GNC #963 – Guest Host Mike Dell

Todd is still out for one more show, enjoying his Vacation somewhere in the lower 48, I’m Mike Dell, from Podcast Help Desk, former Geek of the North and I will be your host for tonights show. Most of you don’t know me unless you have been around podcasting a long time. I used to do a show called Geek of the North which was a Tech Show. I have since Podfaded that show and I now do a relatively new show called Podcast Help Desk  at podcasthelpdesk.com where I talk about the geeky techie side of podcasting and help people get setup and going with their podcast.

It’s great to be back with the GNC listeners!  I last hosted this show on November 10th 2008 Show #415.   A LOT of water has gone under the bridge since then!

NO VIDEO Today.  I have a Face for Radio :) g

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Show Notes:

 

Smaller, better Google Glass?

Square Phones?  What are they thinking??

Android Screen Mirroring to chromecast is out now

Drone Operators Arrested in New York

Cockpit cameras – Good idea or bad?

Solar Sail craft to hitch ride with Spacex in 2016

Want a tour of the USAF Museum restoration hangers?

Smartwaches reviewed

Aereo uses Supreme court ruling to get back in business as a cable provider.

Company with $39 in assets now worth over $5billion!

Happy 6th Birthday Apple Appstore

The most common misconceptions about the big 8 tech companies

Applebees No Tech Tuesdays

5 to 8 times more battery on your tech toys!

10 highest paying Tech Companies to intern for

beatpower Speakers

Beat-Power If you start looking for portable speakers for your iPhone or iPod you quickly notice that most companies have a one-size fits all policy. Fortunately there is a company that thinks differently, beatpower.  beatpower policy is to create speakers for different types of people. They have a category of speakers that are made for people who are more fashion conscious. Another category for those who like things to look more traditional. A third category for those who want their speakers to have the same design quality as their iPad or iPod and a fourth category for the audiophile. All speakers no matter what the category are bluetooth enabled and most have a microphone installed.

The final category that was shown was the beatbox which is a hi-fi system for the home. The beatbox is covered with hand-stitch leather in various colors. It has optical wireless and bluetooth capability. It also has two USB charging ports which you can use to charge your iPhone or iPod. The Beat Block comes with a remote control that allows you to control the treble and bass that is coming out of your iPhone or iPod.

You can take a look at the various speakers available at the beatpower website. The prices for the various speakers will run from $29.99 up to $199.00. For more information about availability you can send an email to sales@beat-power.com. They are also working on an e-shop, which should be coming soon.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network and by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live.

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Tech Coming to the UK

It’s a good time to be in a geek in the UK at the moment. Over the past week there’s been a raft of announcements for predominately US-based offerings making it across the pond so here’s a quick round up of the latest news.

NookBarnes and Noble are bringing the Nook to Britain and if the marketing is right, it could be hit. Public libraries are still popular and they offer ebooks in the .epub format, which the Amazon Kindle doesn’t support but the Nook does. Some shrewd money-saving marketing and the Nook could give the Kindle a run for its money. I have the original Nook which I’m hoping will be supported in the UK, despite it being no longer sold. Pricing for the current Nooks to be announced but Argos and John Lewis are on-board to sell the hardware.

Amazon rolled out its Android Appstore to UK residents and parts of Europe, presumably for the as-yet-unannounced launch of the Kindle Fire. Coming with the Amazon Appstore is the App of the Day, which will have some great apps for nothing so it’s worth keeping an eye out for those. I’ve installed Appstore on my tablets already and have downloaded a few apps – all looking cool so far.

If you are looking for a small tablet, I think UK readers will be spoilt for choice with the Nexus 7, Kindle Fire and Nook Color / Tablet all likely to be available soon.

AmazonLocal Finally, Groupon has some competition in the shape of AmazonLocal, offering similar group deals. At the moment it seems to be focussing on London with a few national offers. Presumably city or regional deals can’t be that far away. There’s a 2 hour flying lesson currently on offer for £99 which looks fun. (As an aside, I always thought Groupon was a rubbish name until someone pointed out it was like group-coupon. Duh!)

All round, it’s good news for geeks in the UK.

Fun With the Periodic Table of Elements

Few things could be more geek-centric than finding amusement in playing with the Periodic Table of the Elements. There are tons of ways to take what some might see as a boring part of chemistry class and make it into something fun, interesting, and perhaps even artistic.

A chemistry teacher named Scott Byrum decided to put the entire Periodic Table of the Elements on the ceiling of his classroom. He did this as a way to get the attention of students, fearing that if he didn’t do something to make things more interesting that he would lose their attention to “Xboxes and Nintendos”.

Each element sits on its own acoustic ceiling tile. Each is color coded to represent the element’s state at standard temperature and pressure. He had a company that was local to him cut the vinyl letters for him. It is probably the largest Periodic Table of the Elements that his students have ever seen.

ThinkGeek has put the Periodic Table on everything from t-shirts, to beer glasses, and from shower curtains to refrigerator magnets. Personally, I think that the Periodic Table Building Blocks would be the most fun to play around with. The blocks are solid wood, and designed for use by geeks who are at least 2 years of age.

Have you heard Tom Leher’s song called “The Elements”? A YouTube user by the name of TimwiTerby made a video that animated the lyrics of this song in 2008. He used Visual C# Express, AviSynth, and Virtual Dub in order to make the video.

It is also fun to take the standard Periodic Table of the Elements and alter it to make new ones based on other geek related topics. Check out the Periodic Table of Rock Music, or the Periodic Table of Heavy Metals (that resembles the familiar hand sign so many Metal bands, and Metal fans, use). There is a Periodic Table of Anime Characters. Someone even created a Periodic Table of SEO Ranking!

Image: Periodic table by BigStock

Sticker Munch Make Logos Fun at The Gadget Show

Geek booksNovelty sticker company Sticker Munch launched at last week’s The Gadget Show Live and I was able to grab an interview with MD and founder, Sufian Hassan. Sticker Munch offer a range of novelty stickers that put the fun back into technology by incorporating the logo as part of the design or by trading on the geekiness of it all.

The stickers themselves are high quality vinyl decals and can be stuck to almost anything, from laptops to books, skateboards to vehicles. Some of the decals will be for particular models or devices, e.g. iPad, especially when the logo is integral to the design, but others can be stuck anywhere!

Prices range from an astonishingly low 50p up to £10.

 

What’s a Geek?

GeekThe OED (@OEDonline) has been tweeting on geeks today.

The word ‘geek’ was first applied to overly diligent students in the 1950s, and to computer obsessives from around 1984.

However, as early as 1876 ‘geek’ was an English regional (northern) term for a foolish, offensive, or worthless fellow…

In 1920’s U.S. slang, ‘geek’ also meant a circus performer with a bizarre or grotesque act, such as biting the head off a live animal.

I never thought of Ozzy as a geek, but there you go. Maybe they’ll do nerds tomorrow.

Image courtesy of BigStock.

B-Squares: Modular Solar Powered Electrics

I sometimes think that between KickStarter and Etsy anything that can be imagined, will become reality…

Today’s funding opportunity from KickStarter are B-Squares, a 3D modular solar powered energy system that connects up using magnetic and electrical contacts. There’s solar cell square, a rechargeable battery square, an Arduino square, an LED square and iPhone charger square. The more squares you have, the more you can do.

It’s a project by Jordan McRae and Shawn Frayne, and it’s already been fully funded after just 5 days. There’s various levels of funding that you can go for, from $15 for a single solar square through to 15 squares for $250. There’s further coverage over at cnet.

If you haven’t already appreciated how brilliant these are, just watch the video. Then you’ll get it.

OTT Tsunami

We’ve been hearing quite a lot about Internet-delivered video content lately. Trends sometimes seem to advance slowly over a long period of time but then tumultuous market shifts seem to happen overnight.

Blockbuster just filed for bankruptcy. Blockbuster was unable to reconfigure their business structure to compete effectively with Netflix. It seems that Netflix has won the ongoing war.

Streaming video and video podcasts have been around for several years – these are not new ideas. However, what is new is the proliferation and increasing popularity of set-top boxes.

Back in the 1980’s backyard satellite TV dishes were a hobby among people that were looking for something different and as many choices as possible. That quest for choice ended up going mainstream in the form of commercial cable and satellite providers offering hundreds of channels.

Starting in 2004 people began experimenting with Internet-delivered content in the form of podcasts. I believe that podcasting happened as a direct result of broadband availability getting to a certain critical mass, combining the existing elements of RSS, MP3’s, etc. into a new form of communication. This new form of communication offered something very different along with unprecedented levels of choice.

Internet-delivered content of all kinds is rapidly becoming mainstream.

I believe 2010 is the year of the app. Apps suddenly seemed to have come out of nowhere to seeming to pop up on every device imaginable. Why the sudden popularity of apps? Desktop and laptop computers have been around for a long time, along with full-blown applications. What has really happened is that computers have now shrunk down to the point where they not only are in our pockets in the form of smartphones, but they are also showing up in HDTV sets and plenty of other devices. These devices we are running these apps on are actually quite powerful computers in their own rights.

There is now a wide variety of content that is heading for every computer-enabled screen you own, especially your HDTV.

Fun With Android – “Camera 360”

A few months have passed since getting my Sprint HTC Evo. I’ve had a chance to try out a number of different apps. I’ve finally found one I liked well enough to buy. “Camera 360” is a full-featured software camera that can be used in addition to or as a replacement for the stock camera software that ships with different Android phone models.

Camera 360 offers many more features and user controls than come with the standard stock Android camera software. One of the features that sold me on the idea of paying the $3.99 for the ad-free version of the camera is the inclusion of high dynamic range or HDR photo simulation. Camera 360’s HDR simulation modes offers the ability to generate some very interesting photo results.

Here are some before and after HDR simulated images taken with Camera 360. Camera 360 can be set to automatically save the original non-processed JPEG file if that is your preference. The HDR effect works great for some images and not-so-great for others.

Camera 360 is an extremely fun application that has gotten me to the point where I’m constantly playing with my phone’s built-in camera. I haven’t had this much instant gratification fun from a digital camera in a number of years. Camera 360 is an Android app worth paying the $3.99 for.

Becoming More Familiar With Android

I’ve been living with my Sprint HTC Evo phone for a while now, and I am still learning some interesting things about Android – at least the HTC/Sprint version.

Overall I’m still extremely pleased with the Evo. This is still one of the coolest gadgets I’ve ever come across.

I was having a bit of a problem with stability. Sometimes the phone would reboot for no apparent reason, usually after a few hours of leaving the WiFi hotspot feature turned on. One time it rebooted for no apparent reason while I was in the middle of a call.

I started experimenting with a free app called Advanced Killer Pro. I started looking through the list of running processes, and I was surprised to find quite a number of processes tied to installed programs I have never ran, many of which came preinstalled on the phone.

So, I simply started going through the list and killing various processes that I wasn’t using. That really did the trick – Android has been rock-solid since then and at this point a few days have passed since the last reboot. In the interim I’ve been making heavy use of the phone and the WiFi hotspot feature.

To be fair to HTC and Sprint, there is an available system update that I’ve been putting off installing that might fix some of these issues. Initially when this update came out there were many reports of bricked Evo’s, and even though HTC has since come out with an updated version of the offending system update, I am leery of installing it.

What if the update hopelessly bricked my phone? Evo’s are very difficult to get right now. Most Sprint dealers are waiting for new stock, and most of that stock is probably already sold to waiting customers. Why take the chance?

Over the years of my geekdom, I’ve had my share of updates gone wrong, bricking a few devices such as motherboards, mp3 players and aircards, not to mention countless Windows updates that have caused serious heartburn.

So, in the meantime I’m likely going to continue to wait for a while until Evo’s become a bit more plentiful before I run the system update. I might even wait for the 2.2 “Froyo” update or even beyond. Killing unused processes makes the phone super stable and everything is working perfectly, so the old adage “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” seems like good advice to follow for the moment.