Cutting edge journalism

One of the problems of being a writer is that occasionally, you end up between deadlines with no work to do. Today’s one of those days, so I thought I’d be productive and review the very latest cutting-edge technology: the new M3 Power Razor! Instead of adding yet another blade to its products – sooner or later men’s razors will have so many blades that you won’t be able to lift the damn things – Gillette has been more subtle: the M3 Power is just like an ordinary Mach 3, but it also vibrates, delivering micro-pulses or some such guff.

First things first: grow some alarmingly ginger-looking stubble!

That’s more than enough to assess the M3 Power: with that amount of stubble, a standard Mach 3 turns my face into something that resembles an explosion in an abbatoir.

The next step was to get soaped up and start shaving, but there’s a problem: the M3 Power is packaged in some form of alien plastic that’s completely impervious to the meaty, RSI-addled hands of computer journalists. After ten minutes I was knackered, the razor remained out of reach and the packaging looked like this:

Luckily I’m a practical man, with access to power tools. However, when I finally freed the razor I accidentally knocked the power button and it vibrated its way across the room. So much for subtle “micro vibrations” or whatever nonsense the packaging claims. I’ll admit, I was getting a bit worried.

The above picture shows the M3 Power in all its glory. It’s like a small, vicious Xbox.

The shot below is the M3 Power in action. I know the picture is blurry, but you try taking a shot when you’ve got shaky hands to start with and you’re holding a vibrating blade against your face.

The vibration is rather alarming – it’s like the sort of products people buy in backstreet shops in Amsterdam – and the result is a strange sensation where you’re not entirely sure whether you’re vaguely near your face or not. It’s particularly unnerving around trouble spots such as your lips and your neck – it’s hard to tell whether you’re applying too much pressure or not, and I had visions of ending up like this:

But despite the fear, the result was pretty good: much closer and quicker than a normal Mach 3, with less razor burn.

The verdict, then? I was surprised that the vibration isn’t a gimmick (although I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before someone decides to use an M3 Power in an – ahem – unusual way, and ends up in casualty). However, it’s bloody expensive – £11 for the razor and two blades – and at the time of writing, I’ve no idea how pricey replacement blades are. If current Mach 3 pricing is any indication, an eight-pack of Power blades will set you back a million jillion pounds.

Tune in next week when I hit writer’s block and decide to compare different brands of kitchen towels!

Update, 1 Sept: edited to fix a few ugly sentences and to replace “Mach 3 Power” with the proper name, “M3 Power”.

Thinking different

So the new iMac finally appears, and (not entirely surprisingly) it isn’t a tablet:

It’s a beautiful bit of design that looks like a big iPod, and there’s some suitably hefty hardware under the bonnet: a quick G5, decent video card, etc etc etc. Prices are slightly cheaper than the previous model, too: according to Apple’s UK site, the 1.6GHz model is £919.


One of the interesting things about the new iMac design is that – to my eyes at least – it makes the eMac look more, not less, contemporary:

It’d be nice to see the new iMac and the current eMac sitting side by side in places such as PC World and Currys (round these parts, retailers tend to stock the iMac and iBook but the eMac is a rare sight); I suspect the iMac would have a halo effect on sales of its cheaper sibling.

I’d still like a headless iMac, though ;-)

Mouthing off again

Looks like I’ll be in the Evening Times this week, talking about digital music.

I’m not entirely sure what the article’s about or what my part of it is, but I’ll post a link when it goes up.

Glasgow’s *ack!* miles *ugh!* better

According to new research, breathing in Glasgow’s fine city air is the equivalent of smoking 44 cigarettes per day. Given that I smoke *and* live in Glasgow, it’s entirely possible that I’ll keel over before finishing this post.

It seems that Glasgow has the third worst air quality in Britain (Bath, home to Future Publishing, is second; Oxford is the worst), but that’s not really a surprise: Glasgow’s Hope Street, home to some of my favourite pubs and restaurants, has the dubious distinction of being the most polluted road in the UK. I live on the other side of the town from there, but even then the housework involves wiping oily black dust that’s seeped through cracks in the windowsills. Which is nice.

Perhaps it’s time to introduce the Congestion Charge to Glasgow.

Midlife crises

A throwaway comment on an internet messageboard has had me in fits: apparently the correct word to describe the phenomenon of middle-aged men buying expensive and impractical sports cars is “the male menoporsche”.

Sweden is not in America

Swedish site has received a cease and desist from Dreamworks lawyers [warning: big JPG file] about bittorrent trading of Shrek 2. The letter says:

As you may be aware, Internet Service Providers can be held liable if they do not respond to claims of infringement pursuant to the requirements of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). In accordance with the DMCA, we request your assistance in the removal of infringements of the Shrek 2 motion picture from this web site and any other sites for which you act as an Internet Service Provider.

The site’s response, or rather the bit that doesn’t include swearing:

As you may or may not be aware, Sweden is not a state in the United States of America. Sweden is a country in northern Europe. Unless you figured it out by now, US law does not apply here. For your information, no Swedish law is being violated.

Obviously the DMCA doesn’t apply in Sweden, but presumably the country has similar copyright laws to the rest of Europe and has either implemented or will soon implement the EU copyright directive. Can anyone enlighten me about the legal status of downloads in Sweden?

[via the Digital Music Weblog]

The new hpPod

Aaagh! My eyes!

Don’t let the garish appearance fool you: it’s a sticker. Everything else about the HP-branded iPod is identical to the Apple version, with the exception of the HP: Invent logo on the back (which has caused some snickering on various Mac sites). The only thing HP is bringing to the iPod party is mobile phone-style covers, which you can print from – of course – an HP printer whenever you feel like putting Slipknot or Britney on your iPod; everything else (including the price) is identical to the current 4G iPods.

On the face of it, then, HP’s iPod isn’t particularly impressive – but anyone who thinks that is missing the point in a big way. The iPod isn’t broken, so any attempt by HP to fix it would probably have been disastrous; the blue iPod mockup that’s been on the net for a few months was so hideous I can’t imagine anyone buying it. What HP gets from this deal is some much-needed “cool”, and Apple? It gets iPods into HP’s massive distribution network, which covers all the major retailers around the world that don’t currently sell iPods, and there’s a distinct possibility that HP will make and sell more iPods than Apple could handle. That means iPods everywhere and the iTunes music store on many, many more PCs.


Is this the new iMac?

This alleged spy shot of the new G5 iMac has been flying around the web for the last 24 hours. Am I missing something? It looks like a clumsy fake to me, a photo of a Cinema Display sitting in the packaging from a PowerBook.


Oh, and packaging that touches the sides of the computer without any polystyrene? It’s a PowerBook box, goddammit!

On a more interesting note, there are nice ideas over at Engadget, where readers have come up with their own suggestions of what the G5 iMac will look like. You can see their ideas here.

The amount of talent on the internet never fails to amaze me.

another update

Peter from Engadget has emailed with news that the pics are definitely a hoax. And he shares my high opinion of his readers’ talents.