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Linkblog – March 17th to April 19th

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Links between March 17th and April 19th:

Just so you know, this is an automated recent overview of the Linkblog, a collection of interesting links I find on my travels. The archives are here: http://www.wibbler.com/category/linkblog/

A bit of Stuff

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“Don’t come too early, cos I’ve got a late night with Renault people. And Hannah.”

Jac’s certainly not wasted time since his release from a long termer a couple of months ago. One woman in particular seems to have become a regular fixture at his new house in Putney, and this latest snippet of information was like a red rag to a bull. Nick and I were due at Jac’s on Saturday morning to visit the Stuff Show in Hammersmith. We hadn’t met Hannah, and decided it was about time we forced Jac’s hand. We turned up on his doorstep at 8.30am, eager as a couple of beavers. It was a freezing morning, and after a couple of rings of the doorbell, I gave him a call.
“Wha..?”
“Morning Jac. How are you feeling?”
“Mmmurgh.”
“I see. We’re outside your house.”
“WHAT?”
“Let us in please.”
“You utter *****.”
It still took him a few minutes to gather his senses and open the door, by which time we were slowly turning to icicles. Turns out he wasn’t too impressed with our early start, his hangover still in full force – and Nick and I instantly made the most of it, laudly stomping round the house and requesting breakfast. We took ourselves for a short tour of his new pad, and as we entered the front room he hurriedly removed items of clothing and underwear from the chairs and floor. “Had a good night?” I asked, catching a glimpse of Hannah round the door. “Hmmmm,” he replied. Nick and I gave ourselves a look of mirth.
A couple of sausage sandwiches later, we’d met Hannah, teased Jac (“she seems nice,” was met with a Jac-based scowl) and hurried him along. After discovering I’d got a parking ticket for NO REASON AT ALL (complaint pending on that one, let me assure you) we arrived at the Stuff Show and took in the gadgetry. It was actually a little disappointing – far less stands than the year before, and the stands that were there were mostly selling MP3 players. We left a few hours later for lunch, discovering that Putney is actually very nice, and that Gourmet Burger Kitchen is an amazing place to go for cracking burgers.
So, a bit of a revelation – I’ve found a bit of London I actually like! Check me out…

A Zen in IPod clothing

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I’ve been toying with the idea of an MP3 player for a while. My assumed role of Chief Geek within my friends and family circle means that everyone assumes I’ve already got one – creative.jpgbut I have been holding out. Mindful of the mantra that’s been drummed into me as since I was very small – and those who’ve seen me will know that must have been a *long* time ago – I hate following a crowd. In my mind, the Apple Ipod has been far and away the best MP3 player for a while, a fact that meant I cannot get one. My recent trip with Nick to the Best of Stuff Show showed, however, that nothing matched up to it in any way. However, I have finally discovered what may be the zenith of my affections – the Creative Zen Vision:M. It isn’t out in the UK yet, but as you can see it’s very similar to the IPod but can do a whole lot more – a fact that warms my cockles. This review is certainly complementary. And it means you’re not tied to iTunes, or following the crowd. In short, it won’t make you a chained-up sheepy lemming.
But hey, I know there are more geeky people than me who will read this. Anyone got any other recommendations?

Done Up Like A Musical Kipper

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I’d like to think of myself as internet-savvy. I do almost everything on it nowadays – from the monthly food shopping to paying bills, buying DVDs and CDs, it’s all done on my computer screen. In the six or so years since I started playing with the internet, I’d like to think I’m aware of every internet scam out there.
I mention this because last night I happened upon freeipods.com. The website sounds utterly preposterous – getting an MP3 player worth £250 for nothing sounds like fool’s gold. Apparently they get commission from the number of people who sign up for their sponsors. Sounds odd, but it’s been on Newsnight and the BBC News, and I know of one person who has actually received one, so I thought I’d sign up, What can I lose, I thought?
So, the sign up was straightforward. I chose a username and password and burst into the members page, eager to find riches. I was faced with several options for sponsors I needed to sign up with – DVD clubs, casinos and the like. However, one caught my attention – an MP3 site offering cheap access to thousands of high-quality MP3s for a low one-off charge. Compared to Tesco or Napster downloads, it was a bargain – $19 for lifetime membership. $19 for an Ipod, I thought, and away I went to sign up.
Not, obviously, without checking its authenticity first, of course. A quick search on Google didn’t throw up too many warning signs, and the little padlock on my browser indicated that it was a secure site for my payment. I was all set to go. Plugged in my payment details, got confirmation…. And then nothing. No web page with MP3s, just a page telling me how to use other programs to get them. Click, nothing. Click, nothing. A warm, gooey, unpleasant feeling seeped through my body. I’d laughed at countless internet newbies signing up for scams, putting them down as unbelievably naive. I’d had been taken for a mug, and now some nefarious criminally-minded bastard had my debit card details. I was INCENSED I tell you, more at my complete failure to notice the scam than anything else. If it can still be a scam when it has a secure trading site, what’s the point in having the secure padlock icon?
And that is why, at ten to eleven last night, I was on the phone to a wary woman from Alliance and Leicester, explaining that I’d signed up for a dodgy website and there was a distinct possibility that they may use my card details for a new Boeing 737 they’d had their eye on. After I explained that it was a music website and not some sordid den of carnal knowledge, she was much more helpful and stopped my card immediately. So, for the next seven days, I am debitcardless, which frankly is a relief for my bank manager.
And I don’t think I’ll hang around for that iPod, either.

Susan Watts and Richard Sambrook

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Talking of the Today programme, an interesting revelation spilt on to the airwaves after Rod Little’s little piece. Lord Gilbert, former defence minister, was giving his verdict. After a crescendo of anti-BBC superlatives, he singled out Richard Sambrook, Head of News at the BBC for special criticism. And then the revelation – “Lord Hutton never focused on… [Sambrook’s] relationship with one of his fellow employees, Miss Susan Watts”. The very same Susan Watts, BBC Newsnight reporter, who was one of the reporters at the centre of the Hutton Inquiry. At which point the presenter blusters, says that he doesn’t know what on earth he is talking about, and cuts him off. Here’s a recording of it – gilbert_watts.mp3 – check out the interview from 41 seconds onwards.
Will the media pick up on that, or protect their own?