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January 29th, 2009

Meet Crunchie!

Meet Crunchie!


Allow us to introduce the newest member of the Prompt team, our office dog Crunchie (aptly named after the credit crunch).

Crunchie is a 9 week old, Highland Terrier. After only being at the Barley Mow Centre for a week, young Crunchie already has her likes and dislikes:

Likes:
Sleeping on Duncan’s laptop bag
Visiting the neighbours /saying hello to new people
Climbing on the sofas then jumping off
Hanging out with the PR team (we think this may be due to the amount of food/treats in the area)

Dislikes:
Staying still for too long
Her de-worming medicine
Being ignored when people are in the meeting room

Next time you are in the area say hello to Crunchie!

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January 28th, 2009

Best. Wedding. Ever.

Best. Wedding. Ever.

As a huge geek, I’ve always been fascinated by the extremes of other geeks. Whether it’s modding game consoles, etching entire Super Mario games in the cases of netbooks, or getting tattoos of Zunes, true geekdom is achieved only through complete devotion to one’s subject matter.

Video games even condition our minds on how to behave in real life, according to an article in the New Scientist today. And so it’s no surprise that people develop real bonds through games, including occasionally falling in love with a gaming partner.

I had read about a case before where a guy that played Halo with his girlfriend designed a custom map for the two of them. He told her they were only going to play a two-on-two match against friends, but when he brought her to an area where he had said he placed the energy sword, she came across a very different arrangement of weapons:

She said yes, and that couple are engaged and living together at the moment.

Now, this week I came across an article about the craziest gamer wedding ever. A couple who met while playing Halo were married in a ceremony at a video game expo in Orlando. That sounds pretty normal, although how they met was a little quirky, right?

Well, that’s not all. They had a Halo-themed wedding. The priest who married them was dressed up as Master Chief, the game’s protagonist. They were each wearing their game emblems, his on the tie and her embroidered on the arms of her dress. Shock troopers flanked the stage and an orchestra played the theme music throughout. The ceremony was closed with the priest pronouncing them “teammates for life.”

Right now, I think that is the best wedding ever. However, I’ll be waiting to really judge until after the first couple’s wedding, to see if they can make it any geekier. With any luck, maybe both couples will have to play a two-on-two Team Slayer to settle it.

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January 27th, 2009

Barros Technologies appoints Prompt Communications to lead international launch

Barros Technologies appoints Prompt Communications to lead international launch

– Innovative European mobile and internet collaboration software developer to utilise Prompt’s communications expertise for UK and US launch –

London, UK and Boston, MA – 27 January 2009 – Barros Technologies, a specialist in software and services to enable mobile and collaborative working independent of technology platform and device, has appointed Prompt Communications to launch its AlicantOS mobile operating system in the UK and US.

A team of consultants, working across Prompt’s offices in London, UK and Boston, USA, will work with Barros to design and execute a sustained communications campaign to target key business influencers including journalists, bloggers and industry analysts on both sides of the Atlantic.

London, UK headquartered Barros Technologies develops next-generation business internet and mobile technologies that enable organisations and individuals to benefit from the accessibility and flexibility of internet and mobile environments. Barros will utlise media and analyst relations to generate brand awareness and ultimately drive the expansion of mobile computing to benefit businesses and end users.

Prompt will work with Barros to develop a strong news programme that will reflect the company’s vision and contribution to the development of effective mobile working, collaboration and data sharing and software developments for internet devices and platforms such as the iPhone, Google’s Android, smartphones and other mobile hardware.

John Caine, executive chairman of Barros Technologies said: “We decided to appoint Prompt Communications as it offers us the opportunity of working with one, integrated agency that will ensure that we have consistent and co-ordinated campaigns across the North American and European regions. Prompt’s knowledge of mobile operating systems, its proven telecoms’ experience and agency transparency, made them the logical choice. We look forward to working with Prompt as we continue to build the Barros brand globally.”

Hazel Butters, CEO of Prompt Communications said: “Barros has the combination of innovation, financial backing and execution to make a splash in the market and is a compelling offering that helps businesses to take advantage of the benefits of mobile collaboration. This is a fantastic opportunity to work with a company that understands the changing nature of collaborative business environments and the fundamental impact of technology on how individuals connect and share information.”

About Barros Technologies

Barros Technologies provides software and services that enable mobile and collaborative working, independent of platform and device.

The company has two business divisions. The first is focused on delivering enterprise internet and mobile software and consultancy, and the second is a consumer division, which develops mobile internet applications for popular collaborative environments including Google’s Android, the BlackBerry RIM, Apple’s iPhone and Symbian smartphones.

The company’s flagship product, AlicantOS, is a virtual computing environment and operating system that allows business users to access data through any device, regardless of vendor and operating system. A mobile operating system, AlicantOS MIOS, provides developers with a virtual cross-platform, device agnostic development environment so applications can be developed to run automatically across all major mobile devices.

The AlicantOS concept was first developed some five years ago in Portugal by Luis Barros, helped by a small team of programmers. In 2006 Luis moved to London to seek investment capital for the project, and Barros Technologies Limited was launched in February 2008 by Luis Barros, John Caine and Martin Tempia..Barros Technologies Limited is privately funded and headquartered in London.

More information is available at www.barrostechnologies.com

About Prompt Communications

Founded in January 2002, Prompt Communications is a communications agency with European offices in Chiswick, London and US offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Prompt Communications offers expertise across all marketing disciplines, teaming its consultants’ extensive knowledge of the technology market with experience of pan-European and American media, analyst and marketing campaigns. Using highly targeted marketing, PR, social media and corporate copywriting initiatives, Prompt helps its clients gain the visibility they need to achieve their business objectives, from increasing sales to enhancing reputation with stakeholders. The company has four business divisions: PR, Copywriting & Creative; Marketing Services and Social Media.

Prompt’s clients include Adobe, Aperture Technologies, Concursive, Exist Global, Foviance, Formjet plc, GenSight Group, Openbravo, Oracle Corporation, MIT Mobile Experience Lab, smartFOCUS, SNIF Labs, Steganos GmbH and Webtide.

For more information, visit www.prompt-communications.com

For more information or interviews please contact:
Press contacts:
Melanie Hesketh/Laura Beynon
Prompt Communications
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8996 1650
barros@prompt-communications.com

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January 21st, 2009

US Presidential Election Makes History

US Presidential Election Makes History

President Barack H. Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama

History was made yesterday when President Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America. The question for many wasn’t if they were going to watch the inaugural speech but more a matter of where and how they were going to watch?

With media coverage peaking at an all time high for an inaugural event, millions were watching. CNN.com Live broke its all time daily streaming record from Election Day. The nation had a front row seat to catch the historical festivities right in front of their own lap top or down on the Lincoln Mall in Washington, D.C. where it flooded with masses from around the country to celebrate this momentous occasion. Monday, while the country celebrated the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his hopes and dreams from 46 years ago, yesterday they watched his dream become a reality for President Obama.

Facebook, Twitter, Flickr reached peaks all time peaks yesterday during this historical event. The world came together,on and offline, to share this historical day. Although the nation was buzzing online, I believe, yesterday, for a moment in time, while he was addressing the nation, time stood still.

The Wall Street Journal highlights poignant lines from some of the best Presidential speeches that spoke to the country during difficult times. Like other remarkable past Presidents, Obama’s words allowed us to reflect on our country’s history, the recent past issues the country and world have faced, our current financial crisis and the road ahead we will all have to endure together in order to succeed.

Yesterday, we will not only remember the history we witnessed but also how we had the ability to share our emotions with the world, online for the first time for an event of this magnitude and importance, as we all watched in awe together.

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January 15th, 2009

"Google it" or don't?

"Google it" or don't?

http://www.google.comA story based loosely on the findings of a survey conducted by Harvard physicist, Alex Wissner-Gross had Google up in arms this week. The recent bout of negative press stemmed from Harvard research results that claim Web searches emit between 7g and 10g of CO2 with each query and attributed the stats directly to Google.

The hoopla is based around the idea that queries using the all-knowing Google search engine pump each request out to multiple servers, often to several competing against each other with thousands of miles between them, thereby raising energy consumption and the emission of CO2.

Wissner-Gross’ findings say that 0.002g of CO2 can be attributed to browsing your average website for every second it is viewed while sites with “complex video” emit even higher levels in the neighbourhood of 0.2g per second.

Google responded with the notion that if the carbon cost of a single Google search counteracts the expense for the reliance on trips in the car, pulp and paper, then we’re looking at this from the wrong angle. Additionally, they make a solid case that the study’s findings are “many times too high.” Even better, TechNewsWorld let Wissner-Gross defend his work and revealed that his study mentioned nothing of Google. He set the record straight stating that his research focuses exclusively on the Web overall and denied having any idea where the kettle statistic came from.

The article implied the study’s statistics compared the estimated 7g CO2 emission from a Web search to that of boiling a kettle full of water at 12g. I don’t know about you, but I can say confidently that the ROI of my average Web search is much higher than that of making a cup of tea. If I’m made to choose, I’ll stick with Google.

Don’t believe this? Go ahead. Google it.

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January 13th, 2009

The End of Mobile Innocence

The End of Mobile Innocence

Over the last week or so I have had some very interesting commutes. All involved very loud, public mobile conversations that should have been a little more discreet. The young girl in sobs of tears as her boyfriend was dumping her. The guy reeling off his bank details, date of birth, address and inside leg measurement. And the third – that shall remain private – though feel free to contact me if you want the juicy details.

So how did any of us cope before iPhone, Blackberry and Storm all became such a day to day part of our lives? Flashback to the early 1990s (more years than I care to admit) and I remember getting my first mobile phone. A Nokia, that really was like a brick. It had an aerial that was bigger than the size of today’s phones and charging had to be planned in advance because it took all day. The thing that amazes me the most (as a self confessed text addict) is it took years before I realised you could actually send a text. Mind you even if I had figured it out a bit earlier, I didn’t know anyone with a mobile that I could text. Cue the violins…

How times have changed since those early years of mobile innocence. Now, the mobile phone is not just part of life – it is a way of life. They have become absolutely indispensable for most. And it isn’t just the applications or functionality. Mobiles are now fashion accessories, status symbols amongst the young (and not so young come to think of it). If you are in any doubt over the impact they have had, consider this:

1. About seven billion texts are sent every day.

2. There are estimated 2.5 billion mobile phone handsets worldwide.

3. In the UK, there are more mobile devices than there are people.

4. 13 percent of UK households have a mobile phone instead of a landline.

5. There are 95 mobile phones for every 6 people in Europe.

6. 90 percent of under 16s in the UK own a mobile phone and one in ten spends more than 45 minutes using one everyday.

Impressive stats. But if I cast my mind back to that very first mobile all those years ago and a conversation I had with my father, he told me I had wasted my money and that it would never catch on. He now denies the comment.

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January 6th, 2009

Game addiction to blame for University drop-outs?

Game addiction to blame for University drop-outs?

There was a time when being a student meant poring over textbooks, partying with pals, and staying in bed till four in the afternoon. But now, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), more and more US students are dropping out of University as a result of game addiction – specifically addiction to World of Warcraft.

Yes, it seems that kids these days would rather explore the virtual land of Azeroth than their usual student activities. They probably still stay in bed till four in the afternoon though.

So should we all be worried? According to Vince Repesh, a student adviser at the University of Minnesota Duluth, the answer is a categorical ‘yes’.

“If somebody has a chemical problem, you usually see side-effects from it,” says Repesh. “But you can’t tell for a long time if someone is just sitting in front of a computer. I have seen straight-A students who go to Fs because they think World of Warcraft is more important.” Employers are wary of the game too. Recently, a recruiter for media companies revealed that he had been asked to avoid World of Warcraft players because they “cannot give 100% because their focus is elsewhere [and] their sleeping patterns are often not great”.

IMPORTANT NOTE TO MY EMPLOYER: I do not play World of Warcraft.

Phew.

Of course, this is not the first time that game addiction has hit the headlines. In 2002, 21-year old Shawn Wooley committed suicide, reportedly over a traumatic experience in Everquest, a game he was said to be completely addicted to. In another tragic case, a Chinese gamer murdered another player over the loss of a sword in Legend of Mir 2.

Gaming can be addictive, of this there is no question – I’m sure if I added up all the time I’ve spent in front of a TV clutching a controller it would be a rather discomforting figure. Not that I would add up the hours as that would take valuable time I could be using to play games.

Joking aside (sorta), I can’t help but think the FCC and Repesh are being somewhat over-zealous in their criticism of games. I’ve seen no evidence to support their claims that “one of the top reasons for college drop-outs in the US is online gaming addiction”. The vast majority of gamers are able to prioritise the important things in their life, and press the off switch on their PCs or consoles. The cases I’ve mentioned, tragic though they are, are isolated incidents. The game may have been the catalyst for the tragedy, but there must be more to it than that. It would be interesting to see a study into game addiction to get an idea of how real a problem this is.

So, is game addiction a real, psychological problem? Should it be treated as a medical condition like alcohol or drug abuse? Lay down your thoughts in the comments below.

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