Category Archives: Technology

The future of TV arrives in time for Christmas and I love it – Apple TV & Chromecast II

Apple TV 4Whenever I visit The Mall Camberley one of my favourite things to do is pop into Currys.Digital and chat to my friend Geoff (the Manager) about all the latest tech of which he and I share a mutual love for. It’s almost like a tech bromance.

On a recent visit to Curry’s Geoff was excited because he had just taken delivery of some shiny new Apple TV’s and true to form we got talking about all the latest cool features.

He said “Want to take one home to play with?” “I thought you would never ask” I said. He gave me a Google Chromecast II to take home to play with too.

I have had chance to play with the Apple TV and the Google Chromecast and I love them both.

I’ll start with the Google Chromecast II. No point in going over old ground explaining what this device does as I wrote a blog about the first generation Chromecast here and to be honest the second generation device does not offer anything new in terms of features. The second generation Chromecast simply offers a more powerful device with an upgrade in the processor and antennas which are optimised for streaming. This is really noticeable as there is no longer connection issues found with the first generation device.

The price is the same at £30 and included are Sky NOW or Google Play Store Credits to choose from. A little advice, last year on Boxing day only Curries.Digital in Camberley were selling the Chromecast for £18 so its worth waiting to see if they will be doing the same offer this year.

So now to the 4th Generation Apple TV. This small bit of kit really is the Ferrari of streaming media devices.

As someone who uses such devices daily and has owned a 3rd Generation Apple TV for a few years I am really excited about the latest iteration.

Apart from the on board hardware upgrades which make the device much more capable to handle the new OS and feature sets, the biggest improvement is the addition of an App Store. When the device was first available, there were not that many apps available but more and more apps are being added by developers. Some of the games are superb making the device a great family entertainment system. My daughter and I have had hours of fun with some of the games.

The other noticeable difference is the remote control which has a motion engine integrated and allows it to be used as a game controller much like a Wii controller.

If you are a Netflix fan then the Apple TV is the best device to experience Netflix movies and TV shows. This is because Apple caches Netflix shows on Apple servers which means they load faster and far less likely to buffer.

I love the way SIRI search brings all services together so that when I search for a movie it returns results across all services rather than just iTunes.

Finally, Apple TV has two memory capacities to choose from. 32gb or 64gb. I think the 32gb will serve most people’s needs adequately but if you are an App monster then go for the 64gb.

Currys.Digital at The Mall Camberley have Apple TV and Google Chromecast II in stock now so you can support a great local store and bag yourself some great Christmas gifts.

 

 

 

 

Home Workers Network Show Launched with a pilot

Home Workers NetworkAt 12pm today the Home Workers Network was launched on the Blab platform. The Network centres around a live weekly show which is broadcast on the internet.

The idea for the Home Workers Network was conceived and developed on the Blab by three home workers who have never met before.

Julian Jenkins, Paul Deach and Phil Crowshaw came up with the idea while chatting on Blab and collaborated through a private WhatsApp group to launch the live Pilot show in less than a week.

The show was watched by 97 people live. Co founder Paul Deach said “We put this show together in a matter of days and collaborated entirely online. We launched a facebook page and linkedin page. Other than promoting the show via those networks we have done no other marketing. To get 97 people watching our pilot show live is incredible and just proves the power and reach of social media. We had a truly worldwide audience with people watching and participating from Australia, New Zeland Madagascar, Italy, USA, Canada, Armenia and of course the UK. I expect the audience to grow steadily as we produce more shows”.

Co-Founder Julian Jenkins said “While the show is broadcast live we have launched a youtube channel and a podcast channel so that our audience can watch/listen to replays on demand. The podcast is available on the Apple Podcast App, Audioboom and Stitcher. We really want to build a community so welcome participation from the audience.

Co-Founder Phil Crowshaw added “We want the show content to be driven by the audience so if you are a home worker and need help with something, post it on our facebook page and we will see if we can find and expert within the Network who would be willing to appear on the show and talk about that aspect of home working. we also want to have a lot of fun. Working from home can be isolating in that you can miss the human interactions of a busy office or workplace. I am very excited about the potential the Network has”.

The show will be broadcast weekly and the schedules will be posted on the Home Workers Network social media.

To find out more about the Home Workers Network Show check out the facebook page at: www.facebook.com/HomeWorkersNetwork

The video and audio only replays can be found below:

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#SurreyHeath_InstaMeet on Barossa Common – Photo blog

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1738.Since the earliest days of Instagram, people have been meeting up to take photos and videos together. As the community has grown around the world, so too has the occurrence of InstaMeets: gatherings of people coming together to connect, explore, and celebrate their creativity.

The second #SurreyHeath_InstaMeet was held on Barossa Common at the weekend and despite the poor weather the turn out was fantastic.

The event was sponsored by OlloClip, ShoulderPod and Xshot and these innovative #MobileCreative products were given away for the most creative shots.

Barossa Common is a rare lowland heath teeming with bio-diversity so it was fantastic to have James Herd (Ranger) for the Surrey Wildlife Trust to lend his expertise about the animals, flora and fauna that can be found on the common. Check out #RangerRadio for a fascinating podcast series about James’s work.

Below is a collection of images from some of the participants. Check out their Instagram accounts by following the #SurreyHeath_InstaMeet hashtag on Instagram.

We will be holding the next #SurreyHeath_InstaMeet in the Summer which will be announced here or on my web site at deachy.uk

 

 

Local resident uses ‘Periscope’ App to live broadcast from the M3 using his smart phone to explain Smart Motoways – Video blog

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Description: Surrey Heath resident Dan Adams uses Periscope App to live broadcast from the M3 to explain the Smart Motoway works. Follow Dan on Periscope @PickledDan.

SEROCU and CERT-UK to launch Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CISP) regional node next week

The South East Regional Crime Unit (SEROCU) is inviting regional small and medium enterprise (SME) to the Cyber-security Information Sharing Partnership (CiSP) due to be launched next week, on Thursday 29 January.

Following the launch of a similar node in the East Midlands in 2014, SEROCU alongside National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-UK) are creating a South East based regional information sharing node sitting on the national CiSP platform.

SME’s from Sussex are being invited to attend the free event taking place in Berkshire.

Craig Jones, Head of the Cyber Crime Unit in SEROCU, said: “The CiSP initiative is primarily for the ‘network defenders’ and ICT managers of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), but is applicable to any company that has a networked computer system.

The benefits of joining the CiSP are to provide companies and businesses with:

· Opportunity to engage with industry and government counterparts in a secure environment;

· Obtain early warning of cyber threats;

· Seek advice from other CiSP members;

· Participate in building pooled knowledge;

· Learn from experiences, mistakes and successes of other users without fear of exposing organisation sensitivities.

“There is no cost to attendees or in joining the CiSP. The day will be facilitated by the Cyber Crime Unit of the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) and CERT-UK, who will provide comprehensive detail of the initiative and demonstrate the tangible benefits for SMEs.”

The aim of the day will be to:

  • Update on the current cyber threat
  • Raise awareness of the CiSP – understand the importance of information sharing
  • Brief and demo the new South East information sharing node

If you represent a SME and would like to attend the event which will take place in the Berkshire area between 8.30am and 3.30pm please contact us via email at support@cisp.org.uk

The regional concept is modelled on that of the national CiSP. Launched in March 2013, CiSP is a joint, collaborative initiative between industry and government to share cyber threat and vulnerability information in order to increase overall situational awareness of the cyber threat, and therefore reduce the impact upon business. The national CiSP is now part of the UK Computer Emergency Response Team, CERT-UK. Launched in March 2014, CERT-UK works closely with industry, government and academia to enhance UK cyber resilience.

Further information regarding the CiSP can be found at http://www.cisp.org.uk/.

Roku Streaming Stick – I love it

Roku Streaming Media StickIn March I wrote a review on the Google Chromecast which I have been very impressed with. So much so I think we use it more in our house than our Sky+ HD subscription.

I know lots of people who have bought a Chromecast on the back of that review and I have not heard any negative feeback yet.

While in Camberley recently I visited Currys PC World in the Mall and the Manager offered me a review model of the new Roku Streaming Stick. I have been playing around with it for about a month now and I have to say it is very good.

Roku has infact been the market leader in streaming media devices for quite some time but as it does not have the big name of Apple or Google I guess it may have passed many peoples attention. But to my mind Roku is the device that is setting the standard and is everything Apple TV should be.

For those that might not be comfortable with technology and might be a little put off with the set up process of some of the other streaming media devices available, then I think the Roku is for you.

For starters you don’t need a smart phone or tablet to get the thing to work so for all you technophobes out there that are missing out on the joys of youtube, netflix and spotify now you can finally join the rest of us cool kids and enjoy these services and many more on you TV rather than be chained to your PC.

The only things you need to get your Roku device to work is wireless internet and a TV with a HDMI port which most TV’s have several these days. And whatever you do, the next time you buy a TV don’t get blagged into buying a smart TV. In my view a complete waste of money when this £49 tiny device that plugs discreetly into the back of your existing TV will give you everything the leading smart TV’s offer and more for a fraction of the cost.

Roku has its own operating system which means once its plugged in and you have the source set to the HDMI port it is plugged into then you can control everything from the very cool remote control that comes with it including the whole set up process which is very simple and has clear step by step instructions on screen. If you do have a smartphone or tablet then I recommend the Roku App as during set up its a little easier to use a keyboard to input WiFi passwords and so on.

What is quite unique to Roku streaming media devices is they have their own app stores built into the device and there are more apps than you will ever use. But the ones you will use are all there including Spotify which as far as I am aware the Roku is the only streaming media device to have a Spotify app developed for it. So if you have a home movie sound system you can stream more or less any tune you can think of through your speakers. That is very cool, especially if your having a party. There is even a facebook app so you can have facebook on your TV. I can’t think of anything worse but I know that will be a popular feature with a lot of ‘Camberley Mummies’.

Currys.Digital  Camberley are selling this device for £49 and while it is a little more expensive than the Google Chromecast I think its worth the little bit extra for the cool remote control and that everything you need is in the device so no messing about setting up apps on smart devices to get it to work. Without a doubt this device is way better than the current Apple TV and half the price.

I did find the Roku Streaming Stick to be a little under powered in terms of processor which compared to the Roku3Chromecast and Apple TV makes starting up just a bit slower and input commands are slower to react but by no means tediously slow. I know the Roku 3, a hybrid version of the streaming stick is lightening fast so this resolves that minor point and if I was to purchase a Roku player then this would be the one I would go for.

All in all a solid product and fantastic value for money. Both Roku Streaming Stick and Roku 3 available at Currys.Digital, the Mall, Camberely.

 

 

 

Surrey SATRO Summer Science Festival 2014 – The video blog and podcasts

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Description: A short video capturing just some of the magic at the Surrey SATRO Summer Science Festival hosted at the Surrey Sports Park in Guildford.

The Podcasts

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These podcasts are available on the Surrey Residents Network Audioboo Channel and can be downloaded for free on iTunes. Audioboo has apps available for Android & iOS devices and the Apple Podcast App is a great way to listen to Resident Network podcasts completely free of charge. Just search “Surrey Residents Network” within the app.

 

 

Google Chromecast – A smart TV for 30 quid

ChromecastTechnology is developing at such a fast pace that all of the sudden the latest and greatest kit is becoming very accessible both in terms of cost and ease of use.

You could call me an early adopter of the latest technology and as such I have had Apple TV for quite some time.

As streaming media devices are concerned the Apple TV is quite expensive at £99.

The latest entrant to the UK streaming TV hardware market is Google Chromecast which was released last week. Of course I bought one right away. At a mear £30 it is a perfect impulse buy. Google’s Chromecast is a small dongle that plugs into a spare HDMI port on your TV to stream media from the internet to the living room screen using your smartphone, tablet or computer as a remote.

Now I have had chance to try it out I thought I would write this blog as I think its a real winner and have no hesitation in recomending it to residents.

I love the simplicity of this device and how it will redifine the way we watch TV.

Without a doubt on demand services is the way all media providers are going and streaming media devices such as Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Roku are fantastic, simple and cheap ways to get that media from the internet onto your TV.

I am a huge Apple fan but I have to say that the Google Chromecast is more than a third of the price and in my view the better device due to its user freindliness. It is also very simple to set up.

Useing your tablet or smart phone as a remote control makes perfect sense to me. We are no longer in a world of 4 TV channels so having a tablet screen for navigation means we can enter search terms and browse easily – without fiddling around with sub-optimal controller or remote. In the case of Chromecast it works brilliantly – there’s no faffing about with menus on the TV screen and you can find your next video whilst watching the current one, creating a seamless viewing experience. I find the Sky planner on my Sky+ HD box not at all intuative.

Currently the apps available for Chromecast are limited. At the moment Netflix, Youtube, BBC iPlayer and Google Play are the every day apps available with mass appeal but Google has just opened up the SDK to developers which means some very cool and innovative apps will be released soon. Spotify is an obvious one. To inspire developers google released this very neat app which my daughter and I have had a lot of fun playing with. Although a very simple idea I see some cool use cases for events organisors.

ChromecastI predict Chromecast will be an enormous success but the streaming media space is developing very quickely and will get better and better so its not the only option to watch out for. Apple are expected to update the Apple TV with its own app store which could see it directly compete with the games console market and Roku are bringing out new devices at a rapid rate. Even Sky TV have entered this space as they recognise the likes of Netflix are a major threat to their business model. In fact if it were not for my wife and daughters veiwing habbits I would do away with Sky all together but I would have to watch all four seasons of Game of Thrones first. That said I could always get a Sky Now account for £4.99 a month with no contract. A Sky Now App would be cool with Chromecast support so I dont have to buy the Sky Now box for £10.99 which surely is a loss leader for Sky anyway.

Doing away with Terrestrial TV and my Sky Subscription I could get away with the need for a TV Licence (providing of course I dont watch any internet broadcasts at the same time as they are broadcast on the TV.

The Chromecast is available for £30 at Curry’s PC World in the Mall Camberley. As a huge supporter of our Town Centre, that is where I bought mine.

I like this Chromecast video review which, of course, you could watch on your TV with a Chromecast device.

Cybercrime campaign aims to help Surrey residents stay safe online

Cyber Crime - Surrey PoliceSurrey Police is launching a brand new campaign this week to highlight the dangers of cybercrime and encourage members of the public to stay safe and secure online.

The campaign, which launches today (Monday, 17 February) and runs until Friday, 28 February, aims to educate Surrey residents about the rising problem of cybercrime.

Police are advising people not to reveal personal and financial information online as they could become victims of crime if those details fell into the hands of opportunistic offenders seeking to commit frauds and scams online.

In 2012, 42 million people in the UK were reported to have used the internet (85% of the adult population), with 33 million reported to access the internet every day. Access from mobile devices has more than doubled between 2010 and 2012.

Online retail spending accounted for 10% of the total retail spend each month in the UK – £586.6 million in July 2013, and retail sales on mobile phones increased by 326% in 2012 when compared with the same period in 2011.

Whilst there are no definitive measures for the cost of cybercrime to the UK, it is estimated that it equates to a loss of several billion pounds per year.

Cybercrime is an emerging problem both nationally and across the county. Surrey Police is focussing on two key areas – encouraging people to take all necessary steps to protect their information online and alerting members of the public to email scams and other fraudulent online activity.

The campaign aims to tackle this by using a range of external and online media techniques to encourage people to better protect themselves online and take precautions to avoid the ‘Unseen Criminal’ behind this type of crime.

There are five key actions people can take in order to protect themselves and others from cybercrime. The key areas to focus on changing are:

  • Using strong, memorable passwords
  • Installing anti-virus software on new devices
  • Checking privacy settings on social media
  • Shopping safely online – always ensuring to check online retail sites are secure
  • Downloading software and application patches when prompted

Surrey Police is encouraging people to report instances of cybercrime by phoning 101 or by using the online reporting form on our website.

Detective Inspector Andy Haslam, cybercrime lead for Surrey Police, said: “Cybercrime is a major concern at present, not just locally but on a national scale. Surrey and Sussex Police recognise this and are working together to give victims of online crime the best support possible.

“I would urge people to review the personal and financial information which is available about them online and make sure there is nothing which criminals could use to commit offences.

“Often even experienced online users will leave information open to the public and if those details were to fall into the wrong hands it could lead to someone becoming a victim of crime.

“There is a lot of information available which provides tips on how to avoid cybercrime. Our officers and staff are also able to assist – if you have any concerns or questions, or suspect you have been a victim of cybercrime, call 101 or use our online reporting service.”

Visit www.surrey.police.uk/TheUnseenCriminal for further crime prevention information, or join in the conversation at #TheUnseenCriminal.

Cyber Crime - Surrey Police