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Social Media finally allowed in the House of Commons

It is notoriously slow to modernise – the House of Commons is, after all, far too small to actually allow all of the elected MPs to sit in the chamber at once, but tradition takes priority over practicality meaning that MPs continue to use the current adversarial debating chamber in the Palace of Westminster rather than move to new, modern premises which could actually accommodate all of the representatives we elect to speak on our behalf.

It therefore may come as something of a surprise to learn that MPs voted last week to actually allow social media to be used in the House. MPs can now sit on the green benches and tweet about proceedings as well as receive tweets. Devolved government chambers across the rest of the UK have built in PCs in the desks for representatives as well as specific seats for individuals, but the Deputy Speaker in the Commons had previously announced that Twitter was banned in Parliament.

MPs agreed with a motion put forward by the Commons Procedure Committee to allow the use of electronic devices “provided that they are silent, and used in a way that does not impair decorum”. They also agreed that MPs can use such devices to refer to rather than paper notes when making speeches, and can use laptops in select committee meetings.

Some MPs argued that using social media in Parliament would mean that MPs could be influenced by people outside of the House of Commons, and could be helped by advisers and others as to what questions to ask. However, other MPs argued that it would allow MPs to get on with other work whilst waiting to speak, meaning that more MPs were likely to attend debates. Rising star on the government benches, Claire Perry, said that “Tweeting helps MPs to stay informed, in touch and accountable to their constituents and to ban this would be an inexplicable step back in time”. Meanwhile Shadow Deputy Leader of the House Angela Smith said that to pretend the world had not changed “would be to deny reality and to deny the dynamic relationship that now exists between Parliament and the world outside”.
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Bugs in Facebook app for iPad

Social media site Facebook launched its long awaited app for the iPad yesterday, but within hours it was generating headlines for the wrong reasons. Reports soon came through thick and fast of a number of bugs in the app which Facebook had failed to spot before launching the app. Whilst Facebook will undoubtedly be trying to fix these bugs as soon as possible, it didn't go down well with users who already felt that they had had to wait far too long for the app.
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Second Blackberry problem in two days

There were hugely embarrassing headlines for Blackberry yesterday after a second crash in two days. Following the crash on Monday across the UK, Middle East and Africa that we reported here, Blackberry owner RIM announced that the problem was fixed and that Blackberry was operating normally. Hours later however the same problem occurred, but spread further afield to include India and South America. Once again Blackberry owners could make phone calls, but not access the internet.

RIM has been leaking customers to Apple, so these embarrassing headlines are only going to make their problems worse.

According to RIM "The messaging and browsing delays... in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, Brazil, Chile and Argentina were caused by a core switch failure within RIM's infrastructure. Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested. As a result, a large backlog of data was generated and we are now working to clear that backlog and restore normal service as quickly as possible."
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Blackberry crashes across Europe, Africa and the Middle East

A server crash in Slough has meant that millions of people across Europe, the Middle East and Africa are unable to use their Blackberries. The server crash has meant that Blackberry users are unable to send messages, emails or browse the internet.

In a statement, Blackberry said that it was "working to resolve an issue currently impacting some Blackberry subscribers in Europe Middle East and Africa."

A week ago today, BT suffered a huge broadband failure across the UK, with a power failure at an exchange in Birmingham meaning that BT Broadband customers across the UK were without broadband internet for a few hours. BT said that only around 5% of its total customers were affected by the outage, although most were believed to be businesses.
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Steve Jobs

Like everyone else around the world, DBS was immensely saddened to learn of the death last week of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, at the age of 56.

‘It hasn’t just been the communications and telecommunications industry that has been affected by the death of Steve Jobs” said David Clarke, Director of DBS. “His passing seems to have reached out and touched a huge number of people who have grown up with his products, with Apple Computers, the iMac, iPhone and iPad. As President Obama said on Twitter “There may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented”. He also owned Pixar, the company that made Toy Story and Finding Nemo as well as many other blockbuster films. So Steve Jobs’ products have really had a huge impact on the world and changed the way we do things in a very short period of time. People who have perhaps until now taken these revolutionary products for granted have suddenly realised with the death of the man who created them just what an impact they and he has had on their lives”.

The world awoke to the news of Mr Jobs’ death on Thursday 6th October when it made all the headlines, and it wasn’t long before fans were paying their respects by leaving apples with bites taken out of them outside Apple stores around the world. World leaders, including Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev, were quick to pay their respects to Steve Jobs, as was Bill Gates of Microsoft and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. One tribute on Twitter went something along the lines of “three apples have changed the world. Adam & Eve’s apple, Isaac Newton’s apple and Steve Jobs’ Apple”.

Jobs co-founded Apple with Steve Wozniak in the 1970s, and stood down as the CEO of Apple in August due to ill health. He once said that “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new”. That perhaps summed up his approach to technology and communications best, although the BBC’s technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones also captured his great talent neatly when he said “he inspired emotion about functional products by making them beautiful”.

Steve Jobs 1955-2011
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