The Gadget Show Live 2013

The Gadget Show's 'G' logo at The Gadget Show LiveOn Sunday the 7th of April, I went to the Gadget Show Live at the NEC in Birmingham. It was a really great day, and I want to share the experience with you, I just haven’t had time to finish this post!

First of all I must give thanks to British Gas, who were very kind to give me tickets to the sold out event. As you may know, thanks to a collaboration between Technology Bloggers and British Gas, I have been able to step into the future of smarter living, and experience how technology has the potential to improve our lives. The technology I tested was of course their Remote Heating Control system, and I got to try it a few months before the national roll-out; I reported my findings via a series, which British Gas later posted on their website.

The day was very good fun, and I live tweeted from the event – take a look at our Twitter account and you can find some of the Tweets.

There was a lot of technology on show, some of which was cutting edge stuff, just being brought to the market.

Super Show

I had tickets to the ‘super show’ which was an event in which the three presenters of the Gadget Show: Jason Bradbury, Pollyanna Woodward and Jon Bentley, showcased exciting gadgets, offering various prizes to members of the audience. The show was good, however it did feel slightly commercialised, as pretty much every third word was plugging a product!

Smarter Living

After the show, the first stand (there were hundreds!) I visited was the British Gas stand. They had been kind enough to send me to the event, so I thought it only fair to pay them a visit!

They had designed their stand to look like a home, and had equipped it with all the very latest smarter living technology. Their Safe and Secure security system, Remote Heating Control and smart meters were all on show. It was very well designed and the complimentary Stuff magazine was appreciated!

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Microsoft

A tweet I posted about the Gadget Show, had attracted the attention of the team at Microsoft Windows UK, and they invited me to check out their stand, and to use their bloggers lounge.

As the main sponsor of the event, Microsoft got a pretty big stand – making it hard to miss!

Microsoft's stand at The Gadget Show Live 2013On their stand, Microsoft were showcasing many of their different software and technologies, including IE 10, Windows 8, Windows Phone, Surface, Bing, 3D scanning software and a real time, 3D webcam!

There was quite a lot on display, and the amount of technology was quite impressive, that said, as the event was so busy, they needed it all, as their stand was quite crowded at times.

I got talking to the person manning the 3D printing section, and was then offered (as a blogger) to go to the bloggers lounge. There I met some great guys from the technology giant, including the faces of @IE_UK and @WindowsUK, and the Senior Product Manager for Windows at Microsoft UK. I was given a tour of Surface and IE 10, and got to test them out for myself. I was quite impressed.

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I love Windows 7 and don’t have any problems with it, so I have never really thought about upgrading to Windows 8, however having been given a Windows 8 license, I am going to test it – expect more soon!

AQUAdue Loo

There was some really innovative technology on show this year. One example was AQUAdue‘s toilet system, when you need to flush, a tap which runs into a basin on top of the loo, starts to run. Use this to wash your hands, and it fills up the toilet for the next flush. What a great idea to save water and space!

AQUAdue toilet system

3D Printing

TARDIS 3D printout

3D printed TARDIS cufflinks.

The 3D printer Microsoft were using on their stand was an Up! 3D Printer. On another stand there was a firm called Denford Ltd there, who were showcasing the capabilities of a 3D printer. Probably the best giveaway I got from the event were some 3D printed TARDIS cuff links – as a techie, and a Doctor Who fan what better freebie could you get?

The technology has been around for a few years now, however it’s now starting to become mass market. Fancy a 3D printer? Well they aren’t as expensive as you might think, here’s a link to somewhere you can buy an Up! Mini 3D printer for less than £1200!

3D printed objects

An Up! 3D printer and some printed objects, included a printed TARDIS, castle and Yoda.

Microsoft were also using the Up! 3D printer to showcase their 3D scanning technology. You could get your head scanned, and then a miniature version printed out, right there and then – how cool is that! Gadget Show presenter Jason Bradbury seems to think so too, as he went to get his head scanned and printed! Take a look below.

Gadget Show's Jason gets a 3D printout of his head

The Gadget Show’s Jason Bradbury gets a 3D scan and print out of his head.

Too Much!

It was a really great day, and there was far too much there for me to talk about it all. Some of the best bits I have mentioned above, there’s loads more that I haven’t mentioned, mainly because I don’t want to run too far over 900 words – people tend to switch off after that!

I think from the number of tweets and images in this post, you can see that there was a lot going on 🙂

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What Not To Share on Social Media

The point of social media is sharing, along with openness and at least trying to be yourself over the internet. While there are a lot of things worth sharing and airing to the world, there are some things that are best unsaid – or in this case un-tweeted, un-Facebooked, and just kept to yourself.

Photos of credit cards or other financials

You might be thinking “nobody is stupid enough to do that,” but the truth is, there are people who have already done it. Some people have posted photos of their credit cards – account numbers and all, leading to some nasty comments. Clearly, this is not a wise thing to do. Others post photos of bills, leaving their names and addresses unblurred. This is a big risk that can easily be avoided. You are nullifying a section of Facebook’s Community Standards that state:

“We take the safety of our members seriously and work to prevent attempts to compromise their privacy or security, including those that use fraud or deception. Additionally, we ask that you respect our members by not contacting them for commercial purposes without their consent.”

Pranks

If you post a link that is seemingly interesting, make sure it really does lead to a worthwhile page. Otherwise, you are just wasting people’s time. Rickrolling, where linking people to a YouTube video of Rick Astley singing “Never Gonna Give You Up” was very popular, is now an annoyance. Show some maturity. This may be in violation of this section from Facebook:

“Before sharing content on Facebook, please be sure you have the right to do so. We ask that you respect copyrights, trademarks, and other legal rights.”

As well as Twitter, from their Twitter Rules:

Copyright: We will respond to clear and complete notices of alleged copyright infringement. Our copyright procedures are set forth in the Terms of Service.”

It was said that Rick Astley asked the video to be taken down. When you Rickroll, you are committing a violation.

Vague updates

If you are being vague, you are most likely asking people for attention. You want them to ask you what it is about but the truth is, nobody really cares about your vague status updates.

Crass photographs – of yourself, no less

We are not all blessed with bodies of Greek gods and goddesses so it might be in everyone’s best interests to avoid uploading that self-portrait you took when you were fresh out of the shower. Besides, the terms of Facebook say that:

“Facebook has a strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content and any explicitly sexual content where a minor is involved. We also impose limitations on the display of nudity. We aspire to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo’s David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.”

Your contact details or anyone else’s

Your phone number is a very sacred thing that should only be given out to people you know and trust. There are lots of people on the internet that will take great pleasure in making your life miserable if you happen to post your contact details on any social media websites.

Social media privacy

Your address, photos of your home, and vacation dates

These are all a combination of ways to say “I will be gone on these days but hey, look where I live and see the nice things that will be left unattended”, which, in a nutshell, is an open invitation for people with less than noble intentions.

Threats and bullying

There is nothing worse than a bully who does their dirty work online. It is also a clear violation of Twitter and Facebook’s policies:

“Safety is Facebook’s top priority. We remove content and may escalate to law enforcement when we perceive a genuine risk of physical harm, or a direct threat to public safety. You may not credibly threaten others, or organize acts of real-world violence. Organizations with a record of terrorist or violent criminal activity are not allowed to maintain a presence on our site. We also prohibit promoting, planning or celebrating any of your actions if they have, or could, result in financial harm to others, including theft and vandalism.”

“Facebook does not tolerate bullying or harassment. We allow users to speak freely on matters and people of public interest, but take action on all reports of abusive behavior directed at private individuals. Repeatedly targeting other users with unwanted friend requests or messages is a form of harassment.”

“Facebook does not permit hate speech, but distinguishes between serious and humorous speech. While we encourage you to challenge ideas, institutions, events, and practices, we do not permit individuals or groups to attack others based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.”

Violence and Threats: You may not publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others.”

Rules are there for a reason and following them will make social media sites a better place for everyone involved.

Which social buttons do you want on the blog?

Technology Bloggers is a community blog, therefore it is only right that the community are consulted on the decisions made.

My question to you is which social networks do you use, and which would you like to be able to connect with on the blog?

There are four main places you can get social on our Technology Bloggers at the moment: the first is the social icons in the header; the second is our social buttons on the sidebar; the third is the social buttons at the top of articles; and the forth is the social icons at the bottom of articles. Check out the image below to see them all.

Social Icons

Technology Bloggers social icons and buttons

My worry is, that we are not providing the buttons/icons you want. I just assume that everyone wants Facebook and Twitter, but do you use them?

In the image above you can see all of the buttons we provide you with. I never really thought we had that many, but putting them all together, there are a lot!

If I know what everyone uses, I can get rid of any unnecessary buttons, and potentially add some more useful ones in.

Which social buttons do you want? Let me know in the comments.

Here are some ideas:

  • Google: Google +1; Google+ Share; Google Buzz
  • Facebook: Facebook Like; Facebook Share
  • Twitter: Twitter Follow; Twitter Tweet; TweetMeme
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit
  • DZone
  • StumbleUpon
  • Topsy
  • Digg
  • Delicious
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • DesignBump
  • Serpd
  • TheWebBlend
  • BlogEngage
  • Pinterest
  • Flattr

Letting you know about recent updates

As the loyal readers among you may have noticed, there has been a lack of posting in the last week or so, but don’t worry, this trend shall soon be halted, as there are many new and exciting posts written, planned and on the way very soon.

This article is just to keep you in the loop and let you know what is going on.

Usually, I will endeavour to keep people up to date with updates to the blog via our social channels, specifically Facebook and Twitter. I feel the blog is a place for content, whilst notifying you about updating the ‘frills’ that are the design and functionality updates should be the place of social media.

Social Media Updates

Let me start by letting you know how our social side is currently evolving. A few months ago, Facebook stopped feed compatibility, meaning that if you liked us on Facebook, you no longer got updates regarding new posts. Now however I have linked Twitter to Facebook, so every tweet @tecbloggers tweets is also posted on our Facebook page.

UPDATE: We now tweet under the username @TechBloggers.

This means that you can now receive updates of new posts via your Facebook feed.

Some tweeters like to spam you with content every five minutes, likewise, update Facebook statuses practically all the time. I don’t believe in this, and only post/tweet an update should it be something you may want to know. Updates like small site improvements/issues and interesting content are the sort of thing we use our social media channels for.

Occasionally if I find, or someone brings to my attention something interesting that I think is worth sharing to the community, but doesn’t warrant a post, then it may get shared via social media. Don’t worry about getting spammed if you subscribe, we will only be posting stuff you probably want to know about.

I have also recently added a cover photo to our Facebook page, as it was looking a little bland. I didn’t have any great ideas, but I think it works for now 🙂 If you have any suggestions, by all means leave them in the comments below.

Facebook cover photo

Technology Bloggers Facebook cover photo.

In future, I don’t plan on writing as many of these sort of posts, as I feel it is better to keep you informed via social media, of updates as and when they occur.

If you don’t want to miss out on future update news, subscribe now!

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In other news…

Top Writers

For a long time now we have had a top commenters widget at the bottom of every page, however the observant among you may have noticed the appearance of a new widget: a top writers list.

I came across the plugin whilst searching for something else, and thought it was a good idea. This is a community blog, so if we highlight the top commenters, why should writers not be recognised too? Well now they are 🙂

A screenshot of the top commenters and top writers list

The top commenters list excludes administrators and resets every month, the top writers list doesn’t.

Design Updates

Technology Bloggers design is constantly being updated and tweaked. I believe that continuous improvement is important. Most of my time is spent writing and replying to comments, however I do dedicate some time to improving other areas of the site.

One recent update is the removal of the social icons from the sidebar, and the addition of a new set of social buttons to the header. I felt that this area needed a bit more colour, and the buttons bring just that!

More Speed!

A few weeks ago I posted on our social channels:

“Just moved servers in order to speed up the blog 🙂
Do you notice a difference?”

We encountered a few problems, however they were soon sorted out, leading me to later post:

“A few hiccups later, Technology Bloggers is fully functioning and faster than ever!”

The blogs response time was sometimes really quite slow (usually higher than 2000 miliseconds!). I moved the blog to a different server and the response time is now around a quarter of what it was, currently around the 550 ms mark.

That is one reason you may have noticed the blog loading faster, another is because of the relentless efforts that I have been putting into slimming things down and reducing load times.

Google’s Page Speed tools have been very useful, enabling me to see where the site lags, and what can be done to improve it. I think there may be an article on the way soon with more detail on Page Speed, and how I have and am still using the tools to speed up the blog. Watch this space.

Jonny

For a while now, Thursday here on the blog seems to have been Jonny’s day, with him posting a regular feature on a Thursday for more than ten weeks now.

The day is not a dedicated day to the writings of Mr Hankins, however at the moment, I feel it is good that the regular feature is on a fixed day, as it gives consistency. His articles are very popular, and it is a delight every Thursday looking to see what new and innovative topic he has chosen to cover.

Jonny has been busy travelling of late, meaning that last week he was unable to post. Don’t worry though, he already has an article written and lined up for us for tomorrow 🙂

Competition

Just a quick note about a competition I plan on launching next Monday. Technology Bloggers has teamed up with two other blogs, and hopefully will soon be launching a competition in which anyone bar the three prize donors can enter for a chance to win one of three $50 USD prizes in a $150 competition!

UPDATE: This will now launch on Tuesday.

Until Next Time

That’s about it from me now, so remember, if you want to keep up to date, be sure to subscribe to our social profiles, and stay tuned to the blog to see our exciting future unfold…