Monday, 27 June 2011

Ladies & gentlemen, we are floating in (white) space

This Wednesday is an exciting day for anyone who uses mobile data services in the UK. Why? Because on Wednesday the first trials of the White Spaces Coalition's frequency agile fast broadband technology begin in Cambridge. Now that analogue TV is very nearly extinct in the UK we can finally start making use of the spectrum for some economic good, beyond re-runs and reality TV.

To summarise the technology concept, the map of radio spectrum usage isn't a flat continium, but rather a comb with used bands separated by "guard bands" that prevent leakage from one channel into another. Furthermore, usage of the spectrum is inconsistent in different geographical areas, partly for the same technical reason (preventing leakage), partly because not all channels are broadcast nationally.

The upshot is that large portions of the spectrum are unused, which is where the white space radio technology comes in. The radios they use (effectively a modified wi-fi router) use the free channels dynamically, creating a fast network of reasonably long range. An intriguing member of the UK consortium is BSkyB, who bought The Cloud this year and hence have a substantial base of installed hardware off which to base a customer network.

Deployment of such a network would be good and bad news for mobile operators. Good because it offloads some of the pesky low value data traffic that to some extent still clogs their networks (although post-capping, at least customers are paying for it). Bad because this is yet another competitor in the ever-cut throat UK market.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

India awakening

Just a short post from me - I've just spent the day at a client in Gurgaon, just outside New Delhi. Frankly I was amazed by the tangible sense of progress in the city, which resembles an Indian-flavoured Seoul (with the exception of the typically abysmal India road system). Big tech' names were everywhere, as was glass and steel, which completely dominate the skyline. Compared to the wide boulevards of colonially-styled New Delhi, this was a major shock. I was also very impressed by the ambition of the client in question - a palpable sense of energy and ambition permeated their (very large) corporate headquarters.

Could it be that India is finally emerging from it's 20 year funk and becoming a genuine high tech challenger to China? Let's hope so...

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

How to make an Opel Senator like the Starship Enterprise

Now, I've always had a soft spot for the Vauxhall/ Opel Senator - probably because they were the fearsome steed of the UK's traffic police when I was a lad. I'll also openly admit to being a lapsed/ recovered Trekker. Therefore, this is the coolest thing that I've ever seen. Quite why automobile manufacturers still seem incapable of making a decent in car electronics suite when one geek and a soldering iron can achieve this is rather beyond me...

Friday, 10 June 2011

All out of gum...

So after 15 years in the making, the Duke returns... and he's showing his age. I have to admit a feeling of regret at both the wait and the poor quality of the game: I spent many happy days in front of my Escom Pentium 100 (another long forgotten victim of the dotcom demise) blasting aliens and shooting gum. Perhaps I'll buy it anyway - one star for nostalgia...