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OK - teenagers aside (and I have 2) we all like the idea of a clean home and many of us spend many hours at least trying to keep on top of the endless list of chores in this department. Why? Hygiene? The (hope) that you'll be more likely to find your keys in a tidy house?
Now according to a piece of research by Kärcher, a company whose business is all about helping us get that sparkling finish. According to research conducted by this company our primary concern with having our house in a permanent stage of cleanliness is the fear that our neighbours (or other unexpected visitors I suspect) show up unannounced. 61% of participants in this study admitted to this fear of having our home on show in less than pristine condition.
I wonder how many others might admit to such a fear?
For those of us with limited funds and for whom a daily cleaner is not an option achieving a clean home is a chore. Many chores actually. Kärcher's research helps identify the most irritating with window cleaning, dusting, washing up being the three most annoying.
While this is all very interesting, Kärcher have not of course conducted this study simply to get headlines - as a producer of cleaning products they'd like to help us prepare for guests! In this case they want to tackle the top of the irritating list - window cleaning. This is so annoying and so difficult to get a good result that many of us only clean our windows every six months while others delegating this chore to a window cleaner.
Enter the Kärcher Window Vac - a combination of Li-Ion powered hand-held vacuum and squeegy. Wipe over your windows with a wet cloth then use the vac to remove all the moisture avoiding those annoying streaks you get when you leave a wet window to dry naturally.
Weight could be a problem here, especially if you have a lot of windows such as a conservatory to clean and so Kärcher have kept this to a minimum weighing in at only 700g while maintaining enough power capacity to clean around 45 windows (this is based apparently on an "average" UK window size of 1m x 1.5m, which looking at my house seems fair).
If you'd like to know more than take a look on the Kärcher web site
This evening the launch of the brand new technology department in Harrods Knightsbridge store took place with lots of glitz and glamour.
All the well known high street names have sections as well as those normally only found in the more exclusive independent stores.
For those who know Harrods a good chunk of the third floor is now devoted to technology, part of the furniture department as well as the Waterstones bookshop have been amalgamated into technology making a huge department.
The world launch of Loewe new TV offering also took place, I hope to review this shortly. If you want to inspect a technology product then Harrods well informed staff are the people to ask. Also while you are there visit the Spy Store on one edge of the department and do not miss the wall of memorabilia opposite this area with lots of famous artefacts like a signed Muhammad Ali glove, lots of famous signatures worth a visit just to see this wall of wonders.
Listening to the Today Programme this morning it was interesting to hear the article on the launch of the Raspberry Pi, a tiny piece of circuitry aimed at getting people (children mainly) back into programming. How we ever, as a country, managed to loose this skill and interest is quite frankly beyond me.
My computing "career" started as a 14 year old visiting the local girls grammar school once a week with a couple of other "geeks" (a term yet to be coined) to use their teletype and 110 baud acoustic-coupler link to an ICL 1900 mainframe at Kent College. This was followed by writing Mastermind on a programmable calculator and eventually the arrival of my very own Sinclair ZX80 which, to my mothers surprise, arrived in a Jiffy bag! It's still in my loft.
Computers and computing were new, they were exciting and.... well actually they did absolutely nothing. Take a ZX80 out of a bag and plug it in and you have a system that does... well... nothing. Not a thing. You couldn't even buy software to run on it. And that was the key - they were exciting but anything you wanted them to do you did yourself. With each step forward there would be a real sense of achievement. Armed only with the ZX80, a circuit diagram, an ancient black and white TV set, a copy of the Z80 op-codes and time that should have been dedicated to O and A levels I had my very own version of Space Invaders.
My daughter recently went through the process of choosing her 'A' levels. Sixth Form has moved on and there is now a bewildering array of courses on offer and to offer these schools now club together in consortia. As one of the first year at my school to take Computer Science A level (we had no teachers and so the subject was gallantly taken on by the deputy head and a sociology teacher) you may well imagine my surprise to find none of the colleges now offer Computer Science as an A level subject. A surprise it seems that's shared by Google's Eric Schmidt who went so far as being "flabbergasted". Not one college. Despite one of the colleges being a science and technology specialist!
Where is this rambling going?
Oh yes - the Raspberry Pi. It should come as no surprise in the days of smart phones to find this tiny circuit board hosts a full blown computer. From the Arm processor, 1080p graphics driver, USB ports to the SD-card memory slot everything you'd find on a laptop is here.
The SD card slot provides the primary storage media and this has to hold your operating system plus anything else you want. Given the system has two USB sockets secondary storage could presumably be achieved through a USB hard-disk.
So what can you do with it? There's a nice video from Robert Mullins, co-founder of the Raspberry Pi foundation which demonstrates the system in operation. Basically he boots into a version of Linux (there are several flavours available that will run on the constrained hardware) and from there demonstrates an educational programming language which I presume is analogous to yesteryear's BASIC.
The big question is "will the Raspberry Pi encourage children to take up programming", which is it's primary goal? That's going to depend to a large extent on schools, on teachers driving their pupils enthusiasm. My own interest was sparked by a maths teacher and an after school maths club - not everything has to be part of the appalling National Curriculum and compulsion is general the enemy of enthusiasm!
One thing is certain - for the Raspberry Pi to succeed schools are going to have to encourage projects where there is not currently an off-the-shelf solution - why write Space Invaders when you can buy it for £10?
Games, music, CDs! There's no shortage of them and many of us probably have more than we really need, especially if you're one of those people that like to get there hands on the latest entertainment at the earliest opportunity!
What do you do with all these products when you're finished? For many of us they very quickly become shelf-candy, gathering dust and looking very sorry for themselves! musicMagpie is one option for those that wish to declutter their shelves and make a few bob into the bargain.
musicMagpie started out with some software for your PC that would let you scan bar-codes of unwanted products with your web-cam and provide you with an easy to access marketplace. They've now made things even easier with an iPhone app - instead of finding your missing web-cam simply install the app on your iPhone and 'click' the bar code is scanned and you can watch the pennies and, hopefully, pounds start to accumulate.
You can download the iPhone app directly from the musicMagpie website where you'll also find full instructions on how you can use their service.
I've not tried it yet but when I get a moment I'll definitely be taking a long look at the dust gathering on the seldom played games stacked on my shelf. If you have used musicMagpie please do post your feedback below!
The ability to stream music wirelessly around your house isn't new. I've reviewed a number of wireless speakers in the past that connect via Bluetooth to a suitable device and hey-presto - wireless.
Bluetooth has limitations though - basically the source of music needs to be in the same room as the speakers.
Apple are looking to make things easier with their AirPlay technology. Rather than use Bluetooth AirPlay instead piggybacks your WiFi network. All recent Apple products come with WiFi and as long as you've gone through the pain of configuring WiFi in your house you can make use of the system.
Apple's part in the puzzle is providing the music source - iPad, iPhone, iPod or Apple Mac laptop or desktop.
You'll need some speakers of course. GEAR4 have just launched their AirZone product. This can attach to AirPlay and you can beam your music directly to the speakers from anywhere within WiFi range.
For those of you that don't want to attach wirelessly (is there really a point if you're in the room with your iPod?) then there's a traditional iPad/iPhone/iPod dock, built in FM radio and a line-in socket allowing you to play other audio sources.
RRP is £199
The tradition of viewing art is set to be transformed with today’s launch of radical interactive content to accompany the new commission by Elmgreen and Dragset for the Fourth Plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square. In collaboration with s[edition], the leading digital platform for collecting contemporary art, the Scandinavian artistic duo invites visitors to experience the sculpture in the virtual world using augmented reality.
For the first time, visitors can further engage with the Fourth Plinth commission, which is funded by the Mayor of London with support from Arts Council England. They will be able to access exclusive content via the s[edition] iPhone app, powered by Aurasma, the world's leading augmented reality platform, and using the Aurasma app for smartphones. When devices are pointed at the sculpture’s plaque, users will receive a three-dimensional rendering of the sculpture, along with unique footage of Elmgreen & Dragset presenting their work.
The artists have also collaborated with s[edition] to create a digital limited edition artwork celebrating the commissioned sculpture. Designed to be viewed on digital devices from iPhones to televisions, the limited edition features a unique digital rendition of the bronze sculpture on the plinth. To commemorate the unveiling, s[edition] will offer members of the public the chance to own one of 5,000 limited editions, worth £35 each, for free before 5pm GMT on Friday 23 February 2012. The editions are limited to one per person and can be accessed via the s[edition] website: www.seditionart.com/elmgreen_and_dragset/powerless_structures
Michael Elmgreen said: “The internet has created possibilities for experiencing artworks in a totally different way. You do not need to be there in a physical sense at the location to actually get an impression of the work. So it broadens the possibilities to reach other audiences apart from the people in Trafalgar Square.”
Ingar Dragset stated: “When we developed the sculpture itself in a 3D format, we used the computer as well as a tool. It is a big part of most artists’ working process. What you see with our s[edition] limited edition is the computer manipulated sculpture turning around, with the blue sky in the background, and it loops endlessly.”
Robert Norton, co-founder and CEO of s[edition], said: “It is thrilling to be partnered with Elmgreen & Dragset and Aurasma on such a groundbreaking initiative. This is the first time we have seen major artists bring the physical and virtual worlds together using augmented reality powered by Aurasma, and we believe it will pave the way for the future.”
Martina King, Managing Director of Aurasma, said: “This ground breaking collaboration with s[edition] brings digital art to 3D life, augmented into the real world. People will be able to use the simple tools in the app to add a 3D model of the artwork to their homes, offices gardens – even the street. We’re delighted to see Aurasma’s unique technology being used to change the way people see and interact with art using their mobile devices.”
Commissioned by the Mayor of London and supported by the Arts Council England, Elmgreen & Dragset’s new sculpture for the Fourth Plinth was unveiled on 23 February 2012 in Trafalgar Square, London. Entitled Powerless Structures, Fig 101, the artwork features a 4.1m high golden bronze sculpture portraying a boy on a rocking horse with his right arm thrust high in the air. Powerless Structures, Fig.101 is supported by AlixPartners with Louis Vuitton.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "The year that we host the greatest show on earth is an unprecedented opportunity to celebrate London's status as a globally renowned cultural capital. Elmgreen & Dragset have created a gleaming sculpture for the Fourth Plinth, which will be a high profile attraction during a summer like no other - with its nod to equestrianism I hope it augers well for medal glory at the 2012 Games!"
Available for iPhone and Android smartphones, Aurasma uses advanced image and pattern recognition technology to seamlessly blend the real world with interactive digital content called “Auras”. Auras can be created for images, objects and physical places. Users can even use the simple tools in the app to create and add their own Auras to the world. A 3D version of Powerless Structures, Fig 101 will be available on the Aurasma platform for users to place into the real world, view and share.
A webcam that bears an uncanny similarity to Pixar robot favourite Wall-E goes on sale at Asda this week for an astonishing £2.93.
Britain’s cheapest webcam boasts a 300k pixel camera with built-in drivers and will attach to any PC or Mac via its USB cable.
Asda’s internet expert Gabbie Wise said: “This is an incredible deal for our connected customers and will help to put thousands of distant friends and family face to face. Obviously at this price the picture resolution won’t be amazing, but one customer’s lack of resolution is another’s ‘cosmetic filter’”.
At £2.93, the Asda webcam is a fraction of the price of other webcams on the market, which can routinely sell for £50 or more. Some professional webcams can sell for as much as £2,000, nearly 1,000 times the price of the Asda model.
The Asda webcam goes on sale this week in-store and online.
Robotic vacuum cleaner speed the area aimlessly. It works by using the arbitrary protocol computer programming technologies and may also deal with the same area many times. However they may even confirm that your whole length and width with the room is protected car should be done. As things are entirely robotic, they have also been developed to recharge by it if it goes tight on battery. After the cleaning is performed, it straightforward starts back to its allocated docking station, awaiting even more orders from your business. The vast majority of vacuum cleaner robots can be found in a compressed, streamlined design. This is to assure they could go perhaps beneath low furnishings to decontaminate those hard-to-reach areas. The desire to relocate household furniture which includes couches, stools and tables is not going to arise at all. They can be programmed to bypass stand legs along with aspects of walls to be sure 100% cleansing with the flooring space.
The vacuum cleaning robot incorporate multiple devices to identify dust. When it reaches across filth, they get drawn included in the machine impulsively. Any devices feature an brilliant technological know-how which causes the machine look at the dirtiest section of the room repetitively in addition to thoroughly clean them until you won't notice any additional grime along with duct eventually left. Technologies can provide these vacuuming models the thinking ability to negotiate stairs and additionally mountains without having slipping down. A robotic vacuum cleaner which you decide on need not be massively highly-priced. The truth is, among the best products contain a price tag that is certainly effortlessly reasonable for the majority of the individuals and their families.
With fuel prices, around here at least, stubbornly stuck at their highest point in a very long time shopping around can save you a tidy sum over the year. Shopping around isn't easy though - you can easily eat up any saving through the extra miles you use - for the average car a 1p difference in price is only about 50p on a tank, or put another way if you're getting 40 miles per gallon, then drive more than 4 miles and you're out of pocket!
On several occasions I've driven to my local 'cheapest' garage (usually a local Asda) only to find on that day they are the same price as Tesco - two miles closer!
If you're away from home things are even more difficult because you don't know the local competition.
Poynt have teamed up with Whatgas.com to provide real-time dynamic petrol pricing information. When your tank is getting low simply check nearby prices and plan your journey accordingly!
The application runs on Apple iPhones, Blackberry's (tablet and phones) and Windows phones. The picture on the right is running on a Windows phone.
Actually most of us could probably do with something somewhat more rugged than many of the products on the market. Queue Olympus! This stalwart of the photographic industry has just launched the TOUGH TG-620 and TG-820 - which as well as being tough are available in a number of colours to match your wardrobe.
Both models boast a "shockproof, waterproof and freezeproof exterior" - I'm not sure why only the exterior - but I expect that suitably protects the internals as well. Given how cold it is here right now freezeproof seems a particularly attractive feature!
They also both provide a 12M pixel sensor - which is good enough for most personal photographic needs and supports full 1080p HD video capture for those that like to capture more than just a snap. If your hand isn't too steady the image stabaliser technology is also available in video mode.
The two models seem to be very similar with the 820 adding "more" : a stronger crush proof case, waterproof to a depth of 10m rather than 5m and 'drop-proof' from a height of 2m rather than 1.5m (for tall people?).
No viewfinder of course, as is standard these days with a 3" LCD screen displaying images and status.