Tag Archives: uk

Breffo Spiderpodium Review



The Breffo Spiderpodium is an extremely flexible gadget holder that can be used in a multitude of situations. Arachnoid, it’s eight rubberised flexible legs attached to a grey base and it’s easy to bend the legs to grip, to hold or to simply stand. Take a look at some of the pictures – it’s much easier to show than explain.

Breffo Spiderpodium Naked

Twisted Breffo Spiderpodium

Breffo Spiderpodium with Tapwave Zodiac

Yes, that’s a Tapwave Zodiac playing Doom II in the Spiderpodium’s embrace. The eight legs give a great deal of flexiblity in the positioning and orientation of the device. Standing, hanging, upright, tilted, it’s all possible. There’s just the right amount of stiffness in the legs to keep the Spiderpodium in the right position without making too difficult to shape. There’s a bigger version for hold tablets and heavier devices too.

But I’ve a confession to make….I haven’t been using the Spiderpodium for my gadgets at all. I’ve been using it as a clothes hanger in my gym locker to stop my shirt and suit from getting creased. That’s how handy the Spiderpodium is.

Breffo Spiderpodium Coat Hook

A bargain at £14.95 or $19.99, available direct and in a range of colours. It’s also designed and manufactured in Britain, so support local innovation and industry.

Disclosure – I won the Spiderpodium in a contest organised by Breffo in Twitter.


O2 Offers 12 Month Smartphone Lease



O2 LogoIn a change to the mobile phone contract status quo, UK mobile telco O2 has announced a 12 month smartphone leasing service. For £55 per month, you get a 16 GB smartphone, 750 minutes, unlimited text, a paltry 500 MB of data and insurance. Allegedly unique in the UK market, both consumers and business will be able to take advantage of O2 Lease.

If you are wondering what the difference is between a 12 month lease and 12 month contract, it’s simply that the smartphone doesn’t belong to you and must be returned in reasonable condition at the end of the lease. That’s why insurance is included in the cost of the lease so that the smartphone can be replaced in the event of damage or loss.

O2 extols the benefits of a 12 month lease, tying it into the upgrade cycles of the smartphone models and giving you the latest model without a long contract. The choice of smartphone models isn’t mentioned but O2 offers all the premium smartphones – Apple iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Nokia Lumia 800 and Blackberry Torch. 32GB models cost an extra £10 per month. Update – O2 Lease is specifically mentioned against the iPhone 4S here.

If you really want the latest phone and you’re a big talker or texter, this scheme might be worth considering but the tiny data allowance really makes it all a bit of a farce. My monthly data usage is between 600-800 MB and I don’t think that I’m a particularly heavy user. Yes, I might download the odd podcast but it’s mostly email, web browsing, Twitter and RSS feeds.

Personally, I tend to buy my smartphones SIM-free as there are far better tariffs out there and you can easily sell the smartphone after 12 months to part-fund your next purchase. Do the maths for yourself and see what works for you.

The full press release is here.


Britain’s Greatest Codebreaker – Alan Turing



German Enigma MachineGeeks in the UK may be interested in “Britain’s Greatest Codebreaker” on Channel 4 tonight (21 Nov) at 9 pm. Described as a drama documentary, the program follows Alan Turing’s life, the mathematical genius instrumental in breaking the German Naval Enigma code. His homosexuality overshadowed his achievements, and two years after being convicted for gross indecency, he committed suicide in 1954 aged 41.

According to the notes, the program will feature “contemporary experts from the world of technology and high science, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Set your PVR now.

The notes also say that the program will be available on 4oD shortly after transmission, but this is usually only available if you are in the UK or Ireland. 4oD is Channel 4’s on-demand Internet streaming service.


Starbucks’ Free Pick of the Week



Starbucks Coffee CupI’m possibly a bit slow on the uptake here, but Starbucks in the UK are offering a free “Pick of the Week” iTunes download. Some weeks it will be a music track, other weeks it will be an e-book, some will be well-known, some will be up-and-coming.

I came across this freebie last week while frequenting my local coffee house but after checking on-line, it looks like the promotion has already been running for a few weeks.

You’ll find little credit card-sized vouchers with a download code on the back close to the tills. I picked up The Damned United by David Peace. Enter the code into iTunes / iBooks and it’s added to your collection. Easy.


Trading Tough for the UK Big Boxes



Best Buy LogoFrom recent news in the UK, the tough economic conditions appear to be hitting the technology and electrical particularly hard with Best Buy and Comet in the front line.

After losing nearly £50 million in the last six months, Best Buy is going to close all 11 stores in the UK after just 18 months in   operation. Best Buy Europe was a joint venture between Best Buy, Inc and Carphone Warehouse, with Best Buy purchasing half of Carphone Warehouse’s retail division for over $1 billion. Over 200 stores were originally planned but now 1,000 jobs are at risk.

Roger Taylor, CEO of Carphone Warehouse said, “The eleven Best Buy UK ‘Big Box’ stores have performed exceptionally at the level of customer satisfaction, but they do not have the national reach to achieve scale and brand economies. Due to the lack of visibility of an acceptable rate of return on historical and future potential investment we have decided against rolling out more ‘Big Box’ stores and we will be closing our existing stores, subject to consultation with our employees. Our immediate focus is our people and we are confident that the large majority will be offered alternative positions elsewhere in our UK business.

Today, Comet has been sold for just £2 to a holding company “Hailey” after revenue in Comet fell 22% over the summer. A further £50 million will be invested by Comet’s parent company in the holding company. 17 stores are already earmarked for closure with a further nine to be reduced in size.

In guarded comments, Bob Darke, Comet managing director said, “We are encouraged by today’s announcement and – with shareholder approval – absolutely committed to a smooth handover. For our customers and our people, it is business as usual and we are 100 per cent focused on delivering a successful Christmas trading period and great business performance into 2012 and beyond.

DSG Retail with its Dixons, Currys and PC World brands is the main player in the UK market but even it saw a fall of 7% earlier in the year. The next set of results isn’t due for a few months and it will be interesting to see what they show.

Overall, it’s not looking good for the big boxes in the UK.


GNC-2011-10-20 #715 Seven Year Anniversary!



This show is pretty close to the seven year anniversary of the show. It has been a great run, and I want to thank all of you for being loyal fans.. You will get a chuckle at the beginning of the show as I for some reason have no idea what day it is.. Lot’s of tech and thanks for all of the emailed comments.

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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy



This year’s BBC Reith lectures came to a close today with the last of three lectures on Securing Freedom, presented by Eliza Manningham-Buller. The name may mean nothing to you but she was the Director-General of Britain’s Security Service, aka MI5, between October 2002 and April 2007, and she reflects on 9/11, the wars in the Middle East and how the world has changed in the last ten years.

The three lectures are titled, “Terror“, “Security” and “Freedom” and a give a British perspective on the role of the intelligence services and the relationship with the US during a period both countries were under attack. If you are a seasoned spook-watcher, there’s probably not that much new, but I personally found it revealing and reassuring that the British Security Service is more measured and ethically-minded than the media would have us believe.

Baroness Manningham-Buller doesn’t shy away from controversy either, steadfastly refusing to accept torture as an intelligence tool, and suggesting that the US’ use of waterboarding was a “profound mistake”. You’ll have to listen to the podcasts to understand her reasoning.

The lectures are available as podcasts and also as transcripts for those who would prefer to read.