Booq Boa Shift Backpack Review

booq LogoOn review here is the Booq Boa Shift, a lightweight laptop backpack and brother to the Booq Taipan Shock reviewed a few weeks ago. Cut from the same cloth, both physical and metaphorically, the Shift takes laptops up to 17″ compared with the Shock’s 16″, but there’s little in it terms of overall size at 46 x 34 x 20 cm. There’s plenty of room inside for the gadgets and gear, with a slim pocket for the laptop, a larger section for gear and a couple of outer pockets for easy access. It’s a svelte, streamlined pack when all zipped up.

booq Boa Shift

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. It looks like a quality product – there are no stray threads or sticky zips. The specs say the Shift weighs around 1.4 kg (3 lb) which is heavier than the Shock and although I don’t have the benefit of the two backpacks side by side, the Shift does feel a little more substantial with extra internal pockets.

The dedicated laptop section is closest to the back side of the Shift and has padding on all sides. It took every laptop I had with ease, including a hefty HP ProBook with a near 16″ screen. My small Chromebook almost disappeared inside it.

booq Boa Shift Internal Pocket

In the main section, there’s a selection of zipped pockets, netted areas, keyrings and pen-holders with plenty of room for books and lunchboxes too. The Boa Shift has flashes of yellow both inside and on the back. The main pocket opens good and wide for easy access to the insides.

booq Boa Shift Internal Pocket

The Boa is loaded with 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, and the bag looks neat as there are no zip teeth showing. Each side of the bag has two open pockets which will take a small bottle of water or perhaps boarding passes. The shoulder straps have two small elastic pockets that can take small items, such as an mp3 player. On the rear, there’s a separate zipped pocket, just the right size for an ereader or small tablet.

booq Boa Shift back

One final touch is a small separate zipped pouch for bits’n’pieces like headphones or credit cards. I can see it being handy travelling too, as you could put all the essentials in it and simply pull out the pouch before putting the Shift in the overhead bin.

Comfort-wise, the shoulder straps are well padded and can be adjusted for fit. There are little loops on the end of the straps to help tighten when needed. There’s an airmesh back padding to help with the load while keeping cool. I loaded the Boa up with some books and lugged it around for a bit and there’s no complaints here.

booq Boa Shift Straps

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

Overall, as with Taipan Shock, the Booq Boa Shift is a well-made backpack that has plenty of pockets and space for safely toting the biggest of laptops and all the gear that goes with them. The Boa Shift is available from Amazon.co.uk for around GB£120, which is pricey enough and given that the Shock is currently retailing for about half the price, unless you need that extra 1″ or so, I’d stick with the Shock. However, if size matters (or you want a more streamlined pack), take a look at the Boa Shift.

Thanks to Booq for the loan of the Boa Shift.

Twitter Aims Toward More Diversity

Twitter logoTwitter announced their commitment to a more diverse work force. Information was posted by VP, Diversity and Inclusion, Janet Van Huysse, on the Twitter blog.

In the blog post, she states that Twitter has already been working towards internal diversity goals at different levels in the company. They decided to publicly share those goals. Twitter has defined what these changes will yield a year from now. In short, the new goals are focused in increasing the overall representation of women and underrepresented minorities throughout the whole company.

Those goals (set for 2016) are:

* Increase women overall to 35%

* Increase women in tech roles to 16%

* Increase women in leadership roles to 25%

* Increase underrepresented minorities overall to 11%

* Increase underrepresented minorities in tech roles to 9%

* Increase underrepresented minorities in leadership roles to 6%

Those last three goals come with an asterisk: “US only”.

That’s a good start, and an admirable goal. The LA Times breaks things down a bit. In an article titled “Twitter’s diversity plan: approximately 40 women” written by Tracey Lein and Daina Beth Solomon, the reality of those percentages becomes more clear.

In the article, it says that Twitter has a global workforce of 4,100 people. Right now, 34% of those employees are women. Twitter’s new goal for 2016 is to increase women overall to 35%. That comes out to 41 more women than they currently employ.

The same article notes that underrepresented ethnic groups (mostly blacks and Latinos) currently make up 8% of Twitter’s U.S. Workforce. Twitter wants to increase that number to 9%. In other words, Twitter has made some very modest goals.

GNC #1056 Outage what Outage

I heard there was a major Internet outage today, because I was head down cranking things out I really did not notice. Lot’s of fun tech news today as well so sit back for a fast show, due to my late start.

Download the Audio Show File

Support our Show Sponsors:
30% off all New GoDaddy Product Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 .com New or Transfer cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
$1.00 / mo Managed WordPress Hosting with FREE Domain! Promo Code: cjcgncwp1
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

[Read more…]

One Billion People Used Facebook in One Day

Facebook logoToday, Mark Zuckerberg took to his verified Facebook account to announce that Facebook had passed an important milestone. For the first time ever, one billion people used Facebook in a single day.

Part of his statement read: “We just passed an important milestone. For the first time ever, one billion people used Facebook in a single day.

On Monday, 1 in 7 people on Earth used Facebook to connect with their friends and family.

When we talk about our financials, we use average numbers, but this is different. This was the first time we reached this milestone, and it’s just the beginning of connecting the whole world.”

TIME points out that the one billion number is the total number of people who used Facebook on that one day. That number is different from the Daily Active User figure the company posts with its financial earnings that reflects a 30-day average.

Gizmodo notes that if one billion people used Facebook in one day, it means that over six billion people did not use Facebook at all that day. How you present things is important. Put one way, the one billion milestone sounds huge. Put the other way, it gives you some perspective about what that number really means.

What were the six billion people who didn’t use Facebook that day doing? One can only speculate. They might have used a different social media website instead. Or, they could have been spending time with their loved ones “in real life”. It is summer right now for half the planet, so it’s entirely possible that people were on vacation, going outside, and enjoying the weather.

Where Are The Smart Watches?

Michael KorsQueuing for rides at theme parks is a great opportunity for sizing up the fashions of fellow thrill seekers. Everyone docilely shuffles along and the folding line passes lots of people both in front and behind. As a watch fan, I enjoy checking out the timepieces around me and at Disneyland, Paris, there was plenty to see in the warm weather.

The wrists of Disney’s guests provided a good selection of horology from Rolexes and Omegas to Tissots and Casios. Michael Kors must be selling watches by the truckload: there were probably more of these fashion watches than anything else. What slightly surprised me was the dearth of smart watches. In five days at the House of Mouse and hundreds of people, I saw two Apple watches, one Sony smartwatch and a handful of Pebbles.

The Sony owner was next to me at one point and I engaged him in conversation about the watch. He confessed that it had been a gift and he didn’t use it very much. Interestingly, both the Apple watches were on women’s wrists. I’m not quite too sure what to take away from that…perhaps they were gifts too, or perhaps Apple has made the watches sufficiently fashionable and appealing that women will be the leaders here. Or perhaps it was pure coincidence.

Where are the smart watches? They’re not at Disneyland, that’s for sure.

Twitter’s First Hashtag Was Posted 8 Years Ago

HashtagHave you ever wondered why people started using hashtags on Twitter? Today, it’s not unheard of for a group of people, who are all tweeting about the same event, to use three or more hashtags to describe it. We may have reached #hashtag #overload.

Eight years ago, that wasn’t so. The very first person to suggest that people who are all tweeting about the same thing use a # (pound) was Chris Messina. His very influential tweet was posted on August 23, 2007.

Who is Chris Messina? His bio says: “I invented the hashtag, advocated for many open source and open web projects, and co-founded BarCamp and coworking communities. I previously worked at Google in developer relations as a UX designer.”

It’s pretty amazing to see how far his suggestion to use what was then refereed to as a pound symbol has gone. Why did he choose the pound symbol, instead of some other one?

In another of his tweets, Chris Messina notes that Twitter (the company, not the users) resisted using hashtags in the beginning. He points out that hashtags were not intended to be Twitter-only. Today, we see them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Aérotrain

aerotr1Last week I was on  holiday in France. Driving down from Paris to Orléans on the D2020, I noticed a long raised structure to the east running for several kilometres. It was a few hundred metres from the road so all I could see was a raised platform or aquaduct on stilts. I initially assumed that it was related to the energy industry because the structure passed near a nuclear power station. I thought nothing more about it for a few days and then used Google Maps and Street View to find out that this was an actually the industrial remnants of a high speed transportation experiment called Aérotrain from the 60s and 70s which achieved speeds of over 400 km/h (about 250 mph).

I80_HV_1Generically known as a hovertrain, the Aérotrain used a cushion of air to reduce the rolling resistance of the vehicle, in a similar way to maglevs. Aero engines were used from propulsion, initially with propellors, then turbojets and finally turbofans. A prototype using a linear induction motor was also tested.

The futuristic vehicle on the left is the I-80 HV and is shown on the track that I passed between Ruan and Saran. Able to carry 80 passengers, the I-80 HV established the world speed record for overland air cushion vehicles on 5 March 1974 with an average speed of 418 km/h (259 mph) and a top speed of 430 km/h (267 mph).

This was the brainchild of French engineer Jean Bertin who initially proposed the concept and demonstrated a scale prototype in 1963. Subsequently there were four prototypes built for France and one for the USA which ran on a test track in Pueblo, Colorado.

It’s totally fascinating and there are some comprehensive information resources online including the Association of Friends of Jean Bertin (in French) and Aerotrain.fr (French and English). There are some videos on-line too which show how amazingly futuristic the Aérotrain must have seemed in the 60s. The one below is nearly 20 minutes long. There’s a couple of videos on YouTube too – search for aerotrain.

For a quick 3 minute fix, French pop group Exsonvaldes released a music track with a video about the Aérotrain. There’s brief sequence of the I-80 HV keeping pace with a light aircraft.

State support for the Aérotrain ceased in 1974 and France pushed forward with the TGV for high speed rail transportation. The key benefit of the TGV was that the trains could run on standard rail tracks in urban areas before switching to dedicated high-speed lines in the countryside. Aérotrain needed a completely new infrastructure and the last flight of Aérotrain took place on 29 December 1977.

For comparison, here’s a BBC top five fastest trains. There’s some learning here for Elon Musk’s Hyperloop system.

GNC #1055 Tech Takes a Hit

With the market going nuts Tech Takes a Hit and billions of valuation wiped out in a mater of hours. Crazy times but maybe as an Ohana we can all score some stocks while the price is a bit lower. Of course I cover all the tech news and information,

Download the Audio Show File

Support our Show Sponsors:
30% off all New GoDaddy Product Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 .com New or Transfer cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
$1.00 / mo Managed WordPress Hosting with FREE Domain! Promo Code: cjcgncwp1
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

[Read more…]

Cortana arrives on the Android platform

Cortana-image-3-576x1024Apple has Siri, Google has, well…Ok Google — a less clever name, but it works well enough. Then there’s Microsoft, which has Cortana. It began life on Windows Phone, but then it spread to the new Windows 10. Now it spreads further, expanding on Google territory with a beta version for Android phones and tablets.

So which service do you want to use? I installed Cortana on an LG G4 and it worked flawlessly, though it requires a bit of setup. It will ask a series of questions, though they are easy to answer.

Microsoft claims “The Cortana app can do most of the things Cortana does on your PC or on a Windows phone. With the app, you can manage your hectic lifestyle by setting and getting reminders, searching the web on-the-go, tracking important information such as flight details as well as starting and completing tasks across all of your devices”.

This open beta also improves on the closed one that previously existed. You can now set Cortana as your destination when you press the Home button.

“You will also see a few differences between what Cortana can do today in her “native” environment (Windows) and in the app on Android. For example toggling settings, opening apps or invoking Cortana hands-free by saying “Hey Cortana” are only available on Windows for now. As with all betas, we are continually improving the experience and will incorporate feedback along the way”, Microsoft claims.

You can grab the app here. It’s not compatible with all devices, though, so pay attention.

Star Wars: Rogue One to Digitally Revive Deceased Actor

TarkinThe next official full-length Star Wars film, Episode VII: The Force Awakens, is scheduled to hit theaters in December. Leading up to that release, the Disney/Lucasfilm hype machine has been running at full speed. One facet of this promotional juggernaut is a film called Star Wars: Rogue One, the first part of an ongoing Anthology Series that will compliment major Star Wars releases in the future. Rogue One tells the story of brave Rebellion fighters who capture the secret plans for the first Death Star, ultimately leading to the destruction of that space station in Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope. Given how close Rogue One and Episode IV are in the Star Wars timeline, it would be necessary for some characters to cross over. But there’s a logistical problem here because Episode IV was released almost forty years ago, in 1977. Of course, some characters could be recast with contemporary actors who look/sound enough like their Episode IV counterparts. But in one case, the producers of Rogue One are doing something else.

Even the most casual of Star Wars fans will remember the character of Grand Moff Tarkin, portrayed stoically by famed British actor Peter Cushing in Episode IV. Tarkin was the commander of the first Death Star and one of Darth Vader’s most trusted allies. He was only seen on screen a handful of times, but the character has endured as a fan favorite. (In fact, a recent Star Wars novel is dedicated to the telling of Tarkin’s backstory.) Peter Cushing died in 1994 at the age of 81. There’s no way he can reprise the role of Grand Moff Tarkin. But Cushing’s likeness will appear in Rogue One thanks to modern CGI techniques.

It has been said that this type of special effect is like “bringing dead actors back to life,” and it is somewhat eerie to consider. If Cushing can be replicated thru CGI now, then in theory, any person whose ever appeared on film could be resurrected in the same way. In the case of Tarkin, the character is arguably more integral to the Star Wars franchise than the actor who originally portrayed him. The mind begins to reel at the possibilities within future Star Wars films alone. Why not make a new movie based around Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia, but instead of using the actors that portrayed those characters as they appear today, using CGI-rendered versions of the actors as they looked forty years ago? I guess the fan reaction to computer-generated Peter Cushing will be a good gauge for how far Star Wars producers can stretch this idea in the future. But it seems likely that this is the first step in that direction.