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 January 14, 2014 Read More →

The future of Tachograph technology

TachographDigital tachographs are well established in Europe. The technology first took centre stage in 2004 and was made compulsory by the EU in 2006 for vehicles over three and half tonnes. The technology is used to track and record the time a driver spends behind the wheel and how fast they are going. They are commonplace in the transport industry where employers have to manage and stay within EU drivers’ laws.

However, recent developments in India have lead the country to start considering the adoption of the technology.  In an article published by Dipak Kumar and Pankaj Doval for The Times of India, the Road Transport Ministry in Karnataka are seeking an explanation for a series of recent bus fires. The ministry sought an explanation from manufacturer Volvo and are also looking into the possibility that overworked drivers could be behind the incidents. A spokesperson from Volvo said that a finalised report is coming soon, as they are still conducting an inquiry into the case.  

Tachograph technology could greatly benefit India when investigating traffic accidents like this in the future. Automobiles can be fitted with a digital tachograph and the data from a driver’s journey can be recorded onto a ‘driver card’. The information stored on this card can be periodically downloaded by transport authorities or employers to track the driver’s speed, distance travelled and rest times.

While this may sound good in theory, questions are raised as to which governing bodies would check and enforce this technology. In the EU, it is an employer’s responsibility to keep track of these driving records and be ready to present them when transport authorities require them. Failure to make or keep records under GB domestic rules can lead to fines up to £2,500.

Aside from it being a legal requirement, there are a number advantages to digital tachograph equipment. It helps reduce the likelihood of unfair competition when a business forces its drivers to work over their legal driving hours. As such, it creates a fairer market where smaller companies that abide by the rules aren’t being muscled out by exploitative competitors.

The technology also allows employers to identify problem areas and improve their efficiency. Stoneridge Electronics are a company which provide tachograph analysis packages that can be very beneficial to employers. They can use the analysis software to create business reports and track trends. If drivers aren’t taking the most efficient routes for example, employers can work with them and improve efficiency. It is also a good deterrent against bad driving habits like speeding.

But perhaps the biggest advantage to tachograph devices are their usefulness in the event of a road accident. If a driver is ever involved in a crash, the tachograph will give a detailed report of how fast they were going and how long they had been driving. When this data is stood up against eye-witness accounts and other testimony, it can be invaluable for shedding light on the events.

While the implementation of tachographs in India may only be a pipe-dream, it’s clear the country could make excellent use of this technology and the advantages it provides.

Posted in: Editorial
By January 13, 2014 Read More →

Windows 8.2 could be Windows 9

Windows 8.2 could be Windows 9Many reports are currently circulating about the anticipated update to Windows 8 dubbed ‘Threshold’. It was previously understood that the next version would be Windows 8.2 and many hope that it will include the return of the much demanded start menu.

However, according to this report, it’s likely that the successor to Windows 8.1 will be called Windows 9 and that Microsoft out the next iteration of its client operating system at the Build Conference on 2 to 4 April in San Francisco. It is claimed that Microsoft want to create some distance between Windows 8 and the Start Menu debacle, hence the change to Windows 9 and a seemingly clean slate.

If the report is accurate we could expect to see Windows 9 to start shipping to consumers in early 2015.

More details here.

By January 13, 2014 Read More →

Google Glass Glassware must-haves

Google Glass GlasswareMany of you will know that since I got my Google Glass about a month ago I have become a massive convert and huge supporter of it. In fact I wear my Glass almost all the time now, pretty much only taking it off when I go to bed or before meeting.

Those that I work with have also become accustomed to seeing that ‘thing’ attached to my head!

At the moment Google Glass can still be considered to be in Beta and, as it stands, the list of apps, known as Google Glass Glassware, is somewhat limited. However, many new developers have taken up the mantle and and the list of available third-party apps is now growing.

So I thought I would take a moment to mention a couple of the apps that I consider to be must-have and those that I use all the time.

 

Toolkit for Glass

This one is from my dear old friend Paul O’Brien. Toolkit for Glass offers several features that probably should have been a part of the base OS of Glass. Paul’s toolkit provides the following:

  • use ‘open camera’ to give you a camera viewfinder, take pics using the camera button. Enables you to properly frame a photo.
  • use ‘switch wifi’ to toggle wifi with voice confirmation. Turning off WiFi when you aren’t using it helps to extend the battery life.
  • use ‘switch bluetooth’ to toggle bluetooth with voice confirmation. Turning off Bluetooth when you aren’t using it helps to extend the battery life.
  • use ‘get status’ to receive a voice readout of battery, wifi and bluetooth status’
  • just for testing some stuff – use ‘magnify’ to open the camera where sweep forward will zoom in, sweep back will zoom out

Glasquare

This is an unofficial version of Foursquare specifically for Google Glass. Glasquare features include:

  • 3 voice commands: Check me in, Show best venues and Search venues for …
  • super-fast check-ins with a possibility to add photos and comments
  • 10 best venues around you/matching your search with details
  • directions towards a selected venue
  • read tips of the selected venue

SpeedHUD

google_glass_screenshot-300x168The use of Google Glass while driving continues to be controversial and there are still plans to ban it while driving.  However, there are a couple of apps out there that, in my opinion, would certainly improve driving safety and one app that I enjoy using is SpeedHUD which is believe demonstrates the very reason why a blanket ban is premature at best.  SpeedHUD shows your speed and compass direction.

 

Obviously there are many more Glassware apps out there but these are just the third-party one that I use all the time. Whether you are new to Google Glass or an veteran they are definitely worth a look!

 

 

By January 12, 2014 Read More →

Lenovo Ideapad Miix 10 unboxing and hands on

Lenovo Ideapad Miix 10Lenovo have a wide range of ‘multimode’ devices on the market and we’re continuing to look at the entire range with the Ideapad Miix 10.

This Windows 8 computer can transform from laptop to tablet in seconds offering great flexibility and enables you to have the capabilities of several devices in one package. The keyboard doubles as a flexible case/cover but this can be removed completely should you wish to use it in naked tablet mode.

Those out there considering their first tablet computer may want to look at devices like this, running Windows 8, as they offer a good alternative to Android and iOS tablets on the market as they are capable of running desktop applications which is useful in the corporate environment and where business productivity is important.

In the video below you’ll see the Miix 10 in a little more detail, I’ll show you the hardware and how the keyboard works with the removable tablet unit. Not the normal unboxing as our review unit was a bit battered but otherwise it’s a full unbox and hands-on.

By January 11, 2014 Read More →

Better than Black Friday: Deals to Look Forward to After Christmas

Better than Black FridayEvery year, consumers across America push themselves away from the Thanksgiving table and hit the stores in search of Black Friday deals. Some even camp out for days in hopes of securing a fantastic deal. Although many people believe that the day after Thanksgiving is the biggest sales day for retailers, that honor, according to Time.com, typically goes to the day before Christmas when the panic-stricken and the procrastinators are frantically looking high and low for a few last-minute purchases.

If you decided to skip Black Friday this year but are still looking for bargains, don’t fret. There will be plenty of time after Christmas to pick up the items you wanted for much less than full price.

Wait to Buy Electronics

If you really want a certain electronic item, but don’t need to have it before Christmas, then the Christian Science Monitor recommends waiting until after the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Prices for electronics typically drop not long after the public gets a look at the new models that will soon be hitting store shelves.

Jackets and Winter Clothing

If you’ve had your eye on a jacket and you can tell there is plenty of inventory in your size, take a gamble and wait. According to Boston.com, the prices of cold weather-related clothing typically drops dramatically after Christmas. Of course, there is always a chance that last-minute Christmas shoppers will snatch up the item you wanted and that you’ll be greeted with an empty rack on the 26th. If that happens, don’t despair. You can always search for the item online. For example, if you really love a pair of two-tone boots at Macy’s, but your size is no longer available when you visit your local store, check Macy’s website, which may still have what you’re looking for.

If you don’t find your size online, re-visit your local store in a week. Remember, after Christmas is a notorious time of the year for returning gifts and, with any luck, you may find that someone has returned the item you’ve been lusting after.

Groupons and Living Social Deals

These social network websites offer coupons for goods and services. Typically, you will pay half of the actual cost of the item being offered by these sites, which means that you can stretch your dollars even further when you hit the sales floors.

Travel

The period after the holidays and before Easter is one of the best times of the year to find travel bargains, according to CNN.com. People tend to travel less during the winter months, kids are in school and most people are still feeling the pain of the Christmas binge spending. If travel was one of your Christmas wishes, then wait until after the 25th to book. By doing so, you will typically be able to find great deals on flights, hotels and attractions, such as Disney.

Cars

If you didn’t get a car with a big red bow on it in your driveway, then head to the dealerships. Because the dealers and salespeople will be trying to meet their sales goals, you will find the best bargains on autos at the end of the year, according to USA Today. In addition, the dealerships are eager to clear their sales floors to make room for the new year’s models, so you’ll find great incentives at this time of the year to purchase a car.

By January 9, 2014 Read More →

4K TV

4K TVTV lovers will be excited to hear that Amazon is filming all of its original drama in 4K UHD quality for LOVEFiLM. 4K UHD is a relatively new technology which provides viewers with exceptional clarity and definition, using four times as many pixels as FULL HD. The enhanced detail means that even with very large television screens the definition is not compromised.

Extremely high definition on a grand screen might sound like TV heaven, but up until now there hasn’t been much for 4K UHD televisions to watch. Some 4K televisions come loaded with material shot in 4K to showcase the technology, but more content filmed in 4K is needed. That’s why audio/visual enthusiasts and TV fans will welcome the news about Amazon and LOVEFiLM.

The director of Amazon Studios has said, “All of the pilots and series we produce next year will be shot in 4K. That includes our first ever drama series that we will green light next year. We think customers are going to love watching these series in the highest resolution ever available to consumers and we can’t wait to deliver it.”

Advances in encoding technology (which enables audio and visual material to be downloaded) means that 4K UHD television and movies can now be streamed quicker.

Next year Amazon will be producing five new television pilots which viewers will be asked to watch and give feedback on. Once piloted, they will get made into a series filmed in 4K UHD and be available to stream on LOVEFiLM. The pilots include Chris Carter, creator of the X-files, show ‘The After’, ‘Bosch’- a series based on the Harry Bosch book series- and ‘Mozart in the Jungle’ from critically acclaimed director Roman Coppola.

This development is great for online streaming customers, even if they are not yet on the 4K UHD bandwagon. 4K ultra high definition is set to be this year’s big audio/visual technology story and with not much content out there, Amazon have got a head start. 4K UHD will only become more popular and it’s good to know that when there is more content available.

Posted in: News, TV & Home Cinema
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By January 8, 2014 Read More →

VDI Technology and Disaster Recovery

Disaster-Recovery-900x900The use of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions means businesses can operate with more and more of their data being stored and rendered accessible via external data centers. As a consequence, disaster recovery processes and the planning involved has become much more straightforward and reliable.

 

Getting Back Up to Speed

A growing number and variety of services provided by and relied upon by businesses are data intensive. Often these services are essential for business continuity and so their reliability and security is paramount for the companies involved and for their customers.

VDI technologies and solutions like those from Dell serve to limit an organization’s vulnerability to IT and data service downtime, even in the event of severe conditions or a potentially disastrous scenario. Plus the use and integration of VDI means businesses can get their operations and their most critical data-related functions back up and running more rapidly than with more traditional IT set ups.

 

Benefits of Virtualization 

Innovations in virtualization technologies and expanded use of cloud computing solutions have had a huge impact on the way businesses operate and aim to optimize how they meet customer demand. Improved business continuity and a more robust disaster recovery potential is an important part of the equation and a key advantage of virtualization. 

Virtualization and cloud computing take business IT from being a capital investment issue to being considered more as an operating cost. Establishing a VDI also benefits businesses simply because such a system puts operationally important data in the cloud, where it is no longer vulnerable to the impact of physically devastating phenomena like earthquakes, floods or a terrorist attack. 

Planning for the Worst

No organization or business can anticipate what might be a disastrous scenario but they can always benefit from planning for how they would recover under even the most terrible circumstances. Virtualization makes key IT functions more secure and accessible on a day-to-day basis and under extreme conditions, which of course makes disaster recovery more manageable and potentially far less damaging. 

Data-related downtime can eventually cost companies across a huge range of industries some enormous sums of money, as well as very significant reputational damage. Virtualization of desktops and infrastructures protects against such outages and can cut costs for businesses in the short term as well.

As part of the Dell team, I very much recommend investigating our VDI and cloud computing solutions further via our website at dell.com.

 

This article was written by freelance writer and mother of three, Kathryn Thompson.  Follow her on Twitter: @katht35

By January 8, 2014 Read More →

Will Windows 8.2 see the return of the Windows start menu?

win8_2When Windows 8 was revealed to the public back in October 2012, there was a burning question floating around – where’s the notorious Windows Start menu? The update had not only shocked everyone with its multi-functioning operating system, touch-screen compatibilities and bright Live Tiles but it had also omitted some of the most well known functionalities synonymous with many computers whether they’ve been bought from the high street or online from retailers like ebay.co.uk.

The sudden disappearance of the Windows Start menu, previously seen in Windows 7, was met with mixed reviews, prompting Microsoft to rethink. Like all successful companies, they listened to customer feedback before releasing the first major system update aptly named Windows 8.1 in October 2013. This saw the reintroduction of the Start button allowing users easy access to other parts of the computer system including the Control Panel and Task Manager – but the full features of the Start menu are still missing.

With Microsoft 8.2 (apparently codenamed Threshold), expected some time in the near future, many people have been speculating the changes that might occur. Of course, the Windows Start menu has been top of the list with bloggers and computer fanatics suggesting the full menu will indeed make a comeback. After all, it’s the next logical step isn’t it? According to Winsupersite, the next version of Windows will let users run Metro apps in floating windows on the desktop and reintroduce the Start menu on products that support the desktop.

So, with this in mind, maybe one day we’ll have an upgrade with a good old Start menu that can do all its regular tricks such as start programs, open commonly used folders, search for files, folders and programs, adjust computer settings, get help with the Windows operating system, turn off the computer, log off from Windows/switch to a different user account. Or perhaps we’ll get a Start menu that’s completely different and spark another wave of computer related fury.

For now, however, Microsoft are keeping their lips tightly sealed so we’ll have to just be satisfied with the state-of-the-art, high-tech Start screen that stands in place of the Start menu – and is it really that shabby? Sure, it might take a bit of getting used to (all new things do), but with the ability to pin, group, rename, order and resize an array of apps at your leisure, Windows 8.1 displays an array of clever technology and is designed to make your life a bit easier. The interface can be used with a keyboard and mouse or as a touch screen (depending on the computer you buy) and allows you to do everything from retouching photos to creating slide shows and playlists.

 

– This article was written by freelance writer and mother of three, Kathryn Thompson.  Follow her on Twitter: @katht35

By January 7, 2014 Read More →

Phone accessories for your jogging stroller…?

Well yes we did call this a pointless peripheral when we first saw it back in 2009 Orlando Stroller Rentalbut 5 years later it does, perhaps, have some merit?

With far more parents using jogging strollers and pushchairs and taking baby for a walk being used for exercise, is the hands-free clip for your phone on a stoller as silly as it seemed?

Recently we had an Orlando Stroller Rental and, as we spend so much time working, even when we’re on a Disney holiday so we found it better to have it secured there in front of us rather than in pockets all the time.

Just an idea…

 

Posted in: Editorial
By January 6, 2014 Read More →

Lenovo announces more multimode devices

WW_Image_Consumer_Lenovo_MIIX_2_Dynamic_shot_Option_1_High_resAt CES this afternoon, Lenovo have announced a number of new multimode and convertible devices to supplement their exiting range.

There will be new Miix, Yoga and Flex models added to the lineup which makes Lenovo the leader in Multimode and Convertible form computing.

Lenovo’s full press release follows but we hope to get our hands on these devices soon!

Posted in: Laptops, News, Tablets
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