Twitter updates Direct Messaging System

twitter-bird-white-on-blueTwitter announced today that the company is updating its direct messaging system so that it’s no longer a requirement for accounts to follow each other in order to send direct messages. Previously, users could only send direct messages to accounts that were following them. From the Twitter blog:

Changes include:

A setting that allows you to receive Direct Messages from anyone, even if you don’t follow them. To change your settings follow these instructions.

Updated messaging rules so you can reply to anyone who sends you a Direct Message, regardless of whether or not that person follows you.

A new Direct Message button on profile pages on Android and iPhone. You’ll see it on the profiles of people you can send Direct Messages to.

The announcement of this change set off a firestorm of criticism from Twitter users. Apparently, the idea that anyone could easily direct message anyone else wasn’t too popular. The outrage is no surprise, as Twitter has a poor history of dealing with harassment amongst its user base. And while it’s easy enough to report and/or block a user who’s been sending troubling @ replies to you, allowing potential instigators to have access to what has always been a private and secure space (your direct message inbox), provides a whole new level of problems.

Fortunately, this new function is opt-in. So, if you still want your direct messages to work as they always have, you don’t need to do anything. But if you would like to open your direct message box to the world, you can choose to do so in your Twitter account settings.

It seems that Twitter made this move in response to commercial accounts looking for more efficient ways to communicate with their customers. Of course, for Twitter, adding more users is the name of the game. Perhaps the company believes that implementing this change will woo new users over the potential of sending direct messages to their favorite celebrities.

Something tells me most Twitter users won’t be opting in to this new feature.

Archos Connected Scale Review

Archos LogoOver the past few years, we’ve all seen the rise of the fitness tracker and their transformation into wearables. While the goal of encouraging greater fitness is laudable and essential for the future health of the nation, to some extent the tracker is the gamification of fitness. For evidence of weight loss, reduction in BMI and reduced body fat, you need scales (and hard work)….which brings us neatly to the Archos Connected Scale.


Connected Scale

The Archos Connected Scale is a set of stylish bathroom scales which measures weight and body fat transmitting the recordings via Bluetooth to a complementary app on the smartphone. I think these would look good in any bathroom or home gym.

Archos Connected Scale ReadingIn the box, there’s the scales, four AAA batteries plus a couple of guides. Getting going is simply a case of installing the batteries and once they’re in, the Archos scales will measure weight like any other bathroom scales. The display is backlight and lights up with a cool blue.

Of course, the real benefit with these scales is that the readings can be sent to the owner’s smartphone and recorded in the Archos Connected Self app, available for both Android and Apple iOS devices. The app stores information from three different sources to record data on weight, blood pressure and distance from Archos devices the Connected Scale, Blood Pressure Monitor and Activity Tracker.

To get the readings from the scales via Bluetooth, the Connected Scale need to be paired with the smartphone and that’s straightforward: press and hold the Unit button on the rear and then pair as normal.

Archos App User Scale Binding

On the Connected Self app, the first step is to set up a user account and the second is to attach the Connected Scale to the user. With all that done, every time you step on the scale, weight and body fat percentage are transmitted to the app. It’s that easy. As recordings build up, the app can show graphs on weekly, monthly and annual basis. It can also show the data in a tabular form.

Graph Values

If needed, weight measurements can be added manually and some additional information can be added too including blood pressure and heart rate.

In use, the Archos Connected Scale worked well, sending the weight readings to the smartphone. I did have one glitch which was only resolved by re-pairing the scale, but in my experience of Bluetooth devices, this isn’t unusual. One tip for potential users – don’t bother taking your smartphone into the bathroom every day. The Connected Scale will remember several week’s worth of readings and upload them when there is a connection to the phone.

The only downside is that as with all of these wearables and health devices, they don’t talk to each other and each supplier is trying to build their own ecosystem. Simply I can’t load Archos Connected Scales information into my Fitbit app or I can’t load my Fitbit steps into the Archos app. Very frustrating.

With an RRP of £49.99, the Archos Connected Scale is about twice the price of a similarly stylish but unconnected set of bathroom scales. Having said that, the Connected Scale can be found on-line for a little less (£35-ish), which I think makes it a fairly good buy even if you are only looking for stylish bathroom scales.

Thanks to Archos for the loan of the Connected Scale.

Steam Limits Accounts in Effort to Fight Spam

Steam logoSteam has come up with a unique way to fight against spam. Steam users need to spend at least $5.00 USD in order to have full access to all of Steam’s features. The purpose is to limit what spammers and “malicious users” can do. The reasoning behind this decision is explained by Steam as:

We’ve chosen to limit access to these features as a means of protecting our customers from those who abuse Steam for purposes such as spamming and phishing.

Malicious users often operate in the community on accounts which have not spent any money, reducing the individual risk of performing the actions they do. One of the best pieces of information we can compare between regular users and malicious users are their spending habits as typically the accounts being used have no investment in their longevity. Due to this being a common scenario we have decided to restrict certain community features until an account has met or exceeded $5.00 USD in Steam.

It’s easy for “regular users” to avoid ending up with a limited account. You can add $5.00 USD to your Steam Wallet. You can buy a game(s) that are equal to $5.00 USD or more from the Steam store. Or, you can purchase a Steam gift that is equal to $5.00 USD from the Steam store and give it to a friend who also uses Steam. To me, it seems that $5.00 USD is a low enough amount so as not to be cost prohibitive for people who are using Steam in the way it was intended.

Those who have a limited account will be prevented from accessing several features. Some of those features include: sending friend invites, opening group chat, participating in the Steam Market, and posting frequently in the Steam Discussions. Those who have a limited account will not be able to vote on Greenlight, Steam Reviews, and Workshop items.

TravelHug 3-in-1 Travel Pillow

British Inventors ProjectThe TravelHug is a 3-in-1 travel pillow which provides a comfortable upright sleeping, transforms into a water-resistant cushion for the beach and finally converts into a soft flat pillow for sleeping.

TravelHug works by wrapping around your body to give adjustable support to your head and neck. By putting TravelHug into its own pillowcase, you then also have a water resistant cushion or soft flat pillow. TravelHug rolls away into a small stuff sack ready for convenient comfort anywhere.

Travel Hug

Part of the British Inventors Project, the TravelHug is available now for £20 from their store. Matching coat not included.

Homes Just Got Smarter with Kibbi

British Inventors ProjectWith the Internet of Things and smart homes being all the rage, it’s inevitable that there would be at least one smart home system at Gadget Show Live taking part in the British Inventors Project. Here’s the Kibbi – homes just got smarter.

KibbiThe Kibbi intelligent hub provides round the clock security combined with entertainment. The built-in HD wide angle security camera monitors 24×7 with motion detection and night vision, and saves video footage to either cloud servers or local USB storage. The keyfob-size Kibbi sensors are fixed to doors, windows, fridges and measure movement, vibrations and temperature. The speaker announces alerts and can wirelessly stream music too from smartphones.

The complementary Kibbi app works with Android, iOS and Windows – it’s good to see the Windows app here too.

The Kibbi previously raised nearly $57,000 on Indiegogo and pre-orders (£170) can be made through the Kibbi website with Deliveries expected from May 2015.

Secure Your Vehicle With Your Smartphone

British Inventors ProjectRegrettably car theft is a major problem worldwide and while car security has improved significantly over the past years, an increasing number of cars are being stolen using cloned keys or bypassing keyless security systems. Demonstrated at Gadget Show Live, My Smart Remote is an additional layer of security that prevents thieves from stealing a vehicle even if they have the key, whether physical or otherwise.

MySmartRemoteMy Smart Remote consists of a small electronic unit and a smartphone app for both Android and iOS. The electronic unit is installed discreetly in the car and this can lock down the vehicle and stop the car from being started. The electronic unit communicates via Bluetooth with an app on the owner’s smartphone putting in extra security which is largely invisible and crucially unrelated to the vehicle itself. Consequently, even with a cloned key, the car is going nowhere. An enhanced version of My Smart Remote can also control internal features of the vehicle including the horn, air-conditioning and opening the boot (trunk). There’s an anti-carjacking feature too.

My Smart Remote is on pre-order at CrowdShed. £159 gets the standard security version and for additional internal control, the enhanced version costs £299.