The Weekly Round-Up: iPhones, festivals and why downtime is good for the soul

A field full of pheromones awaits...

A field full of pheromones awaits...

If you were wondering where all the hip young things in your office have mysteriously vanished to over the last couple of days, the Round-Up is here to explain.

Chances are they've either been sitting outside their local Apple store waiting for the iPhone 4 to go on sale, or they've headed down to Glastonbury.

Yes, one set of over-excited fans have been camping out, desperate to see their rock'n'roll idol in real life... and the other lot have gone to a music festival.

The iPhone 4 went on sale in the UK this week (for photos of its new operating system, see our story here).

But it hasn't all been smooth sailing for the new iPhone as it seems the new "really cool" antenna system is leaving users with some signal reception issues.

As for the music fans heading down to Somerset for Glastonbury, well, music festivals are not known for being especially high-tech.

In fact, the Glastonbury website rather sweetly warns: "As this is a rural area with a low population, and cows don't have much use for mobiles, the capacity of the normal transmitters may not be up to the thousands who arrive for the festival."

That's fine because, in general, the festivals the Round-Up has been to have been pretty medieval affairs, with long-haired youths in ridiculous outfits living in tents, drinking cider by day and dancing like loons by night.

The unwise will take digital cameras and mobile phones to festivals of course, only to trample them while dancing, drop them into famously horrible festival toilets, or lose them when their entire tent is swept away in the traditional festival downpour.

Your iPhone's oleophobic screen might not have much of a problem with fingerprints but see how it fares against a dunking in festival mud. And if you're tapping away on your netbook at a festival, well you're just not digging the right vibe, baby.

But all of this could change. Mobile phone company Orange commissioned trend forecasters The Future Laboratory to investigate what the future may hold for festivals over the next 40 years.

It predicts that, in the future, smart technologies within clothes will let festival goers know how much their friends are enjoying the festival with fabrics changing as music lovers' pheromones escalate during a band's set. Standing in a field with thousands of people as their pheromones escalate? Not the Round-Up's idea of fun anymore to be honest.

The report also predicts that festival goers will be able to broadcast their feelings via nanotechnologies within the body, which will capture what festival goers see, hear and smell.

The Round-Up thinks this is all very exciting, although maybe not the smell bit: sweat, stale beer and festival plumbing aren't a nice combination whether you are there for real or just enjoying a virtual festival from the comfort of your own living room.



Everything stopped at Silicon Towers on Wednesday afternoon for the England match. But England's techies it seems are not as easily lured away from their servers.

A survey by the IT Job Board found that a mere 14 per cent of IT pros have booked holiday to watch the matches (although a sneaky eight per cent admitted they would call in sick to watch England games).

And nearly two-thirds said they wouldn't be watching any games during working hours, with less than a quarter saying their bosses had put plans in place to enable them to watch key games during working hours.

Alex Farrell, managing director of The IT Job Board, said: "It would be fair to say that a large number of commentators have suggested that - so far - the first round of the World Cup has failed to live up to expectations. It would seem that IT pros agree."

So just in case the England team were feeling weighed down by the expectations of the nation's techies - maybe they can relax just a little, as it looks like the IT crowd isn't watching.



Of course, there are still plenty of ways to slack off in the office if you're not watching the World Cup. And in an idle moment rambling through the internet (or rather, doing important research) the Round-Up was overjoyed to stumble across some information which backs up what it always knew, deep down.

It seems the worker "reclaims" up to one hour per day of their working day for themselves, spending time surfing the internet, or playing games on their PC or on a mobile device.

But here's the good bit: the research by games developer PopCap Games quotes an academic who states that workers are instinctively taking time off to slow down and let the body and mind rejuvenate.

"Studies have shown that people's performance increases and physical and mental problems are decreased saving employers a lot of money as a result of micro breaks. Ironically, however, most employers do not support these mini breaks," he says.

So by slacking off you are actually saving the boss money. You might even deserve a promotion for all that laziness (or at least an extra day off).

The Round-Up would suggest next time you get caught by the boss playing, ahem, Pac-Man, you might want to have the last couple of paragraphs printed out and ready to hand.

Especially if you live in Cardiff and Glasgow, where workers are most likely to take a little bit of "me-time" during office hours.

In contrast the productivity powerhouses in Norwich and Plymouth are least likely to enjoy some downtime, and are probably so keen they haven't even made it this far down the Round-Up anyway...



And finally - everybody's favourite IT sitcom (OK, the only IT sitcom now the previous government's hilarious ID card project has come to an end) The IT Crowd, returns for a fourth series tonight on Channel 4.

silicon.com interviewed its creator and all-round nice guy Graham Linehan this week. Among the gems is this explanation by Graham of the idea behind the show.

"The whole idea kicked off from when I was expecting this IT guy to come to my home and my wife answered the door to him, and rather than saying 'hello', he said to her: 'You're not Graham'.

"Later on I asked him: 'Why aren't there more guys who do a door-to-door IT service?' and he said: 'They don't have the people skills'. That really made me laugh and I thought there's really something there…"

That's all for this week and, as ever, check out the excellent links below. Don't forget, a little bit of downtime is good for the soul.

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