Look out Apple, smartwatches are now a commodity item!

Just a quick post. Was filling up with petrol yesterday and I my eyes went to the adverts on the pump for the various “super value” products that they sell from the shop. I noticed an ad for a Bluetooth smartwatch for just £20. The manufacturer was InTech – one I know from a previous happy purchase of a DVR dashcam for the same sort of money, also from a petrol station. The dashcam has been working just fine for over year so I thought I would take a punt with the watch and share my findings here.

They had just one left! A white one.

Look out Apple smartwatches are now a commodity item!
An InTech smartwatch on sale at my local filling station.

Initially the watch was totally comatose but an hour of charging into the micro USB port on the side and it woke enough to show me the battery charging icon at least. Some mobile phones can be the same – if you let them run down too far they seem totally dead until they get at least a few minutes of charging juice into the battery. Another 30 minutes and the watch appeared to be fully charged. The instruction booklet says changing can take up to 3 hours.

Like the iWatch you have to use this in conjunction with a mobile phone, either Android or Apple but the manual warns not all feature are availble with an iPhone. Unlike and iWatch you are stuck with the set of functionality that the watch manufactures provide. There are 3 different watch faces to choose from, 1 digital and 2 analog (traditional). The watch face does not stay on ALL the time – the battery would be drained in no time if it did. You can choose a timeout from seconds to up to 3 minutes. Touching the button on the side of the watch wakes it up.

The ‘Smart’ features are:

  • Calendar.
  • Calculator.
  • Viewing text messages.
  • Making/answering calls as a (not very loud) speakerphone (including phonebook access).
  • Controlling shutter on your phone camera – you even get a preview window so you can take high quality selfies with the main, front facing, camera. A remote shutter release is also great to avoid camera shake when using a tripod.
  • Controlling music player forward/back/volume – the way I had my phone set up the music also came through the rather tinny speaker on the watch – it is probably possible to send music somewhere else such as to headphones with a bit of tinkering.
  • Pedometer.
  • Sleep monitor.
  • Stopwatch.
  • Alarm clock.
  • Setting reminders for rests and drinks.

The watch is operated very much like a phone, mostly through the touch screen. With my fat fingers I found this rather fiddly but a phone stylus I had handy works a treat.

The watch has the sort of build quality one would expect from a £20 non smart watch. I doubt it is waterproof or would stand much rough treatment but looks good and performs some useful functions. You do not need to bother getting your phone out of your pocket or bag just to answer a call is the most useful part of it. And you look less like a secret service agent than you would with one of those Bluetooth earpieces!

As I said I got mine from a petrol station, so keep a look out if you want one.

Xtra-PC a review

While compiling my article A conversation about Open Source I came across an interesting US Company Xtra-PC who are marketing “Xtra-PC: The $25 Computer.” which is in effect not as some of you may expect another Raspberry Pi competitor, but instead a low profile USB stick with a Linux based operating system that you are expected to run that way, permanently. As referenced in that piece I was so intrigued by the concept that I ordered one. The package arrived form the USA this morning so here is the start of my review. See also my new article Xtra-PC in depth for more info.

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Occupy the London Stock Exchange – 5 years on

This coming weekend 15th October 2016 marks the 5th anniversary of Occupy London – one of many occupations started that day all around the world.

I was not one of the “Occupiers” but was a regular visitor to the camps.

There were two camps. The original one in front of the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral (one of the few truly “public” spaces in the otherwise surprisingly privately owned “Square Mile” of the City of London). Shortly after on 22nd October, a second, effectively dormitory camp was established in Finsbury Square in front of the Bloomberg building.

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A conversation about Open Source

This is a conversation I had with someone over on Linked-in, just starting answering some basic questions about Linux compared to Windows – it became quite involved and with the permission of the other party, Gregg I am reproducing it here.

Gregg:

Two identical laptops, loaded with the identical software, files, security, services, startup routine etc, identical, except one was loaded with Windows, and one with a good Linux OS:would there be a noticeable power-on to full user control time differences the two? Open, close software? Working in files Power off?

Me:

That is an interesting question but rather open ended 🙂 For a start 2 identical Laptops – that is not an issue. However software cannot be truly identical of running on different operating systems (Linux & Windows). It is true that a vast amount of “Open Source” software is also available for Windows as for years the whole set of tools for building it has been made available or “ported” to run on Windows. In some cases – such as the Perl programming language Microsoft itself funded this porting activity so as not to loose out on a huge base of software that their customers were asking to be able to use. Microsoft would of course rather everyone bought their own software built on the proprietary model – where you have to pay over money for a licence just for the right to use the software at all!

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