All posts by dominic

Acer Announces New Family Member, The Iconia B1-A71

With Acer it’s all about ‘family.’ with their latest Android Tablet, the 7” Acer Iconia B1-A71 squarely marketed as an ‘entry level’ (budget) device for families, ‘ opting for a 2nd tablet for their children’ and for first time tablet users.

It’s selling for an affordable price of €119, (£96, $150) so don’t expect anything too fancy. There’s Android Jelly Bean powered by a Mediatek dual-core 1.2GHz processor (MTK 8317T) with the 7 inch screen giving 1,024 x 600 resolution display.

It can boast that it’s lighter than the Nexus 7 (20g lighter) but maybe that’s because there ain’t as much in it. There is only the one 8GB internal storage version available with a microSD slot to take you up to 32GB. And there’s the usual basic bells and whistles you get on any Android tablet. (microphone jack, Bluetooth, front webcam etc)

So, in conclusion the ‘family’ marketing ploy is hiding the true selling point of the tablet, which is that it is a budget tablet with budget features. There are no special apps, services or build design that aims it at children or first time tablet users – other than its low price.

Acer’s new family member is expected to launch in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in mid-January.

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Was Original USS Enterprise Inspired By a Pizza Cutter?

Trekkies, you already know about the Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise Pizza Cutter, you most likely own one. But did you know that there’s a new limited edition of 1,701 24k gold Enterprise Pizza Cutters now available (priced at $99.99) at ThinkGeek.com?

It joins the exclusive collection of Star Trek merchandise created and sold by ThinkGeek that includes the Bat’leth Letter Opener, Inflatable Captain’s Chair for children and adults, and Electronic Door Chime.

The thing is, would a dedicated Trekkie, like my good self for example, use the sleek and pretty Pizza Cutter to do the job of cutting a pizza? Personally I would, once, just to try it, then a loving clean-up and straight into the display case.

Of course I can make a pretty good guess as to how the idea came about at ThinkGeek (as the name suggests they are Geeks that Think) One of the guys or dolls over at the GeekThinkTank was staring across his desk at his original enterprise model and the idea struck that the design of the spaceship lends itself perfectly to a ‘Pizza Cutter!’

I wonder if Star Trek art director Matt Jefferies, the man who designed the original Enterprise, was inspired by some long-forgotten ‘groovy’ sixties Pizza Cutter? There he was, sitting in the kitchen, frustrated with his lack of ideas for the spaceship design that Gene Roddenberry was breathing down his back for, his eyes resting on the half eaten pizza, still in its box, with the pizza cutter laying amidst the food carnage….. and, Viola!

I may have just annoyed some of you with that last paragraph. It is probably a matter of public record as to what inspired Matt Jefferies design of the original Enterprise. He has, in all likelihood talked at length and in minute detail of how his design came about – and I have just exposed my piece as an ill-researched bit of guff.

In my defence, I allowed myself a touch of artistic license, to boldly think where no man has thought before, I created an alternative full-circle reality where the idea for the USS Enterprise Pizza Cutter was inspired by the design of the original ship, which itself was inspired by an unknown begone pizza cutter. It could be true. Think about pizza cutters for a moment….. The main feature of the device is its full metal disc. Then we have a handle (that’s were pizza cutter designers can really let loose) leading away from the disc. You see.. it is pretty obvious, the original USS Enterprise was inspired by a pizza cutter!

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Amazon’s Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, For The Kids

Amazon has introduced Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, a special bundle available only on the new Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD that brings books, games, educational apps, movies and TV shows—into one easy-to-use service for kids ages 3-8.

It is an optional extension to Kindle FreeTime, a parental control app that offers tools like Time Limits, which helps parents manage their kids’ screen time. It will give the kiddies the choice to pick for themselves what to read, watch or play next, with all the usual favourites on hand to while away tablet time; Elmo, Dora, Thomas & Friends, Cinderella, Buzz Lightyear, Lightning McQueen, Curious George and more. For the parent’s peace of mind all apps have in-app payments, advertisements and social media removed. And all of the content is already pre-screened for age-appropriateness.

Here’s how it works: When a parent signs up for FreeTime Unlimited, thousands of content titles automatically appear in FreeTime, sorted by their kids’ age and gender, alongside the titles parents have already approved from their own collection of content. Kids can work away without being dependent on help from mom and dad.

It’s priced at $2.99 per month per child or $6.99 for the whole family. Users who are not yet Prime members can sign up and pay a bit more  – $4.99 per child or $9.99 per family. It will be part of a free, over-the-air software update on the new Kindle Fire range that will be automatically delivered in the coming weeks.

Owners of the all-new Kindle’s get one month for free.

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Toshiba Releases Android App for FlashAir SDHC Card

Toshiba has released an application that simplifies and enhances wireless data transfers between Android smartphones and “FlashAir”, the SDHC memory card with embedded wireless LAN functionality.

The app makes wireless connections between Android devices (Android 2.2 – Android 4.0) and the Card easier and quicker to execute. A list of files and folders stored on the card are displayed and they can be downloaded selectively or as a batch.

FlashAir is an SDHC Memory Card that incorporates a wireless LAN chip set plus antenna for wireless communications. The Card supports wireless sharing and transfers of photos from digital cameras to smartphones and tablets. The card was launched in Japan in March this year.

The FlashAir app is currently available free through Google Play.

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Android Figure ‘Frankie Frost’ Is Coming For Christmas

Christmas is coming and it’s time to treat yourself to a seasonal Android toy. He’s called Frankie Frost and he is a souped up Android figure kitted out with icicles and a cute hat with a bobble.

He comes from Dyzplastic, they make lots of very cool Android figures, such as Werewolf Android, Nexus Android and an 8-Ball Pool Hustler, complete with pool cue and a jaunty Trilby hat on his head.

Frankie Frost has been painted by seasoned Android artist Scott Tolleson. He’s the man behind the Agent Rawr and Agent Argh figures. You can try your hand at being an Android artist yourself as you can buy blank white Android figures and paint them yourself.

Frankie goes on sale next week – December 6 – from the Dead Zebra Shop starting at 11AM (EST) on Thursday, December 6th and again that evening at 11PM (EST) for $10. Limit is two per customer.

Shipping out starts December 10th, non-US customers who want to guarantee holiday arrival should select Priority Mail International shipping method, as First Class International can take 2-5+ weeks to arrive.

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GStreamer SDK Now Offers Support for Android

Collabora and Fluendo two leading companies in open source multimedia, have announced that the GStreamer SDK now enables building multimedia playback applications for Android.

It is targeted at API Level 9 (Android 2.3.1, Gingerbread) or higher. However, due to some of the restrictions of previous versions of Android, some features such as hardware acceleration are only available from API Level 16 (Android 4.1, Jelly Bean).

The release of the SDK for Android aims to facilitate the adoption and development of the GStreamer framework on the mobile platforms. Developers will have free access to the SDK, along with extensive documentation, tutorials and instructions for installing GStreamer and getting started.

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Red Hat Summit 2013 Call for Papers Now Open

Red Hat has announced that the call for papers is now open for the ninth-annual Red Hat Summit, to be held June 10-14, 2013 in Boston.

The comprehensive agenda will include visionary keynotes along with a range of technical and business sessions, hands-on training and labs, demos, customer and partner panels, networking opportunities and partner showcases.

Red Hat is currently accepting speaking submissions in the following categories: Application and data integration, Application and platform infrastructure, Application development, Business and IT strategy alignment, Cloud readiness, Community and partner ecosystem, IT efficiency, Market perceptions and competition, The road ahead and Town hall.

The deadline to submit a speaking proposal is Jan. 4, 2013. Selected speakers will be notified in March 2013 and attendee registration will open in Feb. 2013.

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Google Code-in 2012 Has Started!

The Google Code-in 2012 contest has started. It’s aimed at 13-17 year old students who are into – or want to get into – open source software development while earning prizes, like the chance to visit Google headquarters.

Upon signing up the student has to select tasks from 5 categories (coding, documentation/training, quality assurance, research/outreach and user interface) that are designed by 10 open source organizations that will provide mentors for the them.

They then can earn certificates, t-shirts and Grand Prize Winners will win a trip for themselves (and a parent or legal guardian) to Google’s Mountain View California campus in 2013.

Each of the 10 open source organizations will choose 2 of the 5 students that complete the most tasks with their organization as their Grand Prize Winners for a total of 20 Grand Prize Winners for Google Code-in 2012 – twice as many Grand Prize Winners as last year.

Last year, 542 students from 56 countries competed in the contest. The contest ends on January 14, 2013.

You can sign up here.

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Kobo Joins In With Black Friday

Kobo is joining in with the Black Friday sales frenzy by offering its Kobo Mini eReader at the low price of $49.99 (cut down from 80 bucks) in-store on November 23rd and online for Cyber Monday on November 26th.

Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving and is traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. It give Americans the chance to catch up on the shopping after the all-eating Thanksgiving. Plus it gives stores the chance to make up for lost business the day before. And with the popularity of online shopping it wasn’t long before it got it’s special deal day – Cyber Monday.

It doesn’t mean that online retailers have to wait till Monday to offer their special deals, but for people who are too busy to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend or do not find what they’re looking for in-store.

There is a rash of apps to help you navigate thru all the deals, such as TGI Black Friday – search through deals from major retail stores, with price comparisons between retailers. Red Laser – scan barcodes or take photos of an item to get a list of prices nearby or online. And Amazon Price Check – scan items or take a photo to get a list of products for sale on Amazon.com.

With the glut of online shopping, Thanksgiving day itself is being invaded with some online retailers announcing the start-date for their deals starting on that day of turkey and family. Take Sprint for example. You can order yourself a $50 Galaxy S3 on the big day itself.

Back to the Kobo Mini eReader. Mini as in a 5 inch screen. The special offer is available at Best Buy and through IndieBound independent bookstores. In addition, Indie bookstore customers who purchase a Kobo eReader from now until November 26th will receive a free copy of the Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro.

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