Sunday, 29 September 2013

Best Camping Gadgets

More and more people go camping every day and because of its increasing popularity there are thousands of gadgets trying to make your camping trip more relaxing so you can enjoy the tranquility of the countryside more.

Biolite Campstove
One of them, probably my favorite one too, is the Biolite Campstove. For around £80 you can purchase this minuet yet powerful stove. Once you’ve lit it with a small amount of cindering, the special vents situated around the stove doing the rest of the work keeping the fire inside burning hot. Plus, this stove can charge your smartphone (or anything that charges via USB), it simply uses the flames to power it!
The company behind this awesome invention have recently released on a kettle and a grill that clip on top of the camp stove, it heats them up swiftly and efficiently.

Petzl Nao Headlamp
This head torch is the king of all head torches, it uses sensors to detect how far you are looking and adjusts the brightness of the light depending on that.
The light also predicts where you will look next and it shines the light there also so when you are navigating your way bag from the bogs in the middle of the night you don’t fall into a fire pit or river.
The Headlamp costs around £110 and it is, without a doubt, the most impractical thing you would ever buy. It has a box strapped to the back where the battery and computer is and the build quality isn’t the best; there are lots of unnecessary wires, so I doubt it would survive a week at camp.

Hi Gear 5 LED Remote Control Tent Light
When you return to your warm sleeping bag at night you don’t want to be scrambling around in the dark tent looking for your torch so why not just install a Hi Gear 5 LED RC Tent Light in the roof of your tent. Just keep the remote in your pocket and click the lights on when you need to enter your tent. The battery life lasts for around 36 hours which is pretty decently considering you won’t need it for any more than a hour every night and for only £15, you can’t go wrong!

Ever had one of those meals where are panicking because you can’t decide if you’ll need a spoon or knife and fork? Well, worry no longer, you can now do all 3 at once with a Spork!
Not all gadgets need to be complicated and expensive, in fact some of the best gadgets (like the Spork) are extremely simple.
As you probably guessed by the name, a Spork is a spoon, knife and fork all in one which makes it perfect for any meal at camp.
It’s a well known fact that you’re not a proper camper until you have owned a Spork!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Saturday 28th September 2013: In the News this Week

It's the week of Saturday 28th September 2013 and...

Humans are to blame for Climate Change
The summary of a UN report on climate change was published earlier this week and stated that they are 95% sure that humans are to blame for global warming however Scientist are now extremely worried that people no longer care.

Scientists believe that the people who have the power to change the future are the government and they are well informed about this subject; despite this, unless they bring in a policy sea levels will continue raising and the green house effect will only get worse.

National Geographic did a feature in this months issue of their magazine about raising seal levels. They showed a world without ice and where the seas had raised by so much that counties had been submerged in water. By 2100 there are 4 possible scenarios of how much sea levels will have raised by. These have been predicted by scientists and the predictions variety from a sea-level rise of only 0.6 feet all the way to a huge rise of 6.6 feet. If the sea level did raise by 6.6 feet, the flat country of Holland would become a sea bed.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also said this week that temperatures will rise between 3.3 and 4.8 degrees Celsius by 2100.
The full report by the UN will be published on Monday where there will be more information released.

Microsoft Surface 2
This week Microsoft announced the Surface 2, a Windows 8.1 tablet with a dock, new attachable keyboards and kickstand which can support 2 angles. The Surface 2 is faster, lighter and has a longer battery life however it has many of the same problems as the original Microsoft Surface.

The target market for this device is not clear, is it businesses or normal consumers. The app store is also weak and the whole operating system inside is confusing and unappealing.

Microsoft did announce a new cover which clicks onto the bottom of the device. The cover has easy volume controls and works with a new app so you can mix songs together easily like a DJ. The cover is perfect for the app and DJs however it is going to be expensive, this will unfortunately limit the amount of people who purchase it.
It would be great news for app developers if Microsoft allowed 3rd parties to make touch covers. This would allow film editors to have a bigger track pad and more playback options, writers to have a better keyboard and programmers to have a keyboard which would give you commands easily. Problem with this is, would you want a different keyboard/cover for every app you use? Exactly.

There is a new dock which allows the Surface Pro 2 to slide in and then power up to another 2 displays. The dock is small and is perfect to have at your workstation whether your office or your study.
Overall, the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 could easily give a MacBook Air a run for its money, they both have super fast graphics and amazing processors however the operating system lets the Surface down. And the Surface RT 2 is great competition for the iPad however the app store lets it down.
Without a doubt, it is clear to see that Microsoft has built 2 new amazing Surfaces however it is now down to the marketing department to advertise it correctly (hopefully better than they did last year).

Monday, 23 September 2013

Microsoft Surface 2 Announcement

Earlier this afternoon Microsoft held an event in Redmond, Seattle where they announced the Surface 2.

The original Microsoft Surface wasn't even that popular, combined - the RT and the Pro version sold less than 5 million units causing the price to rapidly decrease last month with over £100 being taken off both versions. Despite this, the Microsoft Surface was one of the best devices running Windows 8 and if a consumer was going to invest in the platform, chances are they would buy a Surface.

On the stage, there was technology which teased the press and developers at the before the event. Some of the unusual accessories included a variety of new touch covers in new colours and with different keys.

As soon as the event started, Panos Panay (Microsoft Vice President) got straight down to business and didn't dwell on the past. Instead he announced the Surface 2 and said that Microsoft are only improving on what they had in the original Surface not ‘re-inventing the wheel’.

The new HD screen on the Surface Pro he was using has more vibrant colours and they are a lot more clear, it has an increased battery life almost 50% better than the last Surface Pro and the speakers are now better to.

In terms of big changes, Panay announced the Surface Pro 2 is 95% faster than most laptops today because of the new haswell processor. As expected, Microsoft have also had the ‘kickstand’ adjusted so it isn't stuck at 22 degrees, it also had a 55 degree option which works great for when working on your lap. It has more 'lapability'.

To prove how powerful the Surface Pro 2 is, Panay ran some 6K video footage through an editing program on desktop mode so he could show how smoothly it could be played and edited.

The new Type covers for the Surface Pro 2 also have built in 30wh batteries so users can have up to 14 hours battery life, which is 75% more than the original Surface Pro. And of course theses covers are wrapped in a soft fabric.

A second generation of Touch Covers are also getting released. These come in new colours such as purple and pink however what really makes them amazing is the fact that they are a whole 1mm thinner than the previous Touch Covers. This is ridiculously thin!
The new Touch Covers now have 1092 sensors to detect where you are pressing and how hard which is an improvement from the 80 sensors in the original Touch Covers. Finally, to top that off, it is also back-lit so you can type in low light/darkness and still see the keys. Unfortunately this is coming next year, so don’t expect to see it any time soon.

Microsoft is also releasing a new generation of covers specifically for different jobs so there will be covers that are perfect for DJs, covers perfect for accountants and, hopefully, even some 3rd party covers so app developers can have a custom cover for their apps. There is a new cover is perfect for the new DJ app Microsoft has built which allows you to remix music from the ‘XBOX Music’ apps. The cover gives users easy access to volume controls and the ability to change tracks easily.
Of course, these new covers are stupidly thin and will be available on the 22nd October 2013.

The highlights of the Windows 8 App Marketplace
Next, Panay went on to talk about a new docking station Microsoft has made. It has three USB 3.0 ports, one USB 1.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort, an Ethernet port and audio in/out ports. The Surface Pro slides straight into the dock with the iconic Surface ‘click’ and then you can even power another screen just using the dock! Microsoft said a couple of months ago that they weren't making a Surface dock however since they have, it should be interesting to see what other things they have up their sleeve.

The Surface RT is the next device that Microsoft has revamped. The Surface RT 2 is to compete with tablet devices such as the iPad. In the opening video, Microsoft announced that the Surface RT 2 is lighter, thinner and faster.

Panay then returned to the stage with a silver Surface RT 2 and started talking stats. It now has a 1080p HD display, a better camera which handles light better and has Microsoft Outlook RT built into desktop mode.

The Windows Store now has over 100,000 apps and both Flipboard and Facebook are coming soon (when exactly that will be is still unknown).

Skype is one of the key features in Windows 8 so Skype will come free for one year with free international calling and free Wi-Fi for anyone who buys a new Microsoft Surface.

Although both of the new Surface 2s have an even better build quality, all of your data will now be stored on SkyDrive and encrypted so hackers can’t get at it. If you buy a new Surface you will also get 200GB of free SkyDrive storage for 2 years!

Panay finished off the event by announcing prices and release dates, the Surface 2 RT will cost $449 (around £280) which is amazing value for money! And the Surface 2 Pro will cost $899 (around £560). Both are available for pre-ordering tomorrow however they are released on the 22nd October.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

BlackBerry Messenger for iOS and Android

This weekend BlackBerry started rolling out BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) on iOS and Android devices.

BBM used to be one of the key features on BlackBerry smartphones and people would invest in BlackBerrys just because they had that encrypted messenger service. Business men and teenagers loved it however that was years ago. Now names such as Facebook, Kik and WhatsApp are the apps people use to contact each other over.

BBM used to be exclusive to BlackBerry devices and the reason for them making available for other platforms now is unknown however I think this decision will either make or break BlackBerry. The app might be a huge success, which is unlikely - however it could happen which would allow BlackBerry to invest in their other services and make them better and more attractive to consumers. I doubt this will happen though, I think BlackBerry Messenger on iOS and Android will struggle to get more than 1 million users and the company will just keep declining until it goes up for sale in November.

BlackBerry announced earlier this week that they were cutting 4500 jobs and I think that is just a sign of things to come for BlackBerry.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Saturday 21st September 2013: In the News this Week

It's the week of Saturday 21st September 2013 and...

iOS7 launches
Earlier this week, technology giant, Apple Inc launched iOS 7, their latest operating system which has new graphics, animations and whole new design. Only a few new features have been added (such as iTunes Radio and 'control centre' which you can get to easily by just swiping up from the bottom of your device). Apart from that the only differences you will notice have been in design. All of Apple's official apps have had a new coat of paint and they now operate slightly different to.

Every other update Apple has released before this one, consumers have loved because it has just added additional features however because of this redesign Apple had done to make the OS more 'flat' some customers have been put off. You iPhone will look completely different and there are a few new gestures you will need to learn to.

iOS7 is available to anyone with an iPad Mini, iPad 2 (or higher), 5th Generation iPod Touch or iPhone 5 (or higher).

BlackBerry cuts 4500 jobs globally
After loosing over a billion pounds since BlackBerry 10 launched around a year ago BlackBerry has been fading out of the smartphone market. During June Windows Phone even took over them for the 3rd biggest smartphone market share, so earlier this week BlackBerry announced that 4500 of their employees would loose their jobs.

BlackBerry is apparently planning to put themselves up for sale in November however this is not official and even if it does turn out to be true, I can't think who will want to buy them. Big tech companies such as Google, Apple and Microsoft won't be interested in purchasing BlackBerry because BlackBerry is a pretty independent company - not collaborating with any other corporations on projects or products. Maybe if BlackBerry started building unique and powerful Android phones they would survive a bit longer however for that to happen they would need to close down lots of their divisions meaning even more people would loose their jobs.

Breaking Bad Auction
If you are sad that Breaking Bad will cease to exist in 1 month time and you want to have something to remember the show by, you can bid for one of the items from the iconic program. The props on auction include everything from Hector "Tio" Salamanca's creepy bell to Skyler White's Jeep. You can find the online auction here:

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

New Bing

From early this year we knew that Bing would be getting a redesign however the changes which are going to take place are way bigger than ever imagined! To the right is what the Bing logo was rumored to change to and below is what it actually changed to. I'm pleased they did change their idea because the new Bing logo looks surprisingly good.

Microsoft thought deeply about the changes to Bing and all the changes they've done to the design fit in perfectly with the rest of Microsoft's services.

The new Bing can give you inline information like what Google does. So you just need to type key words such as David Cameron's Birthday and it will immediately give you the date you need without needing to open any links.

It also has Facebook built-in. The old version of Bing had this promised however for some reason nobody ever saw it however in this new Bing you can see your friends latest posts about whatever you have typed into the search box.

These new updates have not taken effect yet however you can expect them over the coming months.

In the Windows 8.1 update coming to Windows 8 users in September, you will notice two new Bing apps on your Start screen. Bing 'Food and Drink' and Bing 'Fitness and Health'.

Bing 'Fitness and Health' combines over 1,000 exercise videos, nutritional and medical references and diet trackers to help you stay fit and healthy whilst Bing 'Food and Drink' is packed with thousands of recipes and hundreds of cooking tips. There is even a hands free mode that allows you to get to the next stage of the recipe by just swiping your hand in front of your webcam.

These two apps also make Windows 8.1 more attractive however I'm concerned how much space the Windows 8.1 update will take up, especially on Surface RTs which don't have much internal storage at all!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Saturday 14th September 2013: In the News this Week

It's the week of Saturday 14th September 2013 and...

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary
Earlier this week the BBC announced the name of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special which will be aired on the 23rd November 2013. It will be called 'The Day of the Doctor' and star both Matt Smith and David Tennant. If that wasn't enough, they also announced that the episode will be 75 minutes long (not 90 minutes as rumored) and they showed off the first poster for the episode. Doctor Who fans around the globe are eagerly anticipating the episode and I for one cannot wait!

Apple announces new iPhones
At Apple's annual iPhone press conference earlier this week Apple announced two new iPhones: the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C.
The iPhone 5C has been brought out to replace the current iPhone 5, it is made from plastic and has pretty much the same specifications as the iPhone 5. It will come in a verity of colours.
The iPhone 5S however is Apple's flagship phone which boasts a finger print sensor at the bottom and a chip 45x faster than the original iPhone. It comes in 3 colours: silver, gold and 'space grey' and, of course, it runs iOS 7.
Unfortunately though, no new features were announced. Everything from the fingerprint sensor to the plastic iPhone 5C had been leaked to the press months before the event.

Better Call Saul
Chemistry fans globally have been extremely disappointed recently since their favorite program (recently voted highest rated TV program of all time) is drawing to a close. Yes, Breaking Bad is ending soon however you shouldn't feel too bad. Earlier this week, the network which airs Breaking Bad announced a spin of show called 'Better Call Saul' staring the mischievous lawyer Saul Goodman. The series will take place before the events of Breaking Bad.

"Don't drink and drive - but if you do call me" ~ Saul Goodman.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Why are teenagers so lazy?

Have you ever been angrily woken up by your parents in the early afternoon and called lazy because they think you sleep too much? Well , according to recent scientific studies, this may not be your fault.

As a teenagers your body clock gets messed up; you don't want to go to sleep early however you love to have a ly-in in the morning, this is because of a hormone called Melatonin aka 'the darkness hormone'. This hormone is produced in the brain and is the thing which helps you fall asleep. In adults, Melatonin is usually produced at around 10PM however among teenagers it is 1AM!

Out of children, teenagers and adults, teenagers are actually the ones who need the most sleep because it is whilst we sleep when a hormone is released which is essential if we want to grow. So, technically, the more sleep you get, the more likely it is you will have a growth spurt.

Stereotypical teenagers are seen by both adults and children as moody, depressed and quite impulsive. These are all side effects of being sleep deprived. This is why a few schools in America have pushed back the time of their morning lessons so teens can get a couple more hours in bed. Not only did the students become more enthused, the school also saw an improvement in grades!

Monday, 9 September 2013

4 Tips for Photographers

I'm not a professional photographer or even anything close. I like taking pictures with my 14 year old Fujifilm Finepix S60Zoom and I am one of those people who believe 1 picture is worth 1000 words (however I also write the 1000 words to assist the picture tell even more of the story). Anyway, I have recently been looking more into photography and exploring exposure, different lenses, megapixel, optical/digital zoom, image stabilization, ISO and focus and reading a lot about it on the internet. So here are my top 10 tips for photographers like me desperate to know how to take a good photo.

1. Tell a Story
A really good photograph will speak for itself. It will give the viewer questions but also answers. For example, the photograph on the right. What do you think when you look at it? It is sunset but why is there nobody on the seats?
The photo is not the best example but it emphasizes the point that you need to tell a story with your pictures. Don't just snap at anything.
When you are taking a picture you should try and get across a theme or mood. So lots of colours if it is happy, not much light if it is scary and use colours to represent moods (blue for relaxing, green for good, red for danger).

2. Have an Eye for Details
From establishing shots to extreme close ups, detail is key. When you are taking photos you should imagien that when other people look at them there will be no additional information about the photo. Wherever you travel to and photograph you should always start with an establishing shot showing exactly what is going on. Then you can address other smaller things which are going on and show detail. This is where you can get beautiful pictures of tiny rings, colourful buttons and odd ornaments or objects.

3. Address All Aspects of the Frame
There are 3 parts of a picture: the foreground, the subject and the background. A good photographer should pay attention on all 3 of these. It may sometimes mean getting in an awkward position, so maybe standing on a chair or kneeling close to the ground - whilst your there you need to consider focus. What do you want in focus and what do you want out of focus. Always keep in mind that the part in focus will be the first thing the viewer looks at.
Last thing to consider when actually taking a photo is making sure there is no 'dead space'. This is a part of a photo which is wasted or not used correctly because it has something irrelevant in it. It ruins the picture.

4. Be Prepared
If something is about to happen, such as a horse about to dark, a firework about to explode or a plane about to take off you don't want to be scrambling around trying to find the right setting and mode on your camera. You need to know your way around your camera like it is the back of your hand. Know how to quickly and easily change your aperture and shutter speed so when something unexpected does happen - you get the best results.

Final thing, just remember that every photograph you take should be a work of art.

Sources: National Geographic

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Nokia Windows RT Tablet Rumored

Windows RT is basically a cheap version of Windows 8 which runs slightly slower chips than normal Windows 8 and it doesn't let users download software. You can however use the apps from the Marketplace and Microsoft Office 2013 which is pre-installed. Windows RT is only good for devices similar to the iPad; anything bigger and you will want Windows 8 Pro, anything smaller you'll want Windows Phone 8. Earlier this month both Asus and Lenovo announced that they would no longer make Windows 8 RT devices because of its lack of success. Despite this, it seems Nokia is about to launch its very first tablet - and it will run Windows RT!

The rumored RT tablet, named Sirius, is apparently a 10.1-inch, extremely light device with 2GB ram and 32GB of internal storage. It will be priced around the £400 mark and it will have a detachable keyboard similar to the Microsoft Surface however the keyboard will also have a charger in it.
The Nokia Sirius' design is similar to Nokia Lumia's (apart from bigger of course) and it is thinner than the current iPad. Nokia is planning to have a 6MP camera on the back and a 2MP camera on the front of the device which will also come in a verity of colours. If you need to plug something in, the Sirius boasts a micro USB port, microSD port and a micro HDMI port. Finally, like all modern tablets, it will be compatible with 4G connectivity.

Nokia is also apparently planning a Phablet code named 'Bandit' (aka the Nokia Lumia 1520). It will have a 6-inch 1080p HD display on the front which is so big the version of Windows Phone 8 which it is running had had to be adapted.

Both of these major devices will probably be announced at Nokia's event on the 26th October so they are out in time before Microsoft launches Windows 8.1 and some updates for Windows Phone 8.

Above: The only picture of the rumored Nokia Sirius
Left: Windows Phone 8 adapted for a 1080p display.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Saturday 7th September 2013: In the News this Week

It's the week of Saturday 7th September 2013 and...

Waterloo Road Season 9
BBC 1’s popular school drama, Waterloo Road, returned to viewers screens on Thursday 5th September 2013. As always, the new series started with the introduction of new characters. This term it was the start of a pair of twins from a troubled past. Mrs McFall immediately took the responsibility of over caring for the teenagers as they tackled problems both in and out of school whilst the rest of the school were morning the loss of Mr Clarkson whom fell of the school roof at the end of season 8. Miss Mulgrew spent the episode adapting to her new role as head teacher whilst two new teachers; Miss Spark and her secret fiancee Mr Lowsley settled into their jobs at the Scottish school.

It is clear that viewers are in for another good season and I can’t wait to see what twists and turns will happen over the next term.

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo
Virgin is going to be the first company to launch a commercial space flight business. It is called Virgin Galactic and yesterday they passed another technical milestone as their rocket (the SpaceShipTwo) flew over 70 miles above the earth. This is where customers, 6 at a time, will be able to experience zero gravity for 5 minutes. Richard Branson is hoping that Virgin Galactic will be ready for blastoff in 2014 and by the looks of it that's a deadline they are going to meet. It will cost £160,000 for this unique experience however that is arguably a reasonable price, Virgin says the first airliners will have costed around that much.

Microsoft buys Nokia
Earlier this week Microsoft unexpectedly announced that they had purchased Nokia's devices and services divisions for $7.2 billion. Stephen Elop who is currently the CEO of Nokia will soon become the new head of devices as Microsoft despite not being involved with the decision to join Microsoft. Weirdly though, Microsoft has also bought Nokia's Asha brand which has nothing to do with Microsoft whatsoever. The simple yet tough mobile phones don't even have Bing!
There has been much controversy since this announcement and rumors suggest that Microsoft only bought Nokia in fear that they were going to stop making Windows Phones and start making Android (which would have been a terrible thing for Microsoft yet amazing for Nokia). The next Windows Phone is likely to be called the Microsoft Lumia, or something along those lines, whilst Nokia starts its transition from an independent company to another part of Microsoft.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Microsoft announces IllumiRoom for XBOX... costs too much for release

Earlier this year the Microsoft Research team showed off a cool accessory for the XBOX which turned your living room into a huge screen using a powerful projector. Although it looked cool it wasn't very a practical idea because consumers would need their TV on a wall (not in the corner of their room), a coffee table (situated the right distance away from the TV) and the projector would struggle to show colours correctly if there was light in the room.

Head of product planning for the XBOX One, Albert Penello said earlier today "I wouldn't expect you’ll see that," as he explained why the IllumiRoom would cost too much to market. This is understandable since the technology looked pretty advance and projectors are expensive anyway without making them powerful and programming them to scan rooms. The IllumiRoom also used a Kinnect which also boosts the price up.

We can probably expect to see something similar to the IllumiRoom come out in the future when components are cheaper when the manufacture has smoothed out the issues that Microsoft had with the IllumiRoom.