f.lux

F.lux is an app for Windows, Mac and Linux that does a simple but important task – it help’s your eyes. Many modern displays are bright but you don’t really notice how bright they are during the day partly as they’ve been designed to operate well in those brighter conditions. At night it’s a different story and the brightness can really strain your eye’s if your not careful.

The shot above is from my current Mac desktop. It’s fine during the day but the whites at night even with lights on are bright. This is where f.lux helps. It sits quietly in the background and will set the colour temperature of your screen to match your lights. It detects your location and will automatically switch to the new colour temperature at the right time.

At first it feels strange when you see the colour temperature changing but I find it really eases the strain on my eyes although I will admit it does look odd when you see the screenshot above of f.lux in aciton. You can easily switch to different temperatures to match your environment and I also set f.lux to dim gradually over an hour. Makes a big difference to the effectiveness in my opinion. Finally there is an option to temporarily disable f.lux to allow you to work on any graphics or photography too.

A handy free utility that isn’t new but will be a must install on any future computers I own.

New Lick of Paint

I’m super excited to welcome you to a new look DigitalOutbox. We’d grown a little tired of the old theme that has served us well since the middle of 2009 so it was time for an update. It was also time to drop that FriendFeed link – damn you Facebook!

So late last year we started throwing around some options and came up with this brand new look which is a slightly modified version of the Ares WordPress theme. As our work and real life often limits our time there may be a few unfinished parts of the website but over the next few days we’ll even them out. Who said you can’t polish a turd? If you do spot something that doesn’t work feel free to mail or leave a comment on this post, especially if you’ve any good ideas for a new logo!

All our content is still available but we’ve made a few tweaks that should make the site easier to use. Firstly the shownotes are no longer a separate file but integrated into each podcast post so our content is now fully searchable, indexed and connected with other posts. As before we offer mp3’s and mp4’s of each podcast and as we update each of the old podcasts you’ll see a shownote listing and also the start time for each of the topics on the show. Hopefully that will make it easier to find and listen to an older show. Finally the site is more graphical while being slightly snappier than before. Hopefully.

The website update is the first of many planned for DigitalOutbox over the coming year. We hope to post more content on the site including occasional reviews and product comparisons and the podcast itself is being tweaked too. More regular and focussed (shorter!) is the first change you’ll notice. Other changes include…well, you’ll just have to wait and see.

DigitalOutbox Episode 102

DigitalOutbox Episode 102
In this episode the team discuss Google+, Netflix launching in the UK, Virgin Doubling Up and CES

Playback
Listen via iTunes
Listen via M4A
Listen via MP3

Shownotes
0:57 – Google Search plus your World
– Big search engine update – personal results appear alongside web results in Google
– Basically, Google+ is everywhere
Twitter annoyed
– Google surprised – it was Twitter that pulled out of their search deal
4:19 – Netflix launches in the UK
– Netflix is available now and anyone can get a one month free trial: click-to-watch TV programmes and films streamed instantly over the Internet to your smart TV, game console, computer, tablet or mobile device. After the free trial, it costs just £5.99 or €6.99 per month
– PS3, Xbox, Wii, iOS and PC/Mac – limited Android and Smart TV support
– Quite a good range of content both American and British though nothing much from last year or two. Price seems not bad. Speed and quality good.
– Get recommendations via Facebook friends
6:32 – Roku to launch in the UK
– Launched by end of Jan
– The entry-level Roku LT will sell for £49.99 (about $77) and the top of the line Roku 2 XS, which comes with a motion-aware remote control for online gaming, will sell for £99.99. That’s a bit of a premium over U.S. pricing, where both models sell for $49 and $99, respectively. Sales will be online and through Amazon.co.uk only for the time being, but the company said that it is going to add additional retailers in the coming months.
7:50 – Zeebox and Sky tie up
– Sky has bought a 10% equity stake in Zeebox, in a deal reportedly worth upwards of $15m, which was founded by BBC iPlayer developer Anthony Rose and former EMI board director Ernesto Schmitt.
– Will appear in Sky’s apps this summer
12:25 – CES
– Lots of tablets
– Lot of Ultrabooks
– Lots of TV’s
– Kinect for Windows
– Anything catch the eye – Samsung Smart TV’s and the 55” OLED
– The rest is all meh…
14:03 – iTunes Match
– False start on Thursday 15th, but launches on Friday 16th
– £20.99 yearly subscription
– Overwhelmed at first
– Ian – 11,500 library – uploaded 11GB of music (1500 tracks), but matched the others. 6,500 were of better quality than I had already – downloading was fast
16:08 – Virgin Doubling Speeds
– Virgin Media is to invest more than £100m on a programme that will more than double the broadband speed for most of its 4m internetcustomers.
– Virgin Media, which has tested speeds of up to 1.5Gb a second in a trial of tech businesses at the so-called Silicon Roundabout in London, is to spend £110m on the 18-month upgrade programme.
– The company says that those who subscribe to its up to 10Mb service – 74% of its 4.1m internet subscribers – will see their speed double to 20Mb.
– Those on its up to 20Mb tier, 12% of the total subscriber base, will see their speed tripled to 60Mb.
– The 9% who take 30Mb broadband will rise to 60Mb.
– And the 5% who take services from 50Mb to 100Mb will rise to a speed of between 100Mb and 120Mb.
– The top-tier speed – at 120Mb it will be the quickest offered in the UK – will enable customers to download a high-definition movie in about five minutes.
– BT’s response – “It is no surprise to see that Virgin are following our lead by doubling speeds. We announced we would do this for our fibre products last autumn and so they are trying to catch up with us.” Cocks 🙂
18:03 – Microsoft taking pirates to court
– Microsoft has accused high-street retailer Comet of pirating 94,000 Windows Vista and Windows XP recovery CDs and selling them to consumers.
– The software giant announced this morning that it had filed a suit against Comet Group PLC, accusing the group of manufacturing counterfeit discs at a factory in Hampshire and selling them through its UK retail outlets. Comet has 248 stores across the UK. A spokesperson for Microsoft was unable to say where the suit has been filed.
– The allegedly counterfeit recovery discs were then sold to customers who had bought desktops and laptops running Windows, Microsoft said. Microsoft’s associate general counsel for worldwide anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting David Finn called Comet’s actions “unfair to customers” in this morning’s statement.
– “We expect better from retailers of Microsoft products – and our customers deserve better, too,” he said.
– In an official statement, Comet told The Reg it had sought legal advice from “leading counsel” to “support its view that the production of recovery discs did not infringe Microsoft’s intellectual property.”
21:41 – School ICT to be replaced by computer science programme
– The current information and communications technology (ICT) curriculum in England’s schools is a “mess” and must be radically revamped, the education secretary has announced.
– From September it will be replaced by a flexible curriculum in computer science and programming, designed with the help of universities and industry.
Michael Gove called the current ICT curriculum “demotivating and dull”.
He will begin a consultation next week on the new computing curriculum.
– “Instead of children bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word or Excel by bored teachers, we could have 11-year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations,” he said.
Computer games entrepreneur Ian Livingstone, an adviser to Mr Gove, envisages a new curriculum that could have 16-year-olds creating their own apps for smartphones and 18-year-olds able to write their own simple programming language.
27:25 – rFactor 2 and Skyrim
– rFactor 2 Beta released! Whoop. £29.99 – “Pre-purchase” basically, buy the game now and you get access to the Beta (planned to run for around 6 months.)
– initial impressions – still not at the bleeding edge of graphics… but the underlying simulation appears stronger than ever!
– Skyrim – addicted. Enought said. Too many hours.

Picks
Ian
F.Lux
– Makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.
– Mac only
– Free
Chris
3D Laser Mapping
– Next gen Street View?
Henry
Action Movie FX
– Free app for iOS that allows you to add effects to your movies
– Great for blowing up your colleagues

DigitalOutbox Episode 100

DigitalOutbox Episode 100
In this episode the team discuss New New Twitter, Spotify App’s, new iOS apps and make some predictions.

Playback
Listen via iTunes
Listen via M4A
Listen via MP3

Shownotes
2:32 – New New Twitter
– Redesign web and mobile clients
– As a company, create the simplest, fastest service in the world that will allow us to reach every person on the planet. Went through entire service. Mobile, web, got it down to four key elements.
– Home Timeline (browser-style “home” icon). First navigational element. Simple, clean, universe of tweet is now contained within the tweet on multiple platforms. Web site, iPhone, Android, HTML5 mobile, Tweetdeck, etc. Retweets, favorites, etc. all right there. Additionally, click on tweet, copy embed code, stick in the story. Everything follows it in. Wasn’t just a change in the interface. Not just adding a couple features to Twitter. Product engineers, infrastructure engineers focused on making it as fast as possible.
– Connect (@ symbol). We wanted to create the easiest way to reach others. Enter username. Or retweet. Where you’re being mentioned. Any conversations that you have. Everything that you’re doing socially on Twitter is in here.
Discover (# symbol). The newest navigation element. When people see a hashtag on a billboard, can click on the symbol, enter the tag they say, and relevant conversations will surface. Come to Twitter and want to see what’s happening in your world. More than 250 million tweets per day, we’ll surface whatever seems relevant to your world. Discover experience is personalized, so the more you engage, the more personalized they’ll become. Activities. What tweets are my friends following. Who are friends following.
Me (profile outline icon). We wanted to group everything that happens about you in one specific area. Favorites, media, tweets. Wanted to tell more compelling stories. Profile pages for individual users much richer. Media: pictures, videos, etc. Best place to represent yourself on the internet. Also for brands.
– Also providing bigger branding pages
– Twitter for iPhone and Android also available right now. Downloading app unlocks new version on web site. Roll out new version to 100% of users in the next few weeks.
– Tweetdeck also rewritten for Mac – native and no longer written in Adobe Air but missing many of the power features of Tweetdeck
8:04 – Spotify Apps
– Not a pivot, but Spotify is adding apps
– Spotify is letting third party developers expand on its functionality using its API and offering the results to users in a new HTML5 app directory, CEO Daniel Ek announced today in New York.
– Developers have already have already built apps with features like the ability to find and purchase concert tickets, a way to display a song’s lyrics on-screen through TuneWiki and deeper Last.fm integration for better music recommendations.
– Rolling Stone cofounder and publisher Jann Wenner took to the stage to sing Spotify’s praises, just before Ek unveiled the application that Rolling Stone built to work within Spotify. It takes publication-curated playlists to a new level with a rich HTML5 interface and more room for editorial content.
– The move attempts to rebrand Spotify as more of a platform, much as Facebook once did when it opened up the ability for developers to build applications on top of the social network. It’s a wise move for Spotify, which faces a rapidly-expanding user base and only a limited capacity to roll out new features itself. By opening up its platform to developers, Spotify allows for more rapid innovation without distracting itself from the core product.
– Other available apps include SongKick, The Guardian, Billboard and Soundrop, presumably with plenty more to come. Any developer can code apps for Spotify but they do have to be approved by the company before appearing in the directory.
– Loving this – great playlists – really helps with discovery
– Brought me back to Spotify…but don’t know for how long
11:39 – Super Connected Cities coming to the UK
– The government will take £100m from the £5bn national infrastructure investment pot over the course of this Parliament in a move to speed up broadband networks in selected urban areas. Rural areas, meanwhile, have been passed over. George Osborne announced the extra cash that the likes of BT and Virgin Media will be able to bid for in his autumn statement today.
– “The government will invest £100m to create up to 10 ‘super-connected cities’ across the UK, with 80-100 megabits per second broadband and city-wide high-speed mobile connectivity,” said the government in its National Infrastructure Programme report, which was published immediately after the chancellor finished his mini budget speech in the Commons today.
– “There will be a particular focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and strategic employment zones to support economic growth. Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and London will all receive support from this fund, and a UK-wide competition will decide up to six further cities that will also receive funding.”
– That investment comes on top of the £530m Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds already dished out by the government to local authorities and Scotland.
Over the government’s next fiscal year (2012-2013), £20m will be allocated to help fun “super-connected cities”. In 2013/14 a further £60m will be spent, then in 2014/15 the final £20m left in that pot will be used.
– But, surprisingly, no extra cash was set aside by Osborne today for rural areas that are crying out for investment in broadband.
14:58 – Ofcom 2012/2013 Plans
– The auctioning off of the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrums for 4G internet is coming as soon as the British FCC has booted off the remaining TV services that still use ’em.
– It’s will open an online complaints site (for when the Saturday evening show of your choice offends you), crack down on slow broadband speeds and keep the airways clear for the Olympic Games.
19:12 – Carrier IQ
– Carrier IQ software secretly installed on millions of mobile phones reports most everything a user does on a phone. Numbers called, text messages, websites visited, passwords – everything. Shudder.
– Android only…..so everyone thought
– On Blackberry and iOS too
– But then a lot of carriers said it wasn’t installed – certainly not in the UK
23:52 – Jawbone UP
– Released recently but having charging and bricking issues
– Jawbone is offering consumers who have problems a full refund, no questions asked, even if they choose to keep their $99 device. Or they can ask for a new device. Consumers can request their refund starting Dec. 9 here. People who received an UP as a gift will also be able to participate in the refund. As an alternative to the refund, Jawbone is also offering users credit toward a purchase of another Jawbone product.
– The company said it will resume taking orders once the issues have been fixed. And it will continue to push out software updates.
– Finally, Fitbit can be bought in the UK – £79.99 – from end of December
26:33 – Netherlands Anti-Piracy Group caught Pirating
– Anti-piracy group BREIN is caught up in a huge copyright scandal in the Netherlands. A musician who composed a track for use at a local film festival later found it being used without permission in an anti-piracy campaign. He is now claiming at least a million euros for the unauthorized distribution of his work on DVDs. To make matters even worse, a board member of a royalty collection agency offered to help the composer to recoup the money, but only if he received 33% of the loot.
29:53 – RIM take a charge
– announced it will book a $485 million write down on its large PlayBook tablet inventory in the company’s fiscal third quarter.
– The struggling Canadian device maker said it shipped around 150,000 PlayBooks to its channel partners during Q3, but sell-through to end users over the same period was higher than that amount, indicating retailers had leftover inventory. By comparison RIM shipped 200,000 tablets during its fiscal second quarter, and half a million in Q1 when the PlayBook first went on sale.
– In a statement RIM said it will require “an increase in promotional activity” to drive sales to end users, blaming weak demand on the competitive tablet market and the delay in the release of its PlayBook OS 2.0 software update.
31:52 – Web OS is Open Sourced
– HP to open source Web OS
– Say’s that new HP hardware will use Web OS
– Says they will make updates to it
– Reality is it’s dead? Android is the open source winner in the mobile and tablet space – can’t see it ever getting traction
33:08 – Facebook buys Gowalla
– Talent buy or killing a rival?
– Won’t buy app or data
– Service will wind down in January – plan to provide a way of exporting data
35:43 – Path v2
– For iOS and Android
– Private social network – quite lovely – so many novel design features
38:15 – Flipboard
– Really well done implementation of the iPad app
39:41 – iPlayer Update
– Now for iPhone, iPod Touch
– Also supports Airplay
– Streaming over 3G
– The Android version of the app remains restricted to wi-fi connections for the time being, but the BBC said a web version of the software would support 3G streams soon.
– The BBC said it had worked closely with network operators, but analysts fear it could put their systems under strain.
40:20 – Micorsoft release iOS Apps
– Skydrive – simple cloud app
– Kinectimals – good version of Xbox game
41:44 – GTA III for iOS and Android
– High end devices only
– Dec 15th – $4.99
– iOS: iPad 1 and 2, iPhone 4 and 4S, iPod touch 4th Generation
Android Phones: HTC Rezound, LG Optimus 2x, Motorola Atrix 4G, Motorola Droid X2, Motorola Photon 4G, Samsung Galaxy R, T-Mobile G2x
Android Tablets: Acer Iconia, Asus Eee Pad Transformer, Dell Streak 7, LG Optimus Pad, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 and 10.1, Sony Tablet S, Toshiba Thrive
– Virtual controls will be awkward?
42:44 – Skyrim
– Don’t look too close, and it’s absolutely beautiful – and soooo atmospheric.
– Personally find it quite hard but a fantastic time-sink.
– Only scratched the outer surface but impressed.
– Paul has got totally consumed by this game – which is extremely unlike him.
44:06 – XBox Dash Update
– New look – Metro UI
– New features – cloud storage of profile, Windows Phone app, iOS app – big surprise, voice search via connect, beacon
– Better?
– BBC not available until 2012, still not sure what will actually appear

Predictions
Ian
– Best Tech – iMac, Airport Extreme, Fitbit, Halo Reach
– Worst Tech – PS3
– 2012 Predictions
– iPad 3 – retina display iPad – will be buying
– See the new Xbox
– New Wii a flop compared to previous Nintendo consoles
– Apple growth slows – reaching a saturation point on iOS
Chris
– Best Tech – iPad 2 is a great bit of kit that has seeped into my daily routines. Love my Blue Yeti Pro mic.
– Worst Tech – Not so much worst tech – but annoyance that some of the biggest moves have been “US Only” this year. Kindle Fire is now rumoured for UK in new year… but still no announcements on content deals. iCloud ahead of the curve of peoples internet connections. No tablets taking it to Apple yet. PS hate the magic mouse. I know it’s not a “this year” thing! But I detest it that much, this one spans the ages.
– 2012 Predictions
– I will lose some of my life to rFactor 2,Looking forward to Mass Effect 3 and surely new Ghost Recon will be out! PS3/XBOX rumours will ramp up – if one gets announced, the other will be hot on the tails. Believe that they want current boxes to last till 2013 though. Surely iPlayer WILL make it to XBOX this year!!!
– Siri to iPad 3. Apple need some bigger (less incremental) products to herald the “post Jobs” era. Return of the “One more thing”. A lot of Bull Crap will be spread about iPad 3 and iPhone 5 that never materialises.
– Haven’t seen the “next big thing” that I see killing it next year… guess that’s the state of the economy… So an evolution year likely. Tweaks rather than revolution.
Henry
– Best Tech – iPad 2, trello.com
– Worst Tech – NFC – not so much bad tech as just not delivering on promise.
– 2012 Predictions
– Samsung to become #1 mobile manufacturer by market share
– Apple will not release a TV

DigitalOutbox Episode 99

DigitalOutbox Episode 99
In this episode the team say Goodbye to Flash Mobile and Best Buy UK and hello to a little bit of Fenton.

Playback
Listen via iTunes
Listen via M4A
Listen via MP3

Shownotes
2:31 – Best Buy UK No More
– In a joint venture with CPW launched last year, Best Buy opened 11 giant outlets in the UK, employing some 1,100 staff, all of which will be shuttered.
– The battered retail sector forced Best Buy to freeze store expansion plans as losses for the joint venture tripled in the last full financial year. The JV is expected to be £35m in the red when half-year figures are released this week.
– “After conducting a thorough strategic review of our operations, we believe that our capital investment and ‘connectivity’ strategy should be prioritised within our Carphone Warehouse stores as they offer a higher and proven rate of return,” said Andrew Harrison, CEO of Best Buy Europe.
– Comet sold for £2 and lots of conditions around debt and pensions – a real struggle for electrical retailers right now
5:47 – Google + Brands
– Anyone can create a page
– Not necessary to authorise – easy to create duplicates – I did
– Can verify by adding code to your site and/or the Google+ button
– No shared admin but allegedly coming soon
– Feels pretty rushed – in fact it’s a mess
12:01 – Adobe kills development on Flash Mobile
– After many promises and many a key bullet point for Android devices, Adobe have announced that they will no longer produce/focus on Flash for Mobile browsers
– Steve Jobs wins? I think we all do – focus is on HTML5 and hopefully puts to an end the battery and CPU hog that is Flash on mobiles
– Most have said that mobile is the future of t’internet – does this mean an exit from Flash on the desktop too? 2-3 years left?
– Silverlight looks to be on the way out too – next release will be last release worked on by MS
16:04 – COD Modern Warfare 3 Sales Record
– Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has set a new record for the biggest ever entertainment launch. The game’s publisher, Activision Blizzard, has claimed that in the US and UK alone, the military shooter sold over 6.5m units within 24 hours of its launch on Tuesday, raising $400m in sales revenues.
– The figures are based on data from Charttrack as well as customer sell-through information. It is a third consecutive sales record for the Call of Duty series. 2009’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 sold 4.7m copies in 24 hours earning $310m in revenue, while last year’s Call of Duty: Black Op hit 5.6m copies in its first day.
18:22 – 4G trial coming to London
– London will begin to switch on 4G high-speed mobile internet with the launch of the first large-scale public trial in Britain.
– Initiated by O2, Britain’s second largest operator with 22 million customers, the trial involves more than 25 masts covering 15 square miles in Canary Wharf, Soho, Westminster, South Bank and King’s Cross. It will run for nine months, and the equipment installed will eventually become part of O2’s first commercial 4G network.
– The technology is 10 times faster at navigating the internet than the current 3G networks, which often frustrate smartphone users because they are significantly slower than the average home broadbandconnection. The 25 masts in London will be able to carry more data than O2’s entire national 3G network.
– Britain’s 4G or long-term evolution (LTE) upgrade, expected to begin in earnest in 2013 after a much delayed spectrum auction, will make mobile networks powerful enough to handle video calls, high definition TV and live multi-player gaming. About 1,000 users will be invited to join the London trial, including staff at John Lewis department stores, O2 customers and selected small businesses.
21:00 – Virtual rush hour slows down broadband
– There is a virtual rush hour after the real one, and it slows down people who want to get things done there, too.
– New research has found that broadband download speeds in the UK drop by an average of 35% during the evening as millions of technology users go online and find themselves competing for the same bandwidth on phone lines in their area.
– The study by uSwitch.com analysed data from 2m broadband speed tests across Britain, and revealed a huge fluctuation in surfing speeds during peak and off-peak times.
– Those who navigate the web during the morning hours of 2am and 3am get the quickest download times, with a fastest average download speed of 9.6Mbps, analysts found.
– By contrast those who surf the web between 7pm and 9pm – the peak period when most people get home and go online – face the slowest times, with average speeds dropping by a third to 6.2Mbps.
23:11 – While in America
– Kindle Fire launches – ok to good reviews, some disappointed with software but that can be fixed
– iTunes match launches – generally positive, initially overwhelmed
– Google Music

Picks
Ian
Google Search for iPad
– Brings Chrome to iPad – almost
– Also enjoying Engadget Distro and Editions from AOL
Chris
Tiny Tower,Groove,W.E.L.D.E.R, Bought The Poke app as it brings much enjoyment through twitter…