Welcome to the World of Tomorrow!

When Philips first launched ‘Hue’, their smart lighting system in 2012 (I think, that seems so long ago now!) I was in love. Granted, I am a lighting technician and often wish I’d pursued lighting design rather than the electrical side of things but that’s a different story…anyway, I was really intrigued by them. At the time it was massively beyond my price range so I could only watch from afar and put it on all my wishlists hoping I’d (a) win the lottery or (b) have a sudden pay increase. B (sort of) happened as I earn a pretty good living now and can actually save money!

Over time I’ve replaced my traditional GU10s with LED GU10s, with mixed results. The first set in my living room, far too dim and the replacements you can see from space! The first set had a warm light which would have been lovely if you could actually see what you were doing and didn’t have to buy a lamp, the second were far too harsh and quite painful to the point where I never switched on the overhead light. This is why I decided to go ahead with the Philips Hue lights.

Continue reading

Advertisements

21st Century Life: Thinking About Tech

I’m not a tech blogger but tech features quite heavily in my life. I have a passing interest in tech developments and new tech, mostly job related as lighting technology is fucking amazing!

Because of Star Trek I have always loved the idea of the automated life and I love seeing technology slowly bringing us closer to the Star Trek visioned future. My tech wish list features the Philip’s Hue, Nest thermostat (or Hive), Parrot Flower and Scout Alarm. I have absolutely no need for the security system or the Parrot Flower but I love that they exist. The fact I can link all these systems together with triggers via IFTTT really appeals to me.

I’ve pre-ordered the Amazon Fire stick. I don’t have a TV (haven’t done since 2011) but I own a TV monitor hooked up to a blu-ray player and my increasingly neglected XBox 360. I have Prime membership, a Netflix account and have set up a media server in my flat using Plex. This is partly why I see no need to connect my TV to an aerial or subscribe to something like Sky and paying for a smart TV when I can turn my current one into a smart TV though a gadget which had cost me £20 appeals (it’s now £35 but when you look at the cost of buying a smart TV it’s really peanuts in comparison).

The idea of a Steam box is beginning to grow on me after my initial scepticism, I don’t think it’s something I would ever have but much like owning a desktop PC I can seriously see the appeal. Actually, since putting down permanent roots I’m beginning to think that my next computing device should be a desktop PC (built for gaming and with three good quality monitors). Then I could get a tablet for portability.

If it were feasible I would swap my phone for a tablet. Right now I’ve had to move from the Nokia Lumia 925 to the HTC Desire 510. The Lumia has hands down been the best phone I’ve owned, the camera was marvelous, the keyboard beautifully responsive and I didn’t have to download fifteen apps to do one task! If only it had, had more connectivity with apps. Not that I’m unhappy with the switch back to Android, I appreciate the functionality, connectivity and service integration but I don’t appreciate the bundling of system apps which I can’t remove. I also miss the camera on the Nokia but there are Android phones out there which can match them, I’ve just gone for the budget replacement. My contract is up next January and who knows where phone tech will be then.

(I also need to win the lottery in order to be able to afford all this cool tech, which isn’t going to happen but I can dream 😉 )

Goodbye Old Friend

Three years ago my laptop died and as I was earning a decent wage, I invested. Well, I bought a cheap(ish) laptop from PC World that at the time fitted my requirements, I almost went for the one just over my budget but it wasn’t in stock so I stuck with what I could afford. Sadly, it hasn’t really proved to be that cost effective – it’s only just three years old and I would have liked it to last that little bit longer.

My keyboard is a bit… dead, some keys don’t respond, others get stuck and I’m missing one of them (this is being typed on a plug in USB keyboard), a resistor in the screen has gone (loving the white line!), one of my USB ports is damaged as is the line-in for my headphones and don’t get me started on the over-heating video card (always been a problem).

A co-worker is willing to spend the time/effort to get it up to scratch so it’s going to a good home, and since I’ve never really had any software problems I think it’ll be okay. I’ve bought a Dell Studio 15, not the best laptop out there but one that meets my requirements and is a great deal (particularly with the student discount). It’ll hopefully be arriving sometime next week (I opted to upgrade the processing speed).

I’d like to say I’d miss my old one but I don’t think I will… sorry old thing.

The future is 3D? I hope to hell it’s not.

I saw one 3D film this year (‘UP’) and I couldn’t see the fuss (film was good, 3D pointless) – if you want to see 3D go to the theatre.

As a bit of a sci-fi geek I decided that I had to see ‘Avatar’ even though the trailers didn’t make me that fussed… so like every good sci-fi fan with a cinema membership I booked my ticket in advance, paying my extra £1.50 on top of my normal ticket price. When getting to the cinema I was told I had to pay an extra £1.50 on what I’d already paid extra in order to purchase the 3D glasses. What the hell? I’d already paid extra! What was the extra for? Not being prepared to pay more for a film I’d already paid more to see I got a refund.

3D is a gimmick that only lasts the films cinematic run, unless they’re planning to hand out 3D enabled TVs when ‘Avatar’ ultimately comes out on DVD I don’t see the point in bothering at all (especially as it’s also showing in 2D). Many film makers were saying that they were going to watch closely to see how ‘Avatar’ did before deciding on their own 3D ventures, by all accounts it’s doing brilliantly and will probably come away with a few technical awards during Oscar season but if this is the way cinema is headed then I might just hand back my cinema membership.

Many people believe that the existence of this new brand of 3D film making is to combat piracy, well you know what? I’ve never seen a more positive advert for film piracy. My local Vue is showing it in 2D and that’s where I will be spending my money (particularly as I have a free ticket to use there – technical problems during a film I saw there a few months ago).

Dreams Becoming Reality

Imagine a scene where you are out in the park, maybe walking your dog. You’re ambling along minding your own business when suddenly, a strange shape appears on the horizon. You pause, watching it get closer and closer… slowly a realisation dawns upon you and for a moment you doubt your eyes, your sanity, but no… it’s real. Lumbering towards you is the latest must have fashionable pet, a miniature mammoth.

Amazed and confused you head home and quickly log into your mainframe and take yourself off to the best search engine (blasting a few spambots with your phaser). You ask the helpbot about miniature mammoths and it directs you to an advert – they’re called minimoths and come several sizes. You can have a small dog (think West Highland terrier size), guinea-pig size or mouse size.

It might seem like an absurd idea, but it’s something I’ve always wanted (guinea-pig size please). Whilst this is really just a pipe dream, and somewhat far fetched my dream of a minimoth is creeping (very) slowly towards reality.

Last year (July 2007) it was reported that the well preserved body of a mammoth calf was discovered in the permafrost in North West Sibera. It’s believed that this six month old female calf is around 10,000yrs old which puts it on the planet around the time of the last Ice Age. The eyes and trunk are largely intact and the specimen still has some fur, it stands at 4ft 3″ (six inches shorter than me, for those keeping score) and weighs about 50kg.

Scientists said that whilst they aren’t able to get a viable DNA specimen from this body but they believe that they should be able to find the perfect specimen soon. They say that they could inject mammoth sperm (if found) into the egg of a close living relative species (in this case it will be the Asian elephant) and ta-da! twenty-two months later you’d have a baby mammoth cross. Another option, is they strip an elephant egg cell of its DNA and fuse it with the nucleus of a mammoth cell then we could effectively clone a mammoth.

A problem they faced was re-activating the cells of frozen long dead animals, but recently there was a break through where scientists were able to reactive the cells of a dead mouse that was frozen sixteen years ago! By reports the Japanese scientists performing these experiments have set their sights on the mammoth problem.

If they do manage to succeed bringing back mammoths, it won’t be long before they’ll be the latest designer must have pet and then next we’ll have a real Jurassic Park… which sounds awesome to me.

Minor Mammoth News Update: It seems that mammoths are once again hitting the headlines with scientists announcing they’ve mapped the genetic code and for as little as $10 million (£6,699,425) we could have mammoths once again roaming the Earth.

Considering a Console

I’ve never been much of a console gamer, my brother is more console orientated. Over the years he’s had a PS1, PS2, dreamcast and a Wii – recently (well, as in last Christmas) I inherited his old PS2 and have been having fun casually racing round a few tracks in racing games, blowing up things in ‘Black’, ‘Medal of Honor’ (I so want to add the ‘u’!) and ‘Call of Duty 3’ – with the exception of ‘Black’ (not on PC), the other aren’t as good as the PC versions but still much fun.

Earlier this year I had to buy a new laptop as my old one essentially went to the great computer space in the sky, I couldn’t afford much and had to relinquish the ability to play some of the newer, awesome sounding games (‘Bioshock’, ‘S.T.A.L.K.E.R’, ‘Sins of a Solar Empire’, ‘EVE online’) particularly ‘Fallout 3’.

I have been a long-standing ‘Fallout’ fan, I spent far too much time around the ages of 11/12 wandering around the Wasteland and wasn’t allowed to get the second game because of the prostitute thing… I eventually got ‘Fallout 2’ when I moved out aged 18yrs… you can imagine how much I was looking forward to ‘Fallout 3’.

I don’t think I can wait 😦

I think I want to buy an Xbox 360 (or 306 as I keep writing…)

I feel kinda dirty :S

… but then I look at my wishlist

Dead Space
Viva Piñata
Bioshock
Fallout 3
Colin McRae DIRT
Grid
Fable II
Call of Duty 4
Far Cry II
Mass Effect

I still feel… wrong. It doesn’t seem right, I feel like I’m betraying my PC but then I suppose none of these games will run on my laptop (one look at any of these games and it’ll cry).

Oh please, lappy forgive me!

Replicator Technology Needed

There are many times during my every day existence that I wish that there really were things like Replicators, not for feed-the-world-wipe-out-world-hunger reasons (although those are good reasons to want one) but for entirely selfish reasons.

I work hours that are described in my job description as ‘unsocial’, basically I start work at 5pm Mon – Wed and finish at around 11pm, Thurs I do 10am to 11pm and Fri – Sat is 12noon to 11pm. I pretty much start work as other people are coming home from work, and I only get one day off a week. A lot of the time my lunch consists of a sandwich or if I’m feeling adventerous I have beans on toast or something (cooking is not my strong point), dinner however is often a microwave meal either from Tescos (and from there it usually tastes like cardboard) or if I have the money from Marks & Spencers (where it tastes a bit more real)… sometimes I get a great baked potato from ‘Dinner Jackets’ in Covent Garden but really, you can’t have a baked potato everyday! Often by the time I get home I’m peckish and too tired too cook anything that’s remotely considered ‘food’, right this second I’m cooking a piece of chicken because if I don’t cook it today it’ll go off and that’s a waste of food… I was going to cook some pasta with it but I’m tired and want my chicken to be just ready so I can make a sandwich with it.

What I need is a Replicator. Then I can have something different, tasty or whatnot every day without having a limited selection. It would also be great on Sunday’s, really my cooking skills are limited – I can do a few set meals but usually require the help of a sauce packet or jar, I own a few cook books (including a Star Trek one) and ironically got a ‘B’ at GCSE Food Technology (which btw, has very little to do with actual cooking). Perhaps to improve I should cook more but having one day to do it is a bit… naff.

So, come on science boffins! Stop playing around with particle accelerators and make a Replicator… although after typing that I have a feeling the two are connected in some strange complicated way. The Starfleet Technicial Manual makes it all sound so simple.