Thursday, December 26, 2013

Look Out for Ontario Electronic Recycling Fees this Boxing Week

Photo Credit: Walmart Canada

As the waste remains presents and cards are being cleaned off the floor, Christmas of 2013 has close to a wrap. Starting on December 26th, a large number of people will be putting their newfound cash and/or gift cards to use at retail stores as well as online portals. Boxing Day or Week has become a shopping tradition where customers indulge themselves in the single or multiple items we have otherwise deprived ourselves from up to this point. With little doubt, a great deal of shopping will occur in the electronics section.

In Ontario, like several other provinces in Canada, collect an electronic recycling fee on a wide-range of technology. Check-out may be the first time where some of us will become familiar with the additional cost added to our choice electronic. Intended to cover the cost of an electronic device's end-of-use or disposal and run by the Ontario Electronic stewardship, it is charged on top of what we pay for a new product fitting into the taxing criteria.

In Ontario, the electronic recycling fees currently spans from 5 cents for a cell phone or pager up to $173.75 for a floor-based photocopier or printer machine. For customers this Boxing Week, the televisions and computer monitors could prove to be the most highest purchased item with the heaviest recycling fees. For televisions up to 29 inches in screen size, the additional cost this holiday season is $12.25. Planning to buy a big screen? The Ontario electronic recycling fee skyrockets to more than triple cost of a smaller set. When over 29 inches in size, the Ontario electronic recycling fee runs $39.50. If looking for a medium-sized television around 27 to 32 inches, the electronic recycling fee cost could be something to consider. It might cause you to reconsider the net benefit of a few inches of screen size.

Since instituted in Ontario in mid-2009, electronic recycling fee has gone through five major adjustments. When the fee was for introduced, desktop computers received the highest fee amount at $13.44. Portable and home entertainment devices such as MP3 players, photo frames and digital cameras were originally exempted. With the latest fee structure introduced this May, a large selection of everyday electronics is now subject to an electronic recycling fee. Along with laptop or netbooks, the portable computer fee also encapsulates the popular tablet devices. The following is the fee structures created through the lifetime of the Ontario electronic recycling fee:

Ontario Electronic Recycling Fees Since Program's Inception

Item April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010 April 1, 2010 to July 31, 2011 August 1, 2011 to December 31, 2012 January 1, 2013 to April 30, 2013 May 1, 2013 to current

Cell Phones or Pager NA 0.10 0.01 0.10 0.05

Video, Audio or Image Device

Portable NA 0.40 0.10 0.15 0.75
Home Sized NA 2.75 1.45 5.15 7.10
Home Theatre in a Box NA 9.95 7.80 7.80 7.10
Aftermarket Vehicle Equipment NA 2.85 1.55 3.00 4.00

Television or Monitor

Computer Monitor 12.03 12.25 11.00 12.25 12.25
Under 18” 10.07 12.25 11.00 12.25 12.25
18” to 29” 10.07 12.25 11.00 12.25 12.25
29” to 45” 10.07 26.25 25.00 27.60 39.50
Over 45” 10.07 26.25 25.00 27.60 39.50
All-in-One Computer* 13.44 12.25 11.00 12.25 12.25


Desktop 13.44 7.80 3.50 3.40 3.00
Portable 2.14 2.75 0.70 2.30 1.50

Mouse 0.32 0.40 0.05 0.30 0.75
Keyboard 0.32 0.40 0.05 0.30 0.75
Hard Drive 0.32 0.40 0.05 0.30 0.75
Optical Drive 0.32 0.40 0.05 0.30 0.75
Modem NA 0.40 0.05 0.30 0.75

Telephone or Answering Machine NA 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.50


Desktop Printer or Copier 5.05 5.40 5.40 11.45 10.35
Floor Printer Device 5.05 32.50 32.50 341.20 173.75
Floor Copier 5.05 32.50 32.50 341.20 173.75

* All-in-one units were not specifically mentioned on the initial fee structure. I made an assumption it is considered a desktop computer.

While printing equipment showed some massive increases, the cost for television sets have also showed a steady peak upwards. Televisions over 29 inches in size are being levied with an electronic recycling fee almost four times greater today than when the program in imposed in 2009. While most fees have risen from the initial 2009 setup, the Ontario electronic recycling fee has dropped considerably for desktop computers and even for portable computers.

Important Exemptions

Not all electronics are subjected to electronic recycling fees. Among the major products not subjected to electronic recycling fees is video game consoles, Bluetooth headsets, eReaders, memory cards and a majority of computer components are not assessed fees at this time. It's also interesting that while a standard computer hard drive is subject to a fee, solid state storage devices are not. A full list of electronic products is provided on the Ontario Electronic Stewardship website.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hammacher Schlemmer Showcase: The No Glasses Required 3D Tablet

Photo source: Hammacher Schlemmer 

It searching for the ideal gift for the technology lover, a computer tablet could have been a great gift idea in previous years. However, during this 2013 holiday season, its likely a tablet has already found its way into the hands of a loved one. The constant advancement of technology could present a realistic prospect that the gift receiver may appreciate a modern upgrade. For 2013, the leading Apple iPad, Microsoft Surface and Samsung devices have kept setting a rapid pace for technology evolution offering a variety of flashy enhancements such as fingerprint recognition and simple animation studios. For fans of 3D, retailer Hammacher Schlemmer has a tablet to fulfil those seeking the extra-ordinary viewing experience.

Being sold as the "No Glasses 3D Tablet", this device produces a three-dimensional perspective without the need for special eyewear traditionally associated with 3D. Operating with an eight-inch touchscreen, the No Glasses 3D Tablet operates with a parallax barrier (similar to the display provided on the Nintendo 3DS device). Automatically distinguishing 3D content, the No Glasses 3D Tablet also functions efficiently with 2D media. Video and webpages is viewed in 1,080p HD resolution with the No Glasses 3D Tablet.

The No Glasses 3D Tablet is based on an Android 4.1 operating system providing a familiar environment of productivity and entertainment. Bluetooth and two cameras are also part of the No Glasses 3D Tablet. The rear camera is 2.0 megapixel and the front camera is 0.3 megapixel.

With time remaining ahead of Christmas day, the No Glasses 3D Tablet can be ordered for $349.95 US from Hammacher Schlemmer as a gift for someone special (Ourselves included).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Recent Online Sales Show Shoppers Beating Black Friday Rush

Photo source: IBM

Another Black Friday has gone by as the defacto start to the 2013 shopping season in the United States. Still predominately a US moment of consumerism, the day has taken advantage of a period after their Thanksgiving Day holiday. With Black Friday, the mood changes from that of family togetherness. Buying gifts for others for holidays, the shopping season is also a period where consumers are encouraged in indulge. Low prices on desirable goods insures consumers have an extra incentive to part with their cash or credit.   

While the majority of Black Friday crowds were well-maintained for the most part, there were more than enough references to shoppers behaving badly. Either the fierce determination to buy a super cheap door-crasher or simply the stress of the densely populated shopping centres and stores has resulted in some situations where many US shoppers want to seek some kind of sanctuary. Free of crowds and guilt of leaving early for a shopping centre, online buying has become an attractive, less stressful way to endure Black Friday.

In recent years, the Monday following the US thanksgiving had been named the prime shopping time for online deals. Called Cyber Monday, new data published by IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark has determined online retail benefitted from both Black Friday as well as Thanksgiving Day itself. According to the IBM report, shopping online during Black Friday showed a sizable 18.9 percent compared to the previous year. The Average order amount had also showed a modest 2.2 percent increase over 2012 at $135.27. More impressive growth was shown on Thanksgiving Day 2013 equating to 19.7 percent.

The IBM report of online shopping has also detected a big increase with purchases made on mobile devices. On Black Friday 2013, smartphones were part of 24.9 percent of online buying traffic. Sales made on smartphones average in value of $115.63 on Black Friday. Signifying an increase of more than 10 percent with smartphone buying, the report showed double growth in the use of tablets for online shopping. Purchases on tablets were also shown to, on average, exceed those made on smartphones by $20. Also measured was the two dominant mobile platforms iOS and Android operating system. Accounting for 18.1 percent of all online sales according to IBM, the iOS user's transaction was measured at $127.92. Android device users only accounted for 3.5 percent of online orders averaging at $105.20.

Despite easy accessibility to brick-and-mortar stores, online shopping was highly favoured in major cities. New York City proved the most popular locale for Black Friday activity online.

Photo source: IBM

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hammacher Schlemmer Spotlight: Golf Cart Hovercraft Hits the Fairway

Photo Credit: Hammacher Schlemmer

Earlier this year, an unusual sight on golf course attracted viral video recognition online. Presenting an unconventional method of transport on a golf course, a golf cart hovercraft was introduced to the world. Developed for 2012 Masters winner Bubba Watson and for his sponsor Oakley, a Neoteric Hovercraft was modified as the ultimate replacement to the traditional wheeled golf cart. On a cushion of air, the craft glided over water and sand traps with Watson riding on board.

Based on the opaque nature of the Internet, many people initially believed the golf cart hovercraft was some hoax. While online portals are full of videos exhibiting trickery, the air-lifted vehicle on the golf course was in fact a real. A real video and vehicle, the creation of the golf cart hovercraft was admittedly a publicity ploy by Oakley. Beyond the viral marketing campaign, the unique hovercraft actually began to attract real interest from customers. Providing an easy avenue for those wanting the experience what could be the new era in golf carts, Hammacher Schlemmer has recently added to unique hovercraft to their catalogue.

Built with a fiberglass and urethane foam composite hull, the 13-foot long Golf Cart Hovercraft accommodates four occupants as well as two golf bags. The Golf Cart Hovercraft is propelled by a nine-blade fan driven off a 65-horsepower Hirth engine. A roof and lighting is equipped on the vehicle placing it's basic features on equal footing to conventional carts. Designed for the golf course, the Golf Cart Hovercraft meets the water standards set by the United States Coast Guard. A trailer is also included with the hovercraft.

Hammacher Schlemmer has placed a $58,000 on the Golf Cart Hovercraft.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Microsoft Pumps Xbox Music Beats Broadly Across Mobile, Web Platforms

Photo Credit: Microsoft

Introducing their next-generation technology, it's safe to say that Microsoft has been pursuing some unpopular innovations.

First, Microsoft introduced Windows 8 with the ambitious intent to be an operating system bridging traditional computers and mobile devices. Windows 8 has failed to provide the ground-shaking thud many expected from the leading software company. Capable yet leaning towards being overpriced, the Microsoft Surface tablet family is distantly behind Apple and the many Android OS tablets in popularity. Most recently, Microsoft's new gaming and entertainment system, the Xbox One, proposed a series of changes to that alienated the marketplace. Microsoft has since backtracked from many of their new 'innovative' plans with the Xbox One following a laundry list of complaints before the console was even released. Wanting to turn their fortunes around and be an important figure for our consumption of multimedia, Microsoft is expanding their Xbox Music live streaming audio service. To elevate Xbox Music, Microsoft will be expanding the availability of their service to almost any modern device.

A service containing 30 million songs as well as a catalog of music videos, Xbox Music was launched last year for the Xbox 360 console. Today, Microsoft has opened up an all-new set of pipelines for music fans to engage with their live streaming content. Starting today (September 9th) Xbox Music will be offered on Apple iOS devices as well as products performing on the Android operating system. In addition to the portable devices, Xbox Music will also provide an on-line web player for computers through the website The Windows 8.1 upgrade will add Web Playlist tool granting quick access to the Xbox Music service.

An Xbox Music app has now launched on Google Play as well as the Apple App Store. The app and on-line player is a free download but access to the streaming service requires a subscription plan. The Xbox Music Pass costs $9.99 US for a month or $99.99 US for a full year plan. Xbox Music entitles users to unlimited access to music on any device. Xbox Music compares to $36 annual cost for an ad-free version of Pandora or $4.99 for an unlimited service using Spotify in the United States. A 30-day trial is provided with the Xbox Music Pass allowing users to sample the service at no cost (excluding data transfer use expenses).

Saturday, August 31, 2013

80 Year Ago Since Final CFCA Broadcast: Toronto Star Lost its Radio Voice

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

Founded in 1892 as The Evening Star, the newspaper Torontonians today recognize as the Toronto Star has a long history of presenting Canada’s largest city with important news. With a black-on-white display, information conveying details of local, Canadian and worldwide stories has referenced everything from the election of prime ministers, world wars, accomplishments in sports or more recently when Justin Bieber is coming to town. Until their entrance onto the Internet in 1996, the Toronto Star was known merely through their printed words. Little is currently acknowledged for their more than decade-long impact with the use of voice. Toronto’s first radio station CFCA officially launched in 1922 with buzz that would silenced on August 31st of 1933.

One of the first commercial radio broadcasters awarded a license by the Canadian government, CFCA was Toronto’s first station. Hard to believe today where Toronto radio space on the AM and FM dial is tight, the Toronto Star’s CFCA would transmit the only voices across the city. In the June 23rd, 1922 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, the newspaper publication proudly posted a picture of twin 80-foot antennas on top of their King Street West building. A reported broadcast radius of the CFCA’s radio waves was 500 miles giving it a wide coverage reach. The major quarrel during that time was finding the citizens of Toronto who are early adopters to the radio technology.

First beaming radio waves across the city in March 1922, CFCA’s regular operations starting in late June consisted news and entertainment. To the few radios in Toronto as well as through speakers mounted to the radio station’s specially outfitted Ford Model T truck, CFCA’s first broadcasts provided some of the earliest structured programs. During the first moments of broadcast for CFCA, an interview with Canadian National Railways president D.B. Hanna transpired. Interesting enough, Canadian National Railways would become the country’s first large-scale radio operator a little more than a year later. Sports and financial bulletins as well as live musical numbers were piped across Toronto during a 7pm radio broadcast.

Most historically significant for CFCA is the first broadcaster of a National Hockey League game. Held in 1923 on Valentine’s day, CFCA radio coverage of the Toronto St Patricks versus the Ottawa Senators at Arena Gardens would provide the professionals playing Canada’s favourite pass time to any receiving radio. This NHL game was actually the second hockey game aired by CFCA. The first was a North Toronto versus Midland hockey match also played at Arena Gardens. In a short time into CFCA’s hockey broadcasting experiments, a large Canadian audience heard hockey broadcast legend Foster Hewitt’s voice for the first time. The CFCA radio broadcasts would serve as the foundation for all future NHL broadcasting.

In 1924, CFCA also allowed children across Toronto a chance to hear from Santa Claus. In addition to advertisements from the Timothy Eaton Company (the founder of the Toronto Santa Claus Parade), the CFCA airwaves were fill of detailed information from the jolly old man himself through a variety of 15-minute radio segments.

By the time the 1930s arrived, CFCA faced competition from other radio stations in Toronto. One of those was CFRB founded by Edward Rogers Sr. in 1927. Rogers was also the principal behind Rogers Vacuum Tube Company who likely provided Toronto citizens with the radio receivers they were using to listen to CFCA. The formation of the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC) in 1932 demonstrated that a strong public broadcasting future fuelling what remains in the 21st century a contentious debate on the public/private media. A precursor to the current Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the CRBC began leasing another Toronto based station that has evolved to CBC Radio One. Radio programming had also grown more elaborate resulting in expanded coverage and entertainment throughout the evening.

The downfall of CFCA could be described as a situation where the government killed the radio star. As public broadcasting grew in popularity, private radio operators were treated less than favourably. According to the Toronto Daily Star, CFCA would have to abide by a new rule requiring commercial radio stations to transmit with no more than 100 watts. Significantly less than the 5,000-watt capacity of public radio broadcasting in Toronto, CFCA would have been deeply restricted in transmitting future programs. CFCA was also one of the only major radio operations in Toronto at the time not leasing time to a public entity. Program competition as well as the limited reach for future broadcasts led to the demise of CFCA. The decision was that August 31st, 1933 would be the final day of broadcasting for Toronto’s first major radio station.

Following the 11:30pm broadcast of the news program “At the end of the day”, CFCA went silent ending the Toronto Star‘s 11-year venture in radio broadcasting. Torstar Corporation (the Toronto Star’s current parent company) briefly returned to radio media in 2005 when they purchased a 20 percent stare in CTVGlobeMedia that controlled stations such as CHUM-FM. Torstar Corporation’s partial ownership of CTVGlobeMedia ended in 2011 when they sold their stake to Bell Canada Enterprises.

Though CFCA ended on this day 80 years ago, Toronto’s earliest radio station sent a message that continues to radiate to this day.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How Blackberry is Giving Itself a Black Eye

Photo Credit: Blackberry

When 2013 began, Blackberry (entering the year with the long-standing Research in Motion business name) prepped what was supposed to be an ambitious and important corporate revival. Blackberry's CEO Thorsten Heins proudly held the full touchscreen Z10 and the QWERTY keyboard/touchscreen hybrid Q10 smartphones as if they were the Ten Commandments that would lead a connected humanity. Their Blackberry 10 operating system was highly developed to the point it delayed its release date to a point some were concerned if the devices would ever arrive. While the devices featured nifty technology, the smartphones have not left the big splash in the water it hoped. Having not learned from the Playbook tablet, Blackberry is still fighting to realize it is not Apple (specifically when it comes to demanding money from consumers). While their technology is formidable, Blackberry has been fighting to reclaim a its position as a major smartphone player when selling near $700 devices such as the Z10 or Q10.

In addition to the Blackberry Z10 and Q10, a third smartphone using the new operating system and technology was created. Slightly less capable than the Q10, the Blackberry Q5 carried the perk of a lower price tag. Unfortunately, Blackberry made choice to sell the Q5 only in emerging markets not realizing a market for a lower-cost smartphone option in North America. Even Apple has been rumoured to be readying a more price competitive iPhone. In late July, Blackberry finally conceded in what was their initial intentions to sell its Q5 handheld device. A less expensive Blackberry 10 family device priced roughly comparable with the latest Android devices from Samsung. In time for the Back-to-School buying phase, the QWERTY-keyboard equipped Blackberry Q5 device could potentially show up on the wish list of high school and college students. With its forecasted release this week, there is just one question; where has been the promotion for the Blackberry Q5?

Mention of the Blackberry Q5 is only trickling out from Canadian wireless carriers. Of as Monday, the Telus website is the only major wireless phone provider to advertise the Q5 being available. Through Telus, the Blackberry Q5 costs $49 with a 24-month plan or $425 without a contract. Only this week has the Blackberry Canadian site updated to include the profile of the Q5. When Apple announces the technical details of their newest iPhone, that technology company insures that customers are well-informed on where and how to buy the device before it drops into kiosks. Is it possible that cell phone providers in Canada want to suppress knowledge of the less expensive phone to maintain better sales of the Q10? Is just apathy wireless providers feel for Blackberry products?

Instead of hype surrounding the roll-out of what could become the bread and butter tool to Blackberry's efforts to stay relevant, news has surrounded the structure of the Canadian-based technology provider. Shareholder swoop like vultures for the shares as it the company considers buying them back in order to go private. On Monday, news surrounded the fact Blackberry is exploring options such as a sale or partnership with another technology company. Some investors or analysts would also like to see the company separate its more promising units away from less profitable efforts. This should be a time for the phone maker to promote their Q5 device's release in Canada. Once again, Blackberry is having difficulty trying to steer the message to the media. It's bad enough the company has abandoned plans for a next-generation Playbook tablet, the Blackberry 10 operating system could be an compelling piece of software few will see. It is disappointing to see the company behind the BBM technology is lacking the ability to effectively communicate what could be a move that will place more Blackberry 10 operating systems in the hands of customers.

Ultimately, what Blackberry needs is to place their devices into as many hands as possible. By stoking a consumer marketplace, app developers and investors will be more eager to place their support behind the company's work. The Blackberry Q5's release in Canada should be observed as the key to igniting a spark in an engine that is losing power. We simply need to wait and see if there is a fire left in Blackberry.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

SEIKI Reveals New 39-Inch Ultra Affordable 4K Ultra HDTV

Photo Credit: SEIKI Digital, Inc.

It took roughly a decade for North America to fully embrace high definition picture from television and other displays. Thanks to the fact that costs became approachable for the general electronics consumer, HD video is now the accepted standard. However, technology has never an entity providing people with comfort in the sense of sameness for an extended period of time. The recent breakthrough in home entertainment has been 4k Ultra HD resolution.

Delivering a picture several times greater than regular HD, 4k resolution comprises of 3840 pixels × 2160 lines. 4k resolution video is receiving an increasing amount of focus by entertainment media. The Will Smith movie "After Earth" has been an early exhibitor of 4k technology. Also, the 2013 NCCA Final Four basketball championship featured a demonstration of 4k video provided by CBS and LG Electronics. Still a new way of capturing all kinds of video, adaptation to the enhanced resolution standard has been hindered by the consumer cost of Ultra HD television sets.

The first set was introduced into the United States by LE Electronics in November of 2012. Their 84-inch Ultra HD television screen sold for an astronomical $19,999. Since an HD television of a similar size could be purchased for a fraction of that amount, early adoption of Ultra HD has been a niche market.

As many companies are trying to optimize the size of the 4k televisions to showcase the brilliance of this enhanced picture, one company could be quickly exploring products to introduce the general consumer to the concept of 4K viewing. SEIKI Digital Inc. brought a 50-inch 4K Ultra HD television screen to the United States market in April at a retail price of around $1,500. Next for the electronics supplier is a 39-inch model that could become a major game-changer for the evolution of 4K Ultra HD picture.

Premiering at the 2013 CE Week Line Shows and Exhibits in New York City, new 39-inch SEIKI 4K Ultra HD television will be first shown on June 26th. An unveiling taking place at the Metropolitan Pavilion, SEIKI's latest 4K Ultra HD television will feature all the appropriate technology for viewing videos and photos in Full HD or resolution greater than 1080p HD. A USB port allows users to plug in through flash drives to view images in up to 4K quality. An HDMI 1.4 cable will be included with the SEIKI 39-inch 4K Ultra HD television set to unleash the full potential of the display.

Besides the high performance picture created with 4K technology, the SEIKI 39-inch 4K Ultra HD television's most exceptional attribute is a low price. Priced at $699, the SEIKI 39-inch set may be more expensive than HD televisions but comes packed with the 3,840 pixels x 2,160 lines picture.

With pre-orders for the 39-inch SEIKI 4K Ultra HD television starting on June 27th, the new display will be available in online retailers as well as Sears. Sears will be SEIKI only national retailer for the 4K product.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Amazon Igniting Kindle Fire Tablet Sales in Canada

Photo Credit:

Launching into the computer tablet market in 2011, Amazon announced the Kindle Fire as a top-end offering to their e-book reading device family.

Previous Amazon Kindle products prior to the Kindle Fire were focused generally on the distribution of electronic books (with some additional features supplied on newer ereaders). Utilizing an Android operating system to perform tasks, the Kindle Fire same relative capacity as a Samsung Galaxy tablet or Blackberry Playbook. Originally priced at a starting price of $199, Amazon Kindle Fire was also a competitive fighter against the popular but more expensive Apple iPad. Selling over a million devices in just its first week of release in the United States, the Kindle Fire distribution was initially limited to that one country. Attracting discontent from potential buyers in other parts of the world for lack of availability, the Kindle Fire was made available in parts of Europe by Amazon before the end of 2012. On June 13th, Canada will finally be able to buy a Kindle Fire tablet directly from Amazon.

Pre-orders for the Kindle Fire HD 7-inch and Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch computer tablets are now being taken on the website ahead of its release date. The price for the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD starts at $214 while the version with an 8.9-inch screen will feature a starting price of $284. The two models of the tablet can be equipped with a 16-gigabyte or a slightly more pricy 32-gigabyte.

While the Kindle Fire devices could operate in other countries, Amazon chose up until not to ship the computer tablet to non-American customers. However, it was possible for people in Canada to acquire the affordable Kindle Fire through third-party means. For Canadian buyers pre-ordering, the price for Kindle Fire devices will be a little higher than those sold in the United States. Both Kindle Fire HD 7-inch and the 8.9-inch tablet will cost $15 more through compared to the price given for American customers.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Google Not the Only Eyes on High-Tech Glasses: Meet the Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses

Photo Credit: Vuzix

In the last several years, users of technology no longer accept mobility limitations to high-power computerized devices. With multi-function smartphones and tablets allowing us to engage in full-scale electronic interaction far away from home, we are continuing to embrace the miniaturization of technology. Proceeding into the next generation of portable electronic devices, forecasts for the upcoming decade show an advent for full-scale wearable computers.

Wristwatch-like and headset computing devices are being courted as the next state of evolution in personal electronics. Smartwatch devices have already been created by several companies. A rumoured watch through Apple has been a lingering source of techno-gossip. For immediate engagement with software and communications, headset smart devices is another popular area of consumer electronic research. Google Glass is undergoing trials by numerous members of media and technology developers. As Google has confirmed plans for market the technology, another company in Rochester, New York could beat the best-known technological innovator to market with a high-tech smart headset. Since 2012, Vuzix Corporation has been proceeding with the development of their M100 Smart Glasses.

Having produced wearable glasses or visors as a private, interactive alternative to high-tech televisions and computer displays, the next step for Vuzix Corporation is a unique hands-free connection with smartphones. Supporting an Android operating system itself, the Vuzix M100 is being developed as a smart device peripheral with an array of far-reaching features. A device powered by four gigabytes of memory and permitting up to eight hours of battery life, the Vuzix M100 smart glasses provide a discrete, portable profile. Three mounting options are available for comfortably wearing the M100 smart glasses for either left or right eye viewing.

User interfacing with the Vuzix M100 smart glasses is accomplished visibly through a 16:9 aspect ratio screen and a noise cancelling microphone. Communications through voice and text, Internet browsing as well as image capturing capabilities are all possible with the Vuzix M100 smart glasses. It's believed even mobile gaming could be performed with the M100 smart glasses. Operating with augmented reality thanks to a GPS and head tracking abilities, the Vuzix M100 hands-free positioning delivers an immersive portable computing experience. Configured for the usage with Android or Apple iOS devices, the Vuzix M100 incorporates Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity options. Said to be linked to cloud virtual storage, the M100 also includes a Micro SD card slot allowing up to 16 gigabytes of data storage.

Photo Credit: Vuzix

In addition to accessing the smartphone or other smart device through the headset, the Vuzix M100 is opening the door to an all-new app development realm. The M100 devices have already been distributed to innovative app developers. Applications and programs exploiting the hardware of the Vuzix M100 has the potential of yielding some ground-breaking ways of experiencing technology in everyday settings.

Even without public sales, the Vuzix M100 smart glasses have already been gathering acclaim. At the 2013 CES Show, the M100 was recognized as a Best of Innovations recipient in the Wireless Handset Accessories category. With consumer availability of the Vuzix M100 announced for mid-summer of this year, pricing for the device is yet to be announced.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

60 Years Ago: Casino Royale Introduced Bond, James Bond to the World

A man defined by ‘007’ has been the recipients of some milestone numbers as of late. In 2012, the release of the movie Skyfall was the centerpiece of a 50th year anniversary for the first James Bond movie. Starring Daniel Craig as at the famous British secret agent, Skyfall was the 23rd movie in the series started with the big screen release of Dr. No. The latest movie would be the highest-grossing 007 film in the franchise as it crossed the one-billion dollar mark becoming the first James Bond movie to accomplish the feat.

With all the excitement and notoriety created through the 23 films, James Bond started his adventures on paper. Operating from his Jamaica retreat identified as “Goldeneye”, writer Ian Fleming brought James Bond to life using his skilled pen and expertise derived from action in World War Two. Fleming worked closely with many covert operations of the allied forces through the course of the Second World War providing him a substantial wealth of inspiration for theme, character and setting. Casino Royale served as the first novel that formally introduced the world to the spy codenamed “007”.

James Bond was created as a composite of several real-life figures as well as Ian Fleming’s image of the super-spy. Drawing on several secret agents he personally met during his war service, Ian Fleming’s brother Peter and Canadian/British spy Sir William Stephenson were among those used as building blocks for Bond. Fleming also transferred many of his own traits to the character’s personality through his novels. As for the name, an American ornithologist provided the writer with the identity to the fictional British spy. An avid bird watcher, Fleming was presented the name from the book authored by Bond called Birds of the West Indies. Fleming admired the name James Bond as dull-sounding yet masculine. Interesting note in the film “Die another Day”, Bond grabbed a bird guide from an associate in Cuba as part of a surveillance cover.

Ian Fleming’s first use of his fiction spy in Casino Royale was officially released on April 13th of 1953. "The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul erosion produced by high gambling — a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension — becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it." Were the opening lines to the Fleming spy novel. In the Casino Royale, British Secret Service agent James Bond infatuates a baccarat game acting as a financial front for Soviet spy organization SMERSH. That novel established not only James Bond’s character but also supporting roles such as M and American CIA agent Felix Leiter. Becoming an acclaimed debut in the literary world, sales of the book Casino Royale were hot in the United Kingdom. The United States, on the other hand, initially were reluctant to accept the British spy with sales of Casino Royale totalling just 4,000 in the first run.

Despite slow sales in bookstores on the left side of the Atlantic Ocean, James Bond and Casino Royale were quickly selected for screen adaptation in the United States. The Ian Fleming novel was selected as one of the first stories to be acted out on a CBS program called Climax! in October 1954. Almost eight years to the date before Dr. No was released by Eon Productions, the performance of Casino Royale was the first time an actor played the role of James Bond. The 1954 television performance would be one of two instances where a screen adaptation of Casino Royale would dramatically differ from the novel. In the CBS Climax! series version, James Bond was American and Felix Leiter was British.

The first novel to incorporate the super-spy, first serious Casino Royale would not transfer to the big screen until 2006. Shortly after Casino Royale was adapted for television, Fleming sold the film rights to a producer named Gregory Ratoff. In 1967, the name did crossover to theatres though it was largely obscured by the fact it was an all-out comedy. Starring David Niven as James Bond and featuring the likes of Orson Welles as well as Woody Allen, the 1967 Casino Royale was a satire used to cash-in on the spy culture of the mid-1960s. Distributed by Columbia Pictures, the Casino Royale comedy was largely panned by critics including Roger Ebert.

The debut film featuring Daniel Craig as James Bond, the 2006 version of Casino Royale served as a reboot of the movie franchise some believed was going stale. Whereas some follow-up books and short stories of Fleming would have titles and some characters lifted, the 007 movie franchise frequently took creative liberties on his novels. Readers of the Ian Fleming novel would note 2006 Casino Royale film was perhaps the most faithful screen adaptation of the original source material from the author.

Though gadgets, fancy Bond vehicles and other visuals have translated best to movie screens, the vision of the man behind 007 created the arguments among millions of James Bond fans. Who is the best James Bond actor? Would you want an Aston Martin DB5 or a Lotus Esprit? Which Bond Girl is the most memorable? With the exploits of James Bond available to readers for 60 years, only Ian Fleming’s mind could truly answer those provocative questions on the imagination that created Casino Royale.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

NCAA Final Four Contributes First US Sport Event Footage Shown in 4K Ultra HD Technology

Photo Source: LG Electronics

Averaging almost 16 million television viewers, the 2013 NCAA Basketball tournament's 'Final Four' match-ups proved to be the most popular since 2005. While standard definition television were the predominant means for viewing the 2005 college basketball games, the 2013 broadcasts would have been watched on a considerably higher number of high-definition sets.

Much less expensive than 8 years ago, the HD television sets have been regularly feeding sharp pictures of movies, television series and, of course, sporting events. While many United States sport fans believed they were enjoying the game with the second-best view to actually being in attendance, LG Electronics has been testing what is touted as the next-generation of television technology.

Fed to several private viewing location in Atlanta's Georgia Dome, a first-of-its-kind demonstration of 4K resolution recording was successfully attempted at the 2013 NCAA Final Four basketball games. In cooperation with the NCAA, CBS and Turner Sports, game highlights of college basketball action was shown on LG's newest televisions in ultra high resolution. LG Electronics USA senior vice president of marketing James Fishler says, "The Final Four is the perfect place to demonstrate this next frontier in picture quality as LG continues to drive the Ultra HD market. LG touts itself as the first company to bring Ultra HD TV technology to the marketplace."

Delivering motion picture more than three times more defined than 1080p resolution, LG supplied their 84-inch class Ultra HD TV sets for the inaugural broadcast of a United States sporting event. Capturing dunks and three-point shots in 3,840 X 2,160 resolution, the LG 84-inch class Ultra HD TV's 4K picture consisting of eight million pixels gave images detailing determination of players with vivid realness. Senior vice president and general manager of sports operations of Turner Sports Matt Hong looked at the 4K broadcasting experiment as a wave of the future. "We continue to embrace innovation and look at this test of next-generation television technology as a way to potentially share fans for decades to come", said Hong.

As for when typical households can expect to see a majority of college and professional level sports through 4K technology, it might several more Final Four matches before we see in super high resolution. The $20,000 a piece price tag in the United States for LG's current 84-inch class Ultra HD TV will be the first obstacle for the new picture technology. The upcoming release of a 55-inch and 65-inch LG Ultra HD TVs should be the first step to making the screens more accessible to well-off, early adopters. The next hurdle will be to have television program providers such as CBS and Turner Sports make the move to higher-resolution video capture equipment. It may be so time before ultra high definition viewing will be ready for the pros.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

NASA's Kennedy Space Center Invaded by Angry Birds

Photo Credit: PRNewsFoto/Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Started as a humble app-based video game, the Angry Birds franchise has slowly consumed the spare time of millions. From the first game created by Roxio Entertainment, the Angry Birds game concept has toured Rio, related with seasonal events and has even traveled to space. As a matter of fact, Angry Birds have taken two trips towards interstellar destinations. Angry Birds Space and later Angry Birds Star Wars (the first game of the franchise to featured licensed property) took ill-tempered birds on voyages to battle their pig nemesis.

Building an impressive virtual brand, Roxio Entertainment expanded quickly on their popularity placing their gaming characters on a wide array of merchandise. Candy, Halloween costumes and stuffed toys were a few items featuring the Angry Birds likeness over the last few years. The last avenue for expanding the Angry Birds franchise is by involving themselves with attractions. Launching out from the capacitive displays of our smartphones and tablets, Angry Birds land at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex as an all-new 4,485 square-foot play zone.

Called the Angry Birds Space Encounter, the themed attraction opened on March 22nd as a entertainment venue targeting children. Intended to provide guests with a fun yet educational experience, the Angry Birds Space Encounter does a lot to earn a three-star rating.

Classifying their games in stations, the Angry Birds Space Encounter delivers various action-based activities that exercises the body and mind. Eggsteroids Slingshot, Cold Cuts Tile Puzzle, Danger Zone and Red Planet Lazer Challenge are areas geared to delight children. For those looking to experience the birds and pigs back in their original habitant, the Angry Birds Game Zone allows guests to play a tournament-oriented Angry Birds Space game. Guests can battle other guests in the ultimate goal of destroying the evil pigs.

Guests can also engage in creating their own Angry Bird getting a printed copy of their creation to take home. Photo opportunities and merchandise sales will also be part of the Angry Birds Space Encounter.     

Open now, the Angry Birds Space Encounter attraction opens months ahead of a 100 million-dollar Visitor Complex at the Cape Canaveral location. A pair of IMAX theaters, Rocket Garden and other fascinating space-related activities will delight for an admission price of $50 for an adult or $40 per child. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex site will also house the retired NASA Space Shuttle Atlantis.   

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Sound of Music: 30 Years of Compact Disc Sales in North America

Photo Credit: Philips Commications Copyright All rights reserved by Philips Communications

Since developing the ability to record sounds and voices, efforts of improving the quality of the playback has fueled the the search for better media formats. From vinyl LP discs, the music industry briefly embraced 8-Track tapes during the 1960s and 1970s. Popular in the 1980s, the audio cassette miniaturized an entire artist's album into a package to the size of a small cigarette box. As cassettes reigned popular with LPs still enjoying a respectable market presence, a technology developed in Japan between Sony and Philips would revolutionize the way music would be received. First sold in Japan during October of 1982, the wider global marketplaces of North America and Europe would begin obtaining the the magically advanced Compact Disc (CD) in the early days of March of the following year. Therefore, it is acceptable to say that March the 2nd of 1983 was the starting point where the CD would be heard around the world.

When introduced, the compact disc represented a monumental step forward for audiophiles. In the early 1980s, the concept of a 4.7-inch flat disc delivering superior sound quality was cutting-edge thinking. The thought that the CD was being read by a laser beam was another outrageous notion. Priced at around $800 to $1,000 when first sold in the United States, CD players were first rolled out by Sony and Magnavox who immediately championed the new audio format.

Photo credit: Ford Motor Company

CBS Records and Sony distributed were initially involved in supplying the United States market with compact discs. Music CDs first available (originally 16 albums priced between $17 to $25 per disc) consisted largely of classical performances for the purpose to highlight the fidelity of the new equipment. Contemporary artists of the time including Journey and Pink Floyd were added to CD format later in 1983. Canadian artist Bryan Adams also saw his album "Cuts Like a Knife" converted to CD within the first year of the format's sales in North America. One of the earliest popular music groups to have an album released on CD outside of Japan was Swedish band ABBA. ABBA's 1981 album titled "The Visitors" was brought to market in 1982 ahead of the European commercial release of the CD player units.

As can be expected from new technology, the adaptation to the new player was not immediate. To promote the format in its infancy, Sony supplied 28 radio stations with free CD players and a year's supply of CDs. As the 1980s rolled, CD players slowly found its way into high-end stereo cabinets. Smaller, less expensive players of the laser-scanned discs eventually led to mainstream acceptance of the media format eventually usurping the audio cassette. The CD also existed as an external data storage solution of choice in the booming home computer market of the 1990s. Becoming a common sight around the world by the 2000s, CDs two decade superiority has been eroded by on-line music in recent years.

As we are entering full-fledged into the market where obtaining information such as music and stereo will be performed entirely on-line, the notion of purchasing a physical piece of media will become a remnant of past culture.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Rogers Wireless Performs Pre-Emptive Reform of Roaming, Service Plans

Photo Credit: Rogers

As cellular phone and wireless device usage has blossomed to a point where much of the Canadian population are now involved with a communications plan, three national players in the wireless telecom sector (Rogers, Telus and Bell) have been the ones who brought various forms of wireless contact to Canadians. As more and more wireless customers feed off services from the three major carriers and their subsidiary brands, a call has been placed by cell phone users to have clarity when engaged with a service plan.

With several complaints filed by Canadian wireless customers, a gamut of concerns ranging from unclear billing to other pricing practices have put wireless telecom providers in the hot seat. The government agency overseeing communications in this country, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), opened public consultation on the topic of establishing more transparency towards consumers. Detailing the severity of the issue, the voices of roughly 4,100 Canadians responded by mail or online with their suggestions and input. The ultimate goal is to establish a Wireless Code that will apply to all carriers. Ahead of a CRTC hearing scheduled to start on Monday (February 11, 2013), Rogers Wireless has released details of plans the company will set in place to address much of the concerns.

For those who have taken their cell phones across the border, accessing information from the device could be handled over the communication networks of other countries. Called "roaming", the voice and data services in regions outside of Canada come at a higher cost that can quickly amount to astronomical figures. In some cases, Canadians who are along the border have been docked heavily by out-of-county roaming charges by cell phone carriers, nationwide coverage has come at a price (much more literally for some customers). As many wireless customers have been hit with roaming costs, the monthly bills have easily surged into the hundreds.

Addressing roaming charges related to data use, customers will be presented with a $7.99 pay-per use rate for the first 50 megabytes of information for a 24-hour period in the United States. Rogers indicates the 50-megabyte lot of data is enough to download 50 maps or 200 webpages. This data roaming plan will also alert the cell phone user when the 50 Megabytes (MB) data amount is approaching. This is a considerable discount when comparing current prices dictated through Rogers' online data calculator. According to the current data calculator, 200 webpages would cost $48.00 to view in International areas (though the data use quote was not accurate to 50 MB). Selling data roaming in a lot is already provided by Rogers. A 40 MB plan can be purchased at $20 providing it is used within a 24-hour span.

In this move, Rogers Wireless is reacting to the input they have received from their customers base. Other proposed alternations Rogers is willing to make includes creating simplifying rate plans and amending the time period customers have to unlock their device in order to work with another phone service. Rogers' will allow the unlocking of a handset after 90 days of a customer purchasing a wireless phone plan.

At the present time, wireless service contracts are complicated by the fact they differ between provinces. Supporting the proposed Canadian Wireless Code which currently exists in draft form ahead of the CRTC hearing, Rogers welcomes a national policy that applies from coast-to-coast. The Wireless Code undergoing possible adaptation sets up numerous mechanisms that will clearly spell out costs for service features and provide all cell phone consumers enhanced abilities to control their usage.

The changes for Rogers cell phone service has not been presented with a specific date as of yet . The wireless phone carrier does indicate the measures will be in place soon.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Samsung Shows Off 110-inch Ultra High Definition TV at CES

Photo credit: Samsung

In the constant innovation of technology, it is the goal of electronic companies to make the devices we have grown comfortable using as obsolete. While not discrediting what they had most recently sold, technology developers simply stride to create bigger and better products. The Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas is regularly one of those exhibitions that make us all realize rapid the pace of advancement moves. Televisions, smartphones and most recently car-based infotainment platforms are represented at the 2013 CES as major as well as up-and-coming brands want to woo us (the consumer) to a new path of technological enlightenment that, of course, involves their solutions.

At the 2013 edition of the CES, Samsung has presented a number of captivating products and innovations focused around home entertainment. Showing off their latest explorations into LED TV, OLED TV technology, the display for Samsung was anchored by the existence of a gigantic television with the promise of bringing the big world into a perspective only our own eyes could envision.

Photo source: Samsung

Bringing to life a 110-inch television screen Samsung advertises as the largest in home entertainment, their S9 UHD TV features a super vivid picture quality making full use of the sheer brilliance of such a display size. Utilizing what is believed to be the next progression to viewing television programs and movies, the concept of UHD (Ultra High Definition) is presenting a picture two to four times more detailed than current HD sets. Featuring the Samsung Precision Black, tones of black and white are even more defined than ever. Samsung Precision Black is combined with Ultimate Dimming that uses groups of hundreds of LED blocks to achieve pinpoint accurate backlight control on the Samsung S9's 110-inch screen.

The Samsung S9 UHD TV also incorporates a quad-core computer processor allowing Smart TV functions to be handled with peak performance. Multiple apps and on-line content choices could be fed through the S9 television for full media immersion for the eyes. The 3-way, 2.2 channels of 120-watt audio will delight ears with sound quality said to be six times greater than a traditional television set.

While large quantity of UHD or Super HD content could take time moving through the consumer pipeline, Samsung has built a proprietary up-scaling engine into the S9 television unit. HD and Full-HD quality picture can be delivered in higher picture detail than perhaps ever seen before.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Politicians Trended More Than Ever on Twitter in 2012

Photo source: Twitter

Though talk has often been referred to as “cheap”, tweeting could be something of great worth. Allowing some with difficulties talking to share thoughts, finding the wealth of other people’s thoughts and even the chance to interact with someone you would have otherwise never met is a strong positive to Twitter‘s allure to over 500 million users. Of those users in 2012, an increasing number are leading public official of many nation governments.


2012 Ranking of World Leaders on Twitter

Tracking the impact of world leaders on Twitter and other social media networks, the Digital Policy Council (DPC) released their 2012 report how politicians are reaching out over the electronic micro-blogging service. On Twitter right now, newly-re-elected president of the United States Barack Obama dominates in the Follower count with over 24,600,000 as of this past December. Obama’s Twitter Followers dwarfs the second highest Twitter account in Followers by more than 20,000,000 users. According to a study released by the DPC, the President of Venezuela Hugo Chevez maintains a second place ranking with above 3.8 million Followers. Turkish President Abdullah Gul is third in the DPC ranking and Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordon is fourth. Rounding out the top five on the 2012 list of Twitter accounts is Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The current United States President is recorded as the earliest world leader to find Twitter on the service prior to taking office in March of 2007. In regards to early Twitter adopters, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Belgium Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper followed Obama as early adopters during 2007. In 2012, Mexican President Nieto was ninth in the overall ranking while Prime Minister Harper of Canada placed 21st. Joining Twitter in January of 2012, Prime Minister of India’s Manmohan Singh entered the ranking in 19th spot racking up more than 390,000 Followers in less than a year.

In the recent report issued out by the Digital Policy Council, three out of four world leaders now maintain a Twitter account. Out of the 164 countries recorded in the 2012 report, 123 leaders can now be followed by an official Twitter feed. Just as intriguing as the shear number of world leaders’ taking part in the major social network is the single year growth. With only 69 political leaders on Twitter in 2011, there has been a 78 percent increase in only a 12-month period. DPC believes the proliferation of Twitter and other social media is effective for connecting with national as well as global audiences.


Twitter and the US Election

Presentation of random thoughts or the ability to convey serious messages has made Twitter an instant reactor to current events. In particularly with the United States election, social media network Twitter was lit up with an electric mood where everyone had the potential of sharing a meaningful opinion. To the point that Twitter was slowed down significantly at times during debates between US president Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, Twitter users quickly critiqued the performances of each candidate. Allowing for such phrases like “binders full of women” to be instantaneously mocked. Through the entire US election, Digital Policy Council rates 31 million election-related Tweets were shared. Making history for being the most retweeted message on the social network included a photo of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle with the words “Four more years”.

Entering 2013, it's safe to say that government officials greatly recognize the need to communicate through the more conventional in-person way as well as by maintaining a voice on social media.