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Back to tech

Rory Cellan-Jones | 14:25 UK time, Wednesday, 12 May 2010

First, an apology. For the last six weeks this blog has been cluttered up with politics, as I've followed every twist and turn of the digital election campaign in an experimental role for BBC News. It's been fascinating - for me at least - but now it's over and I'm returning to my role as technology correspondent.

Apple ipadSo what have I missed? Well if I'd been focused on the technology sector there were a number of top stories that would certainly have merited a closer look:

The battle over Flash, with Apple's Steve Jobs apparently on a mission to obliterate Adobe's technology as the accepted online video tool.

McAfee's update which crippled thousands of computers - a friend who suffered told me I was mad to be covering politics, rather than this.

The Twitter joke trial, which saw a British man fined for what he thought was just a jokey tweet about blowing up an airport

• The comic caper surrounding the 4G iPhone left in a Californian bar.

• A whole host of Facebook privacy rows.

Microsoft's roll-out of Office 2010 with its web apps which could challenge Google's offering.

• The grumbling over the UK price of Apple's iPad which arrives here in a couple of weeks.

I'm sure there are others and please let me know of stories you think this blog should address.

But before I leave politics, just a couple more points. First of all, it was only after I'd completed my assessment of whether it really was an internet election that the most "digital" event of all occurred. At lunchtime on Tuesday, as speculation mounted that the focus was switching back from a Lib/Lab pact to a Lib/Con deal, there was still no news from the players. Then suddenly this tweet appeared:

"Will be returning to the Cabinet Office shortly to resume negotiations with the Liberal Democrats."

It was William Hague, using a means of communication that had not been available to Edward Heath or Jeremy Thorpe the last time hung Parliament talks took place. Truly a historic tweet.

And talking of history, Chris Leach, the enterprising ICT teacher who ran a 1066 election for his year 7 pupils and invited the web to take part has just given me some breaking news. The results in this battle for the crown of England were as follows:

William of Normandy = 19%
Harald Hardrada = 32%
Harold Godwinson = 49%

So, under the first past the post system, a clear victory for Harold Godwinson's party. Mind you, as Chris Leach warned, the parties did reserve the right to launch an invasion. Not much talk of coalitions there.


  • Comment number 1.

    Welcome back Rory..

    Fancy another hack at Ubuntu with the newly released Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Lucid Lynx)?

    Nokia sues Apple again after Apple counter sue....

    What's the latest on the Digital Economy bill? Any mention of it in the coalition policy?

    Nexus One and HTC Desire in the UK...

    I'm sure other users will mention other things i've missed.

  • Comment number 2.

    Whilst the political-technology cross over could have proved interesting, I think that it was, in all honesty, just an extra to the more regular means of information retrieval.

    You also missed the Modern Warfare 2 issue, highlighting the dangers of games studios being taken over by the large companies, such as Activision and EA.

  • Comment number 3.

    Welcome back Rory!

    I'll admit that i avoided your blog while you where blogging about the politics, but myself, and i am sure a lot of other people are happy it's back to business as usual.

    I think that the D.E.B needs some serious looking into.

    Perhaps you could do it on a computer running Linux Ubuntu 10.04 ;)

  • Comment number 4.

    Nice too see you back, I too have been keeping away from the tech merged with politics posts. There is a lot of change in the tech world, Android is taking the U.S. and the U.K. by storm, and is taking the iPhone for pole-position.
    The Steve Job's letter about Flash was a disappointment, although I understand his stance about it not being viable to producing quality content in the mobile sector, and the security issues it has associated with it. Flash has become synonymous to the internet, and html5 is only startingto find its feat, but still cannot be used produce rich multimedia content (using javascript, jquery, etc), and html5's saving grace is the non-open source standard h.264 encoding which unlike the dead and buried ogg theora may turn out to be as constrictive as flash. I think we as consumers need to rethink our stances, and not ignore one flawed system to take up a new one.
    I think technology is just hotting up for the summer.

  • Comment number 5.

    HTC sued Apple after Apple sued HTC and Nokia sued Apple all for patent infringements. My head hearts...

    I too am interested in whether or not the Lib Dems will do anything to repeal the Digital Economy Act as they promised.

    And yes, write about the Nexus One, I'm considering dumping my iPhone for it, though I'll wait for the iPhone 4G to be officially announced before I make any rash decisions.

  • Comment number 6.

    ...Oh, and if you do want to write about politics, you should have linked to Dan Bull's Election Debate Rap Battle!

  • Comment number 7.

    I'm only a humble web designer, so don't feel able to comment on the actual technical validity of either Apple's or Adobe's remarks about Flash. But, here at the coal face, so to speak, I have to provide the service my clients want. And 100% of my clients want to see their own websites on their iPhones. I have no doubt it will be the same for the iPad too, when it finally gets here.
    So regardless of who's 'right' or 'wrong', the bottom line for me is that until Adobe makes a product that works on Apple's gadgets, I won't be using Flash anymore.

    I suspect I'm not the only designer forced to do this, and I think that Apple's stance has effectively killed Flash, unless Adobe pull their finger out. It's all very well Adobe pouting about it, but at the end of the day, it's Apple calling the shots whether they like it or not. I think Adobe were/are hoping that consumer demand for websites that have Flash would force Apple to back down: unfortunately, they seem to be forgetting that those websites are first and foremost built by people like me who have to provide what their client asks for, long before it gets to the point of consumer choice. And if the client wants to see his or her website on their iPhone, then that's what the client gets. Apple will win this, not Adobe.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi Rory,
    If you're looking for topics to address on this blog, what about open standards and open source. Nobody could have failed to notice the success of Firefox and Chrome. Several governments around the world are now commited to open standards and are actively considering open source, the momentum is building. OpenOffice claims to have millions of people hitting the download button. Linux is everywhere, on super-computers (90% of the top 500), on servers (Google, Amazon etc.), on mobile phones (in the form of Android). The name Ubuntu is gaining ground on desktops, though I use Fedora. By the way ogg is not dead and buried, it is alive and well, and runs in Firefox and Chrome, and soon to be in Opera. These browsers will never use h.264 because of the exorbitant price of the software licence, in which incidentally Microsoft has a vested interest.
    So, come on Rory, less of the usual suspects and more of the alternative stuff.

  • Comment number 9.

    It was interesting to note, as you jabbed frantically at your notebook on the election night coverage, that in all truth, Twitter played no real part in the election at all.

    Good thing too.

  • Comment number 10.

    Graphis wrote

    "humble web designer"

    Isn't that an oxymoron?

    More seriously, I hope you are wrong about Apple winning. While designers, architects, graphic artists and the like love Apple, us ordinary mortal are much less enthusiastic...

  • Comment number 11.

    badgercourage wrote:

    "Isn't that an oxymoron?"

    Ha, thanks, you made me laugh out loud, which is rare for these forums:)

    But to address your more serious point, as a designer I use and love both Apple and Adobe's products: I'd much rather they work together than against each other. So I don't feel able to take sides in the matter, I'm just stating a reality as I see it. I think Apple's iPhone (and soon the iPad) are going to raise the bar so high that companies like Adobe will have to dance to Apple's tune. While Apple don't exactly have world domination, they still have too big a market share to ignore. (And Adobe have got a little arrogant lately, their prices for their new Creative Suite are way too high, and becoming prohibitive for sole traders and SME's).
    It doesn't matter to me who wins, or loses, or whether a satisfactory conclusion is reached: my job is to provide what my client asks for, and if the client says "no Flash", that's what the client gets, or I don't get paid.

    For what it's worth, I can't view my own website on an iPhone as it's all Flash-based, and I'll have to change it when I've got time to learn HTML5 or something similar, which is a pain, but it's not the likes of me who drives these decisions. As a designer, I've always had to design according to the specifications of the media my designs are appearing in, on or offline, rather than my own personal choice.

    However, technology changes so quickly these days: even if Apple win this war, who's to say that in another 10 years it will still matter? Both Adobe and Apple could be redundant by then: I might find myself designing 3D holographs that float in the air in front of you, rather than a website you view on a gadget!

  • Comment number 12.

    Election coverage, online or otherwise, summed up perfectly by Paul Merton on Have I Got News For You last night. Many media reports actually just said "we haven't got a clue what's going on yet"... In which case, media, wait until you do.


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