Saturday, 4 July 2009

Silent hybrids to turn up the volume

The Japanese government is having a re-think about the dangers of silent hybrid cars. The Transport Ministry reported that vision impaired pedestrians feel their safety is being ignored because they are unable to hear the cars coming.

The panel may force manufacturers of hybrid cars to fit noise making devices to alert pedestrians of their presence.

It seems the Japanese have listened to my experience posted a few days ago. Perhaps I should have patented this idea last week.

Friday, 3 July 2009

iPhone Travels: Alphabet Street

Artwords Bookshop

Nice to see the signage on this Art & Design bookstore in Rivington Street matches the quality of its books sold here. I wonder if they take cheques though? Payable to who?

View on Google Maps.

iPhone Travels: Rivington Street, London EC2A

Cargo Graffiti

Hidden away in the Shoreditch jungle is Cargo, an urban bar in the narrow alleyway of Rivington Street. It isn't the enviable outdoor space so rare in London's drinking establishments that impresses, but the beautiful outdoor murals that decorate the mundane brick walls. One of which is a Banksy original covered behind a protective plastic screen for any prospective art thieves.

View on Google Maps.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Black gold

The perils of international branding has once again been highlighted with the latest joint venture between the Russian gas giant Gazprom and Nigeria's state operated NNPC. Worth an estimated $2.5bn, the new enterprise is to be called Nigaz, a combination of the two words 'Nigeria' and 'Gaz'. However, the English speaking world will interpret the name in a rather different fashion.

Nigaz is not the first company to court controversy with it's branding. Mitsubushi were caught out by the naming of it's SUV model the Pajero in Spain, where the term means 'wanker'. Starbucks launched it's 'latte' coffee in Germany assuming the same word in Italian meant 'milk', but instead meant 'erection'.

Nigaz will be building refineries, pipelines and gas power stations in Nigeria.

* Ok, the title inferences the word oil, but it's close enough.

Universal chargers for mobiles by 2012

The mobile (cellular) phone world joined hands today with the announcement that 10 companies including Apple, LG, Motorola, Nokia and Sony Eriksson, have all agreed to use the Micro-USB format by 2012.

This is good news for consumers and environmentalists as the universal chargers will not only reduce thousands of tonnes of electronic wastage from the disposal of obsolete chargers, but be more energy efficient by reducing carbon emissions by 13.6 million tonnes to 21.8 millions tonnes a year.

Manufacturers had been under increasing pressure from the European Commission to create a standardised charger. EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen told German radio station Deutche Welle that there were more than 30 different kinds of chargers in use across the 27 nations of the European Union.

The GMSA, an umbrella association for the industry, estimates the potential of eliminating up to 51,000 tonnes of duplicate chargers.

Read the article at the Guardian Online.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

iPhone Bites: Leong's Legends

Leong's Legends

Coming home via Chinatown, I stumbled across this awesome Taiwanese restaurant in Macclesfield Street, hidden away from the main drag. Melt-in-your-mouth slowly braised belly of pork, steamed rice and chinese tea all for under £6.00. Much more satisfying than a McDonald's.

Eco cars get sexy

So, I'm walking down the street and decide to cross the road. But before I do, I casually glance either way and listen out for any cars coming. Upon hearing nothing, I proceed to cross only to jump from surprise at the sound of a horn. A Toyota Prius had sneaked up on me with it's stealthy electric motor.

There are some things I despise about eco cars. One, they are so pig ugly, it'd be too embarrassing to introduce them to your mother for fear of making her eyes bleed. Second, if it's an electric car, I suspect the streets will be littered with roadkill pin-striped in bio-degradable rubber, unless those canny Japanese add external speakers blaring out the rumble of a V8.

But it's the first reason that really irks my sense of aesthetics. Why, of all things do manufacturers of eco cars insist on believing tree-huggers have the vision of Stevie Wonder? Do hippies not enjoy things of beauty as well as saving the planet? Are these two mutually exclusive?

Well, it seems the fledgling industry is waking up to cool eco designs. Take a look at these beauties and see if you will ever look at the humble Duracell in the same light again.

Check out the beauties and the beasts of the green car world.

Obama says "Eat me!"

The Spanish have never shied away from a racial controversy. But these cookies are bordering on cute. With their beautiful packaging, they could almost be forgiven for riding on the Obama bandwagon.

Click here to view their official site.

Mao sperm breeds controversy

Global advertising giant, Grey Worldwide, were accused of offending the Chinese government with an adverting campaign that never went live. The German branch had created a series of printed condom adverts for Doc Morris Pharmacies on the dangers of unprotected sex, suggesting the product could have prevented many of the world's tyrants from existing.

The blunder was picked up by the Chinese media as pictures of the campaign were sent around the world via bloggers. The People's Daily, the newspaper of the Communist Party, devoted a full page to the controversy and demanded a full apology.

However, Grey have been quick to apologise for the depiction of Chairman Mao and denounce the adverts by sending a letter to the Chinese consulate in Frankfurt.

Global internet censorship

As China delays the launch of its Green Dam web censorship software, Guardian Online provide a map to reveal which countries limit access to the internet. Much of the world is still grey with unknown data. But you can help fill in the gaps by completing an online Google form.

Click here to view the interactive map.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

US judge to ban web links

A high profile US judge has proposed a ban on linking content on the internet. Richard Posner, an influential conservative spoke of his idea to prevent aggregators and bloggers from linking to newspaper sites without consent.
"Expanding copyright law to bar online access to copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent, or to bar linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent, might be necessary to keep free riding on content financed by online newspapers from so impairing the incentive to create costly news-gathering operations that news services like Reuters and the Associated Press would become the only professional, nongovernmental sources of news and opinion."
His idea is certainly controversial, breaking all the fundamental principles that makes the internet what it is. It would overturn long-established rules of fair use, which, among others things, allow for the reproduction of short excerpts of copyrighted material for the purposes of commentary, parody and the like – precisely what bloggers and aggregators do all the time.
Fortunately, Posner's proposal would need to be enacted in the form of an amendment to the copyright law. However, this idea is gaining momentum and support as traditional newspapers battle for readers ratings.
However, Congress has also been known to act enthusiastically on copyright issues when corporate interests are at heart. With the additional success rate of newspapers ability to highlight their plight, the motion becomes more serious.
More on this article here at Guardian Online.