Saturday, July 25th
The iPhone 3GS close, thanks to Apple, but no cigar, thanks to T-Mobile
The unprecedented success of the iPhone has been accelerated still further with the recent introduction of the 3GS. After selling 5.2 million iPhones in their last fiscal quarter, including a million units of the new model sold in its first three days, Apple announced a few days ago that they were unable to make enough 3GSs to meet demand, even though theyve restricted initial sales to 18 of the 80 countries where they currently sell iPhones.
Especially since the old 3G has benefited almost as much as the 3GS from the great new features in the recent 3.0 software update, the new model doesnt really represent a revolutionary improvement. Nevertheless, as with my other Apple hardware, Id definitely want to trade up to the 3GS Im an unashamed early adopter, and I want the latest and best as soon as possible.
While they may not be revolutionary in the way the arrival of the original iPhone was, there are quite a few significant improvements. The most important for me is the speed, which most observers agree is what the S stands for. Most reviews indicate that Apples claim that its up to twice as fast as the 3G is understated. No wonder, as its able to access faster network speeds (where available), it has a more powerful processor (600 MHz up from 400 MHz), and has 256 MB of RAM (up from 128 MB).
Next in line for me would be the greatly improved battery life. Then comes the 3.2 MP camera and video recorder. This would have been higher on my list if the camera had had a higher quality bump and if HD video had been made possible. Heading the bottom of my list as I still dont use half of the 16MB storage in my 3G would be the 32MB option, followed by the built-in compass and voice control.
The good news is that the Netherlands is one of those first 18 launch countries I mentioned earlier. Like many, if not most, Apple aficionados, Im prepared to pay a significant supplementary fee and extend my contract by a further two years to upgrade from the 3G I bought over a year ago.
The bad news, as perhaps I should have expected, is that the Dutch T-Mobile subsidiary seems to have decided that their best policy is to treat their existing iPhone customers as badly as possible. Not only are they refusing, unlike other national carriers who carry the iPhone (including their German parent) to allow them to pay a large supplement to upgrade, as far as I can tell they plan to offer no upgrade path at all. The only way you can get the 3GS here is to open an additional, second two-year subscription. Dutch businesses are renowned for providing the worst customer service in the world, so over the years Ive got used to not expecting any, but not providing even the most expensive upgrade policy is truly bizarre.
Friday, July 17th
Don't stop the carnival...
This month sees the 25th edition of the Summer Carnival in Rotterdam. Given the mixed weather weve had so far this summer, it can only be hoped that the sun will be shining down there at end of next week. The main events take place on Monday 20th, with the election of this years Carnival Queen, on Friday 24th, with the annual Battle of Drums that evening, and the big day is Saturday 25th, with its Street Parade during the day and musical festivities live on stage that evening.
The election of the Carnival Queen to take over from last years Esmée Ronde will take place as the high point of an evening of entertainment on Monday at the Nieuwe Luxor Theater featuring Dutch soul diva Berget Lewis and the Antillian group K-Liber4Life. On Friday, four brass bands leave from four different locations and they meet each other for the Battle of Drums at the Bavaria Stage on the Coolsingel at 19.00. Over a hundred percussionists and trumpeters will be trying to outdo each other in this musical battle.
Saturdays Street Parade starts in the city centre on the Boompjeskade by the Erasmusbrug at 13.00. Around 50 floats, organized by groups all over the Netherlands, will be participating for the 25th anniversary. The parade is about 2.5 km long and, having wound around the city, its head is due to return to the starting point at about 17.30. From that evening through to the early hours of Sunday, there will be musical performances on the Bavaria stage on the Coolsingel in front of the City Hall and on a stage in the Churchillplein, which changes its name to the Braziliëplein for the evening.
Not to be outdone by its southern rival, Amsterdams Tropenmuseum is holding Caribbean Carnival festivities from this month through to September 6th. As a run up to the real street parade, a day of festivities will be held at the museum on Wednesday 22nd, starting at 14.00, and will be visited by the recently elected Queen.
Friday, July 10th
A site that gives Web 2.0 radio a new twist
Neither amateur radio sites nor the ability to make your own radio show for the Internet are anything new. Sites like Live365 and SHOUTcast have been around for years, for example. Its been particularly easy for some time for Mac users to make professional podcasts, that can essentially be a regular Internet radio show, and the latest versions of GarageBand and iWeb in iLife 09 have made it easier still.
One of the issues that prospective broadcasters need to address if they want to produce a music show, or even just include published music, is copyright. Live365 takes care of the royalty issue by including the cost of their coverage in a range of monthly subscription packages. There are many other sites that leave the cost (or the inadvisable risk of not addressing the royalty issue) up to the broadcasters themselves.
After some months of trials by beta-testers, a group of Belgian entrepreneurs including Gilles Bindels and Cédric van Kan (above) launched the Beta version of Radionomy in April 2008. What was really original about this Web 2.0 site was that the founders believed they could make a commercial go of their project by making it easy for anyone to create, manage and broadcast their own Internet radio station, free of charge, and covering the copyright costs by sharing revenue from advertising with the creators when their audience reaches a certain size. Radionomy even provides libraries of music and jingles.
Last month, having secured substantial additional funding, Radionomy dropped their beta status and went fully public. It's a nicely designed site, and another plus for Internet radio listeners is that the content is refreshingly European. In fact they fovcus quite heavily on France, where they have a strong position. As of today they have 1,753 French, 253 English and 94 active Dutch radio shows. Some are very listenable, and as they're mostly music programming, language doesn't have to be a big issue. I can recommend you give Radionomy a visit, and Ill certainly be returning again to see how the site develops.