Verv Shows Where Your Energy Goes



London-based firm Green Running have launched Verv, a home energy assistant that uses AI technology to automatically figure out which appliances are running and how much they’re costing. It’s clever stuff and they’ve got 6 patents to prove it.

The UK’s smart meter programme has taken a bit of hammering in the press recently with The Register covering the debacle along with a healthy dose of cynicism. In agreement, Peter Davies, CEO & Founder of Green Running points out, “Smart Meters are being rolled out across homes but they simply don’t provide enough detail to tell the consumer what is actually costing them money. They just provide a total cost of your electricity usage. We are able to sample data at extremely high frequencies enabling us to read the ‘energy signature’ of individual electrical appliances. This means we can show the user in real time how much their appliances are costing them, in addition to an array of other functions such as alerting them if an appliance is deteriorating or if they’ve left something on.

Being able to tell which appliances are electricity is handy, especially if it reveals when an older unit is consuming too much power either through slow failure or that newer models consume far less.

Verv doesn’t need to be installed by an electrician – there’s no fiddling with electricity here. Simply, there’s three parts. A Verv hub, a sensor clamp that goes round the main power cable, and an app for both iOS and Android. The only snag I can see from the installation video, is the hub needs a power socket near the meter.

Verv is electricity supplier neutral too and it doesn’t matter who supplies the power. In fact, it’s probably a good way to check that the supplier is billing correctly as 60% of consumers don’t understand their utility bills.

Integration with Amazon Alexa is touted on the web site though there’s no detail at present on what features might be supported in the skill. There’s also no mention of an interface to any smart home gear, such as Samsung SmartThings, but I would imagine that’s on the priority list as Verv’s competitor, Smappee, is already there. IFTTT would be good too but it’s early days.

Verv is currently open for pre-orders at GB£249 with delivery expected in the autumn (the website says October, the press release says November…)


Todoist is Doing an AirPods Giveaway



Todoist wants you to get the most out of Todoist for iOS 11 with a new pair of AirPods. They point out that the headphone jack not likely to return to iPhones anytime soon. Todoist is giving away a new pair of AirPods so you can enjoy all of the wireless productivity with Todoist and Siri.

To enter the Todoist contest, you need to do three things:

1. Tweet the one task you’d like Siri to complete for you to make your life easier.

2. Attach an image that best reflects your task to your tweet.

3. Use the hastag #TodoistHandsFree

Doing that, and you will automatically be entered to win one of three pairs of Apple AirPods. This contest closes on Tuesday, October 3, 2017. Three different winners will be randomly chosen out of all proper entries and will be announced on Twitter within five business days of the contest closing.

For the purpose of the contest, you can tweet a task that you want Siri to complete for you that would be entirely impossible for Siri to actually do. The example given by Todoist is “Hey Siri… organize my closet.”

My best guess is that the purpose of this contest is to make people aware that you can use your AirPods to quickly ask Siri to add something to Todoist for you. The blog post about it says “Just double tap either AirPod, ask Siri to add a task to your Todoist, and continue on your merry way.”


Twitter Twits



All social media platforms have their problems, but I thought this one from Twitter took the biscuit. One tweet from 29 June and 4,100 followers. Does no-one check before following back?

 

Perhaps 600 people did check, hence the discrepancy, but that’s a pretty good (or bad) ratio depending on your point of view. If you follow someone first, 87% of the time, they’ll follow you back.

No, I’m not bitter that I only have 796 followers after 1,532 tweets but if anyone wants to improve my self-esteem, I’m @AndrewhPalmer. I always follow back…oh, wait….


Ctrl – Alt – Del #1228



The history of Ctrl – Alt – Del and why Bill Gates even hates it. Back in the studio next week. Has been a big week very successful meetings.

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Show Notes:


High 5 Fashion from OnePlus Callection



Fashion designer Jean-Charles​ ​de​ ​Castelbajac is well know for his bright use of colours and smiling models, and he’s brought this fantastic sense of fun to a new limited edition of the OnePlus 5. Combining French chic with technology, the new OnePlus​ ​5​ ​JCC+ “is not a mobile phone! it’s a creative machine for fashion expert“.

Branded as “Callection”, de Castelbajac has created an exclusive range of ​ holsters,​ ​bags,​ ​caps,​ ​t-shirts and​ ​the​ ​limited-edition​ ​OnePlus​ ​5​ ​design. All ​reflect​ ​his​ ​signature high colour style. I love it!

We’re​ ​always​ ​looking​ ​to​ ​try​ ​new​ ​things​ ​with​ ​partners​ ​who​ ​embody​ ​the​ ​Never​ ​Settle​ ​spirit,“​ ​said OnePlus​ ​co-founder​ ​and​ ​Head​ ​of​ ​Global,​ ​Carl​ ​Pei.​ ​”It’s​ ​been​ ​great​ ​collaborating​ ​with​ ​an​ ​icon​ ​like Jean-Charles​ ​Castelbajac,​ ​who​ ​is​ ​continuously​ ​bringing​ ​game-changing​ ​ideas​ ​to​ ​the​ ​fashion industry.

I​ ​always​ ​like​ ​looking​ ​towards​ ​the​ ​future,“​ ​said​ ​Castelbajac.​ ​”To​ ​change​ ​the​ ​world,​ ​you​ ​always need​ ​to​ ​be​ ​creative​ ​and​ ​work​ ​with​ ​people​ ​who​ ​are​ ​ahead​ ​of​ ​their​ ​time.

Not entirely too sure I can rock the smartphone holster with confidence, mind you…

In addition to the clothes and phone, there are ten wallpapers drawn by Jean-Charles​ ​de​ ​Castelbajac. These are pre-loaded on the 5 JCC+ but if you can’t wait, they’re here for download.

Technically identical to the top end OnePlus 5, the Callection 5 JCC+ has 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage. While available, it’ll retail for the same price at €559 EUR​ ​/​ ​£499​ ​GBP from 2 October on OnePlus.net.

Can’t wait that long? There’s a pop-up event at fashion boutique ​colette in Paris at 11:00 CEST​ 22 ​September. Sadly, the colette retail store is closing in December so this could be your last chance to visit and Paris is lovely in the autumn….


Battleborn’s Fall Update is its Last Update



Battleborn is from Gearbox Software. The game is now available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Battleborn was launched in May of 2016, and the Fall Update will be the last update of the game.

Battleborn is an ambitious fusion of genres. The game combines highly-stylized visuals and frenetic first-person shooting, with Gearbox’s industry-leading co-operative combat, and an expansive collection of diverse heroes.

A post on the Gearbox Forums included a special message from Battleborn Creative Director Randy Varnell. Part of that message said:

As of this week, there will be no more Battleplans and there is currently no planned content after the Fall Update. Details on any future changes or new will be made on our forums or through social media, so keep your radars on.

Never fear! Battleborn is here to stay. Nothing is changing with Battleborn, and the servers will be up and active for the foreseeable future. We announced the Fall Update for the game at PAX including some new skins, themed around some of your favorite Borderlands characters! That update will also include some updated title art (more full bar titles!) for the more significant challenges in the game, as well as some additional Finisher Boosts and Taunts. Also, there are minor balance changes in that patch.

The forum post alludes to a “highly anticipated project” that some people at Gearbox have been working on. Battleborn Creative Director Randy Varnell says that he will “play a significant role in that highly anticipated but unannounced game.”


Genetic Testing #1227



We are entering an age where Genetic Testing is going to become affordable to the common man, where we can get early indications if we are at risk for certain cancers of diseases. Which will allow us to make plans and or lifestyle changes to try and ward off or have more pro-active screening for certain diseases. The new road gear so far is not perfect and I may revert back to the old rig. Sometimes somethings can be to good.

You have heard me talk about proximity beacons. I know now how to do it with minimal investment! This course that I endorse and have used successfully is the gateway to deploying proximity beacons for Android.

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Show Notes:


Bungie Removed Graphical Element from Destiny 2 Armor



Bungie made a decision to remove the graphical element (or, artwork) from a piece of armor in Destiny 2. To be more specific, the decision focuses on the Road Complex AA1 gauntlets. The artwork was removed after Bungie became aware what the imagery resembled.

On September 12, 2017, the verified Bungie Twitter account tweeted the following:

I’ve gone down an internet “rabbit hole” (so you don’t have to) in regards to the imagery on the gauntlets. I’m going to summarize the details here, and leave you to dig deeper if you want to know more background.  It helps if you know what the Road Complex AA1 gauntlets looked like:

It has been said that imagery looks like “kek”. World of Warcraft players might identify “kek” as “lol”.World of Warcraft has two factions: Horde and Alliance. If I play my Orc (Horde) and put “lol” into the chat – Alliance players will see “kek”. Blizzard intentionally prevents Horde and Alliance players from being able to verbally communicate with each other in-game.

The Know Your Meme website has details about how “kek” was taken up by people who use 4Chan. It appears they created a satirical religion around it. The Southern Poverty Law Center has a detailed article about “kek”. The key thing to note is that the artwork on the Road Complex AA1 gauntlets resembles the lettering on a flag that has been seen at some alt-right rallies.

Bungie made a blog post titled “Too Close for Comfort”. They provide more information than one can fit into a Tweet about their decision regarding the Road Complex AA1 gauntlets.

Earlier this week, we were made aware that a graphical element on one of Destiny 2’s armor pieces bore close resemblance to an internet meme that has been subsequently repurposed to represent hate and intolerance. This was completely unintentional. As an immediate response, we extended our planned maintenance window to remove the element from the armor piece itself, and will be following up next week with another patch to remove the same element from the UI icon and preview screens, scrubbing it from the game altogether.

The Bungie blog post has information about how that image got into the game, and what steps they are taking to prevent something like this from happening again.


Chrome to Give Users More Control over Audio



People who use Chrome as their go-to browser are about to get more control over the audio that autoplays on the websites they visit. Software Engineer Mounir Lamouri posted on the Chromium Blog information about “Unified autoplay”.

Users watch and listen to a lot of media, and autoplay can make it faster and easier to consume on the web. However, one of the most frequent user concerns is unexpected media playback, which can use data, consume power, and make unwanted noise while browsing. To address this, Chrome will be making autoplay more consistent with user expectations and will give users more control over audio.

Chrome 63 will add a new user option to completely disable audio for individual sites. The site muting will persist between browsing sessions. This allows users to customize when and where audio will play.

Starting in Chrome 64, autoplay will be allowed when either the media does not include any audio, or when the user has indicated an interest in the media. These changes will allow autoplay to occur when users want media to play, and will respect users’ wishes when they don’t want media to play.

The Chromium blog post says: “These changes will also unify desktop and mobile web behavior, making web media development more predictable across platforms and browsers.” It sounds to me like these changes will make visiting websites less annoying for people who have not yet started using ad blockers.


BlizzCon Virtual Ticket Now Available



The BlizzCon Virtual Ticket is available now in the Blizzard Shop in the Americans, Europe, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Pricing and availability varies by region. It is a good option for people who are unable to attend BlizzCon in person.

For starters, the Virtual Ticket unlocks live access to all the stages at BlizzCon 2017 – and in addition to the game updates, developer discussions, and community contests you’ve come to enjoy, you’ll also get access to events featuring community creators, voice actors, and more. Our new BlizzCon All Access channel will act as your guided tour through the event and around the show floor.

The BlizzCon 2017 Virtual Ticket includes:

  • Developer and Community Events
  • Costume and Talent Contests
  • Closing Ceremony
  • Exclusive Interviews
  • Behind the Scenes & From the Floor
  • Pre-show Video Series (weekly videos)
  • Enhanced Esports Viewing
  • Goody Bag Discount – Get $10 USD off this year’s BlizzCon Goody Bag (Supplies are limited.)
  • In-Game Goodies – Unlock this year’s BlizzCon in-game items for World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Hearthstone, StarCraft II, Diablo III and Heroes of the Storm.

Two in-game goodies are special mounts for World of Warcraft players. The Stormwind Skychaser is the mount for the Alliance, and the Orgrimmar Interceptor is the mount for the Horde. Those items are already available in-game for players who purchase the BlizzCon 2017 Virtual Ticket.