry knob but if you're publishing online, you're doing it for attention. There are other valid reasons for writing and attention isn't my priority but it is part of what I do whether I like it or not. I'd rather embrace it that emptily deny it.

Lastly, it's starting to piss people off. Last week I tweeted about some info I got regarding Amazon. A few tech writers from a few different sites got in touch about this to chastise me for breaking an embargo. I want to stress I wasn't under embargo. All my communications from Amazon are as that of a customer, never as a writer. Some were polite enough just to ask where the info came from, others were quite rude about it.  This isn't the first time this has happened and I don't need that kind of hassle. Some people think disrupting the tech reporting industry is a good thing but if I continue alienating people, whether it's colleagues or companies, it's going to eventually come back and bite me in the arse. 

I could, of course go underground. Transform myself into a Macalope type character and share my info like some sort of superhero with an alternate identity but what would be the point in that?

I could also just give the info to the 'good guys' of the technology industry. Those who just work their butts off every day and who would be able to write a decent news post that would get a lot of eyeballs but again, what would be the point? My value would only be to one person and whilst there would be a degree of obfuscation, I don't know that I could guarantee a steady stream of information because friends wouldn't be helping me forge a career anymore, they'd be helping someone who already has one. So no, if the info I'm working to get is going to be used, I want it to have my name in the byline. It's only fair that if I do the legwork, I get the credit. I do too much uncredited writing elsewhere to take a step back and do it in this arena as well.

I could pitch this info and articles to publications but they don't know whether I'm being honest or making it up and I can't blame them. 

So what does that mean for the site? The majority of my content isn't "rumours" or "insider info".  Traffic is fairly evenly split between opinion based items and reporting so I'm confident I can still be valuable to my readership. If there's a big drop off then I'll accept that and deal with it when it happens but I doubt it will.

My decision isn't final yet, I'm still going to mull it over, I just wanted to share with you the thought process that went in to making the decision, whatever that ultimately is.   



Expanded thoughts on the potential of Apple TV

I’ve been thinking a lot about how Apple TV could work in the future. I’ve been asking questions of people inside Apple and of people close to the content creators as well. You could say it’s been an area of intense interest. The question I have asked is how it’s going to work. 

The cable industry is already very large, complex and varies from country to country. I don’t foresee Apple setting out to kill the cable industry. Just as they didn’t set out to kill the music industry. They want to give users a better experience so they can consume their content easier. 

Think about your current cable TV experience. It’s universally accepted that the UI is ugly. The boxes are too big and also ugly. They aren’t updated very often and most people, even nerds like you and me, don’t consider them to be proper technology or even a gadget. They are a necessary evil. I don’t even know who you are or where you live but I can confidently make these statements because it’s just how it’s been for years. 

We already know an SDK exists for Apple TV and we’ve seen the fruits of that over the last year. There have been many new apps and channels added. Take Sky as an example. They added both their rolling news channel and their Sky Sports Now TV service to the Apple TV last year.  

Sky News’ main functionality is live streaming of the existing TV channel. It’s free and if you had it on your TV it wouldn’t look any different to the untrained eye. People would assume it was coming through a cable box. But the App/Channel does so much more than that. It gives you access to on demand video content from current stories. So if you want to find out what a naughty boy Piers Morgan has been or how Britain fared in the Winter Olympics you don’t have to wait for the presenter to get around to it on the live stream. This is the future of TV. Linear content supplemented by non-linear content available at any time. This doesn’t have to be video either. On another channel that could be Tweets relating to that guilty pleasure reality tv show. Or it could be live statistics about the sporting event you are watching. Maybe additional camera angles for replays. The key is that the user decides when they want this augmentation and when they just want a full screen, immersive TV experience.

Sky Sports Now TV is another good example. Premier League football is big business in the UK. So much so that certain rules in the sport now relate specifically to TV. For the first time Sky have made their channels available on a Pay Per Day basis. It’s £9.99 and that gives you access to all of Sky’s sporting coverage across all the ’Sky Sports’ channels for a 24 hour period. This let’s those Chelsea fans catch a match with Manchester United or an F1 fan watch the season opener in Australia, not only without the need for a Sky Subscription but without the need for a Sky Box at all. I’ve written before about why this is important for Sky as a business if the want to continue to grow but there’s no reason this can’t be adopted elsewhere. 

I chose those 2 channels because they demonstrate that it’s possible to provide customers with both an augmented experience and a standalone PPV service. I fully expect the WWE Network to be a great example of both as well but that doesn’t launch until next week.

If Apple were to launch a new, more powerful box and if they were to open up the SDK to even more companies then there’s nothing stopping all the major players having one of the above examples or a combination of all of them. Most companies are already doing it on iPad. You can stream on demand content from CBS, ABC, BBC, ITV and countless other initialisms. There would be nothing stopping these companies from building apps for the Apple TV as well, some are already doing it.

I think this is the least Apple TV should be and the information I am getting points in this direction. Essentially we need to take the TV experience that’s emerged on the iPad and put it back up on the TV. 

How many iPhones, iPads and Macs does Apple sell per Day, Hour, Minute and Second? Q1 2014 Edition

89 days ago I published the breakdown of how many products Apple sells per day and it proved quite popular so I've done the same again for the Q1 2014 results. If you want to see how it compares to the previous quarter then that post is here

The following data is from Apples Q1 financial report which is valid from September 29th through December 28th 2013 and is rounded down to the nearest whole number.

51,025,000 total iPhones were sold in the quarter.

That’s an average of

  • 560,714 a day

  • 23,363 an hour

  • 389 a minute

  • 6 a second.

 26,035,000 iPads were sold in the quarter,

That's an average of

  • 286,098 per day

  • 11,920 per hour

  • 198 per minute

  • 3 per second

4,800,000 Macs were sold in the quarter,

That's an average of

  • 52,747 per day

  • 2197 per hour

  • 36 per minute

  • 1 every 2 seconds

Some Changes

Bear with me on this one. I have a lot to get off my chest

When I started this site last year I found it fairly easy to play the part of the grumpy writer who complained about everything and focused on the negative aspects of the tech industry.  I'd become jaded and cynical but it worked, people seemed to like it. To quote Harry Marks "The page views flowed". I don't do this for page views though and over the last few months I've tried to do less of that and I think my writing is better for it.

There's still a lot of negativity in the tech industry though and it's easy to get swept away in it. People are too quick to find stuff to complain about and are unwilling to let a story unfold before passing comment. I'm guilty of this myself. I want to be better than that, though.

A good example of what I'm talking about is the recent reaction to Squarespace's Logo maker. People immediately said this was going to put designers out of business. Which is silly because the tool is pretty basic.  

Another example is the recent trend of people who think they are Jim Dalrymple going around "Noping" every Apple rumour that pops up. I've said many times in the past, saying "Nope" to something or denying a rumour is easy, any idiot can do it. It requires no skill nor actual information and relies purely on odds. Chances are that if you pick any random Apple rumour and say it won't happen, you'll probably get the answer right. 

Dalrymple has earned the right to one word answers over years of confirming as well as denying rumours. Too many people skip the years of good tech writing and think they can do what he does. 

I've also been speaking to more and more people who write about the tech industry and my respect for them and what they do has increased considerably. I'm not going to go into details because that would betray peoples trust but that job is a lot harder than I ever imagined. As a result I've found myself feeling like even more of a dick when I criticise their work. That's not to say that all the work is good, because it certainly isn't. I just feel more empathy for writers now.

I'm also looking to cover things away from the tech industry as well. I've started working on a couple of writing projects elsewhere that aren't tech related and you should start to see the start of one of them in the next few weeks. 

Lastly there's the podcast(s). I'm still working on getting the movie show off the ground and should hopefully have more news on that front in the near future. I can confirm it will be part of Fiat Lux. It's not as straightforward as Cultivate to get on air because there are guests to book and movies to watch beforehand. Speaking of Cultivate, Myself and Ben decided to take the show in a different direction this week after some listener feedback. I think we're going to continue to tweak the format of the show. We're both big on iteration and there's no reason a podcast can't benefit from that.

Thank you for indulging me by reading this post. It's a little more "bloggy" than usual but that's by no means a bad thing.






iOS is better than Android

After years of trying as many different products and services as I could lay my hands on I've finally finally decided not only that iOS is the best platform but that I am able to record an entire episode dedicated to explain how I came to that conclusion. I've toyed with various posts but the nuance of a podcast allows me to explain better.

Myself and Ben are interested in hearing the other side of the 'argument' so to speak. If you're interested in recording a rebuttal then please contact Ben and he'll set something up. 

If nobody does a rebuttal I will assume that I am 100% correct and this opinion will be used to represent the whole of mankind for the rest of eternity.



The WWE Network Could Change The Way We Watch TV

I'm a wrestling fan. I watch it every week and have done since the mid 80's. I'm not afraid to admit and I know there's a stigma attached to it. Whatever your preconceived notions about the product are, they don't really matter when looking at what the WWE announced last night.

In general terms the WWE Network is a subscription streaming service that gives customers access to their huge (over 100,000 hours) library of video content as well as every single one of their past and future PPV's. It has linear programming and original shows as well. All of this costs $9.99 a month.

That price is important. Right now, WWE holds at least one PPV event every month. These typically cost anywhere between $45-$59 for each 3 hour show. Subscribers to the WWE Network are going to get access to each of those for less than a quarter of the price. That's going to be reason enough for most fans to subscribe. Even here in the UK each PPV event costs £15 on Sky Box Office (we do get some on Sky Sports as well)

There are a few things missing, though. RAW and Smackdown, which aside from PPV's are the 2 most important shows the WWE produces, will not be broadcast live. I assume this is because there are existing licensing deals in place with TV companies (USA Network and SyFy) and this is where a big chunk of income comes in. That's fine, the network will stand as a supplementary service rather than a replacement. 

It'll also give the WWE some leverage when conducting their deals from now as they will have their own outlet to broadcast their shows if needs be. Their deal with SKY is close to expiring for example and I haven't heard that a new deal has been agreed. The network won't be available in the UK at launch but I would assume there would be nothing stopping it from launching quickly if the existing deals were no longer valid.

So how does this affect other companies? Well, the WWE is a content producer. They have in the past been credited with pioneering the rise of Pay-Per-View television and they are once again trying something unique. They are putting the vast majority of their content library online and charging people a small fee to view it. This is what we have been clamouring for, for years. It's an over the top solution that's available on the majority of platforms, the only exception being Xbox One and they have promised that's coming soon. It's even going to be on the Apple TV!

I have to assume other television networks will be watching this very closely. Imagine if you could do something similar with the likes of CBS, NBC or HBO. Pay them $9.99 a month and not only would you have access to almost everything they have ever produced previously, you would also have linear streaming of shows when they are being broadcast. These shows when they have finished airing would then appear in the Video on Demand library.

As a WWE fan I am excited by the launch of the network but as a TV fan I am intrigued to watch how this plays out in the future. This could be the start of something really innovative. Or it could end up being another XFL. 

Do you like movies? Then come talk to me about them

I've decided to do something slightly different with the movie project I started last year. Instead of writing (poor) reviews I think each of the movies deserves a discussion. So I'm going to turn the idea into a podcast. 

if you don't already know, a few months ago I asked people to send me their favourite movies as the chances were I had never seen them. I then compiled a list of 100 movies I had never seen. 

The list of movies will be the same and I plan on having guests who have seen the them before join me for a discussion . That'll mean there's always at least one person who has seen it and one who hasn't. The latter will always be me. 

It'll give the guests and the listeners a chance to hear what it's like for someone with fresh eyes to see these 'classics' for the first time. I may like the movie, I may hate it but there will always be someone there who is prepared to stick up for it at least a little.

I need your help, again. Much like you helped me pick the list now I want you to be a part of this show. Almost everyone loves movies and I'm sure there is at least one movie on this list that you have seen and loved and would be prepared to talk about  for half an hour or so? If there is, please get in touch and we'll see if we can get you on the show to talk about it. I don't bite and it's not live so you have a safety net. I'd really love to talk to you about these movies.

In case you missed it first time around, here's the list (To clarify, there's 100 'stories' rather than individual movies so that movies with several sequels don't eat into the 100)


  • 127 Hours
  • 2001 A Space Odyssey
  • 28 days/weeks later 
  • A Few Good Men
  • Alien Quadrology
  • Anchorman
  • Apocalypse Now
  • Avengers
  • Aviator
  • Big Lebowski
  • Black Hawk Down
  • Blade Runner
  • Blind Side
  • Bourne Trilogy I’m not counting “legacy” 
  • Bullitt
  • Casino
  • Citizen Kane
  • Closer
  • Cooler
  • Django
  • Dogma
  • Fight Club
  • Food Inc
  • Forrest Gump
  • Fugitive
  • Gangs of New York
  • Gladiator
  • Glengarry Glen Ross
  • Godfather Trilogy
  • Goodfellas
  • Gran Torino
  • Groundhog Day
  • High Noon
  • In Bruges
  • Inception
  • Incredibles
  • Indiana Jones 12, 3 and 4
  • Inglorious Basterds
  • Iron Man Trilogy
  • Italian Job
  • Jacobs Ladder
  • Jerry Maguire
  • JFK
  • Jumanji
  • Karate Kid 1 2 3
  • Kill Bill Volume 1+2
  • Kings Speech
  • Layer Cake
  • Leon
  • Lethal Weapon 1 2 3 4
  • Lord of the Rings Trilogy
  • Magnificent Seven
  • Man Of Steel
  • Memento
  • Men In Black 1 2 3
  • Minority Report
  • Mission Impossible
  • Mississippi Burning
  • Moneyball
  • Moon
  • No Country For Old Men
  • Oceans 11 12 13
  • Pirates of Silicon Valley
  • Prestige
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Queen
  • Raging Bull
  • Rain Man
  • Reservoir Dogs
  • Rocky 1 2 3 4
  • Schindlers List
  • Se7en
  • Senna
  • Shawshank Redemption
  • Shutter Island
  • Sin City
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • Social Network
  • Spirited Away
  • Star Trek Seen the JJ Abrams reboots 
  • Sunshine
  • Super Size Me
  • Superman Quadrology
  • Taking of Pelham 123
  • Taxi Driver
  • Terminator 1+2
  • There Will Be Blood
  • Third Man
  • This Is Spinal Tap
  • Trainspotting 
  • Transformers
  • True Grit
  • Truman Show
  • Usual Suspects
  • Vertigo
  • West Side Story
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  • Witness
  • Wrestler
  • X-Men

Why I ditched Pocket and Instapaper for Safari Reading List

If you're serious about reading online content it's probably a good idea to sign yourself up to one of the "read it later" services. The 2 main ones are probably Pocket and Instapaper. I've always preferred Instapaper over Pocket for a few reasons. Firstly, Instapaper is just a better app. It's got lots of fonts, better pagination options, location aware downloads and nowadays it even looks better. That's not to say that Pocket is bad, I particularly like that they have a native Mac app, but I've never been able to figure out how they are going to make money long term and as a customer that worries me. I've stopped using both, though. 

A bit of background: Earlier this week I sold my Moto G and went back to my trusty iPhone 4S for a multitude of reasons. I also got an iMac at Christmas so I'm back to my old setup of OS X and iOS as my primary drivers. 

As a result I'm using Safari as my main browser again and that means I can make full use of Safari Reader and Reading List. I much prefer managing my articles this way because it just feels like a much better and more fluid way of doing it. 

The main reason for using this service over the others is because it's built right in to both browsers. I don't have to mess around with bookmarklets or extensions to save my content nor do I have to worry about whether or not the relevant app is installed and logged in.

Often times when I add an article to the other services it's because I want the text view there and then and not because I want to actually "read-it-later". There are ways of parsing the text without adding it to your list on those apps but again they need bookmarklets or extensions. On Safari it's built right in to the address bar. One click and the text is parsed immediately into a really nice readable format. An added bonus is that this state actually syncs over iCloud tabs as well. If I open a tab on my iPhone and I was using Safari Reader to read the page on my Mac then the phone will let me pick up right where I left off.

Another problem with the other apps I have is that sometimes I want to read an article later but I want the full article, not just the parsed text. Safari caches the full webpage for offline reading which makes this incredibly easy. What I find myself doing now is essentially creating my own little newspaper in the mornings. I go to the same websites every morning as well as checking twitter and when I see an article I want to read, rather than open it in a tab and bog down my computer, I just shift+click and the link goes to reading list. Then when I've finished finding the stuff I can go to my reading list and simply scroll through each page one at a time. If I want parsed text, it's a click away. Webpage has proprietary video? Not a problem. Once I get to the bottom of each page Safari automatically slides in the next one without any effort on my part. 

Lastly, I would be remiss if I championed this feature but didn't admit there is a small downside some people may come across. Reading List support in 3rd party apps is quite slim compared to Pocket or Instapaper. It's not a problem for me as I prefer to open articles in my browser before saving them anyway but I can see this being an issue for others. The only place I save links directly from is Twitter and luckily both Tweetbot for Mac and iOS support reading list. It should also be noted that if you don't have a Mac or iOS device then this service is of no use to you. Chrome doesn't have anything like this. Again, the other services aren't bad by any stretch, I just much prefer Safari Reader. People often ask me why I use Safari Reader and now you know.

CES is brilliant, so why so much negativity?

It's almost CES time and for the people covering it that means a week of hard work and effort and the same could probably be said for the people reading about it as well. In the run up I've noticed a trend: People who claim to enjoy technology but apparently despise CES. it seems to me this happens for a few reasons. Allow me to go through the ones I see cited most often. 

1. "A lot of product's shown at CES never see a public release" 

Whilst this may be true in the grand scheme of things given the sheer volume of products, it's not really all that different from trade shows in other industries. There are numerous cars that are never put into production at auto shows for example. CES is not made up of hundreds of tiny launch events. Some manufacturers will use CES for that purpose but the majority don't. For them his is a good place to show their products to industry experts and potential customers and not only gauge the viability of a product but also get valuable feedback. The type of feedback the best market research in the world can't buy you. 

2. "Apple doesn't attend"

For some people, it's Apple or nothing. Anything that isn't "Designed in California" is of no interest and it's competitors are chastised for choosing to do things in different ways. These people will of course also tell you how important the Apple ecosystem is to the ongoing success of the company and CES is ground zero for that kind of innovation. The show floor is filled with things like cases, stands, appcessories, speaker docks, keyboards and so much more. Apple themselves may not be there in an official capacity but boy is the ecosystem there and in very large numbers.

Apple's competitors are there too. I often see people making jokes at the misfortunes of other companies decisions to ignore Apple before and shortly after each of their major launches. Companies like BlackBerry and Microsoft who couldn't comprehend the iPhone being a success. These same people do exactly the same with any of Apple's competitors nowadays. Nobody is going to be able to pinpoint the next big product if they have tunnel vision. If you're going to cover this industry or just Apple (or any other company), you still need to know as much about the competition as possible. When you support a sports team you check out the rest of the league. Same here. Remember when dismissing this type of event that the iPhone was itself  launched at a trade show.

I also think being an amateur Apple pundit is incredibly easy. You just dismiss anyone who doubts them, laugh at rumours and point to the big numbers whenever things don't go smoothly but I could write a whole other post on that. Another time maybe?

3. "There's too much noise"

It's often hard to keep up with what's happening at trade shows, especially CES. The volume of posts published is crazy but for people like me who love to soak all of this up, it's the best week of the year. But for those who don't and prefer their tech news to be more digestible there are numerous other ways to keep up. Maybe take a break from RSS or try out some new sites this week? You won't miss out on the big news. The cream always rises to the top after all. 

Last year I remember being enthralled by products such as the Oculus Rift, Pebble and Nvidia Shield. All of these products are real and 2 of them are now bona fide consumer devices. Past CES successes include the Palm Pre, Xbox and Blu Ray. 

CES has been around for a very long time and it gets the level of attention it does because it's still a very important part of our industry. It's crazy to me that there are so called "Technology enthusiasts" out there (yes, I know Gruber made the same point last week) that have such a disdain for this one week out of the calendar when I think it should be the opposite.

Personally, I am giddy with excitement about next week. I can't think of a better way to get glimpses in to what the future of technology holds. I'm looking forward to soaking it all in and pontificating on the ramifications of it all. 

I'm sorry (not sorry) but if you don't take CES seriously as a trade show then I am unable to take your opinions on technology seriously. 

Merry Christmas

As always I'm going to spend Christmas surrounded by loved ones, toys, video games and Quality Street wrappers. I've decided to take a couple of weeks off from writing so this will likely be the final thing I publish in 2013.

I wanted to take a moment though to thank each and every one of you. When I decided at the beginning of the year that I wanted to go it alone and see if I had the abilities to become a writer I never assumed I'd be where I am already and that's all thanks to you, the reader.

In the last 9 months I've done my small part in reporting news in a few different areas, most notably regarding Apple. I've been quoted on websites such as Engadget, The Guardian, Wired, 9to5mac, TechnoBuffalo and many more. I've guested on a few podcasts and eventually started my own. I've made some great friends who I would never have met otherwise and I've held meaningful conversations with people in this industry who I have the utmost admiration and respect for.

None of this would be possible without the people who read this site though. That's you. I want to thank you for continuing to read what I write and listen to what I have to say. Without you I'm doing all of this for nothing. I am truly grateful that you take the time to visit this site, whether it's once a week or every time I publish something.

I have plans for where I want to take the site and what I want to do in 2014 and I hope you'll come along on the journey.

From the bottom of my heart I sincerely would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Acer C720 Chromebook Impressions

So after a few weeks I eventually had to stop doing all my work on the iPad Air. Unfortunately, all the will in the world isn’t enough to stop Safari crashing an average of 8 times a day. It became unbearable. I lost orders and forms and all sorts because without warning, Safari (or any web browser because they are all still Safari) would just force close. It was infuriating. That was the only problem I had with it. Other than that I managed to do everything else just fine and I enjoyed it. Alas, the Safari bug was a showstopper.

So instead I now have a Chromebook. Specifically an Acer C720 and I’ve been using it for the last few days and I must say, I am rather enjoying it. I’ve used Chromebooks in the past, of course, and the Samsung 3 series and the Pixel have represented both ends of the scale. I was troubled by the Series 3’s build quality and was impressed by the Pixels. I didn’t keep the Pixel because it was surplus to requirements at the time.


The hardware is quite well made. It’s plastic, obviously but there’s no flex or give in the construction. I’ve had laptops at more than twice the price that haven’t been this well made. It feels light as well. It’s a little heavier than an 11 inch Macbook air but the difference is less than half a pound.


The screen is matte, which is good for usage in sunlight, the resolution is 1366x768 which is pretty standard on cheap laptops. There is an option to go up to 1536x854 but this was a little too blurry for my eyes. In terms of quality it feels a little washed out but only a little. I don’t get the impression of “crap screen” when looking at it.


They aren’t as tinny as I was expecting but they aren’t great either. Music is muddy but loud enough. I watched an episode of Top Gear on it last night and had no trouble hearing the dialogue etc. I find laptop, phone and tablet speakers are all much of a muchness anyway. They generally come into one of two categories. “Crap” & “Usable”. These are in the latter.


The keyboard is a chiclet style which I’m glad of as I find it hard to use anything else on a Laptop these days. There are some minor changes from a standard keyboard though. The function keys have Chrome OS specific functions such as Back & Forward, full screen, brightness, volume and power. I found myself using these a lot when in fullscreen browsing mode as they were handier than invoking the toolbar each and every time.

The caps lock button is a search button which may irk some people but I’ve really taken to it. It’s a good way of not only searching the web but for launching apps and bookmarks as well.

In terms of typing I’ve had no issues at all. Travel is good and I’d put it at the better end of the scale for keyboards I have used. It doesn’t beat the keyboards on a Macbook though, which are best in class.


It’s a bit on the small side but not overly so. It’s one single piece which I like and it feels smooth and responsive. I’ve had no issues with it at all. Trackpads on non-macs have a reputation for being poor but this avoids the usual pitfalls. I can’t find anything to complain about.


Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Everything is done in a browser. It is possible to run apps so they actually look native and they certainly behave that way. I’m typing this in Google docs in a seperate, full screen window and it doesn’t feel any different from Pages or Word. Having everything saved in the cloud is also a nice benefit.

The Chrome browser is just as you’d expect it to be if you’ve used it on any platform. There are a few minor differences. You can’t install plugins for example which means no Silverlight, so in my case I can’t watch Sky Go anymore. Silverlight is going away though so hopefully Sky move to a supported method soon.

The browser feels fast and fluid. Scrolling is smooth. I’ve had no trouble with pages reloading like I did on the Samsung Series 3. I usually have about 5-10 tabs open at most so I may not be the most hardcore browser. I did open about 20 tabs including an HD Youtube video and a movie on Netflix and noticed some slowdown but the Chromebook was still usable. I doubt anyone is going to be watching 2 videos at once anyway.

In terms of using it for non-browsing activities I haven’t found anything I can’t do yet besides Skype. I’ll need to find a way around that for Cultivate. I write in Google docs but there are a few writing apps on the Chrome store that work quite well. I can stream music from Spotify and Google Play Music without issues.

I’ve transferred a few 720p MKV’s from my NAS and they played back without any problems in a dedicated player. It’s simple, so don’t expect the fine grain control you get with something like VLC but it’s more than good enough to use on a plane or train.

I like the notifications too. They all go to a single place with a counter in the bottom right hand corner. I find this better than OS X Notification Centre.

Hangout chats are handled well also. They appear as your contacts avatar next to the notification counter and pop up over whatever window you are in when clicked. It’s a brilliant implementation in my book.

I should also note that I haven't heard the fan once and it's ran cool the entire time.


Battery life is great. I got 8 hours of solid use out of it yesterday which comprised of browsing, listening to christmas songs, writing my Console choice piece, streaming tweets through Tweetdeck, regular email, a Google hangouts session and a 90 minute episode of Top Gear.


I’ve given this it’s own section because I know people come looking for them.

I wish the ‘shelf’ wasn’t as tall as it is. It takes up too much space when it’s on the bottom for me so I have to set it to authohide.

When you press the mute button it doesn’t actually mute the sound, it just sets the volume at 0. You have to turn the volume back up to the level you were at which makes quickly muting to hear something a pain.

Some of the UI controls in maximised mode cover UI elements. For example, the button to expand the toolbar in Google docs is covered by the minimise button.

Battery percentage or time left in the shelf would be handy. You can see this by clicking the icon but this type of info should be glanceable.

I miss being able to Airplay to the TV. I might have to buy a Chromecast if they are ever released in the UK!


Overall I am really impressed. I was gutted when I had to take my iPad back and thought I’d at least give the Chromebook a try. At £199 I’d say this is a bargain. It might not have the looks of the Pixel or the Chromebook 11 (nor does it have a overheating charger) but it also doesn’t feel anywhere near as cheap and badly put together as the Samsung Series 3. It’s obviously not as good as a Macbook but it’s only a 5th of the price.

I’ve got up to 14 days where I can take the machine back without issue but I think I’m going to keep it. It does almost everything I need, fits in a smallish bag and has awesome battery life. All for under £200. I’d recommend this to anyone who spends the majority of their time on a computer browsing the web or streaming iPlayer, Netflix etc. Throw in 100gb of Google drive for 2 years and 60 days of Google Play Music and it’s a bit of a bargain.

I hope Chrome stays commited to Chrome OS and continues to flesh it out. I can already notice differences in the OS from 6 months ago and I’m looking forward to seeing where Google takes it in the future. My advice would be not to count these little machines out just yet.

If I can truly do everything I want to on this Chromebook then I may never have to buy another expensive computer again. That is an exciting proposition. Even in a situation where one can afford a Macbook and an iPhone, it's interesting to me that there are products out there now that can do the vast majority of the functionality for the fraction of the price. Only time will tell how sustainable that is both for businesses and for consumers.

Thoughts on Consoles and which one I'm buying

In our house we currently have each of the main consoles from the last generation (it feels weird saying that already) So that’s an Xbox 360, PS3 and a Wii. We also have a 3DS and a PS Vita just to round out the handheld side of things as well. All of the home consoles have been superceded by their canonical replacements and so for the last few months we’ve been mulling over which of the new ones we’d buy first, PS4, Xbox One or a Wii U. Here’s the conclusions I reached on each of them.


Sony’s pre-release narrative was firmly aimed at so called “real gamers”. The people who care about framerates and resolutions etc. I used to be in this camp.

I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s just in time for the gaming boom and I had every console from Nintendo, Sega and the Playstation and Playstation 2 when they came out. Sadly I became an adult and I don’t consider myself the hardcore gamer I used to be. It wouldn’t be possible to put Metal Gear Solid in for the first time and play it straight through without any sleep as I did in high school.

That being said, the PS3 is the only console we have 2 of. The convenience of free online gaming was a selling point but then, after a while, so was the free games that came with a PS+ subscription. I’ve played a few games from there I wouldn’t have bothered with otherwise and the added bonus of getting Vita games thrown in is appealling. This continues with the PS4 and is something I considered.

I also use the PS3 for media though and the PS4 is somewhat lacking in this area unfortunately. I stream movies from NAS drive to both the living room TV and my sons TV using PS3’s so that feature alone would be solely missed. I’m also not a fan of the PS3 controller when compared to the Xbox 360’s. I actually use a wired PS3 controller with a layout similar to the 360 and greatly prefer it. Ultimately though a console should be about the gaming and there are no games I currently want to play for the PS4. I can’t even force myself to pick one.

Xbox One

I watched Microsofts unveiling all the way back in February and was impressed at the time. Where Sony went for pure gaming, Microsoft went for bells and whistles. I was particularly enamoured with the TV functionality. Being able to control the TV with my voice is the kind of futuristic world I’ve always wanted to live in and throwing in things like Skype calling is like a scene ripped straight from Back to the Future or Demolition Man.

I’ve had hours of fun with Kinect on the 360 as well. My whole family dancing to Gangnam Style in my living room is a memory that will live with me forever. I’ve always found myself more drawn to the Xbox as a console. This is the One all my friends are buying (pun intended) and in my opinion when compared to the PS4 the One has the better controller, the better motion gaming and the better UI. It also has a marginally better launch lineup as I would quite like to play Zoo Tycoon, Dead Rising 3 and Forza 5. Alas the TV functionality is spotty with UK TV providers, which is a dissappointment.

Wii U

Nintendo, as always, have gone in a different direction and actually tried to innovate. They saw success with the secondary touch screen on the DS and brought it to the console. Whilst its had mixed results I have to give them kudos for trying. Where the Wii U shines at the moment is games.

The Wii U is the only current gen console that’s fully backwards compatible on a software and hardware level meaning it will not only run all the previous Wii games but will work with old Wii remotes and controllers as well. That’s a big deal. When it comes to software the Wii U has the more intriguing titles too. New Super Mario Bros U and Super Mario 3D World are both games I want to sit and play with my family. I also can’t wait to play through Zelda. The Virtual Console also has a wealth of classic games I can play through with my son.

So what am I choosing?

We thought we were going to leave it for a while but I’m naturally reading about technology constantly and the niggle that I should buy one never went away. So we’ve decided to get a Wii U. It may not be the most powerful or have the most features but it does have by far the biggest catalogue of playable games. It’s also far better for family gaming, I am more excited about being able to play through the Mario games as a family as I have been about any gaming experience in the last 10 years.

In Praise of YouTube: It's killing my TV.

I dont think I know of anyone who hasnt ever heard of YouTube. Its a site thats become a massive part of the way we use the internet and the way we share information. It's so much more powerful than some people think though.

A lot of what I see YouTube used for is for sharing content that was made for somewhere else. A funny clip from The Simpsons, a memorable goal scored in Football, you get the idea. YouTube is great for this purpose, theres no doubt about that. They've become the defacto standard for sharing video online. Even those I know who try and avoid Google services like the plague make an exception for YouTube much like they do for Google Search because it's just too good.

What facinates me most about YouTube though is the original content. There are thousands of people out there creating videos, shows and even start ups where their main focus is making videos that will be seen on YouTube first. This content varies so much I wanted to talk about some of it.

For thousands of people on YouTube, making videos is their job. YouTube pays and if you're able to build an audience, YouTube pays well! Revenue is made from ads and YouTube really looks after it's content creators.

Let's start with a subject my readers are probably most interested in. Tech. There are a ton of great tech channels and personalities on YouTube. I first heard of Ashley Esqueda through YouTube, who I recently interviewed and I'm lucky enough to consider her a friend now. She currently works for TechnoBuffalo a site started by Jon Rettinger who made his name on YouTube. Jon started talking about tech into his webcam and his channel (Jon4lakers) snowballed from there to the point where he now runs a fully realised Tech site, replete with it's own offices and top notch

Another example is Chris Pirillo. He did not make his name on YouTube he found relative fame on TechTV but he's built his own business around his YouTube channel which has allowed him to continue reaching people through the medium of video.

Then there are videos that don't really fit into a genre as such and are somewhat unique.

Take PrankvsPrank. This channel is a young couple who pull hidden camera pranks on each other. They range from the simple to the complex and I'm often left wondering how they haven't killed each other yet.

There's MentalFloss, a channel brought to you by the Green brothers that endeavours to give you fast paced facts based on a certain subject. Entertaining and educational, that sought after but often underachieved quality.

The Slow Mo Guys are another favourite. They essentially do cool stuff in their back garden and film it with a high end slow motion camera.

Then we come to Vlogging. You've heard of blogging obviously but vlogging, a portmanteu of Video Logging, is the visual equivelant. There are different styles of vlogging. Some like to sit in front of a camera and talk to their audience about a single or a range of subjects. Others carry a camera around with them wherever they go and record footage with the intent of editing it together. Some Youtubers even do both.

Charlie McDonnell (charlieissocoollike) is a good example of the more 'monologue' style. He's a UK based YouTuber who mostly creates funny and thoughtful pieces on a varying subject. Sometimes it might be his love for Doctor Who (He's written songs about it) and sometimes it might about something serious like love. Often however Charlie doesn't talk about himself, he talks about subjects like science for example.

My son loves Charlie and get's excited whenever he uploads a new video. I encouraged him to watch his videos as they are often informative as well as entertaining. Charlie is to my son what Fred Dineage and Carol Vorderman were to me growing up. That's quite an achievement given he's done this mostly on his own. He's even got Stephen Fry to voice the end slate for his videos!

The other style is more akin to Reality TV but not nearly as scripted or as forced. Perhaps the most prevelant of these is CTFxC, a channel where Charles Trippy and his wife Alli have uploaded a video every single day for the last 1677 days. Alli and Charles carry around point and shoot cameras which they use to show the viewer cool things they may see or do or talk about what's going on in their lives. Over the course of that 1677 viewers have watched Charles and Alli get engaged, married, move house multiple times, go on tour (Charles is the bassist in 'We The Kings') and generally share the highs and lows of what its like to be them.

I really mean Highs and Lows. Their wedding was no doubt their highest point but perhaps their lowest point started 18 months ago when Charles started having seizures. This lead to him needing surgery to remove a tumour from his brain which was causing the seizures. Sadly that (coupled with medication and lifestyle changes) wasn't enough to stop the seizures and this year Charles had even more brain surgery. This lead to his doctors diagnosing Charles with brain cancer. He's now on Chemotherapy and has started the road to recovery.

Now that's obviously a very concise version of events but you don't have to take my word for it because Charles vlogged every step of the process. From the initial ER visit, to showing his actual Brain surgery (he was awake during the second one) and he's still going today. He just started another round of chemo this week in fact.

This is a guy who's got a community around him and continues to share his life with us even in a situation where you would forgive him for saying "Screw it, I'm having a day off" he does it because you don't get days off from life.

Charles doesn't appear to be attention seeking or fame hungry, he just wants to document his life. This may all sound like a movie script but it's really whats happening to him and he's never given up documenting it or sharing it with the world.

The CTFxC motto is "Internet Killed Television" and it sums up to me what YouTube is all about

YouTube is so much more than a video sharing site, it's a movement. It's a serivce that not only allows people to reach a huge worldwide audience but get paid for it as well. The majority may not achieve this but everyone has the same chance. There's even conferences and events held every year. Developers have WWDC and Google I/O and YouTube has Vidcon and PLaylist Live.

I watch more YouTube than TV nowadays and, to me at least, a lot of the content is superior. I'd much rather watch CTFxC than The Only Way Is Essex and I'd choose Technobuffalo over The Gadget Show every time.

If you haven't explored this side of YouTube before then these are a good starting point. There's literally thousands of channels and there's something out there for everyone. These are just a few of my favourites and they don't even scratch the surface.

Interview with Charles Arthur

Hi Charles! For those who may not know who you are, how would you describe what you do?

I'm technology editor - so I used to commission and edit (and write part of) the physical paper Technology supplement. That closed in 2010 so now I write for the Guardian (and Observer) online, and for the Observer's Tech Monthly supplement, and for the news and business and feature parts of the paper. Not sport. Yet.

What was your career path leading up to writing for The Guardian?

Long and winding. Began long ago writing freelance for a tennis magazine (called Tennis). Then joined a weekly trade paper about computing (Computer Weekly). Then went to a monthly business magazine (Business). From there, to a new job at a magazine for scientists (New Scientist). Then to a newspaper which didn't have a single owner (The Independent). And after a year freelancing, to the Guardian - that was eight years ago, November 2005.

How does an average work day go for Charles Arthur?

Starts 6am, occasional breaks for food, ends variable some time in the evening, depending what's happening. BlackBerry and Microsoft have been making life quirksome lately.

In general, though, every day is the same: there are far more stories that I could write than I can write. A common whinge from commenters is "why haven't you written X story which is on Y site?" The answer is often "because it's not worth the effort and duplication", but also that "I have 10 other stories on my life, all of which are more interesting than that, but only 3 of which I'll have time to actually write usefully."

I generally feel it's not worth writing something that's already appeared elsewhere unless we can add some extra information - insight, analysis, quotes, access to people, timeliness - because otherwise, it's like you're ignoring that the web exists and works.

The problem though is that there are lots of potential stories that come my way which could be worth pursuing that just get swept past by the flow of news. On a daily paper, you don't get to choose quite how your day will work out. You can hope, but it's never guaranteed.

What aspect of the technology industry are you most looking forward to coming to the fore in the next few years?

Ummm. Wearables are interesting. I wonder if Google Glass is going to be popular with consumers at all. I can see loads of applications in businesses, eg where you're trying to fix something, or for surgeons trying to get colleagues to look at something. But for the average person? Less convinced.

Smartwatches could be a thing, but then again, the set of problems they solve is quite limited.

TV is sort of interesting, but it's so fragmented that all the stupid, stupid, stupid American bloggers who think that because something applies to them that therefore it applies all over the world are just annoying. Most of them have no idea how the BBC works or is funded, for instance.

We've all got that on piece of technology that we hoped would be real as a kid but they haven't happened yet, mine was the hoverboards from Back to the Future, what's yours?

I was a Star Trek kid - and we didn't call it "the original series" because there was only one series. (And all the ones that have followed have been grade-A crap. Real junk. Whereas Doctor Who has got better - smarter plots, better sets, more exciting script - the Star Trek series have made the sort of transition we last saw in going from "A New Hope" to whatever the first Star Wars film is called. Anyway, I digress.)

So, because I'm a Star Trek kid, it would have to be the transporter and the communicator. (And the phaser, yeah.) But of course we've got the communicator.

What do you consider to be your most valuable piece of technology?

Valuable as in pull-from-burning-building precious? Well, the phone is easy to replace because so much is in the cloud, but I have scripts and stuff that (despite the backups) lives on my laptop. So I guess it would be my retina MacBook Pro - bought with the royalties from my book Digital Wars: Apple, Google, Microsoft and the battle for the internet. Available on Amazon, iBooks and even paper.

If there was one or more common misconceptions about working in this industry what would they be and how would you set them straight?

This industry as in journalism?


I'm really amazed at how the accusation of "shill" gets thrown around. Yes, thank goodness you're here, Snide Anonymous Commenter! I think it's some sort of American thinking that has infected people over here. Though I think it's also a sign of the immaturity of a lot of "debate" that one sees online. There are lots of people who are stupidly enthusiastic about technology who simply don't know how big companies lie to you, again and again. And when you raise concerns about things - or, equally, when you express enthusiasm because for once something actually lives up to the billing - they get all mad.

As a journalist it's quite a shock the first time a company lies to you and you subsequently discover how much of a lie it was. That happened to me a few decades ago: a contact told a bare-faced lie to me, and when I called him on it later he said "I had to." That was a big lesson. But some of the people throwing accusations around at journalists who are being rightly sceptical about what companies or people in power say don't know that that happens. They think only the little people lie.

As to the "shill" thing, journalists aren't interested in personal gain. If they were, they wouldn't be in journalism. (You make more in sales, or PR.) They do it because they're fascinated by it, by the process and the people they meet. I really like the fact that I can ask pretty much any question of pretty much anyone, and sometimes have. You move through every part of society - it's far more equal in that sense than pretty much anything I can imagine.

Who do you admire most, both in the technology industry but also outside of it?

I'm not big on admiring people who I might have to interview at some point. In the technology industry, there are plenty who I find interesting to observe. I tend to admire people or organisations which provide data openly and thoroughly, and distrust monopolies and those which dissemble or lie.

Outside technology, the single act which I most admire was when Peter Tatchell tried to perform a citizen's arrest on Robert Mugabe. It was 2001. Imagine it, though: you're going to try to arrest a head of state who has had people killed in his country. Just you. Now imagine how much courage that needs, even to take the first step towards someone who is surrounded by very tough bodyguards.

Read on:

I keep wondering if I could ever reach that sort of determination over anything. One of my children, I guess. An amazing act.

Thanks Charles!

Moto G Review

Let's get something out of the way straight from the off. Yes this is an Android phone and yes this is cheap. That combination would normally be a recipe for disaster but is it in this instance?


I bought mine at Phones4u here in the UK on Friday. It cost me £129 on Pay as you go but can be had for as little as £99 if you are an Orange customer of more than 6 months. I got the 8GB version and there is a 16Gb version which is £159, although none of my local stores had stock of that SKU yet. I'm told the white backed version is exclusive to Phones4U and that anyone buying the black version will be sent a white back in the post free of charge after a month has passed.

What's in the box

Not much. I was surprised at the size of the box as it's really quite small. Small enough that I put it in my back pocket once I had extracted the phone. The handset sits on top and underneath is a MicroUSB cable and some documentation. That's it. No mains charger and no headset. Motorola says this is to keep costs down and given that I already have numerous USB mains chargers I wasn't overly perturbed by this exclusion.


I expected the Moto G to feel cheap. It doesn't. It feels just as solidly build as it's bigger brother, the Moto X. It's heavier than most modern phones but not overly so. It's a nice weight. It feels similar to the iPhone 4/4S

The back of the phone is removable but the battery isn't. All that resides under the back is the sim slot. There's no MicroSD card slot but Google does give you 50GB of Drive space free for 2 years which should go towards offsetting the need for more storage. That would take even the most basic of Google accounts up to 65GB in total. These removable backs come in a few different forms, ranging from plain replacements to a more rugged rubber edged type and even a flip cover style that's become so popular on higher end Samsung devices.

In terms of size the phone doesn't feel that much bigger than the iPhone 5s, although it undoubtedly is. There's the smallest of bezels on the sides and the tops aren't huge either. The front of the phone reminds me a lot of the Palm Pre in the way it looks. There's a front facing camera and earpiece as well as a notification light. This appears to only be white though, so no RGB fun and games here.

The rounded back makes the phone very easy to hold. It sits comfortably and felt much like the Moto X or the HTC One in that regard. The buttons on the side have a satisfying click to them and are silver accented.

Call quality is good and the earpiece is loud. The speaker is pretty good as well. It's not beating HTC Ones laughably named Boomsound but for a phone speaker it's decent. Put it this way, when chavs inevitably play dub step at the back of your bus, the sound won't be as tinny as usual.


The screen is good. Viewing angles are great and it copes about as well as any device in sunlight. It's an LCD panel so Motorola wasn't able to use it for Active Notifications like they did on the Moto X. If I was nitpicking I would say it's slightly over saturated, but that really is a minor complaint.

The size of a screen is always something I'm worried about. My previous phone was a Nexus 5 and in the week or so I had it I didn't get used to its size but me and the Moto G got on just fine from the moment I took it out of the box. Reaching the corners of the screen is a slight stretch, but thanks to the curved and matte soft touch back shuffling it in my hand is much easier than it was with my old iPhone 5. I don't feel I'm going to drop this like I do with so many other phones.

I think when it comes to bigger screens on phones half the battle is the ergonomics of the rest of the phone. You need a comfortable back, thin bezels and to preferably make the screen taller where possible rather than wider. In that regard I can see the benefit of a curved screen. It allows for more pixels but without the need to have the device wider than in needs to be. I'll be keeping an eye on those in the future.

Software Updates

I'm not going to go over Jelly Bean because you already know all about it I'm sure. Yes, this phone does ship with Jelly Bean 4.3 which, in truth, doesn't bother me. Motorola has promised an update before the end of January and for a budget handset that's reasonable to me.

Google is moving in the right direction with its software updates by taking the majority of its features out of AOSP and making them available on the Play Store. What this means for me is that I have the 4.4 KitKat versions of the launcher, keyboard, Google Apps etc and Motorola has even detached their Camera app so it too can be updated separately. In fact I believe it's the same software as on the Moto X in that regard.

I'd like to see Apple do this with iOS 8. The built in apps on iOS (and OS X) are set in stone for a year at a time, by and large. This means that once a feature is ready to ship they have to sit on it until the next iOS revision. That might be good for parity but it's not going to be particularly conducive to speedy innovation.

Software Features

This is the area where the Moto G has lost most of the selling points of Moto X. I mentioned that there's no Active Notifications and there are also no Touchless Controls or twisty camera gesture. Moto Assist is here but it only includes options for silencing the phone either at specific times or during a meeting, so there's no reading aloud of text messages when driving either.

The Moto G does keep a little of the Moto X though. The on screen buttons have a translucency rather than the solid black look and the camera software is identical. There are a few Motorola apps such as the aforementioned Moto Assist and Moto Migrate but these aren't superfluous like most OEM or carrier addons as they do have some utility. There's also a "Find my iPhone" style feature built in too, which is handy.

A special mention must go to Bluetooth which has a "Trusted Device" feature which means when it's connected to a device you have approved and given trusted status to, you have the option of having the phone remain unlocked. Combined with Google Now's ability to listen for keywords when unlocked, this is incredibly useful when driving.

There is one feature I've missed in smartphones that makes a welcome return here and that's the FM Radio. As a backup to music in poor data signal areas this is a boon. It works brilliantly and picked up signals even my car radio struggles with. I've had to make do with TuneIn Radio previously but this will save both my data and my battery. There's no loudspeaker functionality though which is disappointing.

The notification bar shows the carrier name at all times on the left hand side. This is doubly annoying because it takes up space leaving less for actual notifications, I also don't need to know what network I'm on! I know, I'm paying them.

One other thing I did notice is that installing .apks doesn't work. I wanted to get Falcon Pro (I still have a token) and the phone would not allow me to install it. It continually said it could not parse the file. Looking around the net I'm not the only one with this problem. I don't know if this is a software bug or if Motorola is cracking down on installing apps that aren't from the Play Store. I hope it's the latter as piracy is a very real problem on Android and this is one of the ways Google could be a little more closed as it might help developers actually make some money.


I'm not sure what to write here because it's really good! I've had no lag or stutter when using the phone beyond the usual and much talked about Android problems. Multitasking is near instaneous and loading games only took marginally longer than my Nexus 5. For those interested in benchmark scores, it's scores 8835 in Quadrant and 16817 in AnTuTu.


It's not great let's just get that out of the way. It's decent enough for my tastes when outdoors but indoors and in low light shots can be fuzzy. The camera software also takes a little getting used to. You tap anywhere on the screen to take a photo and all of the options, save for switching cameras or to video mode, are in a menu on the left and side that you swipe to reveal. You can allow the camera to auto focus which is slow, but still faster than the Nexus 5 or you can manually set a reticule on the the screen. You drag it around and wherever you leave it is where the focus will be. It's good but not as quick as tap to focus. Kudos to Motorola for trying something different though.

The volume button doesn't double up as a shutter button which is an unfortunate oversight. The camera does have a decent burst mode though. Long pressing the screen results in shots being taken until such times as you run out if internal storage.

Video records at 720p and is about average for a phone. It's party trick here though is that it can be made to record at 120fps which is the same as the iPhone 5s. It works much the same in that you need to record in this mode specifically and the video it takes isn't quite as smooth or as clear as the iPhone but it's still very nice to have this feature available. The Moto G does best the iPhone in one regard and that is in the exporting of files. The Moto G's videos export in slow motion immediately whereas the 5s needs some jiggery pokery to get the applied effect off the phone and on to another device.


Colour me impressed. As I write this the phone has been off the charger for 24 hours and 18 minutes according to the settings menu and I still have 65% left. That's with a mixture of wifi and 3G, 10-15 photos, a 70 second video, around 100 or so texts, a fair bit of checking Twitter, one Google account syncing Gmail etc. I would class the last 24 hours as moderate use for me but even with heavy usage it's been getting me through a full day with battery to spare. It hasn't died on me yet and I'm pretty confident it's going to be impressive going forward. Tethering will be the real test and I'll update this section when I've used it for that purpose.


Finally there is a budget phone on the market that is easy to recommend. This is not only the best sub £200 phone I have ever used but I felt it was so good, I decided to keep it and send my Nexus 5 back. The Nexus 5 may be more powerful but for my daily usage the Moto G performed admirably for less than half the price of a Nexus 5 and for less than the quarter of the off contract iPhone 5s price. The camera isn't great but the hardware and performance are worth much more. I tweeted that I think Motorola could charge £250 for this phone and it would still be reasonable and I stand by that.

Much like the iPad is my go to recommendation for a tablet, this is now my go to recommendation for a budget phone. As far as I can tell nothing in this price bracket even gets close.