Review: Snap Ships

Posted in Products with tags on October 19, 2020 by itnerd

Today I am presenting a review of a toy called Snap Ships.

Designed for kids ages 8 and up, Snap Ships has eleven ships at a suggested retail price of $9.99–$39.99. To tell the epic story of the Snap Ships universe, the company behind Snap Ships which is PlayMonster has joined forces with award-winning content studio Wind Sun Sky to produce a fast-paced and edgy animated series. Season one of the series, Snap Ships Dawn of Battle launched this past Friday on YouTube with new episodes airing every Friday. But there’s more to this toy. Snap Ships is supported by an AR app which allows users to explore the vibrant world of Snap Ships. Highly detailed digital versions of the constructible toys come to life in the app and can be summoned into via Augmented Reality.

All of this sounds great. But I’m not a kid so I can’t speak to how engaging Snap Ships would be for a kid. Thus I had to enlist someone much younger than I. Enter Zavier who is 12 years old and as you will read, he can do product reviews after he’s finished his homework. For the record, everything was written by Zavier and he did the screen shots as well.:

After getting myself familiar with the Snap Ships I can say it’s a great product. The Snap Ships are fun and straightforward to put together with simple, clear instructions. The interlocking cubes snap together well, however they are quite hard to take apart by yourself. Thankfully each kit comes with a separate tool that comes in very handy. All snap ships are fairly unique and considering the highly affordable price, gives a huge incentive to buy more than one kit. In short, the kits themselves are spectacular. 

Now onto the App itself. When you first enter the app you’re presented with a very easy to navigate user interface. It gets its job done and isn’t too overwhelming. 

The dogfights, sectors are fun at first but can get very repetitive. Just a couple of different variations on the standard gameplay can improve the game a whole lot. Sometimes when playing the game it feels like the game is playing for you. There should be an option whether you want the autopilot or manual controls. A crosshair would also be a neat addition so that you’re able to tell where you’re shooting.

The main attraction, augmented reality is immersive and amazingly rendered. It’s really fun to just play around with and other kids will love it. Sometimes though, the ships can get a little glitchy and confusing.

Overall Snap Ships are a great product and I would recommend it to all my friends. Since every piece can snap together it invites a lot of creativity, you make your own ships. It’s very reminiscent of things like Lego in that way. With a few updates and a bit more availability the app could take off (no pun intended).

That’s a very detailed review from Zavier and I appreciate his perspective on Snap Ships. Since he recommends Snap Ships, I will recommend it given the price and the entertainment value that it provides.

Nikon Mirrorless Cameras Help People Create & Connect

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 19, 2020 by itnerd

Today I would like to share to share Nikon’s Z series mirrorless camera lineup.

As families are more focused on each other and spending time in their bubbles, the gift of a camera can help capture memories being made. From video calls with family and friends, to catching special moments during this year’s unique holiday season, Nikon’s Z series has something for everyone on your list.

For those more focused on creating, or who find themselves on-camera more often, the precision optics of a Nikon camera not only help make better videos, but can also bring Nikon’s beautiful imagery to video calls. Nikon Z cameras can work as webcams with a free app. They also transfer photos and videos to other devices in the background over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so your phone always has your latest shots — making them easy to post and quickly share with others. 

Another benefit of the Z series is its wide lens mount, which lets in more light for faster photography and more detail. And, with an optional adapter, Nikon Z cameras can be used with hundreds of Nikon DSLR lenses. 

The Nikon Z 50 is an affordable camera for creators who need gear that’s light, easy to use and captures superior videos and images for TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. The flip-down screen is perfect for selfies or vlogging.  

  • Available now. MSRP starting at $1,099.00 

The Nikon Z 6II has expert-level multimedia features, and more processing speed than its predecessor. Dual memory card slots help photographers keep shooting, whether it’s a wedding, basketball game or nature walk. 

  • Available in November 2020. MSRP starting at $2,799.95 

TELUS To Offer iPhone 12 Pro & iPhone 12 On The World’s Fastest Network Starting Today

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 16, 2020 by itnerd

TELUS will offer the new iPhone 12 lineup, including iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 12, and iPhone 12 mini all on the fastest network in Canada and the world, covering 99 per cent Canadians from coast to coast. With a beautiful all-new design, iPhone 12 models feature an unparalleled new camera systems, edge-to-edge Super Retina XDR displays for a more immersive viewing experience, the biggest jump in durability with the Ceramic Shield front cover, and Apple-designed A14 Bionic chip, the fastest chip in a smartphone. TELUS customers can now order iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 starting today, with availability on October 23. In addition, customers will be able to order iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 mini beginning on November 6, with availability on November 13. For complete pricing and availability details, please visit telus.com/iphone12pro.

TELUS 5G will be available at no additional cost on TELUS Peace of Mind plans, starting at only $75/20GB of high-speed data until October 31, with endless data and no overage fees. Moreover, customers can connect their smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, TELUS Drive+, and TELUS Track+ all to a single plan with TELUS’ exclusive Peace of Mind Connect plans starting at $85/20GB per month. With endless data, customers can continue to stream, share, and stay connected across all of their devices as much as they want without worrying about overages.

TELUS customers can also take advantage of our Bring-It-Back™ program and receive up to $630 off depending on the device, when they agree to return it in good working condition to TELUS at the end of their two-year term. To save even more, customers can sign up for TELUS’ Trade-In Program, where customers will receive a credit for their old device, up to $825.

ServiceNow Partners w/ IBM To Automate IT & Releases New IoT Solution & COVID Testing App

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 15, 2020 by itnerd

The stakes have never been higher for enterprises – in order to survive, it’s crucial for them to enhance employee productivity, get full visibility into their operational footprint, and respond to incidents and issues in real-time.

ServiceNow and IBM today announced a strategic partnership to help enterprises around the globe automate IT. The partnership includes a first-of-its-kind joint IT solution – combining IBM’s Watson AIOps with ServiceNow’s IT Service Management and IT Operations Management Visibility – that equips companies with the tools they need to drive greater efficiency, reduce risk, and lower costs in IT across their organizations.

The company also released new products to help businesses and employees manage work in the wake of COVID-19 and sustain business continuity, including:

  • Launching Connected Operations, a powerful new solution that bridges IoT data with ServiceNow digital workflows so enterprises can monitor and manage critical infrastructure, break down data siloes, and pursue new business models (like goods-as-a-service). You can find more informationhere.
  • Updates to the ServiceNow Safe Workplace app suite, including a new Health and Safety Testing app to streamline the process for requesting and receiving test results from employees. You can find more information on today’s release – including a new Safe Workplace Experience for Now Mobile and enhanced contact tracing capabilities with Zebra Technologies’ MotionWorks Proximity solution – here.

Review: Roku Streambar

Posted in Products with tags on October 15, 2020 by itnerd

Today I’m reviewing a 2 in 1 device called the Roku Streambar. It combines a Roku streaming device that is capable of 4K with a compact sound bar that is capable of Dolby Audio.

Here’s what you get in the box:

Besides the Streambar and the power cable, you get an high speed HDMI cable, a optical cable which you only need if your TV doesn’t have an HDMI-ARC port, and a remote with AAA batteries.

On the back of the Streambar you get power, optical, HDMI, USB ports along with a reset button. The Streambar does support Ethernet via a USB adapter that is an optional extra. Out of the box you can connect the streaming part of the Streambar to your network via 802.11ac MiMO WiFi.

This is the Streambar set up and functioning normally.

It is tiny by sound bar standards. It also doesn’t take up a whole lot of real estate as it’s about a third of the size of a typical sound bar. That’s great if you need the space. It also has a pair of mounting holes on the back so that you can mount it to a wall if you wish.

Speaking of the set up process, it was laughably easy. I plugged it into the HDMI-ARC port of my TV and then followed the directions onscreen to set it up. Including adding it to my WiFi network and software updates, it took me ten minutes to set it up. I might have been able to set it up quicker if I didn’t put one of the AAA batteries into the remote backwards. As part of the process, the streaming half of the Streambar automatically optimizes itself for my TV so that it can stream in 4K HDR.

The Streambar has four internal speakers that point in different directions so that it fills your room with sound. You can easily tweak your sound to highlight voices for example, or level the sound, or reduce bass. And it did a good job of filling my living room with sound despite being a physically small sound bar. The sound is very rich, clear, and detailed. This was true whether I was watching regular TV, a movie, or playing a video game. I was kind of surprised at a sound bar at this price point could be this good. More on the price in a moment.

The Streambar comes with Roku OS 9.4 which as part of its feature set is supposed to come with Apple HomeKit and AirPlay 2 support. However, I could not find this support for either in the product. A quick email exchange with Roku confirmed that this is still coming later this year. It makes sense as my TCL TV which has Roku functionality that needed to be updated to Roku OS 9.4 so that I can test the Streambar doesn’t have HomeKit and AirPlay 2 support either. But until AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support makes an appearance, you can stream music to the Streambar via Bluetooth which sounded really good. On the downside, I had to switch to the Streambar to stream music via Bluetooth. And I had to use the remote (which by the way supports voice commands) that came with the Streambar to use it. Maybe I am doing something wrong here, but assuming that I am not doing something wrong, I would have liked to see a bit more integration between the two devices.

In my opinion, if you don’t have a Roku device, the Streambar is a great way to get streaming and upgraded sound onto your “dumb” TV. As always Roku brings a large channel selection to the table. So at what this costs, it’s a total win. If you’re like me and have a Roku TV, in my case a TCL TV, you’ll get upgraded sound. But you’ll also get a second Roku device that you won’t be using most if the time. In my case, I only used it when I was streaming music via bluetooth after I was finished my initial testing. But in either case, the Streambar only costs $189.99. So even in my use case it’s still a win. The Roku Streambar is very much worth a look if you want to bring better sound to your TV along with streaming to your TV at a good price.

New TELUS Owner’s Advantage Plan Gives Canadian Business Owners Exclusive Benefits

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 15, 2020 by itnerd

In celebration of Small Business Month, TELUS announced the launch of The Owner’s Advantage Plan, a new mobility plan for business customers that includes a variety of exclusive benefits designed to provide greater value and more flexibility than ever before. Here’s an overview of the key features:

  • Upgrade every year: Stay ahead of the competition and upgrade your smartphone to the latest and most advanced 5G smartphones every year.
  • Same day device repair: Quickly reconnect with same day screen repair included in your plan and available at more than 80 Mobile Klinik locations nationwide.
  • Fastest customer support: Save time and get back to running your business faster with front of the line access to customer support. 
  • Endless data: Plan includes 50GB of high speed data and no overage charges for added peace of mind, all on the fastest mobile network in the world. 
  • TELUS Health Virtual Care: Owners get one year of complimentary access to on-demand virtual healthcare service, Akira, for themselves, their family, and up to ten of their employees – 24/7, 365 days a year, in English and French.

For a limited time as part of Small Business Month, the Owner’s Advantage plan is $110/month (regular price $120/month), plus the monthly cost of your device. For the latest information about the Owner’s Advantage Plan, please visit: www.telus.com/ownersadvantage.

Critical Trust Virtual Summit: Keynote Speakers Announced

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 14, 2020 by itnerd

Individuals from Netflix and Microsoft will be keynote speakers for Keyfactor’s upcoming Critical Trust Virtual Summit, taking place on October 21-22, 2020.  Session information and details are below:

Looking Past the Pandemic: Futureproofing Against Data Risk

Presented by Ann Johnson, Microsoft – Corporate VP of Security, Compliance & Identity (SCI) Business Development

October 21, 2020 @ 2:25pm ET

People will create more than 175 Zettabytes of data by 2025. While this abundance of data fuels machine learning, artificial intelligence and automation, this abundance also presents risks to our security, economies and fundamental right to privacy as data also becomes one of our great assets to help address global challenges. Enterprises must now look beyond AI as just a proactive defense and consider data both an asset and a risk.

More info: https://summit.keyfactor.com/talks/looking-past-the-pandemic-futureproofing-against-data-risk/

How Netflix Delivers with Speed and Agility (And you can too!)

Presented by Andy Glover, Netflix – Director of Productivity Engineering

October 22, 2020 @ 2:30pm ET

As security teams work more closely with DevOps engineering, they need to move fast and be agile.  Andy will discuss how Netflix’s competitive advantage is the ability to innovate with speed and agility, which is facilitated by their culture. He’ll share his lessons learned from investing in automation to building centralized teams and how these benefits can also be adopted by your organization.

More info: https://summit.keyfactor.com/talks/guest-keynote-day-2/

Keyfactor’s two-day online event will offer over a dozen additional sessions and panels delivered by industry-leading innovators and practitioners specializing in crypto-agile best practices across IT, security, engineering and DevOps:

You can register here.

ServiceNow Teams Up with the NBA and WNBA

Posted in Commentary on October 14, 2020 by itnerd

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) today announced a multiyear partnership that makes ServiceNow their inaugural Official Workflow Partner. ServiceNow, the company that makes work, work better, will deliver the products and technologies needed to create and streamline workflows across the NBA and WNBA.

As part of the multiyear partnership, the NBA and WNBA used ServiceNow’s Employee workflows to manage the complex, manual processes associated with the 2019‑20 NBA Season Restart and 2020 WNBA season. ServiceNow’s workflows enabled the NBA and WNBA to execute essential onboarding and health‑screening processes to promote a safer environment on their campuses. This month, the NBA and WNBA safely completed seasons in Orlando and Bradenton, respectively, bringing basketball back to fans around the world amid the COVID‑19 pandemic.

Using digital workflows, ServiceNow helped the league to facilitate screening for more than 2,600 league staff, vendors and guests who entered the NBA and WNBA campuses in Florida and successfully process more than 13,000 essential documents. Through the use of ServiceNow technology, the league demonstrated that a safe, careful return to play was possible with the right tools and protocols in place.

In addition to ServiceNow Employee Workflow products, the NBA and WNBA plan to rollout additional products throughout the multiyear partnership, including:

COVID-19 Has Shifted Canadians’ Views on Living in a Long-Term Care Setting: NIA & Telus Health Survey

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 14, 2020 by itnerd

Today, the National Institute on Ageing (NIA) and TELUS Health together released the findings of an online national survey gauging the perspectives of 1,571 Canadians during the pandemic on where they want to live as they age, concerns about living independently, caregiving, and social isolation.

Nine-in-ten (90 per cent) agree that as they age, they intend to do whatever they can to stay active and maintain their optimal health and independence. Eight-in-ten (80 per cent) Canadians say they are open to receiving advice on how to live safely on their own from trusted friends and family. 

COVID-19 has also shone a light on caregiving and social isolation. The survey found that most Canadians are not prepared personally or financially to become caregivers, with only 43 per cent reporting that they are prepared. Two-thirds (67 per cent) of Canadians believe that a lack of companionship and social connection with other people negatively impacts their overall health and well-being. Nearly half (47%) say they have been experiencing a lack of real companionship and regular social connections with other people, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Younger Canadians aged 55 and under, are significantly more likely to agree with statements regarding lack of companionship compared to those aged 55+.

More people than ever before have become interested in doing whatever is necessary to stay active and maintain their optimal health and independence, but 30 per cent of older Canadians do not feel prepared should they be alone when a medical emergency occurs, and 79 per cent say they have not spoken to their healthcare providers about what to do if a fall occurs. The full findings of the survey can be found in the report, Pandemic Perspectives on Ageing in Canada in light of COVID-19: Findings from a National Institute on Ageing/ TELUS Health Survey

The online survey of 1517 Canadians aged 18+, was completed between July 24-27, 2020, using Leger’s online panel. With a sample of 1517 respondents, the margin of error is +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

Gift Card Bank Partners With Excella To Support Families In Need During COVID-19

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 14, 2020 by itnerd

Gift Card Bank, a Bay Area nonprofit focused on utilizing gift cards to support those in need, is partnering with Excella–a pioneer for Agile technology solutions–to help support the well-being and financial security of people affected by Covid-19. Through this partnership, Excella has applied its Agile software development and product management expertise to create a state-of-the-art online platform that allows Gift Card Bank to identify, verify, and support families on a national scale.   

As part of its mission to support those struck by Covid-19, Gift Card Bank aggregates unused and donated gift cards from individuals, philanthropists, grocers, and retailers, and identifies people and families who need support through food banks and other fintech platforms. Once identified, Gift Card Bank securely distributes gift cards to those families during their greatest time of need. 

The brainchild of Khalil Fuller, Gift Card Bank was founded in March in response to those being affected by the Covid-19 global pandemic. Fuller, a graduate student at Stanford University, saw an opportunity in the $95 billion gift card market to help people. 

Since its inception, Gift Card Bank has received over 2,000 gift cards from top-tier companies and has helped over 400 families. Khalil and team have surpassed their goal to disburse over $35,000 by the end of September and will begin scaling nationally in the Fall. 

Excella has over 18 years of experience successfully leading Agile Transformations, modernizing legacy IT systems, and delivering artificial intelligence solutions to leading organizations, federal agencies, and nonprofits.