Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Transforming the way we work...

I have had my Asus Transformer TF101 Android tablet for a while now and love it. I already used it as a Kindle device or digesting RSS, social media and general Internet content but I recently purchased the keyboard docking unit as well. I originally thought this was an extra I didn't need but if you consider getting a Transformer (the newer Prime is now out) then maybe stretch to it. It's a lot cheaper in a bundle!!!

The Transformer is already a smart tablet but with the dock you get yourself a very handy Netbook as well. Docking the tablet gives you an extra 8-10 hours of battery life (taking you to 16+). It also affords you two USB2 ports and an SD card slot, as well as a touchpad to navigate (handy if you want to stop getting sticky fingers on your screen!). The whole thing clicks together very nicely and feels solid, and open or closed, genuinely looks like a Netbook and feels like one too. Many people have been surprised when I have flipped a switch and walked off with the screen!

The keyboard itself works pretty well although not always perfectly. I have had some odd things happen on occasion but most of my issues have been due to being used to Windows keyboards and the lack of Home, Delete and Page up\down keys on the dock. Basically the more I use it the more comfortable it feels. It sure as hell beats trying to type this post on the on-screen keyboard! The Android Home, Settings and Touchpad\Volume\Wi-FI\Brightness controls are nice additions though my favourite is the screen shot button for sure!

The other addition to my Transformer has been it's recent update from Honeycomb to Ice Cream Sandwich which went through smoothly. ICS seems to have sped things up a little although I am also suffering from the reported hanging and shutdown issues. These haven't been so bad though as they occur when 'waking up' the device as opposed to when actively using it.

All in all the device is terrific and if you don't fancy an iPad or think you need a more traditional device (software available for Android is another discussion) then consider these things in your options.

Monday, 19 March 2012

A month with Netflix........

I decided to give one of the streaming video services a try. My girlfriend and I love a night in front of a movie or a TV series (currently ploughing through 8 series of 24 we both missed first time round!) so in theory it's a no-brainer for us. I have an Xbox 360 and we both have tablets, for which the Lovefilm and Netflix apps are available, so we have easy ways to digest the content. Having cancelled Lovefilm twice and having my email addresses rejected for the free trial I decided that Netflix was the beast to choose. 

I have to admit that compared to Blinkbox and Zune the movie content is a little underwhelming but that isn't to say there isn't value to be had (@£5.99 a month). Certainly the movies on offer are not the near DVD releases you get on the aforementioned services but there are some good older films and some very decent TV shows. The likes of 24, Prison break and Spooks stand out but dig a little deeper and you might find some gems. I have already got into a couple a couple of mid-noughties American series that I had never heard of (Jericho & Surface). I look forward to getting into the highly rated Dexter as well! It's true that if you want to watch stuff that's just come out on DVD then your options are going to be the DVD itself or Zune and Blinkbox if streaming is your thing. 

Of course streaming is what makes it convenient and I have had no complaints about the quality so far on either my tablet or via my 360 to the TV. I am pretty convinced anyone could find enough content to warrant the outlay but it would be great to see some newer content available for streaming soon to make it REALLY attractive. I guess it is difficult to get the just on DVD stuff at this kind of price due to competition with other services I have mentioned.

Overall I give Netflix a thumbs up but why, oh why would I want to sign up using Facebook and share my watching habits with the world!? Seriously....... 

(You can get round the Facebook sign-up to be fair, but it should be an optional add-on not a default).

Friday, 2 March 2012

The Wander of Gareth Bale....

Something has been bugging me about Tottenham's simian looking winger and it isn't whether he is a serial diver or not. I can't be sure if it is him doing this, or some sort of directive from England manager elect 'Arry Redknapp, but the welsh wizard is spending far too much time off his natural left wing position for my liking.

Now, I have no problem with wingers playing on the opposite flank to their natural position and nor do I particularly have a problem with them coming inside and playing more centrally at times during a game. Bale did this to the effect of two goals against Norwich a couple of months ago and can be effective when doing so. What I cannot stand though, as a spurs fan, is seeing the primary outlets of Spurs' attacking play out of action. Bale coming inside is all fine and dandy with a flying Aaron lennon on one of the flanks. This still gives Modric and Van Der Vaart something to aim at and spread the play (Kyle Walker is also a terrific outlet worth mentioning). But it seems to me, in the last few Spurs games I have watched, that Bale is coming to the right or to the middle and basically getting in the way of Luka and Rafa. This isn't a comment on his ability to be in these playmaking positions (I am sure he has this in his locker) but currently the aforementioned are far better and less adaptable to anything else than Bale himself.

It went to new levels on sunday in THAT defeat to l'arse (another post I intend not to bother with) when Spurs, from being the most effective team in the Premier League for wing play, were reduced to having no-one playing out wide of the 'flying' variety (how Lennon wasn't introduced I will NEVER know).

Personally I am all for movement and players switching positions to cause chaos but when the chips are down get back to the basics. For Bale that means get on the left flank and tear the fullback apart with that pace and power you have displayed many times but, none more so than the game pictured above. Here is hoping the Lennon\Bale wing play is back in action at the Lane against United on Sunday.


Something to Lose.....?

So it seems like everyone I talk to is dieting or cutting back on some kind of excess somewhere. I am no different and decided to share a couple of tools I am making use of that could help others.

Ultimately any diet is about creating a deficit between the amount of calories you use in your daily activity and how much you take on board. If you use more fuel than you put in, the body gets the extra by burning what you are carrying already, fat in other words! We all know all this but it can seem hard.

I work in technology, so of course I turned to what I know for help in the form of two websites, both of which have corresponding smartphone apps in both free and paid forms.

Endomondo.com - Endomondo is like many other sites in that it can track your exercise, calorie burn, map your routes, personal best milestones etc. What is cool is you can get inspiration from others by searching local routes saved by others and then challenging yourself against their times. On top of that it has a social networking element so if a friend is registered I can friend them and see and compare myself with their performance and vice versa. It's great to break your pb mile time and realise you broke your mates as well and you can bet they will be straight out to claim it back. This feedback on others activity is also great inspiration to get out and get some action yourself in the event of a period of inactivity. The smartphone apps do GPS as well as offering mobile versions of some web functionality. Of course like everything else it integrates with Facebook if you want to brag to a wider audience!

MyFitnessPal.com - This was recommended by a friend and has been fantastic. Essentially it is a calorie tracker but it does more than that. Backed up by a huge product database MyFitnessPal can track not only your calorie intake but also your nutritional information too. Foods can be entered manually or scanned by barcode on your smartphone. Then you simply need to (honestly) input how much you had. It knows what a normal portion should be too, so can make you feel a touch guilty for over indulging but it couldn't be simpler to use. Even restaurants feature in the database so even if your local Chinese doesn't feature you can normally find a suitable substitute. Exercise can be tracked so you know your real net intake each day and this can be tracked weekly. The website has some neat reporting features too such as social networking with other users and of course...Facebook. I won't list all the features here so just go and check it out if losing some weight is on your agenda.

Utilising these two tools has helped me out. I feel better for it and although I can't eat whatever I like all the time I also don't feel I'm missing out either. Nothing is taboo, it is just a question of educating yourself with good habits and sticking to them.

Good luck....