All posts by Christian Cawley

Homemade Transforming robot made with a 3D printer!

Homemade 3D Printed Motorized Transformer!

I’m a big fan of Transformers, ever since I was bought an original Bumblebee back in 1984 and received Hound for Christmas a few months later.

Over the years I got progressively larger Transformer toys, more and more often, a bit like a drug habit, always chasing the next fix. At one point I even owned Trypticon (a rare motorised Decepticon) and have a version of Optimus Prime that features some automation.

However, I was always intrigued by the possibilities of motorized transformation, but it wasn’t something that Hasbro seemed able to bring to the range with any confidence.

Fortunately, I no longer have to imagine what it would be like – thanks to this guy and his 3D printer, neither do you…

Amazing stuff. Altogether now: I want one!

If this doesn’t convince you of the power of 3D printing, nothing will…

The Microsoft Kin: A Genuine Smartphone Failure

The Death of the Kin – On Film

Remember the Kin? Of course you do! No, really, you should – it was the original Windows Phone, Microsoft’s first attempt to redefine mobile phones after Windows Mobile was pushed face down in the dust by Android and iOS.

However, the platform died a death very early (making webOS look positively ancient) and Microsoft quietly swept it away, under a big carpet. Visually it was an interesting device, but the real problem was that it just didn’t work, for one reason or another.

Wired have recently released these videos of the Kin being tested. It’s not pleasant.

It seems that even dialling – that most basic of phone functions – was difficult:

The lag wasn’t limited to fialling, either….

Somehow the Kin was launched, despite the evidence seen here – to pretty poor reviews. The evolution of the Kin is a little convoluted – it’s inspired-yet-flawed social networking integration would be removed, downgrading the phone to a feature phone – but essentially it didn’t live long past the summer of 2010, existing in the wild in its original form for about two months.

Of course, there is a happy takeaway from all this – without the very patient testing group, Kin wouldn’t have been dropped, and I wouldn’t be sat here with a nice new Windows Phone 8 :D

(Via the wonderful WPCentral)

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Windows Phone Apps Mysteriously Dropped…

Playing with my new Nokia Lumia 920 this week, I noticed that there were few titles missing from the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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I don’t mean missing as in “there’s no app/it’s shit!” but in the sense of they were there a few weeks ago on my Windows Phone 7.5 handset, but where are they now?

Most crucially, I wanted to restore the same app set to my new Windows Phone 8 device, but the lack of some key apps and games made this impossible.

My list at present consists of:

  • Spotify
  • Crimson Dragon
  • Sid Meier’s Pirates
  • Pulse
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Tango
  • AskZiggy
  • TuneIn Radio

These are apps that I consider usable on Windows Phone 8 as far as functionality goes. Games speak for themselves.

The biggest omission is obviously Spotify, followed by TuneIn Radio. I’m a big fan of the latter, and I’m really missing the lack of any public response from Microsoft or the app developers.

Three weeks into Windows Phone 8 going live, I don’t think that this is good enough. The SDK has been available for months – it’s not as though the developers of these titles didn’t know about it.

Why have only 25% of Mac users upgraded to Mountain Lion?

Does iOSification Stand in the Way of Mountain Lion Take Up?

News that just 25% of Mac users have upgraded to the latest release of OS X has lead to a variety of theories as to why this might be the case. Top of the list is the operating system’s march towards looking and feeling like it’s “little brother”, iOS.

Why have only 25% of Mac users upgraded to Mountain Lion?

Given that Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion features some considerable performance boosts, the fact that take up isn’t higher (I mean, it’s only $19.95 to upgrade!) has lead some to question if the main player, Snow Leopard, might become Apple’s equivalent of Windows XP.

There are, of course, various advantages to using Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. To begin with, there is the compatibility with PowerPC applications which later versions of the operating system don’t support. There’s also the Hackintosh phenomenon – sadly it is becoming trickier to install Mac OS on newer non-Mac hardware, but Snow Leopard can be configured to run on a large selection of systems and even as a virtual machine on computers with AMD processors.

Financial constraints on users might also be to blame, although the low cost of the software upgrade (as opposed to the hardware) suggests otherwise. The real problem might simply be Apple’s growing popularity as the “friendly” and “usable” platform is reaching a new audience that has already been through enough transferring from Windows and doesn’t want the perceived hassle of yet another “upgrade”.

But what of the iOSification of the platform? Seen by some as inevitable, you only need to glance at Launchpad, Mail, iPhoto and many other Apple and third party apps to see that the whole look, style and ethos of iOS is being adapted wholesale for what is a desktop computing platform. This isn’t to everyone’s tastes.

What is most interesting about this is that it puts Apple into a situation similar to that experienced by Microsoft since Windows XP’s initial end of life date. Now extended to 2014 (although with a share of 41% earlier this year, that date seems extremely optimistic) Windows XP support is a major bugbear for Microsoft, particularly as it isn’t Metro friendly and can’t even run Office 2013. Yet it persists in popularity among users and games publishers.

Apple were forced to issue a patch for Snow Leopard in September 2012, something that isn’t usually done for the last-but-one release. Usually at this stage support is dropped, so it will be interesting going forward to see how Cupertino deals with this particular problem.

In the meantime, they’ll be hoping that the low price and the coming holiday season leads to an increase in the uptake of upgrades…

Can Megan Fox talk to dolphins?

Megan Fox: She Talks to the Animals!

You know, virtually every red blooded male on the planet fancies Transformers actress Megan Fox – but who knew that her real dream wasn’t to act, but to become a real-life Doctor Doolittle? (Note that this is a post sponsored by Acer).

Thanks to the new Acer S7 running Windows 8, Megan “Foxy” Fox was able to achieve her amazing ambition of chatting with dolphins – with the help of a bunch of nerdy scientists, of course…

 

 

The Acer S7 series of ultrabooks is an extremely impressive line, sporting a 12.2mm slimline form, back-lit keyboard, 180° opening and Gorilla Glass-protected Full HD display and comes in two versions, the 13.3″ model or the ultra-mobile 11.6″ build. Wielding Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, 4 GB of RAM and a minimum 256 GB SSD, these are hardcore professional portable computers.

Find out more at us.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/series/aspires7.

Nokia Lumia 920 gets new UK advertising campaign

New Windows Phone Ad Sneak Peak

Not content with lacing soap operas and other shows with their Lumia phones, Nokia’s flagship Windows Phone, the Lumia 920, plays a leading role in a new TV advertising campaign starring Holly Willoughby (This Morning, Dancing on Ice, Celebrity Juice).

Promoting the phone to busy working Mum’s and highlighting the Kids’ Corner hub is a wise move, however, and if the campaign gets the right audience – namely those watching Willoughby on a weekday morning – then this could certainly prove in Nokia and Microsoft’s favour.

For those Metro naysayers out there, a word in your shell-like. If Windows Phone can gain some good market share, Nokia should be able to survive – something that is in everyone’s best interests. Additionally, if Windows Phone can make a decent stab at the market, perhaps it might inspire Apple to try something different with their tired rows of icons…

Apple - technology giant

Has Apple’s Legal Team Made a Big Mistake?

Forget Bill Gates, forget Samsung. There’s a new enemy in town for Apple: US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton.

Apple - technology giant

She’s the plain talking lawmaker overseeing the nonsensical claim over the English language currently being made by Apple as they attempt to take ownership of the phrase “app store”, thereby preventing everyone’s favourite tax-dodging tax evading Internet retailer Amazon from using it on their collection of Android games and applications.

A number of ridiculous details have arisen in this case:

  1. Hamilton previously indicated (in 2011) she was unimpressed by Apple’s arguments and denied them a preliminary injunction.
  2. Apple claims that Amazon’s promotion of its own “Appstore” is false advertising.
  3. Apple’s lawyer, David Eberhart.

Yep, Eberhart is a bit of a character. If he’s not a complete maverick employed by the Apple legal department to pull a victory from the jaws of defeat, then he’s in completely the wrong area of the legal profession in our opinion. Apparently Apple claims that Amazon had deceived customers with by using the term “Appstore”, but Eberhart isn’t making a great case.

“They [Amazon employees] admit they targeted Apple customers, because Apple set the benchmark for what consumers expected. When you combine that with our evidence consumers associate the term ‘app store’ with Apple…”

However our new hero Judge Hamilton is completely unimpressed by this.

“Everyone who uses a smartphone knows the difference between the Apple iOS system and the Android system. Where’s the confusion? There’s some suggestion [by Apple] that if Amazon is using the ‘Appstore’ term someone might think they have as many apps as Apple does. Well, why? And how, in fact, does that contribute to any deception on the part of Amazon?”

This is a woman who has successfully brought some plain talking into Apple’s relentless attack on its non-Microsoft competitors over the past few years. Indeed, it is a shame that more of the judges involved in these cases haven’t taken a similar no-nonsense attitude.

Because, dear reader – and forgive me for bringing this up – but Apple is on the verge of losing all respect among the tech blogging community (and I mean actual bloggers, not those bought-and-paid-for technology “journalists” who are littered with shiny white Cupertino hardware every year). The once mighty company is falling into hole, becoming a shadow of its former self as it wages a 1990s Microsoft-style war against companies it deems to be using its technologies.

It’s sad, and unless there is a change in policy it’s going to have a severely negative impact on Apple’s public face over the next couple of years.

And as for apps, well I was buying them from Handango back in 2004. I don’t recall them launching any lawsuits against Apple for stealing their idea of providing an easily accessible marketplace for apps to be downloaded and installed. Which brings us back to Eberhart:

“Consumers will see this kind of advertising and import their associations with Apple service. They understand what the App Store by Apple entails—hundreds of thousands of apps, and an ease of service unmatched by any others,” said Eberhart. “When a consumer sees something like this they will be deceived into thinking the Amazon store has the same types of qualities.”

So, who invented single-click purchasing?

Back Elite Dangerous on Kickstarter

David Braben Launches Elite Sequel Project on Kickstarter

In what is likely to be a very popular crowd sourcing project, Elite designer David Braben has announced a Kickstarter project to raise the $2 million needed to program and release an updated version of the 8 bit classic.

Speaking to the BBC, Braben confessed that “Elite is a game that I’ve wanted to come back to for a very, very long time. It’s the sort of game that I would very much like to play today.”

Hailing from 1984 and featuring the wireframe graphics you see above, Elite possessed a surprising amount of depth, offering gamers to live the life of a Han Solo-style smuggler and trader.

Time has been very kind to Elite, leaving it as one of those rarities, a classic pioneering title uttered alongside names such as Tetris and Pac-man. However, its position as an old school title means that bringing it up to date could prove tricky, especially with a raft of modern pretenders already up and running.

Eve Online brings the concept of Elite to the MMORPG generation, while another Kickstarter project, Star Citizen, shares some similarities with Elite. At the same time Minecraft creator Markus Persson is developing a space simulation 0x10c.

You can back Elite on Kickstarter by visiting www.kickstarter.com/projects/1461411552/elite-dangerous – with just under 60 days to go, you can pledge at least £1, with rewards including having your name in the game, being part of beta testing, and even dinner with the developers!
Back Elite Dangerous on Kickstarter

The Apple iPhone 3G in white

Play Gramophone Records on Your iPhone!

Okay, so it might not be an actual record, and it might not be an actual gramophone. But if you’re looking for an authentic sound for playing back some classic (or even modern) swing, then this useful piece of work (designed in SolidWorks) might just be the answer to your bleeding gums prayers.

Found via the ever awesome Instructables.com, this is one of those iPhone speaker solutions that really makes you wonder if it is worth spending £200 on a pair of clinical white headphones or splashing out on a powered speaker dock when something like this is far more interesting, stylish and green.

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Colouring the Sheeple

Are you a fan of the iPhone? Do you upgrade each and every time Apple says you can? Over the years the iPhone has devolved from a stunning piece of hardware into a device that is just “good enough”.

The immense amount of quality software for the platform and the quality of the device build is undeniable – but so is the poor quality of the OS UI, which has now gone a ridiculous five years without any noticeable development.

HTC, Samsung and Nokia all fancy their latest phones as potential iPhone beaters, and Nokia’s current Lumia 920 strategy appears to mock not just the iPhone 5’s single monochromatic release but the people who lap it up time after time…