Review: AERZ AirPod/Earbuds Covers

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 24, 2018 by itnerd

Apple AirPods and Earbuds are different as the former is wireless and the latter is wired. But they do have one thing in common. They don’t stay in your ears. They fall out of your ears easily and in the case of the AirPods, that can get expensive. They also are not as great sounding as third party earphones because they don’t fit in your ear well enough. That’s where Wonderful Things Factory comes in to help with that. They have a product called AERZ which pro-ports to improve the sound quality and comfort of your Apple AirPods and Apple Earbuds.

 

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They are a pair or silicone skins that go on top of the AirPods or Earbuds. Thus they look like this once they are installed:

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One thing that I should note is that they appear to be right and left specific. Keep that in mind when you install them. By the installation is dead easy and takes seconds. So, now that they’re installed, do they stay in your ears and does the sound quality improve?

Enter my wife who tested the sound quality with and without the AERZ using a pair of Apple Earbuds. She did notice a marginal improvement in audio quality. While not to the level of the BEATS earphones that she normally uses, it was noticeable. That allowed me to move on the big ticket item. Does the AERZ allow the EarPods to stay in place? To test that she went on a run around the block. She sprinted around the block which got her super sweaty and caused lots of movement which she thought would dislodge the Earbuds. But the Earbuds stayed in her ears during her first trip around the block. So she did another run around the block and got the same outcome. The net result is that the AERZ do everything that they say and are totally worth getting if you have Apple EarPods or Earbuds. They come in five different colors and will cost you $15 USD on the Wonderful Things Factory website.

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PayPal Hosts Twitch Stream To Show How Gamers Can Us PayPal

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 24, 2018 by itnerd

PayPal is planning to host a Twitch stream on Friday, September 28 from 4pm-6pm EST.. The stream will feature two popular Canadian streamers, Kaitlyn and Brotatoe, teaming up to play Fortnite and showcase the many ways gamers can use PayPal. This session will be very enlightening and ties in to this story that I posted earlier today. So plan on joining in.

 

Canadian gamers spend 52 hours gaming online every month and more than half of them are women: PayPal

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 24, 2018 by itnerd

PayPal Canada shared new insights from SuperData Research which revealed that gamers in Canada spend an average of 52 hours every month playing online games and more than half of them (55%) are women. Canadian gamers have an average age of 35 years and are eight years younger than their US counterparts. The research shows that 45 per cent of gamers in Canada play online or mobile games every day, compared to 39 per cent globally.

PwC predicts annual revenues in Canada’s online gaming industry to be $40M with a CAGR of 22.7% over the next five years*. Canada’s online gaming market has been growing strongly with total revenue in the sector greater than that of Italy and Spain combined.

Canadian gamers spend $200 per year on full online games compared with a yearly spend of $128 on buying in-game content. These gamers are also far less likely to trade for in-game items than the global average (22% vs. 44%).

Choice of device – smartphones versus PCs and Gaming Consoles

Gamers in Canada play across an average of three devices, roughly in line with global averages. Smartphones (66%) are the device of choice when it comes to online gaming followed by tablets (43%), desktops (40%) and laptops (34%). Among women, 74 per cent play regularly on smartphones compared to only 58 per cent of men. PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Xbox 360 were the most popular gaming consoles picked by Canadian gamers.

Other insights include:

  • Gamers in Canada play games an average of 26 times a month and spend two hours per session.
  • Mobile gamers skew heavily female (71%), while PC/console players skew male (56%).
  • PC/console players game for longer with an average of two hours per session, while mobile gamers play an average of 1.5 hours per session.
  • Almost half of online gamers in Canada (48%) live in an urban setting which is 15 per cent more than those in the US.

Gamers access a plethora of platforms and stores

Globally, active paying gamers polled shop across 14 different gaming platforms and nearly 30 different storefronts over the last three months, an incredible variety.

Leading the world, respondents in Canada and Australia purchased games from 28 different gaming storefronts–followed by Russia (27) and the US (26). The most popular online gaming storefronts selected by Canadian gamers were Google Play (30%), Steam (26%), Apple App Store (26%) and PlayStation Network (25%). Steam was resoundingly popular with Millennials with 35 per cent of Canadian Millennials and 31 per cent of global millennials reporting they shopped there for gaming content.

Twitch, the online gaming platform, is gaining popularity with Canadians with 29 per cent of gaming video content (GVC) viewers in Canada watching it versus a global average of 21 per cent. 

What turns players into payers

An easy payment process is critical to the online gaming experience. Games, platforms and storefronts that provide inadequate payment options may see it negatively impact their bottom line. While gamers prefer a variety in options for shopping, they identified one consistent need across game purchases—seamless payment options. With monetization models changing— developers and publishers need to have an excellent payment checkout experience to better serve customers.

  • Many gamers are put off by issues like long or cumbersome checkouts and lack of security. Specifically, women and gamers aged 18-34 are most likely to be affected by a poor check-out experience.
  • Security is top of mind for Canadian gamers as 20 per cent would pick their payment method because it was secure compared to 13 per cent globally.
  • Canadian gamers state they would walk away from the online sale when selecting payment options (22%), entering billing address (20%) and entering credit card details (18%).
  • Across the world, survey respondents selected PayPal as their preferred way to pay for gaming content, with ease of use and speed driving their payment method choice. PayPal was the most popular payment method used by gamers in Canada (26%).

*Source: PwC’s Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2018-2022 Outlook:https://www.pwc.com/ca/en/media/release/canada-entertainment-media-industry-revenue-grow.html

Study methodology

This study was conducted by SuperData on behalf of PayPal, between February and March 2018 across 25 markets with 25,000 active paying gamers interviewed globally.

 

 

 

Issues With Apple Watch Activation Mount For Those On Rogers

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 22, 2018 by itnerd

Things really aren’t really going well with those who want to activate an Apple Watch on the Rogers network. On top of corporate customers being shut out entirely at this point, those who should be able to activate an Apple Watch on the Rogers network are sometimes running into issues. Based on the angry emails that I am getting, here’s a list of error codes that people seem to be getting:

  • “Your Rogers account is not eligible to enable cellular on your Apple Watch. Contact Rogers for more information.”
  • Error codes WS300, WS201 and WS501

On top of that, people are also reporting that when they enter 911 info, the activation process kicks them back to the start of the process. That sounded familiar as my wife and I experienced that several years ago when trying to set up WiFi calling on Rogers. The only recourse that seems to exist at present is to phone Rogers. I’ve been told by various customers who have called in that this can be very painful as the front line reps seem to be only able to open a support ticket and beyond that they can’t do much for you. I’ve also heard that in some cases it may take days for Rogers to get back to you. That’s highly frustrating to customers. Some of whom have asked me what my experience has been like on Telus. Rather than answer them individually, I’ll do a write up about my experience with Telus in the coming days.

Rogers really needs to get a handle on this and quickly. They have already taken a PR hit by being a year late to the Apple Watch party unlike Telus and Bell. Then when they show up their corporate customers can’t join the party. Again, this is unlike Telus and Bell. Now this. If Rogers can’t get their act together, they will find it difficult to convince customers that their Apple Watch business should go to them rather than to Telus or Bell. After all, Apple fans are an intensely loyal and highly vocal group. And getting them mad enough to defect from Rogers is a really bad idea if you’re Rogers.

Review: Apple Watch Series 4 GPS + Cellular

Posted in Products with tags on September 22, 2018 by itnerd

Frequent readers of this blog will know that I am a big fan of the Apple Watch. I’ve had the Series 2, the Series 3 with GPS, and the Series 3 with GPS + Cellular and today I’m bringing you the latest Apple Watch which is the Series 4 with GPS + Cellular:

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The model that you see below is the 44mm model in space grey Aluminum (a stainless steel model is also available along with a Nike+ model and so is an insanely priced Hermes model that is basically a stainless steel model with a really expensive watch band, a sport band, unique packaging, and a unique watch face). And that’s the first big change to the Apple Watch. They have new sizing which are 40mm and 44mm. But that doesn’t mean that they are bigger because they are not. The 40mm watch is the same physical size as the 38mm from the Series 3 or below. And the 44mm is the same physical size as the 42mm from the Series 3 or below. However each watch is a tad bit thinner than the Series 3 and below which means it looks a bit more sleek on the wrist. So, what does the new sizing mean? It’s a reference to the new display which depending on the model you get is going to be at least 30% bigger. Not to mention they seem brighter and sharper to me. And that is something that you will notice and appreciate right out of the gate. The new screens make the watch far easier to read. And things like notifications simply look better. Plus it allows you to use some unique watch faces to put way more info in front of you. One watch face allows nine complications for example. Thus I fully expect app developers to leverage that. It also means that you don’t necessarily need to get the biggest watch to see the screen. In my case, if I didn’t had an investment in 42mm watch bands (which fit the 44mm watch by the way just fine… 38mm watch bands fit the 40mm watch as well), I might have gone for the 40mm version.

There’s some other changes as well.

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The speaker is twice as large as last year and you can hear the difference. Especially if you are on a phone call.

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The huge red dot that let everyone on planet Earth know that you have a cellular Apple Watch is gone and replaced by a smaller more discreet ring. The crown has another hidden feature in the form of haptic feedback. That makes scrolling through stuff feel a lot more natural. The crown also acts as an electrode for an all new ECG feature. More on that in a second. The microphone which is the dot to the right of the crown is there to reduce echo during a phone call.

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The back is made entirely of black ceramic and sapphire. That’s to make it easier for the watch to connect to cellular and WiFi. The heart rate sensor is a brand new design. The rings around the heart rate sensor are the new electrical heart rate sensors, which will be used to perform ECGs once that feature rolls out later this fall in the US. Who knows when it will show up elsewhere as Apple isn’t saying.

Under the hood is a new 64 bit S4 processor which makes it almost twice as fast as the Series 3. You do notice it, but it wasn’t the dramatic jump that I observed when I went from the Series 2 to the Series 3. Still it’s a welcome jump as even the Series 3 could occasionally bog down. watchOS 5 which you can read about here is preinstalled and really leverages this platform. Along for the ride is the ability to detect falls. For some people like seniors, that’s a game changer as it will detect a fall, ask you if you’re okay or if you didn’t fall, and if you don’t respond quick enough phone emergency services and a contact or contacts that you define. However, when I tested it, I set it off by doing jumping jacks. And I suspect if I fall while cross country skiing which tend to be (mostly) painless falls, I may do the same thing. Thus if you have a more active lifestyle, you may want to think about whether you want to turn it on or not as it is off by default. In my case it is off but I am considering turning it back on. Finally, all Apple Watch models now

I picked this up from my local Telus store and set it up an hour later. As always, setting up an Apple Watch on the Telus network was dead easy and the total process to do that and move over everything from my previous Apple Watch was less than 45 minutes. Using this Apple Watch for the last few days has been interesting. Beyond the screen which is far easier for me to see, the only time I took a phone call on the Apple Watch the person on the other end of the phone noted that my voice was clear and easy to understand. One other thing I noted was that cellular performance was better with this Apple Watch as I was able to get notifications in my condo’s underground parking lot where getting any cellular connectivity wasn’t possible previously. Battery life is about the same as my previous Apple Watch which I have to admit is a bit of a let down as I hoped that Apple would have at least tried to move the needle on that that front.

So here’s the question that you want answered: Should you get an Apple Watch Series 4? Well, that depends on who you are:

  • If you own an original Apple Watch or a Series 0 – 2 Apple Watch, run to your local Apple Store and buy one. Do it now. You will thank me.
  • If you have a Series 3 Apple Watch, the screen is going to be the only reason why you upgrade. For those who fit in that category, they may have to think about it before they pull the trigger on the Series 4.
  • If you don’t have an Apple Watch and have been thinking of getting one, this is a no brainer as this is the Apple Watch that you have been waiting for.

Here in Canada the Apple Watch Series 4 with GPS starts at $519 CDN. The model that you see above which is GPS and Cellular starts at $649 and in either case they go up from there. Minus the lack of increase to the battery life, Apple has a winner with this version of the Apple Watch as they’ve managed to come out with a package that is well thought through and a coherent package.

HP and Go 4-D modernize the process used to create custom orthotics

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 21, 2018 by itnerd

HP Inc. today announced a strategic alliance with Go 4-D, a 3-D printed medical orthotics industry visionary, to modernize the process used to create custom orthotics.

As part of the alliance, Go 4-D will distribute FitStation powered by HP throughout the North American medical market. HP’s FitStation platform combines 3D foot scanning with dynamic gait analysis to enable both orthotic recommendations and 3D printed custom orthotics, prescribed from each person’s unique biomechanics. This will enable Go 4-D to manufacture comfortable, precise, and cost-effective custom orthotics using cutting-edge HP Jet Fusion 3D printing systems.

The North American foot orthotic insoles market is expected to grow to more than 1.7 billion U.S. dollars by 2022, according to a Statista report.

Despite advances in technology and innovative manufacturing methods, custom orthotic manufacturing has not changed much since the 1950’s. The preferred method still in use today by the majority of North American Podiatrists, Pedorthists and Chiropodists is vacuum-forming plastic over a positive of the foot. This decades-old subjective manufacturing method, still taught in colleges, takes no dynamic measurements into the design of the device and the materials used through subtractive manufacturing limit the functional capabilities.

The FitStation platform utilizes specialized hardware and software components to capture an individual’s unique 3D foot scan, dynamic gait and pressure data. This data is automatically analyzed to provide manufacturing instructions for 3D printed custom foot orthotics.

Go 4-D Leads the Custom Orthotic Industry into the Future

The Go 4-D leadership team has decades of experience in the custom orthotic industry and understands the pitfalls of manual, subjective, error-prone manufacturing that has dominated the industry for more than five decades. Go 4-D has eliminated these errors by combining the 3D and dynamic quantitative data from FitStation, along with the practitioner’s clinical expertise. The practitioner can now design a more precise orthotic that is 3D printed with the utmost accuracy, specificity and design features that has never been possible under traditional manufacturing methods.

Precise diagnostic customization is crucial to correct fitting orthotics. With biometric scanning, the foot specialist obtains exact information about the pressure and timing of each area of the foot and an exact 3D representation of the foot. This information allows for complete customization directly into the lattice shell of each orthotic. The custom 3D printed orthotic can provide segmental and directional stiffness and incorporate various additions and modifications directly into the printed product optimizing their ability to work and reduce a patient’s discomfort.

The new 3D printed custom orthotics that will be manufactured using 3D software from the Materialise Software Backbone and HP Jet Fusion 3D printing systems at Flowbuilt Manufacturing are based on the thousands of data points that precisely capture the shape and movement of each foot. The unique biomechanical lattice-design of the Go 4-D 3D printed custom orthotic allows the foot specialist to design with more precision than ever before. With 3D printing, custom orthotics offer flexibility and segmental control, exactly where the patient needs it.

 

Bragi files action against OnePlus for infringement

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 21, 2018 by itnerd

Nikolaj Hviid, CEO of Bragi GmbH, today announced that the Company has filed a complaint in the European Union alleging intentional infringement of Bragi registered trademarks, in addition to the ongoing litigation in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The American action alleges that Chinese phone and wireless earphone manufacturer OnePlus infringes Bragi’s THE DASH trademark.  The World’s First Hearable, incorporates the innovative Dash Charger to act as both a charger and battery supply.  The worldwide acceptance of the amazing technoogy of The Dash has been amplified by Bragi’s The Dash Pro and The Dash Pro tailored by Starkey Hearing Technologies. The complaint alleges that OnePlus’ Dash Charge infringes Bragi’s THE DASH trademark.

Both the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the European Union Intellectual Property Office have denied OnePlus’ attempts to register their own Dash Charge trademark, finding that its use would cause confusion among consumers in view of Bragi’s THE DASH trademark.  Mr. Hviid is adamant:

“This action is part of our continuing efforts to protect the Company’s valuable intellectual property.  We previously warned OnePlus to stop infringing our trademark, and regret that we have to bring this action to enforce our intellectual property rights. Their intentional infringement of our trademarks cannot and will not be tolerated. These actions by OnePlus threaten all companies who legitimately develop and obtain intellectual property”.