Space the Final Frontier

Having been into science fiction for most of my life, I thought this would be a good time to look at Space, the Final Frontier. A phrase I have grown up with. But why this title and why this topic?
Well now as opposed to in the past we have a range of places available to store our data and as we all now data is king.

So, what final frontier do you use for your data storage?

Or do you sue multiple frontiers?
In the past, we had limited solutions available to us. Floppy disk, Hard drive in the local machine, Server space on the in-house office server. Burning data to a CDROM or DVDROM. Then USB pen drives became the major medium for storage. In fact, I come across this method the most as people move and share data with each other.

Well is that the final frontier? It certainly gives us the flexibility of having mobile data we can access everywhere and share with others if need be. That must be the solution.

Of course, intrinsically it has a whole range of problems associated with it. Losing the drive, securing the data on the drive. limited space on the drive. (However, there are some very large storage capacities now available.) A virus somehow getting on the drive and then transferring nicely to all the machines you plug it into.

The Final Frontier

 Well, what is the final frontier if USB drives are flawed? Most large IT organisations are now pushing SAAS. (Software As A Service) This is normally for things like Microsoft Office Products and soon to be Windows. A monthly fee for access to software that is generally on the cloud and you get access to a web-based version and a downloadable version depending on the package you have paid for.

This whole premise of a cloud-based supply leads us to the cloud being the final frontier. A place to store all your valuable data. Also, a place where the data can be automatically backed up and shared with others securely. Access to the Internet (Cloud) is essential even though some areas can be accessed offline. The benefits are massive. All data can be shared and is automatically backed up. You can access it from any device anywhere. Work on it and collaborate on it. As technology drives us forward we will be adopting this Final Frontier More and more,

Are you heading there at Warp Speed?

Relaunch video for parent organisation

Check out the new video from our parent organisation. (Sorry for the bitable banners)

Chromebook Acer R11 Review

chromebook

 

So it’s been a while and I thought I would start with my latest piece of kit. Chromebooks have been around for a while and haven’t captured a lot of the market in the UK. In the USA, however, they have been competing with Apple in the education market and have taken schools by storm as the students love the idea of a keyboard and the lightweight functionality of a Chromebook over an IPad.

 

There are various manufacturers of Chromebooks and I did a little research before I purchased my one. So what did I go for?

Acer R11 Chromebook

This is a relatively new Chromebook in their range and this allows it to run Android Apps from the Google Play Store, as well as the Chrome-based apps, from the web store. This appealed to me as I wanted something to replace my ageing Nexus 9 tablet as it seems that Google has decided to drop the tablet market and launched all their Pixel Books instead, which are rather prohibitively priced.

This particular Chromebook is lightweight and 11-inch screen makes it very clear and visible. It also has the lovely function of flipping 360 degrees to create an 11-inch tablet. So it ticked a lot of my boxes. Larger than I had been carrying around, but I was prepared to make that sacrifice.

Battery life claimed to be around 10 hours when charged as well. However, I am finding when fully charged it is telling me around 7 hours…. Slight discrepancy there Acer.

However after some initial problems when I received it, I finally got a working Chromebook and have been using it as my tablet replacement for a few months now. Boots up fast as all SSD drives. 4 GB of Ram and 32 GB of internal storage, the rest of the cloud. High relation screen and camera for video calls etc.

Here is the full spec: –

  • Processor: 1.6GHz quad-core Intel Celeron N3150 (quad-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.08GHz with Turbo Boost)
  • Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics
  • Memory: 4GB DDR3L
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Screen: 11.6 HD, 1,366 x 768 touchscreen, LED-backlit IPS
  • Camera: 720p webcam
  • Wireless: 802.11ac (B/G/N) dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Ports: 1x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, 1x HDMI with HDCP, 1x 3.5mm headphone jack, 1x SD card slot
  • Weight: 2.76lbs
  • Size: 11.57 x 8.03 x 0.76 inches (W x D x H)

It is Blue the one I got as you can see from the photos attached.

openchromebook

So how do I feel it has been going?

So far it has been good going and I have been able to do all I want on this device. It is fast enough and covers all my bases. The only faults are that the use of an emulator to run the Android Apps is sometimes very buggy and resizes the screen and crashes at times. I have wandered over to the web-based apps for so many things and they run marvellously on the Chromebook. It allows me to carry out all my online worm and to edit a document using the Google Apps suite and then save them to the cloud and access them at my desk and phone when I need to.

I haven’t outputted the display yet through the HDMI port, but I have cast it through a Chromecast and it works well. Chrome as an OS is adequate and easy to get to grips with. Automatically updates and keeps me on top of what is happening.

It connects to any Wi-Fi I have tied so far and does it fast. Speakers seem OK as well and can play audio nicely.

I think this is a good replacement for my Nexus 9 and will be happy to use this into the future.

tentedchromebook

Talking about the future.

Acer, after I purchased this, have launched a Chromebook Tablet. 10 inch. Again to compete in the Education market in the USA. However, it is making its way to the UK market in May time. So that will be one to watch. Will run Chrome OS and allow the use of Android apps as well.

Let me know what you think and do you think the age of Windows ruling devices is over?

What do you use and why?

IoT’s, I don’t have any IoT’s do I?

IoT devices

IoT devices, do I have any?

Here is a newish term that has been getting brandished around the Internet for some time now. At first as a techie I may think, Institute of Technology devices, Oh, I don’t have any of these. However, I would be so wrong. So what are they and what does it stand for?

IoT’s or Internet of things devices are now all around us whether we like it or not. They are devices that require an IP address to access the network or Internet. I like to think of them as Internet on Technology.

Your mobiles and any tech wear that you have, card reader machines, cash points, smart TV’s Tablet computers and any smart home devices that you may own. Your car, security cameras, home thermostats, amoung other things, even ticket machines and some vending machines.

What does it mean?

It means that things have progressed along a road that had been predicted, but the faster broadband speeds and methods of connectivity have meant it is now a reality.

Let’s rewind a little, A few years ago we have a desktop PC and then maybe a laptop and at first they did not connect to the Internet at all. We then got dial up Internet and we all tentatively put our toes in the water that was the Internet. Well, from there speeds just got faster and faster and Mobile phones came along, then they became smart. This meant connecting to the Internet and using it as a resource to feed you constant information. This meant improving phone signal strength and so we got up to 4G with 5G on its way.

Other devices then came along and allowed us to stream content around our houses and cars, how great was all this connectivity. Well, it is amazing how far we have come in such a short time.

So what’s all the fuss about, surely this is great news?

The reason that these devices are in the news a lot today is that there are now hundreds of thousands of them, being made by well-known companies and also so not so well known but less expensive alternatives and they all connect to the Internet. Now, securing our stand alone network that had no Internet connection was easy, what you put into it was the only danger. Now that these devices are on the Internet all the time they are able to pull all sorts of data into your device and if it is connected to your network, then onto your network as well.

You would think that this was matter of the device being smart and you being able to configure all the settings and hence protecting all that is does. However, loopholes in the software on these devices, not them all, but some are causing the security world a massive headache and some of the attacks to systems that you have read about recently have been because the software on these devices is not well written and is very insecure. Hackers are catching onto the fact that the world has a massive amount of these types of devices and there are more switched on each day and they are targeting their weaknesses.

So really the question is, “When is a smart device not so smart?” when it runs badly written software that has security holes that you can drive a programming bus through.

Here are a few articles to give you some more information: –

http://www.csoonline.com/article/3119765/security/hackers-found-47-new-vulnerabilities-in-23-iot-devices-at-def-con.html

http://www.darkreading.com/vulnerabilities—threats/internet-of-things-contains-average-of-25-vulnerabilities-per-device/d/d-id/1297623

What are your thoughts about this and have you bought into any of these devices and are you using them. I have to admit I have some.

So much to report on, where to start……….?

technology report

So much to report!

Hi guys, I have so much to report on that I am writing this all inclusive blog post.

So, what are the main headlines then? Well, I have had so much that here are the areas I will touch on in this blog post.

  • Nexus 5X usage and how that is going
  • Nexus 9 revival and discovery
  • Android Beta Testing Nougat 7 and the final version, on the Nexus 9
  • Update on Android Wear from last year, how is that going then?

My everyday life

I am really letting you into my everyday life, my devices that sustain and support me as I go about my daily tasks from business to personal. How I interact with them and how they perform and allow me to do what I need to do or not as the case may be…

So where to start? Well, let’s start with my mobile phone, as we all have one and it ends up being our mainstay most of the time.

LG Nexus 5X

So, to recap I have been using the Nexus 5X for the last month or so and it was to replace my older Nexus 5 that was a tremendous phone and caused me little to no problems. The main thing about the Nexus 5X is the slimmer shape and the more up to date hardware and the fact that it today as I finish this article has updated to Android N (Version 7, Nougat). It has fingerprint launching and better camera etc.

So how has that been going?

A quick update is that the battery still drains very fast and when taking photos and running Bluetooth all the time it seems to drain even faster. I am hoping this will be much improved now I have updated to Android N. Which has better battery saving than ever before. It does have the USB C connection and fast charging so as long as you can access that or a power pack that I carry a lot, then it can be back up and running quite quickly. The camera on the rear is excellent and creates great photo shots. The only problem I have had with this so far was that after about a week of having the phone, the camera refused to focus on anything and made a clicking noise when trying to focus. A tad scary as I hadn’t dropped or miss-used it. I Googled it to see if anyone else had experienced this and found that many had. A simple restart cures it. So restarted and it corrected itself and it hasn’t raised its head again since.

Strange one that. I have put a slim Spigen case on my Nexus 5X and this has great grip and acts as a bumper to protect in case of a drop or bump. But all in all loving the phone and no issues other than the camera weirdness to report.

Nexus 9 Revival and Recovery

Yes, yes, yes. I know the Nexus 9 don’t go there device and all the bad reports I had posted. Well if you remember the last report I stated that I had stuck the Beta testing of Android 7 (Nougat) on it. Well, it seemed worse and everything was just confirming my fears that this device had missed the plot a lot and really needed to be avoided. I kept running it, however, as I am persistent if nothing else, I noted that the battery was running out very fast and I constantly had to recharge it and that the processor was running hot. This intrigued me and I installed a few apps to see what the processor was doing and why it was hot etc. I found it was running at 89% to 94% most of the time. Further checking revealed that the Facebook Messenger App was responsible for my battery dying and probably the processor usage. I uninstalled it and guess what happened? Go on have guess?

The processor went to normal and was hardly running and the battery lasts up to two days unless heavy use. Thanks a lot there Facebook. That won’t be going back on anytime soon. It is important to note there that this App runs on my mobile phone and has none of the above aspects there. So I can only assume that Facebook hasn’t optimised it for Android 7 yet. Which will now be interesting as my phone has just updated?

So, the tablet was behaving a lot better, still slightly unstable with some things, but remember that I was running a Beta version of Android 7. The good news is because I was enrolled on the Beta programme I have now been fully upgraded to the finished version of Android 7. The tablet has improved again with the apps being much more stable and the tablet being more responsive. Some Android 7 features won’t work with some Apps but that is the Apps suppliers needing to get their apps updated. This will come. So I am slightly more positive and happier with my N9 than I have been for a while. Time will tell, though.

Android wear

Well, only a short update here. I am still wearing my LG G Watch that I got last year and have only needed to replace the strap as the original failed on me. Easily done though and it is performing well apart from the following: –

  • Charging when it sits on the docking station. Sometimes does not charge overnight and I find it has not been pushed in fully or has just not done it?
  • I have replaced the charging cable and repositioned the charging base to try and help and I still get the fear that it won’t charge overnight.

Other than this it is a great piece of kit and I missed it when I had no strap until my new one arrived and was fitted. It is so convenient for all sorts of apps that allow walking info and all messages coming in to be quickly reviewed. The phone can be muted from the watch and this saves taking it out my pocket in my jacket. Talking and sending a text quickly from the watch is another great feature. No, it is well worth a look and I think I will be looking at the next generation of these devices to see what they are building into them as it can only improve and get better.

Desktop PC

Thought I would just pop this in at the bottom, I still haven’t gone up to Windows 10 as there still seem to be some major issues floating around with it.

I hope that gives you a flavour of my devices and how they are developing and improving with updates and patches etc.

What are you using and how do you use them? For business, pleasure or both?

Is changing tech like changing your clothes?

Is technology taking over?

The Latest Tech?

I, as usual, have started the year looking at the CES2016 event in America and seeing some of the new tech that is out and coming along in the next few months and years. I also keep one eye on the latest developments and trends in the tech world. Statistics, for example, have been saying for a few years now that Desktop computers are on the decline and that smaller factor machines like laptops with touch screen facilities are taking over. This alongside the tablet market that has been taking shares of the laptop market and it made me think, are we now at a stage where things are developing in such a way that the tech giants are creating the fads and trends that drive what we buy and use.

A long time ago in a galaxy…..well this one really.

When I first got into the tech world and started loving everything it did, tech was always advised to be bought on the following basis. Buy what you can afford within your budget and try and buy so that it is relatively future proof. Taking what you want to do with it into consideration.

Of course, the way we use technology and the things we can do now are just light years away from that time, but it still makes me think, Do we buy for the right reasons?

Apple pioneered the sale of new tech with the launch of the IPod and then the IPhone, basically a small computer that could do everything your large computer could do in the palm of your hand. They made it a desirable piece of equipment at any cost. Even if you weren’t going to use some of what it could do. This really made it a fashion accessory……..useful…..but a fashion accessory just the same.

Development never stops

Of course, development never stops and is only limited by the capability of the hardware. Hardware has been developing as well as the software over the last few years and things are now a melting pot of companies all wanting to sell you a fashion accessory. It literally is like buying the latest look and dressing up and going out and seeing if anyone notices. The clothing might not do all you want it to and some of the features might be for the look and not the practicality of it, but you have it and that’s what counts.

How should we decide?

This leads me to how should we decide and once we take out all the hype and the must have features and the latest and greatest, then how do we decide.

Again I tend to go back to the advice all those years ago: –

  • Look at what you want to do
  • Look into the future as you see it now and list what you might want to do
  • Budget and look at alternatives
  • Buy once you have looked at reviews and advice from people with the knowledge
  • The latest and greatest isn’t always the best
  • Tried and tested can be the very item you need

I have to admit to having a two-year-old phone model that I just bought last year. It has brilliant performance and does exactly what I want it to do. I bought it once the price had come down. My tablet is also around 2 years old again the same thing applied.

My desktop is older and I have upgraded elements like Ram, monitors and graphics card. But it does exactly what I want and keeps my cost down. I also have to admit to being techie geek and love the latest and the greatest just to play with, but practically speaking my bank manager doesn’t. So I have to be realistic and that’s where it works for me.

What do you do and how do you change your tech and why do you change it?

Final Nexus 9 Post………..do not pass here!

N9 No entryI thought it was time I updated you guys on the use of my Nexus 9.

I am all for Google and their Nexus range of products, my Nexus 5 is one, if not the best phone I have used. The Nexus 7 2013 version tablet I had was excellent with superb battery life and did everything and more than I needed it to do.

However, as previously mentioned, I purchased the Nexus 9 and gave you some tasters in my previous two posts.

I have now been using it for an extended period and here is my last summary for you to look over.

Pros

Larger screen
Faster processing
Easier to type and handle and view information

Cons

Battery life is just not good, less than a few hours of constant usage and it is down by 40 percent or less. The main culprit it tells me is the screen. I have it set to automatic brightness and the slider at about a third. Not good, as my Nexus 7 lasted for two days, yes you read that correctly two days.

The Nexus 9 seems to load slowly and then the screen periodically freezes and seems to be performing some task in the background as all the hardware then freezes. Power button won’t even switch it off unless you hold it in for a prolonged period.

To summarise it, I would not recommend purchasing the Nexus 9 as it just does to live up to what it claims and as a business owner that uses it constantly for communication and work, it is just not doing what I would like in a manner that makes it a piece of hardware I can recommend…..

Google, if you are reading this you need to sharpen your game here and get a tablet out there that people will be happier with and that can take off with business users as well as the general public. A sad day for my Google and Android revolution……………

What are your thoughts?

Hands on with the Nexus 9 Tablet

N9 review photo

Nexus 9 Review

Have now been using the Nexus 9 for a few weeks now and it was to replace my Nexus 7 2013 model.
First impressions is that it is obviously larger with the 8.9 inch screen. I got the 16 GB model the same Storage I used in the Nexus 7. No issues there. Speed seems OK and it upgraded itself within a day of getting it to Marshmallow the latest version of Android.

Here are the specs for the Nexus 9

Display                                 8.9inch screen

Resolution                           2048 X 1536 pixels, 288 pixels per inch (PPI)

Storage                                16GB

Processor                            2.3 GHz

Ram                                     2 GB

Rear camera                        8-megapixel, flash – yes

Front Camera                      1.6 – megapixel

OS                                        Marshmallow

Battery Capacity                  6700mAh

Wi-Fi                                     802.11 a/b/g/n/ac

Weight                                  425g

So how does it compare with all my daily work tasks?

I use my Nexus every day for work tasks and handle all my social media feeds and emails. As well as typing up documents and accessing the cloud and Internet. I mean I REALLY use it from morning until night it is at my side and always on hand for all the various activities that I do throughout my working and leisure day.

The Nexus 7 handled all this and I never had an issue with performance and battery life. I do run a good number of apps and have multiple desktops. Which is why I find using a tablet computer so useful.
The Nexus 9 has handled all the work loading, but the main things that are different are: –

  • Battery life is less than good. It lasts less than a day, where my Nexus 7 lasted up to two days. The screen being larger seems to burn all the battery power. I have drained it down and recharged it to try and recondition the battery. It hasn’t helped. I find myself charging it during the day and every night. This is not so good and some online trawling of the net suggests that others are finding a similar thing. The upgrade to Marshmallow was supposed to help this but in fact I have noticed no improvement.
  • The screen sometimes also is sluggish and doesn’t respond. Not sure what is causing this.
    It is larger to carry but the pay-out is the better display and larger screen to display data and show clients what I want them to see.
  • It also has no QI charging, which I got into with my Nexus 7. Place it on a pad and off it goes and charges up, no fiddling with connectors anymore. Then they drop it. No fast charge either. Which I did not have with my Nexus 7 but hoped it might be a standard for Nexus devices. But seemingly not with HTC as they produced the Nexus 9 and my Nexus 7 was ASUS. Come on Google get it together.

I am going to continue using it and see how things go. If a cure or fix comes out for the battery life this would be great. So Google if you are reading this what you are up to and what can be done? Get in contact.

What about you guys?

How do you go mobile as they say and is the move to Phablet phones taking away the market for tablet computers? The sales statistics suggest that the sales of tablets has dropped due to phones becoming larger and I have met a few associates who have gotten rid of their tablet computers as their phones are large enough for them to do all they want to do.

What do you use and how is it performing?

Comment below and let us know.

Are you a trail blazer?

White noise

information overload

Information overload

With all the feeds we get each day, whether they be Tweets or Facebook or email or news reports or telephone calls or even, yes, even a face to face meeting. It has been occurring to me that there is a lot of interference and traffic out there. Noise if you like. A white noise that obscures sometimes some very useful and genuine comments and info.

Filtration

Do we have a good method of filtration going on or are we being guided by everything that comes our way. I liken it to a video I once saw of an ant colony and the researchers were studying their behaviour and determining how they travelled and how they made their way back to base.

Obviously, they must use sent trails and they lay them down and everyone else follows them as well. Hey presto a fool proof system to get about and never get lost. Being researchers off course they have to test their theories and after the ants had created their best laid plans and trails the researchers created a circle of scents and trails all around some ants to see how they coped and would they get past it. Basically they surrounded them, with too much information to process, or white noise if you like, and they could not get back to the well laid plan. They were too distracted and could not get outside the circle. They really needed a method of filtration to find that one trail and stay on it at all costs and against all other distractions.

Unsung heroes

I know in amongst everything that bombards me every day there are unsung heroes who have gems of wisdom to help me on my way and keep me focussed and yes I do get a bit overloaded and distracted, but I do try and say to myself, be yourself,  do not try and be anyone else. Because someone finds a certain feed or path the way to go that is maybe not for you and you need to focus and keep going on the scent trail that you have visualised an laid down.

So do we curb our appetite for more info?

So what are the solutions and how do we cope? Do we simply switch off a lot of the noise and, I know a lot of contacts who have done this and are off various platforms and are in their case thankful for it. Bur remember that is maybe not the best approach for you.

Can we apply a filter to things then and just cherry pick what we see and what we interact with?

Well, yes off course you can, but there is always the fear that you filter out and disconnect from some info and miss a great nugget of gold and a gem that would benefit your business and your life. But hey, that is always the case, sometimes it is about being in the right place at the right time. Don’t let anyone tell you anything else.

Conclusion

I have to admit and say that it is an every changing medium for me and do encourage business owners to use the social media platforms and get out there. Join groups and contribute to what people and business are saying. I am, always changing what I look at and I am rather pleased with myself in the fact that I am now not getting as worked up about some of the feeds. No longer thinking every post is a nugget of gold but applying my filters, where do I want to be and how am I getting there, who can help and what can I do to contribute. I seem to be surviving OK.

How do you cope with all the info and what are your measures of filtration? Would be good to see some comments here. I hope to learn a lot.

Big Brother is watching you and has been for a while

data capture nline

Big Brother is watching you

“‘Who controls the past’, ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'” Part 1, Chapter 3, pg. 37

The above is all inspired by someone the other day putting up a quote about the fact they had read 1984 and couldn’t believe how bad things were back then. Which made me laugh.

George Orwell’s 1984 was a book I read at high school for my higher in English prep. I was into science fiction and that genre and this sort off ticked some of those boxes. Obviously, it was about the state watching everything that the populate did and the perceived freedom people had was really not freedom at all. Orwell based it on the communist state in 1948 and his publisher’s enforced that he change the title to 1984 to make it more sellable and not offend the communist state of Russia.

History lesson over now, I came across a comic photo of Cortana, Microsoft’s office help in Windows 10, based on their game character from their Halo franchise. She will listen to you and answer questions to help. Similar to the OK Google in Android Google NOW.

But what are these helps really doing?

In the comic photo I saw that someone was happy that Cortana was there and they could chat, until eventually they had to switch Cortana off as she was so intrusive the person’s privacy ceased to exist.

My title is that Big Brother, the state in Orwell’s book that spied on everyone, has been watching us for a long time is in fact very true. Since the Internet has been around we have been spied on and catalogued in our preferences and histories and then email allowed us to be spied on. Particularly when it went online and became web based. Our shopping habits are spied on by supermarkets and stores, again with loyalty cards, as we scan, they record. We get vouchers emailed and sent through the post that give us money of the things we buy each week and use. Isn’t it amazing how do they know?

Should we be worried and concerned?

I meet a lot of different people in my IT travels from training to techie talks with geeks like myself. They range from the extremists who are so paranoid that they don’t use a lot of the available tech and systems that are around just now, to the laid back who use everything and deal with the aftermath.

I must admit to being nearer the second type of person with some criteria on what I would and would not do. I do love the latest tech and am slightly addicted to where it is taking us.

I would suggest to you that you are kept on record on the World Wide Web at a host of locations from government bodies who use your ID and unique NI number to shops and web page stored info. (Cookies and their friends). So worrying would be a fruitless activity and probably not get you any real benefit. Paranoia is the other extreme I find and people go to amazing lengths to avoid their real data and identity getting out there. It will get out there and to be honest it already is out there, is the amazing and correct answer to that.

Precautions

Of course I am not saying forget everything and lay abandon to any security and common sense, now that would be absurd, and I do meet that category of person as well.

We really need to use the latter, common sense and be aware of what we are doing.

  • Not clicking on everything that pops up.
  • Not filling in every form of filed that is asked of us by companies.
  • Unticking boxes that want to store our info and sent us data all the time.
  • Have all updates on and installed.
  • Make sure we have the latest and up to date Anti-Virus and spyware/Malware kit on our machines.
  • AND above all use common sense.

What are your thoughts on this and what do you do? Are you paranoid or very open?

Great to hear your comments.