App-aggedon – Should mobiles do God?

December 28, 2011

“I don’t connect to the wifi in Church so I can’t jump between the Bible, Twitter and Angry Birds……just so you know!”

If you’re religious, resisting temptation is important. Dustin Stout is a bearded Youth Pastor who looks more like Coldplay’s Chris Martin than a Sunday-school teacher. When his students file into his class before Church he tells them to get their Bibles out – then he pulls his smartphone out of his pocket and starts teaching.

“You might believe that by resorting to a smartphone instead of a physical Bible that I am in some way cheapening the lesson in an attempt to be cutting edge and hip. You’d be wrong,” he says.

Religion has never been afraid of making the most of modern technology. The printing press drove popular readings of the Bible and spread the Protestant Reformation across Europe, and, more recently, the US has become the home of TV evangelists. So it makes sens… [more]


Mobile hell for Afghan woman

December 21, 2011

Getting women in Afghanistan on to mobile phones has been a success story, but now they face more dangers than ever

Mobile phones are the new frontline in Afghanistan. Handsets, masts and networks have become key targets for insurgents who want to stop people connecting, communicating, and educating themselves.

“They want to stop people from talking, stop people coming together.”
They want to stop women, in particular, from developing.

Sweeta Noori is the Country Director for Afghanistan of the charity Women for Women. Her family were part the Afghan elite before they fled the Mujahideen. Sweeta returned, and has worked building women’s networks and capacity for more than ten years.

Since the US-led invasion in 2001 there have been three distinct phases of women’s development, she says. The current phase leaves women in a precarious position – the leap forward that was achieved in the first … [more]


Deadmau5 is in the Hau5

November 29, 2011

Deadmau5 would be mean and moody if only he wasn’t quite so Canadian. Instead he sits, pale and skinny, answering questions with only his left shoe shaking to reveal an impatient sense that he would rather be somewhere else. Like preparing for his Nokia Lumia Live gig which is just three hours away.

“Tonight we’re going to light up the Millbank tower,” he says.

He’s never played a skyscraper before, but he shrugs about what that involves in terms of technology: “I don’t even know.” Drive Productions deserves the credit for the animation and the show. He says, “I’ll turn up with my laptop, mixer and two instrument controllers.” Hopefully there should be a “few people around,” to listen.

Deadmau5 says he prepared for the event by submitting an eight minute track a month ago, but his ideas weren’t even “fully formed until about 30 minutes ago,” He knew what to expect but “it was just me running around… [more]


London Lights Up With Amazing 4D Illumination

November 29, 2011

When Ben Fender ran a circus he wanted to create the ‘greatest show on earth’. Twenty years ago he toured Europe using ten red fire engines to stage techno-spectaculars – each more daring, beautiful and exciting than the last.

“I’m a fireman,” Fender says, “Except we wanted to start fires, not put them out.”

Fender’s circus days ran their course, but now he’s combined big-top showmanship with an architect’s precision to create Britain’s biggest ever video-mapping 4D light show to launch the Nokia Lumia 800. A breathtaking four minute animation that splits open the Millbank Tower office block, and takes onlookers on a futuristic journey, will accompany the Nokia Lumia Live show with deadmau5 and TEED on the banks of the River Thames in London tonight.

Without giving too much away – it will look like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

“The Millbank Tower was very appropriate,” … [more]


It’s murder on your mobile, says The Killing’s Sarah Lund

November 07, 2011

Hit crime drama The Killing is back for a second series, and Karen Bartlett talks mobile phone forensics with actress Sofie Gråbøl

Detective Sarah Lund is a Luddite. The loner heroine of Denmark’s hit crime drama The Killing is as much of a 70s relic as her Faroe sweaters: She makes notes by hand and shuns modern communication. 

“Check out Sarah’s mobile,” says, Sofie Gråbøl the actress who plays her, “It’s an antique!”

In The Killing, only the bad guys have an iPad, says producer Piv Bernth, while Lund pursues her obsessive investigations with a vintage Scandinavian handset.

“Sofie thinks she makes too many phone calls,” Bernth says, “We’re actually a very low tech show.” 

Gråbøl took issue with the original ending of Series 1 where her character phoned in the identity of the murderer from a kitchen table. She wanted to hijack a car at gunpoint instead. And the… [more]


Angry Birds flee the nest...

October 27, 2011

It all would have been so different if it hadn’t been for Swine Flu. Rovio’s Peter Vesterbacka lives in a parallel universe where Angry Birds rule the planet, and pigs are green.

“You might not believe this but there was a time back in ancient history when people thought pigs were pink.” Vesterbacka is feeling hot in a red Angry Birds top. But there’s a cool part, too: he’s the star of the show at Nokia World after announcing that his fantastically popular game is going to be available on the new Series 40 Nokia Asha range.

Now the population of China, India and most of Africa will know that pigs are, in fact, green. “The pigs are not actually evil you know,” Vesterbacka tells a Nokia audience, “They’re just hungry. And the green color was influenced by the Swine Flu outbreak.”

Before President Obama, and British Prime Minister David Cameron, announced that they switched off from war in Afghanis… [more]


Learning the language on your mobile...

October 25, 2011

Imagine you’re a young Maharaja arriving in a new land. You need to master one crucial thing to take control of your Kingdom – learn the language.

“It’s phataphati,” said Rahul Mittra whose planned Vijeta app was one of the recent finalists of Nokia’s Bhasha competition in Bangalore which invited students from four design schools to develop new ways for Indians to communicate on their phones in local languages.

Rahul studied design at the University of Leeds before returning to India to enroll in a master’s degree at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur. English is the language he feels most comfortable writing in, but there are words like ‘phataphati’ that only work in Bengali.

“If my Mum called and said, how was your exam? I’d say – it was phataphati,” Rahul explained. “It means it was awesome; I killed it. But it’s hard to translate exactly, and that’s why we need apps like V… [more]


Bruno Maag: The angry man of type...

October 25, 2011

Bruno Maag is the angry man of type. He hates Helvetica: “It’s vanilla ice cream,” horrendous, poorly crafted and American. A recent billboard for a chocolate bar made him lose the will to live: “This person should stop design and become a gardener, then he couldn’t inflict such terrible crimes on mankind.”

Maag is a hot metal man, starting his career as an apprentice typesetter back in Switzerland when newspaper offices were noisy, design involved putting pencil to paper and there was the smell of a hot press. Now his studio in Brixton, South London is a silent white temple to type where designers sit hunched over their computer screens with zen like concentration.

Working on type, day in and day out, can make you pedantic, and intolerant of imperfection:

“If you are really into type …well, we all suffer from a slight mental illness. Every single stroke has to be perfect.”

But may… [more]


The phone that can tell if you're a psycho...

October 25, 2011

Jim Fallon is a world-renowned neuroscientist. He’s also a potential psychopath, or so say the results of a brain scan and a series of genetic tests that he undertook to check if he was prone to Alzheimer’s disease.

“Luckily I took those tests at the end of my career, I was just at the point of retiring. I know that I’ve never hurt anyone, or gone to jail. But if I’d taken them and known that information when I was a wild young man it could all have been different.”

Jim spent his career studying the brain scans of psychopaths and serial killers at the University of California at Irvine. He was shocked when the scans showed he had the same abnormal, distinctive, reactions in his prefrontal lobe relating to empathy and human closeness. “I’m not a psychopath, but I do have those tendencies. You wouldn’t want to be married to me, or be my mother.”

His work in neuroscience has given … [more]



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