Mistaken Identity – Creed, Country, Colour and Culture

Mistaken IdentityThe BBC’s Reith Lectures for 2016 are underway and this year they are presented by philosopher and cultural theorist Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah under the title of “Mistaken Identity”. At a time where identity is endlessly discussed and defined – Republican or Democrat, pro-EU or Brexit, gay or straight, the four lectures will cover aspects of identity; Creed, Country, Colour and Culture and show that identity isn’t a binary choice between one adjective or another.

Kwame Anthony Appiah says: “We live in a world where the language of identity pervades both our public and our private lives. We are Muslim and Christian, so we have religious identities. We are English and Scottish, so we have national identities. We are men and women, and so we have gender identities. And we are black and white, and so we have racial identities. There is much contention about the boundaries of all of these identities. Not everyone accepts that you have to be a man or a woman; or that you can’t be both an Englishman and a Scot. You can claim to be of no religion or gender or race or nation. Perhaps, in each case, someone will believe you. And that is one reason why the way we often talk about these identities can be misleading.

Two of the programmes have already been broadcast, Creed and Country, and are available online or as podcasts for download. I found both episodes interesting: Creed for its historical perspective on religions and how in the past religion was more of a verb than noun, and Country appealed to me as an individual who can legitimately claim some level of citizenship with four different countries (where my parents are from, where I was born, where I grew up and where I have lived the longest). Prof Appiah is an entertaining speaker and there’s a good deal of fun and wit in among the insights.

Put aside the tech news for an hour and consider something more profound than the latest product refresh from Apple.

Say Goodbye to Vine

vine-logoVine has announced that they will be discontinuing the mobile app in the coming months. They haven’t given any specific reason for why they made the decision to discontinue the mobile app. The absence of a clear explanation is likely going to lead to some speculation about what seems like a sudden announcement.

Vine started in 2013. Their blog post says that millions of people have turned to Vine to laugh at loops and see creativity unfold. They seem very grateful for the creators who contributed to Vine and for everyone who watched Vines. They also are trying to reassure creators that their Vines are still there.

Nothing is happening to the apps, website, or your Vines today. We value you, your Vines, and are going to do this the right way. You’ll be able to access and download your Vines. We’ll be keeping the website online because we think it’s important to still be able to watch all the incredible Vines that have been made. You will be notified before we make any changes to the app or website.

What’s next? Vine says that it will be sharing more details on their blog and on their Twitter account about whatever comes next. Vine will also notify creators through the app when they start to change things.

FCC Adopts Rules to Protect Your Online Privacy

fcc-logoThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted rules that require broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to protect the privacy of their customers. The rules ensure that broadband customers have meaningful choice, greater transparency, and strong security protections for their personal information collected by ISPs.

This landmark ruling, which was passed by a 3-2 party line vote by the FCC’s five commissioners, asserts that customers have a right to control their own personal information. In short, the new rules may forbid internet providers from sharing sensitive personal information such as app browsing histories, mobile location data, and other information generated while using the internet.

More specifically, the rules separate the use and sharing of information into three categories and include clear guidance for both ISPs and customers about the transparency, choice, and requirements for customers’ personal information.

  • Opt-in: ISPs are required to obtain affirmative “opt-in” consent from consumers to use and share sensitive information. The rules specify categories of information that are considered sensitive, which include precise geo-location, financial information, health information, children’s information, social security numbers, web browsing history, app usage history and the content of communications.
  • Opt-out: ISPs would be allowed to use and share non-sensitive information unless a customer “opts-out”. Some examples of non-sensitive information include email address or service tier information.
  • Exceptions to consent requirements: Customer consent is inferred for certain things such as the provision of broadband service or billing and collections.

Pokémon GO has a Halloween Treat

pokemon-go-halloweenI love it when video games include a special Halloween event! This year, Pokémon GO is doing something special for Halloween. It is the first time the game has done this. This makes me wonder if there will be more special events after the Halloween one is over.

Niantic announced a treat for Trainers. From October 26th to November 1st, players can earn double the amount of Candy every time they make a catch, hatch and transfer Pokémon. Play the game as you typically would – and get extra Candy while you play.

Now is a good time to start using a Buddy Pokémon (if you haven’t done that yet). Your Buddy Pokémon will help you earn Candy four times as fast during this Halloween event.

There is another treat to look forward to. Niantic says that players will encounter “more spooky Pokémon than usual” during the Halloween event. You could encounter Pokémon that you haven’t caught yet.

GNC #155 Where is the Mavic

You will notice the show is about 25 minutes short.. As I was doing the show tonight both of my monitors that I do the show from just went black. I have no idea what caused it, but I had to do a full reboot. Thus tonight no show as well. First time in 1155 episodes I have not been able to complete the show due to a monitor going black. You have my apologies. Murphy Strikes. Next two shows are on the road most likely Audio only.

Long time supporters of the show. I hope you will follow my instructions given tonight on how you can support the show with your social skills.

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Topop USB C to 3x USB A and LAN Adapter Review

The physical USB type A interface connector seems to have been around forever and to be fair, it’s had an impressive lifespan starting with USB 1.0 back in 1996. Since then, the communication standard has been updated several times and the connector is still very relevant with USB 3.1 which now sports transfer speeds of up to 10 Gb/s.

USB type C is the latest connector design providing high speed data comms in a neat reversible design. So neat that a couple of manufacturers have ultraportables with a single USB C port. No USB A, no ethernet, no video. Looks great but a pain in the port if there’s a pile of cables to plug in. Accessory makers have stepped in to address the problem and here we have the Topop USB C to three USB A 3.1 ports and RJ45 Gigabit LAN adapter.

As the unboxing video shows, the adapter arrives in plain packaging and it’s a fairly functional device: this isn’t brushed metal milled from a single block of aluminium to complement the MacBook. It’s a sturdy matte black plastic . In terms of ports, there are three USB 3.1 type A ports on the top and a Gigabit network port on the far end. A short cable terminates in a USB C plug.

Topop USB C Adapter Topop USB C Adapter

Having three USB A ports and a network port is very useful on these minimalist devices. Who has a USB C memory stick? And there are always wireless dead-spots. The Topop adapter gets out of these predicaments.

However, I discovered quite quickly that the presence of a USB C socket on a device does not guarantee functionality, so check compatibility on the website and assume that the adapter only works with phones, tablets and laptops mentioned. Believe me, it doesn’t work with the OnePlus 2, 3 or Google Pixel C, but find a device that is compatible (Apple Macbook, Google Pixel Chromebook) and the adapter will work fine.

Topop USB C Adapter Topop USB C Adapter

Priced just under GB£20, the adapter’s in the right price bracket for the features that it offers. There’s no doubt that the Topop is a handy gadget to throw in a bag for occasional use, though if I was looking for a dock-lite on my desk, I think I would pay more for a better match to my laptop. Of course, your aesthetic requirements may differ.

Thanks to GoldenSwing for providing the Topop USB C to USB A 3.1 and Gigabit LAN adapter.

Candy Crush Saga is Becoming a Game Show

candy-crush-sagaCBS has ordered an adaptation of the popular Candy Crush Saga game. The Candy Crush game show will be a one-hour live action game show series based on the game.

CBS, Lionsgate, and King will join together on the new format. Matt Kunitz will be the executive producer. The Candy Crush game show will be domestically distributed by CBS Television. Lionsgate will distribute it internationally.

In the series, the game that has become a worldwide phenomenon comes to life as teams of two people use their wits and physical agility to compete on enormous, interactive game boards featuring next generation technology to conquer CANDY CRUSH and be crowned the champions.

Not much else has been revealed about this new game show. A host will be announced at a later date. There appears to be a way for people to watch and play along at home. King’s Chief Creative Officer, Sebastian Knutsson, will serve as executive producer. CBS has not stated when the Candy Crush game show will premiere.

The overall concept reminds me of some of the game shows that were on Nickelodeon in the 90s (such as Legends of the Hidden Temple, and Double Dare). Contestants in those games also had to use their wits and physical agility in order to play. The Candy Crush game show might attract an audience who remembers the physically-based game shows they watched when they were kids.

DOT Bans All Samsung Galaxy Note7 Devices from Airplanes

samsung-galaxy-note7The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued an emergency order to ban all Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphone devices from all air transportation in the United States. This order is being done for safety reasons.

Individuals who own or possess a Samsung Galaxy Note7 device may not transport the device on their person, in carry-on baggage or in checked baggage on flights to, from, or within the United States. This prohibition includes all Samsung Galaxy Note7 devices. The phones also cannot be shipped as air cargo.

The ban became effective on October 15, 2016. The reason for this ban is probably obvious to those who have been following the news. On October 11, 2016, Samsung suspended the manufacture and sale of the Samsung Galaxy Note7 device after several incidents where the device has overheated and caught fire. Samsung has issued a voluntary recall on all Galaxy Note7 Devices.

This is something to keep in mind as we head into the holiday season. There could be people out there who are unaware that they cannot bring their Samsung Galaxy Note7 device onto the plane. One could reasonably assume that this would lead to delays.

The DOT states that passengers who attempt to travel by air with their Samsung Galaxy Note7 device will be denied boarding. Passengers who try to evade the ban by packing their phone in checked luggage are violating the ban and may be subject to criminal prosecution in addition to fines.

Interestingly, the DOT emergency order says: The Samsung Galaxy Note7 device is considered a forbidden hazardous material under the Federal Hazardous Material Regulations which forbid airline passengers or crew from traveling with lithium cells or batteries or portable electronic devices that are likely to generate a dangerous evolution of heat.

GNC #1154 Tech Retribution

I cover a delicate topic tonight that I see is cropping up more in the tech space than anyplace else is surrounding retribution within the Tech community based upon one’s political leanings. Some of the dialogue is downright scary on both sides of the isle.. Love to hear your feedback on my commentary, plenty of other tech news as well.

Long time supporters of the show. I hope you will follow my instructions given tonight on how you can support the show with your social skills.

Download the Audio Show File

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Continue reading GNC #1154 Tech Retribution

Topop VGA to HDMI Converter Review

If you spend any time at all tinkering with computers, it’s inevitable that one day you will have a computer with one set of ports and a peripheral with a completely different set of ports. Back in early 90s, before USB, serial ports changed from 25 pins to 9 pins and you needed a whole bag full of adaptors and gender changers. Or SCSI, which went through a series of connectors faster than you could say Sun Microsystems.

Today, it’s usually video standards that cause the problem, with VGA, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort and even USB C all trying to get in on the act. Often it’s an older VGA PC trying to connect to a newer HDMI flatscreen TV or an HDMI-only ultraportable wanting to use a VGA equipped data projector. In this case, it’s the former, as I take a quick look at the Topop VGA to HDMI Converter with Audio Support.

As you’ll see from the unboxing video, the converter comes in plain packaging and there’s no branding on either packaging or the converter. In the pack, there’s only two cables, the VGA to HDMI converter and a USB to micro USB cable which is used to power the converter via socket on the back of the HDMI part. The additional power is needed because there’s electronics in the converter to change the picture signal from analogue VGA to digital HDMI.

Topop VGA-to-HDMI converter

Getting going is simplicity itself.  Plug the VGA end into the PC or laptop and then use a standard HDMI-to-HDMI cable to connect the other end of the converter into the monitor or HDTV. The 3.5mm stereo jack needs plugged into the PC’s sound card or headphone socket and finally the converter needs powered using the USB to microUSB cable.

Turn on the computer and the HDTV. If it’s a laptop, don’t forget to toggle the relevant function key to get the laptop to output to the VGA port. On the TV, switch to the right HDMI input if it doesn’t switch automatically, and Bob’s your uncle as they say.

For me, it worked perfectly first time on an old Toshiba Satellite Pro A120 running at 1280 x 800. The picture quality was good too. I wasn’t expecting much as even directly connected VGA can look a bit fuzzy on a bigger monitor but the Topop converter does an excellent job. Here are a couple of screen shots which aren’t really going to show off the picture quality but if you click through they’ll give you an idea. The converter had no problem keeping up with video either and I was able to watching Netflix and YouTube.

Topop VGA-to-HDMI converter  Topop VGA to HDMI converter

The converter has audio support so sound comes out of the TV speakers. Possibly the only downside of the converter is that the audio cable could be a little longer. It’s around 55cm, which seems fine, but if you have a laptop where the headphone socket is on the front, the cable has to come under the laptop rather than round the side. Other than that, it’s hard to fault and the converter seems well enough made – I tried a little wiggling and nothing came free so QC passed…

Note that this converter will only go from VGA to HDMI. It will not do the reverse, HDMI to VGA, so don’t buy it thinking that it might.

In summary, the Topop VGA to HDMI converter with audio support works well and gives a good picture on the screen. At GB£10.99 it’s well priced, especially if you want to prolong the usefulness of an older computer with a newer monitor. It’s worth it too if you occasionally want to show some digital photos on your big HDTV and like to keep it simple.

Thanks to GoldenSwing for supplying the Topop VGA-to-HDMI converter cable for review.