Radio Communication with First Responders Pending at Lenape Tech

Article of the Day………ok so i haven’t got a piece of writing each day, but if i get a chance I’ll post posts I find fascinating. Lucky enough here is one of these articles that I read and needed to share. If you enjoy it as much as me, please add one of the special social media likes, you know the one which tells everyone you loved something, rather than you sat on your arse and watched TV!

Two-way radio communication at a local technical school would greatly improve school security, according to one local official.

Lenape Technical School Special Programs Coordinator Carla Thimons further explained the need for such during discussion on the Manor Township school’s $18,000 Pennsylvania Department of Education Safe School Initiative Competitive Targeted Grant award.

“These will truly help us feel better about safety overall, because communication is key,” Thimons said.

She said several programs at the technical school provide a unique challenge where areas of the building would not be able to listen to announcements over the public address system, and the radios would provide necessary internal communication with teachers and staff.

Thimons said the grant funds were accepted by the Joint Operating Committee last month, and funding received, but the radios have not been purchased yet. She explained officials want to coordinate efforts with the Armstrong County Department of Public Safety to ensure that communication will be loud-and-clear.

“We want to determine the best purchase,” Thimons said. “We have an idea in mind what we want, but we want to coordinate with (the Department of Public Safety.)”

Radios are to be expected to be carried in the school hallways by officials by the start of the 2014-15 school year.

Thimons, who has been Special Programs Coordinator for 10 years and was previously the technical school’s principal, coordinates special education, grant writing and safety procedures at the school.

Besides the two-way radios, Thimons said school officials are planning to hold school wide drills, including a mass-evacuation drill.

Joint Operating Committee members also unanimously approved the hire of Night Watchman Samantha Walker, retroactive to March 7.

Principal Karen Brock last month said the school used to have night watchmen, but another one needed to be hired to replace that individual.

Armstrong School District also received Safe School Initiative Competitive Targeted Grant funding in the amount of $25,000, and put the money toward the purchase of new and updated security cameras “as another layer of security throughout the district,” according to School Superintendent Stan Chapp in March.
Director of Technology and Information Services Anthony Grenda said about 16 surveillance cameras will be added to the interior and exterior of Elderton and Shannock Valley Elementary Schools. He hopes those cameras are installed by the end of the current school year. Several have already been installed, he said earlier this week.
Apollo-Ridge and Leechburg Area School Districts also received $25,000 in grant funds.
Earlier this year, Armstrong also received $40,000 in the state’s Safe Schools Grant Program for utilization of a school police officer. Those officers have also been already utilized throughout the district.
The Lenape Tech Joint Operating Committee meets again Thursday evening, beginning with a 6:30PM public budget session at the school.

Source – http://www.kittanningpaper.com/2014/04/16/radio-communication-with-first-responders-pending-at-lenape-tech/44954

 

Icom Radio Earpiece: Technology at its Best|Where to get a Icom Radio Earpiece}

We’re residing in a world that revolves around technology’s latest innovations. Communication forms the backbone of every business in the world. Global operations function effectively on quality based communication systems. Discrete communication systems are setup for the purpose of sending, receiving and regulating information to the right destination. If you wish to ensure steady communication between recipients, secure and effective equipments must be utilized. Of this, the two way radio is a popular tool in demand. If you’re an avid user of the two way radio, then combining this technology with the Icom radio earpiece brings about effective communication. 

Benefits of Icom Radio Earpiece

The earpiece technology comes alongside a microphone that allows you to convey information across. The Icom radio earpiece is comfortable and doesn’t expose the two way radio during usage. While keeping the radio attached to your belt, the earpiece easily conveys sound waves as input and excellent output. Now imagine having a radio that is almost portable and doesn’t risk the chance of being dropped or exposed to environmental hazards? Extend the usage and life span of your radio by using Icom radio earpiece that has become a popular choice today. The earpiece can be easily accommodated inside the clothing for its small size and lightweight. Four distinct kinds of two way radios have been presented that occupy four types of Icom earpiece connectors. 

The available Icom radio earpiece connectors have a sleek design that performs tasks while using two way radios. The earpiece has been configured particularly for certain task however it can easily be compatible with a number of other features. It is important to check if the Icom radio earpiece is compatible with the type you own. The radio earpieces offer quick communication with instant connectivity. A good example is when you have a straight pin connector that functions well with marine radios. If such a connector is used for domestic radios, the audio quality can differ greatly. 

Every radio purchased is unique and is meant for transmitting information in distinct environments. Hence while choosing the kind of earpiece you want, there are certain assets considered before purchasing. The Icom radio earpiece offers optimum level of consistency and performance based, it is the best. The earpieces improve sound quality in environments like fleet and transport, healthcare, real estate, security, shipping etc. Icom has ensured that its particular edition of two way radio earpieces performs certain tasks. 

Features of Icom Radio Earpiece

Besides having excellent compatibility with two way radios, the brand composes the earpiece from high quality cables with durable surface. Such material protects the cable from wear and tear and offers a decent strain relief. Icom radio earpieces are lightweight yet are protected from damage in worst case scenarios. You wouldn’t want to lose connection while using the radio however the Icom earpieces have excellent connectivity. 

The earpieces can easily withstand consistent collisions and will continue working despite undergoing strain. They have the capacity to work reliably in every condition. This particular radio earpiece is different because it has a tough framework. Unlike other weak cables that get damaged after withstanding massive strain, Icom makes a massive difference. 

The earpieces have been designed in such a manner that they care encased inside your ear canal consisting of a microphone that is composed of high impact polycarbonate. This ensures that communication is uninterrupted and noise proof. The acoustic tube can be easily replaced and removed if it gets damaged. The button or controller that allows one to communicate is placed in your hand than on the collar. Knowing its capabilities, security companies have begun utilizing this gadget for its hi-tech features comfort. 

Conclusion

It comes with a smart three wire design having separate connections with the microphone and the main control system (push to talk button) ensures that your conversations are instantly connected. Any kind of interference caused by external agents is eliminated making the gadget absolutely noise proof. Enjoy connecting with clients, colleagues while coordinating events and communicating with your loved ones. The Icom radio earpiece is a modern invention that has surpassed expectations in the world of communication. For two way radios, the Icom earpiece technology has been claimed as one of the best communication tools of the world. The durability and snug fitting makes it the ideal earpiece for ensuring prolonged communication. 

Where Do We Get The Word ‘Earpiece’ From?

The word ‘earpiece’ is obviously a joining of the words ‘ear’ and ‘piece’, the term was probably originally coined for eyeglasses at some point in the 18th century, but it also applies to things like old style phone receivers and doctor’s stethoscopes.

British optician Edward Scarlett is thought to have developed the first eyeglass earpieces sometime before 1727. However, this invention didn’t catch on until the early 19th century, so it is probable that the word ‘earpiece’ fell into popular use around that time.

For comparison, American inventor Nathaniel Baldwin built the first radio headphone set in 1919, almost a hundred years later. The basics of earpiece design have existed since that time, so the word ‘earpiece’ was almost certainly used at that point, although it would not have denoted the same device that we now think of today.

Bluetooth headsets, colloquially referred to as ‘earpieces’, were first made commercially available in the early 2000’s and since that time, the term has proliferated. By and large, in the 2010’s, the word ‘earpiece’ tends to refer less to headphones and earphones (although it is still technically accurate terminology) and increasingly solely denotes Bluetooth headsets.

As for the word itself, the word ‘ear’ is actually a derivation of the old English word ēare. It is derived from the same root word as the Norse word eyra and is also cognate with the German word ohr and the Latin auris.

The word ‘piece’ has been in use as far back as the 11th Century AD and comes from the Old French word pece (which is itself of ancient Gaulish origin). It probably also has linguistic ties to the ancient Welsh word peth (meaning ‘thing’).

In the future, it is likely that the word ‘earpiece’ will continue to refer to wearable technology until such time as the word exclusively denotes a wearable device. However, this is purely conjecture on our part.

The other uses for the word will likely remain standard English that simply isn’t used on a daily basis. An example of this would be words like ‘Sellotape’, ‘Tannoy’ and ‘Hoover’, all of which are brand names that do not denote the actual object in question. Correctly, a Hoover is a vacuum cleaner, a Tannoy is a public address system and Sellotape is sticky back plastic. However, almost nobody uses those terms anymore in a casual setting (Alan Partridge and the odd Blue Peter Presenter notwithstanding). 

How Does Two Way Radio Work? (Asked by Neil from Reading)

Hi Neil,

Did you get a two-way radio set from Santa by any chance? Lol.

Anyway, onto your question…

A two-way radio, basically, is a radio that can send and receive signals. If a radio can both transmit and receive, it is known as a transceiver (see what they did there?) Two or more users can use a transceiver in order to communicate on a shared channel.

Essentially, a two way radio works by receiving radio waves through the air and broadcasting a return signal. The antenna on the radio houses a series of electrons, which dictate the channel being picked up by the user (different groups of electrons will respond to different channels). These electrons translate the radio waves into electrical impulses, which are then fed to a small processor. The processor then converts the impulses into a signal and the radio’s speakers then play that signal. The whole process, amazingly, is pretty much instant.

Two-way radios convert sound into radio waves and also convert radio waves into sound. Ergo, I can speak to you, like so:

Chris: “Hi Neil. Can you hear me? Over”

Once I push the PTT (push to talk) button and speak, the vibrations of my voice shake a small membrane inside my radio’s microphone (not a million miles removed from the one that exists in the human ear). My radio’s processor then converts those vibrations into a simple electrical signal. The radio pushes the signal to the antenna, which then pushes it out on the audio channel selected.

The electrons in your antenna become excited (steady on there, fella!) and translate the waves into electrical impulses, which are then ‘decoded’ by the processor and played out via your speakers.

So, you hear this on your radio and you reply.

Neil: “Hey 2wayradionline. Yeah, I can hear you just fine. Thanks for the answer. Over”

Whereupon the entire process takes place all over again.

And so on…

I hope that answers your question. Have fun, 2wayradionline.co.uk! 

Jawbone ERA Bluetooth Headset

Article of the Day………ok so i haven’t got an article seven days a week, but when i get an opportunity I’ll post posts that I find interesting. Fortunate enough here’s one of those articles that I read and needed to share. Should you enjoy it as much as me, please add one of the special social media likes, you know the one which tells everybody that you loved something, rather then you sat on your arse and watched Television!

Jawbone may now be best known for its UP wireless activity trackers and its Jambox speakers, but before anything else the San Francisco company was a force in the world of Bluetooth headsets. The new ERA is Jawbone’s (mostly) triumphant return to the ears of busy businessmen worldwide.

 

What Is It?

The Jawbone ERA is a small, powerful Bluetooth headset. It’s only 47mm long, 22mm wide and 13mm deep, and weighs only 6g. It has an internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery good for 4 hours of talk time or music playback, and a high quality noise cancelling microphone that promises clear and accurate voice calls even in loud environments.

For such a small device, the ERA is well-built. There’s no creaking plastic or microphonics when you’re wearing the wireless headset, and even at maximum volume on a bassy music track there’s no undue vibration or distortion from the ERA’s earpiece.

There are five main elements involved in the care and usage of the ERA. The first is the headset’s single visible switch — it’s on the inner face of the ERA, toggling from power off to hpower on — when you can see the blue half of the switch, the Bluetooth headset is turned on. Forwards from the power switch is a small, rubberised, cylindrical mole — this is a skin sensor that knows when you’re wearing the ERA and when you’re speaking, aiding the earpiece’s active noise cancellation.

Hidden away on the back of the Jawbone ERA is the headset’s sole multi-purpose button. The process for using said button is a little arcane — there’s a guide in the box, of course, but remembering just how many short or long presses to tap on the back of the ERA can sometimes be a little difficult.

To adjust the ERA’s audio output volume, for example, you press and hold the multi-purpose button as the headset cycles through various volume levels from minimum to maximum to minimum and so on; to answer or end a call is a single press, to skip audio tracks is a double press — it’s easy enough with practice, but slightly complex to initially learn.

At the end of the protuberance of the Jawbone ERA — the best word to describe the piece of the headset that juts forwards from its resting place in your ear — is its internal microphone. The microphone is hooked up to the rest of the ERA’s electronics package, and does an incredibly good job of clearly transmitting your voice to anyone you’re talking to.

The segment of the ERA that you’ll have the most interaction with, though, is its earpiece. It’s the misshapen lump protruding from the otherwise sleek body of the ERA, with a wide-band audio driver surrounded by a removable silicon eartip. Jawbone includes four different silicon eartip sizes in the ERA’s retail packaging — suitable for a small right ear, medium right ear, medium left, and large right. In practice we found both the small and medium right eartips to offer the best fit

The ERA is not a cheap headset. If you buy it without the charging case, you’re up for a full $149, while adding the charging case tacks another $30 onto the price tag. I genuinely think the charging case is a mandatory accessory — it does a great job of providing extra power to a headset that definitely needs it — but as an overall package the ERA is very expensive.

What Is It Good At?

Just using the Jawbone ERA is an enjoyable exercise straight out of the box. There’s that ever-present secret agent feel to pressing a button on your secret in-ear headset, and after you’ve learned the ropes, taking calls, playing and selecting music tracks is simple.

The active noise cancellation of Jawbone’s microphone — the company calls the entire package NoiseAssassin, now at version 3.0 in the new ERA — is excellent. For making voice calls, or talking to Siri or Google Now, it’s definitely the most capable Bluetooth microphone I’ve used, and is possibly the best headset microphone I’ve used full stop. Especially in noisy environments, the novel noise cancelling built into the body of the ERA works very well.

For the first few days of trialing the headset, everyone I talked to with the ERA noticed the difference in the clarity and quality of voice calls. When you’re talking, the ERA clearly transmits audio, and when you’re not, it doesn’t — simple as that. With the help of the skin sensor, the ERA’s noise cancellation removes one of the most annoying impediments to workday phone conversations in existence. If you and a friend both had Jawbone ERAs and smartphones hooked up to a mobile carrier that supported HD Voice, you’d be able to chat away in the middle of a hurricane.

Beyond transmitting voice and audio, the Jawbone ERA is equally good at playing it back. I haven’t heard previous Jawbone Bluetooth headsets to compare the ERA too, but Jawbone says its earphone driver is much improved, and I’m inclined to believe them — this is a tiny Bluetooth headset, but at maximum power it’s actually capable of outputting a decent amount of audio oopmh. Compare it to a good pair of earbuds or in-ear monitors (I sabotaged the ERA by trying it out against Logitech’s excellent UE 900 IEMs), and it isn’t great, but it beats out Apple’s iPhone earbuds any day.

There isn’t a great deal of bass extension from the Jawbone ERA’s earphone speaker driver, but both treble and mid-range detail is excellent — significantly better than I was expecting. Maximum volume isn’t exactly ear-splittingly loud, but it is good enough to hear the ERA in an otherwise noisy environment. Jawbone’s various audio cues — a sort of aural guide to the ERA’s various features as you select them — are presented in a pleasantly soothing female voice, although you can customise them usng Jawbone’s companion mobile app, which also adds some useful features to the ERA’s repertoire.

Jawbone’s ERA works well as part of the entire family of Jawbone products. The accompanying Jawbone app for both Android and iOS devices (tablets and smartphones alike, although you’re likely only using the ERA with a phone) will be updated in the near future to link various products together, although Jawbone isn’t sharing specifics just yet. You should be able to get updates on your UP24′s daily activity or sleep progress in your ERA headset, for example. It’s a minor software trigger, but one that adds value to the entire Jawbone ecosystem.

If you’ve bought the charging case for the ERA, you’re in for a treat — it’s both a convenient and sturdy place to store the headset when you’re not using it, and a portable recharging station. The ERA headset sits in the case with its rear microUSB port holding it securely, while the dock has its own microUSB port for recharging. There’s a small indicator on the side of the charging case that tells you how much charge it has remaining, and the flip-up connector makes getting the ERA out easy when you need it. It’s the smartest way to store the ERA, and it has a thin leather strap for attaching it to a keyring.

I kept the ERA on my keyring for a fortnight, and the charging case didn’t get more than a couple of scratches — it’s just as sturdy as the ERA itself. It holds a total of 10 hours worth of charge for the headset, it charges quickly, and it’s convenient storage. I did have one instance where the ERA’s silicone earpiece fell off while the headset was stored away in its case, but for the most part the eartips stay on securely.

What Is It Not Good At?

It’s not possible to talk aout Bluetooth headsets without talking about the cringe factor inherent in using one. Don’t get me wrong — the Jawbone ERA is a very cool Bluetooth headset, but at the end of the day, it isstill a Bluetooth headset. If you want one, this is the one to get, but you better really want to wear it.

What that means is that it’s a slightly dorky dongle hanging out of your left or right ear, and even as unobtrusive as it is it is noticeable, and if you wear it out in public you’ll get the odd sideways glance or cautious glare. I made the mistake of wearing the ERA between my morning train and the Gizmodo office, and ordered a coffee at a cafe on the way — only afterwards did I realise how much of an idiot I probably looked like to the barista.

Of course, there is absolutely a time and place where the ERA truly belongs. It’s invaluable on long car trips, where the one-touch button means you can answer a call and have a discussion almost entirely hands-free, without distracting yourself from the road. If you’re hard at work and don’t want too much of a distraction, it’s possible to talk on the phone without disrupting your flow.

Without its charging case, the Jawbone ERA will run out of power within 4 hours at moderate listening volume, if you’re listening to music or constantly making and receiving voice calls. This is not enough for an entire workday of listening to music on the ERA, for example, and if you have a particularly busy string of phone meetings you might quickly run the ERA to the end of its battery life.

It’s possible to eke a day’s power out of the ERA with light usage, but as a general rule, it won’t last a full eight hour stretch — and it’s this that makes the extra cost of the battery charging case worthwhile. You’ll have to shell out a few more dollars, though, and this factors into our overall view of the ERA as a particularly expensive Bluetooth headset.

Should You Buy It?

Jawbone’s ERA is, as Bluetooth headsets go, very fashionable. You can buy the ERA in any one of four colours, and all four will be available in Australia. As it stands, the ERA is being sold exclusively in Apple Stores around the country, so if you want one to complement your Android phone you’ll have to step into the heart of darkness for at least a few minutes.

The ERA is a great headset, there’s no denying that. It sounds great, has the added features offered by Jawbone’s bespoke app, and it’s both attractive and versatile. All this brilliance does come at a price, though. The high asking price does restrict the appeal of the Jawbone ERA significantly; it’s likely to only appear on the ears of well-heeled businessmen and ultra-fashionable advertising and marketing and PR types.

If you want the best Bluetooth headset at any price, our money goes towards the Jawbone ERA. Before you buy it, though, I’d suggest you give careful consideration to its utility and how often you’ll be using it — an alternative might be more appropriate. Anyone deciding that the $179 ERA is right for them won’t be disappointed with how it performs. It’s on sale around Australia from the end of this month.

World’s Largest Video Game Collection Nets £440,000 At Auction

A collection of over 11,000 video games – confirmed by The Guinness Book of World Records as being the largest in the world – has sold at auction for $750,250 (roughly £440,000).

Amazingly, the bidding began at just $1.

The auction, held via website Game Gavel.com, ended on 15th of June, leaving the collection’s (now former) owner Michael Thomasson a very happy man.

Thomasson, a lifelong gamer, operated seven different indie gaming outlets throughout the 1990’s and spent the last decade working at a chain store. During this time, he has also been running his own online business, Good Deal Games, since 1998.

“Whenever I purchased a game that did not directly come from the distributor I was able to look through all our inventory and pick out the nicest copy of a game, including grabbing the nicest box and manual”, he wrote on the item description for his mammoth collection.

According to Thomasson, over a quarter of his collection were still factory sealed at the time of listing.

“A few years ago, I supplied almost a thousand games to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games (part of the Strong Museum) and Shannon Symonds (the Acquisitions Cataloger for the ICHEG) stated that the games I sold them were the nicest collection of games they had ever received. And those were duplicates that were not as nice as the copies that I held back for my personal collection”.

Thomasson also went out of his way to confirm that Guinness’ assessment did not count duplicates, meaning that there were no repeats in the sold-off collection, either.

Michael Thomasson’s item description bragged, “Win this auction and you will have the largest recorded collection of games in the world – or Universe, even! I’m handing over the baton and the winner will instantly become the new crown holder, without three plus decades of meticulous hunting”. He wasn’t kidding, either!

56 bids later and Thomasson was more than $750,000 better off. The money, he claims, is being used to help his family with “needs that need to be addressed”.

In 2012, when Guinness World Records initially appraised the collection, it numbered 10, 607 titles. However, in the time between the broken record and the sale, Thomasson had added a further 400 games to his collection.

He also chucked in a lifetime subscription to RETRO magazine, as well as a signed copy of the issue that featured his collection.

“While I do not wish to part with these games, I have responsibilities that I have made to others and this action is how I will help meet them”, wrote Thomasson, of the eventual sale.

SOURCES

http://www.gamegavel.com/item.cgi?show_item=958029

http://www.polygon.com/2014/6/17/5818970/worlds-largest-video-game-collection-750k-auction

What Are the Different Types of Security Earpiece?

Without giving too much about this headset piece, but I thought it fascinating and related to what I’m currently doing.

There are a number of different types of security earpieces that can be chosen and worn by a security professional, and the type used typically depends on a number of factors. In general, there are two major categories for these devices: wireless and wired. Within these two basic categories, however, there are a number of different models and versions available. The type of security earpiece a professional chooses is often based on the needs of that individual and the level of secrecy he or she wishes to maintain with regard to the earpiece.

security earpieceA security earpiece is a device worn around or in the ear which is connected to a two-way radio or similar device. This is commonly worn as part of a set with a microphone and receiver to allow a person to receive and send messages to other individuals who are also wearing similar earpieces. These devices are often used by security personnel and bodyguards such as law enforcement officers, the US Secret Service, and private personal security professionals. A security earpiece is typically either a wireless or wired device, with different models available of each type.

Both a wireless and a wired security earpiece can come in different models, usually either as an earpiece worn over the ear or a small earbud placed just within the entrance to the ear canal. Wireless devices of this type are often worn for extra secrecy, to allow a person to wear such an earpiece without it being readily apparent to observers. These devices are often earbuds that receive a signal wirelessly; a separate microphone is often worn on a lapel or at the end of a sleeve. The wearer can then speak into the microphone to send messages, while receiving messages in the wireless security earpiece.

A wired security earpiece will typically work in a similar way, though a wire connects the earpiece to the receiver. This wire can be clear to make it more difficult to notice, and often loops around the back of the ear to remain out of the way while worn. These types of earpieces often come in one-wire, two-wire, or three-wire versions. One-wire earpieces consist of only an earpiece without a microphone, two-wire devices have an earpiece and a second wire connected to a microphone that is often connected to a lapel or sleeve. A three-wire security earpiece includes the earpiece and microphone that is typically worn on the lapel, and then features a third wire that connects to a device on the wearer’s hand that allows him or her to activate the microphone inconspicuously.

Can iPad resist the hybrid PC/tablet trap?

Thankyou for reading my site, here is a piece i actually loved reading. With their authorization i’m able to repost it. I compose many of my own content, but occasionally post other content i think are interesting, thanks for reading.

When the iPad came out, almost four years ago, it was immediately misunderstood by industry insiders – and joyously embraced by normal humans. Just Google iPad naysayer for a few nuggets of iPad negativism. Even Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, couldn’t avoid the derivative trap: He saw the new object as a mere evolution of an existing one and shrugged off the iPad as a bigger phone. Schmidt should have known better, he had been an Apple director in the days when Jobs believed the two companies were “natural allies”.

I was no wiser. I got my first iPad on launch day and was immediately disappointed. My new tablet wouldn’t let me do the what I did on my MacBook Air – or my tiny EeePC running Windows Xp (not Vista!). For example, writing a Monday Note on an iPad was a practical impossibility – and still is.

I fully accept the personal nature of this view and, further, I don’t buy the media consumption vs. productivity dichotomy Microsoft and its shills (Gartner et al.) tried to foist on us. If by productivity we mean work, work product, earning one’s living, tablets in general and the iPad in particular have more than made the case for their being productivity tools as well as education and entertainment devices.

Still, preparing a mixed media document, even a moderately complex one, irresistibly throws most users back to a conventional PC or laptop. With multiple windows and folders, the PC lets us accumulate text, web pages, spreadsheets and graphics to be distilled, cut and pasted into the intended document.

Microsoft now comes to the rescue. Their hybrid Surface PC/Tablet lets you “consume” media, play games in purely tablet mode – and switch to the comfortable laptop facilities offered by Windows 8. The iPad constricts you to ersatz folders, preventing you to put your document’s building blocks in one place? No problem, the Surface device features a conventional desktop User Interface, familiar folders, comfy Office apps as well as a “modern” tile-based Touch UI. The best of both worlds, skillfully promoted in TV ads promising work and fun rolled into one device.

What’s not to like?

John Kirk, a self-described “recovering attorney”, whose tightly argued and fun columns are always worth reading, has answers. In a post onTablets Metaphysics – unfortunately behind a paywall – he focuses on the Aristotelian differences between tablets and laptops. Having paid my due$$ to the Techpinions site, I will quote Kirk’s summation [emphasis mine]:

Touch is ACCIDENTAL to a Notebook computer. It’s plastic surgery. It may enhance the usefulness of a Notebook but it doesn’t change the essence of what a Notebook computer is. A keyboard is ACCIDENTAL to a Tablet. It’s plastic surgery. It may enhance the usefulness of a Tablet, but it doesn’t change the essence of what a Tablet is. Further — and this is key — a touch input metaphor and a pixel input metaphor must be wholly different and wholly incompatible with one another. It’s not just that they do not comfortably co-exist within one form factor. It’s also that they do not comfortably co-exist within our minds eye.

In plain words, it’s no accident that tablets and notebooks are distinctly different from one another. On the contrary, their differences — their incompatibilities — are the essence of what makes them what they are.

Microsoft, deeply set in the culture of backwards compatibility that served it so well for so long did the usual thing, it added a tablet layer on top of Windows 7. The result didn’t take the market by storm and appears to have caused the exit of Steve Sinofsky, the Windows czar now happily ensconced at Harvard Business School and a Board Partner with the Andreessen Horowitz venture firm. Many think the $900M Surface RT write-off also contributed to Ballmer’s August 2013 resignation.

Now equipped with hindsight, Apple’s decision to stick to a “pure” tablet looks more inspired than lucky. If we remember that a tablet project preceded the iPhone, only to be set aside for a while, Apple’s “stubborn minimalism”, its refusal to hybridize the iPad might be seen as the result of long experimentation – with more than a dash of Steve Jobs (and Scott Forstall) inflexibility.

Apple’s bet can be summed up thus: MacBooks and iPads have their respective best use cases, they both reap high customer satisfaction scores. Why ruin a good game?

Critics might add: Why sell one device when we can sell two? Apple would rather “force” us to buy two devices in order to maximize revenue. On this, Tim Cook often reminds Wall Street of Apple’s preference for self-cannibalization, for letting its new and less expensive products displace existing ones. Indeed, the iPad keeps cannibalizing laptops, PCs and Macs alike.

All this leaves one question unanswered: Is that it? Will the iPad fundamentals stay the way they have been from day one? Are we going to be thrown back to our notebooks when composing the moderately complex mixed-media documents I earlier referred to? Or will the iPad hardware/software combination become more adept at such uses?

To start, we can eliminate a mixed-mode iOS/Mac device. Flip a switch, it’s an iPad, flip it again, add a keyboard/touchpad and you have a Mac. No contraption allowed. We know where to turn to for that.

Next, a new iOS version allows multiple windows to appear on the iPad screen; folders are no longer separately attached to each app as they are today but lets us store documents from multiple apps in one place. Add a blinking cursor for text and you have… a Mac, or something too close to a Mac but still different. Precisely the reason why that won’t work.

(This might pose the question of an A7 or A8 processor replacing the Intel chip inside a MacBook Air. It can be done – a “mere matter of software” – but how much would it cut from the manufacturing cost? $30 to $50 perhaps. Nice but not game-changing, a question for another Monday Note.)

More modest, evolutionary changes might still be welcome. Earlier this year, Counternotions proposed a slotted clipboard as An interim solution for iOS ’multitasking‘:

[...] until Apple has a more general solution to multitasking and inter-app navigation, the four-slot clipboard with a visible UI should be announced at WWDC. I believe it would buy Ive another year for a more comprehensive architectural solution, as he’ll likely need it.

This year’s WWDC came and went with the strongest iOS update so far, but no general nor interim solution to the multitasking and inter-app navigation discussed in the post. (Besides the Counternotions blog, this erudite and enigmatic author also edits counternotions.tumblr.com and can be followed on Twitter as @Kontra.)

A version of the above suggestion could be conceptualized as a floating dropbox to be invoked when needed, hovering above the document worked on. This would not require the recreation of a PC-like windows and desktop UI. Needed components could be extracted from the floating store, dragged and dropped on the work in process.

We’ll have to wait and see if and how Apple evolves the iPad without falling into the hybrid trap.

On even more speculative ground, a recent iPad Air intro video offered a quick glimpse of the Pencil stylus by Fifty-Three, the creators of the well-regarded Paper iPad app. So far, styli haven’t done well on the iPad. Apple only stocks children-oriented devices from Disney and Marvel. Nothing else, in spite of the abundance of such devices offered on Amazon. Perhaps we’ll someday see Apple grant Bill Gates his wish, as recounted by Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson:

“I’ve been predicting a tablet with a stylus for many years,” he told me. “I will eventually turn out to be right or be dead.”

Someday, we might see an iPad, larger or not, Pro or not, featuring a screen with more degrees of pressure sensitivity. After seeing David Hockney’s work on iPads at San Francisco’s de Young museum, my hopes are high.

Source – http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jan/09/ipad-hybrid-pc-tablet-trap

Russian Officials Brand The Sims 4 as ‘Harmful to Children’

Russia has come under fire from both gamers and the global LGTB community for its decision to restrict sales of Electronic Arts game ‘The Sims 4’ to 18+ gamers.

EA have claimed that this 18+ rating is due to the game’s depiction of same-sex relationships, images of which are deemed by Russian law as being “harmful to children”.

The Sims, in any incarnation, centres on the lives of a group of virtual characters. Players must ensure that the characters are fed, enjoy gainful employment, have somewhere to live (preferably with adequate toilet facilities) and are generally happy in their lives.

sims 4 2014There are very few mission-based objectives within The Sims. In fact, it is intended as a virtual depiction (some may say satire) of modern life. To this end, relationships play a part in the game, although characters are neither explicitly heterosexual nor homosexual, these are largely choices made on the part of the player. Relationships can either be brief flirtations, casual flings or monogamous, steady partnerships; it is entirely up to the gamer.

Depictions of sex (called ‘woohoo’) within the game take place under sheets, or in other private places. Players can tell that something is going on, but one would be hard pushed to guess that it was sex without some prior erm…Woohoo experience.

In 2010, Russia passed a law known as 436-FZ, which was created, ostensibly, to protect children from harmful content. The law gives Russian officials the right to censor anything that may elicit “fear, horror, or panic in young children”. It sounds fair enough, except when you try to envision any child, no matter how sensitive, being rendered ‘fearful, horrified or panicky’ at the sight of two, essentially genderless, computer sprites exchanging, essentially nothing, under a duvet.

For the record, Sims cannot take illegal drugs or self harm in any way (with the possible exception of being up all night woohoo-ing and then falling asleep at work and being fired, which I don’t think qualifies), so it is hard to imagine why else the game could have garnered such a severe age restriction.

Oh wait; I forgot to mention that in 2013, Russian authorities amended 436-FZ so that it prohibits the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships”. Now there’s an ill-fitting definition if ever there was one.

Many studies/groups (such as America’s TREVOR project) maintain that media-enforced pressure to conform to heterosexual norms can cause depression, anxiety and even suicide among LGBT youths, essentially proving that only showing one type of romantic relationship can actually be harmful to young viewers. On the flipside, as far as I know, there is no evidence to suggest that seeing a same-sex partnership in a video game will cause an otherwise heterosexual gamer to become a homosexual and even if there was, how exactly would they be being harmed by this unlikely metamorphosis?

Critics maintain that this move reflects little more than personal prejudice in the guise of child protection. Who’s ‘fear, horror and/or panic’ are Russia really preventing here?

In the rest of the world, The Sims series has either been rated at 10+ or 13+ (mainly because of all the woohoo, I suppose). Electronic Arts was voted as being one of the best places to work for LGBT individuals by the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) in 2012, it got a score of 100%.

One has to wonder what score the Russian government would get.

SOURCE

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27374539

Review of the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2

Lenovo’s influential laptop designs are legendary. Despite being, in most cases, re-branded IBM computers, there was a time when the Lenovo laptop was the only model to be certified for use in outer space (I’m not joking). The Lenovo ThinkPad 2 tablet is hoping to take this tradition of quality merchandise and trusted branding into the world of the tablet PC. In the process, Lenovo are hoping to exercise the demons awakened by this tablet’s predecessor…

Yes, the original Thinkpad was a bit crap. It wasn’t stunningly awful, but it certainly wasn’t anyone’s tablet of the year. Why not? Well, for starters the battery life was shorter than Mini-Me’s understudy. Secondly, the general operation of the computer was slower than Wayne Rooney’s Sudoku record. Thirdly, Android doesn’t really do that many ‘pen friendly’ apps.

So, how is this new version different? Let’s find out…

THE SPECS

The first major difference between the Thinkpad 1 and the latest model is the OS. The original model ran Android, but not especially well. This new version runs Windows 8 and is, dare I say it, much better for it. Lenovo principally make computers for Windows, so having them back on home territory can only be a good thing.

The second thing you’re likely to notice is that the bodywork has been completely overhauled. This new ThinkPad now comes complete with a rubberised finish that feels comfortable and pleasing to touch, a vastly improved screen (1366 x 768, nicer, but still not HD) and a cute little keyboard that is fantastic, both to look at and to use.

The ThinkPad 2 is lighter than the older model (from 1.58lbs to 1.3 lbs) and you get about 8 hours of battery life.

THE PRICE

Available at around £430, this is actually one of the cheaper Windows 8 tablets around. It’s a bit pricier than other hybrids, of course, but is probably worth the extra money in the long run. If you really want Windows 8 on your tablet, but you don’t want to pay the funny money, this one could be a decent choice.

NOTE: Sadly, the keypad itself will set you back another £80, bringing the total up about £510. This is still a decent price compared to some of the others out there, however.

THE PERFORMANCE

This tablet performs pretty well. The processing speed is suitably fast and the general look and feel of the tablet implies comfort, durability and professionalism. It handles the Internet with no problems at all and the apps also work well without hiccups.

One minor annoyance is the pen. That stylus just doesn’t want to come out of its friggin’ holster. Ever. It’s actually embarrassing when you’re in public and struggling to pull the f****r out.

As a negative point, I wouldn’t say that there was anything especially exciting about this tablet. It works fine; it’s not the fastest tablet in the West, nor is it the most energy efficient model ever. It is neither great value nor a ripoff and it runs Windows 8, which is a plus or a minus, depending on your perspective.

It is, however, miles better than the previous model. It represents a genuinely huge improvement on the ThinkPad 1.

THE VERDICT

Generally speaking, I liked this tablet. I don’t know if it will feature on anybody’s ‘best of the year’ lists, as I said of its predecessor, but that doesn’t make the ThinkPad 2 a bad tablet.

All in all, it’s just a standard Windows 8 tablet. Don’t expect a dazzling Retina display, don’t expect the hardware of the Microsoft Surface, don’t expect the brand pull of some of the other tablets out there and don’t expect a major bargain. What you see is a nicely made, reliable tablet at a reasonable price.

And what you see is ultimately what you’ll get.