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How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour

July 21st, 2014 by Darien Graham-Smith

TimGlass

Lunch with Tim Danton is normally a jolly affair, but today he has decided to wear his Google Glass headset. Things get off to a bad start before we’ve even left the building, as I explain that I need to go via a cashpoint. “OK Glass!” barks Tim abruptly. “Directions to a cashpoint.” There is an awkward pause: I don’t know whether he’s waiting for me to speak, or has been distracted by some terribly important message that I can’t see. His face falls slightly. “It’s giving me directions to an attachment,” he explains, apologetically.

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Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?

July 16th, 2014 by Darien Graham-Smith

20140629_152204Until recently, there wasn’t much point taking your smartphone to a summer festival. With tens of thousands of people converging in the middle of the countryside, it was impossible to get a signal, and your battery was likely to expire on the first day anyway.

But things are changing. Coverage has improved markedly in recent years, and event organisers are starting to embrace mobile technology with official festival apps and onsite charging facilities – a more popular attraction than many of the bands, judging by the size of the queues. Read more

Windows Easy Transfer – not so “easy” in Windows 8.1

July 11th, 2014 by Barry Collins

Windows 8.1 Start

I’ve just had a run-in with the Windows Easy Transfer wizard, following which I’m tempted to fly to Redmond and run a seminar on the definition of the words “easy”, “transfer” and “wizard”.

It appears the tool that I’ve used to shunt files and settings from one PC to the next for God Knows How Long has been utterly emasculated in Windows 8.1, without any explanation from Microsoft whatsoever. So, let me attempt to shed some daylight on the situation.

We bought the father-in-law a new Windows 8.1 laptop for his 70th, and thus not wanting to spend the next six weeks in family tech-support purgatory, I told him to bring both old and new laptop round and let me transfer the files, settings and everything else.

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Formula 1: what a difference virtualisation makes

July 4th, 2014 by Steve Cassidy

Dell CaterhamHere at Silverstone the preparations for the British Formula 1 Grand Prix are well under way. While the weekend will be full of headlines surrounding Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and the various other British hopefuls, it’s intriguing to see how important the background technology is; and in particular, how virtualisation is giving Caterham Racing a time-saving edge. Read more

Office of the future: comfy chairs and tablets everywhere

July 3rd, 2014 by Nicole Kobie

SamsungTrader

What will the office of the future look like? Samsung has tried to answer that with a recent event showcasing the future of work – and it would appear that next-gen offices will be heavy on Samsung tablets and panel displays.

The first bit of tech on display was pre-event: before I entered the main showcase, a Samsung staffer excitedly asked for the NFC-enabled name tag I’d just been handed. She swiped it on a small device, waited a minute, and swiped again. Then she fiddled with the printer next to her, and swiped the card again, and 30 seconds later a coat-check tag printed out.

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Posted in: Newsdesk | 7 Comments »

I went to Glastonbury and the only thing that got high was my smartphone

July 1st, 2014 by Darien Graham-Smith

20140629_154932

I hadn’t previously heard of such a thing as a “selfie stick”, but that’s essentially what the XS Me-Shot Deluxe is: an extensible pole onto which you can mount a smartphone to take photos of your beautiful self (with the aid of the included Bluetooth controller).

Cleverly, it’s also being marketed as a summer festival accessory: angle it upwards rather than outwards and you can use it to take photos of the stage, or whatever you’re looking at, over the heads of your festival-going companions.

The Bluetooth controller is quite natty, including a recessed keyboard (needed for entering a PIN so you can pair it with the phone) and various media-player controls as well as a shutter release. The key part of it, though – the pole – is not, as technology goes, a particularly sophisticated bit of kit, as you can see from the picture above.

Does it work?

The extra height certainly does help you get a good perspective across crowded scenes. Here’s a picture I took at Glastonbury using the Me-Shot Deluxe:

20140629_215231

However, although shooting in this way can give you a clearer view of your subject, you’ll notice that it doesn’t get you any closer. It also puts you several feet away from your phone’s display, so you can’t easily check your results between shots, nor adjust the shooting settings should you need to.

I have doubts too as to the device’s suitability to the rough and tumble of a festival. The phone is held in place by a single screw-clamp; I didn’t like to do this up too tightly, for fear of cracking the plastic casing of my Galaxy S4. So instead I found myself constantly worrying that I had left it too loose, and that it may take only an unexpected collision with an enthusiastic Kasabian fan to cause my phone to fall off and be instantly trampled underfoot.

Without a doubt, shooting over people’s heads at a festival can pay off if you persevere (click for a larger image):

Knight

But even though the Me-Shot Deluxe does come with a cute little Bluetooth controller, I’d have to say that standing on tiptoes and holding your phone up by hand is rather less stressful in a bustling crowd – and also rather cheaper.

Meet the robots helping teach children

June 20th, 2014 by Jane McCallion

There are some invitations you don’t turn down, and for me, a room full of robots is on that list. Earlier this week, at a Humanising the Robot Society seminar, I got a sneak-peak at prototypes of robots that could shape our society in the near future. Here’s my pick of three of the most intriguing creations being used to help children learn and get around – although the last one isn’t very “human” looking, despite the name of the group putting on the seminar.

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Posted in: Newsdesk, Random | No Comments »

PaperLater: would you pay to print the internet?

June 16th, 2014 by Nicole Kobie

PaperLater cover

The internet is amazing: it’s home to nasty trolls, silly cat photos, and the MailOnline, but it’s so stuffed full of wonderful things that it’s impossible to read it all.

There are — of course — apps to help. By letting me quickly save stories to read later, Pocket has changed my life (and I’m not prone to exaggeration). Install the bookmark in your browser and connect the app to Twitter, and with a quick click you can save the stories behind interesting links to your phone to read offline later, such as when commuting or bored waiting for someone.

Now, PaperLater has taken this a step further. Your saved stories are printed on actual newsprint, which is delivered to your door like your own personal newspaper. It’s printing the internet.

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Amazon vs Kobo: how much to make the ebook switch?

June 11th, 2014 by Nicole Kobie

kindlewithbooks

Amazon has been locked in an epic battle with publishers for control of ebook prices for years now, and the fight has lately taken a nasty turn. Among other things, the retail giant has recently banned pre-orders of Hachette titles, including JK Rowling’s next mystery novel, and today it appears that it’s done the same to Warner Bros movies, refusing to take pre-orders of The Lego Movie.

This is obviously irritating for publishers — and authors, as Stephen Colbert’s amusingly rage-filled reaction highlights — and it has implications for readers too. I expound my thoughts on this in next month’s PC Pro (I’m sure you can’t wait), but the fact that I’m considering switching to a different ebook seller probably gives away the punchline.

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Phishing emails: how I nearly got caught out

May 29th, 2014 by Nicole Kobie

A phishing email popped into my inbox this morning. That’s hardly a rare occurrence, but what was unusual about this one is that I really wasn’t sure, for a moment, if it was malicious or not.

Take a look:

natwest

This caught my eye, as I’ve recently returned from overseas travel, and I did (foolishly) log into my account on hotel Wi-Fi without taking any precautions. What if someone had nabbed my login credentials?

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