Business events gadgets H/W Mobile phones wearable

A Virtual Tech Gadgets Smorgasbord!

September brings word of new gadgets — smartphones, tablets, cameras, wearables, whatever else — and it all looks so tasty!

Ah, September. Summer holidays fading into memory, work ramping back up, children getting settled into new school routines, a hint of a nip in the air (at least once the sun goes down) as autumn begins baby-stepping into place, and the usual blast of new gadgetry hyper…er, news…no, had it right the first time.

Thick and furious, it seems that this week new smartphone goodness was announced by every player in the space (save for Apple, which has its circled-on-every-calendar iPhone event set for next Tuesday). Most if not all of this activity is in conjunction with IFA Berlin 2014 — Europe’s largest consumer electronics event — though it seems that none of the interested parties could be bothered to wait for the start of the actual event (today, that would be). Among the smartphony gadgets soon to show up on shop shelves are:

  • Samsung: Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note Edge
  • Sony: Xperia Z3, Zperia Z3 Compact
  • Microsoft/Nokia: Lumia 830, Lumia 930, and Lumia 730

And those are just the smartphone devices put up for media scrutiny fawning prior to the IFA Berlin 2014’s official opening. Over the next five days similar smartphone announcements are due from HTC, LG, Acer, Lenovo, Huawei, Asus….pretty much everyone except Big Daddy Apple.

As if all of that is not enough, a kit-n-kaboodle of tabletish shiny things are also set for intro (or have already been intro’d), along with some wearable whatnot, and all kinds of digital fun that lies outside of phones and tabs.

It doesn’t take much in the way of deductive reasoning to understand why we as consumers get tech-dumped on during September every year. The mechanisms of hype need a bit of oiling up in preparation for the holidays, interest has to spread from those who are too-in-tune to those who listen to and/or depend on those who are too-in-tune, and the marks…no, no, no…the buying customers need time to get their heads around the cost of the new delights (and time to save coin to buy them).

Only 100 shopping days until Christmas*!

*And 7-8 fewer until Chanukah…but I couldn’t find a website for tracking that.

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Owed to the Laundromat

Friday afternoon finds me well-lunched (New Mexican-ish place that opened nearby about a month ago) and passing roughly 45 minutes at a laundromat that is about 100 steps from the door to our building in Paris’s 18th Arrondissement.

Decidedly not Web 2.0 — no wifi, no URL on the door or windows, no comment field anywhere upon which to register user opinion — the local laverie (that’s French for…well, I trust you can work that out, cherished reader) is actually proving to be somewhat comforting in the mere fact that it has seemingly not changed a lick since my first and only previous visit almost 13 years ago (that being right after My Missus and I moved into our flat at 57 Boulevard Barbes and before the delivery and hookup of our washer and dryer, natch). Of course, the pricing is different now with regard to both the amount and the currency, but everything else is the same or similar enough to register as such…the basic floor plan, types of machines in service, signage, the definitive lack of furniture upon which to wait for the various cycles to complete, the character stereotypes aiding me in occupying the place (and we aren’t talking butcher, baker, or candlestick maker)…


==> To answer the hanging question for the one person out there who might crave the answer, my lavage moment is brought to you today by frugality and a need to clean a winter duvet that is simply too bulky to launder at home (and which the La Famille Kessel decision-makers are good and sick of paying the teinturier — dry cleaner — upwards of €50 to clean every spring). <==

I must admit that a broad idiot’s smile broke across my face when I realized a few moments ago that this is only my 2nd time in a laundromat in a great many years. The reason for said smile being that before that September 2001 visit to my current perch — with the exception of 1993, a year I spent living in a big house with three other people (and a washer and dryer) — I could always count on spending two hours every couple of weeks passing the time exactly as I am now, reading and writing amongst giant industrial behemoths chewing on my washable wearables and slucking down my hoarded dimes and quarters for the privilege.

Through the dormitory years, frathouse life, this apartment, that apartment, another apartment, apartment-apartment-apartment, and on through a house that while cute and cuddly was simply not able to harbor a washing machine (let alone a dryer), it was a steady diet of laundromat boredom for me. Regular as phone bills and cheap thrills, lest I be a dirty boy.

In the early 1990s a wave of innovation washed over the public laundering industry in urban America, and before long laundering types had some options. You could have a drink and try your luck at picking up a fellow launderer while your clothes getting sudsed up, or you could bowl a game during the rinse cycle. Of course, the good old-fashioned laundromats that I tended to inhabit soldiered on — those offering a rundown pinball game or an ancient Pac-Man machine for entertainment…if that — but now instead of the dull sense of tedious contentment with which we old-fashioned launderers were familiar, we were instead subject to a new and strange sense of unease, knowing that somewhere out there on that mundane Laundry Night there were those who were dancing or enjoying karaoke while their unmentionables were tumbling.

Did I bite, you are no doubt wondering? Did I turn my back on the underprivileged and overworked, the single old-timers, the vagabonds and homeless folks with enough esteem to occasionally freshen and soften their garments, the students squeaking by on budgets too small to be seen with the naked eye? I did not! But then, none of the new-age laundromats were offering free Internet access.

Nearly a decade and a half of years pass. Have passed. Past. A quick google-bing today reveals that clean-your-clothes multi-tasking has continued to expand and evolve, with Laundromat-Cafés (yes, offering free wifi) and even Laundromat-Restaurants now heavy in the mix. All we need now is Laundromat-equipped office cubicle farms and the evolution of the public laundry arts will be complete.

Duvet spinning fast now. Yes, I do think there is a song in there somewhere, but it is just past the reach of my tongue at the moment. Two minutes to go and I am outtahere.

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Flying Away on a Wing and a Prayer

I’ve been daydreaming about technology. Again.

Oftentimes you will see me, fingers unmoving on my keyboard, my mind skimming the clouds (not “the cloud”), blissfully imagining features that I want/need/must have in my next computer.

**Cue dreamy fantasy, Fender Rhodes-ish, 1970s-era TV comedy music. Cue LOUD thunder crack.**

…a monster SSD (I recently carved a Samsung M9T 2TB HHD from a sealed-and-not-meant-to-be-opened Backup Plus external hard drive to install in AppleKory, so you know that when I write “monster” I am not messing around…s’gotta be BIG), a good degree of voice command capability, a separate GPU, a battery that can reliably deliver 10+ hours of juice regardless of use intensity, integrated cellular Internet connectivity, and — naturally — MacBook-level build quality across the board…

**Fade out goofy cue-in music underlay.**

Gadget This Gadget ThatIntegrated cellular connectivity. Something of a Holy Grail among a great many of us who drive MacBooks, this functionality has been on my “Features and Functions for AppleKory Upgrade” list (yes, I really do keep such a thing…don’t you?) for so long that I am not entirely sure I can reclaim the pixels. That said, my blue-sky tech whimsy is relegated not only to computers but also to smartphones, those marvelous wonders of technology that by their very nature connect to the Internet via cellular. Regular readers know, of course, that I am deeply ensconced (stuck?) in the the search for my next smartphone, which at this point still looks to be the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom. I have yet to actually put my hands on the GKZ, however, and as my near-decision to be among the Zoomed has me feeling as shaky as it does giddy, I am guessing there is a moment of reckoning waiting for me once the darn thing actually becomes available in France. Early reviews are all over the place, though they all seem to reflect less the smartphone’s build quality and feature set and more the usage values of the reviewers themselves. In aggregate, though, those reviews fall mostly in line with expectation, describing the not-so-little bugger as a “niche product”…a niche that, when described, sounds an awful lot like one into which I enjoy lanyard pass access. Still, it seems that every week there is yet another new player on the field that deserves consideration — just yesterday Amazon’s Jeff Bezos splashily announced his company’s entry to the Smartphone Wars, the Amazon Fire Phone, which has not one and not two but SIX cameras on-board — and until such time as I can try on the Galaxy K Zoom for size (and weight) my musings on the device will be blue-sky whimsy indeed.

**Cue dreamy fantasy, Fender Rhodes-ish, 1970s-era TV comedy music. Cue LOUD thunder crack.**

…ready to perform as smartphone and compact camera, and serving well as both while requiring the precious pocket space of of just one…sharp and responsive camera function, especially in low-light situations requiring tight optical zoom…well-designed apps serving essential and not-so-essential needs…easy and thoughtful interaction and synchronization with AppleKory…elevation of my walkabout effectiveness from the sludgy puddle into which my iPhone 4 currently has it imprisoned…ah, bliss…

**Fade out goofy music.**

Pie in the sky, baby!

So have you gotten the impression that for me it is all about the Internet? Nay, I say! Let’s have a little talk about tweedle beetles…er, cameras (and set aside the fact that many of them these days have some kind of Internet capability, because nobody buys a camera primarily for that). Up front, let me say that nearly four years in I continue to be utterly besotted with my Leica D-Lux 5 (the lovely Leyna). Despite this, however, nary a full day passes without me dropping into some camera review site or another (, I’m talkin’ ’bout you) and gorging myself on the latest this-and-that in the world of photo-taking apparatus goodness. My next camera…my next camera…

**Cue silly dream fantasy whatnot music for last time. LOUD thunder crack, too.**

…weather-resistant…compact size, but with interchangeable lenses…built-in wifi file transfer capability…insanely-high resolution EVF and rearview monitor…somewhat retro…finger-tingling build quality…

**Fade out. End the darn post already.**

Yes, yes, me likes me cameras.

Me also…I also (Bizarro voice only works in teeny tiny doses) thirst to soar with new-gadget-happy, like all qualifying tech geeks who have over the years read an embarrassing number of comic books and tuned into far too much sci-fi television. I am sorry to say, though, that the wearable-whatever getting most of the ink these days just isn’t getting me up to escape velocity. I haven’t worn a watch on my wrist since 1992, a streak that I cannot imagine coming to an end any time soon, iWatch or whichever Dick Tracy contraption notwithstanding (including this watch). And as for Google Glass, I have never been able to get my head around the idea of wearing glasses for reasons other than dire necessity (2-D cinema-going guy that I am), and more than halfway to my own personal Finish Line I have yet to encounter a pair of sunglasses that looked like anything other than a waste of money. iBelt? Amazon Fire Shoes? A power ring or magic lasso? No no no no no. I don’t daydream about wearing my gadget tech these days…I want it IMPLANTED!

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Me and My Pebble Steel

Steve Hodges is the Managing Director of Astro Communications, Ltd.

So I am a fully ‘out’ closet techie. Really. Having starting in comms when ADSL was a pipe dream and you could get 9.6Mbs on your Nokia phone, I suppose I joined the technology industry just after those that created it and ahead of those lucky enough to feel as though they have always had email/internet/mobile phones. In the last 20 years some interesting and useful products have come and gone — Rabbit Phones! BT Home Highway! Even the old Palm TRIO! — and about a trillion products have turned up look like technology used simply for the sake of technology.

I have an HTC One Mini for work (which I love), an iPhone 5 for personal use, a standard Lenovo Twist laptop for day-to-day, and an iPad for out-and-about. I also carry a MiFi device “just in case”, all of which keep me connected, productive, and agile.

Yesterday I took delivered of my Pebble Steel watch. Second only to Google Glass (when it turns up), I felt when I read the reviews that the Pebble Steel watch could possibly be the most exciting advancement in technology since the smartphone. A member of my management team wears a Sony SmartWatch, which is just too…‘Speak and Spell’-looking for my liking. I am sure the uber-cool can get away with it, that is if is your style guide, but for me — dressed in a suit and tie most days, normally rocking an Omega Seamaster Professional (yes, like James Bond), driveing a Volvo 4×4, life complete with chocolate Labrador — it simply wasn’t for me.

Pebble Stone 1

The Pebble Steel arrived in a beautifully crafted box, complete with leather strap, metal bracelet, and magnetic charger. Its face is just big enough to display a few lines of text (monochromatic text, which is a shame), but is not so big that it looks as though you accidentally left your diving watch on following the weekend. It has three chunky, easy-to-use but unobtrusive buttons on one side, and one on the other. In my view, the Pebble Steel has the looks of an elegant timepiece.

Out of the box, the Pebble Steel just needs to be paired with your phone via an app, and you are on your way. Box to brilliant in under three minutes. The notion of how it delivers its information is a little more complex, though, as it requires the installation of a number of apps (the watch can only take a maximum of eight at any given time, however they are quite easy to interchange), of which there are plenty to choose from on Google Play.

2014-04-05 20.58.42

The documentation that accompanies the Pebble Steel watch states that the battery will last about five days, and that the device is waterproof to a practical level. Also, the Bluetooth connection is robust, and thus far I have had no trouble maintaining my information feed upon leaving my phone on my desk and wandering around the house or office.

At the start, I loaded a calendar app, a notifier app, a weather app and a navigation app. I do want to clarify that these apps don’t have much in the way of functionality in themselves, that they take the capability from my phone which pushes notifications over Bluetooth to the Pebble Steel which then passes information back. When a notification arrives on your wrist, you can set it to subtly vibrate and let you know there is something to look at. No more reaching for the mobile every few minutes!

Aesthetically and technologically the Pebble Steel watch is exactly what I had hoped for and more. In fact, I truly believe it exceeds delivery against all my “I need one of those because….” justifications. Just last night while in the house I was receiving tweets/SMSs and email previews on my wrist. Calendar invites were turning up, too, and without as much as a glance at my desk I knew what I needed to know and could ignore the beeps and vibrations from my phone regarding the things I didn’t. And this morning I was able to leave my phone in my bag and wander through my calendar appointments, preparing myself for the day ahead without once popping open the laptop or picking up my phone.

Pebble Steel 3

Out and about, while walking to the train station, I was able to see notifications of new emails and also see when an incoming phone call was coming in, all without fumbling around in my jacket for my mobile. I rejected the call from my Pebble Steel, but had I had a headset on I could have simply answered the call and used the call control from my wrist. I went to the ticket machine at the train station and scrolled through my calendar until I found my reservation number in my diary entry for the day, with the ticket collection number and seat reservation at hand. It even gave me turn by turn instruction on my walking route by paring with google maps on my HTC via the Nav app. Of course, I could have done this all with my mobile, but now I can leave that in my bag or jacket and get instant notification of anything I need on my Pebble Steel. Oh, and it also tells the time!

Functionally the watch has already justified its cost (£151 ($279), plus the £35 import duty). I will have to change some of my day-to-day set up, improve my email filtering, and set up my “Do not disturb” notifications to ensure that I am not woken up in the middle of the night by a barrage of overnight spam, but this is a tiny price to pay for having such a useful piece of technology at hand.

Other aspects of the Pebble Steel that I have yet to investigate properly include the music and phone dialer app — I can control the music and the voice functions of my phone from my wrist while driving in the car — and the extended from-your-wrist camera operation functionality (personally, I doubt its practical benefits, but I am sure it will appeal to and find use with many).

As for criticisms, I guess it is all a matter of perspective. Would it be nice if the Pebble Steel had a touch screen? Maybe. Would it be better if it came with a colour, high resolution face? Possibly. Would it be better if it had a mic and speaker so I could talk to my wrist? Not better for me, but I am sure it would be better for someone out there. Would I prefer to be able to delete, forward and/or reply to my messages? I think so, but there might be an app for that as well.

Considering what I was hoping for — the ability to leave my phone in my bag, jacket or office and get real time notifications of emails, SMSs, tweets, phone calls and other useful information — the Pebble Steel is simply perfect, and it looks the part too. I am delighted with the new high tech addition to my PAN set up. It get five out of five for looks, five out five for build quality, five out of five for ease of use, and six out of five for practical application!

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Band Camp Coincidences

Google Glass. Telephony. Synchronicity

At my age, you would think that I would be long past adolescent self-consciousness; that I wouldn’t feel awkward with the geeky way of thinking. A girl that I had a crush on back in the 2nd Grade said to me, “You talk funny. You talk like a scientist.”, referring to my vocabulary. At that age this wasn’t a compliment, nor was it really a criticism. It did not, though, bode well for any potential romantic entanglements.

On the way to the conference I find myself sitting next to two attractive, well dressed middle-age women, three abreast in the aisle seat. We start the long first leg of the flight with a little small talk. We are flying together from Dallas to Albuquerque, where they will leave the plane prior to its flying on to Seattle (my destination).

“What’s in Seattle?” they both ask.

I feel like I’m on my way to band camp. What do I say to them? I tell the truth.

“I’m going to speak at a conference on Content Management – a technology conference.”, I say.

“Oh. Technology stuff.”, from which they return to conversing among themselves for the remainder of the flight. It’s fine. I wanted time to think, anyway, to be quiet on the plane so that I could figure out what I am going to talk about at the conference. I booked the conference before deciding to leave my last corporate job. I opted to keep my commitment, though, and now I need to put my presentation in my own voice.

The plane is landing in Albuquerque. The small talk starts again, and it turns out that the two women also live in Austin. I hear them say something about two local radio hosts known as JB and Sandy. I ask a question regarding Sandy. They fill me in. It’s friendly, partly because we’re parting way in five minutes.

Nobody sits next to me on the Seattle leg of my flight, and I have time and space to think, to figure out a theme for my talk. I’m basically speaking on the lessons learned over the last year as a software team trying to buy the next generation of the solution instead of building the next generation of solution.

“Choosing a system is like a plane trip…”

“Choosing a system is like traveling through Mexico…”


End User gadgets H/W wearable

Google Can Kiss My Glass

The netwaves have been humming for about a week with the news that Google would finally open up their Glass Explorer Program to the general public, albiet for one day only — today, 15-April — and only for the suckers…er, buying public who can claim to be a “US resident” (though not in a legal sense as a US-bound means of payment — credit card, PayPal account, or a friend with such willing to front the dough — and a US mailing address that can receive a package likely has what it takes to get in). Now “open up” may be something of a misnomer, as just a cursory glance at the fine print of it all reveals that Google is “opening up some spots” and that “spots are limited”, even if the email I received this past Saturday from the company served up as its Subject: Heads Up — You Can Purchase Glass on Tuesday.

The Glass Explorer bundle’s WTF! $1500 + tax* pricetag will no doubt go somewhat far in keeping out the mere curiosity seeker, but those with a little bit of pocket who still feel as though they are on the outside of Google Glass looking in no doubt felt the tingle (not to mention the heart-flutter) when the How To Get One link went live at 9:00AM EST today. I know I…didn’t.

The hype machine began cranking over Google Glass about a year ago — Believe it! — and I remember well how quickly it swept its way into every corner of the Internet…

Google ShatteredWhat is it?…this is what it is…this is what it does…I caught that Glass demo video and I won’t feel whole again until I have direct-walk-around-literally-in-my-face access to the Internet…I know someone who has it…a friend of mine let me wear theirs…that article on Google Glass knocking down the last vestiges of privacy rattled me but good…can you imagine being in a public restroom and having someone wearing Google Glass walk in?…the world will never be the same!

…Google Glass got the antennae of the common plugged-into-Internet human vibrating like few tech-y devices before (portable CD players back in the late 80s come to mind, and — of course — the first iPhone), and not surprisingly when it did start to make its way into the wild the posturing began. Social media profile pictures changed, to best illustrate the new Stars-upon-Thars status of those lucky few with an ‘in’ at Google good enough to…well, get them in, and conversations with the blessed that didn’t contain numerous and constant references to the new on-face ticky-tack became as common as a truly great television program airing in prime time on a Saturday night. Google Glass. It was all the talk, it was all the rage, it was on the “Want” list of anyone and everyone able to spell ‘WWW’…

…and then it wasn’t.

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Cycle Gear

A long time ago I used to cycle everywhere; then I learned how to drive……. then I learned how to drink and how to hail (and afford) a taxi….. then I moved to the countryside with idiot drivers like me that didn’t really look out properly for cyclists….. then I moved to the Surrey / London border and the quack told me to stop abusing my joints.

But now, I have an all clear and the realisation that there is some epic cycling country around here. I write this, for example, after following National Cycle Route 4 pretty much from home to Tower Bridge this morning, through Richmond Park and substantially along the river (including past Craven Cottage, home of the mighty Fulham Football Club). I am now editing it a few days later after a 25 mile blast from home to Richmond Park to say hi to the deer.

Of course, being in telecoms means such a venture cannot be undertaken without some degree of geekist equipment. So, I have my bike, a Specialized Crosstrail. Hybrid, obviously, because (1) I don’t want to be associated with the LycraLouts that ride two abreast on main roads and (2) becasue there’s no way a roadbike can handle tow paths at speed.

There’s the Moon LED lights that charge from a microUSB socket, which is incredibly useful. They have a multitude of settings, which I cannot master despite them having only one button. Oh, and they’re bright, which I suppose is the main thing. There’s also the generic Chinese reverse engineered wireless speedometer, which is essential for knowing just how fast the idiot BMW driver that missed you with a nanometre clearance was going relative to you…. and, more importantly, how far it is to the pub for pie, chips and ale.

Which pretty much just leaves some form of mapping solution. And for that, I have two essential pieces of kit. The first is my iPhone; the second is something to put it in – for which I have this handle handlebar bag. It is importantly water resistent (to be fair it only gets mildly moist even in a monsoon downpoor). It’s large enough to hold a wallet and a battery pack (essential for mobile mapping, for reasons I have previously written about) and has a clear plastic cover on top and a pouch for your iPhone (apparently other devices are allegedly available). There’s also a neat slot for a headphone cable, though I for one would rather hear the idiot in the BMW coming than listen to my playlists.

End User H/W wearable

I bought an Osprey

osprey quasar laptop bag from GO OutdoorsBought an Osprey laptop bag last night. From a new GO Outdoors camping superstore in Lincoln. Officially opening next weekend but I was passing…

My old laptop bag is over ten years old. It has airbags – bought during my globe trotting days when laptops had hard drives.  Good laptop bags had airbags inside them to protect the contents from the buffeting in overhead lockers and other places where bags are tossed carelessly during the scramble to find your seat and the comfort of that first glass of champagne.

Nowadays breakable hard drives feature less and less in our lives. Certainly neither my new Acer C720  and not so old Samsung XE303 Chromebooks have one. Hard drives are rapidly heading for that huge pile of junk waiting to be recycled though not before you’ve smashed it with a hammer.

The old laptop bag is not only over ten years old but bits are breaking and it is desperate for a clean. The other problem with it was that the airbags took up a lot of space and didn’t leave all that much room for clothes in the event of an overnighter.

The new Osprey Quasar has 30 litres of space. I did have my eye on a Vango 60+20 but the sales guy who was very knowledgeable told me that was for expeditions and was the one one he used to do his Duke of Edinburgh Award. I may yet buy the Vango but in the meantime I walked away with the Osprey and will be using it in anger tomorrow when I head to London for the ITSPA Council meeting.

I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

That’s all folks. You know it makes sense…

osprey quasar bagOther bag stories:

Manbag for a network engineer

End User wearable

Eyes in the back of my head – Google Glass mk2

Bb Trumpet after a tussle with the rollerGoogle Glass mk2 to have rear facing camera?

I went to a jazz gig last night, in a church. One of the kids plays in an award winning big band and it was the first show of the 2014 season.

Being in a church we were all sat in rows on pews and it being a community event we knew a few people there.

The problem with this is that if you want to turn around to chat to the person sat on the row behind you it is quite awkward to turn around to face them, when you are sat on a pew. This is an evolutionary opportunity.

Clearly, over tens of thousands of years, we humans will evolve to grow eyes in the back our heads. It must be so because there is already a popular saying about having “eyes in the back of my head”, largely associated with parents of families with small children.

However in this modern fast moving technology dominated world we aren’t going to be happy to wait thousands of years for this evolution to happen. There must be a tech alternative.

The answer is

End User wearable

Pebble Smart Watch – User Review by @djchug

If like me you are a fan of gadgets and new technology (yes I’m a bit of a geek)  no doubt you would have read in the tech media about the tremendous success that the ‘Pebble Smart Watch’ received through it’s Kick Started crowd funding. (if not Google it) it’s an interesting read.

I suspect through that media coverage led me to consider purchasing a Pebble, so what is it, in very basic terms it’s a bluetooth connected digital wristwatch that connects to your mobile and issues notifications.

As useful as that may be, there is however many other valuable benefits to ownership of a Pebble.  Music control allows the access of your music library on your mobile directly from your wrist, there are fitness apps. if you are that way inclined (I’m no runner) easy to set/review/delete alarms, changeable watch faces (analogue/digital/multi info screens) there are also many useful apps via Google Play or the I tunes store, ( new ones being developed via open SDK) that leads me onto one of the best things about Pebble, yes you got it, it works on Android or iOS.

For me using it for the last few weeks I have found that I no longer carry my mobile with me everywhere I go, I no longer worry if I will miss that urgent business call I’ve been waiting for, miss that email that confirms I have just won the contract or thinking before I jump in the shower that will I get a text any minute now saying my breakfast meeting has been cancelled. Yes you got it it’s also waterproof so now rather than getting out of the shower to answer that PPI call or “I’m calling about that accident you had’ I can now smugly dump the call directly from my wrist, this is the only way the watch communicates back to your mobile.

On to the money aspect, if you shop around you can pick one up off ebay for about £120 the retail I think is around the £160 mark, I have purchased a few apps. so far they are inexpensive I’ve got SmartWatchPro, Big Time, SmartWatch+ and SmartStatus. Big Time is what it says it is, very large clear to read 24 hr digital so it’s now saying 17 47 thats it, it wakes when you move your wrist quickly which conserves the battery but no worries with battery life although I have not yet run it flat but they say 5-7 days life much better that the 25 hours quoted for the Galaxy Gear (that only works with the Galaxy Note 3) I’m sure that will change when they realise they will not sell many with that restriction. What if you buy a Galaxy Gear and fancy a go with an iOS mobile or device (on ebay it goes for about £50)

The other apps. I purchased I did because I like the option of having more data pushed onto my wrist, with SmartWatchPro I get Twitter,  Calendar, Reminders, Weather, GPS, Battery indication for the mobile and a feature I find really useful is Find My Phone, how many times have you rang your own mobile to find it only to find it’s on silent, this will omit a beep on the phone when connected to the pebble.

As I have purchased the Pebble over the holiday period I have yet to use the killer feature for me at least, the amount of times I have found myself in a meeting with a client and knowing that I’m expecting a call to say I’ve just won another contract, obviously I’m not rude enough to keep looking at my mobile but now I will get a small vibration on my wrist with a brief note on the Pebble as to who is calling or who the text is off or who has just emailed the confirmation Contract Won. (I personally can’t wait to get back to work)

So what don’t I like, well not much really, the way you charge the watch is via USB but as it’s waterproof you cant just have a mini USB on the other end, instead you get a special USB to a unique connector, I suspect you can get another one if you lose it but I’m assuming it won’t be cheap to get a replacement, also it’s magnetic and I would like the magnet to be a bit stronger you do have to waggle it about to get it to connect but when it does connect it wakes up the back light, as I have a car USB and many USB plugs dotted about the house/office I’m never far from a charging opportunity but I do keep the cable under lock and key.

The only other issue is that they do say its sapphire glass but I have seen some reports of scratches on the screen so I have purchased and fitted a screen protector only £3.99 from Screen Knight easy to fit too, there are a number of different coloured screen wraps available so you can customise the look but I’m happy with just the black option you can get the watch in various colours but I went for jet black, can’t go wrong with black I feel, did not fancy the yellow option shouting off my wrist.

So all in all so far I’m really pleased with the Pebble and as more apps. become available I’m sure the functionality will  just get better.

End User wearable

Personal alarms and wearable computers – Samsung Galaxy Gear

Friend of mine James Firth posted on Facebook that he had rescued an aged neighbour who had fallen down the stairs in her home. She had been stuck alone for five hours before James heard her cries for help. Terrible experience for her but could have been a lot worse.

My first thoughts were to remind myself to get one of those personal alarms should I ever find myself living alone in my old age.

However the solution is obvious. Wearable devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Gear are going to become suitably advanced so that it can act both as my phone/intergalactic communicator and the alarm in case of emergency. You won’t need to press a button. There will be an app that distinguishes between snoozing in the armchair after lunch and falling down.

The current generation of older demographic, if I can put it like that, is by and large unlikely to own a smartphone or wearable phone. In fact hardly anyone has a wearable one yet, but it will come.

So we have to wait a few years before wearers of dual purpose phone and personal alarms become statistically significant (in the appropriate age range) but significant they will become and a significant dent should be made into casualty numbers for older persons falling down stairs and not being able to attract anyone’s attention.

You heard it first on!!!

Business chromebook wearable

Microsoft putting staff into PC World stores

galaxy gearMicrosoft are staffing PC World stores to assist in the selling of Microsoft products in the run up to Christmas.

I’ve noticed that occasionally an update appears in my LinkedIn timeline saying that someone or other is now  a Microsoft Ambassador. Students usually. On Sunday I was stood at the Samsung section of PC World looking at tablets and a sales assistant came up to me asking if I needed help. She was wearing a Microsoft polo shirt and turns out was actually employed by them as an Ambassador.

Had a chat with her and shared my experiences with Windows 8 PCs (I reverted to Windows 7 and then subsequently to the Chromebook) and Windows Phone on the Nokia Lumia 920. Her take was that most people are still looking for standard types of PC. Although personally I am writing off Microsoft (I expect it to take 20 years) they are certainly coming out fighting. I saw two Microsoft Ambassadors instore.

It looks like the merchandising from the big consumer players is hotting up in the run up to Christmas. It’s amazing how many tablets and different varieties of laptops are on show. Just based on PC World you would think that the whole tech world was based around Microsoft, Samsung and Apple.

Although Chromebooks are uber cheap it seems obvious to me that the reason for this is partly the need to differentiate. The small solid state hard drive helps with this. On one pod PCW had three Chromebooks on show including the HP version I thought had been recalled due to power supply problems.

I left PCWorld with wallet weighing the same. No additional receipts to bulk it out (it’s never cash!). Might well buy a tab or two though – just to leave lying around the house. Handy.

Pic is 5 Galaxy Gears – say that ten times quickly 🙂 Looked a bit plasticky to me.

End User mobile connectivity wearable

Le Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch est arrivee

It’s 07.11. I’m on a train again, headed to London again. I’m wearing shorts. It’s going to be 30 degrees Centigrade. In front of me is a copy of The Times. I very rarely read “the paper” these days. Only when it’s shoved in front of me as a freebie.

The headlines in the paper say “Obama calls on the world to fight Syria ‘barbarism’”. I’m sure you will have noticed that the news rarely covers good news. Only when “our Andy” wins a major or when there is a royal baby (etc). We also get an occasional “hottest summer since 1976”. Not very often, any of them.

Yesterday we also heard about Samsung’s new Galaxy Gear smartwatch. I don’t wear a watch. Not since my early twenties. They always used to break or go wrong on me and even in those days there was usually a clock somewhere that you could see to tell the time – PC or car dash.

The last time I owned a watch was when I was on my way to visit a customer in Stanmore. I was in a company pool car and blow me down if the clock on the dashboard was broken. It must have been an old car – I worked for Marconi Electronic Devices. Don’t know if that says anything.

No problem I said to myself. I’ll turn the radio on and keep time that way. Now the meeting was at 10.30 and at 10am they started an hour long programme so I wouldn’t know the time at the half hour. Hmm.  I wanted to be punctual but did not have the resources to make it so other than maybe being sat in reception for too long.

No problemo. I’ll stop at a passing garage and by a cheapo watch. Unfortunately the cheapest watch was about £15. I’d been expecting a sub fiver piece of junk that I could ditch when I’d finished the meeting. A £15 piece of junk (as it turned out to be) was a different thing. In those days you could buy a pint for 50 pence. That watch represented 30 pints!

I bought the watch and made it to the meeting on time. Two weeks later the watch stopped working/broke/something like that. It got thrown away and I have never worn a watch since.

This is a long way of saying that I am unlikely to wear the Samsung Galaxy Gear. The question I suppose is whether such devices will take off. My bet is that they will, despite me not wearing one (:) ). I ask myself will people look a little daft holding a watch up to their ear? Will they be self-conscious doing it? Is that any different to holding a phone to your ear?

Maybe of you have the watch bit on the inside of your wrist then it will be exactly the same gesture. It will look as if you are just scratching your head when actually you are on the phone. Could work though not for me as I don’t want anything on my wrist. Maybe a watch pinned to my lapel would do the job – bit like a nurse’s watch. It would get around the problem of not wanting something on my wrist.

However how would I make a phone call? I could use my phone I suppose or have the lapel device on in speaker mode with perhaps only a low range so that only I could hear it. Probably won’t work that last bit.

There must be a market for a device that stops people being buried in their small screen all the time. Something that is always there and noticeable without staring at your hand.

Musings over. If you already wear a watch then you might find the Samsung Galaxy Gear ok. It’s another drop of tech news on the unstoppable tide.

It’s now 7.49 and the train has stopped at Newark Northgate. All is quiet and I’m on the way to London, wearing shorts. You will have to wait a day or two to find out why. Catch ya later.

PS don’t ask me why I wrote the title in French. It has no bearing to the rest of the post and just came out that way. Ohohiho!

End User phones wearable

Galaxy S2 & Galaxy S3 side by side

Samsung Galaxy S3 seen next to a Samsung Galaxy S2Le Samsung Galaxy S3 est arrive. 삼성 갤럭시 S3가 도착했습니다.Mae’r Galaxy S3 Samsung wedi cyrraedd.Որ Samsung Galaxy S3 է ժամանել.وقد وصلت سامسونج غالاكسي S3.આ સેમસંગ ગેલેક્સી S3 આવ્યા છે.Samsung Galaxia S3 iritsi da.Samsung Galaxy S3 gəlib.Samsung Galaxy S3 đã đến.স্যামসাং আকাশগঙ্গা S3 এসেছে.La Samsung Galaxy S3 alvenis.三星Galaxy S3已经抵达.The Samsung Galaxy S3 kominn.سیمسنگ کہکشاں S3 آ گیا ہے.Samsung Galaksi s3 a te rive.An Réaltra Samsung S3 tagtha.Ang Samsung Galaxy S3 ay dumating.Das Samsung Galaxy S3 ist da.Samsung Galaxy S3 прибыло.سامسونگ کهکشان S3 وارد کرده است

Ok folks. As you can see the Samsung Galaxy S3 has arrived and is in my hands. I’m going to kick the tyres over the weekend and give you a considered opinion of it compared with the Galaxy S2.

In the meantime, seeing as it’s Friday afternoon there is a prize for anyone who can tell me which languages (in order of writing) I’ve used in the above announcement. If no one comes in with them all right then the nearest  best attempt wins (all assuming I can remember myself).