Self Balancing AngelBoard Will Turn the #Backtothefuture Hoverboard Into Reality

Angelboard Today marks the launch of AngelBoard, the hoverboard that will have you gliding through the streets. The company AngelBoard operates as an exclusive global co-brand of CHIC Intelligent Technology. It’s no coincidence that Marty McFly arrives in the future on October 21, 2015, the day this board was released.

The latest edition of the Canton Fair saw a new exclusive co-brand partnership between AngelBoard and Chic Intelligent Technology Co.(CHIC). This self-balancing scooter will be communicated as the AngelBoard. It will resemble the Hoverboard from ‘Back to the Future’ when it comes to fun and technology.

In recent months many boards have surfaced creating controversy around who is the original patent holder of the self-balancing hoverboard technology. CHIC is the original inventors, with 22 patents and are responsible for the hardware found in the IO HAWK and other brands.

Other self-balancing devices such as Hovertrax, promoted via the Kickstarter Campaign 2013, are based on a different technology.

The Original

CHIC Intelligent Technology Co. builds the AngelBoard. The company was founded by Pan Yunhe, the former president of the Zhejiang University of Science and Technology. CHIC has developed this technology for almost ten years.

What exactly is AngelBoard?

The AngelBoard is something entirely new. It’s not a skateboard. It’s not a Segway. It’s a revolution in personal transportation that is taking the world by storm. Similar to the fictional Hoverboard on “Back to the Future”, a slight weight shift is enough to set the the AngelBoard in motion. The board can transport people up to 120 kg with a speed of 12 km/h distances of up to 20km on a single charge. Social media shows: even stars like Justin Bieber and Jamie Foxx are fascinated by this technology.

“We are looking forward to starting a new movement with the AngelBoard.” Batista Gérard Ruben, AngelBoard.

Vancouver Gadgets visits the Dun & Bradstreet Cloud Innovation Center

dunandbradstreet

Bursting at the seams, dnblogo-newthe Dun & Bradstreet Cloud Innovation Center is a prime example of the growing tech industry in Vancouver. The team has expanded by 327% since April 2014, out-growing their current space in Vancouver’s traditional financial district and reaching the point where they need to expand, in this case to a 2-floor state of the art office space right in downtown’s new innovation hub.

We’ll visit behind the scenes of the global tech innovation centre to preview their brand new workspace.

Reminiscent of the Uber head office in San Francisco, the new office has been designed with its location in the city in mind and a distinct connection to the musical heritage of the Granville Street Entertainment District. The space features musically themed murals, collaborative and ‘phone box’ meeting spaces, West Coast-inspired hickory panelling throughout the office, handfuls of locally designed lighting fixtures throughout, a dedicated fitness room, music room, wrap around deck and meeting rooms each named after a different local event space including Imperial, Vogue and Commodore. Rounding out some of the stand out features is an open social space to host tech events and meet ups.

 

Has the price of GoDaddy website hosting increased?

go daddy website hosting price increase

I had a shock this morning when I checked Gmail. I got an email from GoDaddy – a billing statement for $95.88. I thought there must be some mistake since I don’t recall owning any products in that price range. I checked the GoDaddy website and added up the monthly quotes and low and behold $95.88 is the new price for economy website hosting.

Compared to last year’s invoice which came to $66.02 this is an increase of 45%.

Is it worth it? I suppose we’ll see. Are there cheaper alternatives? Probably. Perhaps an upcoming project for Vancouver Gadgets will be moving the hosting to another provider.

2014 GoDaddy billing statement
2014 GoDaddy Billing Statement

 

go daddy website hosting price increase
2015 GoDaddy Billing Statement

 

My take on the increase is due to the recent IPO by GoDaddy. There is obviously a push to please investors. According to a recent report from Fortune, the company hasn’t been performing well financially:

“The company says it has about 13 million customers and a market-leading 59 million registered domains. In February, GoDaddy reported roughly $1.4 billion in revenue for 2014, which represented almost a 23% gain from the previous year. However, the company continues to lose money, with $143 million in losses last year after ending 2013 nearly $200 million in the hole.”

I think we can expect a few more price increases over the next five years until investors are completely satisfied. How about you? Have you been shocked by GoDaddy or your current web host lately?

Jay

Problem synchronizing Apple Calendar between devices

I’m hoping there’s someone out there with an answer on this one.

My wife and I have a number of Apple devices: she has an iPhone 5S running iOS 7.1.1, I have an iPhone 6 running iOS 8.0.2, and I have a MacBook Pro running Yosemite (10.10.1). Note we synchronize our devices with one iCloud account which we’ll call kenobi@mac.com. She prefers to use a third party app called Week Calendar rather than the native Apple Calendar.

Here’s the situation: She creates several all day events for her shifts for the entire year. Sometimes she needs to switch shifts so she edits those to be days vs graveyard shifts. The problem which seems relatively new is that the edited shifts revert back to the original randomly so the new dayshifts go back to original nightshift entries.

The issue started around the time I got my new iPhone in November but happens so randomly that it’s hard to say if that’s the cause exactly. If anyone can provide help or guidance it would be very much appreciated!

 

Jay

Should I stick with iTunes Match or go with Spotify?

spotify

I’ve renewed iTunes Match for another year but I’m starting to feel some buyers remorse. At close to $30 the service seems to lack what other services like Spotify are now offering for free. Hmm iTunes Match vs. Spotify. This is one of those questions I’ll be pondering for some time. Perhaps you’re in the same boat?

Every night at dinner I launch Spotify and find not only great mixes but entire albums that I can play for free mind you with the odd commercial every three songs or so. The commercials don’t bother me much and last only a brief time. They’re nothing like the commercials played on conventional radio that last for several minutes. At least not yet anyways. I’m sure over time Spotify will add longer and more annoying commercials in an effort to get more subscription dollars.

So if I’m launching Spotify everyday what about iTunes Match? You see the point is that I’m not really launching iTunes much at all these days. Spotify has all the songs in my iTunes library plus a whole lot more. I’m thinking that if I pay $9.99 per month for Spotify its not a whole lot more than iTunes Match. Consider that iTunes Match is $30 and albums are on average $10. If I buy only 9 albums each year I’m already at the same rate as Spotify.

The only downside to Spotify is that I can’t burn any of this music onto disk as it’s only a subscription and streaming service. This is a minor issue for me considering that I burn about 4 discs a year which I’ll play only in my car on occasion.

Hmm … go with the status quo or change things up… Let me know if you have any insights!

Jay

Christmas Gift Ideas

Pentax Q10 camera

With Christmas rapidly approaching we here at Vancouver Gadgets are compiling some of the best gadget gift ideas. Take a look at some of these and get ordering fast! You probably don’t want to wait too much longer if ordering online as your gifts may take a few days to arrive.

 

Super Smash Bros for Wii U

super smash bros for wii uMario! Link! Samus! Pikachu! All of your favorite Nintendo characters are back, along with plenty of new faces, in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, the next entry in the beloved Super Smash Bros. series. Up to four players can battle each other locally or online across beautifully designed stages inspired by classic Nintendo home console games. With a variety of control options and amiibo compatibility, the timeless Super Smash Bros. battles come alive.

Super Smash Bros. – Wii U

 

Pentax Q10 Compact Camera

Portability meets capability with the introduction of the Q10 to the world’s smallest and lightest interchangeable lens system. Featuring exceptional image quality and an upgraded auto focus system and the Q10 will capture detailed, blur and dust free images all while comfortably Pentax Q10 camerafitting in your pocket. With the Q, you no longer need to sacrifice capability for portability.

Pentax Q10 Compact Camera

 

Bose QuietComfort Headphones

QuietComfort 25 headphones are re-engineered to sound better, be more comfortable and easier to take with you. Put them on, and suddenly everything changes. Your music is Bose Headphonesdeep, powerful and balanced, and so quiet that every note sounds clearer. Even air
travel becomes enjoyable, as engine roar gently fades away. No matter how noisy the world is, it’s just you and your music-or simply peace and quiet. Bose completely redesigned their industry-leading headphones, with higher-quality materials and finishes. They’re lightweight, and earcups rotate even more for a better fit. The headband sits closer to your head, with luxurious suede-like material underneath for extra comfort.

 

Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

 

More to come

We’ll be adding more items everyday. Keep stopping by for the latest and greatest ideas from Vancouver Gadgets!

Jay and Ben

10 practical ways you can save money now

nellie's laundry soda

We all like to save money but sometimes we have difficulties finding ways to do it. Where can we cut costs? I could get rid of cable or my home phone but sometimes that’s not always practical. For example, I like watching a variety of live sports programs and the cost to do so is relatively low via my cable provider as opposed to Internet services. And if I get rid of my phone how are my kids going to have conference calls with their buddies while playing Minecraft?

These tips are mostly for folks impacted directly by electricity bills however I stuck a few general ideas in the list as well like saving money on lunches and by driving less.

 

Switch to cold water

Wash all your clothes in cold water. This is going to save you money over the long haul especially if you’ve got a lot of loads to wash. For me with 2 kids I wash about 4-5 loads per week. That’s a lot of water. Using hot water is unnecessary as I’ll show you in the next point.

Cyber Monday Deals at Amazon

 

Switch to laundry soda

Now for me I’ve got a front loading washing machine and I had been using traditional Tide HE detergent since about 2007. I didn’t think there were any other options until a few months ago when my machine overflowed foam all over my laundry room floor. I had purchased a tub of Nellie’s All Natural Laundry Soda and noticed a huge difference once I started using the product.

Not only is Nellie’s good for the environment, it’s good for you and good for your laundry machine. The major difference I noticed is that I could wash my clothes and not have foamy residue left over at the end of the load plus everything seemed to rinse off more effectively. Oh and by the way, my laundry room floor has been bone dry since switching. I could even switch to an express cycle which I’ll discuss next.

 

Switch to fast wash

Now at first I thought this might be more of a green initiative but quickly realized that my washing machine uses electricity (duh!). By switching the fast or express wash cycle I was able to cut the time to wash a load by 2/3 resulting in a dramatic energy savings and money back in my pocket. Now I could never have done this if I was still using Tide as that would have required a full wash to completely rid the tub and clothes of detergent foam and residue.

 

samsung he washer dryer

Hang to dry

This idea is a good one to save electricity costs associated with running your laundry dryer too often. Unfortunately for me I can’t partake of this as much as I’d like since I’m in a townhouse and don’t have the space to accommodate a bunch of soggy shirts and pants.

 

Eco wash for your dishwasher

I’ve recently switched to using eco-wash on my dishwasher as it operates for 15 minutes less than regular wash. Plus I’ve decided that using the heat dry function really isn’t worth it either. It just uses more electricity and just heats up the dishes. I particularly noticed that glass cookware doesn’t need the dryer; it’s mostly the plastic-ware that needs it so I’ve resorted to throwing the plastic dishes in the drying rack beside my sink after the cycle completes.

 

Hand wash dishes

This may not be all that practical however I’m adding to the list as it will cut down on electricity costs substantially. For most of us the reality is a combination of the dishwasher and hand washing so what I’d recommend from the practical side is rinsing your dishes in cold water rather than warm or hot. This makes a huge difference and rinsing by hand uses an  enormous amount of water, much more than you’d realize. Really pay attention next time you’re rinsing dishes by hand as this can be a hidden way to save a few dollars each month.

 

Turn the heat down or off

Depending on your tolerance for cold you may want to consider the alternative of turning off heating appliances and furnaces. Also consider spot heating rather than central heating for the biggest efficiency gains. In other words, why heat the whole house if you spend all your time in the kitchen?

 

Turn off unused lights and appliances

Before you leave the house for the day check around and turn off whatever you can. This one is really just a matter of planning your day appropriately. If you rush out of the house every morning you’re probably going to come home to some sources of wasted electricity.

 

Drive less

Here’s a good lesson in planning. Make a list and plan your trips so that you can get more accomplished at once. Consolidate tasks and think about what you need before leaving your house. Also if you can work closer to home. You’ll save on gas costs and feel better in the process.

Cyber Monday Deals at Amazon

 

Freeze leftovers for lunch

Rather than wasting what’s been leftover I’ve taken to the practice of boxing leftovers up in ziploc containers and freezing them for future lunches. In fact I’ll go as far as making and freezing an entire pot of chili in individual containers. This will save you an enormous amount vs. eating in restaurants.

 

I’m sure there’s more ways to save money but these are the ones I could think of that have the most immediate impact and are relatively easy to implement. I’ve personally implemented most of these in my life including “work closer to home”. I’ve cut my commute from 75km per day to 24km. Let me know if you have any other tips for saving. I’d love to hear from you.

Jay

Could Apple, Google, and Microsoft offer a premium music streaming service for free?

beats audio

So it seems we are in the heat of battle. We are witnessing the war of the music streaming service providers. The media has been full of stories of music streaming providers lowering prices, consolidating services and buying up competitors. For consumers this is a great thing as it means more choice and lower prices in the end. The top contenders for our dollars are currently iTunes (Beats), Spotify, Deezer, and Songza (Google). Is it possible that we’re moving towards a “music as a feature”  model? Could Apple, Google and perhaps Microsoft offer a premium music streaming service for free?

 

Music as a feature?

Google, Apple and Microsoft have a ton of capital and could potentially offer music completely free if they wanted to obliterate their competition. By the way, according to Forbes, “Apple has $160 billion in cash available.” They could easily pay for all its subscribers fees and have money left over. Tim Cook, if you’re listening, have you considered this option?

Just imagine the possibilities here, free music for Android devices and free music for Apple devices. This is a very realistic scenario with the huge cash reserves these two companies have and would solidify the positions of these giants as market leaders. How could anyone compete with that?

What about the possibility of “music as a feature”? Our smartphones have consolidated so many past devices into one. Look at cameras and video cameras for example. Remember video cameras? I remember literally just 5 years ago spending about $300 for a JVC MiniDV video camera and the quality was horrible compared to what I get out of my iPhone 6. Fast forward 5 years and now I get a high quality video camera virtually free in my phone.

Music as a feature isn’t too far fetched. Look, you’ve got Google with Songza and Apple with Beats. All you need now is Microsoft to buy Spotify. You’ve got 3 mammoth size companies with tons of capital and each with its own mobile device platform. It only makes sense and if all three participate then the competition remains at the device level. All the “record” stores have already been obliterated anyways. Why not simply “buy” the music industry itself?

How much money does the music industry need? According to the IFPI the music industry as a whole is currently bringing in $16 billion per year. If you have Apple, Google and Microsoft giving the industry $1 billion a piece every year that may cover subscriptions considering the industry has other revenues streams including merchandising, concerts, and CD sales to mention only a few

Okay I admit it may be a little far fetched. $1 billion a year is a lot of money. But when you have $160 billion in pent up capital is it really? Just imagine the interest alone on $160 billion. It must be enormous. Anyone a math wizard out there and care to calculate the interest or investment revenue range Apple could be earning on such a sum?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Netscape Navigator 1.1 launched 20 years ago

small
Netscape Navigator 1.1

It was 20 years ago on Monday that the first commercial web browser Netscape Navigator was released. Still in its infancy at the time, the web had yet to become the dominant form of communication that it is today. One cannot underestimate clearly how significant this release was or how far we have come on the web since those days.

I don’t remember the release at all and it wasn’t until 1997 that I began to use the internet regularly on Mac and PC’s that were in our computer labs at university.

Created by a 6 month old company called Mosaic at the time, Netscape Navigator allowed users with a 14.4 kb modem to work with the Internet interactively. I was fascinated by being able to surf the web to websites and get information. I also tried some early search engines like Yahoo, Hotbot, Lycos, Webcrawler and others. I hadn’t discovered Google yet and wouldn’t use it regularly for another few years.

USRobotics14.4
U.S. Robotics Sportster 33.6K/14.4K External Fax/Modem

My first home modem was a US Robotics Fax 14.4k modem. The 14.4 connection speed is laughable now but didn’t seem so slow. High speed internet was a still a few years away for the average consumer.  Dial up connections plugged your home phone line and were painful when downloading images but it was the best we had. It wasn’t until 2000 that I got ADSL from Telus.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) was the next browser to emerge and only a few years later, Microsoft and Netscape were locked in a bitter battle over who would become the dominant browser of choice for people. Microsoft had a huge market share at the time in the operating system (OS) market and was able to bundle IE for free with Windows. That killed any hope Netscape had of holding its place as a dominant tool on the web since most people used Windows as an OS on their computers and IE was already there for them to use.

As the browser wars raged, Netscape was acquired by AOL in 1998 and existed for another 9 years before it was scrapped in 2007. By 2007 Mozilla, whose popular browser Firefox built on Netscape technology, started to chip away at IE’s dominance and provided a solid alternative for surfing the web. Apple’s Safari browser was another option for Mac users as well.

It’s a good thing too because I had come to despise IE at this time, with its lack of HTML and CSS support as well as Javascript. It also lacked the smoothness and style of browsers such as Netscape and then Firefox.

What’s the deal with Club Penguin?

club penguin

So my son and daughter both have memberships to Club Penguin, at quite a steep cost mind you, and I’m starting to feel a little taken by the policies of this children’s social network. My daughter’s account cost $20 for a three month membership and my son’s cost $40 for a six month membership. Now why you would need to continuously pay for a social network is beyond me but it seems to be the rage amongst the elementary school set.

In comparison to other popular games out there, specifically for consoles, you buy the game once and you own it; rarely are there additional fees. For other popular online games like Minecraft the one-time fee is currently $27. For others like League of Legends it appears there are ongoing charges associated with participating in the games and social aspects of the platform ranging $10 to $25 to $50 for prepaid cards.

Now the thing the really got me this morning was my daughter telling me that she STILL cannot access some features of Club Penguin! I practically jumped out of my shorts! “What do you mean you can’t access features? We just paid 20 bucks!” Well my son proceeded to explain to me that “coins” are required to buy objects in Club Penguin. When I asked about acquiring coins he said you need to play mini-games to acquire coins.

The problem I found however was that coins are few and far between and take a considerable amount of time to acquire. Plus some objects in the game cost upwards of 5000 coins! So in other words my daughter will have to continue playing for a large amount of time to acquire one object. This sounds like ransom to me. If we pay to play we should be able to unlock all the features of the software. Come on Disney lighten up. This is a little ridiculous don’t you think?

 

Don’t believe the hype. Can celebrities save tech companys?

On Saturday my partner Jay Kenobi posted news about Aston Kutcher and his work with Lenovo. Is this by another tech company to cash in on the hype and profile such a celebrity brings. It seems that way.

We’ve seen this happen before one example being Blackberry who brought on Alicia Keys as Global Creative Director when they launched the new Blackberry 10 smartphones. Viewed by many as a simple PR move, Keys left the company in January 2014 after only a year.

Blackberry said that Keys involvement was much more than that and she was to help shape all aspects of the brand including  a scholarship program designed to help young women embrace the science and technology fields. When Blackberry 10 smartphones failed to sell much and the company has started to move away from pushing devices, Keys was let go.

Now Lenovo itself is in a substantially different place than Blackberry is and the company certainly isn’t struggling. This seems to be a trend with big tech company’s these hiring a celebrity to help pump up the brand and generate sales. It can help or hinder them but I’m wondering if someone like Kutcher will make any significant impact on product design, development or vision the way someone like Jobs did.

Perhaps by aligning with Kutcher and his well-known profile in addition to his portrayal of Steve Jobs in Jobs, a 2013 movie, Lenovo is hoping that they too have found the next visionary of the tech world. Kutcher went so far as to  adopt some of Jobs’ unique habits on diet to get in character as well.

Jobs the man, myth and legend are unique to him and him alone and no one can duplicate what he did. I’m not saying this as a rabid Apple fan boy but rather as someone who read Walter Isaacon’s Jobs in-depth and came away with the sense that what made Jobs was his upbringing, the things that happened to him in his life and his experiences made him who he was. That if anything shaped an already profound gift for thinking differently and pushing the boundaries not celebrity.

Jobs, well-known for creating the reality distortion field at Apple, used it as both a marketing tool and motivator for employees. Lenovo is hoping to create its own reality distortion field around Kutcher and its products. It remains to be seen what long term impact that will have.

Is Ashton Kutcher the next Steve Jobs?

ashton kutcher

Well apparently Lenovo seems to think so in today’s mass email distribution. There’s a photo of Ashton Kutcher hovering over a Lenovo tablet with a very serious look on his face. I’m not sure what Lenovo is trying to accomplish here but I find it a little disconcerting.

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And on this page there’s a number of photos of Ashton looking serious with Lenovo employees and customers. Personally I think the whole thing is in poor taste and makes me think a little less of Lenovo for depicting Kutcher as a Steve Jobs figurehead.

What do you think?

Jay