Archive for March, 2009

Where would we be without mobile phones?

Even though it’s only been around a decade since mobile phone use really exploded, a life without our little friends is already unimaginable. There are now 3 billion mobile phone users worldwide, and a staggering 74 million connections in Britain alone (not bad, considering that’s more than there are people). It’s basically become impossible to picture life without them, whether you’re a BlackBerry addicted commuter, or just want to organise meeting your friends down the pub.

So at Proporta, we thought you might like to know about a lesser known anniversary – the date of the first proper mobile phone conversation. On April 3rd 1973 Martin Cooper, a Motorola researcher and executive, made the first call on a properly portable mobile phone. We don’t know what he said, but as it was to a rival developer at Bell Labs, we’re sure that Mr Cooper was probably pretty pleased with himself. So when April 3rd rolls around this year, you might like to join us in raising a glass to that pioneering moment 36 years ago, and pause to think about what life would be like if it had never happened…

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A Blue Red Nose Day

On Red Nose Day Proporta decided that they would raise money by swearing. In the Proporta office the language that some people use can get a little fruity. Red Nose Day saw a ban on all swear words (after a long discussion deciding what exactly constitutes a swear word and whether swearing in another language counts – it does) and Debbie (our office manager) ensured that anyone caught using bad language would be fined 50p. Quite a few of us have already been caught out (Max within 4 minutes of being in the office, and Graham 30 seconds – see below for how the collection tin looked even before 9am), and others are yet to use a naughty word. Lynnette, Debbie and Mike are strong contenders for the highest donators of the day, but only time will tell…

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…and at the end of the day our foul mouths made £30.49 for charity. Never has swearing been so profitable.

Small Talk

A new iPod shuffle has joined the ever-growing Apple family, and this one can even talk to you. It’s crazily small – half the size of the previous generation – and yet there’s even more room for your tunes. This little fella has 4GB of storage and holds up to 1000 songs, and on top of that, you can also enjoy multiple playlists. The controls are now handily located on the headphone cord, and as we speak, Proporta are cooking up some nifty accessories for this beautiful little device, so watch this space.

And it’s not just all talk – it really does speak to you. The new feature is called “VoiceOver”, and means that with the press of a button this iPod shuffle will tell you the song that is playing and the artist. It also announces the name of your playlists and even tells you when your battery needs charging. In fact, the problem might be getting it to shut up…

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Proporta get ready for Red Nose Day

Friday the 13th of March (hopefully not unlucky this time round) is the date for this year’s Red Nose Day. This is one of the biggest fundraising events in the UK calendar, with the 11 Red Nose Days since 1985 making over £420m for a huge number of vital projects both in Britain and abroad. This Friday will see schools, offices and individuals across the land trying to raise money for charity through all sorts of crazy means. Whether it’s buying a red nose, wearing something wacky to work, or taking a bath in the traditional tub of baked beans, it’s a great day to be involved in and Proporta are going to be doing their part to raise money on the big day.

We haven’t quite decided what we’re doing yet. Lynnette thought about making some cakes to sell (they’re really good – trust us), whilst Amy thinks we should all wear a suit to work (as we’re a dress-down office usually) and bring £1 to donate to charity. Get in touch and let us know what you think we should go for, and how you’re raising money for the big day. Most importantly don’t forget to take part as the money is going to some great causes. For more information on how to get involved check out the Official Red Nose Day Website.

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Plug in baby

March is the month that sees the anniversary of the birth of the world’s first MP3 Player. It’s bizarre to cast your mind back to a time before they existed (for the younger generations at least), and even weirder to think it was only 11 years ago. But the first commercially available personal MP3 player was indeed launched in 1998, and we would never have had the iPod if it wasn’t for the less than snappily titled MPMan F10, manufactured by Korea’s Saehan Information Systems.

The F10 contained 32MB of Flash storage (a tiny amount compared to the thousands of songs and videos the MP3 players of today can hold), and it connected to an old-style parallel port on your PC from which songs could be copied to the player. As you can see it wasn’t as flashy as the MP3 players which we’re used to nowadays, and whilst it might be stretching things to call it a design classic, Mr Jobs and co. certainly owe a lot to the technologies and possibilities first offered by the MPMan back in 1998.

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