As it’s still early Advent, it’s not quite that period between Christmas and New Year where “The Best of 2016” features grace the front page of every media outlet. Still, that hasn’t stopped TIME announcing its 100 Most Influential Images of All Time. Fortunately, TIME has done a much better job than most and this feature explores the background and impact of iconic photographs, from “The View from the Window at Le Gras” by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce to “Alan Kurdi” by Nilüfer Demir. These are the images which define the human experience for nearly two centuries; too many of the pictures show suffering and pain, but others will reassure and confirm the amazing achievements selflessly done for the benefit all.
It’s a real first world problem – finding enough USB charging points to keep your gadgets powered up, especially for families with multiple phones and tablets. Fortunately there’s a solution in Choetech’s 6-port USB-A desktop charger which combines two QC 3 ports and four smart ports that will deliver up to 2.4 A for charging thirsty smart phones and tablets. Let’s take a look.
This is the Q3-4U2Q model and the packaging follows the standard Choetech style of branded outer sleeve with plain cardboard inner box. Inside the carton, there’s the 6-port charger, desktop stand, USB-A to USB-C cable, power cable, instructions and help sheet. The instructions are largely superfluous other than to confirm the charging voltages and currents for the USB ports.
To be clear, the Q3-4U2Q is only a USB charger: it’s not a USB hub and won’t connect a mouse and keyboard to a PC. There are two Quick Charge 3.0 ports for devices that support the QC standard and will deliver the higher voltages required.The other four smart ports will charge up to 2.4 A at 5 V and the charger will deliver 50 W across all six ports. The tongue inside the QC ports is helpfully coloured blue and an LED lights up to show that the charger is powered on.
Physically, the charger is about the size of a fat pack of playing cards – it’s roughly 9 cm x 7 cm x 3 cm. The charger is covered in a soft rubber coating except for the back panel and a small area at the rear. There’s a figure 8 two pin power socket on the back. The Q3-4U2Q fits snugly into the desktop stand which does make it look much neater than if it was simply lying on the desk.
In use, the Choetech charger performed as expected – devices seemed to charge at their maximum rate, whether that was 1 A, 2 A or QC, and was able to provide power to all the connected tablets and smartphones regardless. For transparency, I wasn’t able to test this with a QC 3 device but it worked fine with a Galaxy S6 (QC 2). At one point I had a OnePlus 2, two Nexus 9s, a Motorola Xoom 2, a Chromecast and a USB battery pack all running off the charger. It got a little warm at full pelt, but certainly wouldn’t describe it as hot.
Overall, the Choetech Q3-4U2Q is a competent six port charger with QC 3 support. While I liked design and feel of the charger, there’s no single feature to mark it out from the many competitors. QuickCharge support is good for the latest phones, the stand is handy for a desktop charger and it seemed well enough made, so it’s definitely worth considering. If interested, the Choetech Q3-4U2Q is currently for sale on Amazon for GB£20.99.
Thanks to Choetech for supplying the Q3-4U2Q for review.
Despite seemingly endless complaints from customers, it still isn’t gone even though the free period has passed. Now the company is finally relenting and removing the nagware from both Windows 7 and 8.x.
Let’s face it, you’re either already on Windows 10 or you’re sticking with version 7. people never saw much middle ground with 8.x. Now those sticking with any older version will no longer need to periodically curse and close that window., and it only took until two months after the offer ended.
Complaints about the “feature” have trailed off in recent times, though some people are likey nagged by it. A response received by Mary Jo Foley read simply:
“The Get Windows 10 (GWX) application was designed to make the Windows 10 upgrade process easy for existing Windows 7 and 8.1 customers for the one year free upgrade offer which ended July 29th. Beginning on September 20th, the Get Windows 10 app and all other updates related to the Windows 10 free upgrade offer will be removed from Windows 7 and 8.1 customer’s devices. Beyond the statement above, the company has nothing more to share.”
Twitter announced some new changes that are in the process of being rolled out to users. Their blog post about the changes is titled: “New Ways to Control Your Experience on Twitter”. These new features are intended to give Twitter users more control over what they see and who they interact with on Twitter.
When turned on, the filter can improve the quality of Tweets you see by using a variety of signals such as account origin and behavior. Turning it on filters low-quality content, like duplicate Tweets or content that appears to be automated, from your notifications and other parts of your Twitter experience.
It goes on to say that the feature will not filter content from people you follow or accounts you’ve recently interacted with. Every user gets to choose for themselves if they want to use the quality filter feature. You can turn it on or off whenever you want (and can find it in your notification settings).
The other feature is a change that allows Twitter users to limit the notifications they see. Starting today, everyone will be able to limit notifications to only people they follow on mobile and on Twitter.com. Just like with the quality filter setting, Twitter users can decide for themselves if they want to make use of this change to notifications.
I’m assuming that when Twitter says the quality filter will filter out duplicate Tweets or content that appears to be automated, they mean it will filter out spam accounts and those annoying automatic direct messages people push out seconds after someone follows them. It is unclear if it will, or will not, filter out Tweets that were automatically scheduled (via the use of something outside of Twitter itself).
Ideally, I want to believe that the quality filter, that looks at “account origin and behavior” will put an end to the serial harassment that occurs far too often on Twitter. I’m also hoping the quality filter will finally make looking at a trending hashtag (or any other hashtag, for that matter) nicer by finally filtering out the accounts I’ve blocked.
If you think the world of cryptocurrency is limited only to Bitcoin, you are mistaken. There are a number of other digital currency systems currently in operation. One of these is called Ethereum, which is self-described as:
Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference.
These apps run on a custom built blockchain, an enormously powerful shared global infrastructure that can move value around and represent the ownership of property. This enables developers to create markets, store registries of debts or promises, move funds in accordance with instructions given long in the past (like a will or a futures contract) and many other things that have not been invented yet, all without a middle man or counterparty risk.
Ether is the appropriately named currency of the Ethereum network. Cryptocurrency trading company Coinbase recently added support for Ether. Coinbase users can buy, sell, and trade Ether directly from their Coinbase accounts:
In May, we added Ethereum trading on GDAX, our professional digital asset exchange. With the addition of Ethereum on Coinbase, consumers in 32 countries can acquire Ether and take part in an open financial system facilitated by Ethereum and Bitcoin.
Honestly, I don’t really understand any of this. But if you want to learn more about Ethereum, Coinbase has posted a helpful information page that may (?) provide some clarity.
Geek News Central Radio is expanding our listeners listening options, by introducing Geek News Central Radio. You can Live Stream the show 24/7 from a variety of platforms. Over the next week you will start to find the show in about 20 more streaming locations. We will keep you advised as we get approved on the platforms below.
Podcasters looking to get their shows on Internet Radio check out Podcast2Radio by Blubrry and StreamGuys.
The promise of a work-free life, where mechanical devices do all of humanity’s drudge work has been little more than just that; a promise. And while we’re still a long way away from a time when we’ll be able to sit poolside all day, sipping fruity drinks, while armies of robots take care of the cooking, cleaning, and other mundane tasks, there is evidence that we’re coming slightly closer to that utopian vision. One such bit of that proof comes in the form of FarmBot, billed as “Humanity’s first open-source CNC farming machine.”
FarmBot may not look like the shiny gardening bot of your android dreams. But it is an innovative idea that makes growing your own vegetables fun and easy. Prospective farmers can use a computer app to plan out a garden using a game-like interface. Then, FarmBot plants seeds and waters them as needed. FarmBot operates 24 hours a day, tending your plants day and night.
FarmBot takes a variety of factors into consideration as it handles your plants:
Your personal growing preferences
FarmBot allows growers to plant many different types of plants at one time. This creates a more natural bio system to occur within the garden, which can yield crops that are healthier and more nutritious than those created by large-scale industrial agricultural operations.
FarmBot is an open source project. All of the software and documentation needed to built and operate your own FarmBot is free to be downloaded and manipulated. If you’d like to just buy a FarmBot, the creators of the platform are currently selling FarmBot kits at a 25% discount for a total cost of $2,900.00.
Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that started out as a technological curiosity, has grown rapidly in the last couple years. Bitcoin adoption has been on the rise, and this has prompted the development of tools and services that help Bitcoin users convert their digital money into real-world cash. Coinbase, one of the larger Bitcoin players in the market, described itself from the beginning as a “PayPal-like” service, where users could log in and convert Bitcoin to cash, or vice versa.
Expanding its efforts to make Bitcoin exchanges even easier, Coinbase recently announced it will be adding support for PayPal and credit cards. From a Coinbase e-mail sent earlier this week:
One of our objectives at Coinbase is to add as many funding mechanisms as possible to make exchanging digital currency easy. As a step in that direction, Coinbase now accepts PayPal (for bitcoin sells) and credit cards (for bitcoin buys).
It’s worth noting that Coinbase isn’t using both of these new services for everything. As the e-mail states. Coinbase users will be able to use PayPal when selling Bitcoin, and they’ll be able to use credit cards for Bitcoin purchases. Previously, Coinbase only conducted transactions thru registered bank accounts.
These new payment systems are currently in beta, but they are accessible to most Coinbase users.
I joined hyperlocal-focused website Nextdoor sometime over the last year. I’m not entirely sure how I got onto the site, but it probably had something to do with Facebook. Anyway, since joining Nextdoor, I’ve actually found it to be a pretty useful tool for connecting with my local online community. Yeah, I guess people used to just know their neighbors. But who has the time and/or inclination to go around knocking on doors in the 21st century? There are too many TV shows to binge watch. Too many social networks to update (probably about the latest TV show you just finished watching).
One thing I’ve noticed quite often about Nextdoor is that people use it as a resource for recommendations. It makes sense. Need to hire a plumber, roofer, or flooring contractor? Just ask your neighbors who they’ve used, and what kind of experiences they’ve had. And apparently, the staff at Nextdoor have noticed this, too. The company recently announced via e-mail that it has improved its recommendation system:
We’re excited to announce some big improvements to your neighborhood Recommendations section that make it easier to find the businesses most recommended by your neighbors.Here’s what’s new:
Ranked category lists that highlight the businesses most recommended by your neighbors
Business pages that organize all of your neighbors’ comments about the relevant business in one place
Ability for neighbors to tag their comments with the relevant business pages to make their content easier to find
There are already plenty of online resources available for reviews of local businesses. So, Nextdoor isn’t reinventing the wheel here. Still, many of these sites often get taken over by shady practices or spam posts. If Nextdoor can keep those annoyances away, it could really become a useful tool for finding and vetting local services. I’ll be interested to see how this new recommendation system evolves over time.