Requests on Google up by 120%

Google updated its Transparency Report with new data on government requests. In the updated report, Google says that requests from government for user information are up 120 percent since it first started publishing the data back in 2009.

Like other technology and communications companies, Google regularly receives requests from governments and courts around the world to hand over user data. In this report, Google discloses the number of requests they receive from each government in six-month periods with certain limitations. Usage of their services has increased every year, and so have the user data request numbers.


Copy Cat Education

A recent article1 in the BBC highlighted that the UK government are considering doing an exchange programme for maths teachers in the UK with maths teachers in China. The aim is to increase standards and learn from a teachers in Shanghai, a city which has one of the best academic records in the world.

I think the UK government are missing something here and not considering the culture and desire of people within the east. China has a population over one billion and so getting a school place is a competition and sets the competitive mindset in parents from birth.

Other things to consider:

  • The poorest and richest people in the world live in China, with very little government handouts. This has added an increased pressure on students to succeed. The need to do well becomes a survival instinct rather than a nice to have.
    In China education is part of the culture, not something that can just be picked up and copied or borrowed.
  • Culture brings expectations. Similar to other Asian societies, China still has an embedded cast system, resulting in some families worrying about their standing within society. Concerns over jobs associated to their background, education for their children, the background of the future partners for their kids and even the car they drive.

I just do not think this type of solution really works. Governments need to really think about the cause and effect connectives.

  1. BBC 

A phone for the sake of a phone

Smartphones of the past were phones that required a stylus to scroll up and down on your screen. They were so big, it was deemed uncool to carry one unless you used it for work.

I’m talking about a time when network operators charged you four SMS’s for one picture message, twelve month contracts were normal, mobile phone insurance was free and everybody was on Everyday 50 tariff in the UK. This was a time when your Nokia phone would start to heat your ear up if you were on it for too long and ariel stubs were still the norm.

How times have changed.Seven years on and we are in a period of the smartphone dominance. Today, if you do not have a smartphone, you are probably seen as being out of touch and old school. In a way, I kind of envy those people who don’t have a smartphone in their lives. As they probably are not reliant on technology to read, write or even interact socially with others.

Back in 2007 I was using the Sony Ericsson P1i, one of the best smartphones I had owned. I could stream TV sports, use my stylus or keyboard to write emails, take pictures and be able to put the phone in my pocket unlike the Nokia communicators. It was built on a Symbian Os that you could tweak yourself and it even had features like,reject a call with an automated SMS message. Wow that device was innovative for its time and was aesthetically designed well too.

Sony was not one of the leading players in the mobile industry but they had a reputation of creating technology that was both innovative and fashionable. Manufacturers from an Asian origin were required to move forward with innovation in small electronic devices, to the extent where they would have create two or three versions of a device to accommodate the different cultures. A version of a phone for for the Asian market , one for Europe and one for the rest of the world.

The one thing the likes of Sony or any other big manufacturers could not do – was design a phone that that understood human interface. Then out of nowhere, came the Jesus phone.Yep you got it, the iPhone. Made by Apple and a product that made us adapt to it and the way we used our phones.

I was not a major lover or follower of the Apple story and my biggest concern was the technology within the phone, not the operating system. Ever since I was seventeen years old, I had been obsessed with technology and the Intricacies of the latest innovations. So when the Jesus phone was released,I was not the first to purchase one. It took me several months for me to realise the lack of technology capabilities within the phone- such as no 3G or up and coming video calling, were just minor obstacles. Apple had created a phone based on design and simple human interface needs and everything just worked. Apple had entered a market and dictated where and how their phones would be sold and even which networks could sell their product. This was a first and it changed the whole mobile industry.

In a way the rest is history. We are now in 2013 and I have never moved away from the iPhone. I have had all versions and now been on the iPhone 5s for a month. It was not an easy decision to buy one, as for the first time in six years,I actually wanted to move away from Apple. The problem is, what do you move to? Microsoft is still developing, Ubuntu is too new and Android is not as polished. Until another manufacturer masters their own Os that can really compete with iOS, us accidental Apple fanboys will be stuck in the Apple system. A system that reminds me of the Microsoft dominance from a decade ago.

The Apple iPhone is no longer for tech savvy geeks but now for anyone and everyone. There is no uniqueness and advantages of owning an iPhone. The likes of Google, Sony and Nokia have all caught up in both tech and human design. What has happened with the iPhone? In an attempt to have mass market appeal,it has stopped innovating and simply become the go to phone that just simply works. A phone for the sake of a phone.