02/03/2012

The iStorage datAshur

iStorage manufacture secure storage systems and they've just released the datAshur which is a USB Flash Drive.

It's quite a large drive being 8cm by 2cm by 1cm, including the aluminum jacket which should protect it from most drops or even being driven over.

Pulling the drive out the sleeve reveals why it needs to be that big, there's a 10 digit keypad on it (numbers read 1 2, 3 4, 5 6, 7 8, 9 0, keys 2 through 9 also have a standard phone letters on then i.e. key 2 also has ABC).

In order to use the drive the user must first enter a PIN (between 7 and 15 digits) which unlocks the drive, then it can be inserted into a standard USB2.0 socket (though it will work with USB 1 and 3 devices too) and look like a standard Flash Drive. All data that is stored on the drive is AES 256bit hardware encrypted. If the drive is plugged into a system without being unlocked it wont appear as a valid drive and cant be mounted.

When the drive is ejected, it will then automatically lock again.

Corporate use

The datAshur actually has 2 PINs a user PIN and an admin PIN. If the drive is put into admin mode, then it will clear the user PIN first and expect the next action to be to set a new user PIN and if this isn't done it will go back into sleep mode (the drive cant be accessed as a Flash Drive).

This mode is useful in a business environment so the IT department can select an admin key and if a user forgets their key it can be reset (or if a user leaves, the user PIN can be reset and the data still be made available).

Hacking

If the the wrong PIN is entered 10 times, then the drive will automatically trash the the AES key and generate a new one (which means all data on the drive is also trashed and unreadable). Also both the admin and user PINs will be cleared.

Though big and bulky and not the prettiest of Flash Drives, the datAshur will be invaluable to companies or individuals worrying about carrying sensitive data around and even if the drive is lost, the data is unusable without a correct PIN making it pretty secure.

It comes in 3 sizes

4GB £39
8GB £59
16GB £79

and is available from iStorage

01/03/2012

New Sony Xperia models

Sony have announced the Sony Xperia S, P, U (and Ion and LTE model).

The Xperia S is the thigh end, P middle and U consumer phone.

The S has a dual core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU and 3d graphics accelerated GPU with Bravia and 32GB of storage. The display is HD and uses LED/LCD to produce an amazing display which very high contrast and bright colours. It also has the usual features of 3 axis accelerometer, gyroscope etc with WiFi and Bluetooth. When attached via HDMI to a SmartTV, the phone can be controlled through the TV remote, accessing all the phones connectivity functions and for viewing Full HD at 1080p resolution.

The P has a slightly less powerful CPU and less storage though still displays HD content. When connected to a TV it only supports Dh at 720p resolution.

Sony also announced the SmartWatch which connects to Sony's phones. Sony has pre-installed the SmartWatch app as standard, but the SmartWatch can connect to any Android phone by downloading the app from Android Marketplace. It has an OLED touch screen display and a metal surround. Various (coloured) straps are available for the watch, though it can removed and clipped onto a belt (or equivalent).

It has many features

* Find your phone - will cause the phone to ring, even if the phone is in silent mode.

* If the watch loses connection with the phone (i.e. say the phone is being stolen) it will buzz 3 times.

* It support social media streams and these can be viewed and simple actions taken (like retweeting) by touching the relevant part of the screen.

* It shows the time (taken from the phone).

* The Android App support plug-ins allowing mini-apps to be run on the SmartWatch.

Now Sony have lost Ericcson, they've gone back to making very pretty phones and the Xperia S has the potential to be a real contender the iPhone.

Orange Different Business



Sponsored Post

Orange a running a competition to find new Different Business and are looking for business or projects that has the following characteristics: -


  • different approach to running the business

  • robust business model

  • clear strategy for the project/business

  • evidence of a market for the project/business

  • a pitch that demonstrates the applicant has the necessary skills to succeed

  • an idea that is worth funding and could be the UK's next different business

The prizes on offer are :-


  • business planning advice and mentoring from Kingston Smith

  • mobile communications devices and plans from Orange

  • marketing consultancy from Publicis Chemistry

  • legal advice from Lewis Silkin

  • investment capital

All that adds up to £200,000 and covers off a years worth of support, which can get pretty well any business off the ground.

Orange have been in operation since 1994 (when the main 2 players were Vodafone and Cellnet and nobody thought that a company named after a fruit/colour would do so well) and they've always made their mark by being different.

The competition, to UK individuals (over 18) and companies, is a great way to get noticed and for people who just have got good ideas to turn them into a reality.

There are various incubators in the UK now and winning this competition is like getting into a private incubator for a whole year. Even existing businesses will gain from entering.

Viral video by ebuzzing

UK Broadband offers LTE in London

Most LTE (Long Term Evolution) networks are being offered on existing 4G bands (which have been delayed in the UK and won't be available until at least 2013). Now UK Broadband is going live with an LTE network on their 3.5GHz spectrum.

UK Broadband (which is owned by Hong Kong's PCCW) gained a national 3.4GHz license in 2003 and later acquired the 3.5GHz license off Freedom4 (the joint venture between Pipex and Intel) in 2010 when Pipex was sold to Daisy.

The service is live in Southwark and is using TD-LTE and though 3.5GHz isn't good for wide coverage it suits macro cells suitable for urban areas. UK Broadband has 124MHz of spectrum (LTE bands 42 and 43) which is suitable for high speed services.

UK Broadband will offer a wholesale service and even create MVNOs. The equipment (both indoor and outdoor) has been manufactured by Huawei and a future device supporting both TD-LTE and 3G will be available in September.

If the technology is proven reliable, the current MNOs may be able to utilise this network to offload data from their current networks.

Mu USB charger, not quite what it should be

In 2009 design student Min-Kyu Choi designed a folding plug that became a big hit on the Internet, though many people were sceptical it would ever become a reality as it wouldn't meet the strict British Standards required for UK mains plugs.

Choi then joined forces with Matthew Judkins to form Made in Mind to develop folding plug systems.

The first product released is the Mu USB smartphone charger (though they say they'll be releasing a tablet charger later in 2012 followed by the folding plug designed to power laptops).

The Mu is actually 14mm x 55mm x 60mm, so almost square and quite thin (suitable for putting into a laptop case pocket). Unfortunately even when folded the earth pin protudes from the end by about 5mm - though it is plastic so shouldn't scratch anything - one of the live/neutral pins also extends just beyond the curve of the Mu and this could scratch something as it's bare metal.


The charger is very easy to use, just open the side flaps and twist the live/neutral pins through 90 degrees (so they move from vertical to horizontal, which also locks the flaps in place) and then it can be plugged into a mains socket.

The charger will support most low power USB devices such as smartphones as it supports 5V at 1A.


Not perfect

The protruding plastic earth pin isn't ideal and the protruding live/neutral metal in is definitely a flaw. If the case was 1mm larger then the metal pin wouldn't protrude at all and a 5mm larger unit would mean the earth pin wouldn't either. The earth pin could also have been linked to the opening of the flaps so it extended when they were opened and contracted when closed (the earth pin is plastic and is just there to open the live/neutral gates on a UK mains socket, it's not needed for the USB adapter to work in terms of circuitry).

Future

Though Made in Mind say they are going to produce a folding mains plug, the industry is still skeptical whether it will meet the very strict requirements of BS 1363 covering UK plugs.

The unit is available for order at TheMu and will ship on 28/02/12 and costs £25.

29/02/2012

Ofcom opens test facility for testing SRDs

Ofcom the super regulator covering media, broadcasting, radio, telecommunications and postal services is opening a testing facility in Baldock on March 5th 2012.

Short Range Devices (SRDs) such as consumer wireless headphones, wireless microphones (those used for public address in non commercial environments), certain wireless alarms and devices for tracking supermarket stock can be used without a license across Europe. They operate in the band between 863 and 870 MHz (known as the SRD band).

This band is in the wider current analogue TV band which is due to be switched off in April 2012 and will be auctioned in 2013. Though the auction will be technology neutral, it is expected to be used for Long Term Evolution (LTE) otherwise known as 4G services.

The testing facility will allow SRDs to be tested in the presence of LTE emissions from handsets/dongles to see the effects and ensure they continue working.

The full PDF with links to various other Ofcom consultations and statement is available here

28/02/2012

Must have iPad accessories

It's all very well having an iPad but there are some essential accessories that no iPad should be without.

The iPad is a thing of beauty with its shiny aluminium back and pristine glass front, unfortunately they're very susceptible to being scratched.

There are screen protectors such as the Zagg Invisibleshield (for iPad and iPad 2) and though they're meant to be easy to apply, it's almost impossible to do so without air-bubbles being trapped somewhere under the film - which spoils the look completely, it's a trade-off between looks and maintaining a scratchless screen.

Zagg shields are available from a boutique San Francisco company called Dodocase who were a book binding company and have moved into making amazing iPad cases (more on those later).

Dodocase also made a limited edition Bookback (a leather backing) for the iPads and iPhones which will protect them from normal use (and with holes in the right places for cameras etc).

On the other hand Gelaskins make backings for all sorts of devices including the iPads. There are hundred's of pre-designed backings or it's possible to upload your own designs (the gadget backing equivalent of UK's Moo cards). The backing is made of a special material (actually made by 3M the company famous for their yellow 'sticky note') that is easily applied and also can be peeled off and stored (as long as it goes back on the sheet it came with) so backing can be changed as your mood changes.


Cases

Dodocase make the most lovely case for the iPads, made from leather and bamboo they turn an iPad into a 'Moleskine' book, they come in several colours (including black and now with some artistic covers too). The only disadvantage is the size as the case adds a couple of millimeters to the front and back and about 0.5cm length and widthways.

iLuv make several covers including a pink padded zipped sleeve which is quite garish but does offer all around protection. There's also a rubber slip-on version (doesn't protect the screen, but ensures the back and sides are protected from scratches).

A partner of Dodocase is another SF boutique company called Rickshaw Bagworks who make a very simple (yellow) sleeve (though available in multiple colour variants) made of sailcloth material, they also come in horizontal or vertical orientations, again offering very good all round protection for the iPad (the cases are very strong and resistant to scratchy things and being dropped a bit and waterproof). Rickshaw also make a Messenger bag for the iPad that holds a Dodocase'd iPad perfectly and has a nice zipped internal pocket for keeping earphones or other accessories that might easily be lost.

Adonit make a case called the Writer (both for iPad and iPad 2) which is an ABS rubber case with a built-in Bluetooth keyboard which is surrounded by aluminium. The iPad slots in (and is easily removable) and the case acts as a support so the iPad can be easily positioned for optimal reading angle. The central bar contains the batteries and indicates when the keyboard is sleeping etc. The case is held closed by magnetic clasps.


Stands

There are all sorts of stands available, Griffin Technologies make one called the A Frame which is made out of chunky aluminium with rubber edges. When opened into it's A-like mode it can hold a horizontal or vertical iPad (useful for watching videos). When closed, the angle if good for typing on.

Lot18 arrives in the UK

Lot18 is a members only service connecting wineries directly with consumers, giving the consumer access to wines rarely found in the normal 'off-license' environment. The wines are high-end and because of the direct relationship are cost-effective rather than buying through standard retail channels.

The company expanded rapidly in the US in December 2011 and acquired Vinobest (based in Paris) marking the company's first foray into Europe. The company already had UK customers and now can ship to them.

Though group buying sites are now common place, specialist niche sites such as Lot18 actually offer a service that attracts customers who want access to the specialist service they offer which accounts for the high growth and success.