An actual elephant in the room [S11E01]

Ben, Ewan and Rafe are back with season 11 and this week they discuss their travel during the break, including experiences of mobile in the US, Africa and China. They also introduce this season’s challenge: a competition to create the smartest home.

Ben: Hello and welcome to 361 a weekly podcast about mobile tech and everything around it. My name is Ben Smith.

Rafe: I'm Rafe Blandford.

Ewan: I'm Ewan MacLeod.

Ben: This is season 11 episode 1 and this week we're talking about ...

Rafe: Mobile travels from Beijing to Dar Es Salaam.

Ewan: We're introducing this season's challenge, a competition to create the smartest home.

Ben: Welcome back chaps good to see you.

Ewan: Whoo hoo.

Ewan: We are back.

Ben: Yeah for our 11th season. Ready to roll.Slightly longer of a break than usual I say that at the beginning of every season and it's always something [crosstalk 00:00:58].

Ewan: It's par for the course, wasn't it?

Rafe: Just two years away from being teenagers.

Ben: That's true it has been a little while but it's good to see you again.

Ewan: Likewise.

Ben: It's nice to be back always our host DigitasLBi, thank you very much for their support. We're back recording in their glamorous facilities. What did you do in the holidays?

Ewan: It was a lovely time we to went to the beach.

Ben: Stand at the front and tell us.

Ewan: I got this kite.

Ben: You got a kite?

Ewan: No I'm just saying ... I'm trying to think of school.

Ben: Fair enough.

Ewan: We've been traveling. All of us have touched different corners of the globe.

Rafe: Three continents.

Ewan: We have that's right.

Ben: Four probably if you count Europe.

Ewan: You should count Europe.

Ben: Yeah.

Rafe: Yeah.

Ewan: So where have you been?

Ben: I went to America. Where have you go?

Ewan: I was in China darling.

Rafe: I went to Africa.

Ben: Any other excitement whilst we've been away?

Rafe: I've moved house.

Ben: Moved house?

Rafe: Yes.

Ben: Blimey you sold up the Blandford Estate?

Rafe: Well, as I have perhaps suggested a few times, the Blandford Estate is more in your minds than in reality.

Ewan: He says that and then shows you the picture of the flooding, "That's a lake". Yes, "That's the lake."

Rafe: I know the Blandford Estate is of course occupied by my parents. I merely visit it.

Ben: Now we've come to the truth. The Blandford Estate is probably in trust. It's inherited and therefore can't be disposed of.

Ewan: Who are you in Downtown Abbey then? You're the guy ...

Ben: Don't ask him to comment on shows on commercial television and adverts.

Rafe: I'm the bloke that died on the Titanic.

Ben: Rafe, you heard it here first. Rafe Blandford is Leonardo DiCaprio.

Ewan: "I'll never let you go."

Ben: Very, very well disguised, sorry Rafe. So you've moved house ...

Ewan: Congratulations.

Ben: So you have a pied-à-terre.

Ewan: He's got a London house, a town house in London

Rafe: Yes, in E1. That's glamorous when I say it, it's in Shadwell but it's very nice.

Ewan: You say that but ...

Ben: I'm very pleased.

Ewan: The size of it.

Ben: Actually there are people redrawing those pictures of the London skyline now so they can plot Rafe's house in. There's the Tower of London, The Shard.

Ewan: He's gone into the basement. Did you hear that? He's put a pool in the basement, well are you getting a pool in?

Ben: A pool in the basement.

Ewan: Are you actually doing that?

Rafe: It's on the second floor.

Ben: That's going to be upsetting for your downstairs neighbors if you have a basement pool isn't it?

Ewan: Do you have a concierge?

Rafe: No.

Ewan: Have you really come on?

Rafe: No.

Ewan: I don't believe you just walking into some door.

Ben: I know the story. Sorry, we were talking about this earlier and I've just remembered the story. So I read a thing in the papers the other week about in West London because people can't move home because of house prices are so high, they dig out underneath their homes and make massive basements.

Rafe: That's right.

Ben: They're huge. Almost the size ...

Ewan: And cinema rooms.

Ben: And cinema rooms and things but when they've dug out those basements they use those little, mini diggers to do it but it's so deep, it's too expensive to bring the digger out so they just bury it under the ground. All these houses have these tiny, little, mini diggers.

Ewan: I just presume that's what Blandford would be doing.

Ben: They say. Yeah I just presumed you were moving into the Shard. That they constructed it specifically for you.

Ewan: Top floor.

Ben: Now it's ready for residential occupation, you've moved in.

Ewan: Have you the whole second floor or just ...

Rafe: That was too long to walk to work.

Ben: That's true actually. The riff-raff in the Mandarin Oriental would have completely ruined the ambiance as well wouldn't they? Okay, Ewan MacLeod, anything exciting?

Ewan: I don't know. Move on.

Ben: Okay.

Ewan: Just work so carry on.

Ben: Just work.

Ewan: Yeah.

Ben: Fair enough.

Rafe: How about you Ben?

Ben: My little boy is starting crawling around since we had the last season so many, many of my wires are now slightly more chewed. I don't quite understand why he chews [crosstalk 00:04:05].

Rafe: It's a different stage now. It's really exciting but you can now say goodbye to relaxing.

Ben: I don't generally indoors buzzfeed because I don't think it's a thing worth even endorsement but I did get a witty article sent to me by a friend during the week that said, "What babies really want for Christmas" and it was a sort of buzzfeed list. Item one was "All of your wires" and item two was, "That phone and your glasses."

Ewan: That's true.

Rafe: I think you probably deal with your stress in a different way than chewing your wires.

Ben: No this is true I have tried to discourage him from that. He's absolutely fixated on them.

Rafe: Oh, it's he that's chewing them, not you? I thought it was you that was chewing the wires ...

Ben: No, no I just sit in the corner and drink myself into a stupor.

Ewan: So are you more tired than normal then?

Ben: We're weary but he's in good form. He's a very happy little chap which is nice but he's very mobile now and he has teeth so yes, it's been a fun time.

Ewan: So you need to fast forward now for two and half years then you can leave him to ...

Ben: Exactly. Anyways enough personal stuff. Let's talk about since we were away, we've all been traveling we thought, "Well that is a thing that we should talk about." Ewan MacLeod, let's talk about you first. You went to China?

Ewan: I went to Beijing. I was speaking at Connections Luxury which is the series of events where I do a talk about technology.

Ben: If memory serves on the few that I've attended, you've normally just spent the time telling the punters mostly that their views are wrong about technology.

Ewan: Well, yeah to be fair that's the model, they actually asked me to be as ...

Rafe: It's like listening to the podcasts then.

Ben: Ewan MacLeod available for hire, we'll tell you our role.

Ewan: Usually the request is, "Can you be as abrasive as possible." We really challenge these ...

Ben: Fortunately that's of course [inaudible 00:05:35] for a CV isn't it?

Ewan: This is luxury industry people and in the hotels and airlines and my job was to go along and talk about the technology. What I see changing that would be relevant to them.

Rafe: When they question you do you scream apologist at them?

Ewan: No, no.

Ben: He saves that for you Rafe.

Rafe: Oh it's nice to know.

Ben: Don't you feel special?

Rafe: I do, I do.

Ben: Season nine I think that was, was that the apologist episode, yeah.

Rafe: It's seared into my memory.

Ewan: Worth a listen if you haven't. I was there for the week actually, in Beijing.

Ben: First of all, what did you say to them about mobile tech? What kind of things were you suggesting?

Ewan: Well it's a part of what I've got to do is a little bit of future gazing and just challenge their mindset so I was talking about injectables instead of wearables.

Ben: Injectables?

Ewan: Yeah because what they were looking at ...

Ben: Is that a thing?

Ewan: Yeah.

Ben: It is.

Ewan: Oh yeah, yeah it is a thing yeah because this industry is focused on making sure that the experience for high end luxury is as seamless as possible.

Ben: Yeah.

Ewan: When I stand up and say, "You say you're luxury but I have to do a mathematics test every time I want to get some laundry done" and you watch the whole room slapping their foreheads going, "Oh, he's got a point."

Ben: You mean you have to add up how many socks you want washed?

Ewan: Exactly right and I did that recently at a luxury hotel, it's 500 euro a night I should point out right? They sent me the form back with my laundry cleaned but the form came back correcting my mathematics because I'd got it wrong. Now, when I put that up on screen and showed these guys because that's not necessarily a technology view but what I was talking about was, "Listen, you need to think about the technology experience or the experience that can be fixed with technology."

Ben: Ewan, now you see I can solve that problem for you as well.

Ewan: Hmm mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben: If you stay in a Travel Lodge for £60 a night and no one will give a monkey's about your underwear.

Ewan: Okay I was in Beijing because that was fascinating because I went in 2012.

Ben: Yeah so tell us about mobile in Beijing because actually I was there in 2008 so I'm really interested to hear how it's changed.

Ewan: Right in 2008 I remembered, let's hear your view in a moment because in 2012 I went and did a similar speech and really I was talking to them about stuff they didn't really know about. I was saying, "These smartphones" and "This is really cool, there's apps and things." I could see most of them, the audience going, "Oh, well all right." I was having to educate them but I knew three years on that was absolutely the wrong thing to be doing in China now because it's completely changed. So, in 2012 I was lucky if I saw what you would term as a smartphone a Nokia or around thing like that. It was really dumb phone city. Everyone had their phone but they had dumb phones.

Ben: N95's you know?

Ewan: Oh, don't say that Blandford will ...

Ben: Lumia's.

Ewan: Rip an arm off.

Ben: He's not rising to the challenge at the moment.

Ewan: He's being silent. Now, this time I took a ride in a rickshaw, one of those kind of things that you have pedals.

Ben: I know what a rickshaw is. I've seen them.

Ewan: Very nice. Part of the deal was all these people had to get taken around and I sat there and watched with awe as the rickshaw driver was taking a photo of us with his top of the range Android handset.

Ben: I have some questions about why anybody who doesn't know you would want to take a picture of you.

Ewan: We'll just focus just looking at silly foreigner I think he was taking a picture of me and tell his friends to put on WeChat. Every single person I met was on WeChat. WeChat was everywhere from the receptionist to the guy serving food, everyone was on WeChat.

Ben: I'm not on WeChat.

Ewan: Right.

Ben: So what is it?

Ewan: I think the quickest thing for anyone who doesn't know what WeChat is, it's like WhatsApp, group messaging.

Ben: Okay. If anybody listened to this podcast ...

Ewan: That's the under pinning concept of all of the original concept and then they've basically put it on all number of steroids right? Because it's phenomenal what WeChat does. It's a platform in itself now.

Ben: Hang on can I just pause you while I get Rafe Blandfordepedia answer. Rafe Blandford.

Rafe: So WeChat is really messaging as a platform taken to it's fullest extent. It's the idea that Ewan quite correctly says, "Messaging at it's core" but the ability to pay for things e-commerce and service interactions that you traditionally associate with an app, happen within the WeChat environment. In China it's nearly universally used. It's 700,000,000 daily active users.

Ben: Wow.

Ewan: Mmm.

Ben: Yeah. Rafe Blandford is supported by your charitable donations. In order to keep riff-raff operating, please send $5.

Ewan: I saw this three years ago, there was nothing. There was just dumb phones and now everyone had a smartphone. The rickshaw guy had one of those, I want to say one-on-one but it wasn't a one-on-one handset, it was a really a high end, it was a big hand set, it looked good. The megapixel camera that I could see, it looked good. I think it had the 20, maybe it was a fake but it had a 20 number on it.

Ben: When we did the $100 phone challenge and I bought mine from AliExpress.

Ewan: There you go.

Ben: I chose Lenovo because I knew that brand but there were shed loads of Chinese brands that were available for way less. What kind of brands are we talking about Rafe? I remember a few but they were ones that were typically kind of also in Western Markets.

Rafe: You are going to get the big ones in Western Markets which are Huawei, XIAOMI which are probably amongst the biggest in terms of shipments in China now but there's a whole, what I call, "A second and third tier" which is what we would regard as no name manufacturers but it's just these off the shelf components which now for $200 or so you can get a very capable kind of phablet type device and down from there.

Ewan: I think the rickshaw chappy, he had the top of the range handset, he's WeChatting as he's cycling. I was trying to take video of him doing it, fascinating. When I made an inquiry at the front desk the guy's WeChatting, his colleague, the whole hotel was run on WeChat. The-

Rafe: What do you mean by that.

Ewan: The hotel teams, they all have different groups so the people changing the rooms are all on one WeChat group.

Ben: Obviously you like-

Ewan: You can even WeChat the hotel.

Ben: That was my question. So we're in the 361 group and I could WhatsApp you or I could Slack message you or even text you but that's not official. Could you as a customer of that hotel say, "Hey it's Ewan from room 5, please can you send up those DVDs I've been asking you about?"

Ewan: Yes. The particular hotel I was at, they haven't deployed that yet, they're about to because they've got to connect into the food and beverage systems and so on but they're working on it.

Rafe: This is an interesting thing about WeChat, there's actually two main ways it operates, one is what can almost be regarded as a chat box, so it operates within the chat window, so you go through a service menu, you'll type 1 to get the menu up and then it'll give you a list of options.

Ewan: The hotel could actually configure a whole bunch of canned responses and that sort of thing.

Rafe: Absolutely.

Ewan: Okay.

Rafe: You can be quite sophisticated. You can use that to book a taxi or buy airline tickets. The second part of it is effectively, it's what they call "The Custom Menu" and from a menu that can be configured by the user account, you can then drop into what's actually an HTML 5 site but it's a browser that's built into WeChat that then gives you-

Ewan: They were telling me that.

Rafe: Effectively mini-apps built on top of WeChat but the really important thing about it is, it uses WeChat APIs to enable commerce and payments that are linked into the 10 cent more than some of those other Chinese services.

Ewan: Let me finish my China bit by telling you that I chatted to one lady and she was saying, "I just don't feel technology is moving fast enough." I said, "Well, hold on a minute, what was your handset five generations ago?"

Ben: Five generations ago?

Ewan: She had to sit and think. It was a Nokia N95.

Ben: I think you were my great, great, great, great grandfather type of thing.

Ewan: Right it was roughly five or six years.

Ben: I've already done that N95 joke, I feel like we missed an opportunity to be really [crosstalk 00:12:56].

Ewan: N95 to iPhone 4 blah, blah, blah all the way through to an iPhone 6s and right now she's tied that directly into her banking so WeChat processes banking payments on her behalf every moment of her life and lot of people in China are using WeChat and are sending money back and forward now. It's fascinating this pace of change there in China.

Ben: When you pointed that out to her did she concede that, "Um, actually he's a got a point."?

Ewan: Yeah.

Ben: Fair enough. I feel I have some trust issues about taking a WhatsApp for example which I suppose would be good, the one I'm most familiar with and a saying, "I'll give you my bank details so I can pay ..."

Ewan: It's just like PayPal right?

Ben: Yeah I'm not sure I trust them either.

Rafe: Yeah but Facebook messenger will be where we see this happen in the West.

Ben: Yeah.

Rafe: Actually, they've already started doing payments and they've just introduced and in terms of have a AI that helps you out. I think the thing that's so interesting about China is the pace at which this change has happened. To put some stats on it, in 2011 or 2012 smartphone penetration was about 10%, now in 2015 we're talking about figures of approaching 80%.

Ben: That's ridiculous.

Rafe: Which is a really, really quick change over. In that same time the UK's gone from 30 to about 70% so it just actually the pace at which that has happened. We have to remember that China has a population 1.2 billion people so we are talking about hundreds of millions of devices so the scale that it supports is just unprecedented.

Ben: That's important, exclusive news we're bringing to you from 361 podcast that there are a lot of people that live in China, if you didn't know that, you do now.

Ewan: There you go. You said the Midwest, tell me about the Midwest.

Ben: Before we do the Midwest. I think we should share some information about this season's challenge.

Ewan: Ohhh.

Ben: I'm going to talk about America in a minute but a season or two ago we did the $100 phone challenge. Do you remember who won that?

Ewan: I think I won it.

Rafe: I think I did.

Ewan: No, I think I actually won it.

Ben: I'm pretty sure I did actually but I honestly gone back and listened.

Ewan: Nor have I. I won it by bringing out my $100 phone.

Ben: You won it?

Rafe: You were too qualified.

Ben: This season Rafe Blandford, what are we going to do for this season's challenge?

Rafe: We are going to have a challenge to see who can have the smartest home.

Ben: You mean like nicely painted?

Rafe: I imagine that will be part of the judging criteria but a rather minor consideration.

Ben: Rafe Blandford's family murals on tapestries that are a 1,000 years old are really going to stretch us Ewan this year. So go on Rafe explain to us the rules.

Ewan: Hold on a minute because this is where last time we're were talking about this and it was very simple we just said, "Dear listener, it's a $100 phone challenge," thereabouts so I went out and I bought $150 handset because I thought it was just thereabouts.

Ben: You didn't, you bought a handset that one day would be a $150.

Ewan: Or something like that right?

Ben: Yeah, yeah or whatever.

Ewan: Okay because I just went a bought a low end Android handset then all of a sudden the rules arrived in. All right? So, we're going to be really clear here that it's the smartest home from an automation standpoint or technology standpoint.

Ben: Okay.

Ewan: So we're talking about home automation.

Ben: Smart home.

Ewan: Smart home.

Ben: Yeah so we're going to choose, we're going to buy, we're going to compete and then we're going to compare notes and then ...

Ewan: I'm going to have the smartest home.

Ben: At the end of the season we're going to compare notes and we're also open up to the listeners to vote to see who they think has the smartest home.

Ewan: Right and you just changed the it already.

Ben: No.

Ewan: It's now a listener vote.

Ben: No, no, we'll ask ...

Ewan: We'll ask their opinions.

Ben: We'll ask there opinion ...

Ewan: And I'm not paying attention to it.

Ben: The three of us will decide in the classic Top Gear challenge styley.

Ewan: Right.

Ben: But what I wanted to say just before we move on because we'll talk more about this next episode when we actually kick things off. What type of smart home stuff have you already got in your home? Ewan.

Ewan: I don't I think this is why I'm really pleased that we're doing this because I don't have any I don't think. Just remind me, prompt me, have we got anything.

Ben: I got Sonos.

Ewan: Oh yes, I've got Sonos okay. I'm thinking about lights and power thingies and security.

Ben: And that all counts but because we're going to do smart home, it's everything [crosstalk 00:16:50]

Ewan: I've got some so that's a good point okay.

Ben: I've got a Smart electricity meter.

Ewan: Oh that's good.

Ben: It lets me connect wirelessly to it and read the power consumption off it in real time. That actually was fitted by my electric company last year.

Ewan: What is it? What does it connect to? What platform is it on?

Ben: It uses ZigBee which is a wireless standard and actually the little, black box that I have does nothing except connect to the internet and then I view a web page from my provider that shows me a live real time graph. It's interesting because I think I talked about this season, the billing data is all sent over a 3G network from the meter.

Ewan: That's right, that's right.

Ben: Completely separately so it's two networks doing the same job for different reasons but actually have been really interesting I can turn the kettle on and see the usage spike up straight away on a web page. Makes me feel like I'm living in the future. Rafe you've just moved home so you might be excused for not ... Did you bring any smart home kit with you?

Rafe: Well I've got an entry phone system which is probably about as far as I can get.

Ben: When you say you've got an entry phone this is the in-built into the apartment block?

Rafe: Yes.

Ewan: His name is Alfred.

Ben: "You rang m'Lord? Yes sir."

Ewan: London residence.

Rafe: No in this case it's just the phone sitting on the wall which comes with the flat.

Ben: It's the man that takes it off the wall and brings it to you that's the problem.

Rafe: I don't know where this comes from.

Ben: So we're going to research by install and test out some smart home stuff and we're going to do it in our respective homes and we're going to see who gets the best thing.

Ewan: Yeah but it's totally subjective but I think obviously I will win.

Ben: I think the great thing about best is that I'm really looking forward to finding out what actually works because I'm going to ask you perhaps to make a little video or something of you using it. Last time when you went, "Yes I bought this $100 Android phone and I love using it every, single day." I thinking ...

Ewan: I was actually using that.

Rafe: I think one of the important discriminations is going to be that everyone in the household should be able to use the smarter home.

Ewan: In including the children?

Rafe: Yes.

Ewan: Come on.

Rafe: Let's hold the scope creep until episode 3. [Crosstalk 00:18:44].

Ewan: Listeners, you can see the scope creep is coming all over. By episode 5 it'll have ballooned.

Ben: That is this season's challenge, the Smartest Home Challenge.

Ewan: Can you please tweet us any ideas you got, any really good technology? I've been looking at The Canary.

Ben: Oh yeah.

Ewan: On Amazon. I was on Amazon last night thinking, "Oh, shall I buy that?" because I'd really like some suggestions from the listeners.

Ben: What have you got? What works well? What haven't you got?

Ewan: How can you help?

Ben: What haven't you got that you want us to try?

Ewan: Yeah get to the best stuff.

Ben: Okay back to this week's theme of travel. I was in the Midwest. I was just outside Chicago actually visiting some family which was jolly nice

Ewan: Was it snowing?

Ben: Not yet.

Ewan: Because that's all I know about the Midwest.

Ben: So as we record this it's mid November, it'll go out slightly later because we're off a few weeks.

Ewan: In the movies if they say, "Midwest" that means you've a Parka on. It's usually cold.

Ben: I was slightly sarcastic about the drive-through bank in the town where I was so we were 60 miles outside Chicago and I did say, "Oh, how lazy to have a drive-through bank" and our hosts turned to me and said, "When there's 15 foot of snow on the ground outside and it's minus whatever, you don't want to get out of your car to go the ATM." I thought ...

Ewan: Fair point, fair point.

Ben: "Just because it's a balmy 22 degrees celsius" I don't know what that is fahrenheit, because it was comfortable. So, no snow, snow comes down all through November so anytime now. I was there and I was roaming and I was using free like home roaming for free which was really brilliant and it made me realize that because it's trip that we've done a bunch of times, the first time we did it, I would drive somewhere, find a McDonalds, use the free wi-fi, look up where we wanted to go.

Ewan: Get yours emails.

Ben: Well it wasn't even emails, it like we agreed to meet these people in this place, pull up Google maps, find it and because you've learned to be reliant on Google maps, but you haven't learned necessarily to plan ahead to look it up.

Ewan: Because you don't have to do that normally.

Ben: No. Similarly we're in town, Oh we just remembered that we had forgotten something for the baby so let's go to Walmart and go and buy some "diaper cream" as I learned to call it and "Where's Walmart and how do I get there?" It's strange how much you feel like you've gone back 20 years just by not having access to the ... or smartphone.

Ewan: Or having access but it's six quid a meg.

Ben: Actually for me, that's not having access.

Ewan: Is it not?

Ben: Back in the past when I've done business travel we maybe had like a corporate deal that meant I could use it a bit and it okay and it was justified because it was for business but this was a holiday and six quid a meg means fewer beers and that makes me very sad. Fewer steaks and beers. It was really brilliant, the roaming data was absolutely great. What I didn't like though was how slow the roaming data is and it's because all the data still goes back to the UK, back down a pipe, it felt like it was quite throttled. I actually never managed to successfully do any speed tests that I could get consistent results off out of but it was very slow. It made me think of two things, one is, I'm really looking forward to what they call, "Local breakout" which is when you're roaming, the data doesn't go back to your home country, it goes to, like I was in the States, I was on AT and T, it goes to AT and T and AT and T say, "Do you want the internet? I'll put it on the internet for you," and they don't send it back to 3 in the UK to then come all the way back to America probably where the server is accessing. That was really good. The other thing while I was over there was the EU announced that they were banning roaming charges from 2017.

Ewan: Whooo.

Ben: Effectively we will be able to roam between European countries using services without paying what feels, still today, feel like fairly punitive charges. It's getting better, there are tariffs that roll things in but you still need to be on a relatively high cost tariff to begin with to get those sort of benefits.

Rafe: Yeah for example, O2 and a couple of others have or Vodaphone Passport, £3 a day which sounds like actually quite a good deal but if you're working overseas for a month that's going to be 90 quid for data which given that you're paying maybe £10-£15 a month in the UK starts to feel a bit much.

Ben: Even if I go on a family holiday for five days and I pay £3 every day for data I still probably paid in one week what I would have paid for a whole month's worth of service in the UK.

Ewan: Times two for your partner.

Ben: And times two for your partner.

Ewan: Or times four for your children.

Ben: Well actually like many people we brought an iPad with us.

Ewan: Multi SIMs

Ben: Our iPad has a SIM in it as well so we wanted to use that connected. My wife has a work issue Blackberry which doesn't roam and can't roam because of reasons, I don't know.

Ewan: They pay for it.

Ben: It's beyond me, probably because of the shame of if you have to put it in the tray in Heathrow as you go through the x-ray scanner and everyone would go, "Oh, you've got a 10 year old Blackberry."

Rafe: I think the point is about roaming is, bill shock happens at both relatively low levels and high levels so when it's £6 a meg you just go, "No way." If it's £3 you might go, "Okay" but there's still some uncertainty and I think particularly amongst people who aren't that bothered about it. So, it's going to be a really great thing to have this. There are still some limits on it. I understand there will be potential for overreach charges once you past 500 megs a month but I think for the majority of people that's going to mean a much better life and basically they just wont think about it. They'll be able to use data wherever they are in Europe.

Ben: Yeah. 500 megs, I kind of "ummed and ahhed" when I heard about that because you told me about that. I hadn't picked that up in the original agreement understanding. I think for the moment, it's good enough, like it's not for power users, it's not, but it will do for now and it'll clearly increase over time. Of course, the other things that's going to happen in that time will be that European agreement whereby actually you can buy your data from your local provider and if you look in your FO now you'll already start to see setting popping up, EU data, which you can turn on. It doesn't do anything at the moment but what will happen is that the local operators will bid to try and win your business, will offer you different tariffs that you'll be able to buy from them through your handset. So by the time that this roaming becomes available and becomes an issue, that 500 meg isn't enough, that will be available which is absolutely fantastic until again, one of our hosts kind of sidled up to me and said, "Why are you so excited about this?" because I was sitting there raving. I was reading my news on handset, "So why are you so excited?" "Oh, it's amazing we'll be able to travel to any state in Europe and not pay roaming." He went, "What, like America?" I said, "No, no I think I could go anywhere and not pay roaming." "Yeah, like America."

Rafe: Android Europe isn't here yet.

Ben: Well I did kind of have a big rant about how we were all different countries and he didn't really care for English but his point was well made actually, that in the US you can travel all over all of the mainland US and various islands and Alaska and all those various places and you won't, generally pay roaming and it is a geographic area equal, if not larger in size than the European ...

Rafe: I would point out to him that the same companies operate over that geographic area and there's no need for the antique connect agreements and the like but I suspect that was getting a bit too technical.

Ben: I'm now going to, although in an audio podcast this won't work, I'm now going to give you the face that he gave me when I said those kinds of things which was just one of, "I don't care" and actually most consumers won't care.

Rafe: Yeah.

Ben: Because they don't actually deal with overseas operators, they only pay their home operator and they just want it all to work and I think that was fair enough. So that was amazing, absolutely loved that. The other thing I loved just fleetingly was, I went into Starbucks, I don't like Starbucks but I will drink Starbucks when I need coffee, without thinking about it, got my Starbucks app out, which I use in London, scanned it on the scanner, walked out of the restaurant, he says doing inverted commas and realized, "Hang on a minute, I just paid for a coffee in America on my UK Starbucks card."

Ewan: That is really cool.

Ben: And it just absolutely worked. We were talking previously as well and you said you did that with the Uber app when you were in ...

Ewan: When I was in Abu Dhabi.

Ben: Abu Dhabi.

Ewan: I was astonished to find Uber working in Abu Dhabi and the same app, the same account, the same credit card and it just worked.

Ben: I finally feel like I'm living in the future because I've got a phone which lets me use all of my data allowance wherever I am in the world kind of for the same price and all the apps and the services on it are absolutely consistent and I can use them at the same retailers which is just amazing. So, I'm very happy. We will come back to the European roaming thing in a future episode, I promise you.

Ewan: Okay right, let's move on.

Ben: Okay before we talk Rafe Blandford's journey into Africa.

Ewan: He went to find himself.

Ben: Go back to it to see how much of it he still owns I think.

Ewan: Definitely.

Ben: Another piece of news, if you would like to support the 361 podcast, what do I mean if, if? You definitely, definitely want to support the 361 podcast, we shied away from having too many ads, we've done a little bit of sponsorship and things but now, now is the time, now is the opportunity for you to sponsor the 361 podcast if you would like to so we've set up a Patreon account and if you would like to support the 361 podcast by paying a few dollars.

Ewan: Dollars?

Ben: Dollars, if you'd like yeah. Every time recently ...

Ewan: Not sterling it's dollars.

Ben: I think you can use a variety of currencies but I think Patreon is an American website.

Ewan: Take coin?

Ben: I don't know is the honest answer. You can support 361 podcasts by supporting us, by paying a dollar or two every episode. You can go to and there's all the details there. I don't know how it works but we'll get it, we'll get it sometimes.

Ewan: What's the point in doing that?

Ben: Well what that does is, that helps pay for all the things that we use to make this show, including all the kit, all of Mark audio wrangler's excellent skills as he produces all of this, all the transcription, all that kind of stuff.

Ewan: It helps contribute toward the goodness.

Ben: It does. We toted is up and producing a season of 361 podcasts and all the associated stuff is muchos dineros and so what we would like to do is if you would like to support us just a little bit you can every time there is an episode and if there's no episodes, no money and if there's episodes, money. I quite like the way that works.

Ewan: That's very good.

Ben: So head to if you would like to you could donate as little as a $1 each episode. It's really just a token amount but if even 1% of all the people who listen to show did that there would be enough money to do live events and all manner of extra stuff as well.

Ewan: I would like to take Blandford to Helsinki.

Ben: Really?

Ewan: Yeah I'd like us to do a live broadcast or something just in Helsinki.

Ben: To record the sound of him weeping outside Espoo House.

Ewan: Exactly and to relive ...

Ben: All the old Nokia.

Ewan: Exactly right? I think that would be cool. So, that's the type of thing that we could do if we had a little bit more funding.

Ben: Exactly, so if you'd like to and if you've any questions, of course, you can always drop us an email.

Ewan: Do you get your name in lights if you're a sponsor?

Ben: Oh I think if you sponsor us we will from time to time, we'll say thank you to the people that support us through Patreon.

Ewan: Names, we will name them?

Ben: We will name them.

Ewan: We'll put them on the website?

Ben: Yeah, oh absolutely.

Ewan: We'll name them on the website?

Ben: Yeah absolutely.

Ewan: Or your link?

Ben: Absolutely links. We'll put all the details of what you get and how often you can donate to us on the website but it's a small amount.

Ewan: Can I just say, if we can get to a $100 I know we're setting the sights low here but if we can get the $100 then that will pay for us to have a massage for Blandford performed on the show.

Ben: That's what you were pitching for last ...

Ewan: Remember I was trying to get that and I think can we agree now that if we exceed $100 in funding that Blandford will be massaged, a back massage or a facial, you want Blandford ...

Ben: Will we have a vote?

Ewan: During the show.

Ben: Everyone for that idea, raise your hands. Yeah, yeah that's two. Everybody against the idea, one.

Ewan: One.

Ben: Is that motion carried?

Ewan: Motion carried.

Ben: Fantastic news.

Ewan: Excellent.

Ben: Excellent. Every month we get about 10 to 15,000 listeners globally so I say, if everybody wanted to give $1 an episode, even a small fraction of those listening wanted to say, "Thank you" even for the previous 10 seasons, it would really help us out. We won't push it anymore.

Ewan: Just think about Blandford in audio and we could probably take a few pictures, getting a massage from a mobile app or do it via the mobile app.

Ben: The more I think about a picture of Rafe Blandford getting a massage, the less inclined I am to donate. Perhaps ...

Ewan: I think a lot of people would want to see that and hear it. Can you imagine the embarrassment, the acute embarrassment of the audio of that? I would pay.

Ben: There's definitely one way to find out, send us your money. Okay Rafe Blandford now we've finished begging for people's money tell us all about, you went to Africa?

Rafe: I did this was for my sister's wedding and I got to spend about 10 days in the country including some time ...

Ben: Which country just out of interest?

Rafe: Tanzania.

Ben: Okay and for those of us with very poor geography, South Africa is the pointy bit at the bottom.

Rafe: Yeah.

Ben: Where is Tanzania?

Rafe: Tanzania is up and right a bit.

Ben: Up and right a bit excellent, there you go.

Rafe: So it's above Kenya, probably the easiest way to explain it. Spent some time out in what's considered the Bush so the rural area and some time in Dar Es Salaam which is the biggest city, although not the capital, about 12,000,000 people so actually-

Ewan: What is the capital?

Rafe: Dodomo.

Ewan: Just checking.

Ben: I really want to do a beating about the bush gag, I just can't get it in there. Go on.

Rafe: So I wanted to talk about a couple of things. We talk sometimes about the differences between the different markets but it is very much more pronounced when you go and see it for yourself but just like in China with Ewan, there's a lot more smartphones than I was expecting and that's something relatively a recent development. Actually, this year's going to be the first time there's more smartphones than feature phones in Africa. Of course, they're also being used as the primary computing device and that's very much more important than whereas a matching mobile is become kind of a backbone of infrastructure development.

Ben: We talked mobile hopping over desktop and laptop computers in Indonesia and places like that before but what does that really mean? What are people doing on mobiles now?

Ewan: What were you seeing?

Rafe: They were using it as a kind of education and training tool for access to content, so that was really important, but the thing that caught my eye more than anything else actually, was mobile payments. This is m-pesa and there's a equivalent to GoPay, Vodaphone Pay, Ertel Pay from all the operators and essentially this is a way for people to do both small and large transactions. It was, in the rural areas as much as it was in the urban areas and actually it was more important in the rural areas because it was for people who couldn't get to banks very easily that maybe the bank was two or three days journey away or they didn't have a bank account at all.

Ben: Yeah to think I complain that it's only open for four hours on a Saturday morning in our local town so okay.

Rafe: In that sense pretty amazing to see people pay for basically things like vegetables, just a handful of things and this typically works. There are apps ...

Ben: I was about to say as well, I went to Waitrose the other week and paid for vegetables with Apple Pay isn't that exactly the same?

Rafe: It's a little different but there's also person-to-person stuff but it's send a text message and a transfer of a currency amount and actually there's a kind of a currency sitting in these kind of top-up accounts essentially.

Ben: So it's literally, literally it's not literally sitting on the SIM card because that's not possible but the balance is on the SIM card it's not like with ... we joke about Apple Pay but Apple Pay is a link back to my bank cards, it represents them but whereas here, the money is actually on the mobile account.

Rafe: Yeah, it's very much associated with the phone number or the account effectively and so that's actually enabled kind of new businesses and small businesses to start up in a way that wasn't possible before. We've read all about m-pesa and we've heard about it but actually seeing it in action, seeing people paying for stuff and doing quick person-to-person payments, it really brought it home to me. In a way we're actually really behind on mobile payments and using our phones as kind of an instrument for doing those kind of financial transfers.

Ben: Did everybody have a phone?

Rafe: Yeah as far I could see.

Ben: Ubiquitous?

Rafe: It was ubiquitous and actually more than that, one of the local villages I went to had a big phone mast right in the center of the village, it was run off a generator because there was no electricity supply but the big news was that the electricity supply was coming that month so the masts or the poles were in place ready to deliver the electricity.

Ewan: Telegraph pole appreciation even in Africa.

Ben: Even in Africa he collecting [inaudible 00:33:43]?

Rafe: Yeah and they were very nice.

Ben: Did you appreciate the telephone pole?

Rafe: I did. You know I got some pictures of them that I may share in time for this episode but it was kind of interesting, electricity was coming after the mobile phone mast.

Ben: How were people charging their cellphones if ...

Ewan: Solar panels.

Rafe: There were solar panels. There was also a lot of generators and including the place where that I was staying, the generator was on for four hours a day basically and that would be the only time that you could charge things. Actually, obviously turn the lights and things like that on. You just have to kind of live around it. Honestly, it was kind of hard to imagine doing that day-to-day. When you're on holiday you don't really care about those things but in that sense quite a humbling experience because I think you have to go and see it and experience it for yourself to really, truly understand what that meant. Even then, you're only touching on it in appreciating it's different. You don't really understand the full implications of that.

Ben: So in this environment where people are planning to charge their cellphones every day and it's like where they store their money and everything, were they using apps and smartphones that we would recognize in the same way or are they like bespoke, custom apps specific to that geography?

Ewan: What data speed as well?

Rafe: Sorry Ewan?

Ewan: What data speed as well?

Rafe: It was mostly 2G in the rural areas.

Ewan: That's awful.

Rafe: Then in the urban more but there was definitely a capacity crunch issue going on in Dar Es Salaam, not really surprising with the kind of the growth there. For the most part it was actually feature phones about I would say, 60% and then some smartphones but they were typically older models and there was also the lower end models as you would expect. So for example ...

Ben: So Lumia's?

Rafe: There were quite a few Lumia's actually but it was Sony Ericsson phones ...

Ben: It's all coming back to mind.

Rafe: That you would recognize as being it was Android, Gingerbread and some of the older versions and then very, very few iPhones. You only saw them is Dar Es Salaam and it was quite clear it was a very special device. The apps actually, as much of it was done via text messaging and some the messaging platforms as actually dedicated apps.

Ben: In China Ewan was seeing local branded handsets that we didn't necessarily recognize but you were mostly seeing brands that you would recognize from Europe are you but older devices?

Rafe: Yeah and that wasn't universally true. The sample size is small so don't necessarily read anything but a lot of the Samsung devices and a lot of Nokia devices and being curious I asked about, and the Samsung were the cheap devices, the Nokia devices were regarded as the reliable ones but there was definite knowledge about the kind of the higher end stuff and they were available and plenty of advertising. That's the other thing, is there are these shops where you can but SIM cards or get top-ups absolutely everywhere. More mobile phone advertising than anything else I saw, including tiny shacks on a beach, on an island that was quite remote and yet you could still get the top-up. Partly that was because that mobile payment infrastructure was in embedded in the way that thing that things were done, it was kind of essential to be able to go and get a bit more credit because that was part of the way things were done.

Ben: So people were mostly on pre-pay or credit type arrangements?

Rafe: Yes.

Ben: Yeah and you said that you saw this big sort of switch that was going on over towards smartphones were people on dumb phones still able to us all that mobile banking and stuff or was that just smartphones?

Rafe: Yeah all the mobile payments work regardless because at the basic level they'll just work off SMS. As they became more advanced, yes there are applications available but I think the switch over to smartphones is as much about the fact that those devices have now got so cheap that it's actually quite hard to go out and buy a feature phone. People were concerned about battery life and charging the devices. I wouldn't begin to pretend to be an expert on mobile in Tanzania but certainly there is the evidence that they are starting to be used a lot more for email, for social networking. So it's actually very much about communication and content. I'm not sure apps have caught on on quite the same way. In general, if you talk about the big urban centers, yes.

Ben: Yeah.

Rafe: They're more cosmopolitan inevitably.

Ewan: What about animals?

Rafe: Animals?

Ewan: Hmm.

Ben: This is literally the elephant in the room is it?

Ewan: Yeah you went to Tanzania, what animals did you see?

Rafe: I got to see most of the big safari animals so having ...

Ben: Do they just literally line them up over the horizon, just go, "Got it, got it, got it, need it, got it?"

Rafe: There weren't any elephants at the wedding I'm glad to say but watching a crocodile eat a waterbuck was pretty amazing and then lions lying in the shade of Jeep.

Ben: I watched Ewan MacLeod eat a hamburger once, that's almost the same.

Rafe: Ewan eats a hamburger considerably quicker than a crocodile eats a waterbuck it has to be said.

Ben: Fair enough.

Ewan: Yeah what was the most memorable experience?

Rafe: I think it was probably watching an elephant crossing the river right in front of the boat. They're such majestic animals and it's nothing like seeing them in the zoo. You see them and then seeing just the massive landscapes of the savanna and the grasslands. Whereas, and there were huge rivers, quite a mixed landscape and it was just like being in a nature documentary, and it sounds like a cliché but it really is and it's once in a lifetime experience.

Ben: I get my Rafe Attenborough impression going, "Here we see a elephant using an old Lumia". You must have brought a Lumia device with you of course?

Rafe: I did yes.

Ben: A holiday like that you take loads of pictures obviously. What did you use?

Ewan: Yeah you use your camera, you take a real camera?

Rafe: So I did take a real camera as well.

Ben: Traitor.

Rafe: But of course for those kind of instant capture moments which happens a lot when you're looking at the wildlife because they do literally appear from round a tree and disappear again five seconds later.

Ewan: When you say, "Instant capture" do you mean quickly or ...?

Rafe: I do mean quickly.

Ben: It think you'd like, "It's got that child."

Rafe: I was using a Lumia 830 together with ...

Ben: That's the one I've got.

Rafe: And that worked perfectly well. Then [inaudible 00:39:08].

Ben: But the Lumia lived up to all the challenges of shooting stuff at distance and light?

Rafe: I will say that when you're trying to do a zoom, it's doesn't work so well because you basically got a limit of two or three even with the over sampling on those devices. So that's where stand alone camera really does come into its own. If your fortunate enough to have the wildlife walk right past you, my best photos actually came from my camera phone.

Ben: There we go. Did you get bitten?

Rafe: Well I don't know but I did have all the various injections so I'm quite safe so far from Malaria and all those other things.

Ewan: We should have asked him before we were in the same room with him.

Ben: That's true. Although we're lucky though because Rafe Blandford also has all of those injections before he goes into town to make sure the peasants as well. So he is perpetually safe.

Ewan: It's normal isn't.

Ben: There we go. Okay that we should wrap it up because we agreed going along. As ever, thank you very much for listening. It's lovely to be back. Thank you very much for all the generous emails and tweets initially saying, "Hey we love the season" and then moving on to, "Are you guys ever going to publish anything ever again?" So yes, hello we're back thank you for all the kind words. Thank you for all the support last season. We will be back next week.

Ewan: And we want your ideas. What's the best stuff to buy?

Ben: Yeah, please leave all your suggestions for the smartest home competition which myself I intend to win. We'll be back next week, Bye bye.