Wednesday, September 11, 2019

iPhone 11

Apple's latest range of iPhones were announced yesterday. They're faster, more power efficient, with brighter, wider colour range screens... for full specs and prices you can visit your region's Apple website. But really, it's all about the camera(s).

Here's some snippets from Digital Photography Review:

"All three devices offer a standard 12MP camera and a second 12MP ultra wide camera with a 13mm equivalent F2.4 5-element lens, which provides a 120 degree field of view. A new feature uses the ultra-wide camera to show you what's beyond the frame when using the main camera, helping you decide whether to switch to the wider field of view."

"Portrait mode is now available with the wider 26mm field of view, since a depth map can be generated using the main and ultra-wide cameras, and portrait relighting brings a new 'High-Key Light Mono' for high contrast black-and-white portraits that mimic studio lighting."

"The 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max continue to offer the telephoto camera of previous generations. This is also a 12MP sensor paired with a faster F2.0 lens with optical image stabilisation."

"'Night mode' turns on automatically in dim conditions and uses 'adaptive bracketing' to capture and fuse multiple exposures. A new 'Deep Fusion' mode, promised later in the year, captures up to 9 frames and fuses them into a higher resolution 24MP image. Four short and four secondary frames are constantly buffered to ensure short shutter lag, and one long exposure is taken after the shutter press. These are then intelligently combined to produce a blur and ghosting-free high resolution image."

"The front facing 'TrueDepth' camera on all three iPhones have been upgraded, now with a 12MP sensor. It takes 7MP selfies in portrait orientation, but automatically switches to a wider field of view with 12MP capture when you rotate the phone to landscape orientation. Also new is the ability to record slow-motion selfie video clips at up to 120 fps."

I'll conclude with a pertinent comment from LoSPt1

"It's really easy to hate on iPhone 11 Pro simply because of how expensive it is, but if you solely look at the camera technologies used on this phone, you start to realise why compact digital cameras are falling behind phones in terms of sales. No compact cameras are capable of:

— Always on, zero shutter lag HDR with local pixel aligning that introduces far less ghosting artefacts than the traditional image stacking method
— Handheld pixel shift HDR shots
— Handheld long exposure HDR shots (Night Mode)
— 4K 60 HDR video with real time effects being shown in the viewfinder
— Audio zoom during video recording
— Portrait mode with very easy-to-use pseudo aperture control

The iPhone 11 Pro also comes with the best OLED viewfinder of any cameras in the same price range, dual pixel autofocus, and class-leading performance as a mobile phone."

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII Review

Digital Photography Review has published a comprehensive review of Sony's flagship compact zoom. Snippets follow:

Key Specifications
— 20MP 1"-type stacked-CMOS sensor with phase detection
— 24-200mm equivalent F2.8-4.5 zoom
— 20 fps continuous shooting with autofocus/auto-exposure
— Seven frame, 90 fps 'single burst' mode
— Retractable 2.36M-dot EVF
— 3" touchscreen LCD (flips up 180°, down 90°)
— Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC


The RX100 VII is the most capable pocket camera ever made, both in terms of video and stills. It doesn't seem to offer much over the RX100 VI [but] a vastly improved AF implementation and general usability improvements make the VII easier to operate and enjoyable to use.

The RX100 VII not only has the easiest-to-use autofocus implementation of any compact, it also has the most reliable. Real-time Tracking AF does a great job of sticking to whatever you point the camera at. The silent, fully electronic shutter mode used in bursts introduces little to no rolling shutter. But there's no zooming while AF is engaged. Image quality is excellent in good light, files display pleasing colour and good detail capture.

The RX100 VII takes the speed and AF accuracy/usability of a high-end sports camera and puts it in a body that not only offers an incredibly versatile zoom range, but also fits in your pocket. For parents or travel photographers seeking a camera that will 'just get the shot,' regardless of the distance or movement of the subject, this is a fantastic choice.

Price: £1200

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Pamu Slide Bluetooth Earphones

The Pamu Slide is Pamu's third Indiegogo offering. I went for the 'basic' version, which cost me £45 including carriage. The finished item arrived a week ago (click here for unboxing images), and first impressions are very good.

I am not a lover of earphones, my travelling headphones of choice are the Bose Quietcomfort 35s, but having worn the Pamu Slides for a few 2-3 hour sessions, they are very comfortable, and sit securely in my ears (there is a wide range of alternative size 'buds' provided).

The earphones have touch controls for controlling volume, music playback control as well as activating Siri/Google Assistant. They are IPX6 certified, so should survive sweat and light rain.

The charging case's lid slides back to reveal the storing/charging area. The earphones are held in the correct place by magnets. When removed the earphones automatically pair with one another, and then connect to the device you have paired them with.

The sound is clear and balanced with controlled bass and the stereo imaging is impressive, significantly better than Apple's standard wired earbuds. Unlike many bluetooth earbuds, they are capable of decent volume levels without distorting. I wore the Pamu Slides on a tube trip to London and they were the most comfortable buds I have ever worn. Compared to my Bose headphones, the only thing I really missed was the active noise cancelling, especially when a hen night troupe boarded half-way through the journey.

I don't usually wear headphones to the gym, but they remained comfortable and secure during a 50 minute cardio workout, including running, rowing and cycling. The Bluetooth connection did not drop or glitch.

I haven't had the chance to test the battery life, but current reviews put them at around 9 hours on a single charge, nearly double that of Apple's Airpods. The case supports fast charging of the earphones, 5 minutes in the case provides another hour of playback.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Protein from air

World Economic Forum reports: [edited]

Finnish company, Solar Foods, is planning to bring to market a new protein powder, Solein, made out of CO₂, water and electricity. It's a high-protein, flour-like ingredient that contains 50 percent protein, 5–10 percent fat, and 20–25 percent carbs. It looks and tastes like wheat flour, and could become an ingredient in a wide variety of food products after its launch in 2021.

Solar Foods makes Solein by extracting CO₂ from air using carbon-capture technology, and then combines it with water, nutrients and vitamins, using solar energy to promote a natural fermentation process similar to the one that produces yeast and lactic acid bacteria.

Solein production is not dependent on arable land, rain, or favourable weather. The company is working with the European Space Agency to develop foods for off-planet production and consumption (the idea for Solein began at NASA).

Image source: unsplash-logoKristiana Pinne


Thursday, August 08, 2019

Equation provides solution to lens imperfections

gizmodo reports: [edited]

It’s a problem that plagues even the priciest of lenses, manufactured to the most exacting specifications: the centre of the frame might be razor-sharp, but the corners and edges always look a little soft.

On paper, a curved glass lens should be able to redirect all the rays of light passing through it onto a single target known as its focal point. But in the real world, it just doesn’t work that way. Differences in refraction across the lens, as well as imperfections in its shape and materials, all contribute to some of those light rays, especially those entering the lens near its outer edges, missing the target. It’s a phenomenon known as spherical aberration, and it’s a problem that even Issac Newton and Greek mathematician Diocles couldn’t crack.

But that’s all going to change thanks to Rafael G. González-Acuña, a doctoral student at Mexico’s Tecnológico de Monterrey. After months of work, he came up with an equation that provides an analytical solution for counteracting spherical aberration, which had been previously formulated back in 1949 as the Wasserman-Wolf problem.

For lens makers, it can provide an exact blueprint for designing a lens that completely eliminates any spherical aberration. It doesn’t matter the size of the lens, the material it’s made from, or what it will be used for, this equation will spit out the exact numbers needed to design it to be optically perfect.

It promises to help improve scientific imaging as well in devices like telescopes and microscopes. But even the average consumer will benefit from González-Acuña’s work. It will allow companies to manufacture simpler lenses with fewer elements which cost considerably less while offering improved image quality in everything from smartphones to professional cameras.

Thanks to Brook for the link.

Image courtesy of  unsplash-logoDustin Lee

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Mighty Vibe

Mighty Audio reports: [edited]

Mighty Vibe allows you to take your Spotify music offline, without a phone.

— Storage Capacity: 1,000+ tracks (8GB)
— Battery Capacity: 5+ hours of listening time
— Buttons: Power, shuffle, fwd/back, volume, playlist selector
— Water-resistant
— Connectivity: Bluetooth for playback, WiFi for syncing
— Compatible With: Bluetooth and wired headphones and speakers
— Content Supported: Playlists and podcasts
— Playback Requirements: Spotify Premium account
— App Support: iOS 9 and above, Android 6.0 and above
— Dimensions: 3.8cm x 3.8cm x 1.78cm
— Weight: 20g

Price: £80

Thanks to Brook for the heads-up.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

London - Somerset - London, 27 & 28-07-19

A Love Supreme - John Coltrane
A Love Supreme, Pt. 1: Acknowledgement
A Love Supreme, Pt. 2: Resolution
A Love Supreme, Pt. 3: Pursuance
A Love Supreme, Pt. 4: Psalm

Forever Changes - Love
Alone Again Or [*]
A House Is Not A Motel
The Daily Planet
Old Man
The Red Telephone
Maybe The People Would Be The Times Or Between Clark And Hilldale
Live And Let Live
The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This
Bummer In The Summer
You Set The Scene

The Velvet Underground & Nico - The Velvet Underground
Sunday Morning (mono)
I'm Waiting For The Man (mono)
Femme Fatale (mono)
Venus In Furs (mono)
Run Run Run (mono)
All Tomorrow's Parties (mono)
Heroin (mono)
There She Goes Again (mono)
I'll Be Your Mirror (mono)
The Black Angel's Death Song (mono)
European Son (mono)
All Tomorrow's Parties (Single Version) (mono)
I'll Be Your Mirror (Single Version) (mono)
Sunday Morning (Single Version) (mono)
Femme Fatale (Single Version) (mono)

Odessey and Oracle [sic] - The Zombies
Care Of Cell 44
A Rose For Emily
Maybe After He's Gone
Beechwood Park
Brief Candles
Hung Up On A Dream
I Want Her She Wants Me
This Will Be Our Year [Mono]
Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914)
Friends Of Mine
Time Of The Season

Saint Dominic's Preview - Van Morrison
Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile)
I Will Be There
Listen To The Lion
Saint Dominic's Preview
Redwood Tree
Almost Independence Day

Court and Spark - Joni Mitchell
Court And Spark
Help Me
Free Man In Paris
People's Parties
Same Situation
Car On A Hill
Down To You
Just Like This Train
Raised On Robbery
Trouble Child

A Night at the Opera - Queen
Death On Two Legs [2011 Remaster]
Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon [2011 Remaster]
I'm In Love With My Car [2011 Remaster]
You're My Best Friend [2011 Remaster]
'39 [2011 Remaster]
Sweet Lady [2011 Remaster]
Seaside Rendezvous [2011 Remaster]
The Prophet's Song [2011 Remaster]
Love Of My Life [2011 Remaster]
Good Company [2011 Remaster]
Bohemian Rhapsody [2011 Remaster]
God Save The Queen [2011 Remaster]

The Royal Scam - Steely Dan
Kid Charlemagne
The Caves of Altamira
Don't Take me Alive
Sign in Stranger
The Fez
Green Earrings
Haitian Divorce
Everything You Did
The Royal Scam

Street Legal - Bob Dylan
Changing Of The Guards
New Pony
No Time To Think
Baby, Stop Crying
Is Your Love In Vain?
Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power)
True Love Tends To Forget
We Better Talk This Over
Where Are You Tonight (Journey Through Dark Heat)

Monday, July 08, 2019

BeauEr 3X Caravan

Beauer UK reports: [edited]

The BeauEr 3X is a small, expandable caravan that is easy to tow and quick to unfold.

When expanded the 3 modules reveal a kitchen with a refrigerator, a gas hob, oven, sink, work surface, shelves, cupboards and drawers. The bathroom consists of a shower, cassette toilet and a sink. The bedroom has a standard double bed measuring 140x190cm.

When collapsed the width is 1.9m.

Price: from £21,000

Thursday, July 04, 2019

OVEVO Q65 Bluetooth Earbuds - First Impressions

On the recommendation of my eldest son, I ordered a pair of these budget earphones. They cost £32 including postage from Amazon, although you can get them for less at geekbuying.

Two weeks later they arrived. The packaging is smart and the (tiny) instruction leaflet is adequate (I made a PDF of it, downloadable here).

Getting them out of the charging case is a fiddly experience, but once removed they automatically pair with one another. You then connect them to a Bluetooth device in the usual way.

The standard buds are a good fit for my ears, and they come with a small and large set as well. The earbuds are unobtrusive and as comfortable as any others I've used, although I do prefer over-ear headphones. The sound quality is at least as good as the standard Apple wired earphones, and the volume can go loud enough to compete with most environments.

For more information/images, click here, although I would take the battery life/water resistance claims with a large pinch of salt.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

FUELL Fluid 1 Electric Bike

Gadget Define reports: [edited]

Harley-Davidson’s former engineer Erik Buell’s company Fuell has introduced two premium electric bikes, Fluid 1 and Fluid 1s.

The Fluid 1 has a 250W hub-mounted motor (32kph, there is an EU-legal version limited to 25kmh), the Fluid 1s has a 500W motor (45kmh). Both bikes are available in two frame sizes and a range of colour options and accessories. Both models come with two 500Wh lithium batteries.

On a single charge both bikes give up to 200km of riding range. The bike also comes with a 4 Amp Charger which takes the batteries to 80% in 2.5 hrs and 100% in 5.

Both bikes sport carbon belt drive, Shimano Alfine 8-speed internal hub gears, front suspension and hydraulic disk brakes. There is an LCD panel which can be paired with your smartphone.

Starting price: $2,699

For more information, click here

Sony Walkman turns 40

What Hi-Fi reports: [edited]

Portable radios filled pockets in the 1950s, but when the first Sony Walkman personal stereo cassette player, the TPS-L2, went on sale for $150 on 1 July 1979, it would change the way we listened to music.

The Walkman was a modified version of its Pressman mono cassette recorder, which Sony had launched in 1978 and marketed to reporters. Sony chairman, Akio Morita, wanted a device to listen to opera on his trans-Pacific flights, so Sony engineer Nobutoshi Kihara removed the record function and speaker and replaced it with a stereo amplifier.

The TPS-L2 launched as the 'Soundabout' in America, the 'Stowaway' in the UK and 'Freestyle' in Australia and Sweden. But in Japan it was 'Walkman', and that’s the name that stuck.

Sony stopped selling the Walkman in 2010, the same year they stopped selling floppy discs, having sold 200,020,000 Walkman cassette players, and 400 million Walkmans of all variations.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


designboom reports: [edited]

Designers Wout Kommer & Jan Portheine have created Kartent, a 100% recyclable cardboard tent.

The Kartent is made of un-coated cardboard. According to their website a Kartent ‘will stay dry with some showers for sure’ and ‘will perform similarly under heavy conditions as a regular tent would‘.

Kartent partners with festivals to pre-assemble the tents meaning you don’t need to carry the extra weight. At the end of the festival Kartent takes the waste to a local recycling facility.

Price: €54.95 for 2 adult version.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Cowboy Electric Bicycle

The Verge reports: [edited]

Cowboy is a Belgian startup that currently employs 40 people. The company has recently raised €10 million in funding to leave home. The 2019 Cowboy will enter mass production in Poland and begin shipping to Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, and France in July, with more countries to come.

The Cowboy I’ve been testing is a late-model prototype, probably 95 percent complete.

Riding the Cowboy is very similar to riding an Ampler Curt. Both bikes put the rider in a sporty position, offer a single belt-driven gear and near silent 250W rear-hub motor. Both are lightweight for e-bikes, the Cowboy is a bit heavier at 16.1kg. The Cowboy, however, provides noticeably more power from a standstill, helping you get started easier when under load or on an incline.

In fact, I find the torque sensor on the Cowboy to be perfectly tuned to my aggressive riding style. Push lightly on the pedal and the motor provides a light touch without feeling underpowered. Push harder and the bike responds with confidence. The pedal assist never felt too jerky or too weak, even on my prototype test bike.

Cowboy says it uses the latest Samsung 21700 lithium ion battery cells, instead of traditional 18650 cells, allowing them to claim a 70km range from a compact 360Wh battery.

The battery charges in 3 hours off a charging brick of Cowboy design. The bike can be switched from 25km/h (the EU limit) to 30km/h after you swipe away a disclaimer acknowledging your hooliganism. Belt drive is clean and maintenance free. Hydraulic brakes stop the bike with confidence.

Price: €1,990.

Monday, June 03, 2019

London-Marlborough-London, 01-06-19

Bitter Little Pill - Alanis Morissette
All I Really Want
You Oughta Know
Hand In My Pocket
Right Through You
You Learn
Head Over Feet
Mary Jane
Not The Doctor
Wake Up

Lady Soul - Aretha Franklin
Chain Of Fools
Money Won't Change You
People Get Ready
Niki Hoeky
(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone
Good To Me As I Am To You
Come Back Baby
Ain't No Way

Odelay - Beck
Devil's Haircut
Lord Only Knows
The New Pollution
Where It's At
High 5 (Rock The Catskills)

Parallel Lines - Blondie
Hanging On The Telephone
One Way Or Another
Fade Away (And Radiate)
Pretty Baby
I Know But I Don't Know
Will Anything Happen
Sunday Girl
Heart Of Glass
I'm Gonna Love You Too
Just Go Away

Highway 61 Revisited - Bob Dylan
Like A Rolling Stone
Tombstone Blues
It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry
From A Buick 6

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Fruit Picking Robot

The Guardian reports: [edited]

Quivering and hesitant, like a spoon-wielding toddler trying to eat soup without spilling it, the world’s first raspberry-picking robot is attempting to harvest one of the fruits. After sizing it up for an age, the robot plucks the fruit with its gripping arm and gingerly deposits it into a waiting punnet.

Each robot will eventually be able to pick more than 25,000 raspberries a day, outpacing human workers who manage about 15,000 in an eight-hour shift, according to Fieldwork Robotics, a spinout from the University of Plymouth.

The robot has been developed in partnership with Hall Hunter, one of Britain’s main berry growers which supplies Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. Standing at 1.8 metres tall, the wheeled machine with its robotic arm has begun field trials in a greenhouse at a Hall Hunter farm near Chichester in West Sussex.

Guided by sensors and 3D cameras, its gripper zooms in on ripe fruit using machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence. When operating at full tilt, its developers say the robot’s gripper picks a raspberry in 10 seconds or less and drops it in a tray where the fruit gets sorted by maturity, before being moved into punnets, ready to be transported to supermarkets.