Texting while walking? German city has a solution



We’ve all seem people walking while staring down at their phones, even resulting in some hilarious videos. Even one that went viral a while back when a surveillance camera captured footage a woman in a shopping mall falling into a fountain while staring at the device in her hand.

Now a city in Germany thinks it may have found a solution, or at least a partial one. The town of Augsburg is embedding traffic lights in its sidewalks in hopes that pedestrians may notice while looking down and then not walk out into traffic.

This comes on the heels of a report that showed that 17 percent of pedestrians use their smartphone while in road traffic. To nobody’s surprise, it’s the younger generation that is affected by this phenomena the most. The study also reveals that Amsterdam has the lowest statistics, while Stockholm the highest.

The reports points out that “Across all cities and age groups, just under 8 percent of pedestrians were seen texting while crossing the street. A further 2.6 percent made calls, and around 1.4percent did both at the same time. Around 5 percent wore earplugs or headphones without speaking, so were probably listening to music. As expected, younger pedestrians tended to use their smartphone more frequently than older ones, with use being most intensive in the 25-to-35 age group at 22 percent. Gender-specific differences were apparent: While texting was most common among female pedestrians, men listened to music much more”.

Security firm Sophos points out that “Augsburg’s new pedestrian lights — which the city’s just trialing, at this point — eight LEDs begin to flash red when a tram approaches”.

We’ll see how this works. If it’s effective then we may see it implemented elsewhere, both in Europe and perhaps in the US.


Apple Watch: Now with… Windows 95?



Win95 logoIf the most-often used question when it comes to technology is simply, “Why?,” then the most common answer has to be, “Why not?” That’s what one developer must’ve been thinking when he figured out how to run Windows 95, Microsoft’s cutting-edge mid-90’s operating system, on an Apple Watch.

For those too young to remember, Windows 95 was Microsoft’s much-hyped successor to the ever-popular Windows 3.1. Windows 95 was a break from tradition in a few ways for Microsoft. It was the first time the company moved away from its standard numbering system. Instead of calling its newest Windows build simply “Windows 4.0,” Microsoft chose to brand the software package with the year of release. Thus beginning a cycle that would be repeated with Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. (That trend was ended with the release of Windows 7.) Windows 95 introduced a few things that became centerpieces of the OS, most notably the beloved Start Button.

Most PC’s running Windows 95 at the time of its release were big, beige desktop units that definitely didn’t fit over your wrist. Perhaps that’s a testament to the computing horsepower of modern devices. Even something as small as an Apple Watch has enough power to emulate an entire operating system that used to require (for its time) lots of disk space and RAM. One drawback of this emulation is that it apparently takes about an hour for the OS to be fully usable on an Apple Watch. So, it might not be the best way to relive your fond memories of playing Solitaire and surfing the web on Netscape 3.0. To see the emulation in action, check out this time-lapse video.


Evernote Launches Community Leader and Consultant Programs



Evernote logoThere comes a time in the life of any moderately successful platform when that platform becomes big enough and popular enough that cottage industries begin to crop up around it. The most common representative of this phenomenon is the consultant; someone who claims to have enough expertise on that platform that they should be paid for their advice. Most of the time, the rise of the consultant is an organic and independent movement where the platform has no direct hand in the consulting process. But productivity app Evernote is taking a different approach. This week, the service announced its new program for Community Leaders and Consultants:

If you’d like to learn more about Evernote from expert users or professional consultants, we have two new programs designed to connect you to them.

If you want to reach out to others who love using Evernote as much as you do, the Evernote Community Leader program is for you. Evernote Community Leaders work both online and offline to share knowledge and to provide great tips about how you can get more out of Evernote in your professional and daily life. Community Leaders host events, teach classes, lead online chats, and serve as spokespersons for the global Evernote community.

And:

Would you like a personal guide to help you get the most out of using Evernote in your life or work? Get in touch with an Evernote Certified Consultant, a specialist trained to give you personal guidance on using Evernote for maximum productivity. If you’re using Evernote on your own, a Certified Consultant can teach you the ins and outs of Evernote Premium. If you’re getting a team started with Evernote Business, an Evernote Certified Consultant can help you develop custom workflows tailored to your group, train all your team members, and create reference documents for you to use later.

To celebrate the launch of these new programs, Evernote is going on a world tour to help spread the word. To learn more about becoming either an Evernote Community Leader or Consultant, click here.


Uber Settles Discrimination Lawsuit



uberlogo[1]Ride-sharing service Uber agreed to settle a lawsuit brought against them by the National Federation of the Blind. The suit contended that Uber was engaging in discriminatory practices by refusing to pick up blind passengers with service dogs. The settlement is still being reviewed by a judge and pending approval. The terms of the settlement force Uber to notify all of its drivers that they must take all passengers with service animals. The suit also awards $225,000 to the National Federation of the Blind over three years.

From a statement released by Uber:

As part of this settlement, we have agreed to take steps to make clear to drivers using Uber that they are obligated to transport to any passenger with a service animal. If the settlement is approved, drivers will see a pop-up in the Uber app reminding them of this obligation. We will also send periodic email reminders to drivers.

We have also agreed to publish a service animal policy which, in addition to our code of conduct and new deactivation policy, makes clear that any driver found to have refused someone with a service animal will be barred from using the Uber platform.

The National Federation of the Blind will deploy blind passengers with service animals to help test the new measures put in place by the settlement.


Supreme Court gives FBI More Power #1112



Unless Congress does something, the Supreme Court has given the FBI More Power. They will be able to Judge shop and get a warrant issued for any electronic devices, anyplace in the country from any jurisdiction in the country.. Need a warrant in California go to a Judge in Alabama and vice versa.. The Supreme Court granted this as they say the digital landscape has removed all borders.. Love to hear you weigh in on this topic. Apologize in advance, I have been burning the midnight oil and I could tell tonight during the show.

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Folding Playhouse at Gadget Show Live



Folding PlayhouseMy little girl loves playing outside but I’ve noticed over the years that many of her outdoor toys become damaged and discoloured from the elements of sun, wind and rain. While small toys can be put away in the shed, larger items have to stay outside to be battered about. Kev and the Folding Playhouse may have the solution for at least one garden toy and he tells me more about the development of the product from idea to the current concept model and plans for the future.

The Folding Playhouse is what it says. It’s an outdoor plastic playhouse that folds down, either for storage or for conversion into an arts and craft table. It folds in around 15 seconds and can be reassembled just as quickly. Once completely folded, the Playhouse is not only easier to store in the garage or shed, it can be taken in the back of a large family car for fun at friends’ and relatives’ houses.

Folding Playhouse Prototype

The picture above shows a 3D printed miniature version of the Folding Playhouse. The final version will be in bright colours, about 1.5 m high, 1.4 m wide, 1.3 m deep, with the potential to customise with stickers or decals. With all new products, feedback is vital and there’s been plenty of that at Gadget Show Live as part of the British Inventors’ Project.

Kev and his team have been in contact with toy companies worldwide to bring the Playhouse market and the expectation is that this would sell for under GB£200. There’s more information on the Folding Playhouse website, which has some interesting market stats – did you know that 30 million outdoor toys were sold in the UK in 2014 generating nearly £350 million in sales?


iTENS Wearable Electrotherapy Review



itensAs many of you know in 2004 I had a very serious back injury which resulted in steel rods,  screws and assorted hardware supporting my L1 Vertebrae, which essentially got smashed like a pancake during a swimming pool accident. I suffer today from chronic back pain, and I refuse to medicate. Through monthly Shiatsu treatments I am able to keep most of my symptoms at bay. For day to day relief though, I have for many years now had via prescription a “wired” Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) device, that I keep in my bedroom that connects via clumsy wires. While it does a great job it’s kinda pain to use due to the wires.

So when I got the opportunity to review the highly portable wearable iTENS controlled via an App, which does the same exact thing as my wired device without the wires I could not wait to give it a try. During the week I was at NAB I was spending a lot of time on my feet 8-10hrs a day resulting in a very very stiff and sore lower back. Each evening back at the hotel I attached the iTENS Wearable Electrotherapy device and from my iPhone was able to command the iTENS in several modes from muscle massage and muscle relaxation to get some needed relief.  I suppose I could have worn it during the show, but I think that would have been a little weird.

For those of you that have used a (TENS) before you know their value. For me my (TENS) has always been about pain relief, and its benefit of not having to ask or maintain a muscle relaxer prescription.  Overall the iTENS treatment I performed on myself convinced me that the folks at iTENS have put together a product that I can stand behind and give my full endorsement!  I do not do this lightly and for someone that has used a wired (TENS) device for years these folks have a winner!

Priced @ $99.00 this is a great investment. You will have to purchase replacement gel pads from time to time, but if you follow the instructions  you will get 10+ uses out of one set.  Every once in a while a product comes to market that can be used by millions and this is it.

 


LG GPad X 10.1 Review



lgpadThe LG GPad X 10.1 is probably the largest Android Tablet I have reviewed. I used this one over the course of two weeks in ways most people use tablets today, playing games, watching videos, responding to email, and interacting on social media. It was a true pleasure to lay in bed with this tablet and kick on a movie. For its size it is very lite for the size and was comfortable holding. The screen brightness is not as bright as some Samsung tablets I have reviewed, but I personally like really bright screens much to the annoyance of my wife.

Specifications of the LG G Pad X 10.1 include:

10.1 inch 1920 x 1200 pixels resolution IPS LCD screen
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.26 GHz quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM
32GB of internal storage with microSD expansion card slot
Android 5.1.1
7400 mAh battery
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS
Rear 8 megapixel camera and 2 megapixel front facing camera

I was able to use it on two very long flights without the device running out of power. LG says 10 hours, and I probably got a little more than that out of it. The finish of the table is nice with beveled edges, with the Micro CD card stashed along the edge with the std on/off, volume controls on the side as well. Headphone jack was at the bottom of the screen.. The camera was nice and created images that I would expect for a device in this price range. Priced @ AT&T for $249 with a qualified service plan or $17.50 for 20 months the price is really a bargain for what you get.

Powered by AT&T network performance is what you would expect from AT&T and I had no issues with signal quality even in some pretty dense buildings and environments from my travel.


X2 Underwater Jetpack by Supermarinovation at Gadget Show Live



SupermarinovationEasily the best thing at Gadget Show Live, the Supermarinovation x2 is a “wearable personal underwater propulsion device” but it’s much more fun thinking of the x2 as an underwater jetpack. With only three main components – two arm-mounted thruster units and a battery backpack – the x2 brings Superman-like flight to swimmers and free divers. Shown as part of the British Inventors’ Project, Chris tells me about the x2 and its development from idea to product.

x2 Sport Underwater Jet Pack

Aimed at swimmers and snorkellers, the idea is to get down to the interesting bits of the ocean as quickly as possible to get as much bottom time before having to pop back up for air. With the two power units at full pelt, the x2 propels a swimmer at around 7 mph, which is fast for a person underwater. Playtime is about an hour, though this is more reflective of the swimmer’s capabilities rather than the x2 going flat out, and it’ll be depth rated down to 10m (33 feet). Most reefs are well within this depth.

The outer shells are all 3D printed and a small number of advanced prototypes have been sold with a full launch of the x2 anticipated later in the year. Prices are expected to be around GB£4,000 for the x2 Sport and £8,000 for the Pro version. I’ll take two for my superyacht.

Since Gadget Show Live, a new x2 has been announced, the x2 Compact, which attaches the propulsion units directly to the back battery pack. A fourth product called the Hammerhead is in the works too, which is held in front with both hands and then pulls the swimmer along. Check out the renders in the Facebook links above.


Startup Sleepbus Offers Comfortable, Affordable Overnight Rides From L.A. to San Francisco



Sleepbus LogoI live on California’s Central Coast, just about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. You’d think being in a location like this would make it easy to get to either of these urban centers. Unfortunately, that just isn’t true. The process is somewhat manageable by car, but that’s not always an option. There’s a local bus service that does limited shuttle service to L.A. Institutions like Greyhound and Amtrak are available but they can be costly and slow. Many solutions have been proposed to try and make transiting across California easier, with the most recent being a bullet-train style rail system that may never see the light of day. Fortunately, there is a new startup taking this challenge head on.

Sleepbus is a new company that carries passengers between San Francisco and L.A. Sleepbus gets its name from the overnight timeframe the bus operates. The Sleepbus coach comes with sleeping berths for passengers, as well as onboard Wi-Fi, snacks, and assorted beverages. A Sleepbus ticket currently costs $48 but is expected to go up to $65 in the near future.

Sleebus is such a smart idea, it almost seems like a no-brainer. Make it affordable and convenient to travel between two of the Golden State’s biggest cities. Hopefully, Sleepbus will be a great success and add a stop or two between L.A. and San Francisco. Even tho I’d only need to ride for half of a typical Sleepbus trip, I’d gladly pay the full fair for such an easy way to travel.