Thursday, 28 November 2013

Rock Band on the Playstation 3, what you might not find out about it

My friend ‘Little’ Chris, then aged about 9 , once stated that he wished there could be a ‘Bass Hero’, ‘Drum Hero’ and ‘Singing Hero’ to go along with the ‘Guitar Hero’ games he cherished. Someone must have been taking note that time, because a year roughly later the 1st rockband game appeared on shelves.

Now on its 3rd instalment, the hugely accepted rockband series seems to have eclipsed these guitar games for better, forcing a spot between more triumphant music simulators of all time in the process. Yes, rockband is here to remain even if you prefer it or not and yes, that’s my friend Kieran playing bass on the cover of rockband 3 (OK, maybe it isn’t, but it really looks like him).

Ethical debates on the company invasion of rock n roll aside; folks are buying and enjoying the modern rockband game in record figures. Let’s learn why.

Using the new rockband title, up to 7 people can jam on well-over 2,000 songs, allowing for unprecedented longevity and repeat value. rockband 3 even includes a Pro mode, which has been praised by musicians because of its closeness to learning your instrument for real.

Certain tricks (like drum rolls) have been made simpler to carry out this time around, and the game itself does show a little more forgiving, this can only be an excellent thing, because who joins a rock band to be uptight?

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Life isn’t about Xbox one, it is about Kinnection!

The Xbox One Kinect is an incredible thing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to take matters into my own hands when playing a video game.

“If I didn’t have to rely on these buttons so damn much” I frequently grumble, “I’d grab that monster and kick it in myself!”

For example: the fat bloke from Pokemon. In every single version of that game, there’s some fat chug blocking your way until you’ve done something he wants you to do. If a fat bloke did that in real life, I know that I for one would be first in line to smack him in the gob. We’re not that violent as a society, but we’re busy, y’know?

Maybe that’s what Team Rocket are so pissed off about? Maybe we’ve misjudged them all these years…Maybe they just got sick of fat blokes, people with spurious stomach-aches and Snorlax after bleedin’ Snorlax blocking their progress. Team Rocket are cat lovers, no harm ever came from cat lovers, did it?

Well, with the Kinect, your body is the controller. When you’re boxing or fighting, its your own fist you’re swinging, when you’re running, its your own legs you’re pumping. Now, the Xbox one with kinect bundle is putting all of these great things in one place, making it easier than ever to get playing the greatest gaming innovation since Sonic 2 allowed you to push down and ‘B’ in order to get up hills without running all the way back where you came from.

That’s right, the Xbox one with kinect bundle is the future of gaming technology. You can, at last, take matters into your own hands. You can at last use your reflexes and natural instincts rather than relying on controllers and other peripherals. Yep, the future is here and its Kinect-shaped…I know what you geeks are thinking, because I’m thinking it too, we’re one step closer to the invention of the Holodeck…Yay! 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Earpiece information about the Motorola GP340 Radio

If you are looking to guard President Obama this summer, then you’re getting closer to the right idea with this earpiece.

This is an understated earpiece that you use instead of making your presence felt, when subtlety and understatement are the aims of the game. If you’re concerned with security or protection, then the GP340 could well be the earpiece for you.

The GP340 covert earpiece is a serious piece of equipment. This earpiece comes attached to one of those curly receivers, the kind you’ve seen Agent Smith wearing in The Matrix movies. The GP340 earpiece is a device designed for use with the Motorola GP340 range of two-way radio devices.

We ended the last piece by saying that you shouldn’t use the featured product to guard the life of America’s president. However, we’ll begin this piece by saying that,
Amazon lists this bad boy for £15.98, so it’s only a couple of quid more than the GP300, but it’s a couple of quid worth paying, especially if you value discretion.

There’s also no need for any kind of adaptor when you buy the GP340 earpiece, this model has a multipin plug that can connect directly to any Motorola two-way radio. In addition, there’s a built-in ‘push to talk’ button and microphone, but it is considerably smaller than the one found on most other models.

The GP340 earpiece features the same sprung clothing clip as our last model, a surgical grade acoustic eartube (as well as a spare tip) and a Kevlar-reinforced cable. It also comes with a snazzy drawstring pouch as well. Add to that a 12-month warranty (included in the price) and you’re definitely onto a winner.

Sound-wise, the GP340 earpiece provides clear, reliable sound and performs well in trying weather conditions.

However, the GP340 earpiece is not quite a top-range product, it represents fantastic value, for sure, and it works fine for most purposes, but if you have specialist requirements, then you should probably stick with this series and see what else is out there.

Overall, the GP340 earpiece is an excellent product that offers fantastic value for money. It would do a good job in most situations and comes pretty highly recommended all round.

Next episode, we take a look at the CP040 earpiece, a device specifically designed for use with the GP300 and, um, CP040 radio series. If you’re still looking to guard The President, you might want to skip that one and go straight to part four. 

Monday, 11 November 2013

Could we now have discovered possibilities of life from another world?

A team of Uk scientists believe that they have revealed organisms in earth’s environment that originate from space.

As demanding as that could be to judge, Professor Milton Wainwright, the team’s chief, insists that this is definitely the instance.

The team, from the University of Sheffield, found the little organisms (misleadingly known as ‘bugs’ by quite a lot of persistent journalists) living on a probe balloon that had been sent 16.7 miles into our environment during last month’s Perseids meteor shower.

In response to Professor Wainwright, the minuscule creatures couldn’t have been passed into the stratosphere by the balloon. He said, “Many people will imagine that those biological particles must have just drifted up into the stratosphere from Earth, but it is normally accepted a particle of the size found cannot be lifted from Earth to heights of, for example, 27km. Really the only well-known exception is by a violent volcanic eruption, none of these occurred within 3 years of the sampling trip.”

Wainwright maintains that only salient end is that organisms originated from space. He went on to mention that “life is not restricted to the planet and it almost certainly didn’t originally come here”

However, not everyone is so persuaded. Dr. Seth Shostak, senior astronomer with the SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) project remarked, “I’m very skeptical. This claim has been made before, and dismissed as terrestrial contamination.” The team responds to this by saying they were thorough as they prepared the hot-air balloon before the experiments started.

Yet, they’d acknowledge that there might be an unidentified method for these organisms to reach such altitudes. It should also be noted that microbal organisms discovered in the 1980’s and 1990’s and called ‘extremophiles’ surprised the scientific community by living in environments that would immediately kill the bulk of life on earth.

These creatures have been observed living deep under Glacial ice or even 1900 feet below the sea floor. In March of this year, Ronnie Glud, a biogeochemist at the Southern Danish Uni in Odense, Denmark was quoted as saying “In the most remote, hostile places, you can actually have higher activity than their surroundings,” and that “You’ll find microbes in all places – they’re very compliant to conditions, and survive where they are,” so this indicates more plausible that either the team is in error, or that this is simply another case of microscopic life showing up in an strange place.

In addition, it isn’t the 1st time this unique team has come under fire for making such statements, either. Back in January of this year, astrobiologist Dr. Chandra Wickramasinghe reported that ‘fossils’ found in a Sri Lankan meteorite were testimony of extraterrestrial life, an assertion that’s extensively criticized by the scientific community.

Other scientists have complained that there simply isn’t enough proof to make such a claim, as a theory this notable would need a huge body of proof to prove its validity.

What that says to this reporter is that microbes can survive pretty much anywhere and that it simply is not good science to leap to wild conclusions like aliens when a more plausible solution is most certainly present. Science shouldn’t be subject to such wild leaps of elaborate. Imagination is a superb aid to science, but it isn’t a science in and of by itself. Unfortunately, Dr. Wainwright and his group look to be seeing what they want to observe.


Friday, 8 November 2013

Book about Jewel Encrusted Skeleton ‘Saints’ released to great enjoyment

Paul Koudounaris, who is also known by his nickname ‘Indiana Bones’ is an novelist, photographer and principal professional on bone-decorated sites and ossuarys. Earlier in 2013, Koudounaris published a book featuring high definition images of that 400-year-old ‘catacomb saints’ of Rome, a group of corpses that were painstakingly ornamented with gems and finery prior to being offered as remnants of saints to congregations across Europe.

Through the Protestant Overhaul of that 16th Century, Catholic church buildings were routinely stripped of these relics, symbols and finery. So as to counter this, The Vatican had ancient skeletons removed out of the Catacombs of Rome and copiously adorned as a remnants of recognized saints.

Even though typically forgotten until Koudounaris released his book, the catacomb saints still fascinate interested parties; they may still inspire religious zeal. In 1977, the town of Ruttenbach in Bavaria labored hard to gain enough funds to purchase back two of the original saints from confidential collectors, the decorative skeletons had originally been auctioned off in 1803.

The book, which Koudounaris has cautiously titled ‘Heavenly Bodies’ sees its writer attempt to locate and photograph each of these present tomb saints.

In their prime (a period that lasted over 200 years before finally coming to a close in the 19th century), the saints travelled all over the place, being transported at enormous expense by the Church. They were recognized as objects of affection, or conduits for prayer.

However the saints could appear strange to contemporary eyes (one Telegraph reporter described them as ‘ghastly’), it’s important to keep in mind that those who prayed at the feet of those gilded cadavers were considerably closer to death than their contemporary counterparts. In the wake of The Black Death (which recurred repeatedly all through Europe from the 14th to the 17th Centuries), art, literature and also worship had come to accept such ghoulish, macabre metaphors.

The remnants were regularly decked out by nuns and often located in a choice of realistic poses, before being protected in glass cabinets. Some of our scrupulous decoration took as long as five years to complete, with jewellery and costumes being acutely impressive.

Koudounaris’ book, ‘Heavenly Bodies’ is available now.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Icom Earpieces – Show Them Some I.D or You’ll Have to Leave

Flash back with me to a time in my time when I still had not gotten my act together…

At age twenty, I used to be unkempt haired, absent minded and keen on rock n roll in a huge way (waitaminute – I’m still shaggy haired, absent minded and into rock n roll in a big way…). I used to be courting a pole dancer, singing within a grotty band and telling anybody who’d pay attention that I required to get out of the crappy little city and really make something of my life. I assume, in some respects I used to be a bit like George Bailey of Bedford Falls, (if George Bailey was kind of a dick and made a point of saying the ‘F’ word in every 2nd sentence…)

In making ends meet, while I waited in frustration for George Carlin to turn up in his time travelling phone box and help me usher in a period of world concord, I worked at several careers. Specifically, one evening a week, I used to be employed as the Youth Worker.

To my shock, I found the duty to be really fun, also as very rewarding. Since I was an authority in all things media (and a Uni Certificate to show it), I began a project that may teach the kids all about film creation, music and also the media in general.

One of my best students was a rather difficult boy and a hard stare and a ‘brick sh!thouse’ build. When I wasn’t pulling him off a variety of youths who may or may not have mouthed off his sister, we got along quite well. After I left the job a couple of years later, we in fact became firm friends. He has as well become mainly close to my cousin (who was also a Youth Worker for a while) and my mom and dad.

Without a trace of sarcasm, viewing this tough, conflicted boy grow old to be a honest, hard working man has been both an honour and also a privilege. On the other hand, he floundered for a long time as he hunted for work. It just appeared that there wasn’t anything he was able to use themself to.

Then, all of a sudden, he discovered his vocation. My friend is a fully certified doorman, working the door in a variety of pubs, clubs, venues and bars.

So as to communicate easily without causing too much of a fuss, bouncers like my companion regularly use Icom Earpieces. These earphones are available in several forms, with 2-pin, multi pin, straight pin and high angled forms all catered for. You can even find an Icom earpiece for almost any type of Icom 2 way radio possible.

There is no fuss, since the earpieces can be operated simply and prudently and, being armored with Kevlar, they are every bit as hard wearing as the two-way radios they work with.

Icom has been building in quality radio equipment since 1954, so that they know what they’re doing and the way to make customers happy while doing it. Icom Earpieces are solid, reliable and high spec, so it is no wonder that so many in the security industry decide to wear them.

 As for my friend, it appears like he has got himself on track; he’s found employment that he’s good for also as one which is nice for him. I might have made my share of errors in the past, but I was definitely right about 1 or 2 things.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Sena SR10: Wirelessly Add 2-way Radio to Your Motorcycle Ride

Editorial – We now have said for a while, Bluetooth will be the future for two-way radios and headphones. With so many different incarnations of this tech to try and adapt it for the walkie talkie market, no one has yet got it sufficiently little to use stealthily enough. This review from a motorbike site may give us an indication of how the tech is progressing.

Sena SR10 Two-Way Radio Adapter Review with Midland Radio BT Next and Midland Two-Way Radio

I’m an admitted tech addict and enjoy looking for and finding new gadgets that enhance life’s experiences. This is especially the case for moto-related kit and, lately, Bluetooth (BT) gizmos. While writing our recent BT headset reviews, I became interested in pairing a two-way radio to my helmet’s headset.

Some riders to whom I’ve spoken eschew the use of any newfangled item that could distract them or in some way diminish the riding experience and I respect that.

Personally, I find only enjoyment and an extra margin of safety in being able to communicate with other riders, listen to music or FM radio, GPS instructions and make or take the occasional phone call.

Until now, to communicate with my buddies I’ve used the intercom function built into virtually all BT headsets on the market today. Most offer full duplex operation (like a telephone, all parties can talk at once without having to press a push-to-talk (PTT) button) and a line-of-sight range up to a mile but, often, much less.

I read that some headsets allow pairing to a two-way radio which offers not only greater range but the ability to have an unlimited number of participants on the conversation, unlike headset intercoms that have a limitation on the number of pairings.

Also eliminated would be the need to stop and pair the headsets to one another in advance. Wouldn’t it be great if our group did this and agreed upon a certain radio channel? We could shout out to one another when heading to a meeting and converse during the ride. Changes in plans could be made on the fly without waving hands in some, often misunderstood, hand signals. Then there’s “that guy” who always takes the lead on a ride just when there is a critical turn to make and he doesn’t know the way.

The solution is easier than you might think. All you need is a two-way radio and a BT adapter since no consumer priced radios to date have BT built in (that’s on the way but not yet). For this review I used Sena’s SR10 BT adapter along with Midland Radio’s BT Next headset and GXT1000 FRS/GMRS radio.

The SR10 adapter connects to most popular radios via a short cable unique to each brand, so check Sena’s list to make sure they offer one for the radio you want to use. As an added bonus, the SR10 has two AUX ports that enable you to connect non-Bluetooth devices such as radar detector, GPS navigation and non-BT MP3 player but I didn’t try that for this review.

Once all your devices are charged up the SR10 (which utilizes a micro-USB cable – my favorite for simplicity’s sake) pairs easily with the headset with just a few key presses. One important caveat to note here is that the SR10 must pair with a BT channel that supports Hand-Free Profile (HFP) on the your headset. All headsets have at least on HFP channel but that is usually paired to the phone. Some headsets, like the BT Next, have more than one channel supporting HFP and that is a key feature, allowing the two-way radio to coexist with the phone and music player. If your headset only has one HFP channel you may pair it with the SR10 then pair your phone to the SR10 as well. I tried this and it worked but I could not use the music player built into my phone. There are often trade-offs to be made in the world of BT.

For this review my buddy Rick and I each placed a radio and adapter in our tank bag. The SR10 offers VOX (voice-actuated talk) but also has a wired PTT switch included. During our initial testing we found that the VOX worked well but usually required several loud spoken words to switch over so we opted to use the PTT buttons. We zipped our tank bags to allow the antenna to peek out and the PTT cable was routed to the left handgrip and attached with the included rubber strap.

We liked the ease of use with the PTT button which allows quick back-and-forth conversations. The GXT1000 produces a soft beep upon releasing g the PTT button and advises others that you have closed the connection. Better than having to say “over” each time you end a sentence.

Priorities are important in BT as they instruct the headset as to what devices override others. In this case, when receiving from the other rider, the headset quieted the FM radio or music player to allow us to hear the other rider.

As with all BT and other moto devices, my advice is to set them up, test and get acclimated to them before going near your bike. Once we were done with that we rode the freeways for 10 miles to some hilly back roads. Operation was easy and I let Rick head out while I waited near the on-ramp. At a range of about a mile or more I started to lose him even though the radios were set in high-power mode. This is still a far greater range than the intercom but illustrates the limitations of UHF radios. In our canyon segment of the test, range was reduced further but was always better than the intercoms.

The GXT1000 is rated to 36 miles range but Midland advises that this is greatly affected by the surroundings and we proved that. I chose this FRS/GMRS static-free UHF radio because of the relative quiet as compared to CB radios.

Range can be improved by mounting the radios higher up on the bike or by buying a radio with a connector to a better, permanently mounted antenna. CB, on the other hand, while producing more audible noise, is affected less by terrain due to the characteristics of the frequencies in which it operates.

When asked about range limitations, Midland’s Emily Frame replied, “While they (FRS/GMRS radios) do have the capability to be used with the BTs, we find this is not our customer’s first choice. Our CBs are made more for use in vehicles, such as trucks, and are great for communication on the road.” Live and learn.

Our BT to two-way test was, everything considered, a success. We proved that one does not need a degree in electrical engineering to make this technology work for you. I am going to try to get my hands on a pair of CB radios and, when I do, I will do another review, hopefully, extolling their virtue.

Look for more reviews on BT headsets and gadgets in the coming weeks with Uclear’s HBC200 Force headset with boom-less microphone technology scheduled for my next review.