Categories
Gadgets Reviews Series Smartphones

RoadWarrior USB Car Holder Review

This is the sixth article in a series reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.

Is the sat nav redundant? Smartphones and tablets have arguably made laptops, desktops, mobile (or cell) phones and sat navs redundant. My S4 Mini is now my sat nav, so I need a car charger to hold my phone on the go so it can act as my sat nav.

After a lot of research I decided to get the a RoadWarrior – great name.

What Does It Do?

The reason I chose the RoadWarrior is because of its functionality. The car holder both charges a phone and holds it. It also has an extra USB port you can use to charge another device. Its most attractive feature however is its inbuilt FM transmitter inbuilt, meaning you can link your phone to your cars stereo.

Does It Work?

Ever looked at something online and though that it looks too good to be true? Well I was sceptical about the RoadWarrior. However whilst it does have  a few faults, it does generally do what it says it does. With some cars depending upon where the cigarette lighter plug is, it can be in an awkward place, meaning that the RoadWarrior can get in the way. This isn’t the fault of the holder and it does have a flexible arm which is movable so you can reposition it.

The FM receiver does work, and it relatively easy to set up (if you remember to flick the on/off switch on the side like I didn’t) just tune it to an unused frequency using the buttons and then tune your car stereo to the same frequency.

The charger does work reasonably well and still works when charging two devices (i.e. a phone and anything else plugged in to the spare USB). The power plug is a little wobbly and does sometimes disconnect which is annoying.

My biggest problem with the RoadWarrior is how it holds my phone. Whilst I appreciate it is designed to hold a variety of phones I don’t feel all to confident in putting my phone in and taking it out. The adjustable clamp does hold it in place, but my phone can still move a little, which I worry is damaging the connector. Furthermore, to get my phone out, the instructions say I have to bend it forwards and then pull it out. I am also concerned that this movement might be damaging my phones power connector – a costly thing to replace!

Rating

The RoadWarrior is a really great device. I feel its greatest feature is its FM transmitter so you can connect your phone to your car, whilst charging it, even if your car doesn’t have bluetooth of USB port. My main problem with the charger is how securely it holds my phone, nothing has gone wrong yet though.

Overall I rate the RoadWarrior USB Car Charger 4 star.Four Star

Next Week

Next week I will be finishing the series!

Categories
Fun News Technology

The Future of Personal Transport

I am a cyclist myself. I don’t have a car here in the USA, although I do have one sitting on the drive in Italy. The problem with cars is not only that they pollute but also getting stuck in traffic.

When I go out on my bike I know exactly how long it will take me to do my trip, presuming that I have done it before. So I can get to my music lessons in 25 minutes, or to the dentist in 20. If I take a car though sometimes it takes 10 minutes, but sometimes it takes half an hour or more, so I have to leave with ample time to adjust for these problems.

Oh and a million people a year are killed in cars, although biking is certainly no safer. What we need is an alternative, and today for you ladies and gentlemen (and third Gendered) I have started saving up for my answer and dream, a flying car.

The Terrafuggia flying car as a car
The Terrafuggia flying car as a car

No longer the stuff of dreams, local Massachusetts company Terrafuggia are now taking orders for their series of flying cars that will be launched in 2015.

A prototype exists already, and in this CNN video we can see the CEO driving it to the gas station, filling up and taking it for a fly. At a little over $275 000 it may not be in everybody’s price range, but could this seriously change the way we move around in the near future?

I think the USA is the perfect place for such a machine as there are plenty of open spaces for take off and landing, but I can’t see them selling many in Hong Kong or Singapore, or even my home city of Manchester to be honest.

The Terrafuggia flying car as an aircraft
The same Terrafuggia flying car as an aircraft

But returning to the craft itself the spec is interesting. As the website states “the Transition® is the transportation of the future today.  A street-legal airplane that converts between flying and driving modes in under a minute, the Transition® brings a new level of freedom, flexibility, and fun to personal aviation. It gives the pilot the option to land and drive in bad weather, provides integrated ground transportation on both ends of the flight, and fits in a standard single car garage at home.  The Transition® can fly in and out of over 5,000 public airports in the U.S. and is legal to drive on public roads and highways. It is the only light aircraft designed to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, and it is also equipped with a full-vehicle parachute for additional safety”

It can fly 500 miles on a single tank of gas, travels at 100 mph, has automated landing capability, is equipped with a parachute in case of emergencies and you can learn to fly it in less than a day.

The company is also working on an electric vertical take off craft, but this is still in the design stage.

I like the idea, what do you think? No more ice cream for the kids, health club for the wife or golf for me and I reckon that by the time I’m 60 I could buy a second hand one.

Categories
Browsers Computers Internet

Is updating Java really important?

This is a sponsored post. To find out more about sponsored content on Technology Bloggers, please visit our Privacy Policy.

What do you know about Java? If the answer is not much, then you are not alone. In this article I am going to explore exactly what Java is, and why it is so important that you keep it up to date.

Java or JavaScript?

Java and JavaScript are completely different things, however many people confuse them as one and the same.

JavaScript
JavaScript is a scripting language (like PHP and HTML) that is used in browsers to help render websites, and is also now used to create [relatively simple] desktop games.

We use JavaScript on our blog. One example can be found in our comment form; if you don’t tick the box to confirm you have read the comment policy and click Post Comment, a box comes up reminding you that you have to tick it to proceed – that works via JavaScript.

You can disable JavaScript, but so many websites use it nowadays, your browsing experience would be significantly affected.

Java
Java is a programming language, which is capable of doing far more than JavaScript. Java can be used to create new programs and applications that run virtually on their own, or via a browser.

Most computers come pre-loaded with Java, as do many other devices, including some cars, printers, parking machines, ATMs and more. A printer doesn’t use JavaScript, as it is a browser based language.

Malicious Java

It is possible for someone to gain access to your computer via Java. All you would need to do is visit a website with malicious Java code on it, and unknowingly to you, you could be being hacked. Some websites allow you to add your own code to their site, (like forum’s for example) so it might not even be a malicious website you are visiting, just one page which contains malicious code.

Oracle's Java logoWhen you visit a page with a malicious Java application, your browser will usually start to run the code, which will open up a direct link between your PC and the hacker – remember browsing the net is a two way process, every time you request data from a server, the server can request something back.

On face value, a page with malicious Java could look completely normal and trustworthy, as you wouldn’t be able to see the code – your browser would render it for you.

Malicious code can give a hacker almost complete access to your machine, via the internet. They could potentially browse through your files and open applications, and even receive feedback from input devices like a webcam and microphone.

Java Update

When Sun Microsystems (who are now owned by Oracle) developed Java, they didn’t plan for it to be used maliciously, and still don’t. Like with most code, hackers exploit loopholes and flaws in the language, to enable them to perform malicious activity.

Oracle's logoLike with any software, to combat malicious activity, when flaws are discovered, developers create patches and launch new versions to protect uses against their installation being misused.

Many of the know ways Java can be used to gain access to your computer are preventable, if you have the latest version installed.

It is important that you not only keep your computers version of Java up to date, but also your browser’s version. Many browsers come with a Java plugin, and this can become outdated, even if your system version of Java is up to date.

You should check to see if your browser’s extensions and plugins are up to date ideally once every week. If you have Premier IT Support, or your computer is updated by an external provider, you shouldn’t need to update Java, as that should be taken of care for you.

Categories
Competitions Gadgets

Go Go Car competition winners announced

Way back on the 4th of December, we launched a competition to win a build your own solar powered car kit, thanks to British Gas, who provided us with 5 fantastic Go Go Car’s to give away, to celebrate The Future Car Challenge!

The competition closed on Wednesday the 12th of December, and the winners were announced shortly after. Three of the winners got straight back to me with their addresses, and soon had their Go Go Car in the post to them.

Of the other two winners, one lived outside the UK, so asked us to redraw their name, and another never replied to my messages, so after nearly a month of waiting, I was forced to redraw their name. British Gas have received the names and addresses of all five winners, and they each now have their prize, or it is currently on the way to them.

I thought it would be good to share some of the responses I received from the winners.

The five winners (that are now displayed on the Rafflecopter entry widget) were:
Build your own solar powered car set - John Lewis

  • Claire R
  • Julie K
  • Mel J
  • Michelle J
  • Christopher T

Julie was very appreciative, saying

“Thanks so much – my son will be over the moon”

One happy customer 😉

Chris replied:

“Thank you Technology Bloggers, I’m thrilled and delighted to have won this prize, I always wanted a steam powered model as a child and in the 21st century here I am with what I consider the modern equivalent.

Thanks again, I’m sure my grandson will be fascinated with his new toy.”

I am not sure John Lewis make the steam powered kit anymore, but I am sure the solar substitute will be just as good!

Mel thought the car would be great for her nephews, saying:

“Thank you I am really happy to have won. I’ve told my nephews about it and they think it looks really fun and futuristic and are really looking forward to going solar powered.”

Hopefully we have made more than one person happy with that kit 🙂

Claire jokingly replied:

“Oh my gosh! That is amazing! I can’t wait to drive my new car!”

Claire even sent a picture of the car fully constructed!

Solar Go Go Car picture
The picture Claire sent of her fully constructed solar Go Go car.

Michelle’s story is probably the one that will touch you the most, when I emailed Michelle, she responded:

Thank you so much for your email. It’s made my day! I have MS and am currently experiencing the worst relapse I’ve ever had. The pain is ridiculous and it’s taking me for ever to type this reply as my hands are currently on strike – along with my body and legs!

It will be lovely to see the look on my youngest daughter’s face when I give her this prize. It’s perfect because she’s been learning about the importance of this kind of technology at school and she’s going to feel like Adrian Newey when I give her this!

Five deserving winners and an overall good competition – well done everyone!

Our thanks go out to British Gas for offering the prizes, and to everyone who took part for their entries. Stay tuned to the blog, as we hope to run another (our fourth) competition in the near future.

Categories
Competitions Gadgets Technology

Win a Solar Go Go Car to celebrate The Future Car Challenge

Petrol cars have no future. That is a fact, in 50 years time there will be no crude oil left on planet earth (assuming current consumption rates don’t decrease) therefore there will be no oil left to make petroleum or diesel.

Biofuel, hydrogen, LPG and electric cars are the future, there is no doubt about that. Right now there are many hybrid cars which use petrol with another power source, but in the future, petrol from natural oil will be no more.

There are of course other ways you can power cars, using compressed air is one method as is water-cell technology. These are not however currently concepts in mass production. If you follow those two links, you will find posts written by Jonny on the concepts mentioned.

Arguably the greenest option for the future is electric cars. The electricity used to power the cars can be generate from renewable sources, (it isn’t necessarily, but that is an option) and electricity from renewables is a lot less damaging to the planet than energy generated from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels – be it in on the micro scale inside an engine of a car, or on a macro scale in a network of power stations.

Electric cars are starting to look more and more normal, (in the past some have looked somewhat abstract!) and are becoming more efficient every year.

The Future Car Challenge

This year, British Gas (the company who installed Remote Heating Control in my home) became an official partner of The Future Car Challenge. The Future Car Challenge is an annual event, which showcases the latest developments in the electric car industry. This year, members from the British Gas team drove fro Brighton up to London, with the aim of using the least amount of energy as possible, using the latest electric cars. The team included comedian Robert Llewellyn, Ben Collins, (A.K.A. ‘The Stig’), and Commonwealth gold medal swimmer Ross Davenport.

The Future Car Challenge Ross Davenport
Ross Davenport playing his part in the British Gas Future Car Challenge

British Gas are setting up a national charging network, to help increase the viability of electric cars. A charging network is as vital to electric cars as service stations are to petrol and diesel cars. Some electric cars do have the ability to transfer energy generate from breaking into electricity, (as seem in Formula 1 cars) however this alone isn’t enough to power them, so electric recharge points are essential.

Here is a statement from British Gas on their involvement with electric cars:

The Future Car Challenge Robert Llewellyn
Robert Llewellyn taking part in the Brighton to London Future Car Challenge

“British Gas is dedicated to making the world a more sustainable place now and in the future. We are leading the way in providing expertise and charging solutions in the Electric Vehicle market through partnering with Nissan, Renault, Hitachi Capital, Toyota and Vauxhall.

British Gas’ dedicated charging solutions are safer, convenient and more compatible than plugging electric vehicles directly into the mains supply socket at home. Not only do we offer charging solutions that can cut charging times by around a third, but British Gas also offers its customers specially designed tariffs to help them charge for less.”

For more information on The Future Car Challenge, check out this article on British Gas’s blog. The article also has an embedded video of the event.

The Giveaway

To celebrate the event, we have five solar power car sets to giveaway, courtesy of British Gas!

The prize is a John Lewis Solar Go Go Car, (click the link for more info) a cool kit from which you can build your own solar powered car! Okay it isn’t quite as good as an electric car, but it looks great fun, and could make a fantastic Christmas present…

John Lewis Solar Powered Car KitThe giveaway will run for 8 days, from today until the end of next Wednesday (12.00am on Thursday the 13th).

The prizes will be sent out by British Gas to the UK only, so if you don’t live in the UK I am afraid you can’t enter. If you have an address in the UK you can get the prize sent to if you win, you are in!

How To Enter

It is really easy to enter the competition, all you need to do is enter an email address we can contact you on (if you win) in the Rafflecopter widget below. If you like the blog on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or are subscribed to our feed via email, then you can gain some extra entries.

Want a Solar Go Go Car kit? Enter below!

%CODECW2%

Winners will be emailed on Thursday the 13th to let them know that they have won, and will be announced on the blog shortly after.

Good luck everyone!

Categories
Gadgets News Technology

Are bionic suits a thing of fantasy or the future?

This is Technology Bloggers 100th article!
Well done and thank you to our 16 fantastic writers who have made this possible. Also thanks to all our readers and commenters for your support.
Lets aim for 1,000 now!
🙂

So, to the article! Everyone has heard of Iron Man – well I would think they have. The idea that such a suit could become a reality, is well… fiction. Until now!

A technology company called Raytheon has developed an exoskeleton, designed to effectively act as a bionic/robotic suit. The suit is designed to perfectly mimic and aid human actions, so the wearer can feel normal whilst performing tasks that they could never achieve without the aid of the suit.


One way of thinking about how it feels is to think of the power steering in a car. Without the power steering it can be really tough to turn the wheel, activate the power steering however and the car still feels normal and responds in the same way, the difference is, minimal effort is required to do a rather demanding task.

Doing press-ups in a bionic suit with ease
Performing everyday tasks is easy when wearing a bionic exoskeleton!

The suite has the potential to be fitted with some sort of amour plating, to protect the individual form attack – assuming it were to be used in a war-zone, and not in industry! D3O could actually make it a pretty invincible suit!

The suite can help the wearer lift up to 17 times what they could normally life, making tasks 17 times easier! A massive positive is that it doesn’t restrict the wearers range of motion, meaning that they can more freely and normally.

There is a problem though. The suit has to be attached to an external power source, as it guzzles power like crazy. Current batteries are either too weak, or too dangerous. For example, lithium-ion batteries can’t be strapped to a human, as they are prone to explosion if they get damaged!

A lack of power makes the suit extremely heavy, meaning that every movement becomes more difficult. This means that if there is a loss of power, the suit is hindering, rather than helping the occupant.

Aside from the lack of power, the main difference between the suit Raytheon have developed and Tony Stark’s suit is that Tony Stark’s can fly. Stark’s suit is also loaded with flairs, missiles and weapons galore, and has Stark’s supercomputer Jarvis running the interface. Raytheon’s suit is still in the early stages though, and no doubt will soon catch up 😉

Four Iron Man Suits
Tony Stark’s collection of Iron Man suits

If you want to know more about this super cool invention read CNN’s article about it.

Categories
Business Technology

Barcoding – a history and the future

Many youngsters these days are not aware of how recent barcoding technology actually is. In the 1970’s a mere forty odd years ago, it would have been a rarity to see a barcode – anywhere.

Before the barcode, retail was not nearly as efficient as it currently is. Often, till assistants would have to memorise the price of every product in the shop, or products would be individually priced. Furthermore, it was almost impossible to keep tabs on stock levels in real time.

Barcodes revolutionised industry.

Barcoding in retail

Now when you pick an item and take it to the till, a barcode is scanned. The till is linked to a central database where all the barcodes for that shop (or even the entire shop chain) are stored. Information on the price of the product, the stock of the product and usually a description and or image of the product, is all stored in relation to the barcode. Upon scanning, the price is retrieved from the database and one unit is deducted form the shops stock list.

Barcoding makes it easy to increase prices and to reorder stock, that way if something has high demand and is selling fast, more orders can (sometimes electronically) placed and the store can consider raising the price.

Barcoding in car production

Barcodes are also used in many other areas, one example being car production. In car production, each car will be given a barcode. That barcode will often contain information such as the type of car that is to be made, how the car is to be styled, what colour the car is to be pained etc.

Parts that have been made for that car will often also be associated with the same barcode, to ensure that every bit gets to the right car.

The classic barcode is the one with lots of vertical lines, each of different thickness. Below is an example of a classic barcode.

A Random Classic BarcodeDespite the classic barcodes uses, many people believe that the future of barcoding lies with QR codes.

QR Codes

QR codes are like barcodes in that they are all unique, however the image itself can actually store some information. QR codes are common in Japan, however they are slowly making their way westward, and and not uncommon in Europe now.

If you go to your fridge or a cupboard and pick up half a dozen items, the chances are at least one of them will have a QR code. I found one on some cheese the other day 🙂

QR Code‘ stands for ‘Quick Response Code‘ as they can quickly retrieve information, just by decoding the pixels in the QR code/image.

QR Codes are basically a code (durr) containing some form of information, be it text, a URL, etc. When you run the image through a QR decoder, it will work out what data is stored in the image.

Confused? Okay, let me give you an example. Below is a QR code image. If run the image through a smart phone QR decoder or an online QR decoder, you should find that it contains the information ‘www.TechnologyBloggers.org’. Why not try it out?

Technology Bloggers QR Code
When decoded this QR Code says 'www.TechnologyBloggers.org'


That information is stored in the actual image, and there is no need for you to connect to a database. That is why many people believe that they are the future of barcoding, as a barcode stores no actual data in the lines, just a reference to a counterpart on a database.

QR codes could store the name of a product and the price on that actual barcode image – although to deduct stock, they would need to be linked into the stock database.

In many countries, QR codes are being used in advertisements, and in some places, that are being used as the actual advert. This is to try and encourage people to decode the image and find out what it means.

So what do you think, are QR codes the future of barcoding? Could they both coexist, or will one emerge on top? What is your opinion of QR codes?

Over to you 🙂