How to Save Money On Technology

One of the reasons why life gets more and more expensive as time goes on is because new things are invented, and we all want them. Take technology. You could live much cheaper in, say, 1950, but there were no laptops, smartphones, or tablets to buy. Now, they’re more or less essential purchases, at least one of them, anyway. But alas, needing technology to be a part of society does have one obvious drawback: tech is expensive. As such, it’s important that we’re finding ways to keep costs to a minimum. We take a look at a few tried and tested ways to do this below.

How to Save Money On Technology

What Do You Need?

There are a million and one pieces of tech that you could buy, but in reality, you don’t need the bulk of what’s released. In fact, you probably need very little. For example, some people close to a month’s worth of their wages on an Apple laptop, and then just use it to browse the web and watch videos. They’ve paid far too much, because they don’t need all of the power that the machine offers. So before you invest in a new piece of technology, ask yourself if you really need it, or if you’re just being attracted by the shiny and gimmicky features.

Getting the Best Deal

Like everything else, there are good and bad deals out there, on everything. Indeed, if you’re only looking at one shop when it comes to buying your technology, then it’s probable that you’re paying over the odds. No matter what you’re looking for, there’ll be a wide range of prices and payment options available. Look at using a website that offers a mobile phone comparison before you upgrade your smartphone, so that you can be sure that you’re A. getting the phone that’s right for you, and B. no paying more than you should be. You can save a lot of money just by doing a little bit of research. 

Taking Care

If you’re going to invest in an expensive piece of technology, then it’s in your best interests to look after it. If you don’t, then you’ll only end up having to buy another product soon than you’d like. With your phone, get a protective cover, and avoid throwing it around carelessly — the same applies for your laptop and tablet, too. You can keep your devices in pretty close to mint condition with a little bit of care. 

Selling Old Tech

It pays to be a hoarder. You might feel emotionally attached to your old phone, but just think about how much money you’re losing out on just by keeping it in a drawer. Some devices hold their value incredibly well, but even items that are past their best can still bring in some much-needed cash, which you can then use to put towards the cost of your new device. Take a look at selling on eBay and Gumtree. Better to have the cash than a device that you know, realistically, you’ll never use again. 

The Gadget Man – Episode 146 – Retro Gadget of the Week – Part 10 – Nintendo Game Boy

In the final episode of my Retro Gadget of the Week, I bring you the Nintendo Game Boy.

This is an exclusive episode which was never broadcast. I’d like to be able to say it was too hot for broadcast, but in reality, it never made it because of time constraints on BBC Radio Suffolk. But here it is in all its glory, exclusively available to your pleasure!

Nintendo Game Boy in front of Assorted Games Cartridges
Nintendo Game Boy in front of Assorted Games Cartridges

Nintendo Game Boy

The Game Boy was an 8-bit portable games console designed and built by Nintendo, it was released in Japan in 1989 and then 12 months later made it to the USA and Europe.

The console featured a green, greyscale screen, but excelled in battery life against its arch-rivals, the Sega Game Gear and Atari Lynx. Along with an extremely durable case, both these features went towards beating it’s technically more advanced rivals.

The Game Boy came with the puzzle game, Tetris with later bundles including the legendary Super Mario Land, both were excellent games with fabulous soundtracks which didn’t become irritating.

The original Game Boy was a smash hit with gamers and went on to sell almost 65 million units. Nintendo kept gamers attention by releasing backwardly compatible upgraded units such as the Game Boy Color, Game Boy Light and Game Boy Advance.

As will other format wars, the gadget you least expect to win on paper is the victor and the Game Boy was certainly that, a truly great retro gadget which deserves to round off this series.

If you haven’t already, listen in to the stream as it contains 6 minutes of discussion about the Game Boy and its rivals and a little bit of history behind them.

Thanks to Matt Marvell at BBC Radio Suffolk for hosting my segment for the last 12 weeks and for producing this final one.

Don’t forget to Like, Share, Subscribe and Comment!!!

Gadget Man Episode 145 – Electric Car Update?

So what has been happening in the Electric Car market over the past couple of years?

Well, since my slew of Electric and Hybrid car reviews a couple of years back and our mega-exciting East-West Road Trip in the Tesla Model S 100D, we’ve been quiet on that front.  The absolute opposite of what has been happening in the EV marketplace.

I spoke to Graham on BBC Radio Suffolk about what’s happening with regard to charge points and speed of charging, you can listen in to the audio stream above to find out more.

However, something super-exciting is happening in motorsport. Now that Formula-E fully electric car racing has established itself, it’s now time to turn up the power even more and with a new sport created by the father of Formula-E.

Extreme E – A radical new racing series. 

Extreme E is a radical new racing series, which will see electric SUVs competing in extreme environments around the world which have already been damaged or affected by climate and environmental issues. The five-race global voyage highlights the impact of climate change and human interference in some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems and promotes the adoption of electric vehicles to help preserve the environment and protect the planet.

Extreme E is operated in association with Formula E – the organiser of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. Extreme E is committed to sustainability and minimising environmental impact – as well as playing its part in rebuilding and restoring areas already impacted by climate change

A new breed of racing means a new breed of the motorcar.

The car, named ODYSSEY 21, will feature in Extreme E’s radical new racing series which will highlight the impact of climate change on some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems, and promote the adoption of electric vehicles to help preserve the environment and protect the planet.

So, that’s just one thing that’s happening in the electric car market.

Image Credit: Extreme E
Some Content: Extreme E

 

 

Gadget Man Episode 144 – Retro Gadget of the Week – Part 9 – 80s Home Computers

In our penultimate episode of Retro Gadget of the Week, we take a look at one the most revolutionary moments in computer history,  where an explosion of homegrown talent changed the very face of the personal computer marketplace and faced up directly the power of Silicon Valley with low-cost home computers designed in the UK

Commodore VIC20 Personal Computer
Commodore VIC20 Personal Computer, my first computer in all it’s 3.5k glory and 22 columns display

I was very lucky to receive a Commodore VIC20 personal computer for one of my birthdays in the 80s and proceeded to embrace coding head-on! Unlike other home computers, the VIC20 only supported it’s own tape drive, so instead of using our portable cassette play like my mates with Sinclair ZX Spectrums, I had to wait until I save enough money to buy my own Commodore Datasette.  This meant that every single program I wrote on the Vic was lost when the power was switched off, I either needed to write down my code or memorise it!

Alongside the American VIC20, a slew of other devices was released by UK based companies. The most famous was the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and ZX81. However, other notable UK made systems included the BBC Model B (built by Acorn), Dragon 32Amstrad CPC464, Apricot F1, Camputers Lynx, Gundy Newbrain, Jupiter Ace, Memotech MTX, Tangerine Oric 1 and many others.

Dragon 32
The Dragon 32 used the Motorola 6809 CPU

Almost all home computers of the era were based on the Zilog Z80 or MOS 6502 microprocessors with a small number going with the Motorola 6809 (which was more advanced that the Zilog and MOS processors).

The computers were generally self-contained devices, combining keyboards and computers as one with connectivity with colour or black and white TV’s which the user was generally expected to supply. Other peripherals were available such as tape drives, floppy disk drives, printers, joysticks and light-pens. Some models also supported plug-in cartridges which generally allowed the owner to play pre-programmed games.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum 16K 48K
The Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48K was the darling of the 80s market due to it’s price and range of games

The first to the market came with minute amounts of programmable RAM in the region of 1K to 5K, later entrants from the UK market settings with 16K or 32K with some stretching even further.  If I compare this to my Sony Xperia 1 mobile that I use today, this comes with 6 Gigabytes of RAM which is roughly 1,700,000 times more than my Commodore VIC!

Commodore 64 Personal Computer
The higher-end Commodore 64 Personal Computer with its sprite graphics, outstanding sound and award-winning games had a longer stay than most in the market
BASIC Code - Beginner's All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code
An example of Commodore BASIC Code – Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code

Almost every computer came preloaded the BASIC (Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) programming language which allowed a new breed of programmers to begin crafting their own code. Although the basics of each version of BASIC remained similar, that’s where it ended, different hardware and firmware made each machine incompatible with the other. Having a market saturated with different devices which didn’t speak the same dialect was the architect of their demise.

BBC Micro Model B
The BBC Micro Model B, built by Acorn as a joint venture with BBC. It found it’s way into schools as the staple computer for education.

After 3 to 4 years, the majority of these computers had become obsolete and fell out of use leaving the BBC Model B surviving through use in UK schools, colleges and universities and the Commodore 64 which had become a glorified games console rather than a way for young people to gain computer experience.

IBM PC AT
The IBM_PC_AT and it’s lower cost clones swooped in and stole the market

Along came affordable IBM PC clones from Dell, Compaq, AST and Gateway which WERE compatible with each other. Users began migrating across to these PC compatibles and the market was replaced at home and office. It was the end of an era.

Without the likes of Commodore or Acorn, my life would have been very different, so I have to tip my hat to the 80s Home Computer!.

Listen in to the podcast above to find out more and don’t forget to LIKE, SUBSCRIBE, SHARE and COMMENT!!!

See you next time

Matt
The Gadget Man
(Former Programmer of CBM Basic, BBC Basic, DataGeneral Basic, Testpoint Basix and Visual Basic)

Image Credits: Wikipedia

 

 

Gadget Man – Episode 143 – Green Manufacturing Using Bioplastics

All intelligent science is informing us that it is now past the time to start thinking about our planet and how we should be treating it before we reach its tipping point, the time when we can no longer begin to undo the damage that the human race has inflicted upon it.

Our oceans are strewn with millions of tons of plastic, so it is good to read that the big car manufacturers are stepping up to the plate and looking for alternative materials and techniques which avoid the continues use of non-biodegradable plastics which have been the go-to material for decades!.

Image Credit: By Siyuwj – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

In this podcast, I chat to James Hazell from BBC Radio Suffolk about bio-plastics and their growing use in the manufacture of car interiors.

It’s interesting listening, so don’t forget to tune in and Like, Subscribe and Comment.

 

Gadget Man – Episode 142 – Retro Gadget Part 8 – Nokia 3310 Mobile Phone

We’re now on the home straight with the Retro Gadgets Series and what better classic gadget to feature but the legendary Nokia 3310 mobile phone.

This is certainly a gadget that needs very little introduction, after being introduced in 2000, the handset went on to sell more than 126,000,000 units. What’s more, the handset continues to be used in many households today.  I previously discussed the handset in Episode 98 with James Hazell.

Nokia’s new owners HMD relaunched the device in 2017 with a homage to the original device, attempting to capture a new market of low-cost mobile phones. This too was covered in Episode 102 with Mark Murphy.

The Nokia 3310 launches in the UK
The Original Nokia 3310 and the the 2017 HMD Nokia 3310 reboot

Today, however, it was the turn of Matt Marvell to listen to my lament about this classic piece of technology history.

You can listen in to the recording by clicking at the top of the post. Don’t forget to LIKE, SUBSCRIBE, SHARE and most importantly COMMENT. I’ll catch up with you next time

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

Gadget Man – Episode 141 – Amazon Alexa is now providing NHS Medical Advice

The UK Government’s ‘Department for Health and Social Care’ have today announced a collaboration between themselves and Multi-Billion Dollar tech firm Amazon to provide NHS website information via the popular Alexa platform.

Amazon Dot running Alexa next to a pill
Amazon Dot running Alexa can now assist with NHS based medical information

With immediate effect, UK owners of the Alexa based devices such as the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot will now be able to request medical information by asking their devices.

This morning, I spoke to Mark Murphy from BBC Radio Suffolk about the devices and their potential uses in health. You can listen in via the link about. Don’t forget to Like, Share, Subscribe and Comment!!

The press release is as follows:-

Press Release – 10 July 2019

The NHS is collaborating with Amazon to provide reliable health information from the NHS website through voice-assisted technology. 

The technology will help patients, especially the elderly, blind and those who cannot access the internet through traditional means, to get professional, NHS-verified health information in seconds, through simple voice commands.

Amazon’s algorithm uses information from the NHS website to provide answers to voice questions such as:

  • “Alexa, how do I treat a migraine?”
  • “Alexa, what are the symptoms of flu?”
  • “Alexa, what are the symptoms of chickenpox”

The technology has the potential to reduce the pressure on the NHS and GPs by providing information for common illnesses.

Voice search has been increasing rapidly. By 2020, half of all searches are expected to be made through voice-assisted technology.

NHSX will look at ways of making more NHS services available to all patients through digital technology. The announcement supports the commitment in the NHS Long Term Plan to make more NHS services available digitally.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said:

We want to empower every patient to take better control of their healthcare and technology like this is a great example of how people can access reliable, world-leading NHS advice from the comfort of their home, reducing the pressure on our hardworking GPs and pharmacists.

Through the NHS Long Term Plan, we want to embrace the advances in technology to build a health and care system that is fit for the future and NHSX will drive this revolution to bring the benefits to every patient, clinician and carer.

Matthew Gould, Chief Executive of NHSX, said:

The public need to be able to get reliable information about their health easily and in ways they actually use. By working closely with Amazon and other tech companies, big and small, we can ensure that the millions of users looking for health information every day can get simple, validated advice at the touch of a button or voice command.

Part of our mission at NHSX is to give citizens the tools to access services and information directly, and partnerships such as this are an important part of achieving this.

Gadget Man – Episode 140 – Retro Gadgets Part 7 – The GPO Telephone Handset

Before the age of privatisation of utility companies in the United Kingdom, the General Post Office (GPO) of the United Kingdom was responsible solely for the provision of telecommunication services for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The notable exception was Kingston Upon Hull which has been granted the licence to provide it’s own telephone services in 1906.

Alongside its telephone services, the GPO also issued a variety of telephones for use on this service. Although handsets were supplied in different forms, it wasn’t until 1937 when a new line of ‘portable’ telephones was introduced using the Type 332 code number. These telephones used the rotary dial system with the handset sitting directly on top of the unit.

During 1959, the 700 series was released by the GPO. This was launched after public demand for handsets similar to those featured on US television shows. These devices were modern in design with anti-tangle cord and came in very smart two-tone colour schemes. This was the design which is still found in many homes some 60 years after launch (although some modification was necessary to bring them in line with current BT sockets).

The 706 models came in two-tone green, topaz yell, concorde blue, two-tone grey, topaz yellow, lacquer red, ivory and black. The red models being in great demand still today.

Such was the popularity and demand for the Model 706 and later the Model 746, several manufacturers were contracted for its manufacture with both table-top and wall mounted version was available to rent.

GPO Type 746 Telephones
GPO Type 746 Telephones – Image Credit: Wikipedia

In 1981, the GPO was privatised and the New Plan Socket was introduced for all new handsets, this allowed for approved 3rd party telephones to be either rented or purchased for use on the British Telecom network. The public was quick to drop this rotary dial phone in favour of new Tone-Dialing push-button models and the 746 was consigned to history and in many cases rubbish-skips and land-fill.

However, I think every house needs at least one Model 746.

Listen in the audio attached and listen to me talking to Matt Marvell on BBC Radio Suffolk about this amazing retro gadget

Thanks for reading and listening, don’t forget to LIKE, SHARE and SUBSCRIBE and I will see you next time.

Matt
The Gadget Man

Gadget Man – Episode 139 – Retro Gadgets Part 6 – The Breville Sandwich Toaster

We’re now at part six of the Retro Gadget series. This week I spoke to Matt Marvell at BBC Radio Suffolk about the absolutely amazing Breville Sandwich Toaster!

Many a Saturday lunchtime in my youth was provided by this gadget. Where I would mostly find my toasted sandwich contained ham, cheese and tomato, I found in later years there was a myriad of ingredients that could provide fillings to tantalise your taste-buds.

Toasted Sandwich
Toasted Sandwich

A great idea, place two buttered slices of bread in the toaster with the filling of your choice ‘sandwiched ‘ between them. Lock down the plates and wait for the light to turn green. Hey Presto! The meal of your dreams.

You can listen in to the audio stream to find out what I thought above the Sandwich Toaster and it’s cousin, the Waffle Iron.

In the meantime, I’ve done a bit of research into more adventurous Toasted Sandwich fillings:-

Takeaway Curry Sandwiches – Now this appeals to me, I used to be a great fan of Curry-on-toast, the night after a takeaway, so taking the idea a step further with a Curry Sandwich, sounds delicious!

Spaghetti Bolognese Sandwiches – Similar to the former, I’ve tried this on toast too! I bet it tastes amazing!

Cheese and Marmite Toastie – I’ve tried this and can confirm it’s lovely! Assuming you like Marmite.

Peanut Butter and Marmite Toastie – I love Peanut Butter and Marmite on toast for breakfast and can imagine having the ingredients toasted in a sealed package would be very nice indeed.

Cheese and Pineapple Toastie – This sounds divine! OK, I’m off to make one for myself, where’s the pineapple?

If you enjoy a toasted sandwich? Let me know, what’s your favourite filling, comment below and let me know.

Don’t have a Sandwich Toaster? You can buy one at our Amazon Store by clicking below


Don’t forget to Like, Subscribe and Share and I will see you soon.

Happy Toasting!!

Matt

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Image by Rebecca Humann from Pixabay

Gadget Man – Episode 138 – Universal Music and the Importance of Backing up Your Data

Keeping backup copies of your data has never been so important and only this week it has been revealed that a fire at Universal Music has resulted in the loss of the original master tapes of some of the worlds most famous artists.

To compound the issue, the backups were kept in the same vaults and seemingly perished resulting in the total loss of the original recordings of the likes of Buddy Holly, Eminem, Sheryl Crow, Tupac and Tom Petty (to same but a few!).

With digital photography now the primary method of capturing images, it is now more important than ever that these sometimes precious images are also kept safe. Hardware failure or loss of devices is more common than ever before, so multiple backups are extremely important!

Hardware failure is a real and present issue
Hardware failure is a real and present issue

Today I spoke to James Hazell on BBC Radio Suffolk about backups and my experience of how to keep your data safe.

To find out more, listen into the stream above. Don’t forget to Like, Subscribe and Comment with your experiences of backup successes and failures.

See you in the next episode!!

Matt

Technology and Gadget Reviews on air, online, in print and in person

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