Science & Technology

By June 9, 2014 Read More →

ZX-Uno bringing the Spectrum back

1905-zx-uno-zx-spectrum-hardware-fgpa-cloneWhat is the ZX-Uno?  Essentially it is a fan-made clone of the ZX Spectrum hardware, set to offer retro gamers an alternative to getting their 8-bit game-on.

The ZX-Uno has no release date just yet, the official website shows the hardware is already at quite an advanced stage of development . The FPGA based board not only behaves exactly like a ZX Spectrum, but also offers several new features the micro-computer could only dream of having.

Coming equipped with an SD Card slot, gamers will be able to load .TAP files directly into memory for use on the system – allowing easy access to the likes of Jet-Pac, Manic Miner and just about everything else. Designed to fit inside a Raspberry Pi case, the ZX-Uno also offers a rather snazzy audio-in 3.5mm jack port, allowing those who really want to stay true to the hardware the ability to boot up original cassette tapes.

According to the team behind this device, the ZX-Uno is estimated to cost a mere 30 Euros. So should you be a fan of the British micro-computer or need a good alternative to the dated hardware, keep a close eye on the ZX-Uno.

By May 24, 2014 Read More →

Nvidia stepping back from mobile tech

Nvidia-WallpaperIt seems oddly strange timing, NVIDIA’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has announced the company’s plans to take a step back from developing technology specifically for the mainstream tablet and smartphone markets. NVIDIA is currently preparing their next-gen Tegra K1 chip. It’s extremely powerful and recently destroyed the competition by a wide margin in some artificial benchmarks. 

This is why NVIDIA’s move seems a bit puzzling at first. After reading Huang’s perspective on the subject, it seems a bit more sensible. NVIDIA has realized their higher-end technology isn’t meant to compete with the menagerie of mediocre mobile models available. While NVIDIA was striving to take on their biggest rival, Qualcomm, the smaller MediaTek was swooping in to dominate in the low-end markets. This was basically rushing NVIDIA from two sides. 

To be clear, NVIDIA is not at all abandoning mobile. On the contrary, they are instead refocusing their efforts on future tech and on markets they have always been good it. That is automotive mobile and mobile gaming respectively. Huang indicated he does not want NVIDIA’s flagship Tegra brand conforming to inferior standards. NVIDIA sees the Tegra as a powerful line which should not have its standards sacrificed in the name of more efficient chipsets. In other words, NVIDIA wants to be the Lamborghini or Ferrari of mobile chipsets, instead of catering to mass production markets eventually relegating the Tegra line to that of a value sedan. 

In retrospect, this move makes a great deal of sense. NVIDIA has always been one of the two big titans in the gaming world. They are experts at fighting in that market. Of course, the mobile auto industry is new, but if NVIDIA can get there first, they can get a leg up on the rest of the mobile industry while their competitors’ focus on smartphones and tablets.

It sounds like NVIDIA will still have chipsets for tablets, but they will more than likely be geared towards gaming. Of course, the NVIDIA Shield device is also their baby, and Huang renewed their commitment to that product. In fact, Haung made it clear that he believes NVIDIA Shield will be the device which transforms Android into a great gaming platform.

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By May 2, 2014 Read More →

Windows Phone getting a Smartwatch wearable

windows-phone-smartwatch-premium-wellness-watch-WellographWindows Phone is joining the Smartwatch mob. Wellograph are releasing a Windows Phone 8.1 compatible smartwatch with a sapphire crystal display. The Wellograph watch features a heart rate monitor, activity tracker, and running watch. 

The official app will be optimized for Windows Phone 8.1, and syncs directly to the Wellograph watch, transferring all data over Bluetooth. The Windows Phone app will utilise the operating system’s most unique feature Live Tiles, allowing users to see information such as total steps and exercise score directly on the phone’s Start screen. The company will make an official Wellograph app for Windows Phone 8.1 available alongside both an iOS and Android app.

Nick Warnock, president of Wellograph, Inc says

We’re excited to be bringing Wellograph to the millions of users who love and enjoy their Windows Phones. Wellograph represents the first fitness tracking device dedicated to Windows Phone users and we’re committed to supporting our customers using the growing platform.

 

By April 11, 2014 Read More →

Work emails illegal after 6pm!

eFrance is such a strange place. An aluring draw is felt with thinking of french bread, wine and le romancing! Another addition might just be a winner for those who hate the bleep of a blackberry when relaxing at home with a Bourgogne Chardonnay and a saucy french movie. If working in Franceland you will no longer be bothered by your beret wearing boss, a deal has been signed between employers federations and unions to say that employees will have to switch off work phones and avoid looking at work email, while firms cannot pressure staff to check le massages.

Michel de La Force, chairman of the General Confederation of Managers, has said that “digital working time” would have to be measured. Some emailing outside of office hours would be allowed but only in “exceptional circumstances”. Obviously there has to be exceptions however the move echoes Volkswagen’s rule to stop sending emails to their employees 30 minutes after their shift ends and only resume 30 minutes before. 

Some will be hoping for an opt in, opt out policy as 24 hour sales and self employment could potentially suffer, however for those in big business with pressure from Le Grande Fromage, this will be a breath of fresh air.

 

 

By April 9, 2014 Read More →

EU court rejects requirement to keep data of users by telecom companies

government-surviellenceOn Tuesday the European Union’s highest court overthrew a rule that required telecoms companies to store the communications data of EU citizens for up to two years, on the grounds that it infringed on basic rights. The court ruled that the directive “exceeded the limits” of proportionality.

“The Court takes the view that, by requiring the retention of those data and by allowing the competent national authorities to access those data, the directive interferes in a particularly serious manner with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data,” it said.

“Furthermore, the fact that data are retained and subsequently used without the subscriber or registered user being informed is likely to generate in the persons concerned a feeling that their private lives are the subject of constant surveillance,” the court added in a statement.

The rule had required telecoms service providers to keep traffic and location data as well as other information needed to identify a user, but not the content of the communication. This directive was introduced by Brussels in March 2006 after bombings on public transport in Madrid and London.

The UK government says it is carefully considering the implications of the ruling so you can guarantee they will take their time and drag their feet.

Source [BBC]

By April 8, 2014 Read More →

Snapdragon Reveals 808 and 810 Chips for Next Year

qualcomm-snapdragon-810-2It looks like Qualcomm is just never satisfied with impressing mobile tech geeks. They continue to push the envelope, even when we are already blown away by the amazing tech they show off. Their latest creations scheduled to debut next year are the Snapdragon 808 and 810. Here’s a quick spec breakdown of these powerhouse chipsets, 

Snapdragon 808 MSM8992: (The 808 differs from the 810 primarily with a different core arrangement and slightly slower GPU and memory interface.)

  • CPU: 2 Cortex A57 cores + 4 Cortex A53 cores (hexa-core, big.LITTLE arrangement)
  • ISA: 32-bit/64-bit ARM v8-A, 20nm
  • GPU: Adreno 418
  • Memory bandwidth: 64-bit LPDDR4-933
  • LTE: Cat 6/7 LTE, built-in
  • eMMC interface: 5.0
  • Wi-Fi: no (requires separate Wi-Fi module)
  • Camera ISP: 12-bit dual-ISP
  • H.256 encode/decode: no/yes

Snapdragon 810 MSM8994: (The 810 is the higher-end of the two chipsets, and is designed to follow-up the Snapdragon 805, which is coming later this summer.)

  • CPU: 4 Cortex A57 cores + 4 Cortex A53 cores (octo-core, big.LITTLE arrangement)
  • ISA: 32-bit/64-bit ARM v8-A, 20nm
  • GPU: Adreno 430
  • Memory bandwidth: 64-bit LPDDR4-1600
  • LTE: Cat 6/7 LTE, built-in
  • eMMC interface: 5.0
  • Wi-Fi: no (requires separate Wi-Fi module)
  • Camera ISP: 14-bit dual-ISP
  • H.256 encode/decode: yes/yes

It looks like Qualcomm is now starting to make excellent use of the big.LITTLE architecture, which makes their stuff a bit more similar to Samsung’s Exynos. Regardless of how things are evolving in the mobile tech world, Qualcomm seems to be on the leading edge.

By March 25, 2014 Read More →

Google working on smart contact lenses

google-patentGoogle Glass could be a thing of the past. There is a rumour that Google is now working on smart contact lenses. The USPTO patent application filed by the search giant doesn’t look to be quite as capable as Google Glass, instead a “multi-sensor contact lens” working as a basic input device. This would connect to either a watch or Smartphone and this would provide the brain of the operation. 

Intomobile are reporting that Google have filed such a patent as illustrated on the right. They theorise this lens could also be able to pick cues from the environment, bundling a number of sensors for light, pressure, temperature, conductivity and electric field, all of which would be combined with a control circuit and power source embedded outside the user’s physical field of vision. So no brains would be included in this lens with all computing happening at a different location (smartphone?).

It does not seem so long ago that Google Glass seemed like a crazy dream that we wouldn’t see until 2020. However, time and tech are on our side for this and this really doesn’t seem to be to far out of reach. Next up, the Google Underpants!

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 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.

 

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