Oculus Go and an Exercise Bike


Recently I purchased a Oculus Go, and I’ve been trying different things with it.

Today was exercise time. Although in the time of Covid19 lock-down we are allowed out for exercise, I think it’s often safer to stay at home, if you can. And then there’s my better half who isn’t allowed out at all for for at least several months.

So how best to keep fit?

We have a rather simple exercise bike that gets used infrequently sitting in our second bedroom. This is great for a quick physical session, but somewhat limited in the mental well-being.

Enter the Oculus Go. Let’s try a few things.

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Amazon Kindle Support – impressive

In the last couple of days I’ve been very impressed with how the Amazon Kindle customer support is handled – in fact I’ve been thoroughly surprised at how efficient it is.

I’ve been using my Kindle since September with no problems. One of my first purchases was the Independent newspaper and this gets streamed to the Kindle automatically every morning, when I wake up it’s there waiting for me. That was up until last Thursday when the download become locked in “pending”. Continue reading “Amazon Kindle Support – impressive”

CanvasZoom – HTML5 Canvas and code

You may have seen the program Zoomify, or similar programs like, OpenZoom and DeepZoom, which quickly display large resolution images on websites without large amounts of data being downloaded – only the part which is needed is downloaded. Most of these applications use some kind of plugin to work (e.g. Flash or Silverlight), so I wanted to see if we could create one without any plugin, using only the HTML5 standards.
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3D Printing thingi’s

Just back from a very interesting seminar at the University of Oxford entitled: “Copying the Means of Production to the Proletariat” – yes, that meant little to me too – basically it’s about RepRap – the Replicating Rapid-prototyper (more commonly known as a 3D printer!)

The talk was by Dr Adrian Bowyer from Bath University, who’s been instrumental in building this type of 3D printer. His specific work has been in creating a 3D printer that can effectively print another copy of itself – so one printer can build the next printer. It’s not designed to be 100% printable however as that would mean much of it would have to be glued together rather than bolted as in the photo, which would effectively rule out experiments, improvements and tweaks of the printer. The current design, the “RepRap II: Mendel”, has about 50% printed parts. (I’m not sure I agree with this though, I think many people would be very happy to have a fully, 100% printable (well 99%), 3D printer, they’d be so handy to have. You could print spare parts once it’s running, and if a better one comes along, print the new one and recycle the old one back through)

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My New Laptop

The Dell Inspiron 15 z Laptop
The Dell Inspiron 15 z Laptop

My new laptop has come. It’s a Dell Inspiron 15z and I splashed out for the Cherry Red version (which looks much more red than the photo gives credit). This is a quick blog about it, expect a more detailed one after more experiments over in my tech blog.

The “15” refers to the size of the screen, actualy 15.4 inch widescreen. It’s got a nice reflective surface on it, and looks to be very clear. The “z” part refers to the lightweight, small, and long battery life version of the inspiron. However, it still has 4 GB of Ram, 320 GB of hard drive and a fairly nice graphics card (512MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD4330). The main battery life saving is via the processors, two intel 1.3 GHz processors, about half the power of standard processors, but still very capable for all but the most intensive of jobs.

It’s not an incredibly light laptop like some much more expensive laptops are (this one was about £650), but I’d still call it an extremely portable laptop (if not quite ultra portable). Battery life seems to be around predicted values on dells website. I’ve been using this laptop for about 4 hours already, with wi-fi and dells power saving settings on, and I’ve still got over 2 hours left of power. With the wifi off, and screen at it’s lowest (it’s half way at mo) I’ve seen predicted times of over 7.5 hours.

All in all I’m very pleased with it. As a bonus I’m hoping to count some of my 10:10 commitments to my new laptop!

Nokia hunt

Am enjoying the current Nokia Hunt game here:

The idea is you can win yourself a Nokia N97 (which I love!) for free! If you can find the answers then find the hidden phone that is…

My Nokia Blog is a good place to start too. http://mynokiablog.com/

Got two out of five so far, just three to go…

HP miniNote review (vs the Asus minibook)


The HP miniNote is a fine piece of kit, but I question whether it’s much of a Netbook. In fact I’d place it in a position somewhere between a Netbook and a full laptop…

The specs are pretty impressive though – the one I’m using has a 10 Inch screen, 2Gb of RAM, 1.6 Ghz process and an impressive 150 Gb of Hard drive space. The battery length is also pretty impressive, I’ve easily had five hours out of it, with estimates of up to 8 hours claimed. The size is bigger than other netbooks but still much small than most laptops. You can get a feel for it’s size from the following images:

HP miniNote depth

HP miniNite width

HP miniNote

It’s keyboard feels like a full size one – your fingers fit the keys and make typing a breeze – but is still slightly smaller than standard. You can happily type away on it for a good deal of time, it would be ideal to take with you down the coffee house for a quick drink, although prolonged typing did make my fingers feel a little cramped after a time.

Here’s the the HP mini next to the Asus miniNote:

HP miniNote and Asus miniBook

The HP is clearly a lot wider which could make it a little harder to carry around. Another problem for its netbook credentials is its start up time. A good test of a netbook is the time it takes from when it’s switched on until the time you can get a web page up, say a weather forecast. I believe this would be a typical use for a net book. Time comparison:

HP MiniNote Switch on to desktop : 72 seconds Switch on to Website: 235 seconds
Asus MiniBook Switch on to desktop : 25 seconds Switch on to Website: 85 seconds

I believe this is mostly due to the different operating systems they run (Linux on Asus, XP on HP). The Asus operating system was specifically created for speed, add even on a much slower machine the speed is impressive. The linux operating system could in theory be installed to the HP making a really impressive peice of kit.

Cost is somewhat prohibative too. The original Asus at the moment costs about £195 while the HP can cost around £450, this is well within the full laptop cost area.

The HP is a really great sub notebook, ideal for when you need to do a little work away from you office or home. Think of it as a really small laptop, placed somewhere between a netbook and a laptop, great for typing, not so great for a quick internet update.

Mars goes Google.

The beautiful Google Earth program has gone Martian. The planet Mars is now explorable in full 3D (not just an overlay).

See Olympus Mons rise above the distant horizon or fly down Valles Marines in a full 3D projection. You can even follow the landers progresses, and view some of the panaromic high resolution shots just as the rovers Spirit or Opportunity saw them.

This video from the official “unoffical” Google Earth blog clearly shows of some of the best features:

Just download Google Earth, click on the planet button in the toolbar and select Mars. Some informative pictures here too:

Martian trippers enjoy storm free journey

Great news for all Martian wannabes.

The trip to Mars can be made much safer with the realisation of a “Force Field”. This will drastically cut down the problems the solar wind can cause, especially when a solar storm occurs.

The high speed particles flowing from the Sun during a Solar Storm can cause serious medical problems for the astronauts, so using technology developed during Fusion research it was found that a “magnetic bubble” can be used to envelope the spaceship and all and protect them in the same way the Earth is protected from the Solar Winds.

More information can be found here:

The future is big, bendy and transparent.

You might have seen bendable displays before, but unfortunately they’ve

always had something that stopped them going main stream. Until now.
All of the problems have been fixed: any size, any resolution, flexible and

Check out the new report here:

I think it’s hard to imagine the many ways this will transform today’s world, but just imagine what a roll up, light weight, flexible screen could do:

  • Wrap around your arm like a bracelet.
  • Sewn directly onto fabrics.
  • Floated into the sky by balloons.
  • Embedded into spectacles or any glass surface.

Do you have some good ideas?