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Talks About Tech Weekly 112: First Digital Youth Council Meeting 2014

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Tech To Help You Get Back To School

Yes, it’s that time of the year Back_To_School_!!!_(165920274)again when everybody is going back to school. But going to school today has vastly changed from 20 years ago or even just a few years ago. Technology has played a vital role in that change and as a result, today I’m going to share with you some of my recommended technology for going back to school.

1. USB Stick – It might seem like a given in todays society but keeping a USB key on your keychain could be a life saver and with prices dropping all the time you can get very high storage at a very low cost. My recommendation is this Kingston 32GB key for only £9.

2. Phone Battery Charger – I use my phone in school all the time. It’s a great calender tool, social media device, scanner, voice recorder and so much more but that takes a huge toll on the battery. I found a really cool 3000mAh battery that will fit in your pocket or your bag so that you can charge your phone at any time without the need for a mains socket. At only £14 the Anker Astro Mini is a steal and a must for a heavy smartphone user.

3. Headphones – If you are a music fanatic a good set of cans is really important. They need to be comfortable for long periods of study and sound great but at an affordable price. My favourite headphones for the price at the moment are Sennheiser HD201. They fit over your ears for great comfort and have large drivers making them a great sounding headphone. For £18 on Amazon now they are a must have.

4. Earphones – If you need something a little bit more discreet for your daily commute to and from school maybe these ME Electronics M6 earphones could be a great option. I have had a pair for a while now and I was so happy with them that I bought two other pairs.

5. Phone – A phone is possibly the most important technology device for a student. It is small enough to fit in their pocket and powerful enough to do tasks that many PC’s struggle with. As a student you want to look for the best phone at the best price possible. My favourite Android phones at the moment are the offerings from Motorola. The Moto E is a very powerful phone with a 4.3 inch display and dual core processor but only costs £90 on Amazon right now. If you’re looking for something with a slightly larger screen, better camera and processor then the Moto G is a great option. The 4G version is available now for only £155.

6. Tablet – eBooks are becoming a very popular platform for books in schools but they can be very costly. An iPad costs upwards of €400 but there are some great options from Android too. The Google Nexus 7 is a great tablet in a compact package and for the price you can’t beat it.

7. Laptop – A few years ago a laptop was out of the picture for most students. Cheap laptops were pretty much rubbish and the higher end laptops were far too expensive but recently Chromebooks have become very popular. They run the web based operating system ChromeBook. The idea is that all of the applications on the Chromebook are web apps and everything is stored in the cloud but you have a full sized laptop screen and keyboard. The Acer C720 is probably the best value for money at the moment. It has a 12 inch display, 2GB RAM and 16GB storage but don’t let that put you off because Chrome OS does not need a lot of power.

First Digital Youth Council Meeting
Last Monday 25th August I attended the first Digital Youth Council meeting in the Science Gallery in Trinity College, Dublin. The council is the first of its kind in Europe and consists of 12 member who will discuss Technology in Ireland from a young persons point of view.

The members of the council are:

  • Harry McCann
  • Jack McCullen
  • Ciaran Flannagan
  • Lauren O’Reilly
  • Edel Browne
  • Cian Bohan
  • Cormac Kinsella
  • Jordan Casey
  • Emer Hickey
  • Ciara Judge
  • Sophie Healy-Thow
  • Daniel Kyne

I have had the honour of meeting all 12 of the members and I’m really excited to see what might happen at future meetings. I want to thank Harry McCann very much for inviting me to the meeting.

Amazon Buys Twitch
Twitch is the popular live streaming platform for gamers.
They started 3 years ago as a spin off of Justin.tv dedicated to gamers. Since then it has grown into a huge network of the worlds most popular gamers live streaming 24/7.

Last week Amazon bought Twitch for $970 million. It looks like Amazon wants to get a bit of the action in gaming. In 2012 they set up their own gaming studio and created a number of games for Facebook and they acquired the game Killer Instinct by Double Helix Games. You have to remember that Amazon sells loads of games every year. In fact they are one of the biggest vendors of video games in the world.

It has been reported that Google offered Twitch $1 billion earlier in the year.In a letter from the CEO of Twitch, Emmett Shear says that ‘We chose Amazon because they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster. We’re keeping most everything the same: our office, our employees, our brand, and most importantly our independence. But with Amazon’s support we’ll have the resources to bring you an even better Twitch.’
Twitch probably declined Google’s offer because they wanted it to be part of YouTube.

Talks About Tech Weekly 111: Tom McCarthy Nuclear Fusion Reactor

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yosemiteMac OS X Yosemite Beta
Apple have started releasing open beta’s of their up and coming releases of OS X and a few weeks ago they released the first open beta of OS X Yosemite. I got a chance to play around with it this week.

My first impressions are that this is a huge overall in the look and feel department for OS X. Apple have made many iOS 7 like appearance changes to keep a consistent look across both platforms and it looks pretty nice. Apple have done a good job to give OS X a new, fresh look although I’m a huge fan of the clean look of Mavericks. I sort of feel like Yosemite adds a little bit of clutter and certain chosen colour schemes are a little hard to read (like in the mail app for example) but it’s all in the name of design which I suppose is an adequate sacrifice.

If you are interested you can try out the Yosemite beta at: appleseed.apple.com/sp/betaprogram. I will warn you that it is a beta version of the software and is in no way a finished product so I wouldn’t recommend installing it on your main computer.

Justin.tv Shutdown
This week justin.tv posted a notice on their website saying that they had shut down the site and you will no longer be able to use it.

This comes weeks after Justin.tv announced that they were going to stop archiving live streams. It isn’t that surprising that justin.tv decided to shut down as YouTube have been interested in buying its sister company Twitch for some time. However, what is surprising is the urgency of the shutdown. They did not give any notice before hand.

The Biggest Hack Ever!
This week the New York Times reported what they called ‘The Biggest Hack Ever’. According to the article over 1.2 billion accounts were hacked, 500 million unique email addresses over 420,000 websites. The hack was from a Russian hacker group called CyberVor. Yep. CyberVor. Class name lads!

The company behind exposing the hack is the private security firm, Hold Security. However, there has been a lot of controversy with the story. It sure does seem to have a few issues.

1. If you want to find out if your details have been hacked, you must pay $120 per year subscription. Initially the company were asking for $200 per month but after complaints they decided to offer a 30 day free trial and a $120 per year subscription instead. Hold Security say that the cost is to recuperate some of the money it cost to track the hack. However, there is something wrong with a company warning people about cybercrime and then asking you to pay up.

2. The hacker group probably didn’t hack any major websites. Why? Because if that was the case Hold Security would be the first to let everyone know.

3. The data on the hack comes from hundreds of thousands of compromises over the course of months, not in one go like what was initially implied. Maybe the hack wasn’t a big as was first implied? It sure would be in Hold Security’s best interest to hype it up.

4. Possibly the strangest thing is what the hacking group appears to be doing with the account information. Nope, their not selling it on the black market for a killing; their using it to spam Twitter accounts.

All of the information for this story was from Russell Brandom’s article on The Verge at: http://www.theverge.com/2014/8/6/5973729/the-problem-with-the-new-york-times-biggest-hack-ever

Tom McCarthy Interview
I met Tom at a recent Tech Startup Galway meeting in the NUI Galway college bar. Tom is working on a nuclear fusion reactor in his shed! I was really interested at the concept so I had to have him on the show.

You can follow Tom’s progress on the project at: tommccarthyprojects.com and follow him on twiter @fusorfusion. I wish Tom the best of luck in this incredible project.

Talks About Tech Weekly 110: The Right To NOT Be Forgotten

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Samsung’s Profits Down
It’s that time of year when companies report their Q3 earnings and it’s not looking like a good one for Samsung. Profits fell 25% compared to this time last year down to $7.03 billion. Samsung are one of the largest mobile devices manufacturers in the world so why did this happen?

Firstly, there has been a decline in tablet sales recently and every tablet manufacturer has taken a hit as a result but that is only partly to blame. Samsung’s global smartphone market share has dropped from 32.3% to 25.2% in the last quarter. So why the huge sudden drop? Many analysts are leaving this up to poor quality, plastic devices in an economy where design is important to set apart from the rest of crowd. Phones such as the Nexus 5, One Plus One and handsets from Chinese manufacturers such as Huawei are simply providing better quality at a lower price point.

What does Samsung need to do? Analysts are saying a huge revamp in the look and feel of their devices rather than greater specs. People want a better overall experience rather than a better processor to boast about. Possibly a metal design with a premium touch and feel. That’s isn’t something that Samsung does well though. Samsung started out by making copies of Nokia feature phones at a really cheap price. Nothing about their phones was original and that tradition remains to this day. Maybe Samsung need to simply think outside the box (in a good way) and be a little bit innovative.

Beats Now Available From The Apple Store
This week Beats by Dr. Dre launched a new site and a new store. Now if you want to buy Beats on the website it redirects you to this Apple Store. This is after the official confirmation of Beats joining Apple. Apple posted this on their website this week to welcome Beats:

Apple Welcome Beats

Right to be Forgotten Update
In a recent letter that Google made public, Google outlined a lot of interesting and important information about the right to be forgotten in Europe.

There have been over 91,000 submissions to date asking for over 328,000 links to be removed. Just over half of the requested links have been removed. Here is a breakdown of the requests:

  • Around 17,500 requests have been made under French law, involving around 58,000 URLs.
  • Around 16,500 requests have been made under German law, involving around 57,000 URLs.
  • Around 12,000 requests have been made under UK law, involving around 44,000 URLs.
  • Around 8,000 requests have been made under Spanish law, involving around 27,000 URLs.
  • Around 7,500 requests have been made under Italian law, involving around 28,000 URLs.
  • Around 5,500 requests have been made under Dutch law, involving around 21,000 URLs.

These stats were posted in a public Google Doc that Google themselves published for transparency. This is part of recent talks with the EU commission about the Right to be Forgotten Law. It looks like there will be a few more revisions to this law made in the near future.

Kevin Bought a Canon T3i/600D
This week Kevin received a brand new camera, a Canon T3i/600D. He’s going to be using this camera mostly for videography and cinematography for upcoming video projects. Cinematographers love DSLRs because of their 30mm film like appearance. This is because of their large sensors which give great depth of field.

The 600D was a perfect choice for Kevin because it was a great combination of price to performance. We will be doing a video review on the Talks About Tech YouTube channel in the near future.

DIY LED Light
I am currently working on a DIY LED lighting panel. For a new video project that I’m working on I’m going to need some very bright lighting so I went online and bought a 10M LED strip on Amazon for under £30. Then I went to my local Woodies and bought a metal picture frame. The idea is that I cut the strips to length and stick them to the back of the picture frame. I’m currently in the process of making the light and I’ll let you know how I got on when the project is finished.

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