review

Blip: Not just a video site but your next TV channel

Blip logo

Anything that can make it easier to discover great content on the Internet is always welcome. I've been having a look at Blip, a video service that helps do this for web series. It offers many facilities to help viewers and producers of web series alike. Blip is more than just a video web site or a collection of apps; it is the concept of a TV channel reinterpreted for the web. Crucially, it promotes web series content through its own web site and apps and on major social media websites and provides a business model where web series producers can make money too. In this blog post I'll be taking a look at the blip experience and examining what is in it for viewers and producers alike.

Back to the shop with the Sony Google TV box

Sony GSZ-NS7 box

On Saturday I decided to go out and but the snappily named Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player with Google TV, but on Sunday, with great disappointment I took it back. I have been following the Google TV story for some time and was looking forward to it coming to the UK. The price tag of £199 for the box seemed a bit hefty, especially when compared to games consoles but that can sometimes be the price of being an early adopter. I have an Android phone and an Android tablet so a Google TV box would mean that the biggest screen in my house - the TV could be integrated into the Android eco-system. The box would also integrate with my satellite box to some extent, hopefully bringing Internet and broadcast TV closer together. Most of all it is a consumer device so I was hoping that this sort of box would have the potential to change the TV experience for many people. However when I got the box home the disappointment began.

Trying out a big screen mobile: the HTC Sensation XL

The HTC Sensation XL

The first thing you notice about the HTC (somewhat unfortunately named) Sensation XL is its sheer size. This phone is built around a 4.7" screen, the same size as Google's flagship Samsung Nexus Prime but this has a lower screen resolution. I was curious to try out an Android device with a larger screen as a few of these devices have started appearing on the market. Despite the large screen the phone is very slim and packs lots of features. After having the phone on trial for a couple of weeks I can only conclude that the large screen is a bit of a mixed blessing. It is great for some functions but gives the phone a bit of an inconvenient feel.

Book Review: Learning SPARQL

Front cover of book

I've been experimenting with SPARQL for some time and was lucky enough to have had some training at work on it, but on several occasions when reading Bob DuCharme's Learning SPARQL I found out something that this very powerful language could do that was new to me. The book provides quite a detailed overview of the capabilities of the language and takes the reader right from their first steps in constructing a query through to using it as a data source for programs. The capabilities of both SPARQL 1.0 and 1.1 are covered, with warnings when commands only work in 1.1. If you are looking to take your first steps in learning SPARQL, or maybe you are someone who can already write queries and would like to enhance your skillset, perhaps exploring topics such as creating, updating and validating data then you may well find this book very useful.

The MiFi 3 moves mobile broadband to the fast lane

Three UK's third generation MiFi has slightly more refined looks than its predecessor, but it doesn't feature "go faster" stripes which is curious as the inclusion of HSPA+ technology promises a turbo boosted Internet connection with speeds theoretically up to 21 Mbps - enough to put many landline broadband connections to shame. I attended the launch event for the new MiFi (also known as the Huawei E586) and have been trying one out. How does it perform? How easy is it to use? Plus, with the increasing number of mobile phones that are capable of tethering (sharing their mobile broadband connection with another device through WiFi) is it still a compelling product?

Just how tough can a micro SD card be?

The micro SD card attached to a magnet

Every day our digital cameras and mobile phones capture pictures and videos which are often irreplaceable. Many devices now take a very small memory card called the "micro sd" card which is about as big as a fingernail, but just how durable are they? To be honest this isn't a question that popped into my mind until I got an email one day with the title "[Review Request]: Indestructible SD Cards" from an online retailer called the Memory Card Zoo. Usually I am very careful with micro SD cards as they always seem so easy to lose! However this seemed like too good an opportunity to miss, so together with my good friend Georgina Parsons (a.k.a. Spiky) we set about testing one to destruction.

A closer look at the Sony Xperia Play

Back in April I attended the launch of the Sony Xperia PLAY, the first Playstation Certified phone. At the event I got a bit of chance to have a quick go on the mobile, but now I have been able to explore it further thanks to being able to try out a review unit for two weeks. It is a rather unusual device, a smartphone running Android 2.3 with a crisp high resolution display with a slide out joypad that transforms the device into a mobile gaming experience – one that is both fun but maybe a little unpolished in places. This is a phone that will keep you entertained while dealing with some of the user interface frustrations that sometimes crop up in mobile gaming.

Book Review: Building Web Apps for Google TV or "Why I read this book even though I don't have Google TV"

Book cover

I don't own a Google TV device and I live in the UK (at the time of writing Google TV boxes are only available in the US) so why, you might wonder, would somebody in my position want to read a book about how to build apps for it? Thanks to the magic of web technologies it turns out that in the context of this book not owning a Google TV device doesn't matter all that much. In fact if you have a computer that runs Google Chrome then this book can still work very well as a primer on how to develop for the TV web and the issues involved. If you already have web development or design skills and want to start developing for TVs this book could be for you as it will tell you not just about the technology involved but also how to create an experience for the user that will work in the living room.

Out with the old HTC Desire and in with the new HTC Desire S

Publicity shot of the HTC Desire SThe HTC Desire seems a popular phone, I keep noticing it where ever I go. I've had one for nearly a year now and am very happy with it, apart from a few gripes, so it was interesting to receive a HTC Desire S on review to see what has changed in the new model. Unlike the Desire Z and Desire HD which offered different hardware options (a keyboard and a bigger screen respectively), the Desire S is designed as a successor to the original. It is about the same size and has the same 3.7” 800x480 resolution screen, but a lot about the phone has changed, and it has picked up a few new features..

The Blackberry Torch 9800 puts the message centre stage

Screenshot of part of the apps menu on BB TorchDespite spending the last few years following the mobile scene and trying out lots of different phones the Blackberry has remained somewhat of a mystery to me. On many occasions when taking the train I would go past smart looking business people reading their emails on them while I trying to find a seat and this reinforced the idea in my head of this being a business phone, but it seems teenagers quite like the Blackberry too, a fact which both surprised and intrigued me. To end my ignorance of this brand I have been trying out the Blackberry Torch 9800; a touch screen phone with a slide out keyboard. It is also the most expensive phone I have ever reviewed, weighing in at an eye watering £40 per month on a twenty-four month contract.

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