Archive for the ‘Gadgets’ Category

iPhone tracks movements? Really?
April 22, 2011

So Apple are keeping our location data, ://BBC article Nothing to do with GPS data though, the data involved is gathered from Cell towers.
So we all agreed to the last iTunes licence agreement changes in June last year, but did any of us read that we are agreeing to let Apple collect our location data and share it with it’s partners to improve location services? No? Well rest assured folks, the fact is cell location data is piss poor.
Since getting my iPhone nearly 2 years ago I have been on a pay as you go O2 Plan known as ‘favourite place’, this features being able to call fellow O2 users and landlines for free from my postcode, however it seems to work all over Southampton.
Presuming that Google is one of Apples partners that this data is being shared with though, is still quite concerning. Google who were collecting wi-fi network data on their street view odyssey last year, supposedly by “accident”, oh and Google who are keeping data of every search term entered into their Search Engine.
You can prevent Apple from getting this data, there’s a guide on Engadget, but I’m not going to give you a link because your not going to do it are you? I mean, your not even going to read the terms and conditions when you sign up for your free MobileMe account are you?
Facebook and our data is the one to watch out for, that Zuckerburg is a very very very rich man. Using our Activities and Interest data to sell us, well erm, ‘Apple Products’

2010: The year of Consumer Tech
December 28, 2010

We have had quite a year for technology, Apple once again have taken the limelight with the iPad and iPhone 4 and probably most impressively the new MacBook Air. This christmas though we’ve heard non stop about the Xbox and its motion sensor Kinect system, dubbed as gaming without a controller.

I want to talk about some of the things you may not have seen this year and what may be happening of the next 2-5 years. Google released the Google TV package earlier in October this year, which basically brought together their Android operating system, the internet and the television hoping to revolutionise the way we watch television, and experience the internet in our homes.

Apple have attempted this already with the Apple TV, proving to be to a bit to limited, restricting users to iTunes and selected video websites. Sony are almost there with the PS3, a full web browser with divX and Flash abilities is available along with BBC iPlayer, 4OD, ITV Player and LoveFilm Apps, although all experience huge OS crashes and Bug issues.

I am most interested with the development of OnLive, which is basically a pay as you go cloud gaming console. Although only properly available in the U.S. at the moment users are invited to play a handful of decent gaming titles over a server. So no high end spec PC’s or games consoles are required, all the jazz is done on the server end. I have downloaded it for the Mac and played the demos (can’t buy anything as its only is U.S. Dollars at the moment) and it works very well. In the U.S. they have brought out a micro console and games controller which they hope to bring to Europe in 2011.

 

 

I think OnLive could be great, however the games industry are reluctant to jump on board due to it being an unknown platform. Dominance in the games console market is met by getting the bigger games titles on board and fast.

My prediction is then that Apple will either clone the OnLive system or buy it out and integrate it in the Apple TV system. With all the good work they have done in the App store with games, and the success of iPhone and iPad gaming must lead to Apples step into the Gaming hardware industry.

Bloggled
October 22, 2010

Just got round to sorting out my website and pulling all the different aspects of me online into one manageable chain of links. www.Nice-Cuppa-Tea.co.uk is now the starting place to access my Blog (Which is the blog I will be using now), Portfolio, CV, etc. So whats new? Well I have finally got a proper desk sorted where my mini mac can sit along with its two screens and my Ubuntu PC, so basically a proper workstation so I can get back into the game.

Please excuse my website for a while, the portfolio section I want to do in Flash so it may take a while before you see anything. On the technology front I was glad to catch Apple’s latest keynote yesterday, the introduction of iLife 11 seems amazing, they demonstrated changes they have made to iPhoto, iMovie and most impressively GarageBand. With the latest update your band can have no Rhythm what so ever and still create perfect tracks!

iPod Docks – Free your tunes?
April 8, 2008

Recently a couple of my close friends got themselves a brand new iPod each, a 160gb Video and an 8gb Valentines Day pink Nano. Two new iPod speaker docks emerged a couple of weeks later, a JBL top of the range model and a cheap and cheerful model from HMV.

The majority of the time I use my iPod is through my Amplifier and speakers making the usability of the iPod the same as on the move, speaker docks weren’t as widely available when I got my 3rd generation. Anyway I brought my iPod together with the JBL dock and was faced with the task of finding the right dock inset to fit my ‘old’ iPod into the dock. The dock came with 7-10 different pieces of plastic for each iPod to fit into it – accept 3rd generation and older iPods. I thought, no matter, i’ll plug it in via the aux-in socket and cable provided, but the cable head didn’t fit in the gap in the casing before the socket itself. Eventually I discovered the 5th generation piece of plastic fitted my iPod and everything worked fine, but I find myself asking why this dock made specifically for iPod doesn’t fit all iPod’s, whats the point?

I recently have been in the Lake District and the log cabin we hired up there had a small stereo with ‘USB integration’ When we plugged an iPod in the standard I’ve-been-plugged-in screen appeared on the iPod ‘Do not disconnect’ rendering the controls for the iPod useless. The stereo recognized a device and decided to completely ignore ID3 tags and play all the 01 tracks on the iPod, then all the 02 tracks etc. This meant it was impossible to listen to an album in order, not to mention see what artist/album/track you were playing.

So my question is what was wrong with the standard we had pre-iPod? Aux-in and RCA cables never fail, you have full control over what your playing and all you need is a cheap cable. But going back to speaker docks, I can sort of see the point of them for rooms like the kitchen where your hi-fi can’t be heard, but a cheap stereo with an aux-in socket, a radio and a CD player gives you much more musical options than an expensive iPod speaker dock.

2gb Asus EeePC Review
February 27, 2008

Just before Christmas my Dad and I popped into PC World in Salisbury for him to show me the Asus EeePC. It took us a while to locate it as they were hidden away out of sight and employees didn’t even seem to realize the device in the box was a laptop! Anyway my dad bought the 4gb model for my mum for Christmas, I had a brief go on it on Christmas day and was very impressed.

For those who haven’t seen the EeePC it is basically a tiny laptop with a solid state hard drive, currently Asus produce a 2gb and 4gb model but there is soon to be an 8gb model. The 2gb model retails for around £200, and it comes with Xandros OS which is a Linux platform. Basically I saw it as a must have item when my flatmate purchased the 2gb model, so I bought the same model soon after. When you first turn the machine on it boots to an easy mode OS screen which basically contains all the software and settings in full screen tabs and over sized icons. I unlocked the full desktop mode by downloading new repositories which I found through Eeeuser.com

Above is a screenshot of the easy mode desktop, as you can see its very basic and quickly becomes tiresome. The full desktop mode gives you an MS Windows style desktop with a few nice little additions. Included as standard with Xandros is the OpenOffice suite, Mozilla Firefox, Pidgin (MSN Messenger Client), Skype VOIP, A few basic games, multimedia players and various other basic graphics viewers. The full install takes up 1.5gb which is pretty amazing considering all the software that it includes, I’ve installed GIMP which is an Open-Source version of Photoshop. It was a mere 30mb install, it really is impressive how much can run in Linux on such a small hard drive. I purchased a 2gb SD card which there is a port for on the laptop, I use that to save all my files to but alot of people have installed other operating systems on their larger SD cards.

The EeePC has in built wireless and Xandros handles networking really nicely, you can view multiple workgroups on a network unlike in Windows where you can only be apart of one at a time. I have been taking it into University most days, its so much more portable than my main laptop and even has better battery life than my decaying Dell.

I really look forward to the future of Micro Laptops, I think my 2gb EeePC will quickly become outdated as larger solid state options will become readily available. Currently 16-32gb solid state memory is the height of the technology. Apple use this in their iPod Touch and new MacBook Air. I think Asus will have to offer the EeePC with Windows as standard to become market leader in Micro Laptops. There have been some cool mods to the EeePC all over the internet, I have seen modified models for sale on eBay with 16gb internal memory, RAM upgrade and Bluetooth, but the best mod I have seen is one fitted with a touchscreen.

One wheeled wonderment
February 10, 2008

Just been having a look on hackaday.com and came across this rather interesting scooter/skateboard. It’s basically a skateboard style piece of transport with one central mounted wheel. The device works in a similar way to the Segway, basically through gyroscopic balancing.

There is a video on the website of the device in action.

University Final Project
November 20, 2007

My final major project will be starting very soon and for sometime now I have been looking for a topic or design problem to tackle. Up until recently I have been thinking about looking into an inclusive media system; incorporating digital television on a live and download basis, browser access to the internet, use of media found on a hard drive (i.e. m-peg, mp3, wmv, etc), a games console platform in which users download games and a communication system (i.e. email, phone, skype etc) For my project I would take the idea through the design process and apply marketing research and strategy to see if it would become a viable and profitable product. My concerns with the project were that I could not go into enough technical depth in regards to the electronics and system involved and how viable the product was in regards to what media companies would take the system on and produce streaming TV or produce video games for it.

My current line of thought for a project came while I was trying to solve a problem with my computer overheating. Since I got my laptop, like many other laptops, it has constantly struggled with keeping cool. The laptop has been taken apart a few times to remove the dust inside the fan system, I have been blowing in the fan regularly to keep it clean and allow it to breathe and I always use it on a hard surface. But only recently have I downloaded fan control software, below is a screenshot of the software in action, note the CPU temperature section as well as Hard Drive temperature.

fansoftware.jpg

Both My CPU and Hard Drive have peaked at 46 degrees, yesterday my hard drive reached 51 degrees. Thankfully the software is reducing the problem and everything is cooling down with increased fan speed sessions. But basically I was thinking about the problem more and found out “The more powerful and faster computers become, the “hotter” they get. The modern Pentium IV 3 GHz processor radiates more than 50W of heat!!! Other hardware is not far behind…According to manufactures, the normal recommended working temperature of a hard disk is 35-40°С. Once it rises by just 10°С – from 40°С to 50°С, the safety of its work becomes more than two times less!” Link

The majority of laptop owners I know, who often are unaware of the overheating problem, experience the problem. The heat generated could potentially melt components of the laptop and damage or corrupt data. Just recently I visited IOM3’s Materials Laboratory in London for a packaging project, the majority of the materials there are smart materials which basically means they have a specific or unusual property or characteristic. I’m thinking of looking for a smart material for application in a new cooling system for laptops and possibly desktops, games consoles, Hi-Fi equipment, etc.

Any thoughts, information or comments on the idea and problem in general would be greatly appreciated.

Upcoming iPhone
October 22, 2007

So finally Apple have put together all our pocket devices and come up with the music, video, phone call receiving iPhone. For the first time today I actually looked at the technical specifications and was confused to see they only offer an 8 gigabyte model. Now my 3rd Generation iPod is four years old now and that has a 20gb capacity which is no longer enough. After having a go on the stripped down iPhone, the iTouch, I fail to see how this is Apples next step, the wi-fi internet seemed like alot of effort to use and of course is restrictive to what content on the web you can view. The phone side of things I am yet to experience, but I assume the address book will be as functional and easy to use as Apple suggest. Last week Apple boss Steve Jobs announced outside developers will be encouraged to design add-on software for the iPhone.

Simply a phone…
July 18, 2007

Interesting to see a new mobile phone which is simply a phone and on top of that; easy to use. The Austrian company Emporia Life designed the phone for the older generation.empolife_slope-open-1web.jpg

“We are in discussion with a number of retailers, but particularly when it comes to the mobile networks, they find it hard to see where this kind of device fits within their brand,” said Mr Smith, managing director of the UK distributor Communic8. “Currently they’re very much driven by the youth market or the business sector because that’s where they make their revenue. It’s difficult to see where a product like this would fit within their portfolio,” he added.

It’s a shame the sale and design of mobile phones is all marketing pull, one would think this simple mobile phone would appeal to other market segments. I imagine the phone lasts longer than cutting edge technology phones which are built with the intention the user will replace it within 1-2 years. Hopefully though the much awaited iPhone will change the life span of mobile phones as Apple tend not to ditch previous technology and still offer support to older products.

Console Wars
April 27, 2007

I was just looking over my RSS feeds today and came across The Xbox 360 Elite on Engadget, which is apparently yet another new console. I’m lucky enough to live with someone who has been able to afford all the next generation consoles but recently replaced the Xbox 360 with the PS3. We were all quite disappointed with the 360 as the games were all very short and single player or multiplayer online – if your prepared to pay for online play (which the Wii and PS3 offer for free)

Neither the Xbox or the PS3 come close to the fun had on the Wii, I’m sure by now everyone has seen the wiimote and the way in which it works, but it truly is amazing how much more fun it is to use and how well Nintendo have carried across the unique element of fun all their previous games and consoles have presented. There is soon to be up dates for the Wii allowing users to connect USB mass storage devices. The one thing the Xbox did quite well was intergrate with my iPod, allowing us to listen to our own music in synch with games. The interface displayed an iTunes-esque display which read iID3 tagging perfectly. Other USB devices weren’t so greatly recieved though; a flash drive charged up with pictures would allow users to see the photos on the xbox interface but not copy them onto the Xbox hard drive… which is where Microsoft are going nowadays with digital rights protection.

The Wii on the other hand, I think, will stay away from DRP, their internet browser is made by Opera who made one of the first open source tab based web browsers – this can only mean good things teaming up with open source companies and not trying to rake in more money from the casual gamer who occasionally wants to browse the net.

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Anyone thinking of getting a console should get a Wii, its following exactly the same steps in the media as other innovative gadgets that changed their marketplace forever. The iPod was condoned for an all number of things when it was first released but it still is better than any MP3 player on the market due to its simplicity and almost fail proof integration with a computer, whether it Mac or PC.

The Wii’s bad press has been based around how childish the games are and the lack of online play. The best games on it are childish but thats whats fun about Nintendo, and the online gameplay is on its way with Mario Soccer in which users will be able to upload Miis as characters!