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INFOGRAPHIC: The importance of communication

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Valentine's Day is upon us, and as we text, email, PM, snapchat, IM and tweet our loved ones a special message, we realise the importance of communication in this technology-centric age. Many a relationship has failed due to lack of communication, and cloud-based communications provider j2 Global has made this special infographic to display how better means of communication could have saved these doomed movie relationships:

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Happy Valentine's Day!

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Huddle for Office - A new integrated experience

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It has been a busy year for Huddle, with its launch of the Huddle Note app for collaborative file sharing and its partnership with Tibbr for file sharing in the cloud.

Now, Huddle has announced that it is integrating with Microsoft Office to allow employees to collaborate on documents in the Huddle secure cloud via Microsoft Office applications.

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Users will be able to save their work directly into their Huddle accounts through Microsoft Office, and Office documents such as Powerpoints, Word documents and Excel files will have the Huddle comments stream alongside it to allow users to interact and collaborate on work.

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Huddle believes the next step for business is to move into the cloud, and provides content collaboration platforms for enterprises and governments. http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240212784/Barnardos-uses-Huddle-Note-for-collaboration-and-communication

Huddle for Office integration will allow users to save documents directly to the Huddle cloud, comment on files directly from Office applications, view recent files instantly and track changes, comments and updates via Huddle's full audit trail.

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Alastair Mitchell, Huddle CEO, said: "Skipping between the applications on your desktop and cloud service to share information and discuss files with people is time-consuming and disrupts your workflow. With Huddle for Office, you can continue working in the desktop tools you're used to, but all of your feedback, files and updates are stored and shared in Huddle's secure cloud.

Huddle's Office integration is available now. 

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Stephen Fry explains the evolution of technology

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Databarracks has teamed up with Cognitive Media to produce this neat little animation describing the journey of mankind through the ages of technology. And who better to narrate such a video than gadget-man Stephen Fry.


From the abacus to neural networks, Fry talks us through the business computing revolution, explaining how utility based computing has evolved into cloud computing, increasing the availability of powerful technology to even the smallest business.

Fry rounds up by explaining the key components that Databarracks provides for business success: communication, collaboration, customer relations, logistics, human resources, finance and enterprise resource software - described as the "lightbulbs of modern computing."

It's just a bit of fun, so if you have five minutes let Fry talk you through the revolution of business computing that is cloud technology. 

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Huddle partners with Tibbr to provide micro blogging for the enterprise

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Huddle and Tibbr have announced a strategic partnership to connect customers with each company's innovative cloud and social solutions.

This partnership will allow Huddle users to use Tibbr's social platform to connect, share and manage their content in the cloud, from within the Huddle environment. Tibbr customers will be able to attach Huddle files to their updates for information and feedback, while remaining in the Huddle cloud.

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Companies now realise they need apps - files for content and an interface which is connected to major file systems. "Users are demanding a seamless experience," said Alastair Mitchell, CEO, Huddle, and they are looking towards cloud solutions such as Huddle, Box and Google Drive. 

Customers are also looking for social platforms to compliment their cloud offerings.

Mitchell said existing users of Huddle were asking the company to recommend a social platform, and Huddle was unofficially recommending Tibbr.

Now, new and existing customers of Huddle and Tibbr will be recommended the other platform and be given a free trial.

Mitchell said that before the partnership had even launched, Huddle managed to secure a major deal with a US federal agency, which has now moved entirely into the cloud.

"These are multimillion pound deals," he said. 

He said that companies are saying 'we're moving people into the cloud' but not completely committing, "Now they're moving ten thousand people into the cloud."

Tibbr had previously had a partnership with Box, and has now chosen to partner with Huddle for content collaboration. "This repositions our position in the market," said Mitchell. "And it shows are we are delivering solutions to larger and larger organisations."

Tibbr was launched by TIBCO the enterprise software company in 2011 as a social media system for the workplace which potentially allows a company to reduce and remove email. 

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On the tenth day of Christmas my true love (did not!) give to me... A Livescribe Sky Smartpen

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The Livescribe Sky Smartpen vs Murdoch and BSkyB

Recent news has caused me to debate whether I should include a review of the Livescribe Sky Smartpen on Inspect-a-Gadget anymore, because sadly, the company has recently removed its products from British shelves following a complaint from BSkyB over the use of 'Sky' in its name.

Now don't get me wrong, I didn't ponder over whether I should now conduct the review purely because the product looks like it's on the brink of a legal battle. I just didn't want to tell the readers of Inspect-a-Gadget about a brilliant little product that you may not be able to get your hands on.

But sorry guys, I think it needs to be done.

But first a little rant... The product I am about to review is a new version of a Livescribe Smartpen, the "Sky Edition" if you will. These pens are computing tools to aid while writing handwritten notes. Not a huge British satellite broadcasting, broadband and telephony services company.

According to the FT, BSkyB have stated that the product is a "clear infringement of our well-established Sky brand."

"While you might think that BSkyB is completely different from a pen, actually the goods and services covered by Sky's trademark would be similar to the equipment that Livescribe are producing," said Arty Rajendra, a partner at Rouse, an intellectual property law firm.

But let's hope that this complaint BSkyB has made will end up in a whole lot of free advertising for Livescribe, and that the product will be back on British shelves ASAP, because, as I am about to tell you, these nifty little gadgets are fantastic.

The Livescribe platform consists of a set of pens and a piece of software which originally synchronised audio while you took notes. You used your customised Livescribe stationary to take notes and then replay audio by using the pen's nib to touch your handwritten notes and the audio would skip to what you heard while writing that particular word.

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There have been a few different and updated versions of the Livescribe Pen, the latest being the "offending" Sky Pen. This model is a WiFi model with 2, 4 or 8GB of storage. While the pen still records everything you write and hear and replays the audio from a certain point in time, the pen also automatically and wirelessly sends your notes to be stored in Evernote.

Evernote is a piece of free software which works across all platforms, mobile devices and on a web interface, so you can literally access your notes anywhere and anytime.

The Sky Pen also includes a camera as well as audio recording, which means that your notes can appear in your handwritten form, safe and secure in your Evernote account. You can also watch your handwritten notes being written through a video platform, however I did find this a little odd as it was just my handwriting appearing on the screen, no writing implements, as if being written by a ghost. Creepy.

You can use your customised Livescribe stationary and additional stickers to activate your pen, such as scan for a WiFi network, change from left to right handed and also adjust the time and date. I expected this to be rather clunky, pressing the nib of your pen against a sticker with a command written on it, but in fact it was very smooth to use with a satisfying 'ping' to know the command was understood.

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For such a clever pen, you can forgive it for being so chunky and reminiscent of a Sharpie permanent marker when you hold it in your hand. However large, the pen itself is rather stylish, with a streamlined shape and a black and silver design.

The amount of storage and WiFi capabilities does bump up the price of this product significantly, Livescribe predecessors were around the £100 mark, the Sky version pushed the £150 for 8GB of storage.

So while you won't be able to pick up a Livescribe pen for under the tree this Christmas, keep an eye out for when they (hopefully!) return and nab yourself a pen pal. 

Livescribe advertisment video to help illustrate my description of what it does a little more coherently:

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On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me... a Buffalo MiniStation Air

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We are seeing increased demand on devices such as tablets to be used on the move, but with the average high-end amount of storage in tablets being around the 64GB mark, there is a need for a more portable storage solution, for those who work with large amounts of data.

The Buffalo MiniStation Air is hoping to be a solution to this problem, by providing 500GB of storage for data on the move. The handheld device is compatible with PC, Mac, and also tablets and smartphones through the use of an app. Cleverly, the device has its own internal wireless data connectivity, which allows you to stream to and from your devices while on the move. It also transfers data very quickly from your PC or Mac thanks to its USB 3.0 connectivity. 

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My first hurdle was turning on the device. There are two buttons on the side of the device, and I couldn't tell if the device was out of battery, or if I wasn't pressing the correct button, or even pushing it hard enough. I managed to switch it on a couple of times and it worked, but then I tried the same button to switch it on again and it wouldn't, so I resigned to giving it a good charge before trying again. 

Again, I had trouble with the button, but after pressing it a few times, a couple of lights came up on the shiny black surface to indicate that it was on and that the WiFi was working. I then connected the gadget to my mobile device, by turning on the wireless and typing in the key which is on the back of the gadget. I then downloaded the accompanying app and was ready to give it a whirl. 

I was testing it out using my iPhone 4, and annoyingly the app kept crashing which soon became very irritating. I figured out that if I didn't click on things too quickly and allowed the app a little more time to think, it wouldn't throw a hissy-fit and chuck me out of the application. But as soon as I became used to the layout of the app again, I'd pick up speed in accessing the files, and yet again I would be chucked out of the app!

When I did manage to spend more than 30 seconds at a time inside the app, I found it well organised. Data can be transferred from your computer onto the device in the same way as an external hard drive or USB stick. You could also add data from your mobile device onto the MiniStation Air, and also transfer data from the MiniStation Air onto your mobile device.

I was also really pleased with accessing photos, music and videos because it was extremely quick and easy to do so. There was an added joy that while watching videos, the wireless connection was so good that I didn't need to wait for any length of time for it to buffer.

For £100, you get a fair bit of storage for your money, however the fundamental bugs with the iOS app was very disappointing, but hopefully something that can be quickly fixed with an update. 

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Stuff Awards: What you need to know

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Stuff-Magazine_t1.jpgTechnology and gadget magazine, Stuff hosted it's annual awards evening last week and I was lucky enough to attend.

There was lots of networking, staring at mildly famous people, grabbing as many canapés as I could carry and even a little bit of note taking.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 made the biggest impression, after it was crowned both the smartphone of the year and the gadget of the year.

Yes, that's right, it fought off competition from the iPhone 5. Speaking of Apple, it took home the computer of the year award for its new retina display Mac book Pro. For some reason an Apple rep wasn't in attendance to collect the award, with some (me) speculating that they must have used new Apple Maps to try and find the venue.

Smartphone app of the year went to the cycling and running buddy, Strava. Cloud app of the year went to the BBC for iPlayer and its news app, clearly boosted by its coverage of the Olympics.

Sticking with apps, tablet app of the year was awarded to Sky Sports as it continues to grow in popularity in the mobile sector.

Google also had a good night, taking home four awards, two of which were for tablet of the year thanks to the Nexus 7 and the most wanted future gadget gong, awarded to its Project Glass concept.

Not too much I'd disagree with from the night and I'm not just saying that because they fed me chocolate mousse. Honest.

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You can find the full list of winners and further info here

Hands on: Apple's iPhone 5 and why I seem to be the only one who's not impressed

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There were three reactions to the launch of Apple's newest device, the iPhone 5:

  1. Hype, rumours and excitement prior to the launch
  2. Disappointment in regards to the lack of innovation when it was launched
  3. And way too much loving sentiment and claims of the "best phone ever" when reviewers got their hands on it
As an Apple user I was intrigued to see what they would release, then disappointed on launch, but I'm afraid I don't follow the crowd when it comes to all the gushing sentiment.

I was lucky enough to have the iPhone 5 land on my desk in work a week ago on launch day while other humans and celebrities were queuing down the road in Regent Street. When I opened the box, yes, I was initially impressed that it had slimmed down and was much lighter to hold. But that's where it all stopped for me.

The amount of reviews I have read with the word "beautiful" to describe the device, you would think I was reading a romance novel. One article used the adjective five times, twice in one sentence - ever heard of a thesaurus?

There is a divide in the Computer Weekly office, you seem to either love the iPhone or hate it. I personally land on the side of love, I have had my iPhone 4S for three months and my iPad 2 for a year and, my iPad in particular, I couldn't live without. That said, I still can't seem to justify the extended enthusiasm and amount of praise this new Apple product has received.  

I was angered by the lack of innovation, and unlike others, an upgrade to the A6 chip and superficial changes can't take that away.

Wireless charging from the Nokia Lumia 920?? NFC capabilities like the Samsung Galaxy SIII to jump-start the use of mobile money?? These are two examples where mobile devices are making changes to the industry, but without the King of smartphones Apple jumping aboard, there's little hope for innovation to take off on a mass scale. 

THE REVIEW

Pros - larger screen, thinner, lighter, 4G capabilities
Cons - lightening connector, Apple Maps, aluminium backplate

Looks:

A major difference to the look and feel of the iPhone 5 it is bigger yet has shed a few pounds. Rather like the supermodels gracing the catwalk at London Fashion Week, the device has been stretched and is longer, thinner and lighter than ever. It weighs 112g and is 123.8mm x 58.6mm x 7.6 mm.

It now also has a silver aluminium backplate which aids to its significant weightloss. While it does offer more grip, I find it very cold to touch and there have been complaints from users where the aluminium shows up scratches much more.

Screen:

Yes the screen is ever so slightly sharper, meaning that the apps are brighter in contrast. But it still took me lining up my iPhone 4S against the 5 looking so close at the screen that my nose bumped the "beautiful" glass to notice this. After reading one review which described how they thought the removal of one layer of glass felt like you were touching the pixels on the screen, my eyebrows couldn't actually raise any higher into my hairline.

The increase in height from 3.5 inches to 4 has allowed an extra row of apps which is useful as it creates less screens to scroll through. More importantly it now introduces a 16.9 aspect ratio

There is also no difference in the response time of scrolling through the device and opening apps. Except for the camera which opens a fraction of a second quicker than the 4S, but not at the speeds of the Motorola Razr i which boasts being able to open up the camera in under a second.

Spec:

Available in 16/32/64GB storage as well as 1 GB RAM, no expandable memory, but 5GB of iCloud is offered for free as standard. It features an upgrade to an Apple A6 chipset, with a dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU.

4G:

First device in the UK able to connect to the super-fast mobile broadband, 4G. However at the moment you have to be an EE customer to be able to use this. Other operators should be allowed to offer 4G services within the next year. 

Camera:

The camera remains as an 8MP camera, but takes slightly better shots in the dark. However, take an image of the sun or a bright light and you will find a purple haze around the light, or a "purple halo" which many iPhone 5 users are complaining about. Again, this is an area where the upcoming Nokia Lumia 920 may trump over the iPhone 5.

Battery Life:

The iPhone 5 has 25 hours extra on the iPhone 4S, bringing it up to 225 hours standby and up to 8 hours talk time. 

Call Quality:

I found the call quality very clear and when compared to the iPhone 4S, it wasn't as tinny and there was less echo from the surrounding area of the person you are calling. 

Earphones:

The earphones have been redesigned and are much more comfortable to wear than the previous design. They sit securely thanks to the rounded tip that fits inside the opening to your ear. Those genius people in Apple have also moved the headphone socket to the bottom of the device, mirroring its iPod touch devices, which is much more convenient as the wires don't tangle up as much. 

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iOS6:

The iPhone 5 comes preloaded with Apple's new operating system, iOS6. However, the OS is still available to existing Apple users (with functionality varied depending on the age of your device.

I took a look at the new iOS6 last week and despite the major issues with Apple Maps which have stopped some users upgrading their device all together, I was pretty impressed with the features that I was able to use including extended use of Siri, a Do Not Disturb function and passbook.

While there has been serious problems with Apple's Maps app, I would think they will be working around the clock to update Maps to actually show stations, roads and err places very soon.

Summary:

The iPhone 5, like its predecessor, is a pleasure to use and hold. Yes it's a great piece of kit, yes the company produces amazing, game-changing pieces of technology. But why does one slight upgrade and a few "dramatic" changes cause such a furore in the technology space?

If you fancy yourself an iPhone, definitely get the 5, but I won't be cancelling my 4S contract and paying an extortionate amount just to get my hands on something that millions of others have also got. When the time comes, I will upgrade to the latest model, but will everyone please calm down?!

The iPhone 5 is available on Vodafone business tariffs including the 24 month Vodafone Red Business data plan. This is available for £45 per month (ex VAT) and provides a free device, unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 2GB data and a dedicated landline number on your iPhone.


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Four years in the making: The best of the best.

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karate-kid2.jpgHaving created this blog and nurtured it for the past four years, I've decided to put the best blog posts/videos from the best on one page.

Diary of an outcast: Apple's Special iPad 2 Event
I will start with my favourite post, the infamous Apple event. I had been invited to Apple events before but somehow started getting missed off the list. I hate Apple so it was no surprise that they didn't want me there. Safe to say that after this post not only was I missed off the list but Computer Weekly never received an invite from Apple ever again.

iPhone Vs N97
This was the first big video project that me and David (video editor) put together. At the time I was so happy that I'd got the N97 I decided to make a video pitting it against the iPhone while mocking Apple's advertising campaign. Little did I know that the N97 would prove to be the worst purchase I've ever made in my life.




HTC Desire HD Review
David (who stars in this video) and I wanted to do something different and create a cool video review. This is what we came up with.

Sadly once we started recording David (and the department he worked for) were made redundant. It didn't effect the video but it wasn't a happy time for us. Having cleared out his desk he set up at home the next day to finish it. This was our last hurrah and the last video I made. Very proud of it.




What is the best mobile OS around?
At this point, no one wanted to be in any of my videos. The company was starting to cut back on them and so I tried to play four roles with four outfits and a moustache before I got told that what I was doing wasn't a productive use of my time. Honestly, how could they say that?

This video used to have a voting element that has since been removed because we couldn't afford to pay for the server the flash sat on.

The most ambitious video we ever tried.





Video: The future of business cards, I'm not taking the Poken
There was a girl I was desperate to go out with at my work. I needed to do a video to have a reason to talk to her but the only thing I'd been sent was a Poken. No phones or cool gadgets. Somehow I persuaded her to help me make this video. We're still together :)




Video review of the wiimote like Gyration Air Mouse
This video is pretty much when I realised that I can be funny. What people don't realise is that filming didn't take long but discussions between David and I on what was funny took forever.

He would stand there saying "That's not funny" every time I cracked a joke or did something stupid. Or one of my favourite lines of his was "You might think that's funny, but it isn't".




Video: Palm Pre vs the iPhone - The big debate
I had 2 weeks before Christmas to do a video armed with my wit and a white wig that was left over from a very bad 'Back to the future' spoof I'd made where I played the Doc. That video was so bad that the company we producd it for sent us a letter saying that if the video ever saw the light of day, they'd sue my a** off. 

David went on holiday with a week left of editing/filming to do so I didn't have anyone to tell me that what I was saying wasn't funny and some of the editing is a bit off. It's still a good video but we felt it was rushed.




Video: I heart iPad - Dating website matches man to iPad
What do you do when you get your hands on an iPad before the UK release? Write a review. Then what? Make a video about having a special relationship with it. Yep, not sure why.



The HTC and Google story: A love affair and a tragedy
Lord knows what compelled me to write this. Had I taken more time to craft it, I think it could've been great but when I read it now I feel it's rushed. Still good, where the idea came from I'll never know.

Video: Flip Mino HD review
This video took 84 takes. For no reason at all I couldn't stop laughing during recording. We got in trouble because it was meant to take a couple of hours but took almost two weeks.

Video: Zeemote review - Is this the future of mobile gaming?
I did this video because Zeemote said that they'd give me a free phone if I reviewed it. So...

GeeklyWeekly Sexy Halloween Special
Wow, how bad is this video? It doesn't even have anything to do with gadgets!!

Can businesses stand to gain from free real-time messaging apps?

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The digital marketplace is becoming increasingly flooded with apps in general, making it harder for users and businesses alike to filter and determine the best choice for their needs.
My iPhone apps as of February 2010

iPhone apps Photo credit: dougbelshaw)

Here, I'm going to do a quick rundown of some of the biggest real-time, "free" - in that they don't consume the SMS allowance, only using data through either 3G or Wi-Fi - messaging apps. 

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) is probably the most well known real-time messaging application but it appears to have been labelled the preferred communication method for youths and "hoodies", with the app even being singled out for criticism during the London riots. The other downside to BBM is that it is only for BlackBerrys, so unless all your workforce or friends own BlackBerrys, this one is out of the picture.

The same can be said for Apple's equivalent, iMessage. The majority of iPhone owners I know aren't as attentive as they could be when it comes to the latest updates so they haven't even experienced iMessage and, even worse news for Tim Cook and co, those that have, have disabled it. 

FaceTime, however, has been a lot more successful. Free video calls across Wi-Fi and possibly 3G in the near future were always going to be an attractive proposition for businesses. 
Skype Technologies S.A. logo

Skype Technologies S.A. logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Microsoft-owned Skype has dominated the VoIP landscape for a number of years but despite being one of the first real-time messaging apps to be released for iPhone and Android handsets, it hasn't experience the same level of adoption in terms of smartphone uptake. 

WhatsApp, one of the top selling apps in the iTunes store, must be experiencing increased adoption as it has consistently remained one of the top 10 paid apps for over 6 months. I would describe WhatsApp as a blend of all three of the above. 

Another reasons for WhatsApp's success is that it is available on Symbian, iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry handsets, allowing for communication across all devices regardless of their operating system.

It offers real-time messaging, photo, video, audio, contact and location sharing. 

Once a message is sent the sender is given a tick to let them know everything is okay. Then, they receive a second tick when the recipient reads the message. This and the fact you can see when your recipient is typing mean you don't need to bombard them with emails on deadline day. The ability to remove the ol' "Oh, I didn't see that message" excuse is surely an attractive one.
WhatsApp

WhatsApp (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This page details how all sorts of businesses from e-commerce to editorial and customer service are rolling out and utilising WhatsApp as either an email replacement or alternative. 

Finally, Telefónica recently unveiled their first foray into the real-time messaging application market in the form of TU Me. Billed as a new VoIP and social communication app it offers free calls, texts, voice messages while storing data in the cloud. TU Me is currently only available for iPhone but an Android app is in development. 

Given that WhatsApp is so established, even TU Me's timeline and history won't help it. 

Although, should TU Me switch its focus to the business sector, offering document attachments, multiple messaging and a built in appointment builder it could well take off as it seems businesses are increasingly open the possibility of using out-of-house/third party apps to manage communications while lowering costs. 

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