Apparently using your Laptop in a Cafe at the weekend is no longer a ‘thing’. According to the Daily Mail, a cafe owner in Belsize Park has placed a ban on the use of laptops during weekend hours because it takes up valuable space during busy periods.
The ban has caused a regular customer to accuse the owner of bullying. Francesca Specter said, “the ban amounts to bullying of those who want to spend time alone”, she continues ‘I live by myself and part of my weekend routine is I go and get some headspace and enjoy breakfast and brunch by myself at one of the local cafes. The owner took one look at the iPad I was reading my paper on and said you can’t do that in here. I thought it was a situation where I was being bullied and I was by myself so I was in this minority. I had to leave and haven’t been back since.’
The owner, Mojgan Mohajer said ‘My cafe is quite small,’ she explained. ‘I received a lot of complaints from customers during the weekend that lots of people were coming with a laptop and sitting and they couldn’t have a table.’
Computers and tablets are used widely, in fact anywhere you can find somewhere to sit, be it train, bus, park bench or cafe, you will find staring at a smartphone, tablet or laptop.
Personally, I’m siding with Mojgan. She does have a small cafe and although during the week she would like to attract people to her establishment at quieter times, the weekends will be much busier and she, of course, would like to maximise her income on the busiest day.
With regard to the bullying accusation, I’m speechless.
You can listen in to my chat with Mark Murphy on BBC Radio Suffolk where we talk about using devices on public WiFi hotspots.
Welcome to Episode 149 – It’s all go again with the mobile phone market in the UK, the confusion surrounding Mobile Virtual Network Operators and actual network operators becomes confusing again! Virgin Mobile is currently carried by EE which in turn is owned by arch-rival BT, so now Virgin is moving to Vodafone. It shouldn’t affect your service, but you should check your coverage as EE and Vodafone may differ!
Britbox has now launched in the UK, although it was launched in the USA some time ago. Britbox offers BBC and ITV material and will also offer Channel 4 and Channel 5 stuff to in time. It becomes confusing when much of the material is still offered on BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4 and My5, you can even pay for some of these services to remove the adverts with ITV Hub+, 4+. I’ve signed up to check it out, so more on this later. I’m not terribly sure it has room to operate alongside global players such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple TV. Time will tell.
UK Drone registration is now compulsory for anyone flying an aircraft over 250g. Operators have until the end of the month to register their drones. It requires the payment of a £9 annual fee and you must affix your Operator ID to any drones you choose to fly.
Xiaomi compares the photo quality of the Mi Note 10 to that of professional high-end DSLR systems and allows users access to quality not seen before on Smartphones.
The Penta-camera setup includes 108MP primary camera, 20MP ultra-wide-angle camera, ultra-telephoto lens, 12MP 50mm portrait lens and macro lens. It also supports ‘Super Night Mode giving soft-lit, sharper images in low-light. Alongside are dual soft light and dual flash.
The display is a 6.47 inch AMOLED hyperboloid screen curved to fit the body of the phone and making a beautifully comfortable grip with an embedded in-screen fingerprint sensor.
Inside, the device packs a Snapdragon 730G with Adreno 618 GPU with AI capability. Memory is plentiful with 6GB RAM and 128GB of storage. NFC and infrared remote control are included as is the standard headphone jack and 1216 superlinear speaker.
Power is provided by a 5260mAh battery supporting 30W fast charging. Xiaomi suggests 30 minutes charging to 58% and 64 minutes to 100%.
Like many of us, both our family cars have a Dashcam fitted. My wife has a standard front-facing model and my car has a dual camera model. Fortunately, we haven’t yet needed to rely on footage from our dashcams in court, although some years ago, I used ‘helmet-cam’ footage as evidence in a road-rage incident. Having cameras in both the cars and when cycling illustrates that driving on the roads today can be hazardous.
Now with the clocks changing and the darker, more hazardous winter months upon us, it is more important than ever that our cars and associated equipment is ready for this time of the year. We need to check our fluid levels, tyre tread and make sure that we carry additional warm clothing in the car in case of breakdowns or traffic snarl-ups.
One thing we might have overlooked is items such as sat-navs and dash-cams. Many of these items may have been installed in our vehicles for some time, in fact, we may have inherited them when buying vehicles or they have simply been passed from car to car over the years.
It’s incredibly important that these gadgets function as well as possible and it’s absolutely irrefutable that dashcams have improved in picture quality and functionality over the years, so it may well be time to look at an upgrade!
Todays’ dash-cams have superior quality video and vastly better optics, allowing them to work in low light situations where our current cameras just show noise. The resolution of these devices has also improved to allow for the recording of UHD quality video. All of these improvements mean that should you be involved in a road traffic incident, your camera will have been able to record the highest possible evidence which you might need to rely on later on. Added to this Dash Cams from the likes of Nextbase can also contact the emergency services in event of an accident if you aren’t able to!
With all this in mind, the folks at Nextbase have got together with Halfords to provide an upgrade scheme to help drivers purchase the latest Nextbase dashcams. You simply need to take you current dashcam or sat-nav (regardless of age) to your local Halfords shop and you will be able to receive at 20% discount on Nextbase Dashcams and your old device will be recycled at an approved electronics goods recycling centre,
Richard Browning, Director of Nextbase, commented: “As we approach some of the darkest, harshest days that this climate has to offer, we wanted to do something to help those with Dash Cams that are no longer fit for purpose on UK roads. Our partnership with Halfords has allowed us to do just that, offering the best Dash Cam on the market for every price point at a very significant 20% saving. There really is no excuse for not having a top-of-the-range Dash Cam with this promotion. My hope is that the offer inspires people to take a second, look at the Dash Cam in their vehicle and ask themselves: ‘do I trust this to make a difference if/when the time comes to use it?’ If the answer is no, then you need to make your way to the closest Halfords ASAP.”
Daniel Tomson, Halfords’ car technology expert added, “We’re encouraging drivers to do everything they can to prepare for darker nights and make sure that they and their vehicles are ready for the clocks going back. Poor lighting and weather conditions can make driving a hazard at this time of year, so it’s important that you’re driving with a Dash Cam with great night vision and crystal-clear image quality. We would encourage anyone shopping at Halfords to take advantage of this offer as it will help keep our roads safer and means that drivers can access the latest award-winning Nextbase models at a significantly reduced price.”
For more information, click here to visit Halfords website
As promised, the ‘Helmet Cam’ video I was talking about at the beginning of the article is embedded below.
I’ve recently returned from a family summer holiday in Wales which took us through the beautiful mountains and valleys and onto the even more spectacular coasts of beaches of a very beautiful part of Great Britain. Our holiday gave us plenty of chances for quiet evenings snuggled together in an old converted farmhouse.
What better time but to slip on a set of headphones and listen to my favourite music and while away the evening. Fortunately, I was armed with a set of Edifier H880 Over-ear wired headphones and boy was I impressed!
As is now the want in this age of ‘product unboxing’, the H880’s come in a sleek matt black foam padded box, with the headphones sitting securely in the purpose made inset. After taking them out of the box and fitting them over my ears, I found the fit both comfortable and snugly over my ears and instantly silenced a large amount of background noise.
The H880’s are wired headphones and stored neatly underneath the headphones are two boxes, the first comes with a very long 3.5mm to 3.5mm gold plated connector lead, you also receive a shorter 3.5mm to 3.5mm lead which includes inline volume control and hands-free function for use with smartphones. Finally, there is a 3.5mm to 6.35 mm adapter. The second box contains a very smart soft-touch material storage bag which the headphones neatly fold up into for safe and portable carrying.
Once set up and plugged into my phone, it was now time to test them out. I connected them to my Sony Xperia 1 phone using a USB Type-C adapter and cranked on the music.
On a technical level, the H880’s use 40mm polymer drivers with cavity control technology which gives a superior bass response. Frequency response is in a range of 20Hz – 20kHz, sound pressure is 100dB, nominal impedance is 24ohm all powered by a closed moving coil.
The headphones feel very well constructed using alloy and durable metallic connectors. The leatherette ear pads along with the padded head attachment were extremely comfortable and although very well insulated, didn’t get too warm after wearing them for extended periods.
Most importantly, the music reproduction was superb, my Xperia 1 supports Dolby Atmos, so the sound is very good and I found the H880’s provided a very enjoyable listening experience. Bass wasn’t overbearing and treble and midranges were excellent too. Vocals were crisp and clear and on the whole, I was really impressed! It really goes to show that wired headphones are still the obvious choices of music fans as they don’t suffer delay and compression that can sometimes be obvious on Bluetooth headphones.
At a shade over £100, the Edifier H880 over-ear wired headphones are a contender for those of us that don’t mind sitting in a chair enjoying music.
Like many of us, I have become used to playing music through my smartphone in hands-free mode, especially when I’m getting ready for work in the morning. Our phones now have sufficient audio production and volume to produce music at a respectable quality, but their physical size limitations mean that they aren’t able to produce similar results to traditional speakers.
Portable speakers have become a popular addition for the music enthusiasts and casual listeners and we now expect excellent audio quality from extremely low-cost devices and fill the gap where our smartphones fail. So, this month I have been testing the Edifier MP200 Bluetooth 4.1 Portable Speaker.
The MP200 is a relatively small cubic speaker measuring 2-inches in each direction. Featuring both IP54 rated splash and dust protection, the speaker is coated in brightly coloured rubberised material with the addition of a hand-string to carry around your wrist or hang in your bathroom. The Micro SD card slot and Micro USB charging port are both sealed with a rubber cap which means it will function appropriately in a bathroom or even outdoors on a camping trip or barbeque courtesy of its IP54 rating. You may have seen IP ratings on your smartphone packaging, it’s a 2 digit rating scale the ‘5’ of IP54 means it is ‘dust protected’, whereas the ‘4’ means it is ‘splash proof’.
The speaker comes with three buttons on the top which control which allows you to power on the device (with a pleasant start-up sound), pause or stop the music and a ‘call answer’ function when it is paired to your phone (although I’m not sure I would be up for conducting a hands-free call in the shower!). On the side of the speaker up two further volume up and down buttons. All these buttons situated underneath the rubberised material and easy to operate.
Edifier is quoting 12 hours playing time between charges which fits in well with my experience of using the speaker for a few minutes every morning and not needing to charge it for weeks. So it should happily provide entertainment for many hours at a time.
Audio quality, the speaker really shines and provides an incredibly impressive full range of sound and when cranked up, it doesn’t lose quality. I’ve used several of these kinds of this type speaker and I was really impressed with the MP200.
The audiophiles, the specs are as follows:-
Noise Level: ≥30dB(A)
Freq. Response: 150Hz~14kHz
Input Sens: Bluetooth / USB audio streaming: 300 ± 50mFFS
Input Type: microSD card / Bluetooth 4.1 / USB audio streaming
Speaker Unit: 2 inches (48 mm)
Range: 10 metres (Bluetooth 4.1)
The MP200 is a fabulous speaker, available in seven colours and at £29.99, it’s a bargain (and a great gift idea for the up and coming festivities).
For many of us of a certain age, Christopher Reeve will always be the de facto Superman. It does not matter how many new portrayals are churned out by Hollywood in the coming years, Reeve is the yardstick for the Man of Steel.
Reeve’s portrayal of Superman is not consigned to history, however, as the man himself appears in a series of branded casino games. These games, part of a wider range of DC Superheroes slot machines developed by Playtech, are hugely popular and are part of an ongoing trend to brand content in the world of iGaming.
To be fair, Superman is a popular slot, and you can play it here: mansioncasino.com, but it is just one of many branded casino games available to play right now. To give you an idea of just how diverse the range of branded games is out there, consider the following titles: American Dad, Justice League, Elvis Presley, Tomb Raider, Marilyn Monroe, The X-Files, Sex and the City, Bridesmaids, The Matrix, Top Gun, I’m a Celebrity, Motorhead, The Green Lantern, Dirty Dancing, Gladiator, Top Gun, Jurassic Park, The Love Boat.
Genre of Source Material Not Important for Branding
The above is a diverse list, you’ll agree. You can possibly see how the high-octane music of Motorhead, or the explosive action of Justice League, lends itself thematically to a fun slot game; but the likes of Sex and the City or Bridesmaids? That feels like a harder sell. Yet, in truth, it’s not really that important to have something that lends itself to action to brand a casino game. What’s important is the branding itself, and how it is interwoven into the product.
What exactly do we mean by a branded casino game? It’s not exactly the same as sticking a photo of Take That on a lunchbox. Rather, it is more akin to a blockbuster video game, something like Star Wars Battlefront or Wonder Woman: Rise of the Warrior.
Comparing slot machines to video games might seem like a bit of a stretch, but the level of production behind these games might surprise you. Going back to the range of Superman games, you will see that they use real footage from the movies, splicing through a series of bonus games and special features. It feels like a video game, it looks like a video game and it sounds like a video game.
Games Have Huge Payout Potential
Yet, as we mentioned, popular online slots can be created using branding not typically associated with “action” and “excitement”. The Dirty Dancing slot by Playtech, for example, shrewdly uses the move clips to create dancing and romance-themed bonus games and general gameplay. Bridesmaids also use some of the best comedic elements of the movie to great effect.
Of course, none of these games would be popular if they did not at least have some allure for experienced casino players. Essentially, that means they must have big prizes on offer because even avid fans of the source material would turn their noses up if they were not offered a chance to hit a jackpot. The developers have that covered. For example, the Superman games connect to a wider progressive jackpot game connected to DC slots, with the top prize regularly tipping over £1 million.
Slots aren’t for everyone, of course. But you can see the line of reasoning for software developers to bring popular elements of pop culture to life in the iGaming arena. The branding offers ready-made marketing opportunity and invites fans of all those pop culture genres to try something they may have never considered before
Like many of us, I take hundreds of photos every week, most are taken using my smartphone, but I also have a DSLR camera, a ‘bridge’ camera, a GoPro and of course my trusty Mavic Pro drone. The smartphone stores the images internally and the other cameras write the images to either SD or Micro SD cards. On top of this, I also carry around an Apple MacBook Pro which allows me to edit my images and video on-the-go.
The golden rule with any data is making sure you have at least 2 copies of images or documents you really don’t want to lose. Having been in IT for over 30 years, I have witnessed a catastrophic loss of data (meaning everything was lost) on a number of occasions and it continues to be the case that you MUST backup your data.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been testing the Transcend ESD350C Portable SSD. SSD means ‘Solid State Drive’ which means that there are no moving parts. SSD’s are now commonly using in many computers as they are generally much faster than traditional hard disks and use less energy, so your laptop battery lasts longer.
The drive is about the size of a credit card and about 12.5mm thick, it comes in a ruggedized, blue silicone rubber, shock resistant case. Connectivity between the drive and your PC, laptop or mobile device is over a USB3.1 Gen 2 interface using a USB Type-C high-speed connection. Transcend bundle both USB Type-A and Type-C cables, which accommodates desktops and laptops featuring the USB Type-C or USB 3.1 interface and also USB OTG (On the Go) compatible mobile devices with Type-C ports.
The speed of transfer is comparable with internal hard disk drives with quoted speeds of 1,050MB/s giving the potential of copying 20GB files in around 30 seconds!
The unit I tested was the 480GB model, but the drive is also available 240GB and 960GB variants all providing compatibility with desktops, laptops, gaming consoles and on-the-go mobile devices.
Transcend also provide their ‘Elite’ software to allow users to manage backups and encrypt their data synchronization with cloud services.
Everything worked out of the box and was really just a matter of plugging in the cable to my MacBook or Xperia 1 mobile, I didn’t need to install the Elite software and no power supply was needed.
The drives are priced competitively at £85 for the 240GB, £125 for the 480GB or £180 for the 960GB models and available from your favourite online shopping sites.