Posts Tagged ‘tech’

nest 300x270 Googles Nest gets a camera to watch your homeWe’ve referred to Google’s Nest like it is the realisation of the Ultrahouse 3000 that is voiced by Pierce Brosnan and tries to kill Homer Simpson.

Well, the latest news from the Nest Labs isn’t going to stop us from doing that, as they’ve announced the latest edition to their family of connected gizmos – the Nest Cam.

That’s right! If you want a robot home, you can now add a home-monitoring camera, complete with microphone, speaker, motion sensors and night-vision… one made by Google, and all their lovely privacy practices!

It’ll shoot video of your home in 1080p high-definition, with a wide-angle glass lens and three megapixel sensor, so it can capture all that scintillating footage of you sat on the sofa, scratching your can while watching dirty videos on your phone.

It’ll cost you £199 and you can upload 10-30 days worth of continuous video to the Nest Aware cloud service, which itself, will cost you around £10 or £30 a month, depending on your storage option. There’s also a new version of the Nest Protect device, which is a a fire, smoke and CO2 alarm.

Nest boss, Tony Fadell says: “At Nest, we always wanted to build more than a thermostat. Our vision was to create a thoughtful home, a home that takes care of itself and the people in it. Five years later, all the pieces are in place.”

‘A thoughtful home – a house that takes care of itself and the people in it’. This sounds like a strapline from  dystopian nightmare film where we all get devoured. Don’t even pretend it doesn’t. We’ll all be killed by humdrum machines and there’s nothing we can do about it, as Nest will probably tell the Google automated cars to drive us off cliffs for being insubordinate.


Behold the Samsung giant screen safety truck!

June 17th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Lorries can be a bit of a menace, thanks to the sheer bloody size of them. So, with that, Samsung have been tinkering with their large fleet of trucks, and they’re using very fancy technology to try and make them safer.

When you’re trying to pass a truck, if can be very difficult to tell if another vehicle is coming until you start your manoeuvre. That is, until you come into the back of a special Samsung lorry with magic screens on it.

We’ll let this video explain.

Samsung call this fleet ‘The Safety Truck’ and they have wireless cameras on the front bumper that stream images from the front of the truck to screens mounted on the back doors.

The cameras even have a night vision mode, so you can see it all in the dark, which is pretty nifty and a decent move on Samsung’s part. We’d like to see more trucks operating a system like this.

And, if you stick your mobile in front of it, and stick YouTube on, you get a free outdoor cinema when all the truckers are doing an overnighter in some job centre car park!

Who has the fastest tablet?

June 15th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Picture 27 Who has the fastest tablet?Have you got a tablet? No, not the medicinal kind – the sort which you rest on the toilet and watch TV shows on while you have a bath. The kind that you bought, thinking it would transform your life, but you didn’t end up using very frequently.

Well, you might be wondering how fast yours is, compared to everyone else’s.

Thank goodness for Which!!! who have done some tests to find out which tablet is the fastest on the market. It seems the champion is Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3.

If you though Apple would win, then you might be surprised to learn that there was a another device that was quicker than the iPad Mini 3 – the Tesco Hudl 2. Seeing as the Hudl is considerably cheaper than the iPad, that’s good news indeed, for some.

“Our tablet speed test is a great indication of how fast tablets can run when downloading apps or using multiple functions at once,” said Which!!! editor Richard Headland. “Nowadays we expect everything in a swipe or a click of the button, so understanding how quickly a tablet is able to process information is important to buyers”.

Here are the quickest tablets on the market, in order:

1. Microsoft Surface Pro 3 128GB i5
2. Apple iPad Air 2
3. Google Nexus 9
4. Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 2014
5. Apple iPad Air 32GB wi-fi

6. Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1
7. Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5
8. Asus MEMO Pad 7 ME572C
9. Tesco Hudl 2
10. Apple iPad mini 3

Skype for Windows app gets Translator built-in

June 10th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

skype Skype for Windows app gets Translator built inYou may have heard about the Skype Translator app, which helps you to talk to people in a foreign language/troll people abroad – well, it will soon be bundled in with the Skype for Windows desktop app. This will happen by the end of this summer, according to Microsoft.

The app launched last year in the standalone service, available exclusively on Windows 8.1 devices. It seems that it has been received well and tested strongly.

If you don’t know about the feature, it lets you chat to people who speak a different language to you, be it through voice or text. As for the spoken element, Skype only supports English, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin at the moment, but that will invariably grow in the coming months.

In text form, 50 languages are supported.

This is all an attempt to get more people using the service, and the more words are put into the system, the more it can accurately translate. So if you’ve got a thick Geordie accent or talk like you have a mouth full of marbles, start using it so the system becomes more sophisticated and useful for everyone.

In July, Apple Pay will very much be a thing, which means Apple-havers will be able to pay for things with their iPhones or iPad.

And Apple have been very thorough, with over 250,000 businesses signed-up with them, including Nando’s, Costa Coffee, M&S, Waitrose, the Post Office, Transport for London, Starbucks, KFC, McDonald’s, Lidl, Wagamama, Boots and so many more places.

Look at all these things it’ll support.

CG unf7UcAAyUkA 500x280 Apple Pay is here, along with improved Siri and music streaming

Pretty much all the major UK banks are supporting the service, including RBS, NatWest, Amex, Halifax, MasterCard, Nationwide, HSBC, First Direct, Ulster Bank and Santander. It’ll work with nearly 70% of UK credit and debit cards by Autumn.

This is invariably going to be followed up by Apple’s new music streaming service, where they’ll try and take on Spotify.

Basically, if your Apple device has a fingerprint scanner, Pay will work. So that’s that. In other news, Apple have already revealed the new version of its OS, which has the annoying name of ‘El Capitan’.

Siri is also going to have a bunch of new (or, ‘like Google Now’) features which will make the speaking-assistant more predictive and all that jazz. It’ll try and predict what you want and when, so if you go for a run after work every Wednesday, it’ll learn your  behaviour and suggest playing music each week, at the same time.

Regarding all this, people are again using the deeply irritating phrase: “virtual concierge”.

As for the music streaming service, Apple are – as expected – taking on Spotify and everyone else.

Apple Music will launch in 100 countries later this month, and there’ll be an Android version too, which is big news. It’ll cost $9.99 a month, or $14.99 for a family plan. It’ll also have streaming radio shows, a thing called Connect which is like social media meets SoundCloud (so you can post your own music and that) and the whole thing will tie-up with Facebook and Twitter.

So there you have it. All go in Appleland.

Plusnet refunding broadband charges

June 8th, 2015 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

 Plusnet refunding broadband chargesThe folks at Plusnet are refunding a proportion of broadband charges, with one BW reader getting themselves a cheque for £50!

PlusNet say: ”At PlusNet we believe in being honest, straight talking and doing right by our customers. So we’d like to hold up our hands and say we made a mistake.”

“In June 2014, our regulator made changes to the broadband market. This meant that the price we were charged for providing broadband in your area reduced. Our pricing policy means that we should have lowered the price we were charging you. So, to set this right, we’re refunding you the difference, plus interest…”

That’s decent of them, isn’t it?

It’d be worth you checking out whether or not you’re eligible or not. You can call their customer service team at 0800 432 0200, or use their live online support instead, which you can find here.

Bitterwallet Apple Event on September 1st 300x237 Apple to launch music streaming service today?Looks like Apple are unveiling their own music streaming service at the Worldwide Developer Conference this week – possibly today.

This is according to blabber mouth Sony Music CEO Doug Morris, so blorted the secret to guests at the Midem Music Industry Festival. He said, yesterday, that Apple’s announcement of the Beats-based service is “happening tomorrow”.

Of course, there’s no chat about prices or what features it’ll have, but Apple have a lot of money to throw around, so this should be of some concern to Spotify and Tidal. And of course, with so many people feeling some kind of brand-loyalty to Apple, there’s millions of people who might want to jump ship from another service, to theirs.

However, one thing that could make or break Apple’s music service, is whether or not it is open to everyone. One of Spotify’s successes is that it wasn’t restricted to one platform, meaning the Android users and Apple users could share playlists with one another. And artists won’t want to sign any exclusivity deals if it means they’re cutting out loads of listeners.

Imagine a band in the ’90s saying that their new album would only be playable through Sony stereos and no other – that’d be madness. Either way, Apple aren’t daft, so they’ll have something up their sleeves to get their fans excited – users of torrents, you can carry on ignoring absolutely everything relating to the above.

Password rage is all the… erm… rage

June 4th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

password 300x289 Password rage is all the... erm... rageApparently, a third of us will admit to suffering from ‘password rage’. They’ve been around for decades, but it seems that a number of us would really like them to go and die now.

The main problem seems to be having to remember all the different passwords we’ve got for things (shout out to those who have the same password for everything, especially if it is the word ‘password’), with a quarter saying that they forget their password at least once a day. Think that’s bad? 5% confessed to forgetting it all the time!

In addition to that, 1 in 6 said that their password problems cause disruption in the office, because they’re forever screaming and yelling at their devices. Some people manage to cry and slam doors about it all too, according to the report.

“We’ve all heard of road rage and air rage, but now there’s a new one on the block – password rage,” says Barry Scott, Centrify CTO EMEA at Centrify. “As if we don’t have enough frustrations in our lives, passwords are an added irritant, but also an essential part of what we need in order to access online accounts and applications both at work and in our personal lives.”

Out of those surveyed, 42% create at least one new online account profile every week and 14% say they’ll have over 100 passwords to deal with in the next five years.

One thing you could try is to have the password from the photo above, obviously. Don’t forget to send us all your confidential details and URLs too.

Behold! The smartnappy!

June 3rd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

baby Behold! The smartnappy!Wearable technology – whether you like it or not – is the hottest thing in geekworld. We’ve got smartwatches, glasses 2.0, virtual reality and now… drumroll please… SMARTNAPPIES!

Developers will be writing code brown for the future of the diaper, with Intel bringing us the idea of an internet-connected nappy.

Their idea is that future nappies will have a sensor in them, so if your baby empties his or her innards, you’ll get a warning on your smartphone or smartwatch. Of course, if you have at least one functioning nostril, you’ll also receive a notification to your gag reflex.

Intel’s magic nappy has, according to one report, a dual core Atom at 500Mhz, with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of flash to store. And all to capture and process your tot’s liquid bowel movements! Ain’t it a miracle of nature and science?

We suspect that some demented parents out there would like to tie the tech to their social media feeds, so everyone can be notified of baby’s first defecation. We also look forward to the Daily Mail shrieking maniacally about foreigners trying to hack your infant’s posterior. Don’t pretend either of these things won’t happen.

But will this smartnappy wipe your child’s bum and dispose of their soiled undercrackers? Absolutely not. Welcome to the future.

Google Project Soli 300x157 Googles Project Soli touchscreen is amazingWe like things from the future, mainly because a lot of the things we’re told about it is really fancy, and of course, because they don’t exist, they can’t disappoint us… yet.

Google’s latest future-thing concerns something called Project Soli, which wants to do away with your phone/tablet’s touchscreen.

It uses radar to detect where your fingers are, and they call them ‘micromotions’. Basically, you waft your fingers around in the air and all manner of magic happens.

In one instance, in a video you can see below, a chap called Ivan Poupyrev manages to change the hours on a clock, by turning his fingers around an imaginary dial LIKE SOMETHING FROM A SCIENCE FICTION FILM! He does other things as well, like kicking a virtual football by flicking toward the screen.

If you can imagine Kinect technology and holograms coming together, you’re in the right ballpark.

Amazingly, Google only took 10 months of work to get all this down to a chip the size of a finger nail. That means it can be easily put into a smartphone, smartwatch, headset or whatever. There’s a lot of possibilities for this, once Google work out how to get the costs down on it, you have to assume.

Anyway, here’s that video.

YouTube and Google Maps to work offline

June 2nd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Google Maps YouTube and Google Maps to work offlineSpotify users will know how useful it is, to be able to use the app offline, as well as online. Google have taken notes, as Google Maps and YouTube are set to work offline.

These changes are set to be brought in at some point this year, which is great news if you’re wanting to watch Jimmy Fallon clips or get stuck into a load of obscure music documentaries, without an internet connection. It’ll be good for train journeys, where your connection may dip in-and-out.

As for Maps, it’ll help you get around, even if there’s no signal where you are.

Of course, you’ll have to save a journey on Google Maps before you use it offline, and the same goes for any videos you want to watch. ”With offline maps, you won’t need to suck down expensive data or have super reliable connectivity every time you want to navigate somewhere,’ said Google’s vice president of engineering Jen Fitzpatrick.

Your videos will only be available for 48 hours, so don’t think you can make a massive playlist before you go on holiday or anything like that. If Google bring that in, you can expect them to charge you for it.

The internet giant also brought in some new features for your privacy and controls over your account. If you missed that, read our piece on it and update your settings as soon as you can.

Windows 10 available for free!

June 1st, 2015 10 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Windows Windows 10 available for free!Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system is available from July 29th, and what’s more – it is free! Obviously, it isn’t free for everyone, but if you’re already Windows 7 or 8.1, you may have noticed a little Windows logo in your toolbar, which means you can upgrade to it, free of charge.

If you hit the button, it’ll let you reserve your upgrade and, when Microsoft pull the trigger, you’ll get an automatic download and a new operating system.

Those who are eligible have a whole year to utilise the free offer, and once you’ve upgraded, you get it for keeps – this isn’t a trial or anything like that.

Seeing as so many people thoroughly loathed Windows 8, this is a smart move by Microsoft – unless, of course, this new OS is even worse. You can’t put anything past Microsoft these days. Either way, this is the last version of the Windows operating system ever, in the form we know it. Basically, it looks like this is it, but with tweaks and updates, just like Apple do.

Windows 10 is going to be used across all Microsoft devices, from laptops to smartphones, from desktop to tablet – not to mention Xbox and the HoloLens headset.

The big news is that the Start menu has returned, at long last.

The new Windows will ditch Internet Explorer and go with a new browser called Microsoft Edge, and, for those who like that sort of thing, the OS will come complete with the personal assistant thingummy/Siri rip-off Cortana, who was one of the stars of the immensely irritating adverts featuring Clean Bandit.

So there you have it. All go at Microsoft!

android pay logo Android Pay   Googles latest coin generatorAs predicted, Google have announced that they’re giving everyone a new way of paying for things, called Android Pay. Like all the other apps, it allows you to pay for things by wafting your phone at a machine and will be introduced down the shops in due time.

All the tech and financial big guns are getting in on the action, despite the fact most people have never even seen someone complete a payment with a phone’s near-field technology, let alone used it themselves. Most people are still cooing at contactless payments on their cards like they’re in a science fiction film, set in Japan 4729AD.

Anyway, undeterred, Android Pay is getting cosy with over 700,000 shops in That America and then they’ll be rolling it out across the world. There’s no mention of a UK release date, so it looks like Android are doing the same as Apple and getting out in the States to iron out all the bugs first.

If you’re uninitiated in all this, basically, to use Android Pay, you’d unlock your phone as you normally would, and then, you hold your device over the machine in the shop, they wirelessly talk to each other, some of your data gets gobbled up and, hey presto, you’ve made a payment. You’ll be glad to know that retailers won’t store your account number, which is something.

In addition to this, Android Pay will work with other apps, so you can hit the payment button while looking at things in, say, Groupon.

If you don’t like reading words, here’s a video with the usual musical hipster drivel, telling you all about it. Beware – there’s a lot of irritating people in this.

Beware Minecraft scam apps!

May 26th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

According to research, there’s around 2.8 million of you out there who have downloaded Minecraft applications on their Android smartphones and tablets, which are malicious.

There’s been a host of dodgy apps doing the rounds in the last year, and 33 of them have been spotted in the Google Play store. These apps tend to offer cheats and tips to players, but of course, they’re doing something else that is no good for you at all. Once you download these apps, you end up getting a warning which says your device has been infected with a “dangerous virus”.

These are some of the malicious apps.

minecraft scam 500x500 Beware Minecraft scam apps!

If the apps fool you, you’re then asked to sign-up with a premium-rate SMS subscription which tells you that it’ll rid your gadgets of nasties.

It won’t, of course. What it will do is charge you for texts, coming in at £3.40 per week, which is around £177 per year if you don’t sort it out. The bogus virus warning page looks like this.

minecraft scam 2 500x332 Beware Minecraft scam apps!

One of the things that gives away these apps are the myriad of negative reviews and comments they’ve received. If you’re ever downloading any app, it is always worth looking at the score they’ve been given and checking out the reviews on Google Play, right before you hit the download button.

A number of the apps have been removed from Google Play, but that’s not to say they got them all. Obviously, snide developers are probably making more and tying them in the with hugely popular Minecraft game.

Like we said, to stop this happening, always look at the ratings and reviews on any app and get some security software for your Android phone. You can see some of the best anti-virus Android software here.

Southern Rail fine customers for standing

May 21st, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

train Southern Rail fine customers for standingSouthern Rail are a PR disaster at the moment. A director at the train company admitted that their trains being on time were ‘few and far between’, while one fella hates them so deeply, that they got a tattoo announcing as such, with some rather colourful language to boot.

And now, they’re only making themselves look worse as they’ve fined a bunch of customers who were forced to stand-up because the train was too crowded.

Commuters heading to London found themselves on a train that was so packed that they had to stand-up in the first class section, because their wasn’t room anywhere else. Did anyone make provisions or stop this from happening? Of course not. Southern Rail ticket inspectors were too busy doling out fines because customers didn’t have the right ticket.

Add all this to being one of the least punctual train companies in the country, coupled with some of the highest fares, and you’ll see why people think they’re a laughing stock.

Peter Boyland wrote to his MPs - Crispin Blunt and Sam Gyimah – to complain about all this, saying: ”The train was so packed in fact that the ‘revenue officers’ were unable to pass through to me to check my ticket, despite my clear proximity to them. This is a fine example of the attitude of Southern, who only seem concerned about protecting their revenue, and less about providing an acceptable level of service.”

A Southern Rail spokesperson said that these fines are just dandy, and with a straight-face, said that passengers would have been fined either £20 or twice the price of a single fare – they choose the fine by going for whichever of the two amounts is greater.

“In this instance, passengers who were issued with penalty fares were sitting in first class accommodation whilst holding standard class tickets. First class accommodation is not declassified automatically if the train is busy, but Conductors can use their discretion to declassify if it is deemed necessary,” the spokesperson told The Independent.

Refund and Compensation

If you think you’re entitled to a refund or some compensation, have a look at our guide to getting your money back. While the train wasn’t late enough to get reimbursed, the fact remains that Southern didn’t provide an adequate service and it is worth trying to dispute the fines and asking for the price of your ticket back.

Let us know how you get on.