Smart-phones

It was more or less inevitable.  I bought myself a new smart-phone and it wasn’t an iPhone.  There were many reasons I didn’t buy one.  Most of which are purely subjective.  Some of which I list here:

  1. I do not like iTunes.  There has always been something about iTunes that has not sat well with me.  For reasons I cannot put my finger on, I just don’t like the way it does things!  If it were not for the consumer lock in of iPods and iPhones and iWhatevers, I am convinced it would not be as prevalent as it is.
  2. I  have an objection to DRM in music.  I consider myself to be pretty honest.  I buy music I want to listen to, but I will not pick a format that restricts how I want to listen to it.  I also could not be bothered trying to work out how to circumvent DRM.  Music is just something I want to listen to.  I do not want to fight it / worry about it / manipulate the format it appears in / lose it because I upgrade computers too often etc.  I can appreciate that some people will pirate music and that DRM probably prevents some people from doing so, but that does not change my opinion on the matter.
  3. I wanted the potential to develop applications for a smart phone.  I know – I could jail-break the iPhone, but that falls into the same category of circumventing DRM.  I can’t be bothered!  There is a learning curve to starting development of smart-phone applications, and I do not need to introduce extra hurdles.

While these reasons are all true and valid for me, if I am completely honest…  There is something deep in my personality that makes me despise following the crowd.  As such, an iPhone was never going to cut it.  From what I read, iPhone market penetration in the US is not all pervasive.  In Australia, consumer gadget of choice, is an iPhone.  I am not sure what will happen when the oversized-novelty-iPhone (the iPad) is released here next week.  I am sure it will sell well, but not convinced it will be quite as ubiquitous.   Everytime I  catch public transport, I swear iPhones outnumber passengers.  :-)  Everywhere you look, iPhones abound.  I am writing this post on a plane, next to some guy listening to songs on his iPhone…  That this happened was not a surprise to me…

So, if “second place” is the first of the losers, I have fallen into that category.  My recent purchase was that of the HTC Desire.  From the little I have “played” with friend’s iPhones, the user experience is different.  With more buttons to press, I would not expect for Android devices to win converts from the Apple buyers out there.  Simply, there is a mental adjustment to make if you go from one system to the other.
Initial impressions are that it takes  a few days until you are comfortable with using the “menu” button to get to features in Applications.  The screen on the Desire absolutely beats the iPhone hands down.  I have no doubt that iPhone v4 will probably reverse this trend, but as it stands now, there is no contest.  Even though it has extra hardware buttons and I appreciate minimalism in design, I think the Desire is a better looking device.  I haven’t bothered putting a DRM free music library on the device as of yet, so won’t pass comment on the media player.  If I am to believe what I have read, this issue divides opinions like few others.

Regardless of brand loyalty etc, last night I had my first “I ♥ my smart-phone moment”.  I will not claim that this sequence could not be replicated on other types of smart-phones, but the whole technology came together in an almost magical way for me.

I have been in Melbourne travelling for work. I lived in Melbourne for years and know it reasonably well, but still enjoy exploring when I go back there.  I picked a suburb I could get to on the nearest tram and decided to go there for dinner…

  • I used “Google Voice” and spoke: “Places to eat, South Melbourne”
  • From the search results, I found a restaurant review website and picked a place I liked the sound of.
  • I cut-n-paste the address into Google maps, so I knew how to get there.
  • While I waited for the tram, I spotted a “star” close to the moon and pointed my phone running “Google Sky Map” at it to determine that it was actually Mars.
  • On board the tram, I used the GPS to show me when I was close to the restaurant so I didn’t have to walk far.
  • While waiting for my meal, (eating alone is a hazard of traveling for work) I caught up on some Geek news via the Engadget RSS feed.

It was simply brilliant!  I now know why people love these gadgets!

Moto2

For those of you who do not follow the MotoGP series, there is a new second tier class this year.  After sixty years, the 250cc category was replaced this year by Moto2.  The change from 250cc two strokes, to 600cc four strokes has divided opinions on the Internet forums. 

The new class has a “control” engine supplied by Honda and “control” tyres, supplied by Dunlop.  I suspect the rules for the category were finalised at around the time of the Global Financial Crisis and have been heavily influenced by the desire to keep the costs of this class down.  As with the earlier change from 500cc two strokes, to the 990cc four stroke in the premier MotoGP class, this change in formula has generated a renewed enthusiasm amongst the racing fraternity.  As a result, around forty-three riders are partaking in the formula. 

The rules, plus the sheer number of bikes on the track have made for some quite interesting racing in the opening two events this year.  The knockers are quick to point out that the lap times are slower than the 250cc two strokes they replaced, but racing where plenty of overtaking takes place overrides this concern. 

When a new and significantly different category of racing starts, it ‘levels the playing fields” between the different teams.  Data gathered from previous years is no longer relevant and so, most teams feel they have a fighting chance of being “up at the pointy end of the field”.  Unfortunately, this only really lasts for one season.   The introduction of 990cc four strokes in MotoGP  saw renewed enthusiasm from manufacturers with Aprilia and Kawasaki fielding entries, and Ducati following the next year. 

Several years later, Aprilia and Kawasaki are gone.  Without good results, sponsorship is hard to come by.  Somehow, Suzuki still field bikes despite their lack of decent results.  Will the same fate of shrinking numbers on the grid befall Moto2?  Given the current huge number of bikes in the competition, you would expect some reduction in numbers over the next couple of years.  Hopefully the measures put in place to restrict costs will stop the wholesale decimation of the grid numbers.

As for me: personally, I am just hoping to see a good season of close racing and maybe witness the rise of a new champion in the sport.  Bring it on!