07/04/2012 Click


07/04/2012

Technology show. What do you have to do to get a phone signal? Click finds out why your mobile cannot always connect to the network. Plus, the self-destructing USB stick.


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industrial action as the annual conference this week.

:00:04.:00:14.
:00:14.:00:29.

Hello? Hello? Just how far are you prepared to go

:00:29.:00:34.

to get a signal? This week, we find out why your mobile cannot always

:00:34.:00:38.

connect, no matter what position you adopt. And should phone

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companies be let off the hook? And Bordeaux purifies in geekiness.

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The report from its second digital week.

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All of that plus the latest Tech News, the data store which is so

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secure, it self-destructs if you lose it. And more moon then you can

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:01:06.:01:08.

Welcome to Click. This week, our mobile-phone expert has been a bit

:01:08.:01:14.

secretive regarding the contents of his report. I know it is about

:01:14.:01:19.

phones but he said he would call me with more detail. In fact, that is

:01:19.:01:29.
:01:29.:01:31.

him. Hello. Hello? Hello? Hello? Can you hear me? Can you hear me?

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Hello? This is useless! Don't you just hate it when that

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happens? This handset has more advanced processes than rockets

:01:42.:01:48.

that sent the first men to the moon. It can hold my personal diary, my

:01:48.:01:53.

video player, it can even monitor my blood pressure. But I cannot

:01:53.:02:01.

make a decent call. Not that he ever makes sense anyway.

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The user experience of phone calls, while it has become more ubiquitous,

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you can make a call anywhere, has not fundamentally changed in 100

:02:07.:02:14.

years. It sounds the same as it did when telephones were first invented.

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Phone technology has radically changed since 1876 but the basic

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desire in making a call is still the same. To hear and be heard

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clearly. So why do we still suffer from bad connections and dropped

:02:27.:02:37.
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calls? The smartphones of today have nothing to do with the phones

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of yesterday. They are purely focused on noise, managing voice

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signals and grabbing onto that antenna to get the perfect signal.

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We have to deal with data, mobile broadband and applications. What

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happens is the operators are having to start applying this new

:02:53.:02:59.

technology in their networks. a real-estate issue. There are two

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aspects. One is room for electronics that can help voice.

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The other is space for microphones and speakers. What little space

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there is for electronics seems to be earmarked for glassy extras. The

:03:13.:03:19.

kind of stuff in advertising campaigns. People's priorities have

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changed. Most people are interested in cameras, what apps they can get,

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things like that. And then there are efficiency measures as we

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demand better performance. They are designed with a view to saving

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battery life. So they connect and disconnect multiple times. This

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puts a lot of strain on the signalling network which is not

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designed to cope with all of that signalling traffic. As a result,

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Mobile sales can only carry a certain number of calls. So if your

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call disconnects from the network and there are no free spots when

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you want to call, you may have to wait, even if your handset is

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showing several bars of signal. But arguably one of the biggest hurdles

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facing the mobile industry today is the distribution of the spectrum

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available for their traffic. Imagine I am a mobile operator and

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this tomato is my available bandwidth. When we want to provide

:04:25.:04:30.

a few different services, we can slice it nice and thick. We make

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sure everybody gets a sizable, reliable chunk. But in today's

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world, where operators need to slice their available bandwidth

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ever more thinly to feed the hunger for things like video, apps and

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research projects, it does not take a master chef to realise there will

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be a trade off. In data terms, voice does not need

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much bandwidth. Typically, one- third of streaming music or one-

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tenth of video. But it needs to be a consistent connection. Where as

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data for a webpage can be sent in fits and starts, slowly building up

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the image, we tend to notice if our caller's voice breaks up or drops.

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But dropped calls may not be solely down to the network.

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Have you ever had a phone that was particularly good at making for

:05:23.:05:31.

taking calls? Not all handsets are made the same. Where you put your

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antenna, for example, is important. Apple's revolutionary idea to wrap

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it around the outside of the handset seemed like a step forward.

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Until users quickly found the signal dropped nothing if you held

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the iPhone 4 a certain away. Red- faced Apple offered free covers.

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And there are different frequencies so the number of chips can also

:05:55.:06:05.
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interfere with call quality. It is a real challenge for the equipment

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manufacturers to get it all packed into the same device and have it

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work in different countries and across various spectrum's that a

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given operator may have within any single country. Sometimes, your

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handset struggles to lock onto a signal, even though you know there

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is one there because you made calls from that location before. But zero

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bars does not necessarily mean you cannot make a call. If your display

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shows no signal, do not fear. It may actually have stopped hunting

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around for one. It does that to save battery but you can force your

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phone to check for a signal by simply turning the airplane mode on

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and then back off again. And then it should go hunting. And as 4G

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networks move out, more calls can be made over internet protocol.

:07:05.:07:09.

That solved some of the issues. Other recent advances could help

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with the call experience as well. Noise reduction technologies in

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phones have been around for a few years. But they are evolving as

:07:18.:07:21.

well by isolating your voice and eliminating background noise, even

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if you are in an incredibly busy environment. With the technology

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available, you can transmit a full audible bandwidth which only humans

:07:31.:07:41.
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can hear. You can transmit a few audible bandwidth. So some

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operators have already added the new Kodak to their networks

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delivering what is being marketed as her HTC voice. But does it work?

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I can hear the voice coming through clearly, even over the microphones

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and craziness in the background. is very clear. There was no static.

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There did not seem to be any blanks. good. Our chips are very small and

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we have taken full advantage of the miniaturisation that is possible.

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That is actually the size of our chip. I am sure Alexander Graham

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Bell would not even recognise the device we call a telephone today.

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But he may find it a little easier to recognise the voice of the

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person calling. OK, next is a look at this week's

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Tech News. A government plan to monitor emails

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and web surfing in the UK has sparked a row with civil liberties

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groups and some MPs who say the proposed laws would be an invasion

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of privacy. Downing Street has not finalised the proposals but say any

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new legislation would focus on who was communicating with who, when

:09:01.:09:04.

and where, rather than the content of any exchanges which would still

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require a warrant. It says the changes are needed as more people

:09:10.:09:15.

use online communications. Users of the TomTom sat nav have

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been driven around the bend by what they say is interference. Some of

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the devices have stopped working. Drivers in Switzerland, the UK and

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Denmark say the screen went grey and the machine said it had no

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signal. The firm said it was working on a fix and promised

:09:33.:09:35.

further updates. Imagine seeing all of the

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information you need by looking at the world around you. This is

:09:41.:09:45.

Google's vision of how augmented reality may work in a few years. It

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revealed what it calls Project Glass - a display that offers

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information triggered by voice or location. Keep your eye on Click

:09:56.:10:01.

for a closer look at this. These villagers in Lancashire have

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gotten bored with waiting for a super-fast broadband connection. So

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they have started laying their own network. Many volunteers with

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spades took part in digging an 83 kilometre long trench. When

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finished, it will connect to several villagers and provide fibre

:10:17.:10:24.

optic cables. They hope to be switched on by July.

:10:24.:10:28.

Finally, we may be one step closer to the flying cars we were promised

:10:28.:10:30.

as two companies say they have successfully concluded the first

:10:31.:10:36.

test flight. The transition vehicle from a US company has two seats,

:10:36.:10:40.

four wheels and wings that fold so it can be driven like an old

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fashion car. Meanwhile in Europe, the Dutch made personal air and

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land vehicle folds down to a three- wheel car. Lovely!

:10:56.:11:01.

Now, how many of these have you lost in your life? It is too easy

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to leave one plugged into somebody else's machine or let it slip out

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of your pocket. But we are increasingly storing more valuable

:11:09.:11:18.

things on these. This could help. It is like a simple USB flash drive.

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But it is not a simple USB flash drive. This is armed to the teeth.

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Used by the secret service, inside it has a GPS receiver, a battery

:11:31.:11:38.

and a mobile SIM card. That means you can track its location if it

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goes walkabout. The battery recharges every time it is plugged

:11:45.:11:49.

into the PC, which means you can track it to the nearest mobile cell

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or, if it can see the GPS satellite, right down to a volcanic lair. If

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your documents are for your eyes only, you can block access to them

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remotely through the online console or by sending a coded text message.

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And if locking it is not enough, it has one final trick. With one fatal

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click, you can shoot a high-voltage charge into its core, melting the

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chip, destroying the evidence and saving the world. But it comes with

:12:23.:12:33.
:12:33.:12:42.

The French city of Bordeaux, famous for wonderful wines and fabulous

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food. It is on a drive to promote its geeky side. It is hosting its

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second Digital Week, getting those who have turned cold by technology

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a little more involved. Skateboarders are not normally

:12:59.:13:09.

found in Bordeaux city centre, but this is Digital Week. Town Hall is

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giving skaters some licence. Skateboarders are getting radio

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frequency ID bracelets so that photographers can fire off snaps of

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them to their Facebook pages and post them on the website. Radio

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frequency ID is like the key. We check the bracelet, that is the key.

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The smartphone sends the picture on the service. We can send it on

:13:48.:13:58.
:13:58.:13:59.

Facebook. When we think of Bordeaux we think of wine and food. This

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local technical company has knocked together a recipe finder called the

:14:02.:14:12.
:14:12.:14:23.

Saveur Digital. You can find cooking tips on the website. The

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idea is to build a bridge between the traditional products of this

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region and new technology. Particularly useful when it comes

:14:31.:14:40.

to ingredients that could be difficult to swallow. Like tripe.

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If it is not cooked properly it can be dangerous. If you have the right

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instructions it can be easy to understand and nice. Bordeaux's

:14:56.:15:02.

town hall wants to promote local IT companies. They are running a

:15:02.:15:08.

ground-breaking design course. It includes data visualisation, data

:15:08.:15:10.

collected by governments or companies is illustrated so that

:15:10.:15:15.

people can physically manipulate and understand it. It is where data

:15:15.:15:25.
:15:25.:15:31.

design and democracy meet. We live in a society where information is

:15:31.:15:41.
:15:41.:15:46.

omnipresent. It is a way to understand them better. It is a way

:15:46.:15:56.
:15:56.:15:58.

of summing up data in a clear presentation. When Bordeaux's

:15:58.:16:04.

design students graduate they will need a place to work.

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Town hall is giving over one of its unused buildings as a nursery for

:16:08.:16:16.

IT start-ups. The idea is to get people with ideas and drive

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together under the one roof. It is not just exploring what is possible

:16:24.:16:32.

with technology, but what is not. They do not buy into the widely

:16:32.:16:35.

held belief that it is easy to work on Skype with someone in India as

:16:35.:16:39.

it is to work with someone in the same room. They believe if you want

:16:39.:16:42.

to get something started from the ground up, you need to have all

:16:42.:16:51.

your expertise in one place. Giving people a hand up early on is what

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allez less e-filles is about. Girls like technology, not just as

:16:54.:16:57.

consumers, but they are put off by the stereotype of the anti-social

:16:57.:17:07.
:17:07.:17:11.

geek. TRANSLATION: Boys are often stronger in technology. As soon as

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a girl sits down at the computer they say, leave it to me because I

:17:15.:17:24.

am better. Companies are looking for women in website positions.

:17:25.:17:33.

Mostly because they are more perfectionist in their tasks. This

:17:33.:17:42.

is an added value for a company to meet a woman. When you look at the

:17:42.:17:45.

make-up of classes and technical schools there are an enormous

:17:45.:17:48.

number of boys but very few girls. That is what we are trying to

:17:48.:17:51.

succeed with his operation, attracting girls to this profession,

:17:51.:17:59.

which is the profession of the future. Bordeaux's Digital Week has

:17:59.:18:04.

outlined some audacious plans for the future. Plans that could turn a

:18:04.:18:06.

beautiful French city renowned for its culinary expertise into a

:18:06.:18:16.
:18:16.:18:18.

Now, as we reported a few weeks ago, next year you'll be able to take a

:18:18.:18:26.

trip into space for $200,000. If you do not have that kind of spare

:18:26.:18:28.

cash lying around, do not worry because NASA is offering a

:18:28.:18:31.

different trip with a down-to-earth price tag where you can put space

:18:31.:18:41.
:18:41.:18:45.

40 years after we put the first man on the Moon, now you can hold of

:18:46.:18:49.

the Moon in your hands with NASA's free smartphone app for Android and

:18:49.:18:59.
:18:59.:19:09.

iPhone. There is enough video to satisfy any armchair astronaut. If

:19:09.:19:12.

you want to find something random to read, the features section is

:19:12.:19:16.

where you should head. All of the articles are accompanied with high

:19:17.:19:24.

quality imagery that we have come to expect from NASA. You can have

:19:24.:19:33.

the app set your wallpaper with NASA's image of the day. Who needs

:19:33.:19:43.
:19:43.:19:45.

a $200,000 ticket to the Earth's outer atmosphere anyway? When you

:19:45.:19:48.

are starting out in business getting the right advice can be

:19:48.:19:52.

vital. When it comes to technology that advice can be expensive.

:19:52.:19:55.

Hackerbuddy.com is a great social concept that works to put together

:19:55.:19:58.

start up coders and designers so they can help each other out with

:19:58.:20:07.

free advice through e-mail. You think hacker, you think bad guy,

:20:07.:20:11.

right? He wants to break into your bank account or bring down a blue-

:20:11.:20:15.

chip website. In computer programming circles the word hacker

:20:15.:20:17.

can describe anyone who knows how to code useful and interesting

:20:17.:20:26.

websites. Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook team are examples of non

:20:26.:20:33.

malicious hackers. The website is young but it is already home to

:20:33.:20:41.

5,000 members. If they accept your plea for help you are given e-mail

:20:41.:20:44.

addresses. You can progress the project without the website's

:20:44.:20:53.

involvement. When it comes to school sports day

:20:53.:20:57.

you need to be there in person. For top-flight sport supporters

:20:57.:21:03.

catching it live on TV is the next best thing. Livesport.co.uk bills

:21:03.:21:13.
:21:13.:21:19.

itself as the definitive UK Sport TV Guide. You'll never miss a match.

:21:19.:21:23.

The navigation bar on the left let's you search for a sport from

:21:23.:21:25.

American football to wrestling. There are listings for 3D TV

:21:25.:21:35.
:21:35.:21:41.

broadcasts. It is a free app for iPhone, Android and Blackberry. You

:21:41.:21:44.

can save it in Google Calendar. As the saying goes, in the back of the

:21:44.:21:54.
:21:54.:21:56.

net my son. If you are stuck for something

:21:56.:21:59.

creative to do with your cover image, this post on design and

:21:59.:22:06.

photography, MachoArts, showcases some brilliant ideas. After racking

:22:06.:22:09.

up 30 million iPhone users, Instagram finally released their

:22:09.:22:19.
:22:19.:22:30.

free app on Android this week. Only if you have 2.0 and up.

:22:30.:22:34.

Finally, the story of the disposable camera. Camera Obscura

:22:34.:22:37.

Project is the home of the snap happy project where a throwaway

:22:37.:22:40.

camera was left with instructions for whoever found it to take a

:22:40.:22:47.

photo and leave it somewhere else to be found again. The experiment

:22:47.:22:50.

was such a success they are sending out a batch of cameras around the

:22:50.:22:56.

UK, in London, Brighton and Manchester. What will they catch on

:22:56.:23:01.

their travels this time? Will any of them make it home to be

:23:01.:23:11.

published on this blog? Watch this space to find out.

:23:11.:23:16.

That was Kate Russell with Webscape. If you missed any of the links, you

:23:16.:23:26.
:23:26.:23:28.

What do you have to do to get a phone signal? Click finds out why your mobile cannot always connect to the network. Plus, the self-destructing USB stick.


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