December 15, 2005

Space Tourism for All Thanks Mr Branson

We were watching the news the other night, my wife and I, when we heard the fantastic story about Richard Branson's space tourism company; virgin galactic. He is entering a commercial venture to make it possible for ordinary people like you and me to go into space for a few hours. The price now, £110,000, but Branson himself admits that this price is set to drop dramatically. The idea being that ordinary people can afford to be astronauts. It is a really fantastic plan and Mr Branson deserves a big pat on the back. It occurred to me that in my lifetime I will have the opportunity to go into space. Imagine that! Even though I am sure it will be a few years away my wife and I are very excited.

Click here to go to the virgin galactic site:

October 27, 2005

All I want for Christmas is...

Here is a list of must have gadgets that I am thinking about this Christmas:

1) Bladerunner II - Remote Control Helicopter: Click here
I always wanted a remote control helicopter when I was a kid, now they are small and have little computers in so that even idiots like me can fly them around the living room without worrying about decapitating someone in the local park.

2) A Green Laser - Click here
These are a bright laser beam, bit of a gadget - pretty expensive for what they are - cool all the same.

I am in the process of adding more stuff to this list - just in case Santa (/ my wife) finds it before Christmas :)

July 08, 2005

TomTom Go 300

As I drove past the same set of traffic lights the third time returning from a customer site, I swore that I would purchase a gadget to help me never get lost again. Straight down to my local electronics shop, I slapped £369 down on the counter and purchased a TomTom Go 300.

First impressions - so, I get it all out of the box and think - first things first - let's plug it into the pc and upgrade / install all the latest stuff (speed camera, points of interest, maps, etc). But there is a problem - NO CHARGER! Must be a mistake I thought but no. The tomtom comes with only a cigarette lighter adapter NOT a normal charger. How cheap! I have just spent shy of 400 notes on this thing and apparently I have to plug it into my car to charge the batteries. The worst thing is that the first charge has to be for 2 hours!!! My car lighter adapter doesn't work unless the engine is running. Poor show tomtom.

Using tomtom - ok after my initial rage I went for a drive (not the 2 hour one that my batteries demand). It was very very easy to use. A few button presses and I was off. The map is clear, the voice is clear and loud, the instructions make sense.

Problems - NO CHARGER!!!! Ok other than that it is pretty damn good! I lost satallite signal a couple of times but the clever little device still follows the route and guesses where you must be based on current speed, as soon as the sat is back the display turns back to colour and you are off. It is a little bulky I guess, ideally with the 4 hour charge you could take it out of your car and wander the streets continuing not to get lost, but the size puts you off doing that.

300/500/700 what's the difference - basically:

300 - maps, voice guide, standard stuff, bluetooth to download updates via your mobile.

500 - as above + a mic so you can use it as a handsfree mobile and text messager, plus more memory & faster cpu.

700 - as. above + built in hard drive for more maps. This one has a charger.

Opinion - buy the 300. The 300 can in my opinion be hacked to have handsfree functions as it is the same hardware, someone will do this. You don't need a faster cpu or more memory because the 300 is fast already, you don't need a harddrive because the sd memory slot can be used to plug in big cards, I have a 1GB and haven't filled it yet. You can buy a 5v 2a charger from your local electronics place for not much money - shame they didn't include one :(

January 25, 2005

Sony Qiro - Biped Robot

Sony's humanoid QRIO (formerly SDR) robot can dance, react to its environment and get up from a fall. Amazing small, self-contained robot! Sony's goal? - a personal entertainer. Major technology includes stable dynamic walking and running, full arm movement allowing throwing a ball, voice/face recognition, stereoscopic vision, obstacle avoidance, visual mapping, wireless network.

Needless to say if you are like me (too much money, too little resistance again shiny robots) you are most likely reaching for your credit card right now. This is where it gets a little confusing. There was talk of the unit being "similarly priced to a family car" around the £10-15K mark, I have read elsewhere a figure of £15000. Now it appears sony have decided not to sell the item, I guess the technology is too advanced to let people actually use. Heaven forbid that some chinese factory start knocking them out for $29.99. I own an Aibo, I want a Qiro, I will remortgage my house for one - COME ON SONY stick a price tag on the little fella and watch the money roll in :)