Entries tagged with “internet connection”.

Several mobile phones
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Survey of more than 1,000 Internet activists, journalists, and technologists about tech life in 2020 finds expectations of haptic and voice interfaces.

This was originally published in CNET News.

Step aside, keyboards, laptops, and 9-to-5 jobs. A survey of more than 1,000 Internet activists, journalists, and technologists released Sunday speculates that by 2012, those quaint relics of 20th century life will fade away.

It’s not a formal survey of the sort that, say, political pollsters use. Nor are computer journalists especially known for their prognosticative abilities. Still, the Pew Internet and American Life Project hopes the effort will provide a glimpse of the best current thinking about how online life will evolve in the next decade or so.

Lee Rainie and the other Pew researchers asked their survey respondents to respond to a series of questions about 2020 future scenarios, including whether the mobile phone will be the “primary” Internet connection (most agreed), whether copy protection will flourish (most disagreed), and whether transparency “heightens individual integrity and forgiveness (evenly split).

The rough consensus was that “few lines divide professional time from personal time,” and that professionals are happy with the way work and play are “seamlessly integrated in most of these workers’ lives.”

Another, which also met with broad agreement: “Talk and touch are common technology interfaces. People have adjusted to hearing individuals dictating information in public to their computing devices. In addition ‘haptic’ technologies based on touch feedback have been fully developed, so, for instance, a small handheld Internet appliance allows you to display and use a full-size virtual keyboard on any flat surface for those moments when you would prefer not to talk aloud to your networked computer.”

One respondent was Google chief economist Hal Varian, who said: “The big problem with the cell phone is the (user interface), particularly on the data side. We are waiting for a breakthrough.”

It’s easier to read the report itself, which you can find here (PDF). This is Pew’s third report in the series; further reading can be found in its 2005 first survey (PDF) and 2006 second survey (PDF).

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Renault Twingo
Image via Wikipedia

It’s silly, of course, to judge a car by its name. But perhaps not quite as silly as the name Twingo, which is supposedly a combination of Twist, Swing and Tango. Though fine for confectionery – “I’ll have a Twingo, please, two Mars bars and some liquorice allsorts” – it’s not a word many of us would feel comfortable placing at the end of the sentence “I drive a … ”

In aid of a little brand research, I spent a week telling people I met that “I came in a Twingo”. Suffice to say the response was not encouraging. A couple pretended they hadn’t heard me, a few flashed me indulgent expressions, and one asked me if everything was OK at work.

All this focus on what is, after all, just a name may seem beside the point, but there is a culture and history to motor cars that we’d be ill-advised to ignore. There is the romance of the road, and then there are the contents of the tuck shop: and the two don’t really mix. Can anyone, for example, imagine Bruce Springsteen penning a lyric in which he takes his Twingo for a ride?

That said, there is more to the Twingo than just sounding like a sweet. For a start, it also looks like a sweet: a squashed wine gum, possibly, or a half-consumed lozenge. Chunky but compact, there is something suspiciously reduced about the car, as if it started out as a people carrier and then had the people bit cut off.

This odd sense of identity crisis is hardly allayed by the discrepant relationship between the large sloping windscreen, which suggests a safe, family-friendly experience, and low-slung sporty seats, which bespeak something rougher and more raunchy. I felt either that the screen needed to be six inches lower, or the seat six inches higher (and maybe both). As it was, I felt a bit like one of those underage joyriders, without quite driving into any trees or jewellery shops.

The Twingo is what’s known as a “hot hatch” – that’s marketing speak for a small car with big ideas. The big idea with the Twingo Sport is that it’s secretly a sports car. Hence it has its rev counter positioned on top of the dashboard behind the steering wheel, just like in a formula one cockpit. Not since Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav wore an alarm clock around his neck has a measuring instrument seemed more conspicuously out of place.

Arguably the sportiest thing about the Twingo is the clutch pedal. If you want to work on developing your left-leg muscles, then just spend a few hours in a Twingo changing gear and Arnold Schwarzenegger will be looking at your calf with drooling envy.

A lot of expense has been spared by not bothering overly about comfort or ease. It makes for a stripped-down, almost old-fashioned drive – in twisting, swinging and tango terms, it’s John Sergeant rather than Rachel Stevens – which is in keeping with the new temper of the times. It’s practical, too. The back seats fold down to make generous boot space for a car of this size./ppThe Twingo is not for everyone. But if you’re looking just to zip around town, well, suck it and see.

Renault Twingo Sport 133

Price £11,550
Top speed 125mph
Acceleration 0-62 in 8.7 seconds
Average consumption 40.4mpg
C02 emissions 165g/km
Eco rating 7/10
At the wheel Violet Beauregarde
Bound for Salsa class
In a word Sweet

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