Internet in the UK – now ahead of Germany!

There were times when I felt that the internet technology in Germany was far more superior to that in the UK.

Whilst many households in Germany have ISDN lines, the technology is widely unknown in the UK – even for many small businesses.

Broadband arrived earlier in Germany than the UK.  Whilst I was going online with almost 1MBit, most UK internet surfers were still using 56k modems.  By the time 1MBit was on offer in the UK, German providers were offering 6MBit.

For a long time now I have been able to listen and watch selected TV and radio programmes from German public service broadcasters, and more recently some private ones, yet the BBC iPlayer has only been out since the end of last year.

Now, it seems, the UK has not caught up, but has overtaken Germany!

A report in the Telegraph states that the average person in the UK spends just over 4 hours per week longer online that the average German.  Working so much on websites I would probably buck that trend, but does the average Brit really spend 14 hours per week online?  Do they really spend 3 times as many SMSes per month?

But then, what counts as online?  Surfing the web is probably obvious, but does sending an E-mail count?  Am I really online at that point?  Surely that depends on the type of E-mail that I use.  Webmail is online, but how about IMAP accounts that synchronise with their servers?  Or company Exchange servers that are online even when their users are not?

What about Skype?  I know that my computer is online when I use Skype to make a telephone call, whether it be to another Skype user or to a landline, but surely that’s different type of ‘online’?

The gap may be about to widen even more, with the announcement that BBC 1 and BBC2 are to be streamed online.  Unfortunately this will only be available to viewers in the UK (why can’t they allow us ex-pats to subscribe to them as well?!)  But although there are similar services for some channels in Germany, they are not directly from the broadcaster themselves.

This is, of course, wonderful news for students with broadband access.  Now they no longer need to fit a television set and computer into their rooms (do they still have those 2 amp sockets?) but can watch online.  Online?  Are they really ‘online’ when they are only watching their favourite soaps?  That should push up the online statistics a bit more.

Which just leaves the question of whether those same students will still need to buy a television license to watch the channels on their laptops.  In Germany they would…

As easy as pi?

I may have learnt all about the Greek letter pi at school and its significance in maths for calculating things to do with circles, but it’s actually something else that I remember it for.
In a special episode of Dr.Who, broadcast as part of “Children in Need”, the Master skipped across a chequered floor and retorted “try it Doctor, it’s as easy as pi”, to which the Doctor eventually muttered “3.14159265”.
I remember that scene so clearly, that it has helped me to memorise the beginning of pi for years. Since most people only remember the 3.14 bit, it’s almost showing off to know so many numbers in it, and yet there are a handful of people out there who have memorised a lot more of them.
So I guess they in particular will have celebrated pi day last Friday. Now, I know it’s an important number, but does it really need a day named after it?

A puppet on a string?

Well, maybe not quite on a string, but still a puppet nonetheless.
Yes, it’s Dustin the Turkey – Ireland’s entry to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
As a big fan of the contest, I was almost shocked to read that the puppet had won the Irish pre-selection to the contest.   After all, was it not Ireland that brought us some of the best Eurovision ballads?
When I think of Ireland in the Eurovision, two songs immediately come to mind: “Rock’n’roll Kids” (winner in 1994) and “In Your Eyes” (winner in 1993).  This was part of “my” golden age for the contest – opening up to new countries in Eastern Europe, before they became smaller and more numerous, requiring the contest in two stages.
They were also the songs that accompanied me through my student year in Germany – the first winning before I left the UK and the second winning whilst I was there.
Last year, however, I became somewhat disillusioned by what seemed to be tactical voting.  I am please to see that the EBU has tackled this problem by splitting the contest into two semi-finals and making countries that often vote for each other take place in different ones from each other.
But still, I think the charm of the evening’s entertainment has been lost by spreading it out over three instead!
I guess the contest will just keep getting bigger and bigger…

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