Friday, February 28, 2014

2 Way Radios in Public Safety & How They Relate to You

There are some moments when the world seems to turn inwards upon itself and nothing makes sense anymore.

In these moments, when man’s inhumanity to his own brothers and sisters would defy belief, were the chilling evidence not plain as day on your television screen, we are afraid. Anybody who says otherwise is either lying or mad.

In truth, these terrible moments seem to be increasing in number, with a multitude of terrorist attacks, a surge in civil unrest (caused, in large part, by the callousness of a government unconcerned with the lives of everyday people) and increased violence/gang activity on our city streets.

Public safety is a hugely important vocation, more so than ever in these uncertain times. Emergency services, such as the Fire Brigade, The Paramedics and The Police Service have to be able to respond to a major crisis within a moment’s notice.

In times of real disaster, such as a violent riot or terrorist attack, these services need to co-ordinate their efforts. Medical teams need to reach the injured, police need to arrest those responsible for starting the violence and the Fire Brigade must be responsible for tending to situations that don’t always involve fire (rescuing trapped civilians etc).

How can the emergency services keep in touch quickly, clearly and efficiently? They use two way radios, of course.

Two way radios are a proven technology. They are reliable, easy to use and cost-effective. Plus, they have strong outer bodywork that is well suited to dangerous operating environments.

It’s easy to train staff to use a two-way radio system and the devices rarely suffer from loss of signal like a mobile phone would. By pressing one button, users can easily interface with each other, share vital information over large distances (in real time) and, in the process, save innocent lives.

In a very real sense, two-way radios are a factor in your ability to sleep at night and feel safe and protected. As important as they are in other areas of British industry, they are even more important to public safety.

So, when you go to sleep tonight, spare a thought for the emergency services who bravely keep you safe, from fire, from violence and from serious injury/illness. Public safety is a vital part of our lives and these people are committing their professional lives to it, every single day. 

2 Way Radios in Public Safety & How They Relate to You

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Top Tablet PC"s of 2014

2013 has been a roller coaster year for tablets and for technology in general, and although a lot of that can be attributed to a giant lamp voiced by Bill Nighy (and if you missed the reference then you missed out on one of the year’s best movies), even more still can be ascribed to the good taste and ludicrously high standards (“what do you mean there’s no ‘time travel’ app!?) of YOU, the British consumer.

In order to continue this upward trend, we put our heads together and compiled a list of the year’s best tablets. You may be surprised at what comes first (actually, no, you won’t. We’ll say that right now. There are no surprises waiting for you at number one). Anyway, read on…

5. Amazon Kindle Fire HDX

The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX is, not to put too fine a point on it, awesome. The screen is breathtaking, the processor moves faster than David Cameron visiting a housing estate and the WiFi is better than ever (and, frankly, it was always pretty good).

But better even than that, is the price. Amazon continue to offer cracking tablets at amazing prices. You’re looking at £200 for one of these bad boys. It won’t break the bank like an iPad and it won’t disappoint like one of the many false economy ‘budget’ tablets out there.

That said; the earlier Kindle Fire HD is still one of the top 5 tablets out there if you’re looking to save a bit of dosh. Yeah, it has been out for a while now, but any Kindle version you care to name is going to be worth the money.

4. LG G Pad 8.3

2014 is going to be a good year for LG, and well; they’ve got to be about due, don’t they. After making a number of QGB (quite good, but…) products over the last couple of years, the G Pad is a welcome return to form. Fast, smart and groovy, everything about the G Pad screams care and attention, from the branding to the strong (yet lightweight and beautiful) aluminium casing.

Plus, 8.3 inches is an inspired size for a tablet. Not as cumbersome as a 10-Inch leviathan, but bigger than a 7-Inch ‘I may as well be a smartphone’ titch. What should, by all rights, have been a design disaster has, in fact, turned out to combine the best of both worlds. We can’t wait to see what those Korean lads and ladies come up with next.

3. Samsung Galaxy Note 3

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is a strong contender for best Android tablet of 2013, which makes it a very strong contender for best Android tablet ever made. However, it just loses the top spot to the Nexus (for reasons that we’ll discuss in a minute).

With a quad-core processor that’s beefier than a field of buffalo and a truly wonderful screen, this tablet is a joy to use. Add to this the sweet design job and you’re definitely on to a winner. You can even record video in HD. Yeah, it is true that nobody actually records videos on their tablet, but still, its nice to know that if you did, the video footage would be almost worth the beating you’d (justly) receive.

In short, this is a marvellous tablet and a genuine credit to Android devices everywhere.

2. Google Nexus 7 (2013 version)

Now, if you’re not an ‘Apple-ite’ (feel free to use that term), then your list ends here and, frankly, you certainly won’t go wrong if you choose to buy anything off this list with your Christmas money. However, whilst we’re talking value for money, they still don’t come much better than the Nexus series.

How the tech bods at Google can improve on this device is beyond me, but they have. In addition, they’ve also kept the cost down. This, like the Kindle Fire before it, is a winning device because it not only offers the best Android tablet experience in the world right now (in fact, ever), but it also does it whilst staying in the £200 price range. We actually can’t say enough good things about this series; we expect Google to carry on scoring big in 2014.

iPad Air

The iPad Air or any version of the iPad, is the best gosh-darn tablet in the world right now. That’s just how it is. The iPad beats every other tablet ever made and anything else is just wishful thinking.

Fast, sleek and sexy, the iPad looks like it costs what it costs, so there can be no savings here. Frankly, the cash-strapped need not apply. Apple don’t care if you can afford their products or not, because they know that deep down you’re willing to mortgage your very soul in order to own them.

Now, we aren’t the sort of smarmy, yuppie-types who swoon over the Apple logo just because of some sort of fickle allegiance, we’re the sort of sticky, geeky types who swoon over the Apple products simply because they are so damned good.

Maybe one day we’ll do a list that doesn’t have an iPad in the number one slot. Maybe. However, dear reader; today is not that day. 

Top Tablet PC"s of 2014

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Western Black Rhino Officially Declared Extinct

The western black rhinoceros, a subspecies of African black rhinoceros, has officially been declared extinct by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) this month.

The announcement marked a sad day in history for anyone concerned with conservation or the wellbeing of our natural world.

Despite the news sending media shockwaves around the world, the first proclamation of extinction was actually given in 2011 by non-profit organization ‘Save The Rhino’, however, this was not considered official, so some conservationists still held on to hope. Sadly, as of 2006, the IUCN had stockpiled enough evidence to declare the western black rhino extinct, but the group usually waits for five years before making an official announcement, just in case a living specimen is spotted or discovered alive.

The last western black rhinos to live in the wild were confined to a small area of Cameroon and were killed between 2003 and 2006 (reports vary as to the exact dates) at the hands of opportunistic poachers.

Poaching was undeniably the main cause of the species’ extinction and is a continuing threat to all remaining rhino species (there are only three subspecies of black rhinos left in the wild, all of which are considered to be endangered by the IUCN).

Rhinos are killed for many reasons, sometimes because their horns, when powdered, are used in Chinese medicine. Sometimes the animals are killed is because sport hunters enjoy shooting them and sometimes, farmers find them to be dangerous pests, so they shoot the rhinos on sight. In the Middle East, rhino horn is used to make ceremonial dagger handles. Even with populations dwindling, there is still a high demand for rhino horns.

Between 1960 and 1995, poachers, no doubt in search of a big payday, killed an estimated 98% of black rhinos in Africa. The western black rhino was the hardest hit of the four species, with numbers steadily dwindling as the poachers refused to stop killing these rare (and increasingly valuable) creatures.

To put the above into perspective, there were an estimated 50 black rhinos left in 1991, but by 1992, there were only 35. In 1997, it was announced that there were only 10 individuals left on the continent

Just 100 years ago, however, approximately a million black rhinos, members of four distinct subspecies, lived on the Savannas of Africa, today, there are only a couple of thousand and now, only three remaining subspecies.

In addition, the Vietnamese Javan rhino subspecies was declared extinct in 2011 and the main Javan species is now considered to comprise of only 50 remaining individuals, the majority of which are at serious risk from poachers.

At the time of writing, there are only seven northern white rhinos (which is possibly a distinct species of rhinoceros, rather than a subspecies) left alive in the world. As a result, there is not a large enough population to ensure species survival. The northern white rhino will almost certainly join its western black cousin on the extinction list fairly soon.

The word ‘tragedy’ simply doesn’t seem adequate.


Western Black Rhino Officially Declared Extinct

Friday, February 21, 2014

Just what would happen if I ignored the safety advice and used a radio or a phone on an airplane?

(Asked by Rory from County Kildare, Ireland)

Before all you regular readers point out that Margot from Brighton asked me a very similar question last month, let me just say that I’m answering this one simply because of the way Rory chose to phrase his question.

In life, we are constantly bombarded by instructions, orders and indefinable ‘rules’ (some of which are written down and legally enforced, while others still are unwritten and socially enforced). I’m sure I’m not the only one who, like Rory from Kildare, wonders what would happen if some of those rules were to be broken.

Being on an airplane is one of those serious occasions when the people around you enact a greatly heightened degree of safety awareness. Frequent fliers among you will no doubt be able to recite a standard safety speech without too much difficulty. As the cabin crew stone-facedly prepare us for the fact that, in the event of a crash, there really isn’t much we can do to save ourselves, they always make a fuss about radios, phones and related equipment, don’t they?

But why is this? Surely something as innocent as a transistor radio or a cellphone can’t hurt a great big aeroplane, and if they can, why are we allowed to have them with us on the flight?

In truth, that is absolutely the case, your radio/phone can’t really damage the plane in any serious way, (death by text message is not going to be a real issue for you) but amazingly, our handheld devices can cause a few problems.

Y’see, a radio receiver houses something called a ‘local oscillator’, which can act as an internal transmitter. This is usually a small signal that helps to clear up the incoming signal for the listener. However, although these oscillators are usually shielded, it honestly doesn’t take much for the signal to escape and play havoc with aircraft navigation technology. In the vast majority of occasions, this simply will not happen, but is it really worth chancing a freak accident?

Mobiles, however, are a slightly different story. They aren’t really dangerous to aircraft technology at all. It is theoretically possible, but so is being burgled by highly trained chimps in ninja outfits…

Essentially, the problem between mobile phones and planes is a logistic/economic one. The phone will search for signal at 30,000 feet and, in doing so, can chance upon hundreds of potential signals at once. This becomes almost impossible for the phone companies to figure out, making it simply a pain in the backside for the companies concerned.

Since there is also a risk (however marginal) to the safety of the passengers and crew, the ban will likely remain in place until someone figures out a way to charge premium rates from high above the Atlantic ocean, then the ads will talk about how they always put the customer first, no matter what.

Ultimately, however, it just isn’t worth the risk, Rory. So now you know and, as I was reliably informed throughout my childhood, knowing is half the battle. 

Just what would happen if I ignored the safety advice and used a radio or a phone on an airplane?

Sunday, February 9, 2014