Nano, nano

As expected, Apple unveiled the rather ugly iTunes phone in association with Motorola, but it also junked the iPod Mini in favour of a new, flash-based iPod Nano. As the picture shows, it’s really rather lovely.

For me, though, the best bit of Apple’s announcement was iTunes 5, which finally dumps the horrid brushed metal look in favour of something more refined and pleasant. Here’s the old look:

And here’s the new look:

Here’s hoping the next update of Safari dumps brushed metal from that, too. Brushed metal mings.

Vicarious PSP joy

The Sony PSP finally goes on sale in the UK today, and I really, really want one. Unfortunately I can’t afford one, and even if I could I’m pretty sure my wife would put me in hospital if I bought one. So it looks like I’ll have to get my gadget joy vicariously by asking others about it. Anybody bought one, or planning to?

The best (mac) things in life are free

Once again I’m buried under deadline mountain, so while I’m feeling opinionated about all kinds of things I’m far too busy to scribble about any of it. In the meantime, here’s a great wee site for Mac owners:

FreeMacWare

As the name suggests it’s a collection of links to good Mac freeware programs, and while many of them will be familiar to power users there are some real gems there.

On a related note, the LiveQuartz Image Editor leverages Tiger’s Core Image effects to provide quick and handy image editing, while SeaShore is a brilliant, open-source image editor for Cocoa. It’s based on The GIMP, the much-loved open source graphics program.

Why you should be wary of online ticket touts

There’s an interesting discussion on the Record of the Day messageboard about the cancelled Eminem tour: the people who bought tickets are being given their money back – but the people who paid for the tickets aren’t necessarily the people who have the tickets, particularly now that half the world seems to be flogging concert tickets on eBay.

As “zanefan” points out:

If they are ebay touts (>80% of them) most will refund the face value to keep up their feedback.

However, “a” responds:

[You] can only leave feedback once and most buyers would have done so after receiving the tickets.

Caveat emptor…

Cracking open BigChampagne

This fascinating article about P2P monitoring firm BigChampagne suggests that P2P is transforming the way record labels market their artists.

To take an example, here’s what I can tell you about the Arcade Fire, thanks to a BigChampagne report. The week of August 4, 1.3% of filesharers– maybe 200,000-300,000 people– were sharing the band’s music, up from just .20% last December. From their debut LP Funeral, “Rebellion (Lies)” scored the most listeners– and the most searches– and “In the Backseat” got the least. San Francisco is their biggest market this week, with 2.17% audience penetration (far more than, say, a mere .30% in Colorado Springs). And 60.52% of Arcade Fire fans also have Coldplay in their collections, while only 4.22% of Coldplay listeners have Arcade Fire– but you can also see that 34.63% of the Arcade Fire fans have tracks by fellow indie Canadians Hot Hot Heat, and 9.65% of Hot Hot Heat’s fans like to get their Funeral on.

Forget mobile phone viruses. This is much, much worse

New Scientist describes a terrifying new threat to the UK’s mobile phone owners: bluetooth-beaming billboards.

Ignoring adverts is about to get a lot tougher with the development of billboards and advertising posters that use Bluetooth to beam video ads direct to passing cellphones.

As people walk past the posters they receive a message on their phone asking them if they wish to accept the advert. If they do, they can receive movies, animations, music or still images further promoting the advertised product.

Describing the system, chief creative officer of Filter UK – the “brains” behind this wonderful wheeze – explains:

“It’s all about delivering high quality content, tailored for mobile usage.”

Translation:

“Spam spam spam spam spam spam spam spam egg chips and spam.”

It’s yet another reason to make sure that if your phone uses Bluetooth, it isn’t set up as “discoverable”.

Quick hardware review: the O2 XDA IIs

The good:

Wi-Fi
Bluetooth
Quad-band
Nice display
Slide-out QWERTY keyboard
SD/MMC card slot
Cheap depending on contract
It’s black and grey

The bad:

It’s heavy
It’s the size of a house
You look stupid using it as a phone
You’ll need to recharge it every night
Windows Mobile 2003 is a pain in the arse sometimes
The camera is rubbish
There’s no easy way to switch user profiles
O2’s user interface sucks