Author Archive: Matt

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.

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By March 13, 2014 Read More →

Vodafone Ranked as Worst UK Mobile Network

resultsIn a report published by RootMetrics, Vodafone comes out at the worst of the UK Mobile Networks with EE taking an almost cleansweep at the top of virtually all of the metrics measured in the report. 

The report claims to be “the most comprehensive study of UK mobile network performance,” aiming to highlight the best carrier in the country.

Broadly speaking these results are pretty consistent with our experience here at tracyandmatt. We on the team all have SIM cards and contracts with the top 4 UK carriers and we all rate EE the highest in terms of coverage, speed and reliablility while there’s no argument from us that Vodafone’s position at the bottom is well deserved. We’re not on the fence!

Vodafone have just hit out at the report from RootMetrics and s Vodafone spokesman has gone so far as to say:

“We cannot take the results of this report seriously and neither should our customers,”

Vodafone said the network tests were not fully impartial, nor did they follow standard industry practices. In addition, some of the data included could be more than six months old, it suggested.

“The evidence we have seen of how Root Metrics conducted some of its tests leads us to believe that they were carried out in an inconsistent manner,” the spokesperson added, advising interested parties to use more established, independent researchers, “such as Ookla”.

 

 

Posted in: News, Phones
By March 11, 2014 Read More →

What is the Best eReader?

ebooks-664x442In 2007, we all found out about eReaders that grabbed our attention. We saw the invention of the first major eBooks that was sold to the masses across the US and internationally markets.

7 years on, there is a wide variety of different types of eReaders available on the market, from a variety of brands on a variety of platforms. Originally, the benefits of the eReader included the ability to store thousands of books digitally, without the need to have a large space in your home, or in your suitcase, to store or transport a variety of books. Now, however, with the variety of different models and brands available, the features and benefits of each eReader continues to dazzle us. But how do you choose which eReader is best?

Here, we will look at the different features, their benefits and finally the problem or need they solve, to empower you to choose the best eReader for you.

 

Kindle

  • Major features

The Kindle is the original popular eReader and is the cheapest on this list. Developed by Amazon, the Kindle provides you with the ability to store thousands of books available from the Amazon eBook collections. It is light at 5.98 oz. meaning the Kindle is a good, no-nonsense, and economical reader.

  • Benefits and Drawbacks

As we have said, the Kindle is the cheapest available on this list, and so its major benefit is its simplicity and price. However, it is not possible to do a lot more other than read, and the appearance is basic. You can’t use this Kindle in the dark, particularly on the go.

  • Problem Solved

Bookworms no longer have to carry around heavy paper books, and books are sold at a much cheaper price in electronic form on Amazon than they are as hardbacks or paperbacks.

 

Kindle PaperWhite

  • Features

The majorly different feature of the Kindle PaperWhite is in the screen. Mainly, the lightness, and paper-like white screen that you read the words on, as the name suggests, could be considered by many as an improvement in appearance and functionality.

  • Benefits and Drawback

The main reason why the Kindle PaperWhite gets a mention on this list is it addresses the issue of reading in the dark and on the go that its older brother the 5th generation original Kindle model doesn’t. As a result, however, the price increases, and there is little more to do with the eReader other than shop for and read a library of books. However, you’ll need to be able to logon to Wi-Fi, as 3G is not possible with this model.

  • Problem Solved

For loyal Kindle users, who already have a wide collection of Amazon eBooks and still want to access them will find the PaperWhite helps to solve the issue of usability in the dark. It may also be more attractive for many readers, depending on taste.

Nook SimpleTouch

  • Features

The eReader from Barnes and Noble is most affordable to read, ultra-light as well as comfortable to hold. It’s battery lasts over 2 months and you can access over 3 million books. You can also have access to free Wi-Fi if you purchase at a B&N Store, which you can use to buy new books, access Free Sample Books, and borrow and lend books to and from others.

  • Benefits and Drawbacks

For the bookworm, or just book lovers of all kinds, looking to focus on the pure enjoyment of reading, rather than having an all-singing gadget. Its lower price also makes it the best value option on this list for reading thousands of books. Much like the Kindle, it does not offer any light, so it can be tricky to read this in the dark and on the go during long travel.

  • Problem Solved

Simplicity is the key, allowing any type of reader to get access to the wonderful world of books at the cheapest price. If you are happy to venture from Amazon, this is a fantastic option.

Nook GlowLight

  • Features

The Nook GlowLight provides readers with a truly unique feature – its innovative lit-screen feature. Unlike the Kindle PaperWhite, you have the option to adjust the level of brightness the screen emits. Along with the variety of features available with all of the above eReaders, it is the added feature that makes the Nook GlowLight stand out.

  • Benefits and Drawbacks

For nighttime reading, this is a fantastic option. With the versatility of the light brightness, and the power of the reader to change this according to their needs, it is a convenient and pleasurable option for nighttime and travelling readers.

  • Problem Solved

The Mayo Clinic suggests reading as an optimal evening activity to promote a good night’s sleep. They suggest being wary of using bright screens, however, as this can trigger your mind to wake up and be out of sync with your body clock. This feature therefore makes your evening time reading practical and healthier. At an expected higher price, it’s for reader’s to see for themselves the illuminating value of this eReader.

Posted in: Editorial
By March 9, 2014 Read More →

eBay launches new Collections feature

eBay CollectionseBay announced that it would introduce a new ‘Collections’ feature last year and since then we at tracyandmatt.co.uk have been working with eBay to create our own curated Collections via our eBay account.

The Collections feature, which can be likened to Pintrest for eBay items, is now live on the UK eBay site and members can now start their own collections by going to ‘My Collections’ in their user account or by clicking the ‘Add To Collection’ link when looking at specific eBay items.

The great thing about the new eBay Collections feature is that you can create as many Collections as you want, they can have any number of items in them and not only can the Collection itself be annotated but individual items can be too.

Another cool feature of Collections is that you can promote all of your collections, just one collection or a single item with the sharing feature. Other eBay members can then choose to follow all, some or just one of your collections and can also re-share what you have there.

This new feature could be a real boon for eBay members with popular shops or for those that want to show others what new and hot…

In our Collections right now you can find our selection of the best phones from each mainstream manufacturer, top tablet choices, and all the items we use in MBED, Arduino and Raspberry Pi development. Check out our Collections on eBay.co.uk and follow to see what else we do with them going forward.

 

Posted in: Editorial, News
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By March 8, 2014 Read More →

Preparing your digital legacy for when you’re gone

legacyThere can be no doubt that the internet has revolutionised our daily lives, making things like paying bills, shopping, as well as communications so much easier, and in many cases cheaper. This can be achieved with a simple click of a button and all without leaving the house. Yet, as many families of those who die are discovering, the internet can also make things more difficult.

Digital legacy

This is a relatively new development that has been created by the very things that were meant to – and indeed do – make our lives easier. Many people conduct all of their financial affairs online, whether filing their taxes, paying debts or managing their accounts, and any standing orders or direct debits continue to be paid until you take steps to stop them. People are rightly told by the different institutions and/or websites with which they hold accounts not to share sensitive information such as passwords and pin numbers with anyone else.

With this in mind, settling your affairs can be a big problem for your family members after your death, because they are unable to gain access to your accounts, and in the absence of paper documentation are unable to determine with whom these accounts are kept. Even things like closing down email accounts or social media profiles will be difficult in the absence of the correct log-in information.

The internet is great, but not yet that great

As stated in Saga Legal’s exhaustive Digital Legal Guide, the ‘internet is not yet intuitive enough’ to realise that someone has died and many surviving family members and friends will have experienced a heartbreaking reminder of this as Facebook implores them to wish the deceased a happy birthday. The same is true for online shopping sites until they are no longer able to debit a bank account that has been frozen upon the provision of a death certificate. 

Solution

The aforementioned Saga Digital Legal Guide advises that you should treat your digital legal in much the same way that you should treat your Will. Many do not pay digital information with the same heed because of the developing nature of the laws governing internet usage, but this is perhaps an even greater reason to ensure that your loved ones have access, as it will overcome such legal ambiguities. 

This can be achieved by creating a secure online directory, which gives details all of your active internet accounts along with how you wish for them to be dealt with.

Posted in: Editorial
By March 5, 2014 Read More →

Voice Activation

voice-600x372The hands free control (voice activation) allows you to wave your hand over the screen to change pages and you can even scroll up and down web pages with your eyes.

The Moto X has a crystal clear 4.7-inch AMOLED display, a 10 megapixel camera with Quick Capture so that you never miss a moment and an impressive Intuitive Android KitKat operating system to name a few. The camera on this phone is excellent and able to take fantastic shots quickly without blurring the images. The interface is slick and it shoots quickly, making taking photographs with the Moto X simple and easy, it’s a great phone if you’re a fan of photography for blogging, social networking or just for the fun of it.

The Moto X’s touchless control is perhaps the most outstanding feature and is sure to be a favourite choice amongst consumers. The Moto X is always ready so that you don’t have to wait around for it to catch up with your busy lifestyle. The touchless control responds to your voice instantly and opens up your device without the need for hands. The Moto X can search for anything you want on Google, set an alarm or get you directions or the weather in an instant and all with simple voice commands. The phone responds clearly so it is easy for you to hear and comprehend the responding voice. The phone is capable of understanding you, no matter what your accent is so you can enjoy this feature without speaking like a robot in order to be understood.

Following the release of the Moto X the overall industry reaction has been very positive with the industry largely handing out 4 star reviews:

By March 5, 2014 Read More →

Is A Mobile Wallet the Right Choice for You?

Is A Mobile Wallet the Right Choice for You?In 1999, PayPal was launched as the first Internet-based money transfer system. Since then, mobile phones have become the new wallet and the number of apps that make this e-shift possible are growing by the minute. Now, mobile banking has moved into cloud-based apps like Square Wallet and LevelUp that allow smart phone users to sync their bank accounts and pay electronically in the real world.

THE BENEFITS

Using your “mobile wallet” to pay for items instead of using actual credit cards allows you to lighten the load of your real wallet and, more importantly, cuts down on your risk of identity theft in the event you lose your wallet. If you lose your phone, at least you know it has a security lock in place (if you’ve set it) and you can also call your phone company and have it shut off.

Other benefits of using a mobile wallet:

  • Paying for the items is usually quicker, moving you and the line behind you through faster.
  • The method of payment stays with the customer, making it harder for anyone trying to swipe your identity information by peering over your shoulder.
  • Lightens the load of physical credit cards and cash on hand.

Businesses that cater to mobile wallet users can reap the benefits, as well. Just as the mobile wallet user enjoys a faster line and more secured method payment, so too do the businesses. Faster lines mean happier customers and strengthening security on identity theft by installing mobile wallet user-friendly technology is always good business. It also cuts down on the amount of actual cash a business must handle daily.

The most unique feature with businesses using mobile wallet technology is the ability to use market strategies through the mobile wallet apps with transmitting and redeeming loyalty offers.

THE PRECAUTIONS

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the number of identity fraud victims annually in the U.S. is 11,517,900, costing a person an average of $4,930. Surprisingly, it’s the younger mobile users between the ages of 18 and 24 that are most affected by identity theft at 8.5 percent. Thus, if you fall in that age range and plan to use your mobile phone for financial transactions through mobile wallet apps, you should absolutely strengthen the security on your phone as much as possible. If your mobile phone PIN/keylock code isn’t enough to make you feel at ease, systems like LifeLock can provide monitoring and scanning for threats and quick notifications when there is a security breach. Like credit card payments, mobile phone payments are protected, so if your monthly statement is showing unfamiliar expenses, you should still alert your credit card company as soon as possible.

Something else to consider: mobile wallet technology is new and still somewhat “in development.” Not all businesses or credit card companies are willing to switch and not all smart phones support the applications. However, while it may not be widely accepted yet, the convenience and maximum security features that come along with having a mobile wallet are pushing consumers to reconsider and the businesses are sure to follow.

By March 2, 2014 Read More →

How Online Education is Benefiting Teens

How Online Education is Benefiting TeensAn educated populace is an advantage for almost all facets of a society. Hundreds of studies worldwide have shown that improved higher education results in higher income levels for individuals. While most agree that a good education is useful, students in some areas still have a hard time getting a diploma through traditional means. As per OpCentral, Online education fills this gap, giving students who might otherwise drop out a chance to stay in school and graduate.

Help for Schools

Economically depressed urban areas and remote areas with small populations both have the same problems in terms of schooling: there is not enough money to adequately provide a superior high school experience for their students. Whether school districts are too large or too small, resources will still get stretched trying to provide for the basic needs of the lowest common denominator. Enrichment or advanced placement classes are luxuries these districts can’t afford or justify. With the advent of online education programs, however, students have available hundreds of classes to round out their education. Instead of finding the money to hire and keep specialized teachers, school districts can help fund individual students’ classes online or assist them in finding scholarships and grants to cover their tuition.

Social Safety

According to a survey by Microsoft, 72 percent of children ages 8-17 have been bullied worldwide. While it is certainly preferable for students to stand up and work things out themselves, in some cases this is simply impossible. Students like Amanda Todd, who committed suicide after being bullied, are not unique anymore. In these extreme cases, it’s much better for students to leave the physical school environment and continue their education online. They can earn a high school diploma online and, if they attended accredited schools like Penn Foster, can even continue on to earn a degree without ever having to switch schools.

Job Security

There are many reasons why students drop out of high school and college, but online education can address many of them. Students who have limited means for college can take classes at home, saving money on transportation and fitting classes in among job responsibilities. They can even work a full time job while going to school, moving on to a more lucrative position once they graduate. Online education opens up more opportunities to students than traditional high school and college courses, and allows more of them to take advantage of trade certificate programs that ensure a chance at a higher income in a shorter amount of time than in a traditional four year program.

Posted in: Editorial
By February 28, 2014 Read More →

Win an HP Pavilion A4 15″ Notebook

pavillion-15It has been a little while since we last had a good competition or give-away on the site but we’re back with a corker. We’ve teamed up with AMD and we have a fantastic HP Pavilion A4 Notebook, in red, worth around £450 and one lucky reader is going to be walking away with it!

To see the prize that we are giving away in more detail, check out the official video below and then you can see how to enter after that…

 

As usual we are going to make this very easy for you.

To enter, all you have to do is follow tracyandmatt on Twitter and retweet the following tweet: “RT @tracyandmatt I want to win a red HP Pavilion A4 Notebook from tracyandmatt and @AMD see how you can enter too: http://bit.ly/amdcomp” You can also click the retweet link below to save you copying and pasting the phrase. Your twitter name will be entered in to the draw.

RETWEET ME!

Your twitter name will be entered in to the draw. You’ll have to keep following us as we’ll notify winners via DM.

 

Entry is open until midnight on the 31st March 2014 and the winner will be picked on the 1st April. Will that be a lucky day for you?

We’ll contact the winner via twitter so make sure that you are still following us!

Good luck.

By February 27, 2014 Read More →

All New HTC One coming March 25th

saveHTC have started sending out ‘save the date’ emails advising the the “Best Smartphone of 2013 is about to get better”.

The special announcement says the 25th March is the date that we’ll be able to see the HTC One successor, officially, for the first time.

Expect to see information on the ‘All New Scooby Doo Show’  ‘All New HTC One’ become more frequent between now and then as more information is bound to leak!

Posted in: News
By February 26, 2014 Read More →

Google Glass Banned?

Google-GlassGoogle Glass isn’t even on the shelves yet and it’s being banned from all sorts of places. It was reported towards the end of last year that the “wearable tech”, which incorporates a tiny screen and camera connected to the internet, was already unwelcome at some casinos in the USA. Is this a knee-jerk reaction to a genuinely exciting, even revolutionary new technology? Is it maybe a fantastic bit of PR?

 

Casino Bans

CasinoFor a piece of kit that only a tiny percentage of humanity has actually tried, a whole lot of people seem to have an opinion about it. Google Glass certainly does have implications for casinos and their patrons, both negative and positive, so if you manage to get your hands on a pair you might be better off testing those capabilities somewhere like Gaming Club online casino first.

In New Jersey, the ban is official. The state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement has ordered all 12 casinos under its jurisdiction to stop gamblers wearing Glass. Various other states have followed suit, including Nevada, meaning that casinos in Las Vegas (and Reno) won’t allow the device.

 

https://www.ukmeds.co.uk/surgical-face-masks