Opinion: BBC Internet 'guru' Ashley Highfield wasn't spectacular, all he did was give cyberspace a 'play' button


Jonathan Weinberg writes…

It’s amazing what you can do when you don’t have much money. The best innovators often produce the most fantastic efforts when they’re doing it on a shoe-string. Look at Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, he didn’t have millions of pounds when he started it, he simply had passion, drive and a simple idea for something he believed would work.

So the news today that the BBC’s New Media boss is to stand down and move to launch an on-demand video service for the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 strikes me as interesting. Ashley Highfield has been feted as one of the most important people on the Internet. But he controls a budget of £74m a year. Surely even a chimp in a tutu could do some decent work with that kind of cash to fund it.

The plan is that “Project Kangaroo” (dumb name for a start) will become the Freeview of the Internet offering more than 10,000 hours of programmes. Now I’ve nothing against that, I love TV. In fact, I’m an addict as my friends will tell you judging by my preference to stay in and watch rubbish on the box rather than going out with them.

Top Five Gadgets From The Skies Above America


Anyone who loves gadgets and lives in the UK will know of the Innovations catalogue. Sadly it no longer exists, it went out of business a couple of years ago, but it was often found dropping through your letterbox inside the Sunday newspapers.

And what you’d find within its pages were some of the most weird and wonderful gizmos in the world. All the stuff you never really needed (ever) but bought from your hard-earned cash just in case – and because it looked “interesting”. I wasted a fortune back in the days of Innovations and was horrified when it bit the dust.

So imagine my joy last week when I caught an internal flight from Orlando to Miami in the States on American Airlines and found a copy of the SKY MALL catalogue in the pocket in front of my seat. It’s Innovations US-style and I’ve picked my five favourites
over the jump. Best thing about it, even those in the UK can order from it!

Opinion: Government paedophile plans are a confusing web of ideas


Jonathan Weinberg writes…

OK, so let’s do a straw poll. What do you think would stop a sex offender abusing children? I know this is not a comfortable topic but it is an extremely important one in tech and Internet terms. Stiffer sentences maybe? The threat of castration? A life term in jail? Perhaps even death by lethal injection?

We’ve all had those “If I were Home Secretary” moments and this is one of them because the plans today released by the UK’s Home Secretary Jacqui Smith seem the worst kind of limp proposals for such a serious matter…

Top 5 choc-tastic and egg-citing Easter gadgets

IT'S Easter this weekend – so what better way to celebrate than with CHOCOLATE! Yes, it's the one time of the year we can all over-indulge without being accused of pigging out, well, assuming you don't go overboard and raid Woolworths on Monday for all those bargain-basement eggs that didn't sell in time for Easter Sunday.

Not that I've ever done that you understand (but you can get some egg-cedingly cheap deals). Oh no, the puns and jokes have started. Anyway, to help you get in the mood, here's our Tech Digest Top 5 Easter-related gadgets to get you really egg-cited. Sorry…

Opinion: Toshiba laptop face-recognition is a waste of tech time!


Jonathan Weinberg writes…

So you’re buying a new laptop. Large hard disk, check! Fast processor, check! Windows Vista, well if I must! Face-recognition to stop unauthorised people from logging into it, blimey – what is this, Star Trek?

Well, that could be the newest addition to your techno-arsenal if you snap up one of
Toshiba’s latest notebooks, the Satellite U300, A300 or P300.

Not only are they full spec’d up to the nines, the most interesting bit of gadgetry inside
has to be the camera that matches your face to the one stored in the memory, before it’ll let you into the desktop.

And it’s also the most useless bit of gadgetry I’ve seen in a while…

Opinion: Manhunt 2's release will kill the current video games classifications


Jonathan Weinberg writes…

It’s a row that’s been rolling on for far too long. It’s a row that does nothing to help the perception of gaming among wider society. And it’s a row that is going to run and run for quite some time yet.

Rockstar has now finally overturned a ban that meant it was unable to release Manhunt 2 in the UK. But while that’s good news for the firm, for gaming itself, this whole bloody saga is just another nail in the coffin of gaming.

The media is already far too focused on the negatives – the violence, the calls to ban so-called “killer games” and the conflicts over having a voluntary code to provide an age rating for the majority of titles.

Occasionally a positive story will slip through, like the OAPs playing Wii to keep in shape, but on the whole, games are treated with far more disdain than rap music and horror movies, both of which have had their fare share of criticism in the past….

Opinion: Please, please me and put The Beatles on iTunes!


Jonathan Weinberg writes… Help, I need somebody, help, not just anybody, help, you know I need someone… who can blooming well tell me if we are ever going to be able to buy Beatles songs on the interweb.

I’m not one of those nuts who says they’re the greatest band in the world, but I can understand why it’s so important to have their tunes in digital form. After all, there’s millions of people out there who’d listen to the Liverpool Fab Four eight days a week if they could…

Opinion: Why Apple's iPhone won't beat Sony's PSP and Nintendo's DS at their own game!


Jonathan Weinberg writes… Mobile phones will never, ever, be portable games consoles. Nokia tried it with their N-Gage device, and they are trying it again with N-Gage software on their normal handsets. Gizmondo (while not strictly a phone) tried it – and failed miserably.

Now Steve Jobs has set his sights on trying to battle Sony and Nintendo for a slice of the portable gaming industry by opening up the iPhone to top-notch titles.

It’s a nice soundbite, it’s a good offering for Apple consumers, but it will still only ever be a mobile phone that you can play games on – rather than a games console. And they are, and always shall be, two totally different propositions and never the twain should meet…

Opinion: Is it time for YouTube to be regulated?


Jonathan Weinberg writes… Regulation? On the web? You must be thinking I’ve swallowed some happy pills to make a statement like that. After all, the whole premise of the Internet has always been find anything you want, anywhere – hasn’t it?

But while it’s near on impossible to bring in blanket rules and laws to cover the whole of cyberspace, I do think it is time some sites were forced to put their hands up and take much more responsibility for their actions – and that starts with YouTube.

A poll out today found YouTube is the most popular user-generated site in the UK after attracting 10.4 million people in January. That is a 56 per cent increase in traffic compared to 2007 and just shows the reach it has.

The success of the video-sharing site has been phenomenal. Such fast growth over the years undoubtedly causes problems and makes it difficult for any company to keep up with the demands of hosting such a vast wealth of moving images…

Mind that vacuum cleaner, it's Tuesday housekeeping here at Tech Digest


Just a spot of housekeeping here on Tech Digest today, with a few new changes to our staff roll-call.

Firstly, our Editor In Chief, Stuart Dredge, has moved over to the green pastures of Pocket Gamer, a site dedicated to keeping you informed about mobile gaming. It appears the mobile gaming industry isn’t scared of him just yet, after he recently accused them of being sexist at the GDC!

I’ll be taking over the site as Editor, after close to a year of pouring Stu endless cups of coffee and picking up his drycleaning being Deputy Editor. You can reach me at [email protected].

The hugely-knowledgeable Dave Walker is still contributing to the site, in fact, as our new Contributing Editor. You can reach him here if you fancy swinging some compliments his way.

Staff writers still include…