This was a very well attended evening enhanced by two new visitors ; Steve and Sue and lots of goodies. This going to be a bumper edition of our Newsletter.
This a mystery object which enabled us to put forward various suggestions. We knew it was something to do with car use - but what?
It is shown here:-
It turns out to be a special door handle which can be fitted into the open door of a vehicle on the hinge side to enable a passenger to grip onto something to get out of a car when they are a bit shaky on their feet. It also incorporates a hammer for breaking windows and a cutter to cut seatbelts in an emergency.
This was a wireless virtual mouse (scratchpad) and keyboard with USB connectivity also having a laser pointer. Available from PiHut for £25 and shown here:-
Another USB wireless mouse which will operate on any surface and available from Maplin. It can be used in parallel with a scratchpad without conflict and as it has a scroll wheel this will happily work as a three button mouse on RiscOS machines.
Having seen some of the work from Duncan's new Sony alpha 77 camera at last month's Photo/Video evening we were treated to a more in depth exposé here. This is one of the modern tethered cameras which can be remote controlled with WiFi to take photos on demand. The shots may then also be remotely displayed if desired. It is a single lens reflex and has image stabilisation by moving the sensor and can take a range of lenses.
This caused some amusement as we played with "Alexa" in the form of Amazon Echo. This a good quality speaker system with internet connectivity to give voice control ; part of Michael's internet of things "IoT". You can ask her anything from "what is the weather going to be on Monday" to play some Christmas music as long as you precede your request with "Alexa"!
Gareth finds this device very useful as it enables him to read the error codes from his car system and turn off dashboard error lights when no longer required. Blue Driver plugs into the socket on the car, sometimes found under the dashboard, and will interconnect with a smart phone via Bluetooth using a special downloadable App. They come in various designs to suit your vehicle.
Shown in the next two pictures are the device and a view of the App:-
Another car related gadget; Autosocks car over tyres for use in snow and ice conditions. They are very easy to fit in two stages and are then self aligning. Can be driven at 30m.p.h. on snow but wear out quickly if on tarmac available from the Roof Box company www. roofbox.co.uk/autosock or from www.autosockdirect.co.uk Shown here :-
He had used Motorola Phone Apps to unlock his Android phone he has now managed to upgrade his phone with an unlock code from the website from Android v.6 to Android v.7 which has enabled him to obtain various improved security updates and use weekly snapshots.
Another photography gadget in the form of a clip-on telephoto lens for a smart phone. Obtainable from Menkind shop in Ipswich the clip for the lens is a little tricky to fit initially because the plastic thread is easily crossed. It then must be positioned fairly precisely over the camera lens to avoid vignetting. Nevertheless for less than £10 it is a handy device to have. There are also wide angle and macro versions available.
Spill Stopper for boiling pans made from silicone material by Kuhn-Rikon. It was advertised on QVC TV channel. This device is placed on top of an open saucepan and will prevent it from boiling over however high the boiling rate. I did say to Paul that it was a pity we could not see a demonstration and he later forwarded me this link, which shows it admirably.
Can be obtained for £20 from the link above. Top and bottom views are shown here.
Duncan showed us another multi-function gadget in the form of a telescopic Walking Pole which doubles as a Camera Monopod by removing the top of the handle to reveal a camera bush as show in the pictures. Easy to carry and light weight but quite strong.
WiFi controlled multi-coloured lamp driven by "Alexa" another part of Michael's IoT. This caused a lot of amusement because Michael has Alexa trained to not only turn this lamp on and off, but also to change to whatever colour he chose.
Following the modern trend for fitness and standup meetings Gareth produced his transportable stand-up desk. This packed as a small case with a carrying handle which disclosed a table top inside of which is clipped a set of 4 telescopic legs which may be quickly assembled to give a reasonably sturdy table on which to stand a laptop and is adjustable to a comfortable height. Neat! The Tabletote Plus is available from Amazon for £20.
Chromecast Device. Peter saw this when he was hunting around for gadgets and thought it sounded interesting as add-on to his television to enable it to be networked. His BT Vision box is hard-wired to his HomeHub but the fact that the Chromecast adapter works over WiFi made it quite attractive. He had not had much time to use it yet but was pleased to be able to cast some Video files from his iPhone straight to the TV via one of the HDMI inputs and powered form a USB socket on the TV. There were one or two problems in that it would not play every file, occasionally giving an error message but not always. He also noticed it gave some interference on a broadcast TV channel when left plugged in but not in use. He doesn't know why. He is going to try it without the USB powered connection and also from laptop instead of the iPhone.
Duncan always favouring the old fashioned devices brought along his Old style Knife sharpener.
Michael's final gadget is a dash cam giving 1080p quality and recording in 3 minute clips. The Yc51015 comes with WiFi. again available from Amazon.
Peter presented the last gadget which is his AliveCor Kardia ECG device. He did not have much time to demonstrate this or talk about it much on the night so is giving a more detailed write up here.
The Kardia is a small battery powered unit with two fingerpads on which you place either fingers or thumbs from your left and right hands. The unit connects via WiFi to your Apple Watch or Smart Phone and using a free app called Kardia from the AppStore will record 30 seconds of an Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) by passing a small current through your body via your fingers. The recording may be emailed to yourself or to your doctor ( not in UK!). There is an immediate diagnosis of "Normal", "Atrial Fibrillation" or "Unclassified " alongside the ECG trace and pulse rate. "Unclassified" means the reading could not be immediately analysed. However you may send the recordings to a clinician for a £5 fee and they will return a technical report which can be shown to your doctor if you are concerned. When first purchased there is a month's storage of historical data. After this you can upgrade to the Pro version for about £80 a year which allows the history to be kept indefinitely. However having personally been diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation and now have a pacemaker I am not allowed to continue using it and I was refunded my annual subscription, and in addition keep all my earlier history.
The reports I received were considered very useful to my Cardiologist and were instrumental in my being offered the pacemaker treatment and I am no longer fainting.
They can be purchased from PMS (Instruments) Ltd in Maidenhead for £97.73 including delivery. http://www.pmsinstruments.co.uk mailto: sales @pmsinstruments.co.uk
Peter is willing to show the types of output data if anyone is interested.
We all agreed at the end that this was probably the most well attended and comprehensive gadgets evening we had had. Added to which people brought along some wonderful cakes and nibbles. Of course Gareth got caught because he mailed a photo of the Smart lamp to Sophie which also showed some chocolate doughtnuts and was requested to bring some home!
The Compasses Inn,
Tel: 01473 328332
The menus can be found on line at:- http://www.compassesholbrook.com
|ICENI Future programme 2017/2018|
|January 17th||Winter Social Evening - The Compasses Inn, Holbrook||All|
|February 21st||Arduino/Raspberry Pi / BBC :Microbits||All|
|March 21st||Backup systems - Cloud/ CCTV, Acronis||All|
|April 18th||AGM - Virtual Reality and secure password storage||All|
|May 16th||Computer surgery evening||All|
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.
Membership fee currently £10, visitors free.
"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.)