Weekend news roundup

10 May 2010

A quick glance at some of the technology stories breaking in the weekend papers.

The Sunday Times heralds the rise of the geek dad. It almost certainly begins with Bob the Builder. The only real way for a father to earn the respect of his children is to build stuff with them — no one wants Bob the Senior Administrator. Office-based dads are humiliated daily because they can’t make a kite or mend the brakes on a bicycle. They do, however, enjoy more time with their children than previous generations. Recent research by the University of Oxford suggests that British dads are spending almost 30 minutes more a day with their children than in 1975. And there’s a new breed of men who would rather make things with their kids than read or play computer games.

The Observer, in looking back on the tumultuous elections that delivered a hung Parliament, says that none of the political parties in the UK made good enough use of social networking in their campaigns. Anyone expecting a defining digital moment during this election would have been disappointed. The web doesn’t create moments like that, but reflects them – and the chaos of this election, from Bigotgate to the hung Parliament, was echoed across social media. As well as the ubiquitous wisecracks, Twitter suits fast-breaking news snaps and statistics and so works well on results night. The story of the evening was the shambles at polling stations from Leeds to London. Angry voters tweeted, while others filmed the chaos on their phones and quickly sprang into action on Facebook. The support Nick Clegg had generated during the TV debates seemed to evaporate, and the Lib Dems were notable for their near-invisibility on the web. Matthew McGregor, the London director of Blue State Digital (which worked on US President Barack Obama’s campaign), says it was astonishing that they failed to exploit their popularity surge. “There was no email right after that (first) TV debate, no request for donations or activism. And they don’t seem to have laid the foundations online in advance, either.”

The Sunday Business Post reports that 3 Ireland is to launch the iPhone on its network later this summer. The operator is currently finalising negotiations with Apple for the release of the device within the coming months. Earlier this year, Apple ended its exclusive iPhone contract with O2 Ireland. The device was recently launched on Vodafone Ireland’s network. However, a spokesman for Meteor said that ‘Meteor has no plans to launch the iPhone in the near future’’. Apple will release an updated version of the phone’s operating system next month. There is strong expectation in the industry that a new iPhone model will be released later this year.

The Wall Street Journal on Saturday reviewed a new art application for the iPad, called Brushes. Today, many artists make their masterpieces digitally, without ever touching paint, pencil or paper. And it turns out they don’t even need a computer or mouse: The popular Brushes application for the iPhone and iPad allows artists to create sophisticated paintings simply by swiping their fingers across the screen. Now the iPad version of the app, which was recently reduced from $9.99 to $7.99, allows users to take advantage of the spacious screen and a variety of additional brush settings and layers, and the ability to play back creations stroke-by-stroke right on the screen. Finger painting has never been so cool.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years