Category Archives: Technology

Google Teams With GM, Honda, and Audi to Bring Android to Cars

Google Teams With GM, Honda, and Audi to Bring Android to Cars

Photo: appleinsider

With fancy screen sizes of tablets, hand held devices and phones bombarding the markets, there was little that had not been touched by the wizard of the OS, Android by Google. It was not very far fetched to think of cars coming with embedded screen systems that would be powered by Android too. And like they say, Google has done and dusted everything you could ever think of.

Yes, Google has signed up with the multinational car production brands Audi, Honda, General Motors and manufacturers of Nvidia(the supercharged computer chips) to come in alliance and create the Open Automotive Alliance. This association looks forward to building and bringing to the market, cars that are fitted with Android-integrated systems. The concept sounds pretty neat and with such big names associated with evolving the whole concept, the whole world has its eyes set on getting to see what they can come up with.

It was at the Consumer Electronics Show held at Las vegas where this grand announcement was made. The involved groups put forward their plans and goals on how they aim to ideate and collate their vision. Although the first Android powered vehicle is set for a launch by the end of 2014, release times of vehicles will completely depend on the respective manufacturer. Its been a while since Android took the mobile world by a storm with their superior technology, and since cars explain mobility in the most literal format, the alliance’s formation was only about a matter of time.

Ergonomics and Ease of Use

With most people owning an Android device in current times, it becomes a lot more easier for them to get used to its user interface on the car system as well. Google promises to deliver a much more convenient driving experience backed by its mobile technology which ensures a better focus on the road without the hassles of getting distracted by other things. Such is going to be the ergonomics of the complete in-built system.

Innovation scope for app developers

This system will open doors for a new genre of apps for app developers. Where most app niches have been explored and flooded by various technology firms, it gives a fresh new area to work on and innovate. One can only wonder the tangents that innovative app developers are going to go into for making drives more convenient and hassle free. The organizations that have gotten into the alliance share a common goal: to connect the automotive industry with mobile power for innovation and progress. Driver’s safety if a big concern for them too and with this platform, it gives opportunity to analytic thinkers to come up with innovative solutions for automobile and on road safety too.

Apple following Suite

Most interestingly, this alliance does not mark Google’s debut in the automotive world. They have been working on coming up with a driverless car. With Google stepping into the automotive world, it takes no rocket science to understand that Apple would very closely follow suite. For the same, the company has already filed a patent of a touchscreen dashboard system. It has also been reported that they are simultaneously working with Honda and Hyundai among other automotive organizations for backing up cars with the iOS system in them.


How to Become An Expert At Gifting: Affordable Tech Gifts To Buy This Christmas

The time of year has come around again where we scratch our heads, rummage through shop aisles and try to work out what gifts best suit those close to us. This year, by taking the technological route, you can get presents that will be appreciated by others without too much stress or bother.

From iTunes vouchers, battery chargers, headphones, car chargers, hands-free headsets and more, there’s a techno-gadget out there to suit the needs of pretty much everyone. By getting the affordable gizmos this Christmas, you’ll be remembered for your thoughtfulness and your gifts will be appreciated.

iTunes Voucher

You can never go wrong with a gift voucher. For years, people unsure of what to get others have doled out book and music vouchers at Christmas gatherings around the world. So in short, a voucher is always a great idea if you’re stumped for ideas, and what’s better than a standard voucher is a voucher for the eponymous iTunes music, movie, podcast, TV-show and all-round digital media store. With literally countless amounts of songs available for download, from the chart breakers to hard to find songs, well known movies and TV shows most have never heard of, you can open the doors for a friend to get any digital media they may want. And it’s all done with a card, a password and a budget of whatever you can afford.

Dr. Dre Beats Headphones

If you want to get someone some techy hardware this Christmas, it’s hard to go wrong with a pair of Beats Headphones by Dr. Dre. With exceptional audio quality and the ability to be used on computers, iPhones, iPods and other musical devices, you can expect that whoever gets your gift will spend hour upon hour getting lost in the music of their choice. The headphones also act to block out the sound of any loud music they might be playing, so that’s a plus for the people around them too! The headphones retail at most places at prices starting at $130, but on eBay it’s possible to get them for significantly cheaper prices.

Car Charger

The great thing about a car charger is that, while it seems a pretty strange choice of gift, it’s almost certain to come in handy at some point for the person you give it to, provided they have a car of course. With a range of chargers that can be used for everything from charging phones, iPods, iPads and even computers, there’s going to be a time sooner or later when someone really needs a device charged. That’s when the value of your relatively inexpensive gift will really become apparent, and the Christmas party when you gave it as a gift will become a cherished memory in your gift-receivers’ mind!

New Mouse or Keyboard

Again, while it may seem a little strange to gift someone a new mouse or keyboard unless they specifically ask for it, it makes perfect sense for people to be buying gifts like this more often. Everyone knows that keyboard keys break and mice lose sensitivity; and that accident spills can happen at computer desks. It follows that people are more likely than not replacing their keyboards and mouse’s at least a couple of times every few years, and even if they have a working keyboard and mouse when you give them the gift, it can always be used as backup for when the inevitable need to replace these items arrives. The price of computer mouse’s and keyboards vary, but you can snap up some cheap but quality models on websites like Amazon.

Gaming Consoles

With the new range of next generation consoles coming soon, the popularity of console gaming is stronger than ever before. Even if your friend, relative or partner isn’t much known for gaming, there’s almost certain to be a console out there that will get them interested in gaming activities. After all, the Nintendo Wii got many non-gamers into sensor-based sports and adventure video games, so think of your gift as giving your receiver a push in the direction of a hobby they won’t regret! The current generation of gaming consoles did start out expensive, but you can get them in shops now for a little over hundred in some places, or possibly even less with an online purchase.

Hands-Free Headset

Now we all know that this has been around for a while, but the real beauty of hands-free headsets are that they take many forms and are all extremely useful. For example, in Australia it’s currently an offence to drive while talking on the phone – unless of course you’re using a hands-free headset, which allows you to keep your eyes on the road and your hands firmly on the wheel. The other benefit to a hands-free is that it can save you the inconvenience of having your arm cocked upwards for long periods of time during phone calls, and whoever you give this gift too is sure to appreciate that. It’s also worth noting that the basic range of hands-frees retail at pretty cheap prices.

Instagram Watch

Now how’s this for an idea: you take a photo on Instagram, upload it and visit the Instagram watch website. Then, you pick out what colour you want the wrist-link to be and voila! At the Christmas gathering, you’ll have not only a $40 watch to give your receiver but also one that has an Instagram picture as its face. Think carefully about what picture you want to use, and make a good choice so that the person wearing the watch will remember the uniqueness of the gift whenever they go to check the time. Now that’s pretty cool.

Tom Phelps is an Arts student who loves computers and his technology. For Christmas he’s saving up to get a swish laptop for himself through the flexible loans site Flexirent, and he plans to shower friends with tech gifts this Christmas!


Is DSL Service Dead?

Maybe, but the Technology has Served Mankind Well

Photo by Rob Stinnett / Flickr

If you think that digital subscriber lines are dead, you need to think again. This communication technology has been around a while now. And while it’s changed over the years quite a bit – getting better all the time – there are other options available today that have some wondering if DSL service is dead or not.

While some people are dropping their DSL and moving to other technologies (like fiber optic), others are happy with sticking with a digital subscriber line because the technology has been working for them for years. By taking a look at the birth of DSL services and tracking how far they’ve come over the years, you should have a better understanding of why the technology is not dead.

DSL In the Beginning

The exact roots of DSL can be traced all the way back to 1948, when Claude Shannon published A Mathematical Theory of Communication. By 1979, an early patent had been filed to use copper telephone wires for both voice and data communication. A few years later in 1984, the  Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) protocol was established.

In 1988, a patent was filed for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) technology. A lot of bugs had to be worked out of these early systems, but work moved ahead as businesses and individuals alike began to realize the power of having data and voice using a single phone line. It was around this time that DSL really entered its golden age of use in America.

DSL Golden Years

At first whoever owned the copper lines were the only ones to be able to sell the service. This kept prices high. The government stepped in and mandated that more than one carrier could sell service over the same wires. This caused an increase in the popularity of DSL service because there was more competition and prices finally began to drop.

And as more and more people began to enjoy the wonders of DSL services, word began to spread far and wide and many others signed up with one DSL Provider or another. Around this time the monthly prices for service began to drop, leading to even more people signing up and using the technology for voice and data communication.

The Future of DSL?

What is the future of DSL? Starting in 2012 the number of people signing up for a digital subscriber line started to drop. That doesn’t mean people aren’t still using – and enjoying – this service. In fact, you can still find many great DSL Internet Providers no matter where you live in the country.

Whether it’s IDSL or VDSL2 or one of the many other flavors of xDSL service that evolved over the years, this is still an affordable and safe way to take care of communication for small and medium sized businesses. Fibre optic systems (FiOS) are replacing DSL for some people, but others are happy with the tried and true performance of a digital subscriber line.

Adam prattler is a regular freelance writer.

Hipster Primer on eBook formats

Photo by Luca Conti / Flickr

If you’re thinking about electronic publishing, knowing the basic ebook formats is important before you begin trying to compile your literary masterpiece or book of recipes. A lot of different choices exist, but some are better suited for some purposes than others. To help, the list of the commonly used ebook formats below should help get you started.

Basic Ebook Formats

Here’s a look at the ebook files currently in mainstream use.

  • EPUB – This is an open format that is based on HTML and XML that are used on the Internet. Originally designed by Open eBook Forum, it’s become one of the main standards today. A lot of different ereaders can read this format without any problems.

  • AZW – This is Amazon’s proprietary format for the Kindle ebook readers. Basically, it is very similar to MOBI except that it uses more compression to make the file sizes smaller. The format has changed a little since it first came out, but it’s still standard for Kindle ebooks.

  • LIT – Leave it to Microsoft to come up with their own ebook formatting. Once used by PocketPC and other Microsoft ebook readers, this ebook format was retired in 2011 and no longer being used. That said, there are still files out there in this format. If you come across one, you may have to convert it to another ebook format in order to be able to read it.

  • PDF – The Portable Document Format from Adobe has been around since the very early days of the Internet. Some – but not all – ebook readers are able to read basic PDF files.

  • ODF – OpenDocument format is another one that is based primarily on XML Not all ebook tablets are going to be able to read this type of file, but it’s standard for OpenOffice – a big, free competitor to Microsoft Word.

  • MOBI – This format was created to work with MobiPocket devices. Other devices can open these files – occasionally – but there are usually formatting problems, especially with images and tables.

Which one is best? It all depends as they each have their own list of pros and cons. Once you know a bit more about the different formats available, it’s easier to decide which ones you need to worry about when compiling your ebook. Luckily, once you have a master file, you can get software to create something with any type of ebook format you want.

You may also want to have PDF to Word software handy just in case you need to convert an old PDF document that you want to edit. The good news is that a lot of software exists online that can help you with PDF to Word conversion as well as a lot of other document formats. Once you start becoming familiar with all that’s available, you’re going to have an easier time.

Adam Prattler’s main interests are travelling, playing baseball and designing informative images.