Currently Browsing: Technology

What is Green?

I was just reading a post on the Best Western blog site about being green in hotels.

In actual fact I was looking for this post which features a mate’s dog:, but I was drawn to the green post.

It set me off thinning whether a hotel can ever hope to be truly green. After all they have to wash everything that is touched by a guest when that guest leaves, whether the person has used it or not, and whether they have slept in the sheets, dried in the towel, or whatever once, or just a few times. Even my mum who is obsessed with household cleanliness only washes our bedding every week.

Then there’s the fact that the rooms are heated whether there is someone in them or not (and in the case of the Travelodge that I most often stay in when I’m out and about, whenever you get there the lights are on in the rooms too.

All that said that is not a reason why hotels should give up trying.

Even if stuff like excessive washing is inevitable, cutting down makes an improvement. Turning lights off is the easiest thing to do. And maybe just accept that guests will arrive to a cold room – if the heating system is good it won’t take long to get something up to temperature anyway.

Green cars are an interesting topic too – I think I’ll save them for another day. It’s a whole subject and worth consideration and study.

TV watching revolution

TV screen with grass as pictureIt may be hard to believe, but once upon a time people in this country had only four TV channels to choose from. This number increased when Channel 5 was launched, but I was very young at the time and I can’t remember that happening; however, just look at what we have now – literally hundreds of channels hitting our screens.

Nowadays TV signals arrive via satellite dishes, through cables and even via the old-fashioned TV aerial. We are not even restricted to watching the myriad of programmes available on our TV set; we can also watch our favourite shows, televised sports, movies, documentaries or whatever else takes our fancy on a PC, tablet or smartphone. Without doubt there has been a real revolution in the way we all watch TV.

The number of channels we can watch is determined by the amount of money we are prepared, or able, to pay for the privilege. If you are strapped for cash, like me, there are cheaper and even free ways to enjoy that televisual experience.

Freeview and Freesat allow you to watch your television for free. Freeview works with an aerial and Freesat with a satellite dish. You will have to buy the boxes, of course, but they aren’t very expensive, unless you want them to include such things as a recording facility.

If you don’t mind paying a subscription, but don’t won’t to pay a lot, there are various packages available. If you select the least expensive package you will naturally only be able to watch a limited number of channels, but even then there should be more than enough to keep you happy.

It can all get very expensive when you select the sport and movie packages. BT is showing Premier League football this season; if it’s not too dear, I might go for it.

Robot Cars

Car_I know what some people are going to think: I’ve turned to science fiction.  However, as the old saying goes, the truth can be stranger than fiction, and I have been reading that robot cars are fast becoming a reality.

Internet giant Google has come up with the Google car, a fully autonomous vehicle that has been approved for use on roads in two states in the U.S., California and Nevada.  Not to be outdone, the U.K. is getting in on the act also, with researchers based in Oxford University fitting out a Nissan LEAF electric car with cameras and lasers and a computer in the boot.  It puts the tinkering my friends and I have done with our cars into some kind of context.  The researchers in Oxford drive the car manually around a particular route first in order to create a sensor map before then letting the vehicle take the same route without a driver.  The power of computer technology is something that constantly inspires me and this development is no different.

I like the idea of a robot car being fitted out for those with are physically disabled or who cannot drive because of sight problems.  The freedom of being able to get out and about in the car is something that I, for one, take for granted, so to imagine that others would be given that option is great.  Having said all that, I am not about to give up the pleasures of driving myself around any time soon, robot cars or not.

Is it a phone or computer?

I’ve recently purchased an iPhone.  Like most people who own one, I’m getting pretty addicted to it!  There is not much it can’t do, which possessed me to ask the question – is an iPhone even a phone anymore?

The smart phone industry has increased significantly in recent years.  Many hand-held devices now have the exact same capabilities as home computers.  You are able to play games on them, browse the internet, make calls, and even write documents.  Some people, like myself, use their smart phones more for their extra capabilities than actually keeping in contact with people.

One of the best things about the iPhone is the vast abundance of applications that are available to download. Many of these applications are free of charge, or require only a small fee to download.  I’ve been using the health apps on a regular basis since I got my device, and am actually starting to see the benefits.  Not only has my diet been a lot better, but I’ve started clocking how many calories I burn throughout the day!  This has helped me to lead a healthier and more active lifestyle.

Another element of the iPhone which I seem to use constantly is iTunes.  My music profile literally contains thousands of songs, and I haven’t even made a dent in the memory.  Gone are the days of the 32gb MP3 player, which only seemed to hold around twenty songs!  It baffles me how different technology is these days in comparison to what it was only a few years ago.

iPhone music apps

I have noticed with increasing fascination that iPhones are incredibly versatile things.  A few of my friends are musical types and they utilise the vast array of apps available to great effect.  Although I don’t have these apps myself (most of my phone memory has been used for games) my mates have turned their iPhones into digital sound banks with sampling software, recording and production software, and a variety of sound emulators and amplifier simulators with loads of features.

Rock out

I also see from their setup that it is possible to plug a guitar into an iPhone.  By getting a double ended 3.5 mm lead and connecting a jack lead adaptor to one end, you have the potential to use the phone as an amp.  A good app for this purpose is the AmpKit, as well as having a wide array of amp types to run the sound through, a variety of pedals and stomp boxes can also be introduced into the signal path.  There is also a good selection of app upgrades for the AmpKit that keeps the software fresh with new sound tweaks.  My mate has owned a lot of different brands of this kind of thing and he says this is one of the best he has tried.

That is the guitar guys, but not all of my friends use traditional instruments to create their sound.  Some make use of a synthesizer/sound production app called Synthstation.  This is a magic bit of kit and many aspects of professional sound production can be gleaned from this software.  The keys on the synth and the many sound settings enable the melody or tune to be written, a drum pad enables the programming of beats, and the mixing desk enables full control when mastering recordings.  This is an easy to use, simple to navigate and highly fun app.


I have noticed that some musical purists are very wary of any product that has contributed to the slow demise of hard copy sales by the music industry.  Any product that can be downloaded instead of bought from a shop has changed the game significantly over the past five years.  The truth is that things are evolving, and artists and musicians alike now have more information and resources at their fingertip than ever before.  Musical purists argue that many music making apps are nothing more than toys.  I wholeheartedly agree with that statement, and would also like to add that toys can be educational as well as a lot of fun.

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