MonthJanuary 2006

Hello, we’ve come to secure your software by breaking it completely

This is a story of how someone on the other side of the world who you’ve never met can completely ruin your day.

I do my accounts on my own OSX machine where I’ve installed MySQL. It comes, of course, with the Apache web server, and the scripting language PHP; so with a bit of hacking about some time ago (a couple of years at least) I got it all running. Key in making it feasible to manipulate MySQL was the excellent, free and open-source CocoaMySQL.

So anyway. I’d set up a system where I could keep my accounts: I’d created some pages and linked databases which I could access via my local server, so that I know where I am with payments, expenses, and money owed for taxes moved to savings accounts. Plus the Apache/MySQL/PHP combo is excellent for testing WordPress upgrades without inflicting them on the wider public.

Then on Wednesday evening I clicked on the page for my accounts. It replied:
Warning: mysql_connect(): Can't connect to local MySQL server through socket '/var/mysql/mysql.sock' (2) in /Users/charles/account_mysql_connect.php on line 13

To which you, and I at first, respond: “Unh?” Something’s not working. But what? Apache is OK; I could get other web pages from my local machine. But was it PHP or MySQL that was looking for mysql.sock in the wrong place? Either MySQL had moved its .sock, or PHP was looking in the wrong place. Either way it wasn’t good, because I don’t like futzing around with config files. Apart from anything else, OSX makes it almost impossible to find them. (I either use the Terminal, or the very good Locator – another free program that will locate pretty much anything on your machine, though from a static database.)

I didn’t know which was doing this wrong, but thought I’d ask Google first. And I recalled that since last using my database, there had been the 10.4.4 update to OSX. So I Googled “10.4.4 MySQL”. The first result it pointed to: MacOSXHints, with Repair PHP/MySQL connections in 10.4.4.

Ah. So Apple had broken something about PHP and MySQL in the update. Gee, thanks, guys. I don’t recall seeing a mention of that in the notes to the update. Not a thing. No questions when I updated like “I see you have MySQL installed, do you want us to …” Well, at that point I didn’t know what I’d want to do.

So I had a read of the MacOSXHints article. Yes, Apple had indeed broken things, by making PHP look for the “socket” (connection) to MySQL in a different place from previously: it now looks in the directory private/var/mysql/ for the mysql.sock file. If it doesn’t find it, it blurps. However, the whole idea of that directory and that file is a completely new one introduced in 10.4.4. MySQL normally creates its socket file in private/etc/. (Apparently, this article at Hivemind explains why the move was needed. Personally, I don’t get it.)

On reading the article, there were clearly two schools of thought for how to cure it. One said: “create a symbolic link [an alias] to the old file in the new directory.” The other (including Apple) said: “That first idea is a bad one – it’s insecure. Instead, make MySQL create its socket in /var/mysql.” (See the discussion at these files: “Issues connecting PHP to MySQL and “Improvements to Apache/PHP/MySQL interaction”.)

I had a try at the second solution. Wow, what a disaster. MySQL became amazingly unstable and kept falling over: I watched it in the Activity Monitor. The process would last a few seconds, then disappear, then reappear with a different process number. Basically it was crashing and then being lifted again by something, like a drunk being carried by friends and insisting it could handle it. At the same time my internet connection went hazy; pages wouldn’t load. I don’t know if it was associated, as the router could resolve names, and if I put a DNS number rather than a name into a web page, it loaded fine. But I was just frustrated as hell by now; I’d been struggling with this problem for three hours, it was late, and I wanted to have it solved. But I could see there was no way I was going to solve it before tiredness completely overwhelmed me.

So, cursing the people in charge of updates at Apple, I went to bed.

The next day I returned to the fight. My web connection was still unstable; MySQL was still up and down like.. oh, do your own simile. Somehow I got MySQL to stop, by virtue of a couple of complete reboots (which is why my uptime is measured only in a couple of days). Then I looked at its configuration file, and decided to leave well enough alone. Same with PHP: I’m not really going to mess with its config file. No, the simple, and less brain-crushing thing to do was to follow the original advice in the OSXHints article: create a link from the “new” directory to the old one. I did. It worked. Finally, after about six hours of struggling, I was back to where I’d been a week before.

Now tell me: was it necessary that I had to be put through that? OK, so not many people will install MySQL on their machines. But a few will. It would have been nice, to say the very least, if there had been an explanatory note in the OS updates about what was going to happen to the PHP/MySQL link.

Still, my mishaps did give my wife, who has always been suspicious of the idea of trusting one’s financial data to a machine rather than good old paper, the chance to crow. And I had to agree that for once she had a point.

And next time there’s an OS update… I’m going to read the notes about PHP and MySQL very carefully. That’s assuming that they tell us what they’ve done. But what else will be in there that I’ll miss?

Should you log out of your OSX account once a day? Actually, no.

  • [tw] : Log Out! (Once Per Day)
    By some odd coincidence, three times this week I’ve come across Mac OS X users who don’t know the benefits of logging out. That is, they either leave the machine running at night (still logged into their user account), or they put the machine to sleep. They rarely — if ever — log out, and only reboot when “something is wrong” or after installing a system update.

    My comment: that’s because you’ve run into what we call “normal people” who don’t live to serve their computer, but vice-versa.

    My advice: log out once per day. You might just log out at night when you’re done using the computer, leave the machine running, then log in again in the morning. (It’s ok to let the monitor/display/screen/whatever-you-call-it go to sleep.)

    My reaction: GTF out of here!

    This accomplishes a couple of things, at least:

    • If you generally run the same software applications most of the time, it will clear out a lot of memory and give those apps a chance to “start over.” This is a very good thing for nearly every modern program: most will run faster, and it will put a stop to some “weird behavior” (that’s the technical term). This helps on Windows, too.
    • Leaving your Mac running (but logged off) at night allows the system (via a utility called cron that you’ll never see) to run some system maintenance utilities: another minor performance boon, and it will save a little space on your hard drive. (I actually don’t know if Windows does anything like this also.)

    Actually, I’d rather have an operating system that’s intelligent enough to be able to deal with my using it all the time as the same user. Is that really too much to ask? “A utility called cron that you’ll never see” – no, please, condescend to me some more. (Cron will run whether you log out or not, actually. It runs all the time. Logging out has no effect on its runningness. I use it to do stuff to my email and other stuff all the time.)

    This is stupid fatalism. Apple and Microsoft should be able to – in fact, can – write an OS that can handle my being logged on pretty much permanently, thanks very much.
    Plus, there are huge disbenefits to logging out. I have to close all my documents. I have to quit my apps. Logging in and restarting those apps will take at least five minutes (conservative estimate), which I don’t feel like spending. Add those up over a week and you’ve got 25 minutes; over a month, it’s two hours; over a year, a whole day. Why should I give up a day of my time to lousy coding?
    And of course that assumes that this step is necessary – which I don’t think it is. I’d give my uptime, except it’s rubbish at the moment, for reasons I’ll write about later.

BusinessWeek struggles with advertising revenue falls

  • BusinessWeek Blues
    Early this morning I heard the news on the radio, and couldn’t believe my ears: At my alma mater Business Week, “ad pages declined 18.8% in the fourth quarter and 12.8% for the year.” Naah. Impossible. Can’t be that bad. Then I got the press release and I saw that it is true.

    I know that everybody in the business has a pet theory why ad pages have been so crummy for the biz magazines. My theory, which I admit is self-serving, is that there hasn’t been nearly enough hard-hitting reporting. Now, anyone who knew me at BW can tell you that I’ve been saying that for quite some time, even when there was a lot of hard-hitting reporting in the magazine.

    Still, I think that readers and advertisers expect more of a “mix” of stories than they have been getting. There are a number of reasons for this, and I deal with them in Wall Street Versus America, and one of them is reflected in those awful numbers — staffing. Reporters who are working to fill the weekly “book” don’t have time for lengthy projects. The magazines are thinner, so there is less space for even routine stories. That, and a reduction in ad pages, results in pressure to reduce the staff still further. It’s a kind of vicious circle.

    When you put this together with…

  • Ex-BW staffer blogs on ad drop at BusinessWeek
    This is the weirdness of blogging in today’s mainstream pubs. I link to a former colleague, Gary Weiss, who is blogging about disappointing ad numbers at BusinessWeek.

    The second commment to his post, though anonymous, has the ring of someone who works closely with us:

    The hard-hitting reporting you bemoan withered away because of budgetary reasons. Besides the layoffs of the last several years, many of those who left on their own—as you did, Gary—were not replaced. Investigative reporting takes a lot of time and resources, and it’s tough to do when you are budget-challenged.

    and then to this…

  • The McGraw-Hill Companies Reports 12.8% Increase in Earnings Per Share for 2005: Financial News – Yahoo! Finance
    “The cyclical decline of advertising in a non-election year led to a 1.7% reduction in revenue to $112.2 million at the Broadcasting Group in 2005 and a 5.6% drop to $32.4 million in the fourth quarter compared to the same period last year. An increase in local-time sales enabled the stations to offset part of the decline in political advertising in 2005.

    ..then you get a picture of things being hard for business magazines. BW in particular has looked notably thin over the past few months – finally leading it to give up having a European edition, and moving only to online for European and Asian subscribers.

This is cool! Or hot! Or chilly with NE winds! See the dance of the isobars!

Met Office: Europe surface pressure animation is wonderful! At last you get to play weather presenter in your own living room. The animation of the isobars means you can wave your hands like you really really understand!

The parrot that didn’t bark; and an interesting (known) iPod nano bug

  • The Case of the Gary-lous Parrot
    The British media, desperate as ever for a human interest story, appears to have gotten taken for a ride by someone – until the fact-checking hit the road in the US. Better hope that freelance cashed lots of moolah from this one; it could be a while before the next cheque.
    Oh, what am I saying? Of course he’ll get tons more work. He philled space, after all. (Seen at Museum of Hoaxes)
  • Is anyone else seeing this bug? I updated my iPod nano to version whateveritis (the latest firmware) and since then I’ve discovered this interesting bug.
    Here’s how it works.
    1) Play a song; while it’s playing, click the centre button twice to bring up the interface so you can give your song a star rating.
    2) Don’t do anything. Just leave it. This takes about 15 to 20 seconds.
    3) Watch as the interface trie to roll back to show you where the song is in the track, but instead keeps showing the stars interface. Except this now controls the volume; except you can’t see what the volume is, or how far through the track you are.
    Unfortunately I don’t know how to fix this; it rights itself, eventually.
    Intriguing bug, though, even if it’s only on my machine.
    Update: Mark in the comments points out that this is a known bug for which the cure is:
    1. Don’t touch the iPod controls for at least 5 seconds.
    2. Press the Center button up to 4 times allowing 1 second to elapse between each press.
    3. If the iPod does not return to its normal screen, either repeat steps 1-2 or reset your iPod using the steps documented here.

    Right, we can all go home now. Thanks Mark! (Does it have to be exactly 1 seccond, do you think?)

Expensive hearing aids, cheap ear moulds; guess which works?

It’s been a while since I’ve written about baby3 at any length. Hardly a baby now; 10 months, rising 11 (rising in all sorts of ways; this morning, found him three steps up the staircase, gamely clambering up while his 7yo sister watched with detachment; time for those stairgates!).

Still deaf? Still deaf. There’s occasionally mornings or moments in the day when I do still wish he weren’t, but- that’s a pointless thought. You could just let your mind leak away into an imaginary nowhere following thoughts like that. It could be worse, though I realised the other day that I wouldn’t want to get into some sort of scale of suffering; one mother whose (hearing) child has been diagnosed with diabetes said bluntly the other day “Yes, but I’d rather he had this than was deaf.” Uh, that would be with the risks of amputation, coma and limited diet? Truly we make our own heavens and hells.

What has happened? Well, at the start of September he got digital hearing aids (two, obviously; £500 each) and moulds for his ears (perhaps £2?). The idea is that the moulds are such a good fit that you can amplify the normal world outside by 80-90dB (like a loud – very loud – shout) and inside he gets something like normal volume. Well, something like that. Certainly ramp it up so that he can hear spoken words, and so begin to build on his (any baby’s, of course) natural ability to pick up vocabulary.

For a while the moulds were OK. The trick is to get them to fit well so sound can’t leak out, because then you get feedback and your kid sits there making a noise like a soundcheck at Glastonbury. Plus you have to watch for him pulling them out if they get a bit uncomfortable. And not have the amplification turned up too high, because that can distress him.

Meanwhile we’ve also worked on sign language, though it’s been limited; he might understand more than we realise, but you need books and tuition and someone poking you to keep using it. Milk (squeezing hand, like milking a cow) – sure. Food, eating (pinched fingers to the mouth) – sure. Nice food (thumbs-up in a smiley curve under the mouth) – sure. Bath (hands rubbed on chest) – sure. Sleep (hand on side of tilted face, shut eyes). He seemed to follow them all, and always looked happy. He is, indeed, a fantastically happy child.

Then we started to coordinate too with the cochlear implant people. A cochlear implant stimulates the inner ear directly, using a filament inserted into the cochlea – the inner ear. That terminates under the skin of the head; there’s a magnetic attachment to an external listening device, which turns the sounds into electrical signals; the magnetic attachment means you can’t disturb the implant itself. Clever, really.

The cochlear team are also interested in the precise level of his hearing, so they did some tests, And they tweaked the hearing aids – they’re just little computers, you can program them to amplify in different ways at different frequencies. Plus we got some more ear moulds. That was around the start of December. Between the two – we’re not sure what it was – it all went wrong. The moulds never fitted: there was always feedback. We got one, two, three sets of lousy moulds, some of which had an extra small tube where they fit into the ear; the audiologist, who’s excellent and dedicated, told us this increased the chance of feedback. They’re made by a private laboratory – Starkeys in Cheshire, since you ask.

Upshot: child3 (as it makes more sense to call him) didn’t have any useful hearing aids all through December. We feel concerned that he’s missing out on all sorts of language development as a result, which is one of those troubling things that you can’t know for sure until later. But it’s got to be a good bet that if you don’t get any verbal input for a month at this sort of age, it’s not going to help your linguistic development. £500 hearing aids, £2 moulds; guess which one fails.

Still, it has given us more impetus to work on sign language, and he is now babbling – in sign – back to us. Milk, food, bath. (The latter consists of slapping himself. It’s sweet.) When someone signs something he recognises, he always looks at the signer and grins a huge grin and then turns to whichever parent is around, as if to say “Doesn’t that look daft?

We got some more moulds at the beginning of January; one worked, one didn’t. The audiologist told us she’ll use a different manufacturer from now on; we’ll have to hope it makes a difference. However I’m starting to think that it’s next to impossible to amplify the sounds around you by 90-odd dB and prevent it leaking out of a pair of ear moulds, especially if they’re being worn by an energetic child whose idea of a relaxing time is to do commando crawl across the kitchen and then see how many chairs he can pull himself up on while pulling anything on them onto the floor. Some things just don’t change between children.

Dowling on Adam Curry: nailed in a second; and looking back at predictions for 2005

  • Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Pod almighty
    Curry is famous for two things: his influential role in the development of the podcast, and his judicious editing of the Wikipedia entry on podcasting, allegedly in an effort to enhance his role in the development of the podcast. But his own podcast, The Daily Source Code, remains one of the most widely followed and it is not for nothing that he is sometimes called the Podfather. On the day I subscribed to The Daily Source Code, Curry played some podsafe music, talked about his new Blackberry – “It’s the one with the new screen, it’s got a faster processor” – and introduced a report on the “mysterious Apple PowerBook audio echo issue”. (This was also the day I unsubscribed.)

    ‘Nuff said. (I tried Curry’s thing once and gave up at once too.) Tim Dowling’s excellent take on podcasting – a must-read.

  • I’ve updated my predictions for 2005 with what actually happened. It’s an interesting list. Some were too visionary (or wild); others, too safe. Comment as you like. Except for you, Adam Curry. Put it in a podcast so nobody has to hear it.

MyDV: my small part in its downfall

In Saturday’s Guardian was a story about a company I remembered:

A website which billed itself as “The UK’s best source for digital video equipment” has been shut down by US authorities – but not before thousands of British internet shoppers paid for Christmas presents which have failed to arrive.

The website, mydv.co.uk, appeared to be a British-based operator, and offered a London-based 0207 phone number. But calls were routed through to a call centre abroad. In reality the site was owned and run out of Waltham, Massachusetts by Nepco.

Those with a long memory may recall that back in October I was considering getting an (already out of date) iPod Photo, and passed by a site called mydv.co.uk. I wrote then:

Next stop (via Google) was a company called MyDV.co.uk. I tried ringing the London number: it turned out to be connected to an office in the US. MyDV is a front; Google them and you’ll find a lot of people who’ve paid money but seen little. I decided to avoid.

I thought not much more of it.

Then on the next day, October 19 (2005), I got an email:

I’m writing in response to your mention of My DV on your blog:

MyDV is one of NEPCO’s several successful brands that sell and source electronic products to and from all over the world. The past 2 months have blessed us with tremendous growth. A few orders a day grew to a few dozen orders a day, which grew to a few hundred orders today, and our growth continues. Obviously, when you’re serving thousands of customers, some transactions don’t go smoothly. We tripled the size of our customer service team on October 11th, and it will double again on the 1st of November. Our warehousing and fulfillment operations are worldwide, through an ISO certified European-based fulfillment partner, and our customer service is handled in the US and India. We’re not a front, just a growing international business, who can offer some of the best prices for top-end electronics. I’d like to have the opportunity to speak with you.

Thanks,
Matt Wolf, Financial Director, NEPCO, LP (mwolf@nepcodirect.com (508) 685-2885)

Hmm, I thought, if I’ve screwed this up it could get unpleasant. Legal unpleasant. And legal unpleasant is one of the ones you really want to avoid; I’ve seen (and been in) enough already. Was I sure that mydv was a “front”? Well, it was in the sense that it led through to an American company, that the London number actually routed to a US company, and that there wasn’t anything solid there – Googling Nepco seemed to lead to an oil and gas company from Japan, so either I’d really annoyed a giant that was perplexingly dabbling in online gadgets, or this was a startup that had earnt people’s disdain very quickly.

So I stalled. I replied:

At 14:46 -0700 on 19/10/05, you wrote:

I’m writing in response to your mention of My DV on your blog:

Not just me: this from earlier in October: see
http://clansharrock.blogspot.com/2005/10/ipod-misery.html#comments

BTW you’re free to comment on my blog, if you want to put mydv’s side. I
don’t edit comments, except for spamming (ie irrelevant commercial
postings) or swearing; yours wouldn’t fall into that.

To which he answered…

Thanks for getting back to me. I’d love to have the opportunity to speak on the phone. When would be a good time to chat?

I was rather suspicious. I didn’t want to get into a phone conversation with this guy. I’d offered him a chance to “speak” on my blog. Conversations where both sides don’t have precise records of what’s said can get messy, and I wondered about legality. If we spoke, he could claim I’d said this or that. I’d rather keep it all on a medium where we’d both have an indisputable record of what had gone down.

So I didn’t call him. But I did do some more digging on Nepco, including a Whois search (that one’s for mydv.co.uk). And then a bit of digging around with Google Maps and Amazon’s Yellow Pages (which I came to via Google, of course). And after some of that, I emailed him:

Hi Matt…

That’s odd, I can’t find Nepcodirect at the address given on your Whois –
618 Main St, Waltham – on the Yellow Pages.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/yp/geo/MA/Waltham/qid=1129763352/103-9027357-4405438?%5Fencoding=UTF8&node=3999141&range=&keywords=&rank=distancerank&size=10&page=4

Only offers me taxis and a sports pub.

And at 681, which is the address you give on another site, there’s
something called Mediation Source and the Global Foresight Association.
Nepco isn’t there even though your domain was set up last year. Getting
properly confused now.

I wasn’t confused, though. I was increasingly suspicious, and thankful that I hadn’t tried to buy anything from this bunch.

He replied, though. (My comments on what he wrote interspersed, but never sent.)

NEPCO, LP is an ecommerce company located at the address below (681 Main
Street) in Waltham, MA. We were founded in March of 2004, and we have major
corporate partnerships with companies such as DHL, Bank of America, Kuehne &
Nagel, etc. Our main corporate domain is nepcodirect.com, but “direct” is
not part of our company’s name. Check out yp.yahoo.com, and look up NEPCO in
Waltham, MA. I’m not sure why, but they have the wrong phone # listed
(that’s one of our fax lines). Also, we’re registered with D&B, if you have
access to their data.

DHL, BoA, Kuehne and Nagel (“one of the world’s leading logistics providers”), were you listening?

To address the posts you’ve seen online, let me give you some background.
When we launched mydv.co.uk a few months ago, a few orders a day turned into
a few dozen orders a day, which turned into a few hundred orders a day, and
our list of satisfied customers continues to grow. Really, it has been a
tremendously successful period for us.

So tremendously successful that they’d earnt the hate of loads of would-be buyers. Oh, success, you evil mistress.

With phenomenal growth comes the need to make some adjustments. First, our
phones got so overloaded with callers, that we had to install a more robust
phone system.

Hold on, though, because surely this is an internet company? Why would people need to call them up? Unless it was about non-fulfilment of orders?

This helped, but we were still receiving far more emails,
phone calls, and web chats than we could possibly handle. On October 11th,
we tripled our customer service staff, and on November 1st, it will double
again. Second, we sold so many units of certain products that we ran out of
stock. We’ve increased the size of our inventory on some of the hot sellers
ten-fold, in order to make sure that goods are arriving on time. Most
customers never experienced problems getting through to us, or a delayed
shipment of their order, but for those who did, we bend over backwards to
make it right. Presently, our call center is fielding over 95% of incoming
calls, so if you’re in touch with anybody who has had a tough time, I
encourage them to call back. Our customer service is SO MUCH BETTER now. Our
CS team was just overloaded to the point where it was impossible to even
communicate with most of our customers. As I mentioned, that situation has
really improved. It upsets nobody more than me when a customer isn’t
satisfied with the service they receive, so have them please be in touch
with us, and we’ll do our best to make them happy that they chose My DV.

Then he makes a last despairing attempt to butter me up, in the hope that flattery will make me rescind my account of my experience with his company. It was this which really got my antennae (and bullshit meter) waving like a flag in a Category 5.

I am just realizing that I don’t think I complimented you on your blog. It
is easy to follow, yet deals with in-depth issues. I’m not blessed with the
same talent for writing that you are, and I’d love to transfer our dialogue
to a verbal one. Also, we’re looking to move into the product review sector.
Not ecommerce, but simply providing information and informed
opinions/reviews on electronics and other product categories. I’d like to
talk further to A) relieve any concern you still might have about my company
and answer any other questions you have, and B) to pick your brain on the
web content business. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

He wants to pick my brain on the web content business? Suuure. This is so obviously a blog full of enlightenment to all the struggling e-commerce operators out there. Why, it’s in the name – “Learn How To Run Your E-Commerce Site Better”. Oh, wait, no, it isn’t.

What actually tripped my antennae about this guy and this company though was the fact that a single mention on a not-that-much-Googlejuice blog had led to the “financial director” emailing me directly. Some PR people who want to get in touch with me haven’t worked out how to find my phone number from this blog. (Obviously, they don’t stay in PR long.. I’d guess…) If he had the time to drop emails explaining at huge length about his company, rather than saying “hey, read it on our site, I’ve got work to do”, then he couldn’t truly be that busy, or the company that big. I didn’t reply to his email. He didn’t try contacting me again. Still, if a guy called Matt Wolf pops up again in some internet business, do yourself a favour and check out other peoples’ experiences of the company he’s in. I’m not saying he’s bad, or mad, or dangerous to know. Just that he got in the wrong place once, and didn’t make much of a fist of it.

The lessons? Be wary, keep it on email, be sceptical, and dig – for Google is your friend.

I’d rather not think too much about that, really

Seen at Alphagalileo.org‘s health feed:

Researchers have found stronger evidence for a link between a parasite in cat faeces and undercooked meat and an increased risk of schizophrenia.

I’m really hoping this is about schizophrenia in cats. That is all.

(Except: “stronger” link? I didn’t know they even had a weak link.)

Mobile TV isn’t a turn-on; and how about cinemas where you exercise?

  • Guardian Unlimited Technology: Mobile TV is not a turn-on, BT trial finds
    Mobile phone users are more interested in listening to digital radio through their handsets than watching mobile television services, according to research unveiled yesterday, and are only willing to pay about £5 a month for the privilege of catching up with their favourite shows on a phone’s small screen.

    The first major British trial of real broadcast mobile television was carried out by BT and Virgin Mobile among 1,000 users within London’s M25 motorway. The results showed that while 59% rated mobile television as appealing or very appealing by the end of a six-month test, 65% said the same about digital radio. In terms of actual viewing and listening time, users watched an average of 66 minutes of television a week on their phone but listened to 95 minutes of radio.

    I’m amazed the number interested in TV on their handset is as high as 59%. I bet if they had to pay in relation to the data download it would plummet. By contrast, digital radio is a no-brainer for mobiles. (Ordinary FM is OK, except you can’t do it via a Bluetooth headset; you have to use a long cord). Another example of hopeless optimism meeting hard human reality.

  • Richard Branson’s shitting himself, obviously
    If you promise not to rip it off, I’ll tell you my latest idea. I’m pretty sure it’s a winner. It’s a cinema, OK, but instead of seats, there are exercise bikes and treadmills and so on. So you can watch a film and lose weight at the same time! Multi-tasking! By combining your exercise and movie-watching, you’ll have more time to do other things. Plus, it will encourage you to stay and exercise longer, because you won’t want to miss the end of the film.

    Actually, you know, it might just work for a certain sector of people. Though it’s not really “date movie” fare, and you’re not going to make much on the popcorn concession… (Seen at Bourgeois Wife)