ACTON Presents “Moving Stories” Contest

ACTON logoACTON is the creator of RocketSkates – electric, motorized skates that fit right over your shoes. They have presented a contest called “Moving Stories”. The winner of the contest will receive $10,000 toward the cost of their education. I find the play on words somewhat amusing. A company that makes a device that can quickly move you down the street is seeking stories that are emotionally moving.

The “Moving Stories” contest is intended to be a way of celebrating the everyday hero, “the ones we so often forget to appreciate”. They are asking for people to produce a three minute video of the best story of a hero in their life. ACTON will contribute $10,000 to the person whose video showed the most inspiring story. Three runner ups will each receive one pair of R6 RocketSkates. You can submit your video anytime between now and May 25, 2015.

I believe that it is always a good idea to read over the contest terms. To be eligible for this contest you must be a legal resident of the United States and at least 16 years of age. For some reason, those who live in Florida, New York, and Delaware are excluded from this contest. Your video cannot be longer than three minutes and it must be in English.

Participants must have a Facebook account and a YouTube account before they can submit their video to the contest. It is my understanding that the reason participants must have a YouTube account is because they will be required to post their video entry on YouTube with the title “’Moving Stories’ Presented by RocketSkates #ThatHeroLife”. I’ve no idea why the Facebook account is required.

Some videos will be selected as the “Hero Of the Week” or “Hero of the Month”. The top ten finalists will have 30 days “to promote their Submission to gain votes from the Public”. ACTON has a video that gives a glimpse into what they are looking for in the videos that are submitted.

iSadde ELM 327 Bluetooth OBD2 Module

iSaddle_ELM_327Being a geek can sometimes become pretty expensive. Different devices offer differing amounts of geek fun for the buck.
Every car and pickup manufactured from 1996 forward has what is known as an OBD2 port. OBD is short for on board diagnostics. The OBD2 port was originally mandated as part of emission control efforts.

There are plenty of consumer-oriented OBD2 port scanners. However, with the proliferation of smart phones and tablets, something new has come along that many people have yet to become aware of. Inexpensive Bluetooth and WiFi enabled OBD2 modules are just the ticket to pair up with your favorite smartphone or tablet.

Torque ProI purchased an iSaddle ELM 327 module from Amazon which is currently priced at $14.99 and is an Amazon Prime item. This particular unit will work with Android and Windows only, so I can only use it with my Android devices and not my iPad Air. If I want to use an OBD2 scanner with my iPad I would need to buy one that says it specifically works with iOS devices. So, if you intend to get one of these devices for use on an iOS device, be SURE that you search for iOS OBD2 and read the user comments to make sure what people that have purchased the specific item you are looking at have to say about it.

The iSaddle ELM 327 module simply plugs in to the vehicle’s OBD2 port. OBD2 ports are always located on the driver’s somewhere immediately under the dash. On my 1998 Ford F-150 pickup, the OBD2 port is located almost directly below the steering column just under the dash back a bit from the bottom edge. I can easily leave the unit plugged in full time if I wish.

To make use of the device after plugging it in, simply start up the engine and then pair it up with Bluetooth to your Android phone or Android tablet. On my unit, the Bluetooth password is 1234.

Next, it is necessary to have an app that can take advantage of the ELM 327 Bluetooth unit. In my opinion by far the best app available is an Android app called Torque. There is a free version of Torque and a paid version called Torque Pro that sells in the Google Play store for $4.99. I went ahead and purchased the Pro version figuring that the extra functionality was well worth the price.

With this setup, I have Torque Pro in my Galaxy Note 3 set up to automatically connect to the iSaddle ELM 327 module every time I take a trip in my vehicle. I have Torque Pro set up to automatically monitor various engine operating parameters and create a CSV or comma separated value file of each new trip. I have included GPS position history using the phone’s GPS, which enables me to bring each separate trip up on a map right inside of the Torque Pro app.

Torque Pro also comes with standard virtual gauges such as speedometer, tachometer, etc. However, it is possible for the end user to easily create his or her own virtual analog or digital gages. The graphics in Torque Pro are really quite good making for very realistic-looking virtual gauges.

Torque Pro is extremely customizable, so I would suggest spending a significant amount of time with the app looking through all of the different options. For example, I now have an instant MPG readout on a 16-year-old vehicle which I think is pretty darned cool!

I have to say this is one of the most enjoyable $20 dollars I’ve spent in a long time for this combo. Once upon a time people who were serious about knowing what was going on with their vehicle’s engine would spend a fortune on physical gauges. Torque Pro in conjunction with an ELM 327 OBD2 port module makes it possible to create as many virtual gauges as you would like and your particular car supports.

Griffin’s PowerMate Bluetooth is Now Available

PowerMate BluetoothGriffin Technology has announced that its highly anticipated PowerMate Bluetooth is now available. The PowerMate Bluetooth is a wireless controller with a sleek look. It can replicate key commands and system events in virtually any application.

The new PowerMate Bluetooth has the recognizable blue glowing base (as did the PowerMate that was first introduced in 2001). PowerMate Bluetooth uses Bluetooth LE (Low Energy/ 4.0) to connect with any compatible Mac computer within a 30-foot range. It eliminates the need for wires.

A newly redesigned PowerMate Manager application makes it quick and easy to program (both for beginners and advanced users). Users can add custom commands to any Mac application with a simple twist or click. PowerMate can also be used as a volume knob and is configured to work with iTunes and other audio applications right out of the box.

What can you do with PowerMate Bluetooth? You can shuttle through music and movies, scroll through long documents and spreadsheets, and use it to pan and zoom in creative applications. It can be used to spin and edit in DJ and music applications. You can program the LED in the base of the PowerMate Bluetooth to indicate system or inbox status. PowerMate Bluetooth can be used to resize and reconfigure tools and brushes in illustration and photo programs.

PowerMate Bluetooth is now available for $59.99. The original PowerMate is still available for $45.00.

Fitbit Flex Review

Fitbit LogoOver the past year, I’ve noticed more and more people wearing activity tracking devices and here in Northern Ireland I tend to see Fitbits rather than anything else.  Fitbit has been advertising on TV lately too with “It’s All Fit” and I’m sure that there will be a good number of Zips, Flexes and Charges under the Christmas tree come 25th December. I’ve worn a Zip for nearly two years as part of my efforts to keep my weight down and on review today I have the next model up, the Fitbit Flex. Let’s take a look.

FItbit Flex Package

The Fitbit Flex comes in a neat transparent package that shows off the coloured wristband and opening the packaging reveals the fitness tracker itself, large and small wrist bands, a USB sync dongle and a USB charging dock.

Fitbit Flex Contents

The fitness tracker itself is the small black rectangular unit and it’s slipped inside a small pocket in the wristband to be worn both during the day and asleep at night. The wristbands are made of a soft plastic and are available in ten different colours with additional coloured bands on sale from Fitbit’s online store. The large size fitted me well and the smaller one will suit women and children. It’s not obvious in the pictures, but the Flex uses a push-through buckle to keep the band on. It’s a little tricky to get clicked in sometimes, but it keeps the wristband on and in the two weeks of testing I’ve not had any problems with the Flex falling off accidentally. The Flex is supposed to be water resistant to 10m (30ft) and while I didn’t go that deep, it did survive 1000m of surface swimming.

The tracker has a set of LEDs which show through the transparent plastic window on the wrist band. The user interface is simple with five round LEDs used to communicate with the owner and at a basic level, each dot represents a fifth of the way towards the daily target. For example, if the target is 10,000 steps, one LED is worth 2,000 steps. The picture below shows the tracker has measured 6,000 steps, give or take. Normally none of the lights are on but tap on the band at the tracker and the lights come on.

Fitbit Flex

The Flex has an internal rechargeable battery which lasts about 5 days between charges. To charge the Flex up, the tracker unit is taken out of the wristband and placed in the USB charging cradle which in turn is plugged into any available USB port. Charging is relatively quick, typically taking less than an hour.

Getting the activity data off the Flex is easy too, with syncing available between the Flex and both PCs and smartphones. Fitbit is agnostic with clients available for Windows, Macs, Android and iOS, though check compatibility to be sure as the phone or tablet has to support the Low Energy (LE) version of Bluetooth. Syncing with a desktop or laptop is a case of downloading and installing the app, sticking the USB dongle in and getting going. The dongle and Flex are pre-paired so there’s nothing to worry about there. Sync to a phone is similar – download the app from the relevant store and run it. The app will automatically search for the Flex and connect up. A Fitbit login is needed from fitbit.com and signing up for that is free. There’s a full lifestyle portal online which gives access to fitness stats from any web browser.

Personally I used my Flex almost exclusively with my Android phone (Nexus 4) and tablet (Nexus 9). The app shows daily activity, sleep patterns and can record exercise, weight, food and water if the information is added in conscientiously.

Flex Summary  Flex Summar

Different views of the data can be shown – on the left below is a weekly view. Contrary to indications, I didn’t spend Saturday lounging in front of the TV, but forgot to put the Flex on! The Flex can also track sleep patterns, though it can’t automatically detect sleep and needs the wearer to indicate the approximate time of going to bed and getting up.

Weekly Flex Summary  Flex Sleep Tracking

The Flex unit can vibrate too and vibration is used to give feedback to the wearer on attaining goals. It can be used as an alarm as well and although I wasn’t really keen on wearing the Flex in bed, the wake-up alarm worked well for me, prodding me to stir when I’d turned my other alarm off. I don’t normally wear a watch in bed so I did find wearing the Flex at night a little odd but that’s very much a personal feeling.

In the two weeks I used the Flex, I didn’t come across any other problems bar one time that the unit needed reset. I’m not sure what happened: I think I might have tried to sync with the Flex from both phone and the tablet at the same time but resetting the Flex was simple using the normal paperclip-in-reset-hole and no activity data was lost.

I came to this review as a Fitbit Zip wearer and to start with, I did think that the Flex was a little bit of a backward step as I couldn’t see the number of paces that I’d taken – the Zip shows this information on a small LCD screen.  However, over the course of the trial, I’ve got used to it and if I really want to know, I can do a quick sync with my phone to get the data. The Flex is much better than the Zip when it comes to wearing during activity and doesn’t get accidentally pulled off or left in the locker on trousers. The water resistance of the Flex is a bonus too. One downside is that the Flex doesn’t tell the time, so it can’t replace a wristwatch. For many people this isn’t an issue as they don’t wear a watch but for those who do, the Fitbit Charge is perhaps the answer.

The Fitbit Flex is priced at £79.99 RRP but can be found a little cheaper on-line.

Thanks to Fitbit for providing the Flex for review.

GNC #1000 – The 1000th Episode

Tonight’s 1000th episode is so important to me for you to listen, or watch that I am limiting the show notes for this episode only. I have a message for the Ohana and for Podcasters alike. There are so very few of us that have reached this milestone, the monologue in tonight’s show is more important than the tech news of which there is plenty. Please listen to the first half of the show when you can in one sitting. Thank you for being here for 1000 episodes, we will see where the road leads us from here. God willing I will be able to celebrate my 2000th show 10 years from now.

You will save $50.00 on your Total Transformation by using the promo code Podcast @ mypurium.com/podcast when you purchase your transformation kit.. Get healthy before the new year with me.

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Modern Retro

plastic seat coversHaving been born in 1955 I grew up through the plastic craze of the 1960’s. Plastic was new and fascinating. Plastic designer products of the 1960’s helped us believe that we were living in the future.

And so that brings us to products such as the Fingerhut plastic seat covers as well as plastic furniture covers. At the height of the plastic craze, it was popular to cover car seats with mail ordered plastic seat covers. They were constructed of clear plastic, and came in two designs – flat or a sort of raised diamond plate bubble design. For whatever reason, the diamond plate bubble design seemed to be the most popular, and that is what my parents had.

sofa-plastic-coverWhen my younger brothers and I would sleep while riding in the car with our faces lying against the seat, we would wake up, with the imprint of the diamond plate pattern on the sides of our faces. The plastic seat covers grew very hot and pliable in the summer and cold and stiff in the winter. Inevitably the plastic would become brittle, crack and tear at certain stress points, often remaining partially intact.

At the very height of the plastic craze some people also covered living room furniture with form fitting clear plastic covers. Somehow some people were convinced that the plastic cover would prevent the new furniture from becoming worn out, despite the fact that the plastic was cold and uninviting.

plastic1It’s a wonder that this plastic craze didn’t result in plastic cosmetics to help “protect” skin. I can imagine children with shining plastic covered faces.

Plastic is certainly still around, though the craze has long since dissipated. Plastic has faded into the background of our consumer lives, quietly weaved into the majority of products around us.

Fortunately the plastic seat cover idea went away. However, like a reconstituted T-2 Terminator the plastic cover is back and lives on department store shelves near you.

plastic screen protectorThe modern idea of plastic covers lurks in the 21st century in the form of useless plastic screen protectors for mobile devices. Screen protectors are a 1960’s fantastic plastic product just waiting to be applied to the screens of beloved mobile devices. And just like those plastic seat covers of the 1960’s, plastic screen protectors are of dubious value.

Kingston HyperX Cloud Headset Review

Kingston LogoKingston have long been a brand of choice for gaming professionals, expecially when overclocking the HyperX range of memory modules to within a megahertz of their life. Not content with the inside of the PC, Kingston has put the performance brand on the outside with the HyperX Cloud headset. Sensibly they’ve not tried to start from scratch but partnered with Swedish pro gamers Qpad to get into the market. Let’s take a look.

Kingston HyperX Cloud Box

Initial impressions are good. The HyperX Cloud headset comes in a solid well-finished box that pulls smoothly apart to reveal the headset and accessories. There’s a slightly cheesy marketing message from the HyperX Gaming Manager in silver on the inside of the lid, but it’s a nice touch.

Kingston HyperX Cloud in Box

As you’ll see from the pics, the version on review is the white with black edition; there’s a black with red version if you want to look a bit tougher. Taking the headphones out of the box, they feel pretty good and well-made for the price point. There are no rough edges, the headband stitching looks good and the embroidery is neat. The audio lead is braided rather than bare PVC and that alone helps with the tangles. It’s the end of the lead that gives away the fact that the HyperX Cloud isn’t only for listening to music as rather than a single 3.5mm jack, there’s a pair; one for audio in (the headphones) and the other for audio out (the microphone).

Kingston HyperX Cloud Headset

The detachable boom mic is on the left hand side of the box and plugs cleanly into a socket on the left hand ear cup. A small insert covers the socket when the microphone’s not needed to keep things neat. The boom is flexible and can be positioned to suit.

Kingston HyperX Cloud Headset with Mic

In the box there’s a comprehensive selection of accessories including an extension lead, in-line mic set and an adaptor to take the two 3.5mm stereo jacks into a single TRRS connector, as used in mobile phones. There’s even one of the adaptors needed for annoying aircraft seats, so whether it’s a PC, tablet, phone or plane, the HyperX Cloud can jack in.

But enough of the features….what is the HyperX Cloud like to use? To start with, the headphones are very comfortable to wear, especially when the leather-style pads are swapped for the included velour ones. I wore the headphones for several multi-album sessions without any soreness and would definitely recommend them for extended gaming sessions too. Obviously the preference between enclosed and on-ear cups is a personal one but for comfort, I think these are hard to beat.

Sonically, I used the headphones for gaming, music and IP telephony with Microsoft’s Lync. In the office, the headset is great. One minute you are listening to music, the next minute you are taking a phone call with no need to fumble around taking the headset off while picking up the phone. Voices were clear and callers could hear me well. Moving on to music listening, it’s always hard to critique without sounding critical. I thought the HyperX Cloud headset reproduced sound well with good clarity across the range. The sound could have been richer and more exciting but I was perfectly happy listening to the HyperX Cloud all day. Playing games, the headset was great with gunshots and explosions blowing up in your ears. Car engines came across well, so this headset was made for GTA. As with phone calls, abuse, sorry, conversation with fellow gamers was clear.

Overall, there’s not much to dislike and a great deal to enjoy with the Kingston HyperX Cloud headset. It’s well made and comfortable to wear, and comes with everything needed to plug-in. Audio quality is good without being outstanding. The Kingston HyperX Cloud has a list price of GB£79.99 but can be found on-line for less.  Stick it on your Christmas list.

Thanks to Kingston for providing the review headset.

GNC #999 T-Minus 1

With Christmas upon us things are as busy as ever here in preparing for the holidays and the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show.. MY PV aka Solar System got turned on and I am now sticking it to the man as my meter rotates backwards from my personal power plant on my roof. See the video of the meter starting to spin backwards.

You will save $50.00 on your Total Transformation by using the promo code Podcast @ mypurium.com/podcast when you purchase your transformation kit.. Get healthy before the new year with me.

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Robot Underpants: 12.10.14 (177) “This Week in Griffins”

Baron Mat “Langley” Luschek, “Starman” Michael Gaines and Kathy “CheesyG” Hopkins discuss the best of the best from the past week including: Pirate Bay news, Mad Max news, George Lucas Does Not Care About Star Wars, Superman Prequel news, Steven Moffat says the Doctor can be a Woman, Grumpy Cat’s Owner Made 100 Million, Christopher Lee Christmas news and more!

* Mad Max Trailer
* Christopher Lee Christmas
* Morrissey Dolls
* Grumpy Cat News
* Lucas Didn’t See Stars Trailer
* Superman Prequel
* Steven Moffat Woman Doctor