Archive for the ‘Gadgets’ Category

We’re hiring!

November 3, 2011

Alright everyone, it’s time to dust off those CVs.

Skywrite is looking for both account managers and senior account executives to assist across our portfolio of corporate and consumer accounts.

Work would include everything from technology and telecoms accounts to pure play consumer. This is a great opportunity to work across a broad spectrum of different clients – including some of the biggest brands out there!

Email for more information!

18-24 year olds send on average 110 texts a day

September 21, 2011

What? Doth mine eyes deceive me? Surely this story can’t be right?

Firstly – how do they have that many friends that they need to contact every day, and secondly, what do they have to chat about at such length?

I fall into this category, being 24, and I can safely say, hand on heart, I send nowhere NEAR that amount of texts. Nor have I ever. I appreciate that this is on average, but worryingly, that means there are some in this age group who send way more than the average.

These findings lend themselves nicely to the amount of chatter we hear about people being addicted to their mobile phones – with research from Ofcom finding that ‘60% [of teens] admitting to being ‘highly’ addicted to their phones.’ This survey takes it one step further, by revealing that ‘the study also shows that smartphones have begun to intrude on our most private moments, with 47% of teenagers admitting to using their device in the toilet. Only 22% of adults confessed to the same habit.’ Eww.

It’s true that smartphones are totally ubiquitous these days – they do everything for you: let you stay in touch with friends/family, read news on the move, watch TV, listen to the radio, and basically stay on top of your social life by acting as a calendar. They even have games to keep you entertained on a long journey – who needs Travel Connect4 now?

Going back to the texting element though, I do wonder if we’ll soon be seeing more and more injuries caused as a result of too much texting. Research that dates back as far as 2006 shows that millions suffer from RSI’ – so surely it’s not too much of a leap to expect that figure to now be in the billions? The NHS has a page set up dedicated to causes/symptoms of RSI that’s due for update in February 2012. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to imagine that one of the causes to be added on to that list will be ‘texting’.

Top-tips: Netbooks

September 14, 2011

The hype surrounding the iPad would lead you to believe it had single-handedly killed off the humble netbook, but it seems the plucky little underdog has fought back. There’s still plenty of demand for netbooks and for good reason: they don’t lock you into a walled-garden operating system, are far easier to type on and have bucket-loads more apps available (you know, software).

Granted, they’re not as sexy as the iPad but that’s beginning to change thanks to some slick models from Samsung, Asus and other manufacturers. The introduction of Intel’s dual core Atom processor also gives them greater processing power than their reputation suggests. But above all else they’re far more customisable, allowing you tweak performance, preferences and programmes any way you like. With that in mind, here are Skywrite’s top tips for those sitting on the netbook side of the divide:

1) Increase your RAM

This is without question the most important tip to improve your netbook’s performance. Microsoft insists that manufacturers cannot qualify for the cut-price Windows 7 Starter operating system when shipping products with more than 1GB of RAM. This helps to keep the price down but isn’t ideal for performance.

Fortunately, 2GB of RAM is cheap as chips these days and very easy to install yourself. However, a word of warning before you pick up the screwdriver: You risk voiding your warranty unless you get a certified technician to do it for you. Several PC retailers offer this service for about £30 but may also require you purchase the RAM from them, which is typically more expensive. The swines.

2) Cut-out the iTunes fat

iTunes is a massive hog on computing resources. Whether you’re using a netbook, laptop or desktop, it can have a noticeable impact on how smoothly it runs. Fortunately, Ed Bott over at ZD Net has written a comprehensive unofficial guide to cutting out the bloated and unnecessary software Apple bundles into iTunes.

3) Get cloud-based antivirus software

Uninstall whichever trial antivirus programme your netbook comes pre-installed with and move to a cloud-based alternative. By shifting much of the antivirus programme’s grunt work into the cloud, scanning files on a remote server instead of using your machine’s processing power, it will free-up resources substantially whilst automatically updating its database of threats. There are several options out there from the usual antivirus powerhouses but perhaps the best freeware version comes from Panda Cloud.

4) Sort out your start-ups

One of the impressive features of the iPad is that it takes mere seconds to switch on and get going, a process that can become frustrating to the most placid of PC users. You might not be able to achieve iPad-like boot times, but editing which programmes start-up automatically when your netbook powers-up can keep it reasonably sharp. To do this, just click ‘Start’ on your Windows menu, then ‘Run’, now enter ‘Msconfig’ into the dialog box and hit the Enter key. Select the ‘Startup’ tab and uncheck the programmes you don’t want to run automatically. Some have ambiguous names and descriptions, so if you want to ensure you don’t accidentally turn off your antivirus software then check out this database for clarification.

5) Get your game on

Being unable to play games on your netbook is a myth. You can comfortably play a range of less graphic-intensive games and practically any classic or retro game. Fear not, as the latest incarnation of the Football Manager series will run just fine, though you may want to switch off the 3D match generator. “But there’s no optical drive on a netbook” I hear you cry? Not a problem with digital distribution services such as Steam for modern games or for the classics.

Being unable to play 3D games on a netbook is also a myth. The integrated graphics card won’t stand a chance with Modern Warfare 2 but that doesn’t matter with cloud-based gaming service OnLive, which can run the most advanced games on its own servers and relay your commands back to you in real-time. Browser games have also come on leaps and bounds in recent years and offer 3D games for free – check out Battlestar Galactica Online from our client Bigpoint for example.

6) Personalise Windows 7 Starter

Windows 7 Starter Edition keeps your netbook cheap (yay) but it also has some limited features (boo). One of which is the bizarre decision to not allow netbook users to change their wallpaper or other standard settings. However, because Windows isn’t a completely closed platform you can quickly fix this by installing Starter Background Changer.

Five of the best: Game intros

July 11, 2011

They say that a good beginning is half the battle, so some of us at Skywrite towers have put our heads together to come up with our top 5 PC game intros of all time.

Quake 2:

The Quake series was never really big on plot or character development, but id Software certainly put together a perfectly balanced first person shooter. Nevertheless, at a time when intro cinematics were the status quo, the opening to Quake 2 managed to stand out from the crowd. From the creepy voiceover which fills in some back-story, to an exhilarating drop-ship sequence that’s vaguely reminiscent of Aliens, the intro movie sets the tone for the entire game very effectively – and it blends perfectly into the gun-toting action.


Any game that throws a plane crash at you and THEN a bathysphere ride has to score high marks. The reveal of the game’s underwater setting, Rapture, is among the most glorious of any gaming sequence. For a second it’s actually hard to believe that all this is being rendered in-engine. Nevertheless, the intro also manages to feed you some useful information on the political back-story of the city, which will, of course, come back to the foreground later on.

Freespace 2:

A year after Freespace had given the space combat sim a much needed shake-up, Freespace 2 arrived on the scene. Set 30 years after the original, the intro cinematic bridges this time gap perfectly. A ferocious space battle before the main title cuts to the aging and gutted debris of the capital ships years afterwards. Plus the voiceover perfectly sets the brooding tone of the entire game.


Valve Software took a different approach to its seminal first person shooter by ensuring that all of the game’s action takes place from the main character’s point of view. Only a few games had tried this before (notably Unreal) and the intro is no different. For a game that has some of the most memorable action sequences ever created, the opening is very understated: you sit on a tram on your way to work, heading deep into the Black Mesa Facility. This sequence does three things: it grounds you inside a “real” world, it ensures you realise just how isolated you are inside this enormous facility and it hints at all not being well in the complex…

Total Annihilation:

This was a one-hit wonder of the RTS world, which never received the sequel it very much deserved. The cinematic intro sets up the conflict between the ARM and the CORE, as you move from one Commander to the other across a hectic battlefield. It’s a great way to introduce the sheer variety of tactical options that this game opened up to players and the orchestral score perfectly backs up the high-octane action.

That’s it from us, do comment below with your own suggestions!

Thought control?

April 12, 2011

No we’re not talking about Big Brother and CCTV cameras monitoring your every move, but rather controlling devices through the power of the mind.

We’ve discussed using electroencephalogram (EEG) electrodes to decode electrical activity in the brain before, but researchers at the University of California, San Diego have come up with a way to allow you to dial numbers in your mobile phone, simply by thinking them.

The technology just needs a normal handset with a Bluetooth connection to the EEG headband and away you go. Apparently, thought control is relatively straight-forward to pick up and very accurate.

So next time you think about how you should really call your parents or siblings – watch out! – the phone may just start ringing.

You (auto)complete me…

December 6, 2010


Technology is a wonderful, helpful thing – with the possible exception of autocorrect software, which seems to be on a mission to try to put the wrong words into our mouths as soon as we let our guard down.

Check out Damn You Autocorrect for a few nuggets of comedy gold…

Five of the best: Futuristic movie weapons

June 4, 2010

Lightsabre (Star Wars)

Recently placing as the number one best movie weapon of all time according to a poll by 20th Century Fox, the lightsabre can only be handled by those strong enough in “the force”. It can chop through anything and severed limbs are a specialty. And who can forget Star Wars kid?

Pulse Rifle (Aliens)

The only solution to your xenomorph problem. The M41-A pulse rifles were created from a Thompson SMG and a Franchi SPAS-12 shotgun. In the movie they allegedly fire 10 millimetre explosive tip caseless standard light armor piercing rounds. Strange that there are quite a few shots with ejecting brass then…

The ZF-1 (The Fifth Element) 

Redefining overkill, the Zorg ZF-1 has a titanium recharger, a 3000 round clip (with “replay button”), a rocket launcher, an arrow launcher with exploding or poisonous gas heads, a net launcher, a flamethrower, and the “Ice Cube System” which seems to be a freeze gun which fires a cloud of liquid nitrogen.

Railgun (Eraser)

A hand-held railgun with an X-ray scope, designed to complement the gun’s ability to penetrate through almost any barrier. In the movie, the EM-1 is said to fire aluminum rounds at close to the speed of light, which is dubious for all manner of reasons…

Sick Stick (Minority Report)

Apparently this weapon has just been invented for real. In the movie, the sick stick instantly makes the opponents vomit and feel sickeningly ill for some amount of time, so that they can be subdued and cuffed.

Future perfect?

April 27, 2010

What kind of technologies will be making headlines in 30 years? Physicist, futurist and well-known media figure Michio Kaku has some ideas about that, including thought-controlled computers, smart wallpaper, driverless cars and printable organs.

Unsurprisingly, the world of the future looks to be all about connectivity, but taken to a point where the technology disappears – leaving smart chips built into almost every household object or surface…and even you. Smart objects in your bathroom can give you a complete medical every time you take a shower, and internet connected contact lenses will let you surf the internet anywhere (while also pointing out the objects you are about to walk into presumably).

Anyway, while you’re waiting for these technological leaps, here’s a video of Michio in action:

Five of the best: Anti-theft gadgets

March 2, 2010

In the first instalment of a new recurring feature, we look at five of the most ingenious anti-theft technologies out there today:

1) Create a hidden compartment in any wall in your house and then hide the evidence with this fake electric socket covering. Unless thieves try to plug something in, they’re unlikely to ever spot this clever little hiding place. The only problem is that space is fairly limited, but it still provides enough room for your passport and other vital documents.

2) Hark back to the 80s with this fake car stereo facade. With most new cars sporting CD or mp3 players, car thieves will likely not look twice at this relic from the days of disco. The stereo uses an old cassette tape deck as a facade that attaches on top of the current stereo in your car.

3) Carrying your laptop or notebook around in this handy imitation newspaper case could be one way to avoid potential thieves. The newspaper even comes in five different languages, although clever criminals may wonder why you’re still reading news from months ago…

4) In the same vein as the car stereo protector, why not try out this handy Walkman case for your iPod? Of course, the extra size and weight may make this one unpopular with joggers…

5) This one may be somewhat unethical, but it’s a lot of fun. The “Home Security Paintball Gun Turret” can automatically track and gun down any moving target that comes into its range. Pets and would-be burglars beware.

CES 2010 – Alive and Kicking

January 7, 2010

Vegas, baby

Another January, another set of resolutions we won’t keep, gym membership we’ll stop using come March, detoxes we’ll abandon almost as soon as we’ve started and yes, another CES. 

Except this year the mood in sunny Vegas (sorry everyone in the UK complaining about the snow!) is not worried or tentative but full of optimism. I’d even go so far as to say it’s brimming with excitement! And what is there to be excited about? Well, quite a lot actually. You’ve got the big boys announcing some real leaps forward:  LG announcing 3D TV, Skype TV and even broadband-bundled TV, Nintendo telling us the next DS will have a motion sensor like its Wii brother/sister (pick your gender, mine is a girl) and Samsung launching ebook readers which let you write all over them.  And let’s not forget about Google’s new baby, the Nexus One. The phone will be available in the UK through Vodafone but interestingly enough you’ll actually be able to buy it through the Google website itself. For Google this is huge – they have never gone straight to the consumer before and some would say it’s a really risky move. Only time will tell what the sales experience will be like. Could we be seeing a series of #Googlefail on Twitter later on this year?

Then there’s the up-and-coming brands like Parrot really blowing people away with its AR Drone – an iPhone controlled flying machine that hovers at head height and lets you play augemented reality games.  

As a big fan of Slingbox myself (anything that lets me catch up on Gossip Girl and my other half on MOTD while we’re abroad gets my eternal loyalty), I was always likely to navigate towards them at the show. Having had a quiet year in 2009 they’ve just launched their Sling Touch Control 100 with a 4 inch screen that will speak to any SlingEnabled device and DVRs over WiFi and older set top boxes via infra red. Yep am all over that. I suppose the cynic would question if we really need any of these new innovations. But the gadget geek in me will always say a resounding yes – innovation is alive and well at CES and it’s great to be here watching it all unfold.

And then of course there are the parties…

The AR Drone is proving popular at CES

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