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  • Tile Mate

    TileLogoI’m always forgetting where I’ve put things

    Keys, phone and wallet are the usual suspects but I’ll frequently pick something up, then put it down and then have no idea where it’s gone.

    So when I first came across Tile Mate it seemed to have been made just for me!

    Tile Mate is a little device that attaches to your key ring primarily. Though it could attach to a bag or anything really.

    TileMate1Then you register it with an app on your phone and between Bluetooth and GPS it’ll help you locate the approximate area where the device is located.

    If you still can’t find it then you can “ring” it. A little speaker plays a ringtone (there are four to choose from)

    If you still can’t find it after that (as in you’ve genuinely lost it) then you can also call on the Tile community to help find it. Once your mark something as lost if your tile comes within proximity of someone else’s app it’ll let them know.

    As well as the key ring form factor they have Tile Slim which is credit card sized. Perfect for wallets!

    In additional there are various accessories used for helping you to attach to different items. It’s not just for bags and keys.

    There are also a couple of extra features that are pretty useful.

    If you can’t find your phone. Double tap the button on the front of the Tile and if it’s within Bluetooth range it’ll make the phone ring. It’s like the “find my phone” features most phones have.

    You can also share the location of a Tile with someone. The website says that’s useful for “shared cars, keys or bags” (though I’m not really sure about that one!)  

    As well as the “classic tile mate” and the “slim” there is a Pro series

    This is made up of the “sport” version, which is a little more rugged. You could attach this to a sports bag which usually gets throw around a bit more.

    TileSport 

    And the “style version” which is for attaching to purses and handbags. (clichéd?)

    TileStyle

    So, any downsides?

    Price

    A single Tile classic is between £20-£25 depending on where you shop. You can buy them in multi-packs which makes them a little cheaper.

    The Pro series are around £30

    Slim is between £25 and £35

    I have mixed feelings on this. Your own opinion will vary but that’s a little but more expensive than I was initially willing to pay for one of these. However, having since received one as a gift I will likely get the slim version for my wallet!

    Battery

    The devices aren’t user serviceable. Once the battery dies that’s it.

    Tile will guarantee it’ll last for a full year but after that it lasts as long as it lasts. That could be a day, or even another year!

    They do have a “reTile” program. You send the tile back and they’ll sell you another one at a discount.

    Couple of ways to look at this really.

    You need the Tile to work. No point attaching it to your keys and then the one time you actually, totally lose your keys you need to know the Tile is in perfect working order. So I understand the need for them to have some control over how long it’s used for.

    But you could also argue it’s a good way to get some money out of you every 12 months. If you buy several of these the total amount you pay out starts to add up over the years

    In summary

    It’s a really good bit of kit and I’ve certainly benefited from having it.

    I know that I’m focussing on the price quite a bit. Primarily it’s due it being an ongoing cost. I think it it lasted two years instead of one

    Could you use one of these?

  • Geekmas 2013

    My family are always pretty good at getting me great gifts (an Amazon wish list is great “inspiration”) and this year I was pretty pleased!

    Star Wars – Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side

    A very fancy case reveals a book that I can only describe as a kind of Sith Bible.

    Here’s the description from Amazon

    The Sith have existed in the galaxy for centuries, lurking, waiting for their chance to seize control. As various Sith Lords emerged and rose to power, they recorded their thoughts, exploits, and plots for Sith control of the galaxy. When they fell, their knowledge vanished with them forever. Or so it seemed. . . .
    Over the years, these writings were passed among numerous Sith and Jedi, who added their comments to the pages. In his quest for domination, Darth Sidious tracked down what remained of five pivotal Sith texts written by his most powerful predecessors. Then, drawing on the knowledge within the compiled pages, he wrote a sixth text—his own manifesto. Together, these documents, along with several collected objects associated with them, shed light on the philosophy, achievements, and failures of the Sith Order. For years, this collection remained hidden, existing as legend only. But now all who are tempted may unlock the Book of Sith and delve into the dark side. . . .

    Raspberry Pi

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    This credit card sized computer is a really interesting bit of kit. I wanted one when they were first released but when the initial rush caused the stock to vanish I’ll confess I didn’t get around to going back for one. I spent a couple of hours with my niece and nephew when I first got it out of the box putting a little cartoon together in Scratch. I’ve got a couple of ideas for projects I’d like to tackle with it!

    Star Trek: Enterprise – The Full Journey

     

    Like any self respecting geek I love a bit of Trek! Enterprise is the one series though that I’ve not seen anywhere near enough of. Thankfully this box set means I can put that right!

    F1 Race Stars (XBox 360)

    I saw this at EuroGamer Expo a couple of years ago and liked the look of it. It plays a little like Mario Kart and is good fun as long as you’re not expecting it to be the next Forza!

    Did you get anything shiny?

  • Lumie Bodyclock Starter 30

    Lumie Box

    I’ve had my Lumie wake up light for a couple of weeks now and since I’d tried to do as much research as I could before getting this I thought I’d share my experience in case it’s of use to anyone else.

     

     

     

     

     

    First up what is it?

    Quite simply it’s an alarm clock with a light built-in. Half an hour before the alarm goes off the light very gradually comes on getting brighter and brighter. It’s intended to simulate a sunrise. You can also have an audible alarm for the prescribed time. I’ve got this option turned on as the light itself isn’t enough for me. Thankfully the noise it makes isn’t quite as jarring as with my “regular” alarm clock.

    Inside the box you get the alarm itself, a bulb and the instructions.

    lumie contents

    Initial setup is easy enough. Take the top off, screw the bulb in, put the top back on and plug it in.

    Lumie bulb

    Using the clock is straight forward.

    The + and – buttons are used to increase and decrease the brightness. Pressing the middle button activates the alarm program. If you’ve got the light on at the time it starts a 30 minute countdown and slowly lowers the brightness simulating a sunset.  

    When the light is turned on there are some slits in the back of the light cover to help simulate rays of sunshine. I’ve got mine tucked into a corner so the effect isn’t quite as dramatic as it could be if it was against a big empty wall.

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    Changing the options is reasonably straight forward. You hold the middle button until the display flashes and you can then press the button again to cycle through. The + and – buttons change each option.

    It did take me a little while to realise you can’t change the setting while the alarm program is on!

    Easy enough on the whole though.

    This is the entry level model. The more expensive models give you more options such as the ability to control the amount of time it takes to brighten instead of the default thirty minutes. I’m happy enough with the model I’ve got though.

    That’s the practical stuff out of the way. If that’s all you were interested in thanks for reading Winking smile.

    You might be wondering why I felt the need to get this?

    The first and most obvious reason is sleep.

    Sleep is something I’ve struggled with for years. Getting to sleep, staying asleep and waking up in the morning are all very difficult for me and have been for as long as I can remember. I’ve tried various things down the years but it’s just something I’ve learnt to deal with. (which isn’t without it’s benefit, sleepless nights with two kids were just normal to me!)

    However, this year I actually realised that on the whole I’d sleep pretty well during the summer.

    This brings me onto the second reason, winter.

    I really dislike the winter in the UK. The cold, wet and dark make me miserable and it was only this year I joined the dots to realise that my problems with sleep seem to be much worse once summer finishes.

    This lead me to look into Seasonal Affective Disorder (sometimes called the Winter Blues)

    Looking down the list of symptoms highlighted a lot of things that do seem to affect me that I’d not really considered as part of something bigger.

    Now…I’m not normally one for self diagnosis after reading something on the Internet but I figured that getting the clock wouldn’t do any harm just to see what happens. At the very worse it would mean I wouldn’t have to turn the light on in the morning!

    A few weeks in I have a couple of things to report.

    It hasn’t made all that much difference to how easy it is to get up. It’s just not bright enough to wake me up on it’s own. I’ve had to use the audible alarm too.

    However there have been two noticeable differences.

    Firstly, I am actually sleeping better. I’ll know a little bit more as the months go by but I’m waking less in the night and significantly I’m actually remembering dreams. This is hard to describe unless your really sleep deprived and have experienced it! Dreams are something that I’m not usually aware of. I’m not saying I never have them but I very rarely wake up knowing I’ve had a dream.

    Last night I dreamt I’d won a million pounds on a scratch card….

    The most important difference is how my mornings go.

    Until I started using the clock I’d wake up with what I can only describe as low energy levels. It sets up an awful start for the day and comes with various problems around mood, and motivation. It’s not something I can easily describe but it’s more than just tiredness.

    Now I have a new found alertness when starting out. It doesn’t mean I’m suddenly not tired but the huge feeling of lethargy just doesn’t seem to be there anymore.

    I’m pleasantly surprised as I’ll be honest I was a little sceptical about the whole SAD thing and wasn’t sure if a light would make any difference. 

    I’m going to give it until the new year and take a look at a proper light therapy lamp. Sunrise simulators are not specifically used to treat SAD. They can help with some of the sleep related symptoms but actual treatment is with a specific type of light. I’ll likely talk to my doctor too.(you know, because of that whole self diagnosis thing!)

    I got my lamp from Amazon but they are available from lots of different places.

    Further reading:

    The Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (SADA)

    sad.org.uk (has a list of various approved manufacturers)

  • Kit: Power Scout Portable Battery Charger – Review

    There is nothing worse than having a mobile phone run out of power and you’re nowhere near a plug socket. This happens to me quite a lot when I’m having particularly busy days so I was very pleased when MobileFun asked if I’d like to take a look at the Kit Power Scout Portable Battery Charger.

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    The device itself is around the size of a portable hard drive so easy enough to keep in a bag or carry in a coat pocket and isn’t particularly heavy. I was able to go out for the day with it tucked inside my coat pocket and didn’t notice I’d got it with me and was glad I’d got with me by the time I’d got to the pub at the end of the day as my phone was on it’s last legs. 

    It comes with a regular micro USB cable and an iPhone specific cable.

    On the front is a status LED and a push button.

     

    All you have to do to get it working is connect the device and press the button. Nice and simple!

    The charger has three ports, two are outputs and the other one is for actually charging the battery via USB.

    Charging is pretty quick when connecting to the mains but it worked equally well when connected to a PC.

    WP_000519 

    The curly cable is useful as it helps keep the bulk down but without sacrificing the length of the cable.

    The instructions included indicated the 2.1A port should be used for charging larger devices such as an iPad with the other port for phones. I couldn’t get my mobile to charge with the 1A port but it was more than happy in the other port.

    The instructions also say the 6600mAh 3.1 Amp battery can charge a smart phone approximately 4 times and a iPad up to 80% in addition to holding it’s charge for up to 90 days. Bold claims but my experiences so far have been very good. I’ve used the charger to breathe life into my phone as well as my Kindle.

    Not much more to say. It does exactly what it says on the tin and isn’t in anyway an inconvenience. I took with me on a trip to Dublin recently and it was great knowing I wouldn’t have to worry about running my phone down which happens all too easily when taking photos, looking for directions and general browsing when doing the tourist thing.

    This particular device is £39.95 but having made full use of it recently it’s worth it. There are plenty of alternatives in different sizes and prices but for my usage this is a good fit.

  • Review: MU Foldable USB Charger

    Sometimes people solve problems with ideas that are so simple you wonder why no-one ever thought of it before. The MU Foldable USB charger is a classic example of that and when the nice people at MobileFun asked if I’d be interested in a taking a look at their phone chargers and I saw the MU was on the list I jumped at it.

    So what’s the problem they are trying to solve?

    Plugs.

    Specifically plugs for chargers (phone, kindle, mp3 player, etc).

    Have you ever tried to carry a charger in your pocket? The pins on the plug stick in everything and the whole thing is is so bulky you end up with lumps in places you probably would rather there weren’t. This means chargers are usually stuffed in bags but if you do a lot of travelling you’ll know bag space comes at a premium so having silly shaped chargers isn’t helpful.

    First thing though the packaging!

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    It’s very stylish packaging and the sort of thing you’d expect from a high end gadget such as a mobile phone or a tablet.

    It makes just unboxing the thing an “experience” but if you’re reinventing the plug buy ativan australia then way not add a bit of jazz?

     

     

     

     

    Packaging aside however, what’s different about this?

    It’s a plug…that folds!!

    Here’s how it looks when it comes out of the box.

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    You then open it up and rotate the bottom set of pins.

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    And there you have it!

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    Just a really simple idea that’s executed very well.

    The only real downside with it is that it’s not intended for “high ampere devices such as tablets” so it wouldn’t be the complete solution while on the road.

    MobileFun have them available for £19.99 which is a lot of money on the face of it but if you consider you can get a Belkin USB AC Charger / UK Plug for about £9 (and it doesn’t fold!)  so you may think it’s worth the extra money for the convenience.

    The manufacturers website is here and has much better pictures than the ones I’ve taken!

  • Internet of Things Midlands Meetup Number 1

    The Internet of Things (IoT from herein!) is one of things in the technology world that has been on the verge of exploding over the last few years.

    Finding a definition for the IoT isn’t all that easy to pin down, in the same way that “The Cloud” has a ton of different ways of being described but in short it’s used to describe the process of connecting everyday “things” to the Internet.

    Why would you want to do that?

    What if you’re fridge could tell you were low on milk and automatically order you some more?

    What if your alarm clock could check local traffic reports and wake you up a little early if it thought you were going to be late for an important meeting?

    What if you’re house could tell you were on the way back from work and could turn the oven and start cooking your evening meal?

    These are just one or two examples (more here) and the technology for these sort of applications already exists, today!

    So to that end the International Institute for Product and Service Innovation (IIPSI) are looking to kick-start some growth in the Midlands region around this topic and are hosting the first coming together of companies in the area who can collaborate and explore opportunities.

    This event will be an informal ‘Show and Tell’ event, featuring short talks from those innovating within the ‘Internet of Things’. 

    Speakers in place already confirmed:

    • Maurizio Pilu, Lead Technologist (Digital) & Programme lead for the Internet of Things at the Technology Strategy Board. “What is the Internet of Things?”
    • Alyson Fielding, MD of Pyuda Ltd. Gesture controlled, connected Books.
    • Ben Wood, Technology Transfer Specialist at WMG. 3D printing and low volume manufacturing.
    • John Shermer, MD of JSJS Designs Ltd. Using occupancy data for the greater good.
    • Miles Hodkinson, CTO of Cicesco plc. Wireless comms options for your IoT products.

    So if this sounds like it’ll be your cup of tea then register on the Meetup page.

    The event is at the University of Warwick on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    See you there!

  • Review: Snugg Kindle 4 Case

    Following my post about my recent Kindle purchase I was asked if I’d review a case for that’s available at the The Snugg website.

    Case Packing

    The case is made of black leather which makes it sturdy enough to keep your Kindle safe. The inside is made from a soft fabric which should keep the screen safe. After the first day I had to give the screen a wipe as it was covered in “fluff” but after that is was fine so I’d put that down to it being new.

    All of this doesn’t add too much bulk to the overall size of the Kindle either which can only be a good thing.

    There is a strap that clips onto the front to keep the case closed when it’s not in use.

    Case Closed

    In terms of features?

    The bottom straps are fixed so it holds the device in place pretty firmly so there is no danger of it dropping out. The elasticated straps at the top make it easy to put in and out.

    There is also a large elastic strap to slide your hand into when the case is open and folded around the back to give that extra bit of grip when you’re holding the Kindle.

    Case Open

    You can also clip the front cover into a slot on the back which turns the case into a stand for hands free reading! A quick change in device settings to rotate the screen obviously helps here. You do have to be careful not to make it topple over but it’s a nice touch and could be useful on long train journeys.

    Stand Front View

    Stand Rear View

    Overall it’s a decent case. I haven’t used the hand strap at the back all that much but in all honesty that’s because the case doesn’t add that to size so it’s still comfortable to hold.

    You can get the case from The Snugg website. It’s currently £24.99.

  • Putting a Katinkas Kaboom Bluetooth Speaker Into Pairing Mode

    I reviewed the Katinkas Kaboom Bluetooth speaker recently and said I’d write a quick post on putting it into pairing mode as I had to figure it out myself.

    In the interests of trying new things I thought I’d add a video to this as well. A picture is worth a thousand words and all that!

    It’s pretty simple to do.

     

    Find the power button.

    Hold the button down to turn the speaker on. You’ll hear a beep and the lights will flash on red and then blue. 

    Keep the button held down. You’ll hear a second, different beep and the light will pulse much faster (blue).

    It’s now in pairing mode.

    Your device (phone/tablet/laptop) will now be able to find the speaker when you use the Bluetooth pairing options to add a device, it’ll show up as “Katinkas”. There isn’t a passcode or anything so it’ll just connect straight away.

    Done!

  • Revisiting The Kindle

    I mentioned recently that my house had been burgled. One of the items taken was my beloved Kindle. Two years ago I had a hard time trying to decide if a Kindle was for me. I took the plunge and it’s decision I certainly didn’t regret. My initial fears were unfounded. I still read good old fashioned dead trees and my Kindle complements them very nicely and the convenience is hugely helpful. My Kindle goes everywhere with me.

    I tried to last a couple of days without it after it was taken while I dealt with the insurance company but I couldn’t take it anymore so went on a shopping trip to replace it.

    This led me to another tough choice.

    Two years ago the only decision you had to make was how important 3g was to you as there were only two models. With 3g and without. I plumped for the 3g edition and while it’s not something I used extensively I was thankful for it on the occasions I needed it.

    Fast forward to now and there are several models to choose from which all differ from the original model. I popped into my local Waterstones that had the full range to try out. (How ironic, considering how the eBook is supposed http://hesca.net/soma/ to be end of traditional bookshops!)

    The model line up in summary:

    Kindle

     

    Entry level model. Keyboard has gone (across the range) which makes for a smaller device without sacrificing screen size. Wireless only. No text to speech or mp3 playback.

     

     

     

     

     

    Kindle Touch

    Controlled via touch screen instead of buttons on the device. Wireless only, Text to speech & mp3 playback, automatic language translation. Slightly bigger and heavier than the entry model.

     

     

     

    Kindle Paperwhite

    Provides same functionality as the Touch but with a backlit, higher resolution screen. Better battery life and some other software features such as the ability to read comics more easily and “Time to read” which will let you know how much of a chapter you have left based on your reading speed. Only model that also comes with a 3g option

     

    That’s a pretty interesting line up and certainly more to think about than first time around. I was gutted the keyboard has gone. Like the 3g functionality I didn’t use it often but it was nice to know it was there where I did need it.

    I went with the entry model in the end and there were lots of factors involved in making the decision. 

    I tried the touch screen on both the touch and the PaperWhite and I really didn’t like it. It’s possible I may have gotten used to it over time but the buttons on the side better worked for me. The screen on the PaperWhite is really nice but again I’ve been getting along quite fine at the existing resolution and I don’t see the backlight as some essential for me as the only time I’d need it would be for reading in bed – and I do that with the bedside lamp anyway. If your significant other is easily disturbed by that sort of thing it could be very useful instead of having an light clipped to the side of your device. The final thing the PaperWhite had going for it that I’d consider was the 3g option. Unfortunately it was too big a leap in price from the entry level to the 3g capable PaperWhite for me and with it so easy to share an Internet connection from my phone or from a dedicated device such as a MiFi it’s not worth the additional cost for what I need.

    So now I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks I’m pretty happy. The smaller size and weight is welcome and much easier for carrying around as it’s around the same size as a paperback only much much thinner. The back of the device has a rubberised type covering to help with grip when holding which is a nice touch instead of shiny plastic. The page turn buttons are taking a little getting used to. I’d been so conditioned to their size and push action I sometimes need have to a second attempt at turning the page! The lack of a keyboard was frustrating in the first few days. Entering account details and WiFi passwords using the buttons was highly irritating but it’s not something I’ll need to do frequently.

    Amazon make it really easy to get at your already purchased content so I was back to reading my books really quickly. I didn’t even have to worry about losing my page!

    Do you have one of the other models? Why did you go with that particular model?

    Let me know if the comments section please!

  • Gadget Review–The Fridge Friend

    Fridge Friend 1

    I was recently asked by Carla at IdeasByNet if I’d take a look at a “Fridge Friend”.

    Since I’m always interested in new gadgets I was more than happy to take a look!

    The Fridge Friend allows you to record short video messages and has a magnet in the back so that it will easily stick to your fridge (the clue is in name!)

    The main idea is that you can replace the traditional “can you pick up some milk” post-it notes you may leave for another member of your family.

    You could also leave yourself a message telling you that you’ll only regret eating the bar of chocolate that’s on the top shelf of the fridge unless you go and do some exercise first.

    Or if you’re just a child at heart then leaving silly noises for other family members to discover is another option (I’ve not done that…honest)

    It’s a doddle to use. Stick a couple of AAA batteries in, put it on something made of metal and turn it on!

    There are only two buttons, on/off/play and record/stop/delete and once you’ve recorded a message the power light will occasionally blink to get your attention. It’ll allow you to keep 15 records that are up to 80 seconds in length.

    While using the device there are various on-screen icons to let you know what you’re doing. A big red light in corner when you’re recording. A trash can to indicate which button is to delete, etc. I thought this was a pretty nice touch as I’ve used other devices where you have to memorise the instructions to figure out how to do anything. .

    It’s not badly styled so doesn’t stick out in a big way and the magnet keeps it in place nicely.

    The video quality is actually pretty good in natural lighting which brings me onto the first of two things I think could be improved.

    Under the right lighting conditions, which in my house meant daylight, the image quality was really good. However, the quality was significantly different when it was dark outside and I was using just the kitchen light. It’s possible this might change with a better light as I’m using an energy saver bulb so it’s not all that bright. (where are those affordable LED lights!?)

    If I was going to be picky about anything else it would be that the sound quality could be better. This could be because the speaker is on the back and sounds a bit muffled. It’s not so bad that you can’t tell what’s being said but you do sometimes have to listen carefully.

    Both of things things aren’t a huge problem for what the device is. It’s not a media tablet designed to play high definition audio! It’s just meant for quick and easy memo style videos and it does that just fine.

    They RRP for £24.99 and if you’re interest in one the contact details are on the IdeasByNet home page.

    ** Usual Review Disclaimer – IdeasByNet kindly sent me one of these to try free of charge **