Monthly Archives: April 2011

AV and FPtP referendum

Some thoughts on AV and FPtP referendum

I can’t say I’m that keen on the first past the post voting system for our current multiple-party setup, however I’m not impressed with this ‘alternative vote’ setup being offered. So what I hope to see in this oncoming referendum is that the first past the post will win, but only just. In other words we don’t get this AV system, but people are saying that they do want change from the current system.

What I would like to see is a ‘two vote’ system. First you would vote for your local MP, the idea being you’d choose the person you thought would be the best to represent your local constituency regardless of their political party. So if you happen to have relatively left wing views but your local left wing representative was a bit of a dick-head then it would not matter that much as you were voting for the best person to look after your interests at a local level.

However you would also then vote for which party you would like to be governing the country. Once these votes were counted, then the voting power of each MP would be allocated in proportion to this percentage vote, such that if one party got 25% of this vote, then regardless of the number of individual MPs they had in parliament, this group of MPs would have 25% of the votes in parliament.

Can’t see this ever happening, but could be interesting.

What do I want from a mobile phone?

Well, what do I want from a mobile phone?! The least important thing is it as a speech communication device, the most important thing is it as a data communication device.

I do have an iPhone 3GS and I’m happy enough with it, however it does have its limitations. (One thing that has started to happen recently is that its battery life has fallen off. I don’t know if it’s because it’s now nearly 2 years old, or because of Apple updates, or both, but it is irritating.) Something I would find useful would be to have a device that could be used as a Wi-Fi hot spot, and I was actually on my way down to the shops to get a stand-alone MiFi dongle when by chance I bumped into a friend and mentioned this to him. He showed me his HTC Desire and said that the newer Android phones had that Wi-Fi service built in.

Being reasonably happy with my 3GS I’d not kept track of what had been coming out new onto the mobile phone market recently, so was quite surprised at how nice his Android phone was. (My only real experience of this family of phones had been with an early Google phone, and that had NOT impressed me!) This chance meeting got me into doing a bit of research into what else was around, and was impressed with what I saw. Although I have various Apple products I am not an Apple FanBoy, but I had assumed that my next phone would probably be whatever comes out to replace the iPhone 4. However it may well be time to switch across to Android.

So what do I want.

A 4.3 inch screen – big enough to be useful but still keeping the device pocket-size.
Dual core processor – I don’t want to spend a lot of money on something like a single core machine that’s just about to become ‘old generation technology’.
Front and rear cameras – I do like to make the occasional YouTube vlog using my phone, and a front facing camera would make that sooo much easier.
Wi-Fi hot spot facilities – the easiest way for me to have mobile internet for my lap tops and other devices.

So at the moment I’m just waiting for the HTC Sensation and Samsung Galaxy S II phones to hit the phone companies, and then we’ll see how things go.

Wagamama; first impressions.

Glasgow has it’s fair share of noodle style restaurants, and my usual one is Ichiban. However, as a bit of a change myself and a friend headed off to the local Wagamama outlet. Not been before so curious about what my first impressions would be.

I guess it was around half full, though they had got most people all squashed together. We were duly slotted into a gap between two other groups of people. (Not a place for conversation unless you want everybody else to be able to listen in.)

We had hardly sat down and picked up the menus when a waitress came up and asked us what we wanted to drink. Because I showed a slight hesitation in saying what I wanted the waitress grabbed the menu from me, turned it round so the drinks page was uppermost, then thrust it back at me (rather rude, and certainly no thought of ‘customer service’). Our drinks were quick to arrive and food order taken. The menu was rather dominated by either prawn type seafood or chicken dishes, so I went for some spicy chicken. It arrived reasonably quickly. The food itself was nice but had been put onto a very cold plate. This meant that the main part of the food was reasonably hot, but the food towards the edge was tepid at best.

I thought this was meant to be an oriental style noodle bar (chop sticks were provided) but the way the food had been prepared and cut meant that using chop sticks a was not really a practical option.

I had hardly finished my last mouthful (my friend was still eating) when my plate was whisked away from me. The thought ‘conveyor belt’ sprung to mind, no proper customer service, we were there to be processed as quickly (and as indifferently) as possible.

The bill was presented and money handed over, and then we waited, and waited, and waited, and I noticed all the money trays at the counter had long been cleared, and we waited (for longer than it took us to eat the meal) and waited and I noticed our waitress occasionally glancing at us till eventually she went to the computer terminal, tapped quickly, and shortly after our change arrived! Quite obviously she had no intention of giving this to us.

Looking around, for what was meant to be an oriental style food bar there were no ‘oriental style’ people eating there, and likewise not an oriental person visible behind the relatively open plan kitchen area. This thing of no local oriental people willing to eat in this style of place was for me an interesting reflection on it’s actual quality and authenticity.

Compare this to my local Ichiban; similar rice or noodle based dishes, similar price range, but a place where hardly an English word is audible from behind its kitchen area, and a customer base that’s very oriental biased.
Would possibly be willing to give the place a second try (though not in any rush). However from my first impressions I know which restaurant I prefer to be spending my money in!

Wagamama  and Ichiban

iPad thoughts.

Just a few iPad thoughts.

When the original iPad first came out I was not too impressed with it. No flash support, no USB, a screen with a ratio 4:3 rather than 16:9… and so on. Then after a while I thought about it and wondered if I wasn’t expecting too much from the device (it’s only a tablet after all) and swung around in favour of it.

This was to change again after I spent time playing with them in my local Apple Store. I found the square edges made holding it for any length of time uncomfortable, missed having a ‘real’ keyboard, it was over priced. My iPhone did most things I wanted a portable device to do, and I have a small net book if I want portable computing.

Then the iPad 2 came out and that gave me second thoughts. It was lighter and the relatively sharp square edges has been rounded off. An improved graphics processor and dual core main processor were there and they had not bumped up the price for the new model. They had also added rear and front facing cameras. (I am a great believer in that if you want to take a decent picture then use a proper camera, however a basic camera is still better than no camera, and using the iPad version of iMovie you can do okay video editing on the device.)

Now, I tend to be someone who will be happy enough to spend time thinking about things, nothing like a good bit of procrastination when you’re not quite sure of something. Maybe this or maybe that, but on the other hand….why not pour yourself another cup of tea. However once the decision has actually been made then I like to carry out that decision immediately. No hesitation, no delay, but *right now*.

So there I was in a local coffee shop with a friend and it was going to be a busy day so I had not brought my lap top with me. However he got out his (original model) iPad and was immediately being ‘computer productive’. That was it, that was the final action that made me go from ‘I’d like one but…’ to ‘It’s genuinely useful, I want one’. Five minutes later we were heading up towards the local Apple Store, and ten minutes later I was the proud owner of a base model iPad 2.

I like it. Where before I thought it too big compared to a phone, too small compared to a ‘proper’ computer, now I see it as nicely filling that gap. A screen big enough to be genuinely useful size, (great BBC iPlayer device) but not so large as to dent its portability. It can be carried around in almost any sort of case or ruck sack and has a decent battery life (so no need to be constantly carrying its charger). It can do about 80% of what I’d want from a full computer, but then on that odd occasion when I *really need* that bit of extra use I can always take my lap top with me. In numeric terms its screen resolution may now be bettered by other devices, but it is still a very nice screen to use. Its virtual keyboard I found unexpectedly pleasant (either one or two handed) and have made less errors using this virtual one than I usually do when using a physical one.

I do miss not having a USB port for for file and data back-up, and I wish a USB port was there for battery charging. The other thing I find a bit irritating is that the screen is too reflective, so I must look out for a screen protector for it to cut this down a bit.

So overall I’ll give it a definite Thumbs Up. A device I see not competing against, but complimenting one’s other computing devices.