Author Archive: Matt

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

rss feed Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google Plus YouTube

Author's Website →

By September 16, 2016 Read More →

The Future of Television

There’s no escaping it, television is a huge part of the culture of this country. According to statistics released by Ofcom, no less than 90 percent of adults tune into their favourite shows without fail every week. Our media is dominated by the lives of television stars, and as programming and technology continues to improve exponentially, there’s no way our love of television is going anywhere any time soon. Do you remember your first TV? Sometimes when we’re sat watching tiny beads of sweat on the brows of our favourite footballers, it can be hard to remember that television wasn’t always such an excellent viewing experience. Today we reveal what’s still to come in TV technology, and reminisce about days gone by…

 

Exciting developments…

Although impossible to see how picture quality can get much better than it is currently – the next leap in HD technology is said to be just around the corner, and will see 8k HD become the norm. Arguably the most exciting development on the block is organic light-emitting diodes (OLED), which is an advancement on LED technology that’s a whopping 1000x faster, and could allow hardware like roll-up screens to become a wonderful, and undeniably futuristic, reality.

In a recent interview, Paul Lever from Cheapest Electrical discussed OLED, “LG and Samsung both revealed potential models at this year’s CES, with the LG winning CNET’s Best of CES Award. Make no mistake, this is the most important advancement in TV technology in more than a decade, and a vast improvement over both LCD and plasma.”

When enjoying the perks of such advanced technology, it’s easy to forget how we got to this point. Let’s take a little look back, shall we?


In simpler times…

For 30 years, from the 1960’s up until the 90’s the predominant television found in houses across the nation was the cathode ray tube, or CRT TV for short. Usually no larger than 25”, the only real additional feature these models offered was access to Teletext.

 

A leap in quality…

As we rolled into the 90’s the latest technologies to cause a stir were plasma and LCD screens. Opinion was initially divided over which provided the best viewing experience – but eventually LCD was victorious, due to using far less energy, and having a better shelf life. Plasma screens were discontinued relatively recently in 2014.

 

A switch to digital…

Between 2008 – 2012 the country slowly transitioned from analogue to digital. This switch meant that 26 million people were instantly granted access to freeview TV – and all the additional channels, and features that came with it. Now viewers could pause live TV, record a whole series of their favourite shows with just the touch of a button, and could enjoy interactive services, which enhanced the viewing experience.

 

Along comes HD…

Next picture clarity was targeted, and 4k ultra high definition became the norm, improving the viewing experience tenfold. Digital TV meant people with the right televisions could now access multiple free HD channels, and providers like BT and Netflix made it possible for you to watch your favourite shows and sports in high definition.

 

Posted in: Editorial
By July 29, 2016 Read More →

Broken Appliance: Is it more cost effective to repair or replace it?

Appliances are essential when it comes to everyday household chores, however they’re not indestructible and it can be extremely irritating and costly when they begin to fault.

Some of the most common faults are pretty straightforward to put right. However, when the problem is out of your control then it’s time to face the tough decision whether to call in repair specialists or to invest in new model and cut your losses on expensive repairs.

To help make the decision for you, Glotechrepairs.co.uk have produced a handy infographic which they’ve put together with their own research and data to show you whether it’s best to fork out on repairs or whether it would be more affordable to buy a replacement model.

Scroll along the infographic below to see whether you should repair or replace your appliance.

Posted in: Editorial
By July 26, 2016 Read More →

Best Games to Experience Vegas from Home

You don’t have to travel all the way to Las Vegas for a gambling experience. Of course, it cannot be denied that the glittering Vegas experience is unique and cannot be reproduced. You have to go to Vegas to enjoy the Vegas casino experience, complete with free drinks and charming croupiers. Despite this, several successful attempts have been made to take Vegas right up to players’ doorsteps, totally eliminating the need for players to travel to Sin City.

Play Casino Games Online

The easiest way to experience Vegas at home is to sign up at an online casino, load your account, and start playing online casino games for real money. One of the best casino sites in the industry is Slots Heaven, which runs on a sophisticated software platform and offers an impressive portfolio of online pokies.

You won’t get any free drinks while playing at Slots Heaven, but you can surely enjoy brilliant graphics, entertaining animations, and realistic sound effects along with enormous bonus offers, cashback offers, and rewards for loyalty. Playing casino games online is like experiencing Vegas away from Vegas.

Live Dealer Games

If you want to play a game that is actually being played at physical locations, you should play at live casinos, which usually form parts of online casinos’ product portfolios. Not all online casinos offer live gaming services, but some of them do and it is not at all difficult for players to find them. Usually, live casinos offer games such as Live Casino Hold’em, Live Poker, Live Baccarat, Live Roulette, and Live Blackjack.

You don’t even need computers and software programs to create a Vegas-like atmosphere at home. Simply organize a casino night or a casino-themed party. Decorate your house like a casino, invite your friends, and play immortal casino games such as poker, blackjack, and baccarat.

Posted in: Apps & Games
By April 25, 2016 Read More →

Without a doubt, eSports are a GLOBAL market

In the last decade or so, the rise of eSports has been impressive to say the least. While video and social media platforms such as Youtube and Facebook have both helped to spread the word of eSports and competitive gaming, the ‘sport’ in general is booming thanks to key personalities who have left their mark on the world of online gaming.

The likes of Syndicate, KSIOlajidebt and Felix Kjellberg have helped to enhance the appeal of online gaming – largely down to their publicity and likeable personalities. Nowadays, there are plenty of vloggers who attempt to follow in their footsteps and commentate over their gameplay whilst playing FIFA, Call of Duty and more.

But behind the scenes, eSports have been growing and it’s now much more than a few famous faces on the internet. ESports ARE a global brand. They are huge. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake in their daily tournaments and the best players in the world are making an absolute fortune on a weekly basis.

In fact, you can now place bets on eSports – THAT’S how big they are. Betway have a growing market dedicated specifically to eSports and punters can place bets on tournaments, individual games and team competitions. And best of all, eSports are only going to get bigger in the future as more money is invested.

The latest partnership deal with both Yahoo and Twitch, which will see major competitions broadcast all over the world, is just the next step for what is perhaps the fastest growing market on the planet. Most people believe that Youtube is a gold mine but eSports is much more impressive – the scale of money involved is frightening.

Earlier this year, the 2016 FIFA Interactive World Cup was held in New York City – with the top 32 players in the world travelling to the United States’ East Coast for the competition. On that occasion, Denmark’s Mohamad Al Bacha came up trumps as he defeated England’s Sean Allen in the final of the competition.

For that, Al Bacha emerged with £20,000, the trophy presented by Franck Ribery and a ticket to the next FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony. And while the cash incentives are much greater for other competitions, it’s quickly becoming more about the perks of the job and the potential achievements for being one of the top players in the world.

As eSports continue to grow, the global audience and market will also increase. This year, the FIWC final was broadcast live on Sky Sports and it’s only a matter of time before a dedicated eSports television channel springs up. Then, and only then, will people start to accept it for what it is: a corporate, money-making machine.

Posted in: Editorial
By April 15, 2016 Read More →

6 Reasons Your Solar Batteries Aren’t Working as They Should

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 08.35.17With the clocks going forward, and the days getting longer, spring has begun! It’s time to get those fingers green in your garden and get it prepared for all those BBQ’s and chilled out evenings in the garden.

It’s not long until the days will be long enough to bring your solar lights to life; now is the time to test them out and make sure they are in tip top shape in time for the return of spring and summer days. If you get them out and they are not performing as they should or aren’t working at all, here are a few reasons and how you can resolve any issues:

 

1.      Solar Panel Needs Cleaning

Solar lights need four working components to function; this includes, battery, solar panel, light sensor and a bulb/LED, if the solar panel is covered by dirt or dust this negatively impact the amount of charge received from light, which will then lead to a decreased performance of the light. To clean the panel, simply use a dry or damp cloth and wipe it down removing any dirt or dust that may have collected. You can also use window or glass cleaner to give it a deeper clean.

 

2.      Is it positioned correctly?

Often, people don’t realise that their solar lights simply need their position changing slightly; if they are positioned in the wrong way it will not be receiving the necessary amount of light each day to charge the battery up. Try and notice where light hits your garden most throughout the day to guarantee your solar light gets enough daylight!

 

3.      Batteries Self Discharged

After a while, the batteries that came with the solar lights will discharge themselves; therefore, it is necessary to ensure they receive a full charge every three months at least to give them the longevity required.

 

4.      Remove The Batteries When Storing

We’re coming out of winter now, and if you didn’t remove the batteries from your solar lights before putting them into storage you may notice a decrease in performance from your solar lights or they may not be working at all. It’s always key to remember to remove the batteries before you place them into storage.

 

5.      Allow Batteries to Fully Charge

Give the batteries at least 24 hours’ worth of full charge before placing them back in your garden and into darkness, this will allow you to see if there are any issues with any of the other components or whether it is the battery that either needs charging or replacing.

 

6.      Batteries Run Their Life Cycle

Rechargeable solar light batteries are often included when you purchase your solar lights; however, a lot of people don’t realise that these will need attention to ensure they last as long as they can. Typically, you may start to see a decrease in their performance after 1-2 years, but often this can happen sooner.

 

If the batteries have run their life cycle and need replacing, it is easy to find and purchase new rechargeable batteries to fit your solar lights. It’s important to remember to get the right size battery and the correct voltage, consider your purchase carefully and if you are unsure discuss with a professional who will advise on which battery is the right one for you.

Purchasing new rechargeable batteries for your solar light from Buy a Battery couldn’t be easier; they offer upgraded NiMH rechargeable batteries, to replace older NiCd batteries, these are longer lasting and more environmentally friendly too, meaning you can get more out of your solar lights!

 

Posted in: Editorial, Gadgets
By March 29, 2016 Read More →

Top 10 Must Have Apps for Career Women

14365668676_082f54ecb4_cWhen you’re a busy career woman, you’re on the go a lot of the time. Sometimes it feels like there are just not enough hours in the day! Enter the trusty mobile phone with a range of apps you can install to make working life much easier. Here are 10 apps that every career woman should have on their phone.

Trello

Trello is a project management app and is available on the iPhone and Android. The app works like an absolute dream for working in teams. The app is particularly good for brainstorming ideas, allowing people to discuss projects; delegating tasks; and for monitoring checklists and the progress being made on a project.

Evernote

The Evernote app works well for business or for pleasure, since you can write notes, store pictures, take photos and record voice memos (handy if you have to quickly note something down). Essentially, this app takes some of the hassle out of ‘life admin’ so that it doesn’t complicate your working day.

Expensify

There’s no doubt that if you have a company expense account, your employers will be keeping a close eye on how you use. Of course, in the hustle and bustle or working life, it’s easy to lose a receipt. Don’t worry. You can take a picture of receipts and then load them from your phone into the app. The app picks out important data like dates and prices. You can also create expense reports.

Time Master

The Time Master app is invaluable for time tracking, especially if you’re billing by the hour. On this business app you can track time by job or project, record expenses and there’s also an optional billing application. Unfortunately, this iOS app isn’t free, but a minor investment in it can save you more money in the long run as you organise your billing more efficiently.

Dropbox

Unfortunately, you can’t take a whole load of files and folders on the plane with you, if you have to travel. At least, it’s not practical. That’s where Dropbox comes in handy. Through Dropbox you’ll have access to the documents you need, whether that’s a contract, a resume, a meeting schedule or other item.

Sidekick

Nothing can cause problems in business like not receiving crucial pieces of information. It sets projects back, causes breakdowns in communication and ultimately costs you money. The Sidekick app gives you piece of mind by informing you whether a recipient has received and opened that all-important business email or document, so that if you haven’t then you know to follow it up with the appropriate measures.

14565350736_0c1456e0f8_z

Coffitivity

Do you want to be more productive in your work? Of course you do! According to science, ambient background noise ups your productivity. Coffitivity recreates the sounds of a coffee shop, providing an atmosphere while you type up that performance review or business plan. Give it a try, it’s on the iOS and the Android.

SignEasy

Available on the iOS and the Android, SignEasy makes signing contracts easy. Instead of searching far and wide for the nearest printer — not a convenient thing to have to do when you’re on the move — to sign docs, you’ll be able to cross the ‘t’s and dot the ‘i’s on Word documents and PDFs by using this app.

Contacts Journal

Networking is a major part of being in business or working in many industries. You’re sure to bump into someone and then later on forget what their name was, what sector they worked in or even what you talked about on the whole. Jog your memory with the relationship management app Contacts Journal, which helps you to keep track of the different people you meet in your working life.

15203451642_835b20a357_c

Remember that your phone is a vital tool, so you should make sure you have the best technology and the best value for money. Use a comparison checker to seek out the best SIM only deals so that you’re saving on your own expenses as you go about doing smart business with others.

Images by citirecruitmentNguyen Vu Hung (vuhung), and Ignite New Zealand, used under Creative Commons licence

Posted in: Editorial
By February 18, 2016 Read More →

4 Interesting Facts about Video Conferencing

There’s been a lot of talk about video conferencing. For many companies, it’s moving beyond talk right into application. Plenty of industries are already taking advantage of the benefits video conferencing solutions bring to the table. Here are some interesting facts about video conferencing that might prove helpful to you while you decide on how to upgrade your communication infrastructure:

 

No More Need to Travel

Powwownow says 56 percent of CFOs over the planet choose to do their meetings via video conferencing. It’s a great deal more convenient than traveling to wherever the meeting is set. Travel takes a lot out of your time and commuting presents unique challenges to employees. From driving to work through traffic or catching the train, and elbowing people aside for a chance to sit for a 2-hour trip commute, this can have a negative effect on how employees start their day.

For some employees, though, travel can be a constant and time-consuming part of their daily work schedule. Take lawyers, for instance. Some clients might request for legal assistance and ask the lawyers to come to their homes for a long and lengthy discussion. If it’s a long drive, lawyers stand to lose a lot in terms of gaining enough billable hours if they have to drive to where all their clients are. 

In either case, travel is a notorious productivity-killer. With video conferencing though, lawyers can consult with as many clients as they can whether they’re at the office or on the road. With less time dedicated to travel, they can also devote more hours to consulting sessions with their clients.

 

A Lot of Cost Savings

Companies who used video conferencing to cut down on their travel enjoyed a 30 percent drop in their travel costs. That’s a lot of savings for a company’s bottom line. And the good news doesn’t stop there. With less travel came other cost-savings as well. On-site training sessions that used to last for an entire month were now carried out in a week or two, with the rest of the training being implemented over video. That means less accommodation and food expenses. Annual seminars that used to take a week can now be done in a day, supplemented by a wealth of webinars and online conferences. Companies could now pay less for venue charges and enjoy greater profit. What’s more, businesses no longer had to rely on complicated hardware to set up their communication platforms. By relying on cloud-based solutions, companies can save a lot on hardware costs. Well-known industry players like Blue Jeans offer video conferencing equipment that cover room to remote capabilities. This means online conferences can be carried out, whether you’re in conference room equipped with a ton of equipment, at home with your laptop or halfway across the world with your tablet or mobile phone. That’s a whole lot of savings when you add them all up.

 

Greater Adoption of the Technology

71 percent of global companies are putting their money in the technology in a bid to slash travel expenses, IMMCA reports. As the number of users grow and the frequency with which they use the technology is a good reason to start migrating to cloud-based tools and solutions. That’s because shifting to the technology ensures compatibility. Compatible systems mean less to zero problems between you and your partner companies, users or customers. Another is to take advantage of the tech-dependent perks. As users multiply, more companies come out of the woodwork to play. Just take a look at the many online apps out there today. As technology evolves, you can expect to see more improvements and enhancements to come, which is good news for all. The better the technology, the more efficient it’ll be for everyone. And the more efficient it is, the greater competitive advantage it gives against your competitors. 

 

A Bigger Market and Talent Pool

Video conferencing collapses boundaries, in more ways than one. It doesn’t just let provide you with opportunities for face to face interviews with potential talents or consultations with clients, it also lets you reach out to those talents or clients—regardless of wherever they are in the world. No need to board a plane and head over to Japan for a business consult. No need to fly out candidates for an interview, until not until you’ve whittled down the applicant list to two to three promising talents. And even then, video conferencing can provide you with the means to conduct the final interview right from your office, sans travel. So if you’ve been having problems finding the right people on your team, maybe expanding your search to global talents will get the job done. And if local prospects aren’t looking up, putting out feelers in the global market can net you the kind of customers your business needs.

By February 10, 2016 Read More →

How to Implement Website Security without Compromising Website Performance

Back in 2013 we discussed some ways of making your website more accessible, which included a simpler web design and a responsive design for mobile. However, as time goes on, more and more criteria pops up that needs to be implemented. One of which that has had an increased significance over the past few years is website security.

A Brief Overview

With the increase of spamming sites and those that fall into other categories of abuse, Google wanted to be able to place authority and higher ranking on legitimate sites – essentially rewarding the good and syphoning out the bad. Not to mention that encouraging sites to become secure just makes the online world a safer place for everyone. In order to reward secure sites, in 2014 Google announced that the secure setting or the HTTPS domain extension is now being considered as a ranking signal. This meant that all professional sites, if they wanted to maintain a good SERP ranking, needed to include an SSL certificate – which can be found here – ensuring not only that their websites were secure, but that they wouldn’t lose search engine ranking. It seemed like a win-win-win scenario.

The Benefits of SSL

Ultimately, the advantages of having an HTTPS secured domain is that it does just that – secures your site. HTTPS verifies that the correct connection is being made between the website and the server and prevents other sites intercepting this connection or tampering with this connection process. The HTTPS also encrypts communication and ensures that browsing history, account passwords, or credit card numbers are all protected from being intercepted as well. In the end this ensures that your site is prevented from being hacked and that your website visitors are safe.

How to Implement SSL Security without Losing Site Speed

Of course everything has both a pros and cons list, and one of the major cons of an SSL domain designation, due to its extra portals of communication between servers, is that it presents speed issues. Since website loading speed is also a crucial component of the SEO ranking, and is in itself a ranking signal, therein lies the problem! So the challenge was to find a way to ensure that both ranking signals were satisfied without website performance being compromised. This requires reducing the number of connections or “handshakes” that need to be made to authenticate the HTTPS domain, which can be achieved through implementing:

    1. HSTS

This stands for HTTP Strict Transport Security. What is does is communicate that the browser should only connect using HTTPS and automatically redirects HTTP requests to HTTPS so that the server doesn’t have to perform the redirect.

    1. SPDY

Just like it sounds, this is a Google speed up module (meant to make your site speedy). It speeds up TLS connections by processing multiple requests through a singular connection.

    1. OCSP

This stands for Online Certificate Status Protocol and verifies the standing of the SSL certificate (if it has been revoked or is still in the clear). The goal is to relieve the browser from having to cross reference this information to verify the certificate.

    1. HTTPS Keep Alives

By keeping it alive, it means to keep the connection open, eliminating additional “handshakes” or the need for the browser and server to communicate and authenticate. These can have a significant impact on website speed.

    1. Resumption and Session Tickets

These are basically requests that allows the browsers and servers to communicate faster by overall reducing the communication time. Essentially, it does this by assigning a session ticket to a site that a browser has already visited, that way when it is visited again, the ticket informs the server that the SSL certificate or encryption has already been verified, and the request to view the page resumes without the need for another authentication process.

In the end it is better to have a secure site, which protects your company or business and your customers. Optimising your server to quickly process the SSL so that your site can remain fast as well as secure, is the best method for safeguarding your ranking and website performance.

Posted in: Editorial
By January 27, 2016 Read More →

5 of the best sat navs to get you from A to B

It’s incredible to think that we are now in 2016 and sat-navs are yet to be an as-standard feature in most new cars. It means that you’ll still have a lot of thinking to do when you come to purchase such a system.

Taking into account the broadest range of factors – from the comprehensiveness and relevance of their feature set to their ease of use and price – we have listed five of our favourite sat navs presently on the market.

1. TomTom GO 6000

This already highly-rated sat nav has benefitted from a comprehensive software overhaul that has put it back among the very best in the industry. From sharp lifetime traffic services to highly accurate navigation and effortless usability, this contender ticks almost all of the obvious boxes. If budget is a problem for you, sign up to camelcamelcamel to keep a track of the price changes and once you see a price point that matches your budget, use a voucher code to save even more money on this great sat nav.

2. Garmin nuvi 2599LMT-D

Although this, Garmin’s current range-topper is certainly a strong all-round sat nav – thanks to its highly competitive price and lifetime traffic that prevents you having to fork out for a subscription fee – it isn’t as intelligent as the GO 6000 at coming up with ways to beat hold-ups. Still, there are new models apparently on the way soon.

3. Snooper Pro SC5700 DVR

The SC5700 distinguishes itself by apparently being the first single device to combine sat nav functionality with safety camera detection and a DVR dash cam-style recorder. The individual features work pretty well, and although we found trying to control several of them simultaneously a bit confusing, we consider this model a good option if you presently lack a nav, dash cam or safety cam locator.

4. TomTom Start 50

 If you don’t have much experience of using sat navs but don’t want to choose a model that only boasts the most basic functions, the Start 50 could make a lot of sense. Its concise, easy-to-understand routing will certainly make your journeys easier and the lifetime maps are also more than welcome. This sat nav’s biggest strengths of all, however, are its ease of use and sheer good value. Downsides? You don’t get jam updates, but we can forgive that at this price point.

5. Binatone U605

The U605 is hardly the most complicated of sat navs, but if you really do just want something that you will you from A to B with little fuss, there aren’t many better options around.  We liked the standard of this model’s routing, while its maps come with lifetime updates. However, there are arguably better entry-level five-inch systems available from the likes of Garmin and TomTom.

Are you unsure what you need to look for in a sat nav? Read Argos’ comprehensive satellite navigation buying guide and don’t be afraid to comment below on the best and worst sat navs that you have used.

Posted in: Editorial, GPS/Sat Nav
By January 12, 2016 Read More →

How Does Embedded Software Allow the Aviation Industry to be Safer?

Embedded software controls machinery and devices other than computers, and is becoming increasingly popular across many industries for the time and cost efficiency that it affords. Beyond this, however, embedded software can provide increased security and quality in modern technology. So how does this apply to the aviation industry?

Esterel’s DO-178C is a testament to the extra security that embedded technology can bring to aviation technology. The DO-178C is an example of ANSYS’ SCADE suite, which is employed for the design of critical systems solutions for embedded software in aircrafts – from automatic pilots to engine control and landing gear systems. SCADE’s certification suites are highly reputed within the aviation industry for their model-based design, which guarantees the provision of all the material necessary for a piece of software to meet all requirements, with constant testing throughout the creative process and realisation of a project.

The software maintains a symbiotic relationship between system models and software models with automatic synchronisation in both directions, thus allowing for the elimination of errors and glitches, and ensuring that the technology is both safe and regulation-compliant from start to finish.

SCADE technology also features LifeCycle, a component which means it is almost self-monitoring, providing traceability, configuration, and automatic document generation and monitoring on the dashboard, thus increasing safety by providing constant updates on its performance and status.

The DO-178C in particular is an update of the long-established DO-178B, which has been guaranteeing the safety of aircraft certification since 1992. The DO-178C incorporates newer technologies and methods, most notably model-based development and verification, which is hugely beneficial to safety. Featuring both model simulation and testing for safety, DO-178C trials software throughout the creation process, constantly testing its security. Adopted by the FAA and EASA in 2012, the DO-178C Certification Plans for SCADE Suite Applications provides users with templates for applications which they can then tailor to their specific needs. The software also helps users to define a plan to meet their particular objectives within the frame of safety regulations, therefore guaranteeing safety and eliminating a large part of the time-consuming planning process. A project created using SCADE’s DO-178C is managed from start to finish (development, verification, configuration management, and quality assurance), meaning that problems are eliminated almost immediately and nothing outside of safety guidelines can be conceptualised or implemented, even in the planning stage.

Posted in: Editorial