Technology

Blackberry’s Android phone – just in time or a little too late?

by Pete

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Blackberry is preparing to launch its first phone running Android, it has been claimed.

A new image shows a phone similar to Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge, with curved sides.

Many believe the handset could be the company’s last attempt to revive itself following disastrous sales of its own BB10 touchscreen handsets.

I’ve not been a fan of touch devices when it comes to typing.  Everything else on those things kicks serious ass, but typing continues to be the worst part of it.

This is especially noticeable when you came to Android from the Blackberry keyboard – the Bold’s “Rolls Royce” was incredibly good.  People could get up to 80 words per minute on this without a single error.

Since jumping to Android via the Samsung S3 I have never looked back.  But, I have always missed the berry keyboard.

So will this “Venice” phone get me back to Blackberry?  Can it wrestle me away from Samsung?

Oh yes.

Blackberry have had an intelligence and really smart smoothness to the way their phones operated.  With dynamic menus that almost always predict what your next option was going to be, and superb general styling and an unbeatable keyboard, it was no wonder it led the world.

If they can marry that sort of hardware with an Android version that is boosted to have the same Blackberry security and “smarts”, then I’ll be back.

 

– Daily Mail

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Guest Post – My route to a lower power bill – Part 2

In part one I concentrated on making sensible choices whilst renovating the house to minimise my power use. If you haven’t read it, now may be a time to look as I’m part way through a journey.

Having achieved much with my renovations, including a living area that didn’t drop below 16 degrees in the depths of winter in Auckland before the heating kicked in the following morning, it was time to consider where to go next.

I’d previously looked at Solar water heating but dismissed it for 4 reasons

  • The sun being far away drastically reduced its output in winter as I’d discovered from my DIY solar pool heating. This meant that electric top ups would be needed in winter.
  • Our water heating bill was only $750pa due to the timer on the hot water cylinder limiting the cost.
  • Solar Water heating needed a building consent and I’m totally against giving any more money than necessary to Len Brown and his wasteful council.
  • It needs a licenced plumber to hook it up.

The maths for a 10 year payback in our situation were marginal at best

To reduce our bill further we had two choices, either rewind back in time until before modern life was invented and turn everything off, or look into Solar Panels.

On the face of it, solar power should suit us as we are at home for most of the day, and we have a pool pump that runs whenever the sun is out to heat the pool in summer. The question is how much generation did we need and how much benefit would we get?

Looking at the half hourly smart meter display on the internet gave us a clue, but to really work out what was going on something more accurate was needed.

After a few mistakes along the way I ended up with a product called Open Energy Monitor. This is an open source, make it yourself or buy a kit or buy a made up solution affair from the UK. Anyone that wants to read more can find the website here http://www.openenergymonitor.org/ Be warned this stuff gets technical quite quickly once you go beyond the basics.

The power monitoring is achieved by a combination of plugging an adapter into a wall socket as close as possible to the meter box and either clipping a self adhesive sensor over the flashing light on the smart meter or clipping a current transformer around the incoming supply cable. Sadly the “unique” way Meridian wire their import / export meters up in Auckland means the light isn’t an option so it has to be the CT method.

In NZ / Australia if any of this involves opening an enclosure where live conductors are likely to be exposed such as in the back of a meter board, it needs to be done by a registered electrician. It’s an expensive way of clipping a mainly plastic device around a conductor but there you go.

Once installed Open Energy Monitor allowed me to see what we used, and when we used it.

Armed with the information I could move onto the next bit.   Read more »

I’ve found a new boycot target for Tiso and Wrongly Wrongson: Twitter

Did you know Twitter is a white supremacist organisation?   Oh, you think I’m “embellishing” again.  Ok, then.

Jesse Jackson Fumes Over Twitter’s Lack of Black Employees.

…there are 35 black men and 14 black women on the payroll at Twitter, accounting for only 1.7% of total U.S. staff. However, a majority of blacks use Twitter on a daily basis. It is this disparity that infuriates Jackson so much that he is “becoming intolerant.”

Speaking to The Guardian, Jackson said:

I am very disappointed. Black people are greater users of the product and capable of doing the jobs, but there has not been an adequate commitment to hire, train and maintain [black people].

Some people call it “Black Twitter” because we over-index so much, but they still don’t hire more black people. We are becoming intolerant with these numbers, there’s a big gap between their talk and their implementation. Read more »

Google cars drive like a granny, but that’s ok

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People argue that self driving cars are risky, yet after millions of miles Google’s self drive cars have only had about a dozen accidents and none were the fault of the car.

Perhaps it is because they drive like grannies.

Google cars drive like your grandma – they’re never the first off the line at a stop light, they don’t accelerate quickly, they don’t speed, and they never take any chances with lane changes (cut people off, etc.).

Google cars seem to be a little overly-cautious at intersections where visibility is limited: Think a T-intersection where a big truck or a bush blocks visibility for the road that needs to turn either left or right. The Google car I saw inched forward very slowly with a lot of pauses, as if it was stopping to get its bearings even though it obviously hadn’t pulled forward enough to “see” anything. It appeared very safe, but if I had been behind it I probably would have been annoyed at how long it took to actually commit to pull out and turn.

Google cars are very polite to pedestrians. They leave plenty of space. A Google car would never do that rude thing where a driver inches impatiently into a crosswalk while people are crossing because he/she wants to make a right turn. However, this can also lead to some annoyance to drivers behind, as the Google car seems to wait for the pedestrian to be completely clear. On one occasion, I saw a pedestrian cross into a row of human-thickness trees and this seemed to throw the car for a loop for a few seconds. The person was a good 10 feet out of the crosswalk before the car made the turn.  Read more »

Can your husband back a trailer?

Ford is taking gay utes to a whole new level, by developing a trailer backing assist system.

I mean really, any bloke who gets one of those or needs it should just let their husband back the trailer.

For some sportsmen, facing off against a Cape buffalo at 50 yards is the ultimate white-knuckle moment. But for those who tow trailers, it just could be backing down a ramp or executing a Y-turn in a crowded staging area. Although these are really simple maneuvers, each is supremely unforgiving of input errors on the part of the driver. The biggest single issue seems to be mastering the idea that if you want the trailer to go to the right while backing down the ramp, you need to turn the front wheels to the left.

Ford believes it has a better idea, which is why it will be offering what it calls Pro Trailer Backup Assist in the 2016 F-150 pickup. Essentially, it’s a sophisticated guidance system that, in conjunction with a rear-mounted camera, takes control of the truck’s steering wheel and moves the front wheels for you. All you do is turn a knob located on the instrument panel (left to move the trailer to the left; right to move it to the right). You guide the trailer by looking at the instrument panel camera monitor and the side mirrors and adjusting the knob as needed to maintain the line you want.  The system determines vehicle speed (obviously very low) and steering input for you; you still retain full control of the brakes.

Read more »

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Guest Post – My route to a lower power bill – Part 1

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I purchased a 3KW Micro Inverter Solar system from the sponsor of Map of the Day, What Power Crisis, back in March and now it’s been running for a while I thought I’d share my experiences over a few articles. Although What Power Crisis did me a decent deal on the system, I’m not being paid to write this.

I bought the system with 3 aims:

1) Cut my power bill which was heading towards $2800pa

2) Get payback on my investment within 10 years

3) Not make life miserable by compromising on comfort and convenience.

I’m not a believer in the great man-made global warming/climate change conspiracy so changes in CO2 emissions didn’t factor into my decisions. Even if this was a concern, much more than half of New Zealand’s generation already comes from renewable sources, so replacing one renewable source with another, especially as it has to be manufactured in the first place, no doubt using fossil fuels, won’t make that much of a difference in my book.

Having run the system since 25th March with an extra couple of panels added recently I’m on track to achieve my targets.

I never measured the power use before I embarked upon renovations so the $2800 is the before-solar cost of a renovated 60’s house, with a DIY solar-heated pool setup and a new well insulated small spa. I can’t quantify how much cheaper the house is to run per month due to the renovations, but it is much more comfortable than before with no mould or damp. We usually wear T-shirts all year round, and the lowest recorded temperature without heating in the living area is 16 degrees.

Cutting power use is the cheapest way to shrink a bill!    Read more »

Britain has twice as many electric car charging points as it actually has electric cars

Unbelievable.

Britain has twice as many taxpayer-funded electric car charging points as it actually has electric cars. I kid you not.

This is the folly of subsidies rewarding stupidity.

The Government and local councils have splashed millions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash on building thousands of electric car charging points that barely anyone uses.

Ministers confirmed that public money had been used to construct a network of of 57,567 publicly-funded charging points as of the end of the last financial year.

The figure is roughly double the number electric cars actually registered for use on the road in Britain – around 24,500 as of December 2014, according to the Office for Low Emission Vehicles.

Despite the rarity of electric cars, there are now more than six times as many charging points in Britain as there are petrol stations.

Read more »

Cry Baby of the Day

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While people are experiencing floods and the resulting destruction, loss of power, homes and all that goes with flooding some little cry baby in Howick is having first world problems.

A Howick man is fuming after it took two days for Chorus to sort out an internet outage that affected more than 120 east Auckland residents over the weekend.

The Bleakhouse Rd resident, who did not wish to be named, said he was disappointed it took two days to be told the issue with with Chorus’ fibre network rather than his internet service provider, Spark, which he had contacted repeatedly.

The man said his internet had been working as normal when he left home early on Friday morning.

“I get back – there’s no internet.”

Boo fricken hoo, harden up cup cake, at least your house isn’t under water.    Read more »

Putin’s version of The Standard

Vladimir Putin has his own set of bloggers, trolls and internet warriors pushing out positive propaganda on himself and negative attacks on his enemies. His very own version of The Standard.

Now one of those hired trolls has come clean.

When Lyudmila Savchuk heard about the assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov earlier this year she was shocked and saddened.

“I felt the bullets between my own shoulders,” she said, recalling how the Kremlin critic was gunned down near Moscow’s Red Square in February.

Yet within hours of Mr Nemtsov’s death, Ms Savchuk and her colleagues were going online to pour bile on the former deputy prime minister and claim he was killed by his own friends rather than by government hitmen, as many suspect.

“I was so upset that I almost gave myself away,” she said. “But I was 007. I fulfilled my task.”

The “007” role that Ms Savchuk refers to is her own extroardinary one-woman spying mission, which appears to shed intriguing light on the propaganda machine that props up the rule of Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president.

Ms Savchuk says that for two months, she worked as one of scores of “internet operators” in a secretive “troll factory” called Internet Research, an anonymous four-storey building on a back street in St Petersburg, Russia’s former tsarist capital and Mr Putin’s hometown.  Read more »

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Lovely. How to have sex, play with your phone, and become a better lover all at the same time

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It was only a matter of time before someone came up with a ‘FitBit for your penis’.

A group in California claims to have done just that with a ‘smart’ sex toy that tracks everything from calories burned during sex to the number of thrusts and even your top speed..

Named Lovely, the sex toy links up with your smartphone and uses your data to recommend 120 different sex positions and ways to improve your technique.

It connects to your smartphone using Bluetooth, and has a battery that lasts around seven hours when it’s not vibrating, or two hours when it is vibrating.

Two hours.   Read more »