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Radio Garden - Explore live radio by rotating the globe

Posted on: Sun, 2017-10-15 - 04:17 By: danie

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Radio Garden - Explore live radio by rotating the globe

This is a Chrome browser experiment that lets you spin a globe view of the earth to tune to different locations radio stations. Some nice extras are an old-fashioned radio static sound between stations and some dedicated sections such as:

In the section on History you can tune into clips from throughout radio history that show how radio has tried to cross borders. How have people tried to translate their nations into the airwaves? What did they say to the world? How do they engage in conversation across linguistic and geographical barriers?

Click over to Jingles for a world-wide crash course in station identification. How do stations signal within a fraction of a second what kind of programmes you are likely to hear? How do they project being joyful, trustworthy, or up to the minute?

Then stop and listen to radio Stories where listeners past and present tell how they listen beyond their walls. How do they imagine the voices and sounds from around the globe? How do they use radio to make themselves at home in the world?

See http://bit.ly/2z9sCgg

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How to use IFTTT with Google Home to say any message you want

Posted on: Sat, 2017-10-14 - 21:42 By: danie

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How to use IFTTT with Google Home to say any message you want

The challenge I had was to have my Google Home set up so that I could give it a predetermined phrase to which it would respond. So, for example, I wanted to say to it "Say hello to my daughter" and wanted it to respond by greeting her with a personalised message. There is no built-in function to do this though.

So I followed the guide in the link below. I created a new IFTTT Applet using the Google Assistant service, chose the "Say a simple phrase" trigger. The two things that are key here is to fill in a naturally sounding phrase to use as the trigger, and then use the response field for the Google Assistant's response which will be said by Google Home. You need to complete the applet though with a "then" action and I chose to use it sending me an e-mail to confirm it had done the action.

So using this I was able to let Google Home give each person a personal greeting when they arrived at my house today.

See http://www.techadvisor.co.uk/how-to/digital-home/how-use-ifttt-with-google-home-3661254/

Use IFTTT to unlock new functionality on Google Home
Google Home is capable of a great many more things than it is out of the box when used with IFTTT. We explain how to use the free and simple app to get Google Home to do exactly what you want.

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Umarex Colt Peacemaker - a very high-quality realistic airgun replica

Posted on: Fri, 2017-10-13 - 18:19 By: danie

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Umarex Colt Peacemaker - a very high-quality realistic airgun replica

This short video has zero technical details or long explanations.... but it shows off the detail and the operation of this beautiful faithfully rendered replica of a real iconic weapon. It shoots BB pellets all the parts operate like they should and the touch of using realistic looking shells to load it just completes the picture.

I actually held one of these replicas a week back and can testify it has all the weight and solid feel of the real thing. The attention to detail and design really impressed me.

You can watch the 3 minute video at http://bit.ly/2z5orC3

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Why you need to stop giving money to the homeless in South Africa

Posted on: Fri, 2017-10-13 - 17:17 By: danie

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Why you need to stop giving money to the homeless in South Africa

“We are constantly reminding residents about the harm in giving money directly to street people. While they may think they’re doing a good deed, in reality, it only discourages street people from accepting social services,” Smith said.

“Often the donations obtained on the street will actively prevent reintegration.”

“While members of the public will complain about the structures erected and activities undertaken by street people, they will often also continue to incentivise such behaviour through donations directly to the street person while forgetting about the person who leaves the street to return home or moves to a shelter.”

Smith indicated that the city still encourages people to donate directly to the NGOs working with street persons.

My comment: I support the Night Haven Shelter and Cart Horse Society in Cape Town. Not only does the money get used for legitimate care, it is also deductible from my personal income tax. It's a win-win!

See http://bit.ly/2z51vD1

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Utilities Scramble To Catch Up With Stunning Fall In Renewable Energy Costs

Posted on: Fri, 2017-10-13 - 11:58 By: danie

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Utilities Scramble To Catch Up With Stunning Fall In Renewable Energy Costs

Renewable energy is disrupting electricity markets worldwide. The pace of this change has surprised almost everyone, and indeed would have been difficult to imagine just a few years ago.

From Europe to Asia, from the Americas to Africa, wholesale electricity prices are being pushed down by the rise of renewable generation, which has no fuel costs, a disruptive zero marginal cost of production and whose developers can now consistently outbid fossil fuel-based generation.

IEEFA has released a new report (at http://ieefa.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/IEEFA-Global-Utilities-in-Transition-11-Case-Studies-October-2017.pdf) that documents the gathering momentum of this trend, and how the impact of renewables on electricity prices is a key driver of this change.

Crucially, renewables need only capture a relatively small market share for disruption to occur, and to accelerate.

While it may take decades yet for renewables to become the dominant form of generation globally, their presence today is permanent, economically rational and their advance inevitable. The combined loss in market capitalization of the underperforming utilities covered in the report from 2007-2016 ttotalledUS$185 billion.

See http://bit.ly/2z4DpbJ

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Google’s battery app is now available in the Play Store as ‘Device Health Services’

Posted on: Fri, 2017-10-13 - 07:48 By: danie

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Google’s battery app is now available in the Play Store as ‘Device Health Services’

Google is continuing the trend of moving more and more apps and services out of the core OS and into the Play Store. We’ve seen it happen with things like the Dialer, Google Keyboard (now Gboard), Google Assistant and more. Now, the Pixel and Nexus battery app is headed there too. The app, named Device Health Services, is now showing up in the Play Store with owners with phones as old as the Nexus 5 seeing the update.

See http://bit.ly/2zm9Va6

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Doogee BL7000 smartphone hands-on: An affordable phone with enterprise ambitions

Posted on: Thu, 2017-10-12 - 22:18 By: danie

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Doogee BL7000 smartphone hands-on: An affordable phone with enterprise ambitions

Let's get one thing straight... these phones are not high-end quality phones but if you are looking for a rugged model Android phone or say one with super long battery life (think of a week or so or longer) then you may well want to just have a look at some of the Doogee phone line up.

WiFi calling, a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel screen with 404ppi resolution, dual-SIM, 64GB ROM which is extendable up to 256GB ROM, a 13 megapixel camera, fingerprint sensor, AMOLED screen... lots to like here.

See http://www.zdnet.com/product/doogee-bl7000/

Doogee BL7000 smartphone hands-on: An affordable phone with enterprise ambitions Review | ZDNet
The Doogee BL7000 is an affordable, solid smartphone with a great camera and an extra long battery life.

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Our Google Home Voice-Activated Speaker Arrived Today

Posted on: Thu, 2017-10-12 - 21:16 By: danie

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Our Google Home Voice-Activated Speaker Arrived Today

If Google is running a bit slow today its because we've been asking 100's of questions, playing songs and videos, and literally exhausting it....

Quite impressed with the sensitivity for picking up our voices and the information is pretty informative and interesting. Google Home plays a YouTube video or a Google Music song with a few seconds of asking. It's activating the Chromecast on our TV to play a video, and is searching my own music I uploaded to Google Music.

Why I got the mid-size Home is firstly because it is available locally and secondly because it has a pretty loud sound which is great for the open plan lounge and kitchen. If I get a Home Mini later on I'll place that in a bedroom or elsewhere.

Only things I'm not getting right now are:
1. It has all my information personalised but I can't seem to add my wife yet. It listens to her but won't recognise her and I'm not seeing the option to activate the multiple accounts. Once setup it will know who is speaking to it.
2. Not getting the Broadcast feature to work either... yet.

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The Dutch government confirms plan to ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2030

Posted on: Thu, 2017-10-12 - 03:31 By: danie

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The Dutch government confirms plan to ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2030

On 10th Oct 2017, the new Dutch government presented its detailed plan for the coming years and it includes making all new cars emission-free by 2030 – virtually banning petrol- and diesel-powered cars in favour of battery-powered vehicles. The four coalition parties have been negotiating their plans since the election in March and now after over 200 days, they have finally released the plan they agreed upon.

They join several other countries and governments with similar efforts in the work. France, the UK, and Scotland, all recently announced efforts to ban petrol and gas-powered cars in favour of electric vehicles. China and California are also said to be working toward the goal.

See http://bit.ly/2yYQjYw

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Amazon’s new Kindle Oasis is (finally) waterproof, a little less expensive and will play audiobooks

Posted on: Wed, 2017-10-11 - 23:22 By: danie

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Amazon’s new Kindle Oasis is (finally) waterproof, a little less expensive and will play audiobooks

Perhaps the most welcome news for Kindle diehards is that the new Oasis is waterproof. Amazon says the device is IPX8 rated, which means it should survive being dunked in roughly two meters of water for up to 60 minutes. Though it’s lamentable that waterproofing is still limited to Amazon’s priciest Kindle, the addition is long overdue; competing manufacturers like Kobo have sold waterproof e-readers for years now.

The device itself should also be a bit faster than before — an Amazon spokesperson said the new model runs on a dual-core 1GHz NXP i.MX7D processor, up from the Cortex-A9 chip in the last Oasis. The new Oasis also comes with ambient light sensors, which were strangely missing from the last model but should now allow the reader’s backlight to automatically adjust to the surroundings.

All of this comes with the usual Kindle store and software. There’s still no native support for open source EPUB files, and the company’s Alexa assistant is still nowhere to be found, but Amazon’s e-book platform remains massive either way.

The big feature the company is touting is the ability to play audiobooks from the device through its Audible app. Amazon says that will arrive through a software update when the new Oasis ships, but since the reader doesn’t have a headphone jack or built-in speakers, you’ll have to hook it up to a Bluetooth device to take advantage of the new functionality.

My comment: Not sure if this is going to budge me yet from my Paperwhite model (which is probably still the best value for money in the Kindle range). I'll certainly wait a bit first and read the actual reviews to see how it fairs.

See https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2017/10/amazon-finally-makes-a-waterproof-kindle-with-the-new-kindle-oasis/

Amazon’s new Kindle Oasis is (finally) waterproof and a little less expensive
The new $250 e-reader is a bit faster, bigger, and more tub-friendly.

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