GNC #1034 Plugging Ourselves In!

If your a geek you have at least once in your lifetime wished your could just plugin and integrate with the net. With our mobile phones in our hands we can just about do that, but what about becoming a Cyborg? I talk about this and more serious topics like Memorial day and all the tech news I could dig up. Please support our new sponsor as well Casper.

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GNC #1033 Title II Ramifications

We are starting to see some of the Title II Ramifications, I talk about some industry observations and the FCC discussion on ISP customer privacy. I also address a listeners concern in tonight’s show. Please support our new sponsor as well Casper.

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Booq Taipan Shock Backpack Review

booq LogoThe Booq Taipan Shock is a lightweight laptop backpack for devices with screens up to 16″, designed to store the laptop safely in a padded section, placing all the accoutrements of mobile life in other pockets and compartments. As can be seen in the photos, it’s a relatively big backpack at 46 × 33 × 21 cm giving it a large internal volume for plenty of gear. The outer material is 1680D triweave water-repellent polyester closed with YKK zips and all the stitching is neatly finished and taped over on the inside. The specs say it weighs just under a kilo.

Booq Taipan Shock back

Booq Taipan Shock strap sideThe dedicated laptop section is closest to the back side of the Shock and has padding on all sides with a flash of red material. The Shock easily took a chunky HP ProBook with a 15.6″ screen and a more svelte 13″ Lenovo Yoga looked almost lost inside the padded laptop pocket.

Booq Taipan Shock laptop pocket

In the main section, there’s a selection of zipped pockets, netted areas, pen-holders and slots for paper pads. There’s plenty of room for books and lunchboxes too.

Inside the Taipan Shock

Booq Taipan Shock Removable KeyringThe Taipan Shock has loads of neat features. To start with all the zips are YKK’s water-repellent versions, so once closed up the bag will keep gear dry in a rain shower. As the zips are covered with a layer of material, they look neat and tidy, with none of the zip teeth showing. For convenience, one of the side pockets has a detachable keyring, and while the arm straps can be adjusted for fit, any extra webbing can be neatly wrapped and retain with velcro to stop it flapping around. Finally on the rear of the backpack, there’s a pocket that’s just the right size for an ereader or 7″ tablet, which is handy for easy access.

Booq TagsThe Taipan Shock looks very smart in grey but for a bit of brightness a few coloured leather pull-tabs are included which can be swapped in. It’s a neat touch.

Finally, the Booq Taipan Shock comes with Terralinq, a service designed to reunite lost bags with owners. By pairing a serial number on the backpack with the purchaser, the Shock can be returned should it be found.

Overall, the Booq Taipan Shock is a well-made backpack that has plenty of pockets and space for safely toting larger laptops. The Taipan Shock is vailable from Amazon.co.uk with an RRP of £80.

Thanks to Booq for the loan of the Taipan Shock.

Robot Underpants: 05.20.15 (203) “The Scoble Episode”

Baron Mat “Langley” Luschek, “Starman” Michael Gaines and Eric Rice welcome Robert Scoble to the show for this all tech-talk episode! We discuss the future of virtual reality vs augmented reality, 360 video coming to Facebook(?), Dubai, Maker Faire and more!

It was a fantastic show, but thanks to Google/YouTube jacking up the video from the Hangout, this is all you get.

Divoom Airbeat-10 Bluetooth Speaker Review

Divoom LogoIt’s rare that products sent for review offer any great surprises: usually gadgets arriving on my desk meet my expectations in terms of build, functionality and price. However, occasionally a device delivers more than expected and I’m pleased to say that this is one such occasion. The Divoom Airbeat-10 punches well above its weight with loudness and clarity that belies its diminutive size. Sorry if this ruined the review but let’s take a look anyway.

The Divoom Airbeat-10 is portable Bluetooth speaker with speakerphone. It’s splashproof and comes with a suction cup and bike mount, though Airboot is just as happy to sit on the table or hang from a hook. A USB to micro-USB cable is included for charging and a 3.5 mm stereo lead comes in the box for devices without Bluetooth.

Airbeat-10 Contents

The Airbeat-10 is about 9 cm along the sides and around 4.5 cm tall. Covered in a soft touch rubber, it’s available in four colours; black, white, red and blue. An LED on the top lights up to show Bluetooth and charging activity, on the side there are four buttons for power, phone functions and volume up/down, along with a covered port for USB charging and 3.5 mm aux in. On the back of the Airbeat is a standard camera screw mount which is used for the suction cup and bike attachment but can be used with other camera accessories such as a GorillaPod. The Airbeat 10 weighs in at 155 g, meaning that it’s not hollow plastic.

Airbeat-10 Buttons

Pairing is straightforward. Turn the Airbeat-10 on, search from the Bluetooth settings on the phone or tablet and pair up. Easy-peasy and time to make some noise.

And this is where the Airbeat-10 delivered well beyond my expectation – it produced rich and surprisingly loud sound for such a small device. Certainly it’s not audiophile hi-fi and it’s not stereo but for a pocket-sized portable device the Airbeat-10 is very good indeed. Music comes across well through the range with little of the tinniness normally associated with small lightweight devices and good amount of lower end bass.

Airbeat Speaker with SuckerI had the Airbeat on my desk for the review period and it was great to have it handy for a quick listen for both music and podcasts. It’s portability and wireless connectivity meant that I could move it round my desk as I needed space. Battery life is a claimed six hours and that seems about right – I found that I needed to charge the Airbeat-10 once or twice a week depending on usage.

The Airbeat-10 is splashproof as well and with the suction mount, it’s ideal for use in the shower. I whacked it onto the tiles with the sucker, started the radio app before stepping in and listened to the morning news in the shower without getting my smartphone wet. Excellent.

There are three minor issues that I found with the Airbeat. First, when using it as a speakerphone, the microphone on the side needed to be pointing at the speaker otherwise the caller on the other end of the line didn’t hear too well. The second was that sometimes “silence detection” seemed to be overly aggressive and between music tracks or between people talking in podcasts, the Airbeat would go silent (presumably to save power) but then there would be a small pop as the sound restarted and the first half-second of speech or music would be lost. Adjusting the volume upwards on the smartphone or tablet usually helped. Finally, the soft touch rubber coating was a bit of a fluff magnet!

These niggles aside, I was impressed by the Divoom Airbeat-10. Although small, the quality of the sound and volume is better than anything I’ve heard at this size, and the portability and wireless connectivity make it the perfect casual speaker whether in the office, in the shower or out-and-about. At this time of year, I’d recommend it to the music Festival crowd and later in the year I’d be suggesting it as a great stocking-filler.

The Divoom Airbeat-10 is available from retailers worldwide with an RRP of £29.99 in the UK.

Thanks to Divoom for the Airbeat-10 for review.

GNC #1032 Hacking a Plane Mid-Air?

Tonight a little experiment with the show notes feedback appreciated if you notice. Two full weeks of activities here wit my oldest sons graduation party, graduation and family flying in.. Plan on putting shows out on schedule at the point. I will see how the news is on Memorial day. Enjoy tonight’s show as I digg into Hacking a Plane and all the tech news. Please also note our new sponsor. Casper.

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Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear Ingress Editions

Sennheiser LogoAnother bargain for GNC readers in North America and Europe. There’s 25% off the Ingress editions of Sennheiser’s Momentum On-Ear headphones with the checkout code IngressPromo2015.

Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear IngressUsing UK prices, the 1st gen Momentums were originally £170 and are currently on sale at £130. A further 25% brings them down to only £97.49, which is a veritable bargain for headphones of this standard.

The discount will be available from 15 May to 31 May 2015 and the promotion is running in Germany, UK, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Canada and the United States. Prices will vary.

Motorola Spring Special Offers in UK

Motorola M LogoLooking for a new smartphone or smart watch in the UK and fancy a Moto X, Nexus 6 or Moto 360? Motorola is having a two day Spring sale starting at midnight tonight, Sunday, (00:01 18 May) and running through to midnight on Tuesday night.

For the Moto X smartphone, save £96 on 16 GB and 32 GB handsets, with prices starting from £299 and £339 respectively off contract.

Moto 360On the Nexus 6 smartphone, save £30 on Midnight Blue or Cloud White Nexus 6 32 GB and 64 GB handsets, with prices starting from £449 and £519 also off contract.

Finally, save £50 on a Moto 360 smart watch in Stone or Black leather with prices starting from £149.

I really liked the Moto X when I reviewed for GNC back in January and now that has been updated with Lollipop I’m sure it’s even better. With a 5.2″ screen, it might suit the smaller pocket rather than a 6″ screen, but if bigger is better, it’s hard to go wrong with the Nexus 6.

Watch for the UK special offers on this page.

Honor Buddy Authentication Closed After WoW Ban

Honor Buddy logoBlizzard Entertainment, creator of World of Warcraft, recently banned more than 100,000 World of Warcraft accounts because of “botting”. As a result, the maker of a bot called Honorbuddy has decided to close Honorbuddy Authentication. This decision means that people who were using the Honorbuddy bot will no longer be able to do so.

Honorbuddy is a bot. Some World of Warcraft players were using it because it automated certain things in the game for them. For example, it was possible to use Honorbuddy to automatically cause your character to gather resources, level the character, and a variety of other things.

Blizzard Community Manager Lore recently posted information about the ban on the World of Warcraft forums. The forum post was titled “Recent Actions Against Botting in WoW”. The key part was this:

We’ve recently taken action against a large number of World of Warcraft accounts that were found to be using third-party programs that automate gameplay, known as “bots”. We’re committed to providing an equal and fair playing field for everyone in World of Warcraft, and will continue to take action against those found in violation of our Terms of Use. Cheating of any form will not be tolerated.

There was no mention of any particular bot in the forum post. However, it appears that Honorbuddy might have been one of the bots that banned players were using. There is a post on the Honorbuddy forum titled “Honorbuddy Bans Statement”. Part of it said:

It seems like Honorbuddy was detected, we are not sure, but looking at BAN THREADS, we think that is the most likely option atm.

We are sorry for all your lost WOW Accounts, hopefully you can use them again after the 6 months ban is lifted. I have read here in the forums a bit, a lot of the accounts where [sic] 10 years old. This is a pity. We always say, do not use your valuable accounts as the risk is always there.

…With Honorbuddy you thought that we are unbeatable, we never thought that, we’ve succeeded since 2010 – Honorbuddy had not a single software detection. It seems there is one now.

…You ask yourself what happens next? For now we closed our Honorbuddy Authentication, when we know more details we will inform you.

The Honorbuddy website has a disclaimer at the bottom that says “This website is not associated with Activision Blizzard Inc. and Honorbuddy may be against their TOS/EULA.”

Reddit Announces New Anti-Harassment Policy

In the wake of concerns regarding abuse and harassment on social networking site Reddit, the company has adopted a new anti-harassment policy with stricter rules and consequences for abusive activity.

reddit-logo-01-674x501A survey of 15,000 Reddit users in April found that negative and offensive content is the number one reason why users avoid the site and encourage their friends to do the same. In a recent statement, interim CEO Ellen Pao said, “The community wants these improvements… We believe less harassment means more participation, leading to more free expression, better conversations, and better communities.”

Since its creation in 2005, Reddit has been a haven for free expression on the web. Although the site’s openness has provided artists, satirists, and enthusiasts of nearly any topic under the sun, this anything-goes nature has also made the site a hotspot for trolling and cyber abuse. Subreddits promoting revenge porn (the practice of getting “revenge” by posting of sexually explicit images of someone without their consent), child pornography, and other illegal activities have popped up, casting a dark shadow over Reddit’s reputation.

Reddit banned child pornography in 2012; they again updated their policy in February to ban “involuntary pornography” such as revenge porn. With these new changes, Reddit has broadened their policy by defining “harassment” as:

Systematic and/or continued actions to torment or demean someone in a way that would make a reasonable person (1) conclude that Reddit is not a safe platform to express their ideas or participate in the conversation, or (2) fear for their safety or the safety of those around them.

Under the new policy, users can report abusive content by emailing Reddit moderators, who can remove inappropriate content and ban offending users.

Reddit continues to recognize the importance of free speech, stating that the updated policy “will have no immediately noticeable impact on more than 99.99 percent of our users.” The company hopes to make Reddit a safe, inspiring place to share and interact without the underlying threat of abuse and harassment.