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?

Sorry guys

A Happy New Year and all the very Tech for 2018

First, of all let us say sorry guys that we haven’t been around for a year. Our parent company I.T. Turning Point had to close and this left us in limbo. But our passion for all things tech and I.T. is still intact.

So a year to the last post we are back and will be posting again here. A Happy New Yera to you all and I hope this year is filled with tech and technological advances for yourself and for your organisation.

We are going to look at all things tech and how they are advancing so keep your eyes peeled and ask us stuff to inspire us to go and look out the answers for you.

So instead of HEy Google, say Hey Techpoint, tell us about this, and we will try and give it our best shot. We are restructuring during this year and things hopefully will settle into a pattern.

Take care and hope to hear from you soon.

I’ve Upgraded……..but which bit of tech?

boxed smart watch

I’ve upgraded

Christmas time always brings me some form of new tech, or at least I hope it does. Last year, yes it was last year already, I decided to put a money present to use by upgrading my Android wear. Now there is a lot of speculation about wearable and the lack of uptake etc. so read on and get my views on it and why I have stayed with it.

How it all began?

Well, I have covered this really in my blog about getting the LG G watch and using it to see if it could better my work and life tech experience. You can check it out here. This was always a first generation watch and was expensive when it first came out, but also rather limited in what it could do, still as per my blogs on the usage of it I found that it became part of my everyday activities and it was now something that when my watch strap broke on one occasion I felt I couldn’t function as well without it. So it became a part of how I handled my daily tech and all the emails and social media I deal with.

So why Upgrade?

I did, however, realise that it was limited and the next generation of devices was out there and when funding permitted I would upgrade to a more recent version of Android Wear and see what the new features would offer me. My son had told me he had researched and ordered the Huawei W1 watch. I had known about this watch but the price was very high when launched and not something I would invest in. However checking the deals around Christmas I found it at a reasonable price and purchased it. To the chants of you copied me, dad. (OH, well)

December excitement

I was lucky enough that the supplier delivered before Christmas and I have been using it for around 3 weeks now. I opened and set it up quickly and hence no unboxing video, but the photos show the impressive box and the kit inside. It felt like quality indeed.

Specifications

Here are the specs for the watch: –

Body 42x42x11.3mm
Build Stainless Steel (Cold forged 316L)

IP67 certified – dust and water resistant

Water-resistant up to 1 metre and 30 minutes

18mm straps

Display AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours

1.4inch

400×400 pixels (286 ppi density)

Multitouch: -Yes

Sapphire crystal glass

Always on screen

Platform Android Wear OS
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8926 Snapdragon 400
CPU Quad Core 1.2Ghz Cortex – A7
GPU Adreno 305
Memory 4Gb internal, 512Mb RAM
Sound Vibration, MP3, WAV Ringtones

Loudspeaker: – Yes

COMMS WLAN 802.11 b/g

Bluetooth V4.1, LE

Features Accelerometer, gyro, heart rate, barometer

Messaging: – SMS, Email, IM

Fast Charging

MP3 Player

Photo Viewer

Voice dial/ Commands

Battery Li-Ion 300 mAh battery

Talk Time: – 48 hours (mixed usage)

Misc. Various strap options available on purchase.

 

These knock the first generation LG G watch into a cocked hat so my excitement is beyond bounds. I know I am a GEEK.

What do you get?

The box as you can see is amazing and reflects the top end price.

smart watch opened up 1

smart watch opened up 2Inside this nice looking package was the following: –

  • Outer shell box with all the labels and tech details
  • Inner box with spring loaded flip open lid
  • “Timeless design, smart within”, as the tagline in the lid.
  • Top watch mounting padded shelf, Watch was fastened to this with cover on screen for protection, this was in the removable inner section and had two metal pins to remove shelf from box
  • Inner section now has a tab the lifts the small container holding the handbook and manual
  • Under this is the charger and charging cable and base, all in white.
  • The whole package felt of quality and the weight was quite substantial, even when empty.

smart watch unboxed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ordered the leather strap and wore this until my metal replacement arrived after Christmas. So now have two straps that are very easily changeable due to the small pins with pull sections allowing quick strap changes. Even this is a clever idea.

strap removal pins

Easy strap removal pins

Usage

The watch had to be charged and, I have, to be honest, the claim of fast charging is amazing, it charges in no time at all. I then went through connecting it to my phone via Android Wear and this was painless and happened easily. I had disconnected my old LG G watch and asked it to forget it. Then paired up the new watch. All went well. The watch itself comes with 48 watch faces to choose from so no hunting initially for a new watch face, my LG had a rectangular face so now needed circular one. Some lovely build in options….

watch face

It works a treat and gives me the extra options of heart rate monitor and answering phones calls on the watch not even needing to remove my phone from my pocket. To be honest, I have only done this once so far at home, but it went well and I could hear the caller and they could hear me. Useful indeed. I and my phone were in different rooms.

The other thing is that this particular model is one that Android Wear have been using to create Android Wear 2 that is due to launch this year. The rumours say this will create much more functionality and allow you to do even more things. I am now a convert to using a smart watch and think that I will always use one unless the whole project gets dropped. I now glance at it every time an email or post comes in and can vet if it needs an instant response or can be dealt with later. I can mute my phone from my watch and even locate my phone from my watch. Open the camera on my phone and see it on my watch for photos etc. I am still finding all the things I can do but I feel this has been a great investment and look forward to the things I will find over the coming months and the upgrade to Android Wear 2 when it comes out.

Wearable tech what are your thoughts?

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?

Nexus 5X: – Usage update

Well, hi again folks, just thought I would pop by and give an update on my usage of the Nexus 5X as per my previous post. Seen here.

General usage

Well, the general usage has been Ok with no real major issues that have caused much of a problem. So comparing it to my usage of the Nexus 5 over the last two years, there has been nothing I have had to cope with that is out there, so to speak.

Any Problems

The one problem I have encountered and only on one occasion was that the rear camera refused to focus and was making lovely clicking noises whilst trying to do this. I did the usual research online to find that I was not alone and others had experienced this problem as well. I had restarted the phone and the issue has gone and I have never experienced it again. But very puzzling with an online mix of, get a replacement to don’t worry if restarting it has cured it all will be fine. I have decided to monitor and see if it reoccurs and if it does a replacement would be in order I feel.

Battery life can also be an issue and I have noticed that it is not as good as my Nexus 5 and that had a reputation of battery burn. So again recharging when at my desk and then just keeping an eye on it as the day progresses when I am out and about.

I did get a charging pack a year or so ago that allows me to charge my tablet and phone when out and about. Again I had to buy a USB C cable for this as it did not have one.

The other thing I found whilst researching online about the Nexus 5X was that the power charger supplied maybe issuing a charge all the time and may not be stopping when the device does not ask for any. This is called intelligent charging and in some cases the Nexus 5X charger doesn’t act intelligently. I haven’t tested this out in any way as I am not sure how to at this stage. The video I watched online was a chap that does this for a living and had built kit to test these out and asked you to check your own one. Of course, most people won’t be able to.

Conclusion at this stage

My conclusion at this stage, which is still early days of usage is that I am happy with the phone and the amount I can get done, the most useful thing is the fingerprint scanner for the very pickup and unlock facility. Negative on this however, would be putting the phone away in my pocket and accidently touching the sensor on the rear and unlocking the phone to put it in my pocket. Done that a few times. Not a good thing.

Other than that, a good phone, at a great price when I bought it and will hopefully keep me going for a while.

Will try and do some features on the camera and other functions as I encounter their usage.

Up the Alphabet we go.

N9 review photoI thought I had finished with my last post about the Nexus 9, but I decided to sign up for the Google Beta testing of the new Android N on the N9.

So, I duly signed up and downloaded the update, with the occasional warning about it being unstable and not a finished product. Hey, I felt the N9 was running so poorly anyway that it couldn’t get any worse.

I was wrong!

I was very wrong and it can and has gotten worse. N downloaded and installed an optimised. All the standard stuff we have now become familiar with when upgrading or installing Android.

I read all the extras that were available via N and thought they would be good to try out. However my N9, (Thanks HTC for getting it so wrong with this product), had its own ideas in mind.

I had previously mentioned the various problems I was having with the N9 in my previous reviews and had suggested you give it a wide berth. My opinion is still the same.

So what has got worse?

Well, where do I start? Seriously, all looked well and the minor changes to layout were there and all seemed Ok.

Now, after using it for a few slow, very slow weeks, some apps are unstable and not happy at all and crash with an on-screen message asking if I want to close or wait.

The screen changes orientation at will and then logs out of the desktop and you have to log in again. This is so annoying when you are not even touching it and watching a video and when you log in again it has closed it down.

Battery life seems to be very poor and remember it was not good before this improvement.

I am a fan

You wouldn’t think I was a fan of Nexus devices with these posts, but I am and would have a nexus device tomorrow again. Not a N9 however and am looking at a Pixel C.

I think Google could do so much better here and have lost the plot on the N9 and the Pixel C is too heavily priced at present taking away from the ethos that was there when I bought my N7 way back. Low price and highest spec on the market. Come on Google get the focus back to the users and the loyal fan base and get Nexus range back on track and support the people who are supporting you.

So, as far as going up the alphabet, I am sure that Android N will be great when launched and I am only experiencing the bugs that will be ironed out before it does. I do operate very mobile in my business and private usage just now and feel slightly out on a limb on which device to purchase next. One that has raw Android and is cost effective.

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?