Aeropex might Shokz you (after)

Aftershokz (now Shokz) Aeropex bone conducting headphones (now discontinued, but the Shokz Openrun are similar) sit over the ear in contact with the skin and rather than sending audio into the ear canal like 'normal' headphones or earphones, they vibrate and use bones in the skull to send the audio into the ear itself.

The front portion contains the bone conducting technology and then a loop gives over the ear to another unit containing the batteries/electronics and Bluetooth and another loop goes behind the head to connect to the same setup on the other ear.

Aftershokz Aeropex

The headphones are very light weighing in at 26g, have an estimated 8 hour playback time and are rated IP67 (so good for sweat resistance, but not for swimming). There is a USB cable for charging with a magnetic connector to ensure it aligns with the 2 pin charging port (and cant be put on the wrong way around).

Charging port

Bone conducting technology is a bit of a Marmite® technology (i.e. you love it or hate it). When it works well, it can work very well, or it doesn't.

(After)Shokz are a premium brand and their headphones aren't the cheapest on the market, however they tend to work well and lot of Chinese clones that claim to offer similar technologies will disappoint. An easy test is to turn up the volume and if a buzzing is felt on the skin (like being tickled), then it's probably not a good buy. All bone conducting headphones can suffer this, but cheaper ones will do this at lower volumes

The Aeropex have titanium parts internally with a soft touch covering. There's a single multi-function button and volume control with an LED indicator (charging, Bluetooth). A full charge takes around 2 hours and they should last for about 10 days on standby. Bluetooth is version 5.0, supporting A2DP, AVRCP, HSP and HFP and up to 10 metres away from the audio source.

The claimed frequency response is 20Hz to 20KHz, however the lower frequencies don't tend to pass so well through bone conduction as they get lost on the device to skin. There are also dual microphones to pick up sound for calls etc.

The multi-function button performs the following: -

Play/pause music - click once - one beep
Next song - double click - one beep
Previous song - triple click - one beep
Answer call - click once - two beeps
End call - click once - one beep
Answer call waiting and end current call - press and hold for 2 seconds - one beep
Ignore a call - press and hold for 2 seconds - two beeps
Activate voice assistant - press and hold for 2 seconds - beeps
Redial last number - double click on standby - Redial last number

Power/Volume+/Volume- combinations: -

Power On - press and hold vol+ for 2 seconds - Welcome to Aftershokz
Power Off - press and hold vol+ for 3 seconds - Power Off
Mute - press and hold vol+/vol- for 2 seconds (on call) - mute on/off
Change EQ - press and hold vol+/vol- for 2 seconds (music playing) - EQ changed
Check battery status - click vol+ or vol- (music paused) - Battery high/medium/low/charge me
Just volume - vol- or vol- (music playing) - one beep

The LED indicates: -

Solid red - charging
Solid blue - charged
Flashes red/blue - pairing
Flashes blue - incoming call
Flashes red (every 2 minutes) - low battery

The moisture detector will indicate the headphones are wet if plugged into the charger and they should be dried. 

Bone conducting headphones do take getting used to as the audio goes straight into the back of the ear, while allowing the ears to hear normally. This can be extremely useful for things like cycling or running so you're aware of your surroundings and what's going on. Probably less useful for wearing in a busy office environment and trying to zone out. They are extremely light and as they don't sit in the ear (or cover the ears) there's no long discomfort per se.

The only slightly irritating issue is the vibration on the skin if the volume is too loud or the frequencies in that particular range, but that's really a petty issue.

Though the Aeropex have been discontinued they are still available from sports' shops, the replacement Openrun is directly available from the UK Shokz site for £129.95, they come in black/grey, blue/dark blue, dark grey/light grey and red/dark red.

There's now also the Openrun Pro and Openrun Pro mini, which are newer models supporting Bluetooth 5.1, rated IP55, 12 hours play time, larger multi-function button and enhanced base also from UK Shokz site for £159.95 though they are 3g heavier.

Shokz now also do swimming bone conduction MP3 players and UC headphones.


Sky Stream, first look

Sky (known for the satellite broadcast system) introduced Sky Glass a while back which is a TV with integrated Sky that uses broadband to deliver Sky content, no dish/satellite required (Sky also own Now TV which is a subset of Sky's services also delivered over broadband using an app or puck/box).

Now Sky has introduced Sky Stream which is the same as Sky Glass (in terms of services), but is only a puck/box and a remote (and a power supply and HDMI cable). It connects via Ethernet or WiFi to a home network. The puck is actually running Linux so there are probably some hacks around.

Sky puck

The basic service is HD (1080) but a service upgrade allows UHD. Netflix (basic) is included (watch on a single device), but there are two upgrade options for Netflix Standard (2 devices) and Netflix Premium (4 devices).

TV upgrade packages are Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, BT Sport and Sky Kids.

The packages can be bought on an 18 month contract or 31 days rolling (the later being more expensive).

The box arrives pre-configured with the account set-up, just plug it in to the TV via the HDMI cable, if there's Ethernet, plug that in and let it boot, the can then be set-up in the settings.

It takes a while to boot and a Sky logo will be in white on a black background and when up and running the screen will go to the standard Sky blue colour with white lettering for the options.

Sky initial screen

Then get the remote and press buttons 1 and 3 simultaneously (you have to hold them for a while) and the box will ask if you wish to connect the remote (by pressing the middle button on the remote to agree).

If Ethernet is being used, the settings should automatically be picked up (i.e. IP address/etc), otherwise the WiFi needs to be configured.

If the UHD package has been selected, then the default mode can be moved the UHD rather than HD. Various audio options are also available (as is what format is sent to the TV).

Once that's done, hit the Home button and all the channels are available (including terrestrial channels).

Then there are "apps" for Netflix, iPlayer, ALL4, My5, Disney+, Apple TV+ etc.

Paramount+ is also available and the app  accessed through the Sky system, then an account set-up (again while in the Sky/Paramount app). The price will then be set to £0 per month (i.e. free) when a subscription is taken out.

If a current subscription to Netflix is in use, signing in through Sky means the billing is moved to Sky (i.e. free for Basic). Netflix will keep the current billing method "on file" such that if the Sky subscription ends, it will revert to the original.

The picture is very good and services work very smoothly, though using UHD means that at least 25Mb/s is required from the broadband service.

The packages are: -

18 month contract per month cost

  • Sky Entertainment and Netflix (basic) £26
  • Sky Sports £20 (offer)
  • Sky Cinema £11
  • BT Sport £30
  • Sky Kids £6
  • UHD and Dolby Atmos £6
  • Netflix basic SD (included, watch on 1 device) £0
  • Netflix Standard HD (watch on 2 devices) £4
  • Netflix Premium UHD (watch on 4 devices) £8

Getting everything would be £107 pm

31 day rolling cost

  • Sky Entertainment and Netflix (basic) £29
  • Sky Sports £22 (offer)
  • Sky Cinema £13
  • BT Sport £30
  • Sky Kids £6
  • UHD and Dolby Atmos £6
  • Netflix basic SD (included, watch on 1 device) £0
  • Netflix Standard HD (watch on 2 devices) £4
  • Netflix Premium UHD (watch on 4 devices) £8
Getting everything would be £114

Can then add whole home for £12 pm which allows additional pucks in the home (the first puck is free, more are £39 each).

Getting the full package on an 18 month contract saves £7 per month which is £126 over the lifetime of the contract.

Netflix have announced their new plans (from November) which correspond tp the Sky plans (including resolution and devices) i.e. Basic, Standard and Premium. There is an advertising supported basic plan for £4.99 per month, while the ad free services are £6.99, £10.99 and £15.99 per month respectively. So taking the Sky bundle is a saving if already a subscriber.

There are a few quirks with the system (hopefully they will be resolved in a future software update), the main bug bear is parental control. When accessing a channel where a program is designated that it needs parental control (12+ during the day), a PIN is required even if parental controls/daytime control have been disabled. If the program then changes to another (which also is deemed to require parental control), then the PIN needs entering again as the program changes.

The default PIN is the the last 4 digits of the mobile number registered with the service, but can be changed easily. Parental controls can be set to standard ages (U, PG, 12, 15, 18 or None)  and also all apps or individual apps may be PIN protected.

There's also voice control so it's possible to say "Watch BBC 1" and it will change to that channel (by pressing the microphone symbol on the remote).

Sky Stream remote
The buttons nicely light up when the remote is moved making it easy to find what you're doing even in a dark environment.

Another niggle is that it can take a while for the Sky puck to turn on even after the power button is pressed on the remote, but it tends to work after a few goes.

All in all, this is a nice way to get Sky without having to faff with satellite dishes if your Internet connection can cope.

p.s. the Sky links are referral but if signing up through it, you get discounts too.


Apple Photos does OCR

This feature seems to have appeared in Apple Photos.

Find a picture with some text in it, highlight the text and it's copied to the clipboard.

original picture

then highlight it

bounded box

The box will appear over the text when the mouse is selected at the start. Copy to clipboard.

The result of the clipboard is "BELSIZE PARK"

It works on horizontal and vertical text too.


It's bigger and brighter, the new Xiaomi Smart Band 7

Xiaomi (Mi) have refreshed their fitness tracker the Xiaomi SmartBand 7. It comes in China and Global versions, the only real difference is that the Chinese version supports NFC payments (through Alipay). If you're lucky Alipay may accept your credit card as a payment type and then you can use it through the band. Both versions support multiple languages.

The 326 ppi AMOLED screen has been increased to 1.62 inches and is now much brighter (it can be distractingly bright), which is a 25% increase over the Band 6 display. The included USB cable has a magnetic connector on the end which aligns the connector with the band and holds it in place to charge.

Battery life is stated at 15 days, but that will be greatly reduced if various functions are turned on, such as some continuous readings.

Band 7 next to Apple Watch

There are a variety of straps that can be purchased apart form the standard black.

Watch faces are download to the watch (over 100 of them) via the Mi Fit app (now rebranded as the Zepp Life app). Some of them maybe quite Chinese in personality and seem quite odd to a western market.

The band has the following "health" functions: -

  • SpO2 Monitoring
  • Breathing Training
  • Heart Rate Monitoring
  • Sleep Monitoring
  • Pressure Monitoring
  • Female Health

SpO2 (blood oxygen content) and heart rate monitoring are continuous as is sleep monitoring (i.e. no need to tell the band you're going to sleep).

Band 7 supports 120 sports modes, some of which it will try and switch into automatically and it can be used for swimming down to 50m (but not diving). While training VO2 is estimated and time to recovery as well as aerobic and anaerobic exercise times.  Standard sports are directly accessed while others via the All Workouts.

They are: -

  • Running
    •     Outdoor running
    •     Walking
    •     Treadmill
    •     Indoor walking
    •     Race walk
  • Cycling
    •     Outdoor cycling
    •     Indoor cycling
    •     BMX
  • Swimming
    •     Pool swimming
    •     Fin swimming
    •     Artistic swimming
  • Outdoor workout
    •     Fishing
    •     Skateboarding
    •     Roller skating
    •     Rock climbing
    •     Parkour
  • Indoor workout
    •     Freestyle
    •     Elliptical training
    •     Rower
    •     Indoor fitness
    •     HIIT
    •     Core training
    •     Aerobic combo
    •     Strength
    •     Stretching
    •     Stair climbing
    •     Flexibility
    •     Stepper (forward)
    •     Stepper (backwards)
    •     Gymnastic
    •     Yoga
    •     Pilates
    •     Aerobics
    •     Mass gymnastics
    •     Cardio Combo
    •     Cross training
    •     Spinning
    •     Horizontal bar
    •     Parallel bars
    •     Battle rope
  • Dance
    •     Ballet
    •     Belly dance
    •     Square dancing
    •     Street dancing
    •     Ballroom
    •     Dance
    •     Zumba
    •     Latin dancing
    •     Jazz dancing
    •     Folk dance
    •     Hip Hop
    •     Pole dance
    •     Break dance
    •     Modern dance
  • Combat workout
    •     Kendo
    •     Karate
    •     Boxing
    •     Judo
    •     Wrestling
    •     Tai chi
    •     Muay Thai
    •     Taekwondo
    •     Martial arts
    •     Kick boxing
    •     Jujitsu
    •     Fencing
  • Ball workouts
    •     Tennis
    •     Football (soccer)
    •     Cricket
    •     Baseball
    •     Bowling
    •     Squash
    •     Basketball
    •     Softball
    •     Gateball
    •     Volleyball
    •     Table tennis
    •     Handball
    •     Badminton
    •     Beach volleyball
    •     Wall ball
    •     Billiards
    •     Sepak takrav
    •     Dodgeball
    •     Water polo
    •     Ice hockey
    •     Shuttlecock
    •     Futsal
    •     Hacky sack
    •     Bocce
    •     Jal alai
  • Water workouts
    •     Sailing
    •     Rowing
    •     Dragon boat
    •     Kayaking
    •     Snorkeling
    •     Flowriding
  • Winter workouts
    •     Curling
    •     Ice skating
    •     Indoor ice skating
  • Leisure workouts
    •     Hula hoop
    •     Frisbee
    •     Darts
    •     Kite flying
    •     Tug of war
    •     Shuttlecock
    •     Esports
    •     Airwalker
    •     Swinging
    •     Shuffleboard
    •     Table football
    •     Somatosens
  • Board and cards
    •     Chess
    •     Checkers
    •     Weigl
    •     Bridge
    •     Board game
  • Others
    •     Jump rope
    •     Archery
    •     Equestrian

What the band can actually measure during say a board game is questionable to say the least. Other sports modes to seem to work and it will pick-up walking and running without having to actually switch to that mode. 

Tracking is reasonable and compares to other much more expensive devices.

Nicely Xiaomi have now added a lot of products to their international store, including the Smart Band 7 which retails for £54.99 in the UK version (mi.com detects your location and uses that to deliver a local store). Straps costs £9.99 (they do break and the button on the clasp can break too).

It is also possible to go to your friendly Chinese site and buy it considerably cheaper (though pricing has changed recently and shipping charges can be more expensive and there will be VAT/Tax added at the point of sale).


Mice should always have worked like this

 Apple Macs use mice and Apple don't give you too many options for configuring them.

System Preferences / Mouse

That does give some control and of course it's optimised for Apple mice (which are really trackpads nowadays as they don't have wheels on anymore). 3rd party mice may well have their own software / system preferences pane to allow some adjustments.

3D Connexion Preference Pane

In their wisdom Apple make scrolling accelerate as it's used continuously, so scroll down a page and suddenly it can jump to the end because the scrolling has sped up (especially noticeable scrolling long pages).

Now there's a helping hand (well a little utility that lives in the menu bar) called LinearMouse and it'a free. It can be directly downloaded from the site (.dmg) or installed via Homebrew

#brew install --cask linearmouse

The source code is also available on Github so it's possible to build the app yourself (more importantly ensure it's not doing anything suspicious in the background).

Once installed a mouse looking icon appears in the menu bar and clicking it brings a dropdown menu showing the mouse options and click on LinearMouse Properties.

LieanMouse Preferences

Reverse scrolling does just that and the scrolling direction will be reversed, but the magic is enabling linear scrolling as this stops the scrolling speeding up. Once you enable it, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it, it's a game changer.

One of the best utilities you'll find for your Mac (now of course Apple will integrate the functionality into a future version of macOS).


Working from home, be Shure to use a MV5C microphone

Shure is known for its professional in-earphones, headphones, microphones and wireless systems and have been around for a long time (since 1925). The in-earphones can produce very high quality audio as they isolate the sound form the outside world and musicians have custom earpieces made so they fit completely into and on to the ear canal (this also allows the audio to play much more quietly which is better for the ear drums and reduces damage).

More recently conferencing systems have also become part of the portfolio very much aimed at businesses.

Now with everyone working from home, Shure has moved into the home office space and produced a microphone to suit video and voice calls, the MV5C microphone.

Shure MV5C box

There is some assembly required (screw the large sphere ended screw through the base into the microphone ball).

Parts from box

The microphone connects to the computer via micro-USB (why not USB-C in this day and age?). There's also a headphone socket at the back for connecting wired (jack) earphones or headphones so it's possible to monitor the raw input.

Back of microphone

The completed unit looks quite professional, though the ball of the microphone is made of plastic.

Microphone with Shure logo on front

The microphone should be placed as close to face of the user as possible (in front of the keyboard, the base can slide under some keyboards and still allow the keyboard to be used effectively). The voice quality is very good.

The main problem is it's very easy to pickup background noise, especially hum from hard disks (i.e. older computers with hard disks inside or backup external disks) and fans. Newer solid state disk (SSD) based systems will sound much better. It would also be possible to mount the microphone on some sound abosrbant material as the hum comes mainly via the base.

The following are 3 recordings made using the MV5C and Audacity (44KHz sampling with 32bit floats) and and images grabbed of the capture - the base line waveform amplitude shows the hum/background noise.


The background hum can be heard, but still great quality.

Off desktop was recorded using some sound absorbing material. The hum is slightly lower.

The final version was recording while holding the microphone so isolated from the desktop (which the computer and backup disk is on) and a screen behind the microphone between it and the computer.

With each capture the background noise is reduced and placing the microphone where it won't pickup extraneous noise will make a huge difference to the audio quality - though if offline editing, then noise removal would help.

As a desktop microphone and set-up correctly (and near to the person using it), it is a very good quality mic and can make a big difference compared to poor quality mics in headphones or other devices when using video conferencing or telephony applications.

The MV5C also works with the ShurePlus MOTIV mobile recording software (free download for iOS or Android) though it will require the correct cable (i..e device to micro-USB). The software gives tools to chop audio into clips, fade in and out and save in various formats.

It retails for £115 direct from Shure though it can be found online considerably cheaper.


Bose Soundlink Flex speaker

The Bose Soundlink Flex speaker is designed for outdoor use. It has an IP64 and IP67 rating, so water and dust proof and can be submerged down to 1 metre for up to a minute. The case is metal with a a "soft touch" silicon coating and the grill has a fabric coating. It's a portable size at 20.1cm across by 9cm height and a depth of 5cm and there's a fabric strap so it can be carried.

There's a single USB-C port used for charging (a USB-A to USB-C cable is included), it's a shame the port can't be used to connect to an audio source directly so it could be used as a wired speaker/DAC. It takes 4 hours to fully charge the system.

The audio is only available via Bluetooth (v4.2) and it works up to about 30m.

There are also front facing microphones which can be used for calls and voice assistants.

There are 5 buttons across the top, power, volume down, multi-function and volume up and Bluetooth (with indicator light) that can initiate pairing.

Single pressing the power button turns the device on (and it speaks the battery percentage remaining - which is enabled by default). Single pressing again will turn the unit off. If nothing is playing/connected the unit will auto turn off after 20 minutes, this can be disabled by holding the + (volume up) and multifunction button simultaneously (or in the app), or if disabled this will re-enable it. While on, the amount of battery power will be spoken by pressing the power and keeping it pressed.

The multi-function button does multiple things depending on mode: -

  • When playing audio, single pressing will play or pause, track forwards (double press) and track backwards (triple press).
  • Pressing and holding will activate the voice control capabilities of the connected device (i.e. Siri or Alexa etc). Pressing and holding again will exit voice control.
  • When there's an incoming call pressing will answer, pressing and holding will reject the call. While in a call pressing and holding will end the call.
  • When there are 2 active calls, pressing quickly will switch between them.

If on a call, pressing volume up and down simultaneously will mute the call.

Though not required, there's an accompanying Bose Connect app (iOS/Android) that enables various functions such as party mode (where multiple Bose speakers can be linked and will all play the same audio) or stereo mode where 2 devices will (after having been connected in party mode) play left and right through each device.

Once paired the main screen shows a nice picture and what's playing. Touching the on-screen buttons plays/pauses, rewinds and fast forwards and the volume can be adjusted.

The main screen just shows the device connected.

Settings then shows the various that can be changed such as party mode, voice prompts, voice language etc.

Clicking the user icon takes you into Profile settings where a few user settings can be set.

The USB charging port is visible on the left

and the strap on the right.

NOTE: as can be seen from the photos, the black silicon coating picks up dust very easily which sticks, it obviously doesn't effect the sound, but it can look a bit nasty.

When the speaker is initially turned on, voice prompts are in English, but the speaker supports the following languages: -

  • English
  • Spanish  
  • French
  • German 
  • Mandarin
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Italian
  • Portuguese 
  • Swedish
  • Dutch
  • Russian 
  • Polish
The language can easily be selected in the app, but to change via the speaker, press and hold the multifunction button and then press + or - to cycle through the languages, then press and hold the multifunction button again when you are on the language you require.

The speaker can be paired with up to 8 devices at a time, though only 2 can be used simultaneously and only one can be playing at any time. To switch between two connected audio sources, pause the one playing and then start the other source. To clear all connections, press and hold the Bluetooth button for 10 seconds.

When it's time to party 2 Bose products can be connected in "Party Mode". This allows them both to play left and right or in Stereo mode, one will be left and the other right. Doing this is easy within the app, but can be done through a connected speaker. Make sure both devices are on and one is connected to the Bluetooth audio source and then press the Bluetooth and volume up (+) button together. The speaker will say “Press the Bluetooth and volume down buttons simultaneously on a second Bose device” which should then be done on the other Bose speaker.

Once in party mode to put them in stereo mode press the Bluetooth button and + on either speaker until it announces “Stereo mode”, then one will say "left" and the other "right". Pressing the Bluetooth and + button again will turn off stereo mode. To disable either mode just turn off one speaker.

Only via the app, the speaker can be connected to a Bose soundbar using the sync system and whatever's playing on the soundbar will play through the Flex (limited by Bluetooth range of 30m).

Bose claim a 12 hour battery life, however if the volume is near 100% (which is often required outside or in a large space like a gym), then battery life is considerably reduced to somewhere over 3 hours. An external power source can be used and works well for topping up the internal battery.

The microphones do work, though placement is key and it's quite easy to get a muffled conversation and probably best to use the phone directly for that important work call.

The speaker comes in 3 colours (black, stone blue and smoke white) and costs £149.95

There are cheaper speakers out there, but this does have good base and plays well. Battery life could be better and it's a real shame the USB port can be connected to an audio source for wired playback, but a nice solidly built Bluetooth speaker. 


Padlock those fingers with a Kitty

This is another Xiaomi (supply chain) product made by Youdian, the Kitty Smart Touch/Fingerprint padlock. It comes in 4 colours (Coral Red, Mica Blue, Gold, Bluestone Green) and is 33mm wide by 15mm which and just under 60mm high (including the steel lock). The body is a zinc alloy and is IPX2 water resistant.

The fingerprint detector is about 1cm across.

In the factory reset state (as shipped) any finger touching the sensor will unlock the padlock. When unlocked an administrator fingerprint should be stored. Hold the required finger on the sensor for 8 seconds until the LED above the sensor goes blue, then 5 successful fingerprint readings will store fingerprint as the admin.

Locking the padlock will now only allow the admin finger to open it (the lock will open and the LED will go green).

If the padlock is unlocked and the admin then holds their finger on the sensor until the LED goes blue, then another fingerprint can be stored (again 5 successful readings are required). Up to 20 fingerprints can be stored.

It's not possible to delete individual fingerprints, but the padlock can be reset to factory default by unlocking, placing the admin finger on the sensor until the LED goes red, then removing it and placing on the sensor again. All stored passwords will then be removed.

There's a 100mAh/3.7V (cobalt polymer) battery inside, which Youdian claim will give a year's worth of standby (i.e. leaving the padlock locked and returning within a year it should still unlock). Multiple unlocks will reduce the time, so probably worth charging from time to time (the LED will stay red until it's fully charged). It is charged via micro USB and a USB-A cable is included.

The padlock does just work and it failed to open with non-registered fingers. Quite useful when you don't want to carry keys around and lock an e-scooter or bike (or even luggage). The padlock is quite secure, though it's probably reasonably easy to break if required.

It's available from your usual Chinese sites and costs around £15 (before VAT etc).


KardiaMobile means a great time to be Alive(Cor)

Alivecor have been producing small ECG monitors for a while, the initial KardiaMobile had 2 pads and used sound to transfer the data to a phone and this relied on positioning the device near the phone and in a stable position with the phone's microphone towards the device.

The new KardiaMobile 6L looks quite similar to the original, but has two pads on the top and a single pad underneath. It uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to transmit the data to a phone where the ECG will be displayed in the Kardia app (Apple iOS 10.3.3, or at least Android OS 6.0).

The box is a cardboard sleeve.

The inside section slides out and it holds the KardiaMobile 6L and an instruction manual sitting on top.

The device has two silver pads on the top surface and the AliveCor logo (or arrow).

The base has a single pad (which can be unscrewed and holds the CR2016 battery which is included).

The app should be installed and an account created, the device is then paired with the app.

If taking a 2 lead reading, put the KardiaMobile on a table or other stable position and place a finger from each hand on the two pads. If taking a 3 lead reading, then sit somewhere that is a comfortable stable position, roll up trousers, if required, to expose the knee area and place the device on knee and one finger from each hand on the two top pads. Again it's important to sit as still as possible.

Once the readings have been taken you are notified that the ECG's have been saved to Apple Health (if sync'ed to Apple Health) and can be viewed on your Apple Watch (so it can be shown to a doctor or clinician).

You are also given a summary of the ECG

It's then possible to share the ECG as a PDF and it takes the whole chart like you'd get from a ECG machine in a hospital (but split into pages).

Note the first page often has weirdness at the beginning as you settle down and stabilise the readings.

The next pages tend to be cleaner with just the normal ECG displayed

 The final page is an averaged heart rate

As stated previously it really is imperative to keep as still as possible to get a clean reading. The app will diagnose simple abnormalities such as Atrial Fibrillation, Bradycardia, Tachycardia and a normal heart rhythm. Giving the ECGs to a doctor may help them diagnose arrhythmias and cardiovascular diseases.

The unit is FDA approved as a medical device (which is very different to other wearables that a fitness devices) and acts as though it uses ECG leads I, II, III, aVL, aVR, aVF.

If you're worried at all about heart conditions, this could be for you, it's easy to use and gives good results.

The basic Kardia 6L costs £149 in the UK (direct from the site) and £228 with the addition of a year of KardiaCare which allows advanced determinations (analysis), the results are shared with clinicians and stored in the cloud and you get a heart health summary report. Purchasing separately a plan costs £99 or £179 for 2 years.


ConceptDraw Office gets an upgrade

 ConceptDraw Office has now been upgraded to version 8 and it contains 3 (well really 4) main packages: -

  • ConceptDraw DIAGRAM v15
  • ConceptDraw MINDMAP v13
  • ConceptDraw PROJECT v12

There is also ConceptDraw STORE which offers access to various ConceptDraw solutions and upgrades to the main packages too.

Diagram offers professional-quality graphic solutions of all sorts for all businesses, Mindmaop is essential to strategic planning, knowledge and team management and Project provides a professional approach to portfolio and project management.

ConceptDraw Office is available both on Microsoft Windows and Apple macOS and are alternative offerings to Microsoft Visio and Project.

Though the applications can run standalone for basic primitives, the flexibility comes when the Solutions are added, all 215 of them. Many are free and can be downloaded via the Store, while some are paid for and new Solutions are being added all the time.

The categories of Solutions are: -

  • Building Plans
  • Business Infographics
  • Business Processes
  • Business Productivity
  • Collaboration
  • Computers and Networks
  • Dashboards
  • Diagrams
  • Finance and Accounting
  • Food and Beverage
  • Graphs and Charts
  • Health
  • Illustrations
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Infographics
  • Management
  • Maps
  • Marketing
  • Project Management
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Education
  • Software Development
  • Sport
  • Statistical Charts

Some of these are just building blocks, while others can be connected to data to produce charts/infographics based on the data.

Examples of some of the actual building blocks

Divided Bar Chart

Financial Infographics

Sport - Baseball Field

Above infographics may be static or utilise data (such as the divided bar chart) or just a picture like the baseball field.

The applications can import Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Project, Visio, Mindmanager, Xmind and Freemind documents and export pdf, images, Outline, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Project and Visio.

There still are differences between the Windows and macOS versions such as it's only possible to explore pdf layers on the Windows version of the software.

The STORE also allows upgrading the applications and solutions

It's also possible to purchase new solutions (when a new solution is published it will have a green flag on it)

The applications can be purchased individually or as ConceptDraw Office which contains all of them.

Single user pricing is as follows: -

  • ConceptDraw OFFICE 8 £399 (but seems to be £239 now)
  • ConceptDraw DIAGRAM 15 £159
  • ConceptDraw PROJECT 12 £239
  • ConceptDraw MINDMAP 13 £159
  • ConceptDraw MINDMAP 13 & PROJECT 12 £319

So Office seems a bargain at the moment.

The solutions vary in price.

If you need a suite of applications that can do mind mapping and project planning and you don't want to go the Microsoft route, this could be for you.