GNC #1203 Social Examination



The US Gov’t will now start doing a Social Examination of some folks requesting a Visa to visit the US. They will ask for all Social media handles you have had for the past five years, cleaning up your social account may not be enough as they may be employing their own go back machine. Details on that and my families trip to Japan and some observations of not having been in central Tokyo for 30 years. FYI the Audio of tonight’s show is a bit off thanks to my Daughter cat who decided to walk on the mixer.

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How Fresh is Your Air?



I’m lucky enough to live in a small commuter village here in Northern Ireland. If I look out my window, I can see cows munching the grass in a neighbouring field. Many people aren’t this fortunate, and live close to major roads with higher levels of pollution. I think we’re all aware of the increase in asthma and allergies in the past few decades too, and around 5 million people in the UK suffer from various levels of asthma.

And unless fumes are pouring out of an exhaust, most air pollution is invisible to the eye and odourless to the nose. It’s very difficult for us to assess how bad the air quality is in our own homes, even subjectively. For a more objective view the Foobot smart indoor air quality monitor can assess the indoor air and pass the data to its complementary app.

The Foobot is a semi-cylindrical gadget a little taller than a smart phone (17 cm), with what looks like an air vent on top. At first glance it could be mistaken for a smart home hub, but the Foobot has sophisticated sensors to measure gases and chemicals in the air. The Foobot glows blue when air quality is good and turns orange if it becomes poor. In particular, the Foobot measures:

  • VOCs – Volatile Organic Compounds, which are toxic gases like ammonia and formaldehyde
  • PM2.5s – Particulate Matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres, like dust, pollen and pet dander
  • Carbon Monoxide, which can be deadly as it binds irreversibly with the haemoglobin in the blood
  • Humidity. High humidity can lead to damp and low humidity is an irritation
  • Temperature

The Foobot can also assess carbon dioxide, but this is derived from other figures – there’s no CO2 sensor. Full specs on the Foobot are here.

As a smart device, the Foobot integrates with other smart home solutions, from Google Nest to Amazon Echo, and with the help of IFTTT, Foobot can also connect to over 120 home appliances, including Hive, the connected thermostat from British Gas. Simplistically, if Foobot detects that the room air quality is becoming poor, then an extractor fan or air conditioner can be turned on to refresh the air. The Foobot itself connects via WiFi and the Foobot app is available for both iOS and Android.

The Foobot is manufactured by AirBoxLab, a Luxembourg-based startup founded by CEO Jacques Touillon, whose son suffered from asthma. Back in 2014 it was an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, formerly called Alima.

I think the Foobot is a good idea, especially if you do have family members who suffer from conditions that respond to air quality. The saying goes, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”. The Foobot can provide that measurement to help manage the local environment, and hopefully provide relief to sufferers.

The Foobot is available now in US, Canada, Europe and Australia, priced at US$199, GB£170, €199.


The Modern Economy in 50 Things



The rapid advance of technology might seem to be the defining feature of today’s world but tech is only one piece of a complex puzzle. From lightbulbs to TV dinners, shipping containers and public key cryptography, the BBC World Service reveals Fifty Things That Made The Modern Economy.

The programmes are a little under 10 minutes long and examine an eclectic range of inventions, ideas and philosophies that underpin much of which is familiar to us. Some are obvious, such as the smartphone and iPhone in particular. Others less so, such as the Haber-Bosch process. The supporting evidence for each thing is provided via a reading list for every episode on the website. There’s no fake news here, Mr Trump.

The series is a little over halfway through (episode 30 is the latest) and all the past programmes are available for listening on demand from the BBC. For true hipsters, it’s on the Wireless – times vary with location.

Add it to your playlist for something a little less ephemeral and a little more enduring.


Personalised Packets for Pills



As with much of the developed world, life expectancy in the Northern Ireland has increased considerably in the last few decades. With this growth, people are now living with long-term medical conditions. For those 60-69 years old, more than 50% of the population will have at least one medical condition. For 70-79 years old, 50% will have two or more medical problems. We might be living longer, but we’re sicker.

Medication can help with many conditions, but medicine only works if it’s taken and multiple conditions can lead to a bewildering array of pills that need to be taken on a schedule. Trays with Monday-Sunday and am/pm can help but it’s all too easy to make a mistake.

PillPacPlus provide a service that helps with this increasing problem. Instead of giving people many boxes with each box containing a single drug, pharmacies can now dispense medications in sachets, with each one containing all the drugs to be taken at a time. Each sachet on the roll is labelled with the time and date, and this makes it perfectly clear to the patient what has to be taken and when.

For those with dementia, even pre-labelled sachets can be a struggle. To help further, the sachet rolls can be loaded into a dispensing machine (Evondos E300) that is programmed with the schedule. If the patient forgets to take the medication, the machine sounds an alarm to alert him or her. If this doesn’t work, the machine can alert pharmacists and carers about the problem.

It’s all aimed at making sure that the right medication is taken at the right time to manage those long-term conditions. To find out more, I interviewed Lindsay and Sara from PillPacPlus at NICON17. Listen below.


Giant Anglepoise Lamps



Anglepoise lamps are great. They’re British, iconic, affordable, and give any desk a timeless, classic look. I particularly like the 1227 and its art deco appeal. Originally launched in 1935, it’s stood the test of time well. Having said, that it’s the 1228 that’s on my wishlist with the switch on the back of the lamp.

Not one to rest on history, Anglepoise has collaborated with a number of modern designers, including Margaret Howell and Paul Smith. I admit that I’m not a great fan of Smith’s work as his primary colours remind me too much of “My First Anglepoise”, but the press release did remind me that Anglepoise do giant versions of their lamps, three times the size of the originals.

Originally commissioned by Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in deference to the beloved Anglepoise lamp that Dahl used in his writing hut, inspiration for the Original 1227 Giant is part Carwardine, part fantasy.”

Sadly, these aren’t three times the price of the standard Type 75 (GB£170) and are instead a whopping GB£3,200 (approx US$4,100). Still, wouldn’t it be fabulous sitting out on a warm summer night?


PlayOn Cloud comes to Android



If you aren’t familiar with PlayOn, It is a portal to over 100 streaming websites, allowing you watch multiple shows. And the Cloud acts as a DVR, allowing you to download shows and then watch, even offline.

Now that Cloud capability comes to the Android platform. This includes shows on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, Yahoo View, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, HBO NOW, PBS, The CW, and YouTube.

The company announces “We have officially launched PlayOn Cloud for Android. Now you can record and download any show or movie from top streaming providers like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO and more, with a simple touch of a button on your Android device.

There is more good news. Thanks to new optimizations and processing improvements that are designed to bring down the cost for all of this. The company claims it will now be $0.20 per recording. You’ll have to buy credits from the website.

If you have severed your ties with cable and satellite TV then PlayOn may be something you want to look at. That said, there are plenty of others as well.


Reserve Your Todd Cochrane Signature Podcaster Pro Now!



Podcaster ProThis week marks the launch of the Podcaster Pro Indiegogo campaign. I’m sure Todd has mentioned the campaign on the show. But just in case, the Podcaster Pro is a new all-in-one audio production device designed in part by The Podfather himself, Adam Curry:

The Podcaster Pro is a USB Audio device that has been over a decade in the making by Adam Curry. The Podcaster Pro, your laptop, and an XLR mic are all you need to make podcasts that sound like they were recorded in a professional recording studio! The Podcaster Pro brings Mic Preamps, EQ, Compressor, Noise-gate, Mix-minus, and Voice Processing in a single USB device about the size of a hardcover book.

The campaign to make the Podcaster Pro a reality has an ambitious $500,000 funding goal. As of this writing, the campaign has reached 6% of that goal, with just over $32,000 raised. To help entice potential backers to the campaign, the makers of the Podcaster Pro are offering a number of incentives, including a signature line of Podcaster Pro devices.

Each signature model comes with the signature of an influential podcaster laser inscribed into the Podcaster Pro’s casing. Those reserving a signature Podcaster Pro can choose a signature from the likes of Adam Curry, Dan Benjamin, Brian Brushwood, GNC’s own Todd Cochrane, and more. Prices for these special signature edition devices range from $647 to $727 each.

If you’re not interested in owning a Podcaster Pro but would like to contribute to the campaign, you can donate any amount you’d like. At the $33 level, backers get access to Club 33 (a not-so-subtle nod to Adam Curry’s podcast No Agenda), which is described as an exclusive portal to content made by Adam Curry specifically about the Podcaster Pro.

If you’d like to learn more about the Podcaster Pro’s Indiegogo campaign, click the link at the top of this article.


GNC #1202 Facebook Tentacles



Took two tries to get the show out tonight. Tricaster rebooted on me five minutes into the show. So no video tonight. But I dig deep into what is being termed Facebook Tentacles. Plus the story behind the missed show on Monday. Off to Japan no show on Monday be back with you next Thursday.

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OnePlus 5 Incoming…



The OnePlus hype machine has been in full flow over the past few weeks, with a steady drip feed of news for the forthcoming OnePlus 5. It’s arguable that they’re third only to Apple and Samsung in the social noise OnePlus makes. Personally I’m a big fan, having purchased both the One and the 2, but I skipped the 3 and 3T, so I’m looking forward to the 5. There isn’t going to be a OnePlus 4 because 4 isn’t a popular number in parts of Asia. Bit like 13 in US and Europe, I guess.

OnePlus have all but confirmed the 5, but in preparation for its arrival, stock of the 3T is being run down and won’t be available in the UK and Europe from the end of June. Grab one for GB£399. For the curious, the 3 is long gone…

Teasing some of the new features, OnePlus have teamed up with DxO “to enhance your photography experience with our upcoming flagship, the OnePlus 5“. DxO have years of imaging experience and expertise, both for professional cameras and for smartphones, and perhaps are most well-known for creating the defining photography benchmark, the DxOMark. So the camera should be good then.

Since March, OnePlus have been running a competition for marketing students to plan and execute an exciting, on-brand marketing campaign to raise OnePlus’ brand awareness in the UK. The competition is entering the final stages and the public vote for the last five is on. There are 17 proposals to review and choose a favourite. Good luck to all the teams – the winners get to intern over the summer in the European HQ.

That’s the OnePlus news summary for now and I’m looking forward to seeing what the 5 brings.


JAM Card Gives People Time



It’s a fast paced world out there and you need all your faculties to keep up. Take too long, and it’s “Next please!” while you’re still standing there. Imagine how much more difficult it is if you do have a learning disability or condition such as Asperger’s and you just need a little more time.

To help people in this situation, the NOW Group has created an app that asks people for “Just A Minute”. The JAM Card app shows staff in retail outlets, transport and other areas of public life that the person needs “Just A Minute” of patience and time when interacting with them.

The smartphone app is based on the original concept of a plastic card and was the idea of people with a disability who said they often felt under pressure when they were out and about in everyday life. They wanted a discreet way of letting people know that they needed a little extra time.

The app is available for both Android and iOS (search for “JAM Card”). At present the app only caters for four specific conditions though they hope to extend it to more over time. The app also allows users to score retail stores and transportation for their helpfulness towards people with disabilities.

For more information, listen to my interview with NOW Group’s Jayne at NICON 17.  If you like what the NOW Group are doing here, you can vote for them over at Digital DNA and help them become a partner charity.