Welcome to Episode 149 – It’s all go again with the mobile phone market in the UK, the confusion surrounding Mobile Virtual Network Operators and actual network operators becomes confusing again! Virgin Mobile is currently carried by EE which in turn is owned by arch-rival BT, so now Virgin is moving to Vodafone. It shouldn’t affect your service, but you should check your coverage as EE and Vodafone may differ!
Britbox has now launched in the UK, although it was launched in the USA some time ago. Britbox offers BBC and ITV material and will also offer Channel 4 and Channel 5 stuff to in time. It becomes confusing when much of the material is still offered on BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4 and My5, you can even pay for some of these services to remove the adverts with ITV Hub+, 4+. I’ve signed up to check it out, so more on this later. I’m not terribly sure it has room to operate alongside global players such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple TV. Time will tell.
UK Drone registration is now compulsory for anyone flying an aircraft over 250g. Operators have until the end of the month to register their drones. It requires the payment of a £9 annual fee and you must affix your Operator ID to any drones you choose to fly.
All intelligent science is informing us that it is now past the time to start thinking about our planet and how we should be treating it before we reach its tipping point, the time when we can no longer begin to undo the damage that the human race has inflicted upon it.
Our oceans are strewn with millions of tons of plastic, so it is good to read that the big car manufacturers are stepping up to the plate and looking for alternative materials and techniques which avoid the continues use of non-biodegradable plastics which have been the go-to material for decades!.
In this podcast, I chat to James Hazell from BBC Radio Suffolk about bio-plastics and their growing use in the manufacture of car interiors.
It’s interesting listening, so don’t forget to tune in and Like, Subscribe and Comment.
This week begins a 10 week series of Retro Gadgets. Technology which has featured in my life and evokes childhood memories.
Listen in on the audio recording above. I have included a surprise at the end which wasn’t recorded at the time.
If you grew up in the ’70s or ’80s, you may have experienced some of these gadgets. You might be still using them or maybe they are gathering dust in a drawer.
The first of these is an absolutely awesome gadget. A gadget which opened up the national curriculum to the use of calculators. It also introduced us to mobile gaming. Leading thousands of young people to huddle around each other in the schoolyards of the early 1980s.
Released in the summer of 1980, the Casio MG-880 was ostensibly a calculator aimed at young people. The 1980s saw a revolution in the teaching techniques applied to mathematics in schools. Initially seen as a way of ‘cheating’. Soon, however, it was accepted as a legitimate means to ‘check’ calculations, whilst continuing to show workings-out’ in answers.
Casio had something up their sleeve though. Their customers not only received a calculator, but they also received a musical instrument and game. This was genius marketing, Casio tapped into the school market and rewarded the kids at the same time.
The calculator functionality allowed for addition, subtraction, multiplication and addition. In addition to this, results could be written to memory, recalled and directly subtracted or added to further calculations. Percentage calculations were also included.
It was a beautifully designed device which hasn’t aged at all.
MG-880 provided musical entertainment by either a preprogrammed ‘Oh When the Saints’ or by users composing their own music. Musical keys illustrated by the relevant Solfège above the enabled buttons allowed for simple compositions.
The sound came from a piezoelectric speaker. The result was a fine 80s sound that comfortably sits alongside games to follow. I was fond of playing the Star Wars’ theme. For for those interested is 1-5-4-3-2-8-5-4-3-2-8-5-4-3-4-2.
IYou can hear this being played at the end of the attached podcast.
It was no secret that switching the calculator to ‘music’ mode in a lesson would result in its swift confiscation.
The Game (Digi-Invaders / Space Invaders / Invaders)
The ace in the pack was in the inclusion of the Game. This took the form of a button mashing invaders themed game utilising the simplest of graphics, the number display itself.
The invaders game required the using decimal-point to cycle through 0-9 and n which denoted the mothership. Digits slowly advance across the screen from right to left. The player matches the number and presses ‘fire’ to remove it. Each level became faster and more difficult. Lives are lost when invaders reach the base.
The game was an instant hit across the planet, from my school in Hitchin, England to schools in New Zealand, every child wanted to own one and more-so, they wanted to excel at the game. Millions of the devices must have been sold with a substantial amount of them confiscated by over-enthusiastic teaching staff!
As with all fads, the MG-880 fell out of favour to be replaced by more advanced handheld games and creating a new boom in entertainment. Perhaps thousands of them still exist in boxes on the shelves of staff-rooms around the world.
This was the beginning of Casio’s boom. Relentlessly creative, they produced some the most ingenious of technology of the 80s. From calculators to watches with built-in calculators and melodies, they were the kings within their marketplace.
Don’t forget to listen to the audio using the link above. It was recorded at BBC Radio Suffolk & broadcast on the 11 May 2019. Listen to the VERY END! I have included something geeky and special.
Thanks to Matt Marvel at BBC Radio Suffolk for inviting onto his show. Keep tuning in for the next 10 weeks for more gems!
It only seems like yesterday when I was talking about the World Wide Web turning 25 years old and now before we know it, it’s now 30 years since the first HTML web page was authored and published by Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
The Web is, without doubt, the greatest invention of all time. It has made our planet smaller, brought together people from all walks of life and from every corner of the globe. It has made the world a much more accessible place, we can reach out to our idols and they can communicate back to us. We can transverse the globe and watch sunrises on opposite sides of the planet as they happen.
It truly is a modern wonder of the world. Cheers, Sir Tim!!
With the wonders of the web brings ‘Smart Assistants’, they are on our phones, computers and now independently as ‘Smart Speakers’, another true wonder borne from the internet, serving our every need and answering the answerable. These ubiquitous electronic pucks offer a gateway to enormous artificial intelligence-driven knowledgebases that are themselves learning as well learn from us, Machine Learning is driven by millions of users.
Of course, every now and then our assistants flicker or make strange noises, we might wonder if these are simply glitches or the first sparks of self-awareness?
I spoke to Mark Murphy at BBC Radio Suffolk about both Smart Speakers and the 30th Anniversary of the Web. Listen in above and don’t forget to LIKE, SHARE and SUBSCRIBE. See you next time!!
Following my previous post which can be found here, I talked this morning to Mark Murphy on BBC Radio Suffolk about WannaCry and the effect it has had on the NHS, what needs to be done to stop it happening again and what we can do to protect ourselves.
To read and in depth article on how to protect your computers from such attacks, click here
PLEASE ensure your computers have all their updates installed and make sure you have Anti-Virus software installed.
Fantastic to be back on BBC Radio Suffolk this week, even more special that I was invited to James Hazell’s home for a very special outside broadcast, where we talked about effectively working from home and I got to play Star Trek Pinball!!
Thanks to James and Isaac for the invitation, fabulous fun!
On Friday, I spoke to Mark Murphy on the Morning Show on BBC Radio Suffolk about the breaking news story concerning the massive data breach at Yahoo, possibly converning over 500,000,000 user accounts and by far the largest leak in history.
Listen to the short interview where I explain what I think happened and what Yahoo users should do to ensure their accounts are kept safe and secure from now on.
Yahoo has released a statement concerning the breach, we can be read here