Talk Tech on Third Thursday – January 2017

Welcome to the 2017! This is the first Third Thursday of the year, and time to get together with your techy friends to talk about the latest developments in technology, what’s new on the scene and what new gadgets and tech you’ve been playing with since our last meet.

We’ve been meeting for a while now and every month we always find a different strand of technology to focus on. We’ve done robotics, streaming, cryptocurrency, microprocessor design, autonomous cars and every subject you can think of. Conversations vary depending on who turns up, but you can bet your bottom dollar it’s going to be something in the technology sphere. I’m half tempted to bring an Amazon Echo with me this month. Anyone want to have a play with one?

It’s an open lunch event, anyone can join us, so if you know anyone who would be interested, feel free to bring them along. If you’re not hungry, just grab a coffee and join in anyway. We’re booked in at Bar George at 12:30 on Thursday 19th January. See you there!

Check out Jibo: the social robot

Here’s an interesting one. It’s a little robot called Jibo that can be your digital assistant. It’s fixed in one place but has a multitude of sensors to help it find out what’s happening in the world around it. It can see, hear and speak thanks to a couple of webcams, 360 degree microphones and natural language processing and can learn from the world around it to adapt to your daily patterns and actions. There are a couple of offerings that claim to do all this, but where Jibo is different is in that it communicates using moves and displays that are emotive and expressive to help make it more social and relatable. You can sign up to learn more at their website here: Jibo

In the meantime, if you want to learn more and figure out how to build for it, there’s an SDK available to figure out how to access Jibo’s motors, speech technology, facial recognition and tracking, touch input technology, and more. It also gives you an easy way to build Jibo Skills (robot applications) through animation and behavior editors. Check out the SDK at the Jibo Developer Portal.

In the meantime, check out this video showing how to use the SDK

A Bitcoin Honeypot

So this week, I’ve been collecting some links on cryptocurrencies, well BitCoin in particular. They’re an interesting collection, especially if you’re after learning something new. Check them out:

Some fantastic reading there. Check them out!

Introducing Future Tech

Some of you may already know, but last month I quit my job at Intelligence/Webtech and struck out on my own. It’s been a tremendously busy period for me, hence the lack of updates on the blog; but I’m finally starting to catch up and am looking to line up perceptions on where I’m heading.

A number of you won’t even notice a difference. My work with Code Club, JCC, BCS and the WordPress community will continue in the same way it has before. However my day job focus will be on growing Future Tech, my new baby. My focus there will be on strategic IT consultancy; helping organisations make best use of the technologies they have available to them. In this time of accelerating change with new technologies making themselves every day, opportunities for innovation and challenges posed by competitors, markets and regulators and something that every growing organisation has to deal with. There’s the place where I can make a real difference; so get in touch if I can give you a hand.

In the meantime, trying to find time to build a website for Future Tech, but I guess, not having time to focus on a marketing stream can only be a good thing, right?

Loving my new wireless charger

One of the great things about my new Nexus 5 is the fact that is supports wireless charging. The great thing about wireless charging today is that a new standard has emerged that is supported by a number of devices. This has led to a corresponding drop in prices of chargers and other devices associated with the standard.

It’s a standard called Qi providing an inductive charging system up to 5 Watts up to a theoretical distance of 40mm. Regulation of the output voltage is provided by a digital control loop where the power receiver communicates with the power transmitter and requests more or less power; done via backscatter modulation by the power receiver. It’s a pretty clever system that’s been gaining popularity and now has started making its way into more and more devices.

The charger I got is an Expower(TM) super mini Qi Wireless Charger which retails for £23.99 including delivery. The reviews were good so I got myself one and I’m more than pleased. It’s a small device that charges the phone really effectively and is currently my main charger at work. I’ve found it excellent as I can pick up my phone when I leave my desk and drop it back when I return, knowing it’s getting charged without having to mess around with cables. I’m actually thinking of getting another couple, one for my car and one for my bedside. That way, my phone will always be topped up.


Waiting for the Jabra Rox Wireless

Just saw these new earphones that were announced at CES a few days ago, the Jabra Rox Wireless, which look just fantastic. They’re wireless headphones that use Bluetooth to talk to your phone, so literally all you have are two ear buds connected by a cable. They’re waterproof and lightweight, just perfect for running with.

They have some cool features too. For example, if you’re not using the ear buds, you can clip them together magnetically, which switches them to power saving mode. Here’s a video what shows you cool they are:

They should be available soon, pity Christmas is so far away …

Regulation driving technology

It’s interesting to see what drives the technology curve. You sort of assume that things like product innovation processes are consumer led; needs are identified and someone comes up with a way of addressing them. Obviously, you need advances in technology to support such things. New technology also comes from other quarters, but I’m always surprised when I see regulation and compliance requirement creating new product offerings.

This train of thought came from looking at Message Logic’s website, who specialise in products that provide message archiving. The main reason their clients use their products are for “Regulatory, Compliance, Legal Discovery and Corporate Governance” purposes, which, to be perfectly honest, I have never really been exposed to. Thinking about it, I can understand the requirement, but it’s still interesting to see a whole industry develop around it.

The other interesting side of this product is that it’s offered in 4 different flavours: It’s available as a virtual machine, can be purchased as an appliance, or deployed in the cloud to Amazon Web Services, or in a highly compliant cloud provider (NASDAQ OMX FinQloud). This is a pretty mature way of acknowledging that clients have different requirements and the technology stack deployed for one may not necessarily be adequate, or even legal, for a different client. Here, Message Logic is providing supported options that can be tailored precisely to the client’s needs.

Some interesting thoughts there, apologies for the reambling, it’s always fun to see how companies build products and how they deploy them. Have *you* come across anything interesting today?