Sirius XM for the iPhone?

Most of you probably saw the announcement this week that Sirius XM plans to release an iPhone application by June.

I must say I quite like the idea depending on how much extra it will cost on top of my current subscriptions. I’m assuming you will need 3G or Wi-Fi to be able to listen to it. It would be nice if there was a way to have these things (such as Pandora) do some kind of downgrading of the quality when on the Edge network. If I could get uninterrupted listening I don’t think I would mind a reduction in the song quality.

Anyway it will be interesting to see what Sirius XM comes up with, hopefully it will be good enough to keep them aloft for a while longer at least.

The End of Sirius/XM?

All the financial outlets are reporting the imminent filing of Chapter 11 by Sirius XM and their stock has tumbled to just 8c as I write this. A lot of people seem to be saying this means the end for satellite radio but I’m hopeful that they will be able to restructure and continue. Maybe they will have to lose the NFL and Howard Stern but I’ve no interest in them anyway. Of course, doing so might lose them more subscribers than they can afford to lose. But I’d hate to see them go under.

I like XM for the long radio dead spot on my commute to San Diego. I suppose I can go back to CDs and/or the iPhone. Slacker would be great but there’s no high speed internet connection for most of the journey.

But those are thoughts for later, if and when the time comes.

The Sky Isn’t Falling (Sirius XM)

I’ve complained at least twice about the passing of XM and my worry that the “new and improved” will be anything but, and last week the big switch happened (without any warning to subscribers, naturally).

Of the first 6 preset channels on my radio, I lost three of them to new channels which was a little disconcerting. But after a few days, with the exception of one of them, I am liking the replacements.

  • UPop 29 – always knew this was going (since Worldspace is in Chapter 11) but it has been replaced with BBC Radio 1 which I have always wanted access to. Only downside is that the sound quality for speech has always been dodgy on every channel so at freeway speeds in the convertible it is near impossible to hear what the DJs are saying
  • Flight 26 – generic pop station, has been replaced by another generic hit station playing too much Nickelback, Daughtry etc I can’t tell the difference between any of them. I have replaced this channel with Chill.
  • Fred 44 – very sad to see this replaced but I am delighted that the replacement 1st Wave is fantastic. Hardcore fans of Fred certainly won’t like it, but for the very reasons that I do. I liked Fred for the new wave hits and did not like it when it went all punk on me. 1st Wave seems to be overwhelmingly the style that I like, just this morning they played King’s Love and Pride, I haven’t heard that in years.

Time will tell if the “shallow playlist” complaint of the XM nation will hold out, I’ve not listened enough yet to determine how often the same tunes are coming around, but so far I’m pleasantly surprised with the new lineup.

Off Out For a Bit

It’s been a quiet time for MINI related postings here, and that is set to continue as I’m off traveling for a bit. Starting tomorrow I am off to New York city for a few days with Teri. She has never been so we will see the tourist sights as well as visit some of my old haunts from when I lived there.

After that I am back in CA for a few days before going to Europe for a week to visit our London office, and a side trip to Guerrilla Games in Amsterdam to do some work with them. I should get a good look at the upcoming Killzone 2 for PS3 while I am there.

The MINI just turned 68,000 miles and is going strong. A few months before the Inspection 2 so I am sure I will have something to say about that nearer the time. Until then, happy motoring!

Driving Peeve of the Week

I’m driving in the inside lane (good British lane disciplined boy that I am) coming up to an on-ramp where, as usual, the traffic has about 10 yards in which to pull out onto the freeway. It looks like a vehicle is going to get there about the same time as me so I pull out to the avoid the hassle of speeding up or slowing down (people seem to have forgotten they are supposed to yield, not me).

I pull out, he comes over and now we’re side by side. I wait for him to accelerate past but he doesn’t so now I have to drive crazy to get by him (knowing full well that he will also accelerate) or slow the hell down to come in behind him. It’s a nice ‘reward’ for being courteous.

I’m sure most of the time the other driver just isn’t even thinking about the situation, and there are other times when they are just being a jerk, but it winds me up.

XM Radio Irritations

Regular readers will know I’ve been a big fan of XM Radio for a few years now, keeps me in music for my long weekly commute in the areas where all I can pick up is Mariachi music from Mexico. But there’s two problems right now, one I can fix, one I cannot.

  1. My antenna is wired to the CD changer in the boot and, because I didn’t know how to wire it through the panel, the wire comes through the back of the car, between the two front seats and the antenna sits on the dashboard. Nothing metallic there so for the longest time it has been sitting on a mat designed for things not to move. And it has worked great for almost three years but all of a sudden it has no grip at all. The pad moves across the dash in tight corners, which it never did, and the antenna doesn’t grip the pad like it used to. So now it’s flying off into the corner or the floor at all times.
  2. Despite there being oodles of channels, 95% of my listening is to UPop, a channel dedicated to “world pop music” but is largely UK and US pop music. I love it for the UK content. But this week I tuned in and heard 3 Coldplay tunes in a row which made me wonder what was going on. Next I heard a jingle that said it was “30 days of Coldplay” – 30 days of Coldplay?? Even Chris Martin himself once said he was boring to listen after too long, who on earth wants 30 days of it? And the few times I’ve tuned in, I think I’ve only heard about 6 different songs, though of course with Coldplay who can tell the difference between them anyway? So now I need a new channel for a month. So far I have switched to Fred which is a “history of alternative music”. They have good spells – of new wave/80s pop – and bad spells – punk and obscure US bands from the 80s I’ve never heard of. I just hope UPop comes back after this, as I miss my UK pop fix.

Speed Cameras

Every time I go home to England I am surprised by the number of speed cameras on the roads. Pretty much every village has one, and every roadworks seems to have one too. Of course, it’s likely that most of them are fakes but 99.9% of drivers obey them. You can see some crazy fast driving on the motorway and then suddenly there is a camera sign and everyone is driving sanely until they are past it.

Something new this time was “average speed cameras”. The idea here is that there are two cameras and your average speed is computed between the two and you will be fined if that average is above the limit. I saw a couple of these, but really find it hard to believe that they are real. Is there a person reviewing all the images with a sliderule? I really can’t see a computer matching licence plates and speeds.