The Steadicam was launched more than 40 years ago and since then we have become accustomed to seeing smooth video at sporting events and in movies, most famously in the classic horror ‘The Shining’ with Jack Nicholson. This high-end equipment costs many thousands of pounds and thus keeps it well out the reach of hobbyists or home users.
Orwell Bridge Motion Timelapse
Over the past few years, the technology associated with expensive motion picture equipment has found its way into the consumer market, once heavy and cumbersome, the large motors needed to stabilise heavy camera equipment has now been replaced by tiny brushless motors powerful enough to steady our mobile phones.
As a commercial drone pilot, I have experienced DJI’s camera stabilising technology first hand using their drones which employ identical techniques to keep footage smooth in windy conditions, so I was excited to experience the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 Smartphone Stabiliser.
The Osmo Mobile 2 allows for the capture of extremely smooth footage using an Android or iPhone to capture the video itself. The mobile device is slotted into a rubber padded clamp, balanced manually using the adjuster on the Osmo. This initial adjustment means that the device doesn’t have to work as hard to stabilise the device and thus extends the life of the battery and motors when in use.
Orwell Bridge Motion Timelapse
DJI provides an app for both Android and iPhone to directly control the device via Bluetooth LE 4.0 and also includes a USB socket to allow you to charge your phone. DJI state up to a 15 battery life, so you should be able to comfortably use the device and maintain your phone battery life with plenty to spare.
After installing the device, you switch on the Osmo by long-pressing the button on the handle, the Gimbal springs into life, balances your mobile device and suddenly it appears to float in mid-air, silently holding your phone completely steady!
You can use the DJI GO app to take movies, photographs, panoramas and even Live Stream to Facebook, YouTube an more. The Osmo can be set to smoothly following your hand motion, removing judder whilst filming or can be set to maintain the position of the phone.
DJI Osmo Mobile Stabilised Video
For more advanced uses, there is Timelapse, Hyperlapse and Motion Timelapse. All of these modes produce really impressive results, my favourite was Motion Timelapse which allowed me to take speeded up sunsets and even panoramic shots of large structures, by setting the start, middle and end points of the movie, choosing a lapse time and the number of frames, when you click Go, the camera very slowly pans and produces a smooth and stable sweeping timelapse video, it was very impressive. The standard tripod screw mount at the base of the Osmo allows you to attach it to a tripod, so no tired arms when producing your masterpiece.
At 485g, the Osmo Mobile 2 is very light but feels high quality in the hand, you do also have to take into account the weight of the device you are going to use. The Osmo is comfortable stabilising anything from the size of an iPhone SE to an iPhone 7s, but check your phone is compatible before purchasing, especially with an Android device.
This is the second iteration of the Osmo Mobile and DJI have successfully brought down the cost of the original model without forsaking built quality and features. If you are a budding ‘vlogger’ or like taking footage of family and friends, this may be the gadget for you. There is even a ‘Selfie Mode’ with and object tracking to keep you all in the picture wherever you might be!
At £129, the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 is good value for money, has great battery life and the features are great too. I loved it!
Following reports of an increase in car-related crime, I spoke to Mark Murphy on BBC Radio Suffolk about what can be done to reduce the chances of falling foul to Keyless Car Crime.
Keyless Keyfobs are devices that have come to replace the ‘traditional’ car entry methods which required us to actively press a lock/unlock button on our fobs. Instead the car constantly ‘polls’ the keyfob and when you within a short distance of the vehicle, automatically opens its to allow for entry. It also enables the driver to start and stop the car using on dash buttons.
As is usual, technology strives to make our lives easier, but also it seems gives criminals new opportunities to steal our vehicles. Readily available gadgets can be purchases specifically to scan for these ‘handshake’ signals between car and fob and upon interception, thieves can drive the cars with an instantly cloned device.
It is important to note that many cars will allow the car to be driven even if the key is no longer present. Check with your manufacturer if this is the case with your vehicle.
Rather than concentrate on the specific technology to achieving this wireless theft, drivers should concentrate in the short term on how they can ensure their cars are secure.
Leading car security organisation, Thatcham Research have published a list of steps we as drivers should follow to ensure this security. This very list has been adopted by Police forces across the UK.
Contact your dealer and talk about the digital features in your car. Have there been any software updates you can take advantage of?
Check if your keyless entry fob can be turned off. If it can, and your dealer can also confirm this, then do so overnight.
Store your keys away from household entry points. Keeping your keyless entry fob out of sight is not enough – thieves only need to gain proximity to the key before amplifying the signal.
Be vigilant. Keep an eye out for suspicious activity in your neighbourhood – and report anything unusual to the Police.
Review your car security. Check for aftermarket security devices such as Thatcham-approved mechanical locks and trackers, which are proven to deter thieves. A list can be found on the Thatcham Research website, here.
You can also download the Suffolk Constabulary ‘Tips for Drivers’ factsheet below. I have also included links to key pouches that block scanners. These can be purchased from Amazon using the links below.
Don’t forget to ‘Like’, ‘Subscribe’ and of course ‘Comment’ and stay tuned for our reviews and comment.
The Genie is now officially out of the bottle! We use our smartphones too much!
Most of us will already know this though, how could we miss it? You only have to travel on buses, trains and planes to see myriads of people sitting quietly staring at their smart phones, glued to Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter, scrolling through the latest news.
In restaurants alongside the place settin will sit a smartphone, ready at a moments notice to be snatched up and used to photograph a plate of food of a group selfie.
At rock concerts, the crowd is now lit up by mobile phone screens at they live stream or record a band whilst watching on those same screens, perhaps forgetting to watch and enjoy the band live rather than by proxy.
In homes across the world, millions of people are sitting scrolling through their devices, then standing and walking into the kitchen, the phone still in front of their faces, then to bed, when finally after another 10 minutes of messaging, the phone is plugged in to finally rest and recharge, it’s peace only broken in the middle of the night as a hand reaches out to grab it and check Facebook.
As morning breaks, a sleepy hand reaches out, slowly grabs the device and the day begins again.
This information overload is affecting peoples brains, our bodies are fooled by the blue light from an LCD screen and now we believe it is daylight 24 hours a day. We are conditioned to rely on our devices for everything, for affirmation from our friends, to give that affirmation back in a pre-formatted ‘Sending Hugs 🤗🤗🤗’ .
So, have we forgotten how to communicate? Are we now so reliant on our smartphones, that we no longer feel the need to use it for it’s original purpose? That of speaking to people and conveying our true feelings without relying on pre-programmed ’emotions’ invented by clever people in California.
Time will tell, but no amount of intervention by software giants will put that Genie back. We as a race have to take that step.
I spoke to Mark Murphy at BBC Radio Suffolk about the obsession with smart phones this morning. Listen to the stream above, I would love to read your comments on the subject.
The cashless society is economic model that removes physical money from our wallets and replaces it with fully digital transactions. So, we no longer carry banknotes and coins, instead we carry our traditional bank cards or mobile devices. These transactions can be made in our home currencies (in my case Pound Sterling), an international currency or even a digital currency such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. When using our traditional currency, we can completely remove a ‘standard’ bank from the equation and use alternatives from Paypal or Amazon.
Apple Pay and Google Pay give us access to our bank accounts to transact contactless payments using our mobile devices and also track our payments using linked cards, thus attempting to give us the best of both worlds. The sting in the tail is the utterly endless opportunities to spend at will which will surely lead to intervention by governments to protect individuals from spending above their means.
Consequently, cashless and contactless systems give us greater power to transact business quickly and painlessly. However, whilst online and large businesses can easily transfer to these systems, there is a great danger of smaller businesses being completely crowded out either by lack of infrastructure or lack of funds.
Yesterday, I was interviewed by Tony Gillham at BBC Guernsey about the cashless society and how businesses in remoter islands in the Bailiwick, such as Alderney, can continue to transact business in a rapidly cashless world.
Listen in by clicking the link above. If you have a comment, please feel free to add your opinions below. Don’t forget to like and subscribe and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
I spend a lot of time working in a shared office space, so it’s important to be able to shut out unwanted background noise when I want to be able concentrate. So, when a pair of Bowers & Wilkins PX Headphones landed on my desk for review, I was excited to find a high end pair of phones that would completely remove background noise from my workplace, but also provide with a superior Bluetooth™ Audio experience, enhanced by aptX-HD® technology.
The B&W PX headphones are predominantly Bluetooth™ driven, although you can connect up manually using a 3.5mm jack cable supplied with them. Thus, they must be paired to each device and this proved fairly straightforward using the supplied instructions. In order to make full use of the noise cancelling an personalised experience, it was also necessary to download the B&W PX app which is available for both iOS and Android. In my case, I downloaded the Android app to run with my Sony Xperia XZ Premium. The app itself was developed in conjunction with Coderus who very kindly worked with me on the app for my Tesla road trip last year, so I was looking forward to both testing the headphones and also reviewing their app at the same time.
After downloading the B&W PX app, I set about trying out the different environmental settings available and I have to say I was immediately impressed. I was able to choose my desired audio profile and also the noise cancellation settings. As noise can sometimes prove an issue here in the office, I got stuck in straight away with testing these features.
The headphones are activated by simply placing them on your head and immediately after the noice cancellation kicks in.
Initially you are given three customisable options for noise cancellation, allowing you to pick Office, City or Flight, these three option will give you a preprogrammed cancellation profile based on the background noise you are likely to experience in each of these modes. Interestingly, City worked best for my office. The settings automatically pick the most common voice passthrough settings for the headphones, either off (my preferred setting), Natural or Amplified. All three settings worked great and I liked being able to filter out general noise and still be part of a conversation.
Other options include ‘Wear Sensor’, so when placed on the head, the phones automatically switch on and connect to bluetooth with further adjustment using the ‘Sensitivity’ options.
Aside from the Environment filters, the app also shows you the current battery and firmware status. Yes, we live in a world where improvements to the operation of the headphones can be rolled out to owners, something I experienced with the Tesla Model S.
If you are lucky enough to own a modern Qualcomm compatible mobile device, you can also take advantage of the aptX-HD which is another name for High Definition Bluetooth® wireless audio. This will improve the sound quality of the headphones giving you 24bit sound quality over Bluetooth.
Without doubt, these are the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn, these absolutely reek of quality and fit brilliants over my ears. Even switched off, they still muffle ambient noise brilliantly.
Real World Use
As expected of a set of high end headphones, the sound quality was rich and bright with great bass and treble production. When testing out audio equipment I am particularly fond of playing Metallic Spheres by The Orb, featuring Dave Gilmour, an album which cries out to be played on high end audio equipment.
I wasn’t disappointed. The B&W PX headphones picked up the layered soundscape of the album majestically and I was happy putting them through their paces more than once during my review.
Bowers & Wilkins have produced a superb set of high end Bluetooth Headphones. They have excelled on all fronts, from the excellent build quality, superior sound quality to the intuitive app which makes synchronising the phones a doddle. If your budget stretches to around £329 and you want to listen to music as the artist intended, the B&W PX Bluetooth Headphones are a perfect option available in Space Grey or Soft Gold.
The Chipolo Card is a really nice looking device, designed to help track personal items. It’s unique low profile design lends itself to slotting into your wallet or purse and the speaker is loud enough to be heard however deep it becomes buried in your money and receipts. Even cooler, if you do lose your wallet and team of other Chipolo users can help you find it again!
The device was born from a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign which raised nearly 2000% of its original target of $15,000! Now, five years later Chipolo sell three different types of Chipolo tracker, the Classic, the Plus and the Card. I was sent all three to test, but this review discusses the Chipolo Card, an ideal size to slip in my wallet.
The Card’s dimensions of 36mm x 68mm x 2.15mm make it perfect to slide into a wallet and tucked deep down in mine to keep it unobtrusive and nice and safe. When tucked in your wallet, it’s not obvious it’s there, so if you are unlucky to have it stolen, you might be lucky for it to be unnoticed by a thief and thus help you find it again.
Out of the box, the Chipolo must be paired with either your iOS or Android device, this is very simple using the dedicated phone app and within an instant my device was working. I was able to name the Chipolo and also assign it a relevant icon to distinguish it from the others. In my case, I named it Wallet and assigned it with a wallet icon. The devices are paired using low power Bluetooth virtually guaranteeing a long battery life of at least a year. You can also assign a ringtone to the device which will help you recognise it in a noisy room.
Once setup, the app constantly regularly communicates with the Chipolo over low-power Bluetooth and saves it’s position to your account. You can also share your Chipolo with other users where the item is precious or might be something available to more than one person.
Now, getting to the nitty gritty of actually losing personal items. Being easily distracted, I am constantly looking for my keys or wallet and with this in mind the Chipolo’s have been amazing! I have a habit of leaving my wallet in my bag and then spending half an hour trying to remember where it is! Problem solved! Now all I need to do it press the RING button on my phones Chipolo Widget and immediately I can hear it ring.
So, armed with by trusty Chipolo and smart phone, no more losing my wallet around the house. There are also some nice little touches too, you can also use the Chipolo to trigger the camera on your smartphone to take selfies. Position the phone, get comfortable with your friends, double click the button on the tracker and hey presto! Instant Selfie.
But, what about REALLY losing something, away from home? Well, I have experienced this too, whilst the Chipolo app happily provides tracking for your own devices, it also monitors for devices that have been lost by other users on the network. So, should you lose your item and searching for it using the app proves fruitless, you can then mark the item as LOST. Should another Chipolo user happen to pass within range of the tracker, it notifies the owner that it has been found and provides feedback to the person that actually found it! It’s a great use of ‘crowd’ networking or as Chipolo call it “Community Search”. So as the network grows, so does the chances of finding your lost items.
The Chipolo Card gives you a device that fits easily into your wallet or purse, being 2.15mm . It has a 200ft range from your smart device, the speaker is 95dB. The battery will last a year and the device is water-resistant.
Priced at around £25, I think they are great value and look out for the new ‘FRUIT’ editions with provide added fun!!
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced proposals to change building regulations to encourage the mandatory installation of electric vehicle charge points in new homes and offices. New street lighting columns which service on-street parking will also have charging points in appropriate locations.
Along with these changes, the government has also promised more money to fund the charging infrastructure.
Mr Grayling said the proposed measures would mean the UK having “one of the most comprehensive support packages for zero-emission vehicles in the world”.
“The prize is not just a cleaner and healthier environment but a UK economy fit for the future and the chance to win a substantial slice of a market estimated to be worth up to £7.6 trillion by 2050”.
I’ve tested 14 different electric and hybrid cars and I’m obviously sold on the idea of alternative fuel cars. Having travelled from Ness Point to Ardnamurchan in Scotland in a Tesla Model S 100 D and found the charge network was already in place, but improvements and investment from the Government would be very useful. With mass production of electric cars and more importantly lithium-ion batteries, the costs should come down in line with petrol and diesel powered cars. We should also look forward to electric powered lorries in the near future too. Exciting times indeed!
This morning, I spoke to Mark Murphy at BBC Radio Suffolk about the proposals. To listen to what I had to say, click on the stream above.
What do you think about electric cars, do you think they will be mainstream in your lifetime? Let me know in the comments below.
On Friday I spoke to Jenny Kendall-Tobias on BBC Radio Guernsey about children carrying mobile phones in classrooms.
This followed an interview in the Daily Telegraph two weeks ago with Matt Hancock MP, Minister of State for Digital and Culture. He gave his views on the use of mobile phones in class by children and what he believed headteachers should be doing to tackle the issue.
“Technology makes being a parent much harder. And schools have a big role too. I enthusiastically support using technology for teaching. But we also need to teach children how to stay safe with technology. Why do young children need phones in schools?”
“There are a number of schools across the country that simply don’t allow them. I believe that very young children don’t need to have access to social media. While it is up to individual schools to decide rather than government, I admire headteachers who do not allow mobiles to be used during the school day. I encourage more schools to follow their lead. The evidence is that banning phones in schools works.”
“Studies have shown mobile phones can have a real impact on working memory and fluid intelligence, even if the phone is on a table or in a bag.”
Following this article, I was asked to appear on Jenny’s show to discuss my thoughts on children carrying mobile phones in classrooms.
You might be surprised to hear that I don’t think mobile devices have a place on the classroom. They are an enormous distraction and I think they pose a very real safeguarding issue within the school where they could be used inappropriately and there is also a very clear issue of peer pressure, with device cost stretching to £1000. There is also a problem with children carrying extremely valuable devices to and from school, which again exhibits a danger of theft.
If you feel differently, please let me know if the comments and of course you can listen in to the interview by click on the link above.
In the never-ending battle of the tech giants, 2018 has most certainly been the year of the bevel or indeed lack of bevel. TV’s have become almost bevel-less, transforming from boring black rectangles that have been slowly consuming our living rooms to ambient wall furniture which can now disguise itself as the wall-covering it once blighted like some kind of digital chameleon.
In our hands, the swift removal of bevels from around our curved smart phone screens has introduced us to the ‘notch’ as manufacturers desperately seek new ways to hide fingerprint readers and front facing cameras. Along with these gadgets, we now see the same happening with computer screens, laptops and of course the 2-in-1 or convertible touchscreen notebook / tablet devices.
The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is just one of those devices, a beautifully sleek device with the almost bevel-less screen in the form of Dell’s own ‘InfinityEdge’ display and a power packed Intel Core i7 processer and SSD drive.
The XPS 13 2-in-1 is a convertible laptop which with the help of Windows 10 converts into a 13” tablet by simply folding away the keyboard and transforming into a lovely device to please artists or note-takers alike.
The 2-in-1 comes in a nicely branded black soft-touch box. Inside you find the laptop with its lid and base polished aluminium with embossed Dell logo in the centre. Opening the lid to expose the keyboard and screen isn’t quite as graceful as other laptops due to the lack of weight, but this is a small issue as once revealed, it provides a very pleasant view for owners.
The keyboard is nicely recessed, typing is very tactile and feels high quality with a good sized touch pad below. Surrounding the keyboard and touchpad is what looks a feels like carbon fibre, this this looks really nice and gives good grip when ‘manipulating’ the device, but is also a bit of a fingerprint magnet. There is also a fingerprint reader for use with Microsoft Hello.
Now down to the display itself, which I have to admit is absolutely stunning! Dell have gone for a gloss glass screen which makes colours rich and vibrant, blacks are… well black as they should be with no obvious backlight ruining your viewing experience. My unit was a 1920 x 1080 FHD screen, but there is also a 3200 x 1800 model giving even greater clarity. The screen is also multi-touch (10 touch points) capable and for artists the Dell Active Pen can also be used which is sold separately.
Powering the device is the 7th generation Intel Core i7 running at 1.60Ghz along with 8Gb of memory and a 240Gb Solid State Drive (SSD), as expected the machine runs very quickly indeed with almost instantaneous boot up and excellent performance. Running Adobe Photoshop was a breeze and I can imagine with the Dell Active Pen would provide an excellent environment for artists.
As the machine runs on Windows 10 Home Edition, the majority of owners will be familiar with finding their way around the system and with a device designed to work directly with this software, the journey is relatively painless.
If you are looking to plug in your peripherals, you will find that the XPS 13 2-in-1 has now joined the USB Type C charging club and thus has no traditional USB ports other than using an adapter. Thus, you have 2 USB-C ports for connectivity or charging the device, a Micro SD port for transferring data, a display port connector, a Thunderbolt™ 3.0 connector and headset jack port. The frustration of losing the standard ports we have all grown used to can be easily remedied by after-market adapters.
Dell have yet again produced a high quality machine which sits right up there with other manufacturers hardware. It would be very useful for business people who need to work from remote locations or whilst commuting and I’m pretty sure that a few lucky students would also benefit from using it.
Starting at around £1150, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is by no way an entry level device, but if you are look for a very nicely designed notebook or tablet, then buying a 2-in-1 may well be your solution.