Category Archives: digital devices

Sci-fi now with Holo Lens and Actiongram

In a previous post I talked about holograms as a thing of the near future. I was wrong, they’re here now. Watch the video below to see how Microsoft’s Holo Lens is being teamed with Actiongram to create sci-fi right now:

If that video clip is anything to go by, the interface is still in its infancy, but given the speed with which things like 3D printers have become mainstream, I expect real life holograms to become an everyday reality within five years…and that may be a conservative estimate.

One thing I am sure of is that hologram technology will change how we work, rest and play. I wonder how much money I have in my piggy bank….

Meeks

 


Holus tabletop holographic device – watch the prototype!

I joined a new social media platform today – Tumblr – and under the techology category I found this:

You can find the complete article here:

http://www.futuristech.info/etc/holus-is-a-holographic-display-for-the-family-play-games-video-chat-and-explore

I am so gobsmacked my jaw is still dragging along the ground. The future is here.

Meeks


But I like my horse and buggy!

meerkat pic smallI’ve never been a true techie geek, but I did pride myself on being one of the early adopters of personal computers back in the 1980’s. I used to shake my head in dismay at my peers who were bending over backwards to avoid computers. Could they not see computers were the way of the future?

Fast forward to 2015 and the new ‘tech’ is not computers, it’s not even mobile devices like tablets and phones, it’s the apps on those devices. And guess who doesn’t want to have anything to do with those apps? Yup, me.:(

Oh don’t get me wrong, I do have a smart phone, and I do have a tablet, and I use both, but only in small, timid ways. I did work out how to get music on my Kindle Fire, but I don’t listen to it because the speakers on my computer [at home] give me a far better sound experience.

Another thing I don’t use on my tablet is the ability to browse and buy – we don’t have wi-fi at home, and I have yet to work out how to access the so-called ‘hot spots’ outside the home. Instead I do just one thing on my tablet, I read.

My smartphone is even more unloved because I can’t afford to pay for the plans that allow you to download masses of data from the internet. Here in Australia, data is expensive, so basically my monthly download limit is reserved for my bushfire warning app.

[Note! Since upgrading the firmware on my phone from Ice Cream Sandwich to Jelly Bean, the EmergencyAus app works properly.]

I don’t check emails on my phone because all my data would be eaten up by the flood of spam I always get. I don’t ‘read’ on my phone because I’d need a magnifying glass to see what I was reading. I’m not interested in Facebook or Twitter so I’m not going to waste data on social media, and I don’t play ‘games’ because…

Hmm, the real reason I don’t play games is because I don’t really know how to do the whole ‘app’ thing. And that is the part that has me scared. Why am I not embracing this new technology the way the youngies are?

When I was a kid, we used to marvel at my friend’s grandmother – the old lady would always get properly dressed before sitting down in front of the TV. Why? Because she believed the people inside the TV could see her and she wanted to look her best!

Years later, I remember wondering why old people were always so negative about new things, and so unwilling to learn. Well now that I’m becoming one of those old people, I have the answer to my questions: we all learn on a need-to-know basis, and it’s all too easy to decide that we don’t need to know the latest craze sweeping the younger generations.

I know I’ve been guilty of that ‘I don’t need to know’ attitude, but after reading about Meerkat this morning, I’ve recognized the folly of my ways. Frankly, if I don’t embrace all this newfangled stuff, and soon, I’m going to become one of those little old ladies who talks fondly about the horse and buggy, and how much nicer life was ‘back then’.

cheers

Meeks

p.s. What’s that? You haven’t heard of Meerkat? Mwahahahaha! Google it and find out, or click on the cute picture. 😀


Amazon Kindle Fire HD 6″ – a review

Fire 6 picOkay, I am not an early adopter when it comes to hardware. If anything, I tend to wait until the inevitable bugs have been discovered, and ironed out before I give a new device a try. That is why I have never owned a tablet, and that is why buying a newly launched Fire HD 6″ is so out of character for me. That said, however, I love my baby Fire. 🙂

As I have never touched a Fire 7, I can’t compare the two. The best I can do is compare the Fire 6 to my old, very ordinary Kindle. Physically, the Fire 6 is the same length as my Kindle e-reader, but about an inch narrower, making it an even better fit in my small shoulder bag. Unfortunately, it is also noticeably heavier than the old e-reader. Given how much more it does, however, I’m prepared to forgive the added drag on my shoulder.

So what does the baby Fire do?

Well first and foremost, it displays everything in glorious colour. After two years of looking at the grey-on-grey of my e-reader, just turning the Fire on and looking at its colourful home screen makes me smile.

Now colour may not mean much to you out there, but it’s going to make all the difference to the e-cookbook I’m working on! Words may be a writer’s weapon of choice, but when it comes to cooking and recipes, one picture is literally worth a thousand words.

Of course it is possible to view pictures on an ordinary e-reader, but the effect is less than stellar. Have a look at the pictures below :

Fire 6 pics 2nd attempt grey sml

Fire 6 pics 2nd attempt colour sml

 

The first photo is from my old Kindle e-reader. The second is from my new Fire 6. Despite my lack of talent as a photographer  [I was battling flash glare and lost], you must admit the colour pic is easier on the eye!

The next huge difference between my e-reader and the Fire 6 is …playing as I type. 🙂 Yes, you guessed it, I’m listening to music! [Jo Blankenburg’s beautiful track, ‘The Realm of Levitation]

The sound quality is nowhere as good as what I get through the speakers attached to my PC, but I can listen to my music without ear-plugs [which I hate] on a mobile device that can do almost everything except cook dinner!

Apart from books and music, the Fire 6 can also download and play apps [but not Google apps], videos [haven’t tried, newspapers and magazines [haven’t tried], audiobooks, photos, documents [sideloaded from my PC], and surf the web [haven’t tried].

In case you’re wondering, the reason I haven’t tried so many functions is because I don’t have WI FI at home. To access any of the online content, I have to go to McDonalds and use their free hotspot. Given what I think of McDonald’s food, I don’t think I’ll be doing much online surfing until my current modem finally dies and I have to get a new one. In the meantime, I’ll be doing a lot of sideloading.

“But what is this sideloading?” you ask.

Sideloading is the ability to download content from the internet to your PC and then copy that content to your digital device. It’s not as convenient as using wi-fi, but it actually works quite seamlessly when you know how. I sideloaded a Word file to my Fire, as well as the working copy of my ecookbook, AND the Jo Blankenburg music track. I’m sure I could sideload a video as well if I wanted to.

Until I take screenshots of sideloading on the Fire, you can find detailed instructions on how to sideload content to a Kindle e-reader here :

http://wp.me/P25AFu-1ga

The pictures will look different but the process is essentially the same on both devices –

– connect the micro USB cable to the Fire

– connect the USB end to the PC

– open Windows Explorer and navigate to the folder containing the file[s] you want to copy to the Fire

– copy/paste the file to the appropriate Fire folder [or drag and drop it there]. In My Computer, the Fire shows up as an external drive, complete with all of its internal folders such as ‘Books’, ‘Music’ etc.

Once you’ve copied the file to your Fire, disconnect the device, open to the relevant folder, and your book/song/document etc should be accessible via a simple tap of your finger. Not bad for a tablet that cost just $149.00 AUD!

Oh, wait! Did I forget to mention how incredibly CHEAP this baby Fire is? Well it is, and the $149 AUD price tag was a huge factor in my decision to finally buy a tablet. Yes, I wanted one to test out my ecookbook, but there was no way known I was going to pay through the nose for the privilege. With the Fire 6, I really feel as if I’ve got value for money.

So was there anything about my new Fire 6 I didn’t like?

I can’t really say there was anything I actively disliked, but there were a couple of small niggles.

1. Despite having learned the  ‘swipe’ technique on my smart phone, I did not find the Fire as easy to use as it was cracked up to be. The main menu items worked as advertised, but once I went deeper, finding my way back was hard.

For example, opening up a book and reading it is quite simple on the Fire, but once I finish reading and want to do something else, I’m in strife because all the navigation icons have disappeared. I have to tap blindly across the top of the Fire until I finally hit the right spot and the menu/navigation icons become visible again.

If you are having the same problem, try tapping just below the front camera. The camera is that very small circle just visible on the top frame of the Fire :

Fire tap spot

2. Another niggle is the size of the battery icon. At 61, my eyesight is just not up to such a miniscule icon, and I have to put my reading glasses on to see how much charge I have left. As being able to adjust the font size is a huge selling point for me [so I don’t have to wear my glasses], this kind of defeats the purpose just a tad.

3. Last but not least is the lack of a true user manual. The Fire 6 did come with documentation, in multiple languages, but the instructions boiled down to one small page on how to connect and charge the device. If you need to know more, they provide the url for a support page. Not exactly great for Baby Boomers like me.

I did, in fact discover a handy youtube video that walked me through the main features of the Fire 7 [similar enough to make no difference] but I would have preferred a user manual I could keep on hand.

Aside from those 3 niggles, I have to say that I am 95% happy with my baby Fire. The features are great, the colour display is lovely and the price is spot on. These may not be important reasons for someone from the techie generation, but I think many people from my generation will find the Fire 6 just right for their needs. Highly recommended!

Meeks

 

 


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