Hey John Buckley, here are some Christmas gift ideas for your family…

Hi John Buckley,

Now, you don’t know me and I don’t know you, but as you reached out to me on Twitter I thought I could at least try and help you solve your Christmas gift dilemma.

As a reminder – here’s your tweet…

I’ve spent the past few days putting serious consideration into your questions and I think I have the answers!

Ish.

Well, let’s see how we go.

Starting with your 6 YO boy.  This present was actually the hardest one for me to pick as I haven’t followed WWE since Hulk Hogan retired from the ring.  I’ve gone a different way and wanted to recommend the Lego Star Wars Jabba Sail Barge Kit.  It’s fun for Mom, Dad and Mr. 6 to put together and reminds the older family members of a really cool movie – what could be better for Christmas than that? Sure it’s recommended for kids aged 9+ but as long as a grown up helps I’m sure he’ll enjoy it.

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For your smart 8 year old boy I’m going to go out on a limb and recommend a rocket kit.  Be very careful with these as they use gunpowder fuel cells (available from toy/model stores) and let me know if there’s a reason you’re handle is @9fingerjohnny.  These rocket kits are very sciency yet very fun when they work.  When my own boy was younger we had lots of fun setting these things off.  Here’s a kit that you can order on your very own Amazon.com. Make sure you’ve got a nice clear day cos when you do it right these things go hiiiigh.  You need to promise me that you’ll take all of the necessary safety precautions, yes?

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For miss 11yr old (punky), if she’s into her music I recommend the UE Boom bluetooth portable rechargeable speaker,  It’s just as good at playing music for studying as it is for loud-ass rockin’ out. Because it carries the “Ultimate Ears” branding (as trusted by all your favourite – or favorite – musicians) you know it also has a lot of street cred.

UE Boom

Finally, for 29yrwife (tech) would a pledge for a really cool, innovative camera count as a gift? If so, you could help one of New Zealand’s first ever kickstarter campaigns reach their goal.  The Quebee camera is a neat little device and really good for taking family photos with everyone in the frame.

Quebee_large

So, John Buckley, good luck with the Christmas shopping and best wishes to you and your family from the New Zealand based John Buckley (and his family).

(P.S. let me know how you get on, cool?)

The scary, exciting, inevitable future of the mobile phone.

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When the mobile phone started to hit the big time in the late 80’s I was a wet-behind-the ears Irish lad trying to make his way in the massive metropolis of London.

It was a time of excess, just before the crash, when Thatcher’s great and prosperous nation had yet to hit the skids of recession and negative equity.

At that time there was no better status symbol to flash in the pubs of Soho than the large, brick-like mobile phone.  Through the mid 80’s the “mobile” was seen as the city traders essential business tool.  By the time I got there they were becoming the must have tool of every middle manager from Twickenham to Walthamstow.

I don’t believe anyone could have predicted then that the ostentatious Yuppie business tool, the partner in crime of the Filofax and the pager, would go on to find a place in the hearts, minds and pockets of the hoi polloi. But that is what happened.

Today western societies are awash with mobile phones.  There are more mobile phones in developed countries than there are people. In Africa, half a billion people own a mobile, four times more people than have ever had a bank account.

The adoption of the technology has been phenomenal.

Over the most recent decade the mobile phone has even, get this, started to evolve. While many of us where happy with dumb phones or feature phones, the next great wave brought us Smart phones.  An influential minority (hello again business users) wanted their phones to do more than send or receive calls or texts.  They developed a need to see e-mails on a handset rather than a laptop.  A Canadian company, Research in Motion successfully converted this desire into profit with the Blackberry, only to be followed by Apple.

The metamorphosis had commenced.  As the kids of business executives discovered, smartphones are also great for games.  And thanks to apps, miniature software applications that harness the technology within the phone, we now have hand held computers that can do virtually anything.

The evolved “smart” phone can now help you to tune a guitar, measure your heart rate, or guide you to your nearest bar/hospital/fascial alignment specialist (mine is in Ponsonby).  You can track delivery of parcels.  You can see how fast you’ve run.  You can even choose to receive live tweets from influential humans whether they are Kardashians in California or orbiting Astronauts.  Sometimes, if you feel like it, you can even make a call.

I tend not to.  It’s too expensive.  I prefer to see my smartphone as a connected device with multiple computational abilities that can enhance my life.  Data is my addiction.  The connection is the killer app.  We have melded our phones to the Internet or to give it the unfashionable descriptor, the information super highway.

Many years ago, Google, standing on the shoulders of Yahoo and AltaVista, condensed all of the world’s digital content into a personally prepared SERP (search engine results page).  There may actually be more than one SERP per search but no one is sure, as they never travel past the top three results.  Google has been described as an external brain and this all-knowing brain, this all-seeing eye, is now at your fingertips at any time of day thanks to the Smartphone.  More on this later.

In the meantime let us turn our attention to the current shape of the mobile phone.  It’s a block.  It’s smaller than the 80’s block it’s fair to say but it’s still a block that sits in your hand.  That is changing too.  We are about to enter the age of the wearable smartphone.  Pebble and Sony have already produced wristwatch devices that can read some information from your handset.  The rumour mill around Apple’s alleged upcoming smart watch is grinding so loudly, Samsung has had to come out and tell investors they too are developing a smart watch/phone. No one wants to miss the next boat.

Google has famously been preparing to launch internet-enabled glasses.  It’s Google Glass project is the latest development to toy with the public’s imagination and desire for innovation. “Why carry a phone when you can wear it?” seems to be the catch cry of the Twenty-Teens.

Wearable technology is merely a step down the road to a greater evolution; one that may scare and thrill people in equal measures.  Science fiction has painted a vision of the future where people and technology are intertwined.   There is even a real world movement dedicated to it. They call it transhumanism.

Whether we like it or not, I believe it’s only a matter of time before the external brain I talked about above becomes assimilated back into the physical human brain.    In it’s most basic form it is the fusing of human biological mechanisms with electronic technology.  I will call IE, integrated/embedded technology. Before long, the smartphone is going to get under our skin, literally.

Surprising as it may seem, people have been sticking digital technology under their skin for decades.  And there is already technology for planting sensors on your skin so your phone can read everything from your body temperature to your UV levels.

So where to next?

That’s the question I was asked on Seven Sharp on Thursday (and which I partly answered – you can see the show here).Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 4.25.33 PM

We started by talking about bone conduction phones.  This technology allows sound to be transmitted through connective tissue such as the bone at the base of the skull, or above your ear.  Various scientific and military test show that this is an effective way of sending sound to the ear canal while leaving the ears open for other information.  Can I get a yuck please?

In the next decade however, phones won’t just be connected to our skulls. There’s a high likelihood they will be inside them.  Bryan Singer has seen the future and made a web series about it. In H+ the first world has gone crazy for the latest gadget, an implant developed by an Irish bio-tech start-up that plants the equivalent of smartphone software in your brain. In a nod to today’s gadget mania the first episode shows millions of people worldwide rushing to be first in line to get the new implant.

It looks similar in some ways to the communication device that people wear in Aeon Flux, the much-maligned 2005 sci-fi movie starring Charlize Theron.  Here we see Aeon getting a call from the boss’s receptionist…

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Sticking with sci-fi, I have to say the lack of embedded technology in Minority Report was a major plot hole for me.  While even billboards were able to communicate with John Anderton, the police had to conduct room to room searches to find him when he went on the run.  Surely if he had a smartphone in his brain the cops could have used the “find my fugitive” function?

A weak attempt at humour that may be but it is actually the crux of the issue in relation to IE technology.  In the future when our phones, or computer connected devices are integrated and embedded, the powers that be will know where we are at all times. And they say only the paranoid survive online!

Embedded technology has always had a special allure for the gadget geek. Who wouldn’t want to live the like the bionic man, with expensive technology on the inside making you more efficient and daring on the outside.  Is it time to think about how far we go with this evolution?

The power of the internet, the equality of communication, the efficiency of technology.  It’s an alluring mix, but do we really want to be tied to our phones, figuratively and literally?

Life on Planet Samsung

I brought a new family home this Christmas.  As a very Apple friendly household you could have expected some consternation when I showed up with a bunch of Samsung’s latest hot products. Don’t worry though folks, in the true spirit of the season, there was peace on earth and good will to all platforms.

Yes, so, while Breakfast is on it’s Summer recess, I’ve been testing out the latest Samsung family of products.  The new toys are the Series 5 Ultrabook, the Galaxy Note 2 and the shiny new Galaxy Camera.    While I’ve grown to know and love them individually, some of them are going to be harder to return than others when the loan period expires next week.  Check out my comments below to see what I thought.

Samsung Family Gathering

Happy Family: The Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy Camera and (reviewers own) Galaxy S3.

The Series 5 Touch Ultrabook is a high performance PC sporting a touch-screen that allows it to really take advantage of the new Windows operating system.  If you’d like the full specs you can view all of the nuggety details here on the Samsung site.

To begin with I wasn’t sold on the idea of a touch screen laptop, but when I ran a photo slideshow for a work function I found the touch screen control added a new dimension to the “theatre” of a presentation.  Battery life was excellent clocking in at a good 4-5 hours.  That’s much better than my own work laptop (a 3yr old HP Elitebook 8530p which struggles to hit 90 mins on on one charge).

I did find that the battery heated the bottom of the case quite quickly and establishing a WiFi connection was patchy at times (it felt like the digital equivalent of getting on a racehorse, a bit tricky to do but once in the saddle you began a fast and exhilarating ride).

Reports from the States suggest the sales of hardware sporting Windows 8 are falling behind expectations.  Personally I like the OS and expect more devices like the Series 5 to really showcase it’s attributes, especially to a business audience.

I briefly tested the Note 2 Smartphone slash Tablet before taking it on TV in December.  Spending a bit more time with it, I appreciated the software as much as I did the large screen. However when the Jelly Bean 4.1.1 update rolled out for the Galaxy S3, I put the Note 2 down and failed to return to it.  It’s selling pretty well though if recent accounts are correct.

The final product proved to be a revelation.  At the press launch in Sydney in December, journalists seemed to politely tolerate the announcement of the Galaxy Camera before settling in to hear the “real” news about the launch of the Galaxy Note 2 smartphone.

In actual fact, the Galaxy Camera should be grabbing the headlines.  It’s a strange looking beast.  Several times I have been asked whether the camera is a case or some kind of attachment for my phone. That’s because that is what it looks like – a zoom lens camera clipped onto the front of a smartphone.  It’s not ugly, but it is different.

Galaxy Camera - one out of the box

I took a lot of photos with it. I loved the 21x zoom (you can see its effects here or below) and  enjoyed having the ability to post pics to my social network of choice immediately via WiFi or 3G (with additional SIM).  Because it’s essentially an Android tablet, you can also download apps to your hearts content, including the most popular photo apps such as Instagram.

I’ve read plenty of reviews since and the consensus seems to be ‘shop around before buying’.  With an in-store price of between $720 and $860, there are a lot of good cameras to consider in or around this price range.  Which camera you end up buying will depend on your own specific needs and circumstances.  Having said that, the connectivity and innovation contained within the Galaxy Camera will almost certainly make it a  popular choice amongst the social-sharing generation.

No snooping - 21 x zoom

Mean Machines or Big Boys Toys?

Today on Breakfast we featured a group of Mean Machines which are worthy of the label “Big Boys Toys.”  Check them out…

2011 Can-Am Spyder Roadster RS-S. Price tag $26,990.

998 cc Engine.

ABS, Electronic Traction System, Stability control.

Semi automatic with reverse.

http://en-au.spyder.brp.com/showroom/Spyder-RS-Roadster/overview.aspx


2011 Can-Am Spyder RT Limited. Price Tag: $46,990

Exclusive pearl white colour.

GPS navigation system.

Semi rigid travel bags.

Smoked chrome wheels and chrome trims.

http://en-au.spyder.brp.com/showroom/Spyder-RT-Roadster/overview.aspx

Masport Crossjet Ride On Mower. Price Tag $12,995 2WD and $16,995 4WD .

Ideal for tackling demanding conditions such as neglected or un-mowed areas or on terrain where traction is an issue.

Get stuck into high grass, brush, blackberry, gorse or thistle.

Designed with safety in mind : it sports a low centre of gravity with superior weight distribution, barrier roll bar, front and rear bumpers, agricultural style tyres that will grip in almost any condition and an on demand differential lock that increases traction when the foot pedal’s applied.

More information: www.masport.co.nz

Trakie GPS is an innovative and cost effective web based GPS tracking system for real time tracking of vehicles, boats, bikes and people you care about.
There is no software to install on your computer or smart phone because Trakie GPS uses standard internet browsers.
Access your information, anywhere, anytime- its that simple.
Wired in with a rechargable backup battery.
$349 at show plus $50 annual access fee after first year.
More information: http://www.trakie.co.nz

Wearable Tech to inspire your workouts

Winter is still with us but around the country our roads and parks are beginning to fill with people getting fit for Spring.

That’s right, the season of boot camps and early morning bike rides is back upon us.

There’s nothing a gadget guy needs more than a bit of technology to test out on that run/bike/walk so this week I tried out the latest wearable technology that promises to keep your fitness on the right track.

The Looxcie 2 Wearable Personal Video Camera

The Loocxcie promises to let you record your life, hands free. The original version was the first wearable video cam and it allowed you to participate in the moment, while capturing it. With the Looxcie 2 you can also use your smartphone as a viewfinder, create a clip and post to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. This unit records up to 5 hours of video, though it’s easy to transfer footage to other storable media. For fitness freaks its a great way of capturing your running, cycling and other activity – why not capture that magnificent putt and post it to Facebook for bragging rights. It’s worn like a Bluetooth headset, so the more vigorous your activity (ahem) you might want to consider extra steps to secure it to your ear. Using the updated Looxcie Moments Smartphone companion app, users can choose between either 320p or 480p video quality.

Recommended Retail Price: $275.00 plus $5.00 post and packaging

Product Website: www.looxciecam.co.nz

Rating: 3 out of 5

Geigerrig RIG 500 Hydrating Backpack

This is a pretty cool, pressure powered hydrating backpack. If you’ve ever used a standard hydrating backpack one you’ll know that you have to bite down on the mouthpiece and suck the water out like a mad thing. This system, developed by an ex-marine, has a pump pressure system so you can spray the fluid instead of sucking it. Spray into your mouth, spray into your dogs mouth, spray to wash a graze… The makers claim that users consume up to 30% more fluids while wearing a Geigerrig, therefore hydrating better. The bladders come with a lifetime warranty for leakage and are virtually bomb proof.

Recommended Retail Price: $199.00 incl gst.

Website: http://www.tightlines.co.nz/

Rating 4 out of 5

LED Lenser Headlamp

Running through parks before or after work, can be quite risky. The paths are quite dark so you really can put yourself at risk of an injury. I recommend you light the way with the LED Lenser Headlamp. This model, the H14, is one of the brightest headlamps you can buy with a super bright 210 lumens output. Features include the patented LED Lenser Advanced Focus System with one-handed speed focusing, as well as the NEW microswitch which allows you to customize the light output to your needs. The H14 is not just a headlamp. Thanks to an intelligent fastening system, the lamp head can be detached from the headband and attached to clothing as a hands free torch or mounted on bike bars using the supplied universal bracket.

Price: $199.00 including gst.

Website: http://www.tightlines.co.nz/

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Skinny Gadgets – Samsung LED 9000 , Apple MacBook Air 11″ and others

You may remember the old saying – “you can never be too rich or too thin” – well gadget makers seem to believe this, with a whole range of super skinny gadgets hitting our shops.

But while the gadgets may be slim, it seems you need a fat wallet to be able to afford them.

Samsung LED 9000 Full HD 3D TV
The new Samsung LED TV may be massive in terms of its 55 cm viewing area but amazingly it’s only 4.89 mm thick.

How can it be so slim?
The brushed titanium casing not only gives it strength, it acts as a heat sink (so there are no fans inside the casing).
The speakers and tuners are actually in the base.
The lights (LED’s) are in the edge.

What’s cool about it?
As you’d expect from a $10,000 television, it has a lot of special features
– Not only does it show 3D movies, it can take normal 2D signals and convert it to 3D.
– It comes with a Wi-Fi adapter for accessing internet apps.
– Features an amazing touch screen remote which among other things, allows you to watch a 2nd channel while others are viewing the 1st.

Price: $9,999
Available from: Check with your usual electronics retailers such as Noel Leeming, Harvey Norman and JB HiFi
Product Website:
Rating: 5 out of 5

The new 11 inch MacBook Air

How slim is it? 2.79 mm at front edge and 1.7 cm at the back

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Time Wasting Toys

Is your workplace all work and no play? If so you could be missing out.

A recent survey showed that companies who allow their staff a bit of time-wasting-play-time, actually achieve better levels of productivity and staff morale.

Why don’t we take a look at the latest time-wasting toys.

View the breakfast video with Paul Henry here… More about the gadgets after the break.

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