Samsung Updates its Windows VR Headset



Samsung announced a new advanced display technology for the HMD Odyssey+, bringing true-to-life visuals to its entry into the Windows mixed reality space through the Windows Mixed Reality Platform that delivers an improved life-like and immersive experiences.

To me, it sounds like the updated HMD Odyssey+ was designed to be physically comfortable. The headset weighs 1.3 pounds, and has a wide eye box measuring 146mm to help match a person’s facial features. The headband and display are adjustable.

The headset also has built-in volume controls that can be used to easily adjust the volume when needed. There’s even a anti-fog material on the the Samsung HMD Odyssey+’s face padding to ensure the eye box doesn’t mist up. It is possible to adjust the Inter-Pupillary Distance (IPD) wheel for a perfect fit.

I’ve read that some people experience nausea when using immersive gaming headsets. The Samsung Odyssey+ has exclusive Anti-Screen Door Effect (Anti-SDE) Display innovation. The purpose is to prevent the Screen Door Effect that can hinder immersion and make some people become dizzy or to feel nauseous after playing for a while.

Personally, I think it was very smart for Samsung to put effort into making gaming with the HMD Odyssey+ as comfortable as possible. It will encourage people to use their headset to play video games – and to spend more time playing.


Facebook Portal Will Spy On You After All



As reported by Recode, and with a small dose of “Told you so“, Facebook has clarified that it will spy on you using its new Portal devices after all.

In an email sent to Recode, Facebook said, “Portal voice calling is built on the Messenger infrastructure, so when you make a video call on Portal, we collect the same types of information (i.e. usage data such as length of calls, frequency of calls) that we collect on other Messenger-enabled devices. We may use this information to inform the ads we show you across our platforms. Other general usage data, such as aggregate usage of apps, etc., may also feed into the information that we use to serve ads.

I don’t have to put up with this kind of privacy abuse when I use my landline or my smartphone to make a voice call. Why should it be acceptable at all just because it’s a video call?

Imagine I phoned a retailer using their toll-free number and then I was phoned a few days later by a competitor, perhaps offering a discount. The phone company had sold my phone number to the competitor on the basis of the original call. Now, I’m fairly sure that would be flat out illegal in most countries – I’m not a lawyer but I’m pretty sure in Europe the GDPR regulations would stop that – but here we are with Facebook potentially showing us ads on the basis of who we talk to. This is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

I am increasingly of the opinion that these social media giants need regulation to ensure our rights are maintained. Keeping private both conversations, and the data about conversations, would be a very good place to start.


Kärcher 10 Year Window Vac Anniversary Edition Review



The clue is in the title….it’s been ten years since Kärcher introduced its first Window Vac for streak-free glass cleaning. Competing with sponge and squeegee for the perfect finish, the Window Vac sucks water from the smooth surface of the window, removing drips and drops, and leaving the glass dry. Sounds like a great a idea, but do windows need a vacuum cleaner? Let’s take a closer look.

The box for this anniversary edition is a marginal step up from the normal six sides of cardboard, with a magnetically closed gatefold showing the evolution of the product from the original in 2008 through to 2018. There’s been six editions of the Window Vac but all remain true to the original from ten years ago with steady incremental changes between each one. This year’s model promises extended battery life….

 

While this all looks lovely, disappointingly Kärcher haven’t really got their heads round the presentation of the contents of the box – inside everything is higgledy-piggledy. I appreciate that it’s low environmental impact but a bit more organisation would improve that first impression. This is a gadget that has a list price of GB£100 after all.

Setting this to one inside, inside the box is the Window Vac itself, in the usual black and yellow Kärcher combination. There are two wiper blades, one 280 mm and the other 170 mm. These clip in and out of the Window Vac to suit the size of the window being cleaned. To charge up the Vac, there’s a neat AC power adaptor too with a 120 cm cable. There’s a nifty spray bottle which comes with an attachment to take a microfibre cloth, which is actually really handy. Finally, there’s a set of paper manuals and guides, and a small sachet of cleaning concentrate for use with the spray bottle.

 

The Window Vac is not dissimilar to a handheld vacuum cleaner and it’s surprisingly lightweight – officially it’s 600 g. The two wiper blades clip in and out at the top, there’s a charging port at the bottom, wastewater bottle on the underside and the Vac is designed to sit on its end when not in use. There’s an push on/off button on the handle with an LED which goes solid green when on. The Max line on the water bottle lets you know when it’s time to pour the sucked-up water out by lift out the plug in the top of the bottle. It is possible to remove the top section of the Vac completely, which is handy when you accidentally suck up something a bit larger than usual, such as a leaf.

Looking at the power adaptor, it’s a relatively small unit, sticking out about 6 cm from the wall but with very little height or thickness – it won’t obstruct neighbouring sockets at all. The cable ends in a neat plug which slots into the bottom of the handle. A matching slot and groove stops the connector being put in the wrong way round. Charging from flat is slow, taking several hours – 185 minutes! I found the best approach was to be disciplined and fully charge the Window Vac before putting it away, meaning that vacuum was ready for the next cleaning session.

Before we get to the performance of the Window Vac, I have to give a big thumbs up to the spray bottle and cloth attachment. I don’t know if Kärcher came up with this idea but whoever did, it’s brilliant. Simply, it means that you can spray cleaning solution onto a window (or other surface) and then wipe the liquid over the window with the cloth using just one hand. There’s no squirting-putting-down-picking-up-wiping. It’s excellent and with the spray bottle in one hand and the Window Vac in the other, you’re a window cleaning machine!

So…what’s the Window Vac like in action? I tried it in four scenarios – windows, mirrors, roof windows (Velux) and a shower cubicle. For those who prefer video, here’s my review on YouTube.

For GNC readers, each scenario provided slightly different challenges and associated benefits, and the Kärcher acquitted itself well. For me, the overall big benefit was not the dry, clean and sparkling finish, but that there was no dripping water on the floor or hands getting cold and wet. It’s the package of spray bottle with cloth and Window Vac that is the winning combination. Let’s look in turn at each scenario. By the way, the Window Vac makes very little noise.

Mirrors are easily cleaned with the Window Vac. Typically not really dirty anyway, but quick squirt with glass cleaner and then run over the mirror with the Vac. Gets the liquid off the mirror faster than kitchen towel and less rubbing.

Standard windows. Big benefit over using a squeegee is that the water goes into the Kärcher Vac rather than over your hands and you do get a really good streak-free finish. Obviously it doesn’t clean round the edges of the window frames to get rid of spider webs, so I found the best approach was to go round the window frames with the bucket and sponge first, and then do the window with the Window Vac. In terms of battery life, I cleaned three glass doors and eight windows without any trouble. The specs say 35 minutes, 105 m² or 35 windows.

Roof windows are where the Window Vac really shines. The big problem with Veluxes and similar is that while the window rotates to allow cleaning from the inside, all the muck, dirty and water falls into the room. Normally cleaning is a big hassle with dust sheets but with the Vac, the grubby water gets vacuumed up without hitting the floor. This is a big win for me.

Shower cubicle. Technically the Kärcher worked fine, sucking up the water on the shower cubicle walls and glass door but the value was limited – you’re not worried about water on the floor or streak-free tiles and the Vac needs to be to hand. Squeegee wins in this scenario.

There is one final scenario that didn’t make into the video and only became apparent after recent storms. The Kärcher Window Vac is really good for clearing rainwater off garden trampolines. It sucks up the surface water quickly so that the trampoline can be towelled dry and it’s back to bouncing for the children. Result!

Overall, I’m quite pleased with Kärcher 10 Year Window Vac Anniversary Edition. It makes cleaning windows much easier and is great for roof windows. I have to say that it’s not something I would have though of buying and it’s not an impulse buy with a list price of £99. However, you can easily find it reduced and it’s currently only £49.99 at several online retailers, including Kärcher, which makes it much more reasonable.

Disclosure: I paid the current sale price for the Window Vac as part of The Insiders UK Kärcher campaign.


Google Maps will help charge your car



Electric cars are catching on. After starting off on the high end of pricing, the market is leveling off and openinh up to more customers, The biggest hindrance now seems to be charging stations, or lack of them.

The problem is slowly shrinking and now Google Maps would like to help out current and future users. “We built Google Maps to help people get where they need to go no matter what mode of transportation they use. Our newest feature brings helpful information about electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to the Map, so you can be confident that your car will be charged and ready for your ride, wherever you’re headed.”

Now you’ll be ablt to tryp in things like EV charging or EV charging station. Businesses with charging stations can also become involved.


Adobe Introduced Photoshop CC on iPad



Adobe announced that they are expanding Photoshop CC (which they refer to as “real Photoshop CC”). They presented a preview of Photoshop for the iPad at Adobe MAX and will gradually add new operating systems and form factors when they are ready.

Photoshop CC on the desktop is the center of the system. It has been updated with new features. (The ecosystem connection will ship “in the future”). Photoshop CC on the iPad is part of the ecosystem. People will be able to use the mobile version of Photoshop on its own or as a partner to Photoshop on the desktop. (It is not yet available and “ships in the future”.) Cloud documents is another part of the system.

I can see how Photoshop for the iPad would be useful for artists who create digital drawings. It also would make things easier for photographers who want to edit their photos on their iPad while traveling.

Personally, I do all of my artwork by hand and on paper because that is how I was taught. It is unlikely that I will switch to Photoshop for the iPad. That being said, I can see the benefits of it for other artists. If I’m understanding this correctly, an artist could start their drawing on their desktop, sync it to their iPad, and work on the artwork some more at another location.

Photoshop CC on iPad will be available in 2019.

Image by StockSnap.io


From Japanese Fabric to Casual Friday: the Aloha Shirt



I’ve been a member of Todd’s GNC ohana since double-digit episodes but I know relatively little about Hawaii. Out in the Pacific, the archipelago is part of the US and home to Pearl Harbor. Famous for big waves, it’s the birthplace of surfing, with native Hawaiians enjoying the sport for centuries. That’s really about it….I never watched Hawaii 5-0.

Duke’s Pareo design by Kahala

The team over at 99% Invisible have been running a podcast series called “Articles of Interest” exploring the background to clothes and clothing – blue jeans, tartan (plaid), pockets and Hawaiian shirts, aka aloha shirts.

This episode investigates the background of the aloha shirt, the meaning of the pattern and how to spot a high quality product. The history of the shirt is linked to the history of the state – did you know that the Hawaii is home to the only royal palace in US and it had electricity before the White House?

Starting out as a novelty shirt made from Japanese material for kimonos in the 1930s, skilful marketing increased the popularity of the aloha shirt during the 1960s and 70s until it was accepted business attire in Hawaii. Part of the campaign on the islands created “Aloha Friday” which in turn became the inspiration for casual Fridays and business casual.

Have a listen to the Hawaiian Shirt episode to learn a little more about Todd’s home state.

Surfboard photo by Abigail Lynn on Unsplash.


Facebook Says Private Information was Stolen



Facebook revealed more information about the security issue that affected the privacy of many Facebook user’s information. The update provided by Facebook includes unsettling news.

Facebook now says that out of the 50 million people whose access tokens were affected by the security issue, they believe that about 30 million people actually had their tokens stolen. I’m not sure if Facebook thought this news would be reassuring – but it obviously isn’t. The additional details provided by Facebook aren’t good news, either.

For 15 million people, attackers accessed two sets of information – name and contact details (phone number, email, or both, depending on what people had in their profiles). For 14 million people, the attackers accessed the same two sets of information, as well as other details people had on their profiles.

The “other details” included information such as: username, gender, locale/language, relationship status, religion, hometown, self-reported current city, birthdate, device types used to access Facebook, education, work, the last 10 places they checked into or were tagged in, website, people or Pages they follow, and the 15 most recent searches.

Facebook also said for 1 million people who were affected by the data breach, “the attackers did not access any information”.

This is a very big deal! Some of the information that was stolen is used in security questions on things like bank accounts, credit cards, and to access a person’s health information. Facebook can’t fix this. Personally, I would not be surprised if this awful situation results in a massive number of people deleting their Facebook accounts.

Image from Pixabay