The end of time? GMT under threat

Did 2008 seem like a long year to you? Well, technically it was – one second longer in fact.

Today, we use atomic clocks to provide an accurate measurement of time, but the clocks are so accurate that they’re more reliable than the rotation of the earth – the traditional measurement we use for hours, minutes and seconds.

To correct this mis-match, every year or so, a leap-second is added, and one such leap second was added on the 31st of December 2008. This has been done since 1972.

As so many devices rely on precise timekeeping and atomic clocks, there’s some work involved in compensating for these leap-seconds. So – a group within the International Telecommunications Union is planning to abolish the leap-second, instead having a leap-hour every 600 years.

Seems logical? Yes indeed – however…

Save GMT! LogoThis change will effectively end the bond between timekeeping and the sun – meaning that we’d no longer be able to gauge time from the position of the sun and the stars – sundials would get increasingly inaccurate, and there’d be problems for astronomers.

The biggie for those of us in the UK, would that GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) would start to drift, and London would lose its status as the centre of the world’s timezone, as GMT would be replaced by UTC (Universal Time).

There’s a vote on the future of the leap-second, and GMT, in 2011. If you want GMT to stay, sign the petition at

Time’s up for GMT

Save GMT! LogoWe’re on the final day of the year 2008, and it’ll be a long day!

Since 1972, a “leap second” has been added, to correct differences between the atomic clock and the earth’s rotation, with one planned for 31st December 2008.

In 2011, the International Telecommunications Union plan to vote on abolishing the leap second. Instead, there’d be a leap-hour every 600 years.

The practical upshot is that the time we use would be UTC, not GMT, and it will become increasingly difficult to tell the time from the position of the sun and the stars. GMT would lose its status as a timezone.

Want to keep GMT? Sign the petition at

Forget HD, the future’s 3D

3D TV logoNow you’ve got an HD TV… what’s next? Well, it could be 3D.

You may remember the various experiements with three dimensional TV transmissions. Now, Sky’s looking seriously into providing a 3D TV service. They’ve recently demonstrated a test of 3D TV using an exitsing Sky+ HD box. The service has to be connected to a special 3D TV set. The screen needs a polarising filter, are you’re still required to wear a set of special viewing glasses.

Japan’s already running with 3D TV – just 2 hours a day, but it’s a start, and it’s believed that 3D TV sets will be debuted at Consumer Electronic Show in January 2009.

FrequencyCast update 21 December

The third of our December trials of a weekly podcast has just escaped from the studios.

Carl’s almost back on form, and Pete runs through some Virgin Broadband, BBC DAB and movies news, plus the bit where we read your emails, in our “Bit where we read your emails” section.

Download from our FrequencyCast Latest page

Share, enjoy, and rate us on iTunes

Local Radio Heart Rebrand starts in January

Heart 103 logoAs reported recently, Global Radio is planning to scrap a bunch of local radio station names, replacing them with the generic “Heart” brand.

Phase 1 of the re-brand kicks in at the start of January. The following nine stations will be “Heart” by Monday 5th January 2009:

Chiltern FM, Bedford – Heart 96.9
Chiltern FM, Dunstable – Heart 97.6
Hereward FM, Peterborough – Heart 102.7
Horizon Radio, Milton Keynes – Heart 103.3
Northants 96 – Heart 96.6
Radio Broadland, Norfolk – Heart 102.4
SGR FM, Suffolk – Heart 97.1 & 96.4
SGR Colchester – Heart 96.1
Q103, Cambridge – Heart 103


Facebook Phone – Audio Review of the INQ1 online

As part of our promise to get a new Tech podcast out each week in December – here’s this week’s show – covering a new handset release.

INQ1 Facebook PhoneCarl (suffering from a bout of scurvy), sits in a studio with Pete and looks closely at the new INQ1 phone from 3, better known as The Facebook Phone.

Slick integration of Contacts, Instant Messaging and Social Networking, this is a surprisingly powerful little phone. Listen to our 9 minute audio review of this low-priced, high-spec phone.

More details on our INQ Review page.

The INQ1 is available free on a contract, or £79.95 on Pay-as-you-go at

BBC to give DAB a hand

As we’ve covered in recent podcasts, all is not well with DAB in the UK – specifically with commercial radio stations on DAB.

The commercial national multiplex, owned by Digital One, is sounding decidely empty since the departure of the GCap stations, and with Channel 4’s decision not to launch the Channel 4 Radio stations… the multiplex is half-empty.

To help out the struggling multiplex, it looks like the BBC is considering lending a hand. The Beeb is considering shifting some of its digital channels to the commercial multiplex – this would allow space for more BBC channels, or to allow improvements to the quality of BBC stations, which are running on a low bitrate.

Good to see the BBC pushing on with DAB – just a shame that commercial radio can’t make a go of DAB

Pirate Radio Rocks The Big Screen

Rock and Roll on May 2009… there’s a Britcom about Pirate Radio coming soon.

“The Boat That Rocked” is a comedy film based on a 1960’s pirate radio station ship moored off the UK coast.

The film’s from the makers of Four Weddings, Notting Hill and Love Actually, with an all-star cast, and if the trailer’s anything to go by, this could be a top film. The radio station’s called Radio Rock, and is a clear hat-doff to Radio Caroline and the good ships Ross Revenge and Mi Amigo.

You’ll find the FrequencyCast boys in the front row at a cinemaplex near you in May 2009. While you’re waiting, check out the movie preview…

FrequencyCast update 07 December

As an experiment for December, we’re aiming to release a weekly show.

Here’s the first – three news stories and a couple of letters.

Pete and Carl have some unofficial fun in this 10 minute audio update.

Facebook phone now available

INQ1 Facebook PhoneWe mentioned the INQ1 Facebook phone in Show 34, but this phone is now available, and well worth a look.

If you’re into your social networking, as we know many of you are, then the INQ could be what you’re looking for – this phone links your phone’s address book, Skype account, facebook account, Windows Live Messenger and your Last FM music together, so you can keep track of your friends.

Unlike the iPhone, this is a low-cost Internet-enabled device… under £80 on PAYG, or £15 a month on contract with unlimited Internet access.

The INQ1 is available now direct from, and we’ll be reviewing this in an upcoming show.

More on our INQ Facebook page

50 Years of STD

Who’d believe that it’s 50 years since the first national direct dial phone call was made. Prior to December 1958, if you wanted to call long distance in the UK, you’d have to go through an operator – and to get the billing right, the operator would write down your details in longhand. The Queen made that first historic call from Bristol to Edinburgh in 1958, and there’s a video clip on the BBC website

Sky offers online subscription service

Want to watch Sky but don’t want a dish? Sky has just launched “Sky Player TV”. This is a subscription service that lets you get access to some of Sky’s live channels plus on-demand content from a computer without needing a satellite dish.

Channels include Sky News, Disney, Eurosport and the Sky Sports channels. More channels will be added soon. Sadly, no Sky 1 as yet though. The service is free to existing Sky customers with Mutiroom, or Broadband Max, otherwise packages are from £15 a month.

The new Sky Player TV service uses Microsoft’s Silverlight, and runs on both PC and Mac.

Details at

FrequencyCast UK Podcast Show 34 released

Show 34 of FrequencyCast, the UK’s TV and Tech podcast, has just been released.

In our regular online radio show, we discuss all that’s new with digital TV. Here’s what we cover in this show:

  • News Updates: ITV joins BT Vision, phones for a fiver, new channels, and the imminent Facebook phone.
  • Focus: A round-up of today’s digital recorders, plus some new Denon headphones.
  • Your Questions and comments on Freeview HD, PVRs and Slingbox.

You can download Show 34 direct to your MP3 player or listen online at If you have an iPod or iPhone, get shows faster by signing up via iTunes.

Mobile Phone Watch review

Mobile Phone Watch from DyalPictured to the right is the SWAP Mobile Phone Watch, from Dyal. We got our hands on one of these in early November, and now our Carl is wearing one with pride.

If you heard Show 33 of our podcast, you’ll know that this watch contains a mobile phone and a 1.3Meg still and video camera. It has Bluetooth, MP3 music player and a video player.

Since our audio review, we’ve had a stack of questions about the watch, so we’ve created a page dedicated to the SWAP watch, and to answer your questions. You can see our review, Carl’s comments, an FAQ and some screenshots on our SWAP Watch page.

The SWAP is supplied SIM-free, and works with the major UK mobile phone networks, except 3. It’s available from I want one of those (Want 5% off? Use code AOFF5 at checkout!).

Ooops – Sky’s EPG confused

Every now and then, you see something to put a smile on your face. Our podcast producer has a small child in the family, so their home’s Sky+ box is full of a mixture of kid’s and grown-ups content. Imagine, as they say, our surprise, when the on-screen guide for Five’s “Make Way for Noddy” morning kids cartoon, had this caption…

Skys EPG gets confused

Sky's EPG gets confused

Noddy – contains strong language and violence… A case of “Stay Away from Noddy?

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