In the windows evening we will take a look at the new features in windows 8.1 from windows 8 and compare it to previous Microsoft operating systems however I'm unsure if there is enough content to fill the entire evening so if time permits I think it might be nice to look at office 2013 also.
This will be a good coverage of the issues which prompted Microsoft to issue an update to Windows 8 so swiftly for those who have taken the plunge.
Our December meeting was a light hearted evening showing off our gadgets bought over the year while enjoying some snacks.
Gareth kicked off the gadget's evening with his OWL home electricity monitor. The kit comprised a display unit with an LCD screen, a transmitter unit for the sensors and a cable clamp to be installed between the electricity meter and consumer unit/fusebox. Gareth's unit was a basic unit which functioned as a standalone unit, but more sophisticated models are available that can connect to a PC via USB, or even upload directly to an online service using broadband. The sensor transmitter unit had 3 sensor ports as models are available for 3-phase and solar installations.
The display unit had various display modes for kilowatt hours, CO emissions, and cost and could be programmed with a number of tariffs.
next up gareth showed us his go pro hero hd camera. this was a small fixed focus hd video camera capable of 1080p at 30fps and lower resolutions at 60fps. newer go pro hero 3 is capable of 1080p at 60 fps and is more slimline. the camera had 2 protective cases to be used when mounting to helmets or vehicles, both cases having buttons to pass through to the controls on the camera. Recordings were to SD card on this Hero, MicroSD on the newer models and the camera contained a small LCD screen for selecting modes, USB connection for PC and charging. Various mounts were provided, suction, self adhesive, and straps. Go Pro's are popular for skiing/snowboarding, trackdays with cars and bikes but are also used by film crews in TV production where they are a cheap action camera, e.g. Top Gear on cars, Ice Pilots on the outside of planes.
Next was Michael with his gadgets. The first of which was a CD slot mount. This mount hooked into the CD drive of a car stereo to securely hold a phone or sat nav unit. The device simply rested on a sticky pad holding it securely in place. Michael reported that after a year of use there was no sign of it losing the sticky properties. This cost £9.95 from Gadget Show Live.
Michael's next gadget was a phone case with "impact mesh material", again purchased at Gadget Show Live. At the time these were not available in the High Street but are now available in PC World in designs for a variety of phones.
Finally Michael showed us his Microsoft Surface tablet running the RT edition of Windows 8.1. The tablet featured a magnetically attached cover that also doubled as the keyboard and trackpad, Nvidia Tegra 3 quad core ARM processor with 2 GB RAM and 32GB storage. The tablet also featured a USB port amongst its collection making it useful for attaching external hard drives, cameras etc. and a MicroSD card slot allowing for extra internal storage. The Surface RT shipped with Microsoft Office including Outlook making it quite unique as an ARM tablet device with a fully featured office suite.
Peter brought along a number of gadgets and began by showing us a Solar and USB charger/battery pack for charging mobile phones. This came with a wide variety of adaptors covering a range of phones and was available from Aldi.
Moving into the DIY space Peter showed us his right-angled drill adaptor, also from Aldi. This was a sturdy 90 degree adaptor with a screw in handle that could be mounted on either side. Peter found this easier to use and of stronger construction than cheaper flexible adaptors.
Sticking with DIY Peter showed us a drill powered pump, capable of pumping 40-50 litres per minute which was useful for pumping out water butts and other uses around the home.
Peter also brought along a USB cassette recorder of a similar size to a walkman. The unique feature in this case was the addition of a USB output for connecting to a PC. Peter intended to use this to transfer old cassette recordings into digital MP3 format.
As is customary Peter brought with him a culinary gadget, and this year this was a cheese mill. Peter bought two of these from the Ideal Home exhibition earlier in the year, After assembling the small cylinder a piece of cheese was placed between the cutter and a partition and the device twisted to grate cheese allowing us to enjoy some tasty cheese and biscuits. The grater was said to also be usable for making breadcrumbs.
Paul, ever the one to find some unique tools brought along his Bionic wrench. This wrench self adjusted to the size of the nut or bolt being removed negating the need to find the exact size, or match to metric or imperial.
Paul also brought with him a 3 in one drill bit saving you the hassle of needing a drill bit, countersink and then screwdriver bit while up a ladder. This gadget featured a drill bit with integrated countersink bit one end, but could then be unlocked and rotated to expose the screwdriver bit.
Duncan brought with him an Olympus 14 Megapixel camera that he purchased as it was much easier for carrying on hiking holidays than his SLR and kit bag. With a wide zoom this camera was quite flexible but Duncan noted a number of issues compared to his SLR namely only shooting in JPEG with no RAW facility and relatively poor battery life. Duncan found on a number of occasions on holiday that the battery would be depleted by mid afternoon and was specific to the model of camera. The camera featured a high level of zoom but without an integral viewfinder was at times difficult to maintain a steady picture while holding it to view screen - this also made the video mode less useful.
Rounding out our evening John showed us two gadgets starting with an electric can opener. Mary, John's wife had been requesting one for some time and found it very useful. The electric opener was able to easily open cans.
John's second gadget was a standalone Rollei slide/negative scanning device. The unit contained an LCD screen for setup and previewing images, and was able to operate self contained with no PC required. Holders were supplied for a number of formats including 2 ¼ square and 120 film, and for slides and film strips. John had found this to work very well but noted an issue with size standards. Rollei thought 120 film was a slightly different width to the sizes of most of John's 120 negatives, which was likely a metric/imperial rounding issue. The negative buckled slightly rather than lie flat, meaning to get the best quality scan it was necessary to slightly trim the negatives. In general however it has enabled John to do what he set out to do, scanning and preserving the 120 negatives and being a standalone unit he was able to get through 30-40 images at a time while watching TV.
Here are photos of the various items:
|Gareth's Power checker||Gareth's Camera|
|Michael's Surface tablet.||Peter's Drill pump and Cheese Mill|
|Peter's USB Cassette player, phone charger
and drill adapter.
|Paul's Bionic Wrench and drill kit.|
|John's Slide scanner||John's electric can opener.|
|Getting ready||The Gadgets Team|
|The Gadgets Team|
This year we broke new ground and tried out the Sun Inn in Dedham. The food was very good and I think everyone enjoyed the evening. We had a very quiet room which made for a pleasant evening also. There were unfortunately the usual ramifications when it came to paying the bill since we had to disassemble the individual bills from a mega bill once again and only just made it.
Here are some photos of the event.
I hope you will all be able to come on Wednesday. We have had a few Newsletter issues this month and of course there was no Newsletter in January. So you have a bumper Newsletter this time.
|February 19th||Windows Evening||Michael|
|March 19th||Computer Surgery||All|
|April 16th||AGM +||All|
Meetings are now on the Third Wednesday of the month unless otherwise stated.
Our meetings are held at the Bourne Vale Social Club, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE , for a map and other details please see the website.
Currently both visitor fees and membership fees are in abeyance until the next AGM due in May 2014.
We are continuing our publicity for EAUG events , however their website has not been updated for a year now. So if you wish to know information please phone one of their contacts.
Meetings are at the Great Baddow Village Hall, on the second Tuesday of the month
opening at 7:30 p.m. for a start at 7:45 - 8:00 p.m.
For directions see below (note the new web addresses)
Tea/coffee/biscuits usually available.
Visitors pay 2.00 GBP for the evening, which is deductible from the normal joining subscription if you decide to join at a later date.
See the Membership page of the website for more information:
They have now moved to the St. Andrew's Computer Club at Britannia Road, Ipswich.
They have a full programme on the parish website
(http://www.ourstandrews.co.uk), We may be able to make new contact with them to arrange something in common.
"ICENI does not have any Insurance cover for computers or other equipment so please be advised that you bring machines to the club at your own risk."
However many household insurance policies will include cover away from home often with no increase in premium. (Ed.)
Our website has had to be moved since BT is no longer giving free hosting to customers and Peter was running the old website on his account. So Gareth has been fortunate to register a web address of our own and has generously hosted it on his own woolridge domain. All our old website data has been ported to the new site and a redirection placed on the old address. The old site will disappear some time soon.
If anyone would like a copy of the CD of our old newsletters this could be arranged.
I am open to suggestions on what people would like to have included in the website.
Our website URL is
Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org