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  • The Dyson Q&A

    February 14, 2013 @ 9:18 am | by Ciara O'Brien

    Last week, I got to talk to James Dyson about his latest invention – the Airblade Tap – and what his company has been working on during the recession.The finished piece ran in Monday’s Innovation supplement, but here’s the full Q&A.


  • iTunes sets new record

    February 7, 2013 @ 4:08 pm | by Ciara O'Brien

    Apple has set a new record with its iTunes store, selling more than 25 billion songs since it began selling digital music.

    That works out at about 15,000 songs per minute over close to a decade.

    The 25 billionth song was Monkey Drums (Goksel Vancin Remix), and that has earned its purchaser, German Philip Lupke, a gift card for €10,000. Considering I manage to spend less than €20 every two months, that’s a whole lot of downloading to get through. Not bad for a few cent.

    Apple has built up an impressive library of songs in its online music store. There are more than 26 million songs available, and the store is now open in 119 countries.

  • Instagram launches web feed

    February 5, 2013 @ 6:43 pm | by Ciara O'Brien

    If you are an Instagram user (and there are still quite a few around), you’re probably quite used to having to peer at your smartphone screen to see the filtered pictures of food, family pets and other random subjects that appear regularly in your feed from people you have chosen to follow.


  • Sky+ Android app gets remote update

    @ 3:18 pm | by Ciara O'Brien

    Sky customers with Android devices will now be able to control their Sky+ box using their phone or tablet, as the pay-TV broadcaster introduces a new remote control function.

    No longer lagging behind their iOS brethren, Android users can ditch their regular remote control and swap it for their smartphone, where they can change channels, pause live TV or rewind with a few swipes of their fingers.

    More importantly though is the ability to manage programme planners through the Android version of the app – you can delete recordings, or schedule new ones without ever having to use the TV menu. The only requirement is that you have your Android device connected to the same wifi network as your Sky+ box.

  • Shockproof, waterproof…. consumer-proof?

    February 4, 2013 @ 5:03 pm | by Ciara O'Brien

    Check out Panasonic’s latest round of goodies. These cameras are built to be used under less than perfect conditions, and still give you great footage.


  • Instagram reveals new user numbers

    January 18, 2013 @ 4:40 pm | by Ciara O'Brien

    Late last year, Instagram did what every social networking company does from time to time: it announced it would update its terms of use. What it hadn’t counted on was the massive backlash that came after some careful reading uncovered a few things that caused some red flags among users. The vague language meant that, in theory, your images could have been used in advertising without you knowing. There were also concerns that the photosharing service planned to sell photos.

    There were thousands of people threatening to leave Instagram as a result. Accounts were made private, people rushed to download their photos before wiping all evidence they ever shared an image through Instagram. But new figures today show that 90 million people still use the service every month, and 40 million photos are uploaded every day. Not bad for a service that most of us thought had signed its own death warrant.

    (Daily active users are down, though, and falling, according to AppStats. It’s not clear if that’s a long-term trend yet.)

    Perhaps it was the reaction that stopped people in their tracks. The company backtracked within days, and has since removed some of the more controversial elements of the terms of use.

    In its defence, Instagram said it merely wanted to experiment with “innovative” advertising that wouldn’t impact negatively on users’ experience of the service. The new terms were also intended to help share data between the service and Facebook.

    “To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos,” co-founder Kevin Systrom wrote in a blog post. “We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.”

    And Instagram was equally clear on what it meant for users’ privacy; it would respect the settings applied by each user. In other words, private photos would stay private.

    The updated terms, which come into effect from tomorrow, can be found here.



  • CES: Olloclip

    January 10, 2013 @ 1:56 pm | by Ciara O'Brien

    Most people at this point have a phone with a camera in it. And you probably find yourself using it a lot more than your regular point and shoot camera, because they’re just so much more convenient.

    But if you could make it better, you would, right?

    The Olloclip is a clip-on lens designed for the iPhone that combines three lenses into one: fisheye, wide angle and macro. It flips around, pieces screw together…it’s all a bit clever.

    One drawback is that it’s made to fit specific models, so you can’t swap one between an iPhone 4 and a 5, nor can you use with a case on it.

    That last but is something the company is already looking at; on the way is a case that has a flip out piece so you can attach the camera lens and acts as a shutter button for you.

  • CES: day two

    January 9, 2013 @ 7:18 pm | by Ciara O'Brien

    One of the things about conferences like this is that with so many people in one place, all trying to get online, wireless Internet access eventually gives up the ghost. Whether it’s in the CES press room or even just the mobile data networks, thinks get slow or non existent.

    So from yesterday’s trip around the show, here’s a few pictures.

    Table PCs are apparently a thing this year. A few companies were showing them off – 3M, Lenovo – and this one by Moneual allowed you to order a drink through your table. They even won a “best of ” innovation award for it.


    At CES and Mobile World Congress last year there were plenty of companies pushing their method for waterproofing phones and other electronics. This year, they were back again, and with more of them. So apart from the “ew” factor, this will never be a problem again.


    Sony, meanwhile, announced its flagship Xperia Z phone, which is already water resistant. High fives all round.

    Remember the company last year that brought in Justin Bieber and made a robot dance? Well Tosy is back again with a new look.


    And a far bigger stand.



    There were more than a few products that made you think “what?” Like these. Headphones for while you’re sleeping. I can see where they’re going with it, but it’s not for me.


  • CES: Protecting your phone

    @ 7:15 pm | by Ciara O'Brien


    Now this is something useful. You know when you try to put one of those plastic screen protectors on your iPhone, it immediately attracts fluff, develops one stubborn air bubble that wont go away and starts peeking three days later? Well this may be a solution.

    It’s a tempered glass screen protector made by Spigen. So not only does it go on easily – you line it up with the home button and ear piece cut outs and drop it on carefully – but it looks and feels similar to a regular iPhone screen. It’s oleophobic, just like the iPhone screen. And it comes in two varieties – one with a regular square edge and one with a rounded smooth edge.

    Both are a snap to put on. And not an air bubble in sight.

  • CES: Kube

    @ 2:47 pm | by Ciara O'Brien

    Meet the New Kube, a tiny MP3 player. It’s just big enough to take a micro SD card and plug your headphones into. Plus some mini buttons for controls. I stopped because it looked like mini building blocks and I was curious.

    More here

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