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Month: March 2015

Amazon’s Dash Button Means You Never Run Out Of Anything

Amazon’s Dash Button Means You Never Run Out Of Anything

Dash Button

How do you know something you buy is essential? You wake up one morning, perhaps after a rough night. At some point between getting out of bed and leaving your home you reach for it absent-mindedly and it’s not there. Your morning is utterly ruined.

The problem is that it’s something so ubiquitous you don’t think about it all that much, and unless you specifically take note of it needing to be replenished you’re going to run out and have to do without till you can pop to the store. It’s not life or death (unless it’s medication, in which case you absolutely must make explicit alarms and reminders) but it ruins your day.

Amazon wants to make that a thing of the past with the Dash Button. The original Dash service was a barcode-reading stick that users would wave over an object and automatically order it, to have it arrive two days later in the mail. During that trial Amazon noted that users tended to order the same few things over and over again, and that they wouldn’t always have the Dash stick on them, so they would forget to order stuff they need. The Dash Button changes it that because you don’t need to carry it around the house.

The Dash Button’s a tiny oval device you stick to your fridge or to the wall. It has a single button and an LED, and every Button is linked to a single brand, such as Tide or Gatorade. Each button’s can be configured to order an item through your phone, and when the button’s pressed it will flash its LED to signal that it’s ordered that item automatically. It’ll also only order each item once, so repeated pressings by accident (or pranky malice) won’t result in additional orders, and whenever an order’s made you will get a notification on your phone. That way you can review the order and cancel it at any time if you wish, or you can let it do its thing.

It all sounds kind of stupid at first, but it makes a ton of sense when I think about it. Putting aside Amazon’s capitalistic motives for making you dependent on their service, you can order a button for the things you need most importantly and often, and place it where you use those. So a Tide button next to your washing machine, so when you realise you’re low on washing powder you hit the button. You can stick a button in your medicine cabinet in your bathroom, so when you’re shaving every morning and realise you’re running low on blade catridges you hit the button there an then. Same goes for coffee, or deodorant, or Gatorade. It’s lazy as hell but so, so convenient.

Amazon’s Dash Button is immediately available, but Amazon Prime users can request an invitation. Invitations are only open to registered Amazon Prime users and citizens of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia. Read more about the Dash Button here.

McLaren Unveils 911 Beater

McLaren Unveils 911 Beater

McLaren 570S

This is the new 570S, and unless I had pointed out to you that this is in fact new, I am sure many of you would have assumed it to be the 650S.

The design, as you can probably tell, borrows heavily from the P1 and 650S, especially in the front, where the only notable differences are slightly larger headlights, and a new front spoiler. The rear is an all new design, taking inspiration from the P1. It looks quite cute, if a little dull.

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The internals are very much the same story as the rest of the McLaren range. Mid-engine layout, 3.8 litre V8, this time de-tuned to produce 562 bhp, and a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. It will hit 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds, and go in to reach a top speed of 204 mph. Interestingly, the 570S is fairly light, tipping the scales at 1313 kg, which is about 150 kg lighter than one of its key rivals, the Audi R8 V10 Plus. This low weight is in part thanks to their MonoCell II chassis, which has been tweaked slightly for the 570S.

Inside, the cabin is noticeably different to McLaren’s other cars. Its more usable, more luxurious than the 650S and is intended to give greater emphasis on interior comfort. There is more cabin storage than the rest of the McLaren line-up, leather upholstery, and even a 144 litre luggage boot, which is apparently best-in-class.

McLaren 570S

Overall not an immensely exciting vehicle. The 570S is mainly designed to fit within a gap of the market, rather than showing off its technical prowess. At about £130,000, its clearly aimed to be the “baby” McLaren, intending to poach customers from Audi and Porsche. I am sure it will sell well and be a great source of income for McLaren.  Personally, I couldn’t live with knowing that the engine I have got has been detuned just to fit within a segment of the market. It feels like marketing, rather than engineering.  I would have preferred a smaller capacity engine or a different engine entirely to the twin-turbo V8.

The 570S will be available in showrooms over the coming months, with a starting price of about £130,000.

Slack gets hacked

Slack gets hacked

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Before I start my occasional chatter, you should know Slack is not just another start-up with security issues. It was said to be the ‘email-killer‘ by The Verge and rightly so, users can send any document type whilst communicating with their respective team-members via the oh-so cherished hash tag . It was valued at being worth $2.8 bn, so yeah it’s pretty important. Sandwich Video, another awesome start-up, pretty much summed Slack’s ease of use in this explainer video that they produced some months ago.

Cool, so what happened?

On their official blog, they recently confirmed that there was unauthorized access to their database storing user profile information. Thankfully they go on to mention that no ‘financial or payment information was compromised’ and also that a small number of individual users were affected.

The company said that it had introduced two-factor authentication as an additional security step, which requires users to type in a code sent to their mobile phone or tablet to access the app. A password kill-switch was also made available for team owners which according to the blog post allowed for both “instantaneous team-wide resetting of passwords and forced termination of all user sessions for all team members (which means that everyone is signed out of your Slack team in all apps on all devices).”

So, if you’re a Slacker head on to the help site to set up the necessary authentication and for the hackers I leave you with a GIF from one of my favourite TV series, the Office.

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EDIT: After learning what happened to Slack, I read an article stating that Slack weren’t the only victims. The others included British Airways, GitHub and Uber.  Due to my undying love for anything visual, here’s another GIF depicting how I feel about the matter. On that note, good day, reader!

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The Apple Watch Vs… Everyone Else

The Apple Watch Vs… Everyone Else

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My first experience with a smartphone was my uncle’s Sony Ericsson. It was a handsome device with a pretty large resistive touchscreen, a flip-down numeric keypad, and a stylus. The interface was tiny and complicated, requiring precise presses with a stylus. It was thick and bulky and capable, if slightly impractical.

Then the iPhone came along. I, as a schoolboy, mocked it. But now its influence is hard to ignore – it completely revolutionised the mobile landscape. Capacitive touchscreens were now a thing. The industry slowly started to move away from focusing on specifications and started to care about user experience – those that didn’t are either dead or dying (think Nokia or Blackberry).

Apple did the same for tablet with the iPad, and had done the same before the iPhone with the iPod. So as smartwatches finally became a thing people waited with bated breath for Apple’s version. This is it. But is it the revelation the smartwatch market was waiting for?

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New Jaguar XF Revealed

New Jaguar XF Revealed

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Jag has been on a bit of a roll these days. The F-Type is winning over enthusiasts everywhere, the XE looks to be a future hit, and the XJ and first gen XF are selling well. They also have the much-awaited F-Pace SUV in the works. Now, Jag has taken their hugely popular XF, and given it a thorough going over, bringing it up-to-date for 2016.

Due to publicly unveiled next week at the New York Motor Show, the new XF is built on Jaguar’s latest aluminium architecture, as used on the new XE. 75% of the structure is made of aluminium, with steel being used towards the rear of the vehicle. Adding steel to the rear has meant that this new XF has an almost perfect 50:50 weight distribution. This new structure is also 30% stiffer than before and about 190kg lighter than the outgoing model. That is quite a significant diet indeed.

The new XF also uses the same suspension set up as the XE, with double wishbones up front and independent rear suspension in the rear. The electric steering also comes from the XE/F-Type.  A new feature being shown off on the new XF is called Jaguar Configurable Dynamics, a system allowing the driver to set up the steering, damping, gearbox and engine response to suit his particular driving style.

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Engines on the new XF will begin with a 161bhp 2.0 litre “Ingenium” diesel engine, producing just 104 g/km of CO2. There is also a 178bhp version of this engine, both of which are combined with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The 3.0 litre V6  diesel remains, now producing 296bhp and 700 Nm of juicy torque. Currently, the only petrol engine available is a supercharged V6, as found in the F-Type, producing 375 bhp and 450 Nm of torque.

The biggest change is found in the interior, with a design following closely to the interior found in the XE.  There is a large, tablet-like, 10.2 inch touchscreen, featuring Jaguar’s latest multimedia system.  The instrument cluster has also been replaced with a 12. 3 inch TFT screen, displaying all the usual driver information.

2016-jaguar-xf-s-interior

While only the saloon version will be on shown at the New York Motor Show, expect to see a SportTourer version, and a tyre-munching R version over the coming years. The new XF should reach showrooms by the end of the year.

NSFW: Your competitor is a dick, literally

NSFW: Your competitor is a dick, literally

ibm-penis-hed-2015[1]Would have come in handy for Apple back in the day, notice the ‘I’

You know those other losers who are trying to outsell you. They think they’re so smug with their dumb bright coloured vintage logo. They think they’re some Wisenheimer with the number of happy clients they claim they have and the coffees they drank, oh poor babies save them from doing mediocre work!

Now when it comes to business , everything that seems even remotely mean is usually kept behind closed doors. Or else done through quirky comparative advertising and then be called a clever bastard, like the guys at Burger King or Pepsi, who’ve been doing this stuff before I was even born.

You could do that, or else you could just dish out 25 dollars and have some designers morph a dick into your competitor’s logo. The guys that came up with this ingenious idea, have, in my opinion, created the funniest cash cow known to mankind. It’s called Penised.com and everything about it is just plain glorious. Their about page is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while. It’s basically an embedded video showing a scene from Superbad where it shows Jonah Hill’s character dick-drawing fetish. Perfectly reasonable, right?

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Canon 10-18mm STM Review

Canon 10-18mm STM Review

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Rewind a few years ago, it was hard to justify the price tag on the old canon EF-S 10–22mm. However canon has finally seen the light and provided us with what could be a new plastic fantastic lens, the 10-18mm STM. Now I have owned this lens for a few months now. I was keen to purchase after the initial launch hype, and that wide angle goodness. Overall I am pleased.

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The 10-22mm Left and the 10-18mm Right

Lets start with all the pros for this lens, cause it does have a lot. It is cheap. I mean really cheap at $300 or €259 you can not find anything like it, even from third party lens manufacturers. Due to its mostly plastic construction and ill get back to this later, it is super light weight. This makes it most ideal for travel photography for both landscapes and architecture alike. Despite also having a plastic mount it still feels well made and sturdy. The plastic feels of a higher quality than the say the nifty fifty and all moving parts fit beautifully snug, proper plastic used by Canon in this lens. And this in a body that also provides IS (Image Stabilisation) . It is also no bigger than the standard kit lens. It takes 67mm filters, so do be ready for that. AF is virtually instantaneous, silent and accurate, you wont know it even did focus. Ergonomics are great with a fly by wire focus ring being used here. Optics are great overall, really little to complain about at this price.

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10-18mm Left and 18-55mm Right

As for cons there are a few nite picky things about this lens. One being it is an EF-S lens that means it can only be used on canon’s APS-C size sensored bodies, a bummer if you are looking to go full-frame in the future. However if you buy this lens than the probability is that you wont be doing that any time soon. The lens does suffer the usual vignetting, not too much however. The sharpness though, in my opinion was not what I was expecting. Now you will find else where it’ll say that this lens is optically superb, and that might very well be the case. However I have found the lens to suffer in this department maybe  controlled test shots will shed some light, stay tuned.

Conclusions

For Canon’s APS-C DSLR’s there is no other wide-angle worth buying. It’s price to performance ratio is superior to the competition. If you’re in the market for your first wide angle, look no further.

Some Canon 10-18mm Samples:

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Layout by Instagram Is An Official Collage App For iOS & Android

Layout by Instagram Is An Official Collage App For iOS & Android

If I were to sum up Instagram in four terms it would be selfies, food porn, hashtags, and collages. So, so many collages. Both the Play Store and App Store are chock full of apps that will put your photos together in a fancy collage, but now Instagram’s launching their own.

Layout by Instagram is a completely free application that lets the user put together a fun collection of cropped photos. The app opens to show a preview of the layouts available, but every layout can be customised to the user’s delight. You can resize, crop, rotate, and resize sections of any layout to get the perfect collage.

Layout by Instagram helps you sort through your photos easily enough too. Firstly you can choose photos right off the ‘photo reel’, so you can insert your last taken photos into Layout easily enough. But Layout by Instagram also has an interesting Faces feature that will only show photos with people in them. It sounds silly, but considering all the other stuff we take photos of these days it will probably save quite a bit of time.

Layout is, of course, free, and is out now for iOS and coming soon on Android. You can get it for the iPhone and iPad here.

Koenigsegg Regera; A Gearboxless Hypercar for the Future

Koenigsegg Regera; A Gearboxless Hypercar for the Future

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Remember the days when we thought the 918, P1 and LaFerrari were the latest and greatest in hybrid supercars? That, until the next Veyron comes along, nothing will eclipse this unholy trinity? Well, it appears, Koenigsegg had other, bigger, faster ideas.

This is the Regera, which is actually a Swedish word, and translates to the verb “to reign”. What Koenigsegg is essentially saying here is that this car is going to reign over every other hypercar across the land. That is quite a name to live up to.

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Android Wear is different, not the same.

Android Wear is different, not the same.

Wear-what-you-want[1]

Naturally with the release of Apple Watch upon us, you’d expect Android to ramp up their marketing. And they did just that in their latest cheeky commercial which was debuted at SXSW Interactive. Quick sidenote, before I start rambling. This ad was directed by Alexei Tylevich and produced by the gifted creatives over at Droga5.

Choreography was the dish of the day, as a host of talented artists danced away to the beat of Shamri’s On The Regular. Other than the dance moves, which I’ll never be able to do in my lifetime, the other important part was the diversity of the products. Not one watch was the same in terms of form factor or design amongst the host of aspects involved.

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