Groupon Are Great

Groupon LogoGroupon often comes in for criticism when suppliers who use the site fail to deliver on the advertised product or service. You can argue the merits of whether they should be liable or not, but actions speak louder than words and for me, Groupon have done the right thing.

Back in December of last year, I bought a Nexus 10 via an offer on Groupon UK for around GB£250. It arrived promptly and worked fine until a problem developed with the flash on the camera in late April. I contacted the supplier and after supplying photos of the problem, they agreed to repair the tablet in “six to eight weeks”. The tablet was sent to the supplier in mid-May so I was expecting the Nexus 10 back by end of July at the latest.

Four months later at the end of September, I was still waiting for the tablet to be repaired and returned. As the supplier couldn’t give my anything definite, I contacted Groupon via their website and after a few days of correspondence to confirm my side of the story, Groupon refunded my money. That’s how you do customer service.

Thank you very much, Groupon.

(And yes, I’ve ordered a Nexus 9 with the refund.)

Twitch Would Like You to Wear Clothing

TwitchTwitch updated its Rules of Conduct section to make it clear that streamers are expected to wear clothing. That may seem like a “no-brainer”. In general, dress codes are not put into Rules of Conduct unless there have been problems. I’m not aware of anything specific that may have prompted this change, but it seems to me that Twitch must have had reasons for making it.

The new change to their Rules of Conduct includes a section called “Dress…appropriately”. The key portion says:

Wearing no clothing or sexually suggestive clothing – including lingerie, swimsuits, pasties, and undergarments – will most likely get you suspended, as well as any full nude torsos, which applies to both male and female broadcasters.

It goes on to says that “you may have a great six-pack” but suggests that you share that at the beach instead of on Twitch. The new rule is directed at both male and female streamers, but I kind of doubt that Twitch has had too many problems with men wearing “lingerie, swimsuits, pasties, and undergarments”.

In case that wasn’t clear enough, Twitch went ahead and offered some advice to help people to stay within the boundaries of the rules. If the lighting in the room is too hot, get fluorescent bulbs. You can crop the webcam so that it only shows your face. Move your Xbox One Kinect closer to you as a means of cropping your image. Or, you know, you could always turn it off.

Mugen USB Voltage and Current Meter

Mugen Power Batteries LogoMugen keep producing gadgets that I need but never knew I wanted in the first place. The item in question is a USB voltage and current meter that measures the electricity flowing in a USB connection by connecting inbetween the charging USB port and the charger cable. This could be very handy if you are having charging problems and want to check the volts and amps.

 

Mugen USB Meter

The USB Charger Doctor costs only US$9.99 and is scheduled to ship in mid-December. It’s on my Christmas list!

GNC #990 Amazon Fire Stick

Amazon is getting serious in it’s battle for the set top box or in this case the Amazon Fire Stick which from a performance standard looks to outpace the chromecast. I have ordered two and at $20.00 for prime members it really is a no brainer. Lot’s of tech news in today’s show so sit back and be entertained.

Also as a side note I added my Solo 610 pre-amplifier back into the audio chain on this show which over the next few shows I will get dialed back in. I am also working with long time listener Paul on giving the produced audio some tweaks.

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OnePlus One Pre-Order Today

OnePlus LogoIf you have been toying with the idea of getting the Cyanogen-based OnePlus One smartphone, then you need to get online and in line today as OnePlus is opening pre-orders for only 1 hour across the world in about 2 hours time. If you haven’t come across the OnePlus One before, then you need to take a look as you get a great deal of smartphone for not much money. The 16 GB model will set you back US$299 (GB£229) but the 64 GB one is only US$349 (GB£269).

OnePlus One

The specs are impressive – here’s a quick rundown

  • Operating System CyanogenMod 11S based on Android 4.4
  • CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with 2.5GHz Quad-core CPUs
  • GPU Adreno 330, 578MHz
  • RAM 3 GB LP-DDR3 @1866MHz
  • Storage 16/64 GB eMMC 5.0, available capacity varies
  • SIM 1 slot – Micro SIM
  • Sensors Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity and Ambient Light
  • GPS + GLONASS, Digital compass
  • 3100 mAh LiPo battery
  • Screen size 5.5″
  • Resolution 1080p Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels), 401 ppi
  • Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Rear camera 13 Megapixel – Sony Exmor IMX 214
  • Front camera 5 Megapixel
  • Frequencies GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
  • WCDMA: Bands 1/2/4/5/8
  • LTE: Bands 1/3/4/7/17/38/40
  • Wi-Fi Dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4G/5G) 802.11 b/g/n/ac
  • Color Silk White/Sandstone Black
  • Dimensions 152.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm
  • Weight 5.71 oz / 162g

If that tickles your fancy, you can prepare your basket in advance of the window – follow the guidance here. It’s not entirely clear from reading exactly when the phones will ship after pre-order closes.

The window times are:

  • 23:00-midnight HKT
  • 16:00-17:00 CET
  • 15:00 – 16:00 GMT
  • 11 am -12 am EST
  • 8 am – 9 am PST

I’ve been thinking about ordering a OnePlus One to replace my Nexus 4 but I’m going to wait and see what Android 5 does for the Nexus 4. My only real problem with the Nexus 4 is the battery life. But then again…

Seenda Music Speaker Mouse

seendaI thought I had seen just about ever possible configuration for a mouse, but when the folks at Seenda asked me to review a Music Speaker Mouse I said sure why not.  On the surface this mouse looks like any other average mouse available on the market but what makes it different it has a speaker and microphone built in.

On the bottom of the mouse their are two switches, a standard On/Off, and a “Speaker On/Off”.  As soon as I turned on the speaker, the mouse spoke to me a said “pairing” I paired the mouse with my iPhone, and like any other speaker you pair was able to start playing music through the mouse speaker while at the same time using it as a standard mouse.  I actually discovered the microphone by accident when I answered a call and the mouse acted as speaker phone.

What surprised me the most was that the audio quality was not that bad. The mouse is capable of 3 watts and so long as your not actually using the mouse it sounds pretty good. When you are using your mouse the music is obviously muffled a little bit by your hand.  For $40.00 this may end up being a cool stocking stuffer or better yet it could come in handy for Skype calls.

There are controls on the mouse that let you return last calls, answer & decline calls.  There is a volume up and down button and of course standard wireless mouse functions.

One feature I like is the 900mAh rechargeable battery. The Music Mouse recharges over Micro-USB in a couple of hours while still using it. Seenda says you should expect six hours life when playing music, or up to 70 hours standard use.

The Seenda Music Speaker mouse is definitely pretty unique and a fun product to boot.

 

ACCELL DisplayPort 1.2 to 2 DisplayPort Multi-Display MST Hub Review

accell1As well all know productivity goes exponentially upwards when we go from 1 to 2 monitors and incrementally when one goes from 1 to 3 monitors.  I am fortunate that I have been able to work in a multi-monitor environment for a long time. I personally do better with three monitors than two, but sadly not everyone can afford a multi-display video card. Luckily for all of us their are some great options to expand the number of monitors we can have from a single video output.

The folks from ACCELL have introduced the ACCELL DisplayPort 1.2 to 2 DisplayPort Multi-Display MST Hub (K088B-004B) that allows you to easily connect 2 DisplayPort Monitors to a Single DisplayPort output.   From their website they say the hub utilizes multi-stream transport (MST) protocol, supporting up to 2 displays independently at 2560×1600 @ 60Hz (reduced blanking) or 3840×2160 @ 30Hz (reduced blanking) each with DP 1.2.

So while we all can read a spec I wanted to see how the performance was using a Windows 7 desktop that I have, that has a single display port output on the video card. Hooking the device up was as simple at plugging in the display port plug to the video card and the USB cable to one of my computers usb ports.  I connected both monitors to the hub and booted my computer. It took a little longer to initially sync things up the first boot but I had video..  It was a simple process of arranging how I wanted the displays to replicate within windows display settings.

The monitors I tested this on had a maximum resolution of 2560×1600, so I was not able to test all the way to the top 4k specification but performance at 2560 was flawless. My son loaded and played couple of mid-level video games without any issue or noticeable latency.

Even more exciting is that I know I could use this adapter with two 4k monitors. I have tested these types of devices in the past, and I will say there is a vast improvement in video quality and refresh speed. The Multi-Transport (MST) protocols being used by ACCELL are making a big difference as refresh rates supported go as high as 266khz on a 4k display

At $79.99 this is small price to pay if you want to expand from 1 to 2 monitors. ACCELL has 1 to 3 port hubs available on their website as well, so be sure to check out all the input / output options.

 

 

 

VisionTek Charging Hubs Review

Today almost every household has multiple devices that need to be charged. If I look at my house hold we have 4 – Mobile Phones, 2 – iPad’s, 2-Andorid Tablets and bunch of miscellaneous devices that have their own charging cable and power converter.. Quite simply it is boarding on insanity the number of devices we are charging each evening and can make for a serious cable mess.

The folks at VisionTek provided two VisionTek Charging Hubs that I have been testing in my household, that has first and foremost reduced the number of power adapters, and consolidated the charge cable mess. The charging hubs have allowed me to consolidate charging devices to a couple of areas in my house. Simply reducing the number of wall warts (power adapters)  from a safety stand point of view is refreshing,  in that I am able to unplug the two charging stations versus having charging going on everywhere in the house.

visiontek1First up is the VisionTek High Power USB Seven Port Charging Hub.

It Features:

  • 4 – 1A plugs
  • 3 – 2.1A plugs.
  • USB 3.0/2.0 compatible.
  • Switch to turn unit on/off
  • $49.99

What I really love about this charging hub is that you can charge 7 devices at once as fast at the factory charger.  You can hide the power transformer, and just have the charging bus where you need it.

visiontek2Next is the VisionTek High Power USB Four Port Charging Hub

It Features:

  • 3 – 1A plugs
  • 1 – 2.1A Plug
  • Built in Power Adapter
  • $19.99

I like both of these charging hubs a great deal. From an ascetics point of view, the 4 port charger was more suitable for a kitchen/living room. While the 7 port was fine for my office. The only thing I wish VisionTek would do, would be to build the power adapter into the 7 port. They do have another 7 port charging hub that uses a more traditional wall power adapter that may be more suitable that also includes a sync capability.

The way things are going I can see having a 4 port in each of my kids bedrooms which will allow us to really simply how things get charged around the house.

 

Google fixes ‘security’ problem that blocked bit.ly links

Chrome logoOver the past few days it has come to light that Google was blocking all bit.ly links as if they were malicious. That quickly became a real problem around the web, as many services use the URL shortening service. This made things even harder for folks using the ever-growing Chromebook platform, as there is no way around a problem such as this.

Now, according to security researcher Graham Cluley, as well as other sources, the problem has now been solved. “It appears the issue has now been resolved”, Cluley reports, after initially revealing that “it seems bit.ly has made its way onto Google’s list of sites that aren’t safe to browse to”.

Bit.ly has so far not commented on the problem and it appears there was never a real danger. However, link shortening services have been known to be used to hide the real link in an effort to get a user to a malicious site and bit.ly did suffer an attack earlier this year. That seems to be unrelated to this incident, though.

For now, customers may wish to keep an eye on the service’s blog for any information regarding this incident.

Twitpic and Twitter Agreement Keeps Links Alive

Twitpic LogoRecently, Twitpic announced that it would be shutting down on October 25, 2014. That’s not exactly what happened, though. Instead, it appears that Twitpic and Twitter have managed to form an agreement that will keep the links to Twitpic photos active. That being said, Twitpic isn’t accepting any new users.

Twitpic posted a blog on October 25, 2014, called “Twitpic’s Future”. It says that although they weren’t able to find a way to keep Twitpic independent they did reach an agreement with Twitter. The agreement keeps the Twitpic photo and links alive “for the time being”.

Twitpic’s blog also says: Twitter shares our goal of protecting our users and this data. Also, since Twitpic’s user base consists of Twitter users, it makes sense to keep this data with Twitter.

What does this change mean for people who use Twitpic? It means that Twitpic will no longer be taking on new photos or data. In other words, you can’t add anything else to it, and the stuff that is already there will be in read-only format. Twitpic has removed their iOS and Android apps from the app stores. If you are using it, be aware that it is no longer being supported.

People who are already using Twitpic can still login to their profiles and delete content or delete their Twitpic account. The same group will still be able to export and download their Twitpic data / photo archive on Twitpic.com.

This appears to be the end of the “Is Twitpic shutting down?” saga. But, I could be wrong about that. The Twitpic blog said that Twitter will keep photos and links alive “for the time being”. There has been no further clarification of how long “the time being” will actually be.