GNC #1041 The Breach Gets Bigger

I cannot help but talk about the new revelations on the OPM Breach. I talk about that and share with you all of the tech news of the day. To include some remarkable space stories and even a deep dive into a space shuttle trainer.

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Creative Sound Blaster Roar Review

Creative LogoWhile everyone’s eyes have been on drones, portable Bluetooth speakers have been the sleeper hit of the past few years. From low-fi to hi-fi and prices to match, there’s a speaker for everyone. On review here is Creative’s Sound Blaster Roar, a compact portable Bluetooth wireless speaker with NFC, though this description sells it short by a long way. Let’s take a look.

To start with, the SoundBlaster Roar is about the size of four DVD boxes stacked on top of each other, though it’s a bit narrower (57 x 202 x 115 mm). It’s no lightweight either with a bit of mass (1.1 kg), which is reassuring when it comes speakers. There’s metal mesh on four sides and a swathe of controls, slots and sockets on the fifth with soft touch rubber which spills over onto the top. The design itself won a Red Dot Award in 2014.

Creative Roar

Some of the controls are self-evident such as the power button and volume controls, but it’s not immediately apparent why there are buttons for record, play and pause. Even more surprising and concerning is the switch marked “ARM”, which fortunately is in the off position for now.

The Roar is much more than a Bluetooth wireless speaker. It’s a hands-free speaker phone, a USB digital sound card, an MP3 player, an audio recorder, microSD card reader, a battery pack and a siren. It’s quite the box of tricks with versatility to take it from the office to the party.

Powering up the Roar plays a satisfying little jingle – it’s on and ready to rock. Starting with the basics and playing music from a smartphone, it’s straightforward to pair the Roar, with a choice of two techniques. Pair via the normal Bluetooth passcode or else swipe the NFC hotspot on the Roar to automatically set the pairing, assuming your device has NFC.

With the pairing done, it’s time to play some music. Given Creative’s long history in audio, it’s not unsurprising that the Roar sounds good. For it’s size, it’s very good indeed which rich sound that’s far bigger than the box itself. To achieve this presence, the Roar houses five speakers in the unit’s body, with sets of speakers tuned to deliver in the bass, mid and high frequency ranges. For extra volume, the ROAR button will turn it up to eleven, through it needs to be plugged into the mains to get maximum volume output.

The Roar is a portable speaker and as a necessity there’s a built-in battery that according the specs gives eight hours of playback. I’m not going to disagree with that – it’s in the right space. The Roar can be recharged either from a supplied power brick or via micro-USB through a port on the rear. There’s a full size USB port too for recharging other devices such as smartphones and tablets from the Roar. Battery status is shown by three round green LEDs on the top.

That’s the main presentation out of the way and if that’s all that’s needed from a portable wireless speaker, the Roar delivers well and is worthy of closer inspection.

Creative Roar

But it’s so much more. As the speaker pairs with smartphones via Bluetooth, it’s not entirely unexpected that Roar doubles up as a speakerphone. In use, call quality was good and echo was minimal, and unlike most speakerphones, the audio from the phone call can be recorded to the inserted microSD card. Potentially a useful feature, but check the legality of recording conversations in the relevant jurisdiction.

The Roar works as a USB audio device too, and installation is largely limited to plugging a USB cable between the PC and Roar. Windows auto-loads the drivers and a few seconds later, the Roar is good to go to play music (and other sounds) from the PC. In this mode, the Roar is powered by the PC and the battery charges up as well. The Roar complements music streaming services such as Spotify or Google Music.

Next up, the Creative Roar can work as a standalone music speaker. Load up a microSD card with mp3s and pop it into the Roar. There are simple controls for play, next track, previous track, repeat and shuffle.

Finally, returning to the ARM button, the Roar has a siren feature. Arm the unit with the switch at the top and press the Alarm button to get a whoop-whoop siren to get everyone’s attention. What more could you want?

Overall this a portable wireless speaker that is crammed full of features and the Roar is everything you need for music on the go, in the office or at home. It’s a great sounding wireless Bluetooth speaker, speakerphone, call recorder, MP3 player, USB digital sound card, battery pack and personal alarm in a portable package costing GB£129. There’s nothing to quibble about here, though I’d really like to see it in yellow. Available now from good retailers and direct from Creative’s store.

Thanks to Creative for the loan of the Roar.

3 Queens Launched Mobile Game at E3

Creeping With the CrudashiansThere’s been a ton of news that came out of E3, especially from the bigger, well known, companies. So, you might have missed hearing about a fun mobile game that was created by a small company called 3 Queens. It is an all-woman owned gaming development and publishing company that is based in South Carolina.

The first mobile game from 3 Queens is called Creeping with the Crudashians. It is intended to be a parody of “America’s reality TV royal family” – the Kardashians (and their show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”. ) The game is also a critique of celebrity vanity in general.

Creeping with the Crudashians is a Match 3 game that is available for both iOS and Android users. Give 3 Queens your email, and get on their list, if you want to know exactly when the game launches. I’ve subscribed, in part because I like to support women who are in the gaming industry, and also because I’m so very tired of all the “news” about whatever the Kardashians are doing. I think I’m really going to enjoy this game!

The game includes characters that resemble the Kardashians. There’s Cym, Crusty, Crassy, Crawly, Crewelina, and more. The concept of the game is to poke fun at the major milestones and events of the Crudashians based on their career timeline. To win a level, players must match tiles to increase their fame, break sex tapes, etc., with an overall goal to gain the ever elusive talent.

The in-game currencies are Fame, and Talent. The game does allow for micro-transactions. You can purchase Fame, but you can’t buy Talent. Fame, however, is abundant in the game and the default reward for anything a player does. The official public launch of Creeping with the Crudashians is this July. It will be available on both the iTunes and Play! stores.

Previous to creating this game, the 3 Queens (Cara Florence, Nicole Young, and Maureen Coffey-Edri) created an app called WeConsent2 It is an affirmative consent application “designed to protect you and your partner before passion”.

Ford Announces First Apps Compatible with AppLink for SYNC 3

Ford LogoFord was the first to bring voice control to in-vehicle apps when AppLink launched for the first generation of SYNC in 2010. The voice control, of course, makes it safer for drivers to select apps while they are driving. Now, Ford is announcing the first smartphone apps to be compatible with AppLink for SYNC 3.

The integration of voice control to in-vehicle apps has been improved with SYNC 3, delivering an experience that is faster, more responsive, and user friendly. AppLink discovers compatible apps on your smartphone and projects their information, including unique graphics and branding on the touch screen display in your vehicle. There are three apps that Ford is highlighting that are compatible with AppLink.

The first one is Spotify, which delivers over 30 million songs at the touch of a button and the sound of your voice. In Ford and Lincoln models equipped with SYNC 3, users can control the Spotify App running on their Apple or Android smartphones from the driver’s seat using voice control. Using Ford AppLink, Spotify Premium, and Free subscribers can choose their playlists synced across any device, toggle shuffle, save tracks to their music collection, and much more, all hands-free. Users also have access to playlist, album artwork, and track information in rich full color display on the SYNC 3 touch screen.

Pandora is also being highlighted. With Pandora on SYNC 3, great music discovery is effortless and personalized. Pandora’s team of over 30 music analysts examines 400 attributes in each song to find the perfect track for you and your journey. Customize your stations even further by thumbing up and thumbing down directly from the dashboard of your Ford vehicle.

The third app being highlighted is Glympse, the pioneer in time-based, temporary location sharing. Users can simply share their current location and estimated time of arrival. Using SYNC 3’s touchscreen interface, drivers can easily send, add time or expire an existing Glympse, and receive a push notification when a sent Glympse has been viewed, which keeps the driver’s eyes on the road.

The all-new SYNC 3 communications and entertainment system debuts this summer in North America on the 2016 Ford Escape and Fiesta. Pandora, Spotify, and Glympse are among the first apps to take advantage of the new capabilities of SYNC 3; additional AppLink-enabled apps will continue to roll out as SYNC 3 becomes available this summer.

GNC #1040 ISP Throttling Again?

I hope you have had a chance to review my special content I created for you while I was on travel. Four Drone videos and the Interview with race car drive and Godaddy sponsored Danica Patrick. Plus all the news of the day.

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DJI Phantom III Drone Flight 3-4

In this video I fly my DJI Phantom III drone at my family homestead. I am just learning to fly the drone and having fun doing so. I narrate the flight.

Note: These are full 1080p Videos you need a high speed connection to play them back without buffering if you want to watch the YouTube version visit this page.

DJI Phantom Flight – High Speed – Non Narrated

In this video I fly my DJI Phantom III drone as far our as 800 feet at 400 feet high. This video has no narration.

Note: These are full 1080p Videos you need a high speed connection to play them back without buffering if you want to watch the YouTube version visit this page.

DJI Phantom III Flight 5 in a Barn

In this video I fly my DJI Phantom III drone at my family homestead and fly inside a barn.. I do not recommend this for anyone on their 5th flight as I had a couple of close calls. I narrate the flight.

Note: These are full 1080p Videos you need a high speed connection to play them back without buffering if you want to watch the YouTube version visit this page.

DJI Phantom III Flight 6 – Old Homestead

In this video I fly my DJI Phantom III drone at my grandparents homestead. This is a short flight as I forgot to turn on the recorder on the initial portion of the flight.

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Todd Cochrane Interviews Danica Patrick

I was invited as a special guest by my sponsor GoDaddy to the Gatorade 400 held at the Michigan International Speedway. While there I was scheduled to do a 10 minute interview with Danica Patrick, sadly the heavy rains precluded a more formal stand up interview but she was gracious enough to do the interview with the two of us in a SUV next to her motor coach. The interview was recorded on my iPhone and I think it came out better than the 5 grand of video gear I had hauled to Michigan. I missed the most important question on whether she would consider doing a Podcast down the road. But I hope you enjoy the short interview and thank you to all that submitted questions.

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