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Father Christmas to follow Woolies? December 21, 2008

Posted by Tom in Techstuff.
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Clix Fibra Optica — Finally some good Internet services in Alta de Lisboa. August 15, 2008

Posted by Tom in Alta de Lisboa, Fibre Optics, Techstuff.
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I have whined, I have cried (well almost), I have been to hell and back trying to get a half decent Internet TV Telephone Package installed.
Because Part of Alta de Lisboa has forever been plugged into one of Portugal Telecom’s remote exchanges in a weak attempt to keep us from using the competition.
The competition has tried to fight back in the form of ARTelecom (which was pretty shoddy for me as it didn’t work most of the time) and Netcabo and various mobile operators.
They are all too expensive or not reliable enough.
Now we are promised something new… I could not believe it when a couple of weeks ago I asked some workers what they were doing and they said they were installing Fibre Optics…..
Well folks it’s here (or will be in about two weeks)



It’s a shame the clix website still doesn’t work (though it will surely work one day so you can check it out here:

Your weekend hits August 10, 2008

Posted by Tom in Cars, Environment, health, Techstuff.
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This week’s hits start with last Sunday’s Observer story about a possible vaccine for Malaria — potentially very good news.

Wired wooden sculpture gallery

Wired wooden sculpture gallery



We next move on to some images of simply spectacular wooden sculptures for the geek in all of us. And on the topic of geeky images we have some fine Calvin meets Jobs cartoons over at Gizmodo.

On to a couple of environmental linked stories, Ars this week looked at why cars consume so much and what is happening  about it and we also have the awe inspiring story from the Guardian on a Japanese village aiming to have zero waste.

This next story has possibly some of the most important information known to man. If used wisely we may find our productivity rising dramatically and we may also find ourselves making the right decision every time… see for yourself... I wonder how the Japanese in the last link get on though.

And finally we can’t have hit of the week without a couple of interesting links on the two main stories this weekend.. the olympics and Georgia.



Now go and enjoy your coffee

Some hits for the week. August 1, 2008

Posted by Tom in Environment, health, summer, Techstuff.
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Inspired by The Morning News website here are some interesting stories to carry you through the weekend…

First off is breakfast… this looks great and I only hope it reaches us here in Portugal.

Then we move on to some interesting ideas about London underwater. (Much more interesting than the less than good recent film about London flooding).

Next up (and back on the breakfast theme) is great site for finding unsigned artists.

If you’re eating too much breakfast you may want to read this too, the you have a great excuse for some quality time in the park.

Another health link discusses whether we can see the future… and if we can should we pay to see it.

Then we get on to some technology pieces starting with the first ever computer and what has happened to it.

Anyone interested in the environment (anyone who isn’t I would suggest has a few problems) might like to see this story about cars or this Portuguese site about carbon footprints and how buy to your very own carbon credits.

Finally for those at home with their kids this summer there are at least 20 things you can do with thembesides roasting on the beach or veging in front of the telly or playstation (or whatever your games of choice are).  


And that’s it for this week… more fun next Friday :-)

Why I won’t be on the iPhone any time soon July 7, 2008

Posted by Tom in Apple Portugal, iPhone, Techstuff.


Vodafone iPhone 3G

Vodafone iPhone 3G


When the iPhone was initially announced I have to admit I wanted one. The technology looks smooth and combines a great looking UI and great functions. I decided that with the cheaper prices. I would be able to get one… I signed up and pre-registered my desire with Vodafone Portugal.
Now, I have been with Vodafone for quite some time now and they have very good prices and a fair approach to their customer so I figured I could count on a fairly decent package….
Until today…

So on offer we have an 8Gb phone for €129.9, one for €219.9 and one for €299.9 (all with a €10 rebate for your old phone) There is also the possibility of buying one without a contract for €499.9.

So I happily clicked on the continue with my registration link and confirmed my details and then followed the link to contract prices

Planos best iPhone 

Tarifário Best iPhone 100 Best iPhone 230 Best iPhone 500
Monthly fee €29,90 €44,90 €64,90
Calls and SMS – to all networks 
  Minutes & SMS included 100 min / SMSs 230 min / SMSs 500 min / SMSs
  Price per additional min./ SMS 14,9 cênt. 12,9 cênt. 9,9 cênt.
DATA iPhone (up to 3,6 Mbps)
  Traffic included 250 MB 250 MB 250 MB
  Price per additional MB 6 cênt./ MB 6 cênt./ MB 6 cênt./ MB   


 So here it is… Minimum €29.9 per month with an outlay of €299 for the 8Gb model. That is, after all, the one I was interested in. The problem is that 30 Euros a month is a commitment I am not willing to make. I don’t want to (necessarily) spend 100 mins a month on my phone. I certainly do not want to be tied into 2 years of prices when the outlook is so bleak.

So I looked into the non contract offer and I have to say I was shocked.. Here we are spending 500 euros on a phone (and hopefully sticking to my plan (pre paid with privileged  numbers I have cheaper calls to) and I see we have to pay a €19.9 monthly fee for data… and this is limited to 250 Mb. This is iPhone tax and something that I flatly refuse to pay for.

 Vodafone charges its non-iphone customers 9.82 for the same service on other phones. Vodafone mobile broadband at the same speed costs about 40 euros but you have 5 Gb limit. So please don’t tell that iPhone users are more expensive.

So there you have it I refuse to spend over €1000 on a phone. 

(129.9 + 24 x 64.9 = 1687.5) !!!!!!!!!! (no guesses for how much your old iPhone will cost once the contract is up) 

I’d much rather spend that sort of money on one of these

(maybe that is the idea)

See this for more enlightenment on sensible shopping


Vivendi – Universal’s approach – a consumer’s point of view. September 25, 2007

Posted by Tom in Apple, emusic, iTunes, music, Techstuff, Universal, Vivendi.

What Msr Levy has been Reading

Mr Levy’s Bedtime reading

After Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy claimed that iTunes 20% cut in the 99 cents they charge per song is indecent, I feel compelled to add to the discussion. Monsieur Levy should wake up to the fact that many people stopped buying CDs when buying Computer games, DVD’s , films, computers, software, etc etc became more important than buying music. I remember stopping bothering with music because it had become all too much the same (Contrived MTV rubbish designed to sell to sub teens). One thing that “saved” me was when I got iTunes, ripped all my cd’s and started listening again.

This got me looking for new music too.

Unfortunately there was no iTunes Music Store, so a lot of my music came from unusual sources (and more came from buying CD’s).

However my new interest in music was slow and only half baked. The trouble of tracking down music on P2P was difficult and buying CD’s was, frankly, too expensive.

Then along came ITMS Europe. I started buying music again….. (Did you get that Mr Levy… I STARTED BUYING MUSIC!) and loads more than I had done in the past. (Pre iTunes, from aged 15 to approx 30– 200 albums, so approx 1 album a month + 1 or 2 terrible x-mas presents, remembering that my income only started at 21/22 yrs old and was measly); Post ITMS and pre emusic monthly pay scheme (+ having had a child along the way (this stops most rash consumer behaviour for at least six months)) aged 30- 32, 15 albums from ITMS and about 5 CDs. So there was a clear increase (remember income from age 15 to 21 almost zero)

I mentioned emusic and it is important for labels such as Universal (why that name? is it a wish?) to take note of. I have religiously spent €20 a month on music since signing up with Emusic’s non-DRM scheme. I don’t always download my 90 tracks worth. BUT I have yet to think it is bad deal. I cannot get enough of Emusic. AND there are new acts on it.

The music is also VERY good.

So where am I going with this. Well nowhere in particular, except to give my 2 cents worth (not that Universal cares about 2 cents, they are more interested in 80 or 90).

Once the ease of music cannot be bought, it can only be swapped, (ie p2p) like TV shows currently in Europe.

I am a Mac owner, though I do not worship Apple , Steve Jobs or iTunes (hence my use of emusic).

I hope Universal wakes up and asks Apple to lower the cost of all their music.

Happy Birthday :-) (Smiley’s 25th Anniversary) September 19, 2007

Posted by Tom in blogging, tech news, Techstuff.
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25 years ago today the smiley was born…. After much discussion about how to show jokes and humour online Scott E. Fahlman came up with the smiley.

Here is an excerpt from the discussion which gave birth to a new cultural phenomenon.

17-Sep-82 10:58 Neil Swartz at CMU-750R Elevator posts Maybe we should adopt a convention of putting a star (*) in the subject field of any notice which is to be taken as a joke.

17-Sep-82 14:59 Joseph Ginder at CMU-10A (*%) I believe that the joke character should be % rather than *.

17-Sep-82 15:15 Anthony Stentz at CMU-780G (*%) How about using * for good jokes and % for bad jokes? We could even use *% for jokes that are so bad, they’re funny.

17-Sep-82 17:40 Keith Wright at CMU-10A *%&#$ Jokes! No, no, no! Surely everyone will agree that “&” is the funniest character on the keyboard. It looks funny (like a jolly fat man in convulsions of laughter). It sounds funny (say it loud and fast three times). I just know if I could get my nose into the vacuum of the CRT it would even smell funny!

17-Sep-82 17:42 Leonard Hamey at CMU-10A {#} (previously *) …I think that the joke character should be the sequence {#} because it looks like two lips with teeth showing between them. This is the expected result if someone actually laughs their head off…

19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman :-) From: Scott E Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c> I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers: :-) Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use :-(

Thank you smiley for helping me express myself , and thank you Scot for inventing it :-)

UPDATE: Switched off WordPress automatic graphic display of emoticons … shows how far they have come I suppose.

Bicycle Elevator September 9, 2007

Posted by Tom in Alta de Lisboa, anti-car, Environment, Lisbon, Techstuff.
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One the strongest cases against cycling in Lisbon is the hills. While Lisbon is said to be built on seven hills most of the city is in fact fairly flat. This, however, does not stop politicians claiming that Lisbon will never be a city for cyclists because of the hills.

One of the Seven hills Lisboa

Here you can see one of the hills in question.

Thankfully we can rely on the Norwegians for a solution (Found by Tiago on Viver Alta de Lisboa) .

This is the obvious answer to Lisbon’s hills for cyclists. Now there is no excuse.

For all Lisboners (and any visitors in Lisbon) there will be a city bike ride for the European Mobility week on the 16th September:

A Federação Portuguesa de Cicloturismo e Utilizadores de Bicicleta page

The ride goes from the centre of town near the river to the centre of town in the north of the city (Alta de Lisboa) and back again.

Miro September 3, 2007

Posted by Tom in new world, OS X, Portuguese lousy communications companies, Techstuff.
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Get Miro

Miro is the best Internet video player I have found.

This really replaces the TV. I’ve tried Joost or Joust or whatever it was called and it was lots of fancy graphics with no content.

This fantastic app finds free video on the web as well as any video you have on your system and allows you to watch it all from one place. What is even better, is that it downloads video in the background then keeps it for as long as you want (default 5 days) then deletes it (if you want). This ensures you don’t miss great stuff and your hard drive doesn’t get too full.

One drawback is series… I suppose we’ll have to keep on torrenting until Apple or some other media company gets its act together and allows us to buy online. I say this as we have such busy lives and really DON’T have time to be watching TV at fixed times or setting up digital recorders to be doing this for us.

On a side note… I can’t wait till the ridiculous 12 month loyalty scheme I had to sign up to (to get my internet working) of Television is up.

I thoroughly recommend this application.

As the developers of Miro say…

free video!

Apple IMC Portugal store back up September 3, 2007

Posted by Tom in Apple, Techstuff.
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I am happy to say the Portuguese “Apple” store is back up.

I have to add that the home page is terribly out of date…

Hot news: Prepare for WWDC 2007, Apple launches new iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle now comes in colours…

Please wake me when the news is news.