Three: Make it wrong.

My contract with Three ends on 1st October, but do you want to know how incredibly difficult it is to give cancellation notice now without incurring a silly penalty charge from them?  Very.  They want at least £17 to cancel the contract early.  All I’m giving them is a little over 30 days notice to cancel. I don’t want to cancel the contract straight away.  I want to give them advanced notice not to renew so I don’t have to keep finding the time to phone these idiots to cancel.  I’ve been on the phone to them on Tuesday when the operator told me to call back today.  And having called them back to today, I’ve been told to call back tomorrow or they’ll throw that penalty charge at me.

Oh, and the 0333 number they have on their website to contact them from a non-Three number is wrong.  That’s another point against them.

What a bunch of muppets.

Which very likely explains Jackson, Three’s puppet mascot built by the Jim Henson Creature Shop.  I guess his pants are on fire whenever he exclaims “Make it Right!”.  Seeing how he’s made of synthetic material, the rest of him should have turned into a burnt out rag by now. Or maybe at the very least: all fur, no knickers.

Got to love the 21st-century folks.  We can build super-advanced mobile phones, but when it comes to mobile phone contracts we’re stuck in the 18th century.  Which is why I will ever only choose a SIM only plan with no more than 12 months commitment on it.

I do wish Ofcom would step in to make issues like this a thing of a past.

Three: Make it wrong.

When mobile phones outsmart DSLRs

I’ve always enjoyed taking photographs and have owned a number of standalone cameras in my time.  I never enjoyed 35mm film cameras because of the fiddly nature of spooling the film into the camera, so was very happy when I got my first ever digital camera way back in the year 2000.  It was a Sony Cybershot.  It was a big clunky camera.  My most recent was another Sony Cybershot (the well received RX100 MkIII).  Tiny thing.  But I’ve just sold that.


I’ve come to realise that I just don’t like carrying around two devices that now do the same thing.  In fact, the device that’s replacing it does more – it can automatically tag photos with location data which makes it much easier to identify where a photo was taken.


I’m buying a Samsung Galaxy Note 7.  I already own the Galaxy S7 Edge (which will be sold to make up the shortfall when the Note 7 arrives), and both devices share the same camera optics.  The S7 Edge has taken some of the most impressive photographs I’ve seen from a camera phone to date.  It uses dual pixel technology as found in the Canon 70D camera (which has only just found its way into the new and pricey Canon 5D Mark IV) which means super fast auto focus.  It behaves extraordinary well in low light situations.  In Pro mode, one can generate RAW files.  In short – you’ve got professional camera features in a mobile telephone.

Let them eat cake - photo taken with Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (full auto) - click image for full size
Let them eat cake – photo taken with Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (full auto) – click image for full size

But why the Note 7 in particular when the S7 Edge and Note 7 share such similar specifications?  The first is the S-Pen.  Steve Jobs has always dismissed styluses for phones, but the Note 7 is more than that.  With the Note 7, you can write directly on the screen when the phone isn’t in use and save them.  As I’m always taking down notes, this is going to be a much-used feature.  The second is the curved screen isn’t pronounced.  My biggest problems with the S7 Edge is that I whenever I grip the sides, it results in accidental app launches and whatnot if the phone is unlocked.  Then there’s the slightly larger size over the S7 Edge (a whole .2 inches).  I have large hands, therefore a larger phone suits me better.  Then there is the refined user interface, the iris scanner (though as I wear glasses, I don’t think I’ll get much use of that feature).  The Note 7 is the first Samsung phone to incorporate blue light reduction which I find very useful before heading off to sleep.

I have made the decision to stick with the Samsung Galaxy Note series for future mobile phone tech.  Samsung has taken the lead over Apple (who are currently embroiled in the iPhone 6/6 Plus “touch disease” fiasco).  In particular, I trust Google’s services far more over Apple’s (especially given I have a proper SLA with Google for Google Apps for Work – no such SLA exist with any of Apple’s online services;  I fear that one day,  as Apple integrates its online services even more tightly into MacOS and iOS, they will seriously muck it up, leaving vulnerable Apple users with lost data).  I’m also with Intel in saying that if you’re going to go down a fully digital audio route for headphones and the ilk, USB-C is a better medium than Apple’s own ecosystem.

All these features within a single unit that I carry about every single day and hardly leaves my side.  It’s strange to think how far mobile phone technology has become.  The S7 Edge/Note 7 processors contain neural net technology for crying out loud!  It is a computer, it is a phone, it is a compass, it is a satnav, it is a pro camera.  It’s no wonder why mobile phones have become so popular.


When mobile phones outsmart DSLRs

BAFTA’s two faced cheek

According to this report from the BBC, BAFTA will only consider films for its awards if they “have been screened to the widest possible public paying UK audience”.  What they are essentially saying is that they’ll look more favourably towards films shown in a cinema. Digital only distribution (such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, MUBI, or countless many other digital distribution systems because, I don’t know, it’s the bleedin’ 21st century?!) will only be accepted in exceptional circumstances.

Which is tremendously silly in this day and age.  Crowdfunded films are becoming more common (and I’ve seen quite a few that will never make it to the cinema regardless of how good they are), and with the likes of the internet and companies such as Netflix and  Amazon Prime making inroads with their own film productions, this is going to be one of the defacto ways of watching movies.   Whether that be subscription or individual purchases.  iTunes offers up quite a few independent, non-cinema based movies as well.  So it’s definitely not uncommon.

Cinemas are becoming subscription based too.  It’s what’s keeping me there, otherwise I’d hardly go and see anything.  I’d just wait until it hits Amazon Prime to rent the film, or wait until it comes on Sky Cinema.

But what strikes me as odd about BAFTA’s statement is that these guys offer screeners – either in physical DVD/Blu-Ray form, or some other digital distribution system – for the judges.  BAFTA encourages judges to watch the nominees at a cinema (scroll to the end), but – like us mere non-BAFTA mortals – who don’t have the time or inclination, you can watch it at home.

I keep wondering when these organisations (AMPAS including) will ditch the old white guys who can barely open a word processing document and promote tech-savvy members who can see what’s happening with the industry and where it’s going.  It was painful working with the film industry on technology eight years ago when it was my job to; it’s equally painful watching how slowly they’re trying to adapt now.

It’s the 21st-century, folks.  We can watch movies anywhere.  The cinema is the best way to watch something, yes, but it’s expensive and not the only way of doing so.

BAFTA’s two faced cheek

Smoke me a kipper..

.. I’ll be back for breakfast – Arnold “Ace” Rimmer, Space Corps.

I’ve just booked a local hotel for the forthcoming Guildford Comic-Con, where the likes of Robert Llewellyn, Chris Barrie, and Hattie Hayridge from Red Dwarf will all be present, as will Doctor Who’s Colin Baker and many more guest stars from the UK TV science fiction scene.

I did something similar a couple of years ago but it concentrated almost exclusively on Stargate SG-1/Stargate Atlantis.  It was okay, but the whole convention/fan scene was a bit overwhelming.  Now I’ve had a bit of a run up to it, maybe, this time, it won’t seem as bad.

Full report to follow.

Smoke me a kipper..

So Fred said, “Let’s have another cuppa tea.”

Star Trekkin’ across the universe..
Boldly going forward, coz we can’t find reverse..

So began my virtual life as an official Space Adventurer, alien archaeologist, and Space Bear Grylls in No Man’s Sky.  After a good solid four hours at the console (I’m on-call for the next week and a bit – so I’m stuck indoors), I discovered a new planet and managed to park my spaceship on a tree.

Ruddy learner space pilot! Oh, that's me. Sorry. *cough*
Ruddy learner space pilot! Oh, that’s me. Sorry. *cough*

But in all seriousness, this is one of the best games I’ve played for a very long time.  It feels like Minecraft meets Elite: Dangerous meets The Time Team (meets Cash in the Attic).  Plenty of things to see and do, and the controls are much easier to get used to than Elite.

So Fred said, “Let’s have another cuppa tea.”