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Making a Murderer Season Two: The Steven Avery Updates

making a murderer season two

Three years ago, a complete phenomenon took over on Netflix. It was called Making a Murderer. This documentary told the story of Steven Avery, a man who was wrongfully imprisoned, serving 18 years of a 35-year sentence before being released. Just two years after his release, he was at the centre of another case; the murder of Teresa Halbach. Assuming you’ve watched season one, there are spoilers ahead as I dive into the first two episodes of season two.

What Happened in Season One?

Watching back some of the reminder scenes brought a lot of it back and just how crazy the whole story is. Avery, wrongfully imprisoned, released and then accused of another murder while, at the same time, suing Manitowoc County for $36-million. The prosecution side was led by Ken Kratz, a very unlikeable type who was later publically shamed for a sexting scandal and right back at the very start of it all, it appeared that police had coerced a confession from Brendan Dassey, Avery’s nephew.

steven avery family

What’s Different in Making a Murderer Season Two?

Season one focuses on the murder of Teresa Halbach and who the police came to suspect, arrest and charge both Avery and Dassey, despite some questionable evidence gathering along the way. Again, if you’ve reached this stage without watching season one, stop and go watch it.

Season two is the natural progression. The two men are in prison and desperately seeking support to continue their efforts to clear their names. The early episodes re-introduce those involved from the first season while also introducing some new protagonists; namely Kathleen Zellner.

Who is Kathleen Zellner?

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we’re talking about real people who are involved in a real-life murder case. So it does feel weird to say it like this, but the true stars of the first season were Avery’s legal team of Dean Strang and Jerome Buting. The public became obsessed with these guys, so much so they’ve been touring and giving public talks since appearing on Netflix in 2015. Soon after Avery lost his case, these legal team stepped aside and since 2016 he has been represented by Kathleen Zellner.

kathleen zellner

Zellner is known as a specialist when it comes to freeing the wrongfully accused. I still struggle with how I feel about the case and whether or not I think Avery is guilty, but if he’s not Zellner is the woman who’ll get him off the hook. Zellner has righted more wrongful prosecutions than any private attorney in America and in the opening episodes of Making a Murderer season two says if you’re guilty, hiring her is the stupidest thing you can do because she’ll find out your guilty.

How Does Season Two Play Out?

I’m afraid I’ve got no idea who season two plays out. I’ve only had the chance to watch two episodes and they spend a lot of time running through the case to date, updating us on Avery and Dassey along with seeing some early blood splatter testing by Zellner and her team. She’s bought the iconic Rav 4 four-by-four found on the Avery lot which Halbach drove and through some quick tests decides that positioning of the blood is not consistent with what sent Avery to prison.

Being totally honest, the first two episodes aren’t as gripping as season one. There’s a lot of setting up and reminding to be done. I’m actually shocked that season one first appeared on our screens nearly three years ago. The reason it’s taken so long for season two? The US criminal system moves extremely slowly. One of the documentary’s creators said Making a Murderer really just follows individuals “fighting for the right to have a court listen to their arguments” The creators are uncovering a convoluted post-conviction process where the odds are stacked against the defendant.

I knew this process was very long and slow, it took years to come down, and I knew the odds were against you. But I don’t think I understood how the door to the courtroom is closed and you have to fight so hard just to get into court to present your evidence. I thought when you found evidence that would matter, but there’s a lot you can’t count on.

Whether or not season two can live up to the phenomenon that was season one or not remains to be seen. Two episodes in, I could really see this going one of two ways. There may not be much more of a story left to tell, or perhaps the story is only getting started. You’ll just have to watch season two in full to find out. I’ll do up a full review once I binge on the rest of season two.

Making a Murderer season two is streaming today on Netflix Ireland.

 

Does Shopping With CeX Ireland Actually Save You Money?

is cex good value

You might have spotted that I recently went on a wee rant about the price of things in Urban Outfitters. I’ve often heard retailers moaning about online leading to the extinction of the high street shopper, but in truth, it’s savvy shoppers looking for a deal and moving online is the real cause. Very often, shopping on the high street will cost you money and who doesn’t like a few bob staying in the pocket.

One day, back in 2015, I was browsing through a few bits in CeX; the granny’s drawer of high street gadget shopping. I came across a first generation Chromecast which, despite being second hand, cost more than a brand new second generation Chromecast. I was flabbergasted and at that moment I realised why so many high street shops are closing their doors; they’re an absolute rip off.

Three years on, I’m checking out CeX again to see if they’ve changed their ways and ask once again, do you really save money by shopping in CeX?

What is CeX – The Computer Exchange

CeX is a UK based company, founded in 1992 and eventually coming to Ireland in April 2011. CeX provides a service where customers can visit stores to exchange electronic devices for cash or store credit These items are then assessed and resold by CeX. The model has proven extremely popular, with the first Irish store achieving €1.3 million in sales in the first year and a further 24 branches opening since nationwide. Sounds like everyone wins right?

CeX Trust Pilot

The general perception around CeX is that it provides very good value. Consumer reviews website Trust Pilot states the retail exchange specialists have earned an 8 out of 10-star rating, supplied by customers of the store. A quick read through the comments left by customers does indeed suggest the vast majority of shoppers enjoy a good experience with CeX. One question remains, however. Is CeX good value?

Is CeX Good Value?

I’ve picked out ten popular tech gadgets from the CeX website to check them against buying from other retailers. The gadgets are considered to be in Class A condition which is practically as good as new. These are often at the higher end of the price spectrum but are still classed as “used items”. To check if a better price can be found, I turn to our friends over at PriceSpy. This price comparison website trawls the internet looking for the cheapest price on electronics.

Let me start with the gadget that started it all.

Google Chromecast

  • CeX Price: €48
  • Google Store Price: €39

Ironically enough, it looks like PriceSpy doesn’t take the Google Store into consideration. This is a pity as Google has just started paying attention to Ireland, launching the Google Home, Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL over here.

Regardless, I know the price of these in the Google Store and despite them being second hand in CeX, they cost €9 more. They’re not signed by a celebrity or anything either. That’s just you paying more for something that’s been used by someone else.

Apple TV 4th Generation

  • CeX Price: €145
  • Apple Store: €159

One all. The latest version of Apple TV is actually cheaper than it is to buy directly from Apple. You’ll save €14 by going with CeX. Of course, there’s a but. Don’t forget this is a used Apple TV. The big question is – would you rather buy something brand new or save €14 and get an Apple TV that’s been through the ringer?

Apple Earpods – Lightning Connector

  • CeX Price: €29
  • Apple Store: €28

Another win for CeX, but only just. You can save a whole euro when you buy replacement Apple Earpods with CeX and not straight from Apple.

But you know, used in-ear earphones. That’s gross.

Apple Airpods

apple airpods

  • CeX Price: €170
  • Apple Store: €179

Yet another win for CeX, but I do hope you’re seeing the trend emerging here. Save €9 when you buy used in-ear wireless earphones over buying lovely clean new ones directly from Apple.

Amazon Echo Dot – Second Generation

  • CeX Price: €50
  • Amazon.co.uk: €46 or €56

Amazon has just announced their third-generation range of Echo products so you’d expect CeX to drop prices accordinglNaturallylly they don’t which means it’s now cheaper to buy a brand new Amazon Echo Dot from Amazon.co.uk over CeX. If you want to stretch a little further, you get a brand new third-generation Echo Dot for just €6 more than last year’s model in CeX.

Apple iPhone 8 64GB

Here’s where things start to get a little silly…

  • CeX Price: €815
  • Apple Store: €709

If you want to buy a used iPhone 8 from CeX it will set you back over €100 more than a brand new one from Apple. Think of the warranty you’d get with Apple and knowing that phone is brand new versus one that’s been through the wars. I just don’t understand how CeX charges so much for used goods.

People are wandering in off the streets every day and buying phones at these mad prices.

Apple iPhone Xs 64GB

  • CeX Price: €1280
  • Apple Store: €1179

Apple’s latest flagships are the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max. You can pick these up from stores on the high street, from CeX or directly from Apple. Naturally, many people will pick these up on a contract which does cost more than the direct price from Apple. It’s hire purchase, so networks make some money by spreading your plan over 24-months.

CeX, on the other hand, is again charging over €100 more for a second-hand iPhone Xs than Apple charge you for a brand new one.

Seriously.

CeX: The Verdict

There may be benefits to shopping with CeX, but I’ve yet to really find one. I’ve never shopped with CeX because it’s just so easy to pop into another store or grab something off Amazon. CeX is taking in items from the public in exchange for rather small sums of cash or store credit. Then, they drive up the price to a ridiculous high and wait for some poor soul to wander in without researching and make a purchase.

Take my advice:

  • Shop smart
  • Shop around
  • Check Price Spy
  • Never assume second hand is always cheaper

Amazon Introduces the New Echo 3rd Generation

The true smart home…a dream of tech heads the world over is slowly but surely becoming a reality, largely thanks to Amazon and their Alexa range. The ability to control things in your house like temperature, plugs, bulbs and TV was a pipe dream a mere 5 years ago but since Alexa and her range of skills hit the market we have never been closer to full home integration. That’s why Amazon have doubled down on Alexa and built her a whole new suit of hardware – pretty much all of which are available to buy right now!

Image result for take my money

What’s new?

In short…everything. Amazon have updated pretty much everything in the range, with older products like the Echo or Show getting a full face lift. They have also brought a few interesting new products to market to make it easier than ever before to add Alexa to any room in your home.

“We want you to have access to Alexa everywhere—in your kitchen, in your living room, in your office, and more,” said Jorrit Van der Meulen, Vice President, Amazon Devices International.

Echo Dot

Price – €55.99

OK, this is the piece that really caught my attention. The nex-gen Echo Dot has swapped out it’s shiny plastic exterior for a new fabric design that looks so slick and comes in three different colours (Charcoal, Heather Grey, and Sandstone), so no matter the room it won’t stand out like a sore thumb. The Echo Dot doesn’t just give Alexa a stunning new body, the speakers inside are much louder and sound a helluva lot better.

With the Echo Dot you can do the usual weather, play your favourite music in a multi-room music grouping, set timers and alarms, and control compatible smart home devices from just this one small device. Genuinely if you are in the market for a smart assistant or something to control your smart home, then this is the one. Unless you would like more sound, that’s where the Echo Plus comes in.

Echo Plus

Price –  €159.99

The Echo Dots big brother – The Echo Plus got a very similar redesign with its long fabric shell and higher quality speakers to boot. With the built in Zigbee smart home hub you will be able to connect all smart with one simple voice command “Alexa, discover my devices,” and sit back as it automatically discovers and sets up compatible lights, locks, plugs, switches, and more without the need for additional hubs or apps.

Echo Input

Price – €39.99

The smallest of the Echo range – as someone said to me “it’s the size of a good finger”. At 12.5mm tall the Echo Input lets you add Alexa to your existing speaker. Amazon claim that an awful lot of people use their Echo to plug into something else, so now you can do this with a cheaper and smaller device.  Unlike Echo Dot, which has a built-in speaker, all audio is played through the connected speaker rather than through Echo Input itself. So that old Hi-Fi system sitting in the corner gathering dust might just be about to get a new lease of life. This device is not available quite yet but we should see it before the end of the year. Hopefully before Christmas as I can really see this being a nifty little gift for someone.

Echo Sub

 

Price –  €134.99

If you follow us on Instagram you would have seen me messing around with this piece of monster music equipment. Playing Foggy due in a meeting room in London city center… probably not my smartest move in the world but what have you.

The Echo Sub is a giant wireless sub-woofer for anyone who loves their tunes and wants to pump up the volume when listening to music or podcasts.

The wireless speaker will connect itself to any compatible Echo devices, well two of them at a time anyway. What’s cool about this is the fact it will work alongside any other speakers you have to improve thing like the base, while with their inbuilt equalizer feature you can adjust sound settings through the Alexa app. Really it’s ideal for music lovers but as it’s not Alexa enabled in itself I wouldn’t be rushing out to get it as your first device.

Amazon Smart Plug

Price –  €27.99

The Amazon Smart Plug in the most basic sense will allow you to make any device in your home smart. Plug this into the socket and plug your toaster, coffee maker or whatever you want into the Smart plug and viola that’s it you can now power it on and off through Alexa. Literally as soon as the plug is on it will search and pair with your Alexa powered devices so you are ready to go without any real setup.

But why would I want a smart plug I hear you ask? Think about it like this right, you wake up in the morning half dead to make coffee, whereas now you can tell Alexa to turn on the coffee maker at 6:30 and a boiling hot pot of brew will be ready to pour by the time you crawl out of your bed.

Availability and more

All these products are available to order now, but some features, namely on the Echo Show will not be available in Ireland straight away. While most people won’t see the value in a lot of the range, techies will be enthused by the likes of the Sub and show. If you are starting out with your first voice assistant or smart home you could do a lot worse than going for the Echo Dot, Smart Plug and Philips Hue bulb combination. That combo will set you back less than €150 and will allow you control lights and a plug socket as well as having Alexa to play music or make your shopping list. Trust me if you start with this it won’t be long until you want the rest. Just wait for the day you want a smart microwave (currently only available in the States but it’s 100% real)

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Launches in Ireland: The Year of Huawei

mate 20 pro launch ireland

I’m going to be honest with you from the outset here. Even as recently as last year, I wouldn’t have been comfortable having Huawei as my daily runner smartphone. They’ve been making great phones for years, arguably back as far as the P8, but they just weren’t as good as the heavy hitting flagships. I’ll admit, I didn’t pay the Mate 10 much attention and as a result, my socks were properly blown off by the P20 Pro earlier this year. Now, with the exception of the past few days as I’ve been testing out the Pixel 3 XL, the P20 Pro became my go to phone. It replaced the Note 8, a phone I really loved.
The P20 Pro is really an incredible phone but the Chinese manufacturer wants to go one step further before closing out the year. Huawei has just launched the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. I was lucky enough to be brought over to London last week by Huawei to get an exclusive sneak peek at the Mate 20 series and I’ve got to admit – 2018 is the year of the Huawei.

Key Features of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei Taking Over Ireland in 2018

Huawei has had one hell of a 2018 already. Earlier this year, they launched the P20 Pro, a smartphone which I personally think made smartphones cool again. The triple camera setup is incredible which led to it being granted the top spot on the DxOMark scale, leaving every other smartphone, including iPhone, in their wake. They even stole second place as the biggest smartphone distributor from Apple too. You think they’d be happy enough with that right?
Unfortunately for Samsung and Apple, that’s not the case. With the P20 and P20 Pro really shaking up the regular consumer market in Ireland, Huawei is now taking aim at young entrepreneurs and business people with the Mate 20 series.

Meet the Mate 20 Series

Huawei is launching two new flagships to join the P20 and P20 Pro. The bigger brothers to this phones will be the Mate 20 and the Mate 20 Pro. The Mate 20 Pro will deliver some of the most incredible specs and tech I’ve ever seen in a smartphone, while the Mate 20 will deliver similar but slightly watered down specs.
Most impressive is the Mate 20 Pro and this is what I spent most of my time in London playing with. While you can expect to see a much more in-depth review from me in the coming weeks, here are some first impressions I got during the sneak peek session.

What Makes the Mate 20 Pro Different?

In-screen Fingerprint Scanner

One of the very first bits of tech to stand out on the Mate 20 Pro is the in-screen fingerprint scanner. After setting it up, I couldn’t help but proclaim loudly – “we’re living in the future”.

We’re living in the future

When Apple killed the headphone jack, there was a logical alternative available in wireless audio technology. When they killed the fingerprint sensor, there was nowhere else to go. Sure, they have facial recognition and so too will the Mate 20 Pro, but the new Huawei flagship has truly gone above and beyond what I thought I’d see in a smartphone for another few years. A sensor beneath the screen means you can not enrol your fingerprint to your smartphone and then unlock it by pressing a specific spot on the screen.

mate 20 pro in screen fingerprint scanner
My mind was blown, seeing a fingerprint scanner below a fully functional smartphone screen. I won’t pretend to understand how it works, but it’s bloody impressive.

Fast Charge – No, Seriously Fast Charge

They say a watched pot never boils. Maybe Huawei should enter the pots and pans industry. I’ve never seen phone charging quite like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. With a 4200 mAh battery and the smaller Mate 20 having a 4000 mAh battery, the Mate 20 Pro can achieve a 70% charge in just thirty minutes. That’s a day and a half of battery life, in just thirty minutes. It’s ludicrous. It charges so fast, you can actually see the charging progress, pardon the pun, bolting along.

mate 20 40 watt supercharge
This is all possible because of Huawei’s 40-watt supercharger, but don’t worry. As scary as that sounds, you won’t have a Samsung Note 7 style incident happening with your Mate 20 or Mate 20 Pro. Huawei rather cleverly enlisted the help of TÜV Rheinland who specialises in mapping the safety of manufacturing processes. Basically, they make sure Huawei’s batteries don’t go boom.
Apple supports fast charge but then has the audacity to not include this as standard out of the box. Huawei, Google and Samsung, to name but a few, include fast charging as standard. Consider that a very reserved rant ended.

All Power to Huawei

The charging innovations don’t end there for the Chinese manufacturer. For the first time, Huawei will introduce wireless charging into their range. While wireless charging is cool, it’s often quite slow, especially when you consider how fast wired charging has become. Again, thanks to Huawei’s upping of the power a bit, the Mate 20 Pro, powered by a14-watt wireless charger can charge 160% faster than the iPhone X.
While that’s pretty neat, Huawei had another charging trick up their sleeve. It the ultimate display of power over other smartphones, the Mate 20 Pro will feature Wireless Reverse Charging. The battery is so impressive on this uber-flagship that Huawei know you’ll be the one with extra juice to share. So, if you’re out and about and your mate’s phone is running out of juice, you can place your phones together and give them some power. The only obvious caveat here is that your friend needs to be using a phone which supports wireless charging. It’s worth pointing out, however, it doesn’t need to be a Huawei smartphone.

The Mate 20 Pro Camera

It’ll have to overtake the P20 Pro, right?
Huawei continues to team up with Leica lenses to deliver a best in class experience with the Mate 20 Pro. With a centre-mounted, triple lens array the Mate 20 Pro can shoot wide-angle, telephoto and ultra-wide shots with ease.
Combined with the mighty Kirin 980 chip announced at IFA 2018 in Berlin, the Mate 20 Pro can offer 134% more artificial intelligence power than the chip which powers earlier Huawei smartphones. This means the phone itself can spot what you’re trying to capture and actually adjust settings accordingly. The P20 Pro is capable of identifying 10 to 15 shooting scenarios, but with the additional power of the Kirin 980 chip, the Mate 20 Pro can identify and adjust shoot settings for up to 1500 scenarios. For me, this is the true birth of smart phones. Think about it: what’s actually so smart about smartphones? We tell them to do everything, but now the Mate 20 Pro will actually do a lot of the heavy lifting for you and ensure you’re taking a great shot.

For me, this is the true birth of smart phones

I only had a very brief chance to test out the camera on he Mate 20 Pro, but from what I saw I was fairly impressed. One of the most incredible shooting modes uses the wide-angle lens, allowing you to capture epic, dramatic shots, shots I’ve never seen a smartphone capture before.
Considering I’m now also testing out the Google Pixel 3 XL, I’ll be able to really put the Huawei 2018 flagships through their photo shooting paces; watch this space.

Security

The Mate 20 will depend on a read fingerprint scanner to unlock the phone. For the Mate 20 Pro, I’ve already touched upon the in-screen fingerprint – pun wholeheartedly intended, but there’s also some serious facial recognition. Now, Huawei isn’t breaking ground here to be fair with the technology behind their facial recognition resembling that of the iPhone X, iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max. You’ll hear words like dot projector, infrared camera and flood illuminator used to describe the technology in both.
At the end of the day, you and I both know we’ll all be using the in-screen fingerprint right? Still, I’ll give this a more thorough test in the coming weeks.
Another security feature is one I’m a massive believer in; the Password Vault. With more and more data breaches taking place these days, you should be using different passwords for every website you sign up to. I’ve been using LastPass, a password manager, myself for the past year or so and would you believe I don’t know passwords for most sites I use. Instead, I just know a passphrase which locks LastPass which in turn provides me with access to whatever sites I’ve set up. If one site gets hacked, I just need to change the password on the affected website and not every other site I’ve ever used.
Long story short, the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro will include a password manager. Sorry, that was a really long story that could have just been short, but you should really start thinking about password managers. This kind of carry on is going to become the new normal in personal online security.

Huawei Watch

I’m not a Huawei fanboy, but I have become a massive Huawei advocate. For smartphones, that’s a very recent thing, but for wearables, it’s been a few years. I bought the first Huawei Watch and absolutely loved it. I recently parted ways with it and bought the Huawei Watch 2, mainly because I want to use Google Pay – a feature I’ve been promised is coming soon. Huawei’s wearables have been quietly making quite a dent into the wearable market, growing 147% market share in the past twelve months – making them the fourth-biggest wearable manufacturer in the world.

Wear OS Out – Lite OS In

Until now, that growth has come from Huawei’s focused on their Wear OS range, but now they’re changing things up a bit. Just like Samsung runs their wearables on a homemade OS called Tizen, Huawei is now launching a new wearable which runs their own Lite OS.

huawei watch
I will admit, after seeing Samsung’s Tizen I have some major reservations about Huawei’s move into a Lite OS-powered wearable. Will they quickly roll out support for popular apps like Google Maps and Spotify? That aside, the new Huawei Watch does have some mightily impressive stats.

For Fitness Fans

Huawei is focusing on the fitness wearable market. You know, people who enjoy the swim-tracking power of Garmin or the constant tracking power of a Nokia Steel HR. If you want your new Huawei Watch to track your sleep patterns and give you notifications, you’ll only need to charge it every 30-days. Think about it; a wearable that you only charge twelve times a year.
Now you can crank up the level of information your watch gives you and depending on how far you want to crank it, you’ll get between 22 hours and two weeks of battery life.
When it comes to looks, the new Huawei Watch continues Huawei’s style of actually looking like a watch. One strap has a lovely leather outer but rubber inner, meaning it’s the perfect dress or gym wearable.
But I digress…

Huawei Mate 20 Pro: First Impressions

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro might do the impossible; top the P20 Pro. Now, with that said I need to make an important point. They are not directly competing. Huawei is going for a dual flagship because different people want different phones. The P20 Pro will suit some, the Mate 20 Pro others. I’m going to take some time to decide which person I am and come back to you soon with a much more in-depth review and then, hopefully, I’ll be able to point you towards which phone you’ll prefer.

Where to Buy the Huawei Mate 20 Pro in Ireland

Huawei smartphones can sometimes be hard to come by, however, the Mate 20 Pro will be available from Irish networks. Better still, if you order early you can get yourself a Huawei Watch and a wireless charger for free. Not too shabby eh?

Register your interest in the Mate 20 Pro with Three Ireland.

Amazon Echo Show – Brand New, Better Sound, Bigger Screen

“Alexa”…. a name whom over the last couple years we have grown more and more accustomed to. Over the last number of years she has cornered the voice assistant market space in a way the Google and Apple have failed to do. I think the common consensus is that out of the Google Home, Apple Homepod and the Amazon Echo, it’s Alexa that wins every time. Anyway Alexa is back again this year in some new and improved hardware, one of which is the all new Echo Show. The tabletesque device that brings a visual element to voice control might just be one of the more interesting products we are going to see this year.

“Customers tell us they love the convenience of being able to ask Alexa to show them things,” said Jorrit Van der Meulen, Vice President, Amazon Devices International.

Slick new Design and Improved Audio

To be fair the new Echo Show is a fine looking piece of kit. The 10″ HD display is the centre piece of a complete redesign that aims to bring voice and visual together with a style that will look good in the kitchen, the office or the living room. While the sound quality on the previous model wasn’t bad the new Echo show is fully loaded with a rake of new gear such as dual, side-firing 2-inch Neodymium drivers, a passive bass radiator and a Dolby processor. This give the Echo Show some real firepower so you can listen to your Spotify playlist or use Amazon music to see the on-screen lyrics play along with the music….Kitchen Karaoke here we come.

Get Help in the Kitchen

The new Echo Show is going to even more useful in the kitchen as Alexa now will be able to give you step by step cooking instructions. Simply pick your recipe and Alexa will talk you through a step by step guide with supporting visuals. You won’t ever have to touch the screen with wet or dirty hands while cooking to go to the next step as you can tell the device when you are ready to move on. Oh and in the next couple of months they will be adding new recipes, improving the visuals and adding a few extra things like the ability to set timers.

See who’s at the door with Ring compatibility

Image result for echo show ring

Ok, the video doorbell won’t be available until the end of the year but when it is you will be able to link up with Ring doorbell cameras. Just say “Alexa, answer the front door,” and you will be able to see who is at the door before you go and answer. That’s a cool little safety feature if you ask me. You can also have a bit of fun by using Alexa Routines to play custom announcement when the camera detects movement or someone rings the doorbell.

Built in Smarthub

Image result for zigbee smart home hub on echo show

The Echo Show will also come with a built in Zigbee smart home hub. This makes things very easy to set up your smart home. Say “Alexa, discover my devices,” and she will find and connect with all compatible bulbs, plugs and switches, all without the need for extra apps. Four words and that’s your set up complete, nice…

Improved Calling Options

The Echo Show comes with a 5MP camera that will support HD video calling. This means you will be able to do hands free voice or video calls with any you know with an Echo Spot, Echo Show, or the Alexa App. While that’s all well and good, where it gets interesting is when you add Skype into the mix. In the very near future you will be able to ask Alexa to call someone on Skype and you will get through to them, wherever they use the platform.

“This new experience makes it even easier to connect with friends and family and we can’t wait for customers to try it out.”Gaurav Sareen, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft.

Shop Smart

I’ve always thought this feature was quite handy because let’s face it we have all gone to the shop with a list in our heads and forgot the whole thing by the time we get to the place. Ah, but no more… now with the Echo Show you will be able to tell Alexa to re-order toothpaste, coffee or whatever you want and she will let you know when it’s on the way. You will also be able to create lists, just tell her what you need and never forget the milk again. 

Browse the web

The Echo Show will also be integrated with Firefox, once open, you can use the on-screen keyboard to type a URL and visit your favourite website.  And like other browsers, you can bookmark websites for easy access.

New Skills

While there are already thousands of skills available on the new Echo Show there are some new and improved bits and pieces that are well worth a look. Find out what’s on TV, play tunes through Vivo or Amazon Music, view your shopping list or catch up on the news, all of these skills will have new visual aspects to get the best use from the Echo Show’s display and to improve the user experience.

How much and when can I get it?

Ok, so the Echo Show will set you back roughly €250 and you can order an accompanying stand that will allow you to tilt the Echo Show to adjust the viewing and camera angles for only €30. It could be a great Christmas gift. We are hoping to get our hands on one in the coming months for an up close and personal review, watch this space!

Interested? Check out more over on the Amazon.co.uk website, and check out our UK delivery guide if to make sure you’re getting the best shipping price.

Google Pixel 3 XL Review: Specs, Features and Pricing From Google’s New Flagship

google pixel 3 xl

The Irish smartphone market had gone pretty stale over the past few years only for 2018 to flip that idea on its head. For years, Samsung and Apple have been releasing some of the most “meh” smartphones in recent memory and this was the year they really paid for it.

My daily runner smartphone for the past few months has been the incredible Huawei P20 Pro, boasting a camera so impressive that it still tops the DxO rankings and they still have another flagship to launch very soon to close out 2018. Earlier this year, it emerged that Three and Xiaomi would be teaming up, meaning the Irish market would now have two Chinese heavy hitters being an option for Irish consumers.

Last week, somewhat surprisingly, Google announced their Pixel range would also be available in Ireland. I was fortunate enough to be handed a Pixel 3 XL the day after it was announced and have been using it for the past week or so.

If you’re in the market for a smartphone and you’re considering the Google Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL, here’s everything you need to know.

What Makes the Google Pixel 3 Different?

Every smartphone manufacturer claims to have the best cameras, most improved battery life and most innovative features, but what actually sets the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL aside from the competition?

Android the Way Google Designed It

I’ve been testing out the Pixel 3 XL and for me it’s the fact you get to run Android the way Google intended it to be. I adore the Huawei P20 Pro, but Huawei’s EMUI Android skin isn’t for everyone. Google’s original take on how Android should looks and feel is more playful to enjoy. That sounds silly, I know – but really it stood out to me.

More importantly, Google doesn’t force you to have any apps on the phone you don’t want. I tried to uninstall Facebook on my P20 Pro, but could only disable it. Unless I install it on the Pixel 3 XL, I don’t need to worry about it. For me, this was the reason Android was built in the first place – to give you control over your smartphone and it’s nice to have, trust me.

The Most Google Power in a Smartphone

This definitely won’t be for everyone, but the Google Pixel range always hardnesses the most powerful elements of Google’s search powers. At their Made By Google keynote last week, Google introduced Call Screen. So, you know all those scam calls that do the rounds? Well, with Call Screen you can let Google Assistant speak to unknown callers and take some notes about why they are calling you. You can then read a live transcript of what the caller wants and either answer the call, cancel it or report it as spam.

Neat, huh? Google’s latest Assistant features won’t be limited to screening calls. Google’s slightly creepy Duplex lands next month. This feature made headlines as the Google Assistant can call places like restaurants and make bookings for you. That’s Google Assistant talking to real people and making plans. Here’s how the demo went:

Whether or not that will launch in Ireland immediately remains to be seen, but I’ll see if I can find out.

Pixel Stand

If Google Assistant is something you love, then you’ll definitely be picking up a Pixel Stand. The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are the first Pixel smartphones to support wireless charging. Google has gone one further and built a wireless charging stand which triggers a Google Home mode on the phone. This effectively gives you an extra Google Home with a screen whenever you have the phone docked.

Esim

Google didn’t sing about this much at the launch and understandably so. This is a very new technology which I’ve only, so far, seen on the latest iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max. Esim means you can have a second phone number attached to your phone which doesn’t require a physical sim card. Unfortunately, there aren’t any Irish providers that use esim, but it might be handy if you’re travelling and looking for a local data plan outside the EU.

You can’t, however, use two numbers at the same time and must pick which one you want to use at any given time. A very strange call, but possibly easily solved by a software update. This is also a very niche feature right now, so I wouldn’t be considering it a make or break feature.

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Key Specifications and Features

That’s what sets the latest Pixel apart but here’s the rundown of the regular specs you’re likely to compare when considering any new smartphone.

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Camera

Dual lenses, triple lenses, quadruple lenses and even quintuple lenses. The number of cameras being jammed into smartphones lately is incredible. Which is what makes it quite surprising that both the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL both only have single primary camera lenses. Actually, it’s not fair to say “only” because the single lens is pretty good. I’m still testing it out and I’m not convinced it beats the P20 Pro. I can’t wait to see what DxO rating the Pixel gets, but I can’t see it overtaking the P20 Pro. Here’s a quick comparison shot I took when out and about in Dublin:

If it was a boxing match, this would be going down to the judges’ scores.

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL have 12MP primary cameras and both also have dual 8MP selfie cameras, which means you can shoot those cool bokeh style shots for selfies too. That does mean the Pixel 3 XL has a sizeable notch on the front; more on that later.

Beyond the great shots, you can take with the Pixel 3 and 3XL, Google has packed in some other cool features too.

Super Res Zoom: Digital Zoom That Works

Considering there’s only one lens, you don’t get optical zoom – meaning you only get digital zoom. I’m not sure I’ve ever written this down before, but I’ve often advised people to never use digital zoom. You’re generally better off taking a shot and just cropping it later. However, Google has found the solution. When you zoom in on something with the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, the phone’s camera uses the natural movement of your unsteady hand to add extra information to you shot. This gives you a higher resolution zoomed shot and the results, I’ve got to admit, left me eating some humble pie:

Naturally, I don’t think this can take on optical zoom, but that’s damned impressive quality for digital zoom.

Night Sight

I’m sorry that I keep comparing these phones to the P20 Pro, but that’s the measure everyone has to beat for me right now. Night shots on the P20 Pro are incredible. Here’s one I snapped while wandering around Berlin at IFA this year:

Google is also taking on the darkness with their new flagships through a feature called Night Sight. The good news is – it looks to be extremely impressive from Google’s demo shots comparing with the iPhone Xs shooting in low light:

google pixel 3 night sight

The bad news is – this feature hasn’t been rolled out to the Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL yet, so I can’t tell you how it performs in real life. I’ll update this post once Night Sight rolls out, hopefully, next month.

Top Shot

Humans blink, sneeze and sometimes have their hair blow around the place all the time and sometimes this even happens when you’re taking a picture of them. That’s why the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL has Top Shot. This feature uses machine learning – Google loves a bit of machine learning – to sort through the moments before and after your shot to give you some of the best options. Top Shot looks for photos where people are smiling with their eyes open while also detecting blurring and focus to make sure you only get the best shots.

Google Pixel Playground

A quick mention of this just because it’s gas. We’ve all gone a bit mad for augmented reality lately and Google picked up on that. With Playground, you can insert objects and characters into your photos. It didn’t take me long to play with this:

Just discovered playground mode on the Pixel 3 😂

A post shared by Martin Meany (@peameany) on

The Notch: I’m Talking About Design Here

I was going to generally talk about the design in this section, but there’s only one element of the design worth talking about really. The notch.

First of all, the notch only features on the Google Pixel 3 XL and not the smaller Pixel 3. My first reaction to notches was highly negative. This all started with Apple and the iPhone X and at the time I thought it was a shocking move. Then everyone started copying, even my beloved P20 Pro. I have to admit, much like I did over headphone jacks being removed from phones, I had to eat some humble pie and admit notches aren’t a big deal. You get used to them, can hide them and they do free up some extra screen.

But the Pixel 3 XL has a massive notch. Images of the phone which leaked in recent weeks showed just how big the notch would be and it was horrific. At their keynote, Google tried their best to hide the notch, but still, it was impossible to miss. And you’d think that would be all you need to know.

However, when you use the phone as your daily run around phone, you still don’t notice it. I’m not sure what’s going on here, perhaps it’s some kind of psychology thing, but notches aren’t a big deal. They become a blind spot that you get used to so don’t let the drama surrounding the new notch put you off getting this phone.

The only other design feature worthy of note is the dual-facing speakers. The Pixel is nice and loud whether you’re listening to tunes or watching some shows.

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Specifications List

Google has kept the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL specs pretty much on par with each other. The only specs which differ are the screen and battery size. Here are the key specs:

Google Pixel 3 XL

Google Pixel 3

Size

158 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm 145.6 x 68.2 x 7.9 mm

Display Size

6.3 inches 5.5 inches

Weight

184g 148g

Protection

IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins) IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins)

SIM

Nano and eSim Nano and eSim

Display Type

P-OLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours P-OLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours

Operating System

Android 9 Android 9

Internal Memory

64GB or 128GB 64GB or 128GB

Expandable

No No

RAM

4GB 4GB

Main Camera

12MP 12MP

Selfie Camera

2 x 8MP 2 x 8MP

Cable Type

USB C USB C

Headphone Jack

No No

Battery

3430 mAh 2915 mAh

 

It’s extremely early days, but I’ve not been blown away by the battery life in the Pixel 3 XL. I’m going to give it a much more scientific test versus the P20 Pro in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for that.

I’m a little concerned about the onboard memory of the 2018 Pixel family. Vodafone will only be stocking 64GB options and I do wonder if that’s enough in this day and age. Couple that with the fact both Pixel handsets have no expandable memory and it might be worth throwing a bit more cash at your purchase and going SIM-free with the 128GB model.

Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Pricing and Availability in Ireland

As I covered on launch day, the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL will be available from the Irish Google Store and Vodafone Ireland. That means you can get both phones either SIM-free from Google or on a contract from Vodafone. The latter might very well be an unlocked handset so ask them when you buy it.

Here are the calculations to help you decide the best place to buy your new Google Pixel phone.

 

Monthly 3 3XL
Vodafone €40 per month 1409.99 1509.99
Vodafone €60 per month 1689.99 1789.99
Vodafone €80 per month 1920 2019.99
Vodafone €40 per month SIM only 1859 1959
€30 per month SIM only 1619 1719
€20 per month SIM only 1379 1479

 

Of course, you need to consider your usage when choosing a plan. Make sure you get one that meets your needs. Vodafone’s plans do have some pitfalls, particularly around the data allowances you’re given.

The SIM-only pricing includes the cost of a contract for 24-months and the SIM-free price of a phone from Google. While Vodafone offers a €40 SIM-only contract, they are one of the pricier in the market.

If you can afford to pick up a phone SIM-free, direct from Google and pick up a €30 SIM-only contract or €20 per month prepay plan to get the very best deal for yourself. The pricing I’ve given here is all for the 64GB model. You can add an extra €100 to bump up to the 128GB model.

Google Pixel 3 XL: The Verdict

The Google Pixel range has been a long time coming to these shores. They’re finally here and I’m delighted with them. Should you buy this ahead of the Huawei P20 Pro? I’m actually not sure. The P20 Pro is a little more grown up maybe? The Pixel has a playful feel to it. You won’t be disappointed with either phone to be perfectly honest. You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned Samsung or Apple here and it’s for good reason. The long-standing market leaders are being left behind by the new age outlaws of the smartphone world.

The Rise of The Gaming Addict

Nowadays the discussion of gaming addiction is present in almost every household, only recently it became a medically declared addiction. It’s also a growing topic of interest in radio and media. The debate of where to draw the line on what’s a healthy or productive dose of gaming is still a major grey area.

Gaming and streaming networks combined have given rise to a new monetization platform for the avid gamer like never before. This creates a greater incentive for the gaming community to invest even more hours now. The question is how much time spent on the activity is too much. The fact of the matter is there is a crucial difference between “excessive gaming” and “addictive gaming”. The difference lies in the psychological motivation of the gamer.

Image result for gaming addiction

The Pro $$$

Take for example a professional athlete who may spend an estimated 6 to 8 hours a day going through grueling workouts. They may also need attend physio appointments or have media obligations to fulfill. In this case an athlete may be restricted in their options for downtime. Spending a couple of hours relaxing and gaming might just be what the doctor ordered. They can even connect with friends near or far online, giving them that social interaction they may desire. Their bodies resting while their mind reaping the many cognitive benefits of gaming. – I.e. Improvement in coordination and cognitive problem solving. This is a healthy relationship with the pastime that so many love.

You could apply the same principles to any working professionals or college students. Once what needs to be tackled for the day is done, by all means you have every right to spend your free time as you wish. Some people like reading, others enjoy clubbing and some choose to dominate on the joypad.

Getting Twitch Famous

Another scenario may be an average gamer who decides to stream via “Twitch” or “YouTube”. Nowadays more and more social media influencers exist. With their lavish lifestyles, rising fame and 6 figure pay cheques flaunted across the internet, it causes an understandable desire for emulation. Ninja is a pro gamer, well known for his Fornite stream, shit you not he earns $500,000 per month from Fortnite. Let’s just let that sink in…

Image result for ninja fortnite

The money on offer can lead to an obsessive thirst for that glorified stardom. If in the rare occasion the gamer is beginning to show signs of rapid growth in a fandom, now the gamer is driven to spend even more hours online. The logic of this is more time spent online increases the odds of your channel reaching a wider audience. A larger audience leads to generating more potential revenue for the gamer. Profit from these channels can be made through various routes. In regard to “Twitch” for a few examples, a mere 50 followers enables you as a “Twitch” affiliate. Now you’re receiving a small share of adverts the streaming network runs against your screen. It also gives you additional monetization options –I.e. Subscriptions which are split 50/50 with a value of $5-$25. You may also decide to sell personalised merchandise relating to the channel. Now what was a once a naïve pastime is a flourishing business.

Falling into the trap

Image result for gaming addiction

Now for the darker side of what is for most a harmless, amusing game. As I mentioned before the debate here is distinguishing between “excessive” and “addictive” gaming. The “excessive” gamer may spend the same amount of time playing as the “addictive”  gamer. What we look to is how much of a negative impact the activity is having on the individuals’ life.

Sometimes these impacts are seen as social reclusion or irregular mood swings. Often enough the activity which is seen causing the addiction is blamed, when in fact it’s an underlying issue which is to blame. The activity is simply acting as the escape. The experiment “Rat Park” conducted in the late 70’s serves as a great insight for this issue. This is where the negative stigma attached to gaming gets its roots. It stems from a lack of broader understanding for the causes of addiction. Gaming is now being linked to the rise in mental health illnesses in young people. – I.e. Social anxiety and depression.

Partly the issue may be from idea of sitting at home all day and make a living from playing video games. I mean in an ideal world who wouldn’t find this image attractive, jocks, socks, joypad and money. The life. In my opinion video gaming can be as much of a catalyst to addiction as food or alcohol. We could easily list of statistics on dependency or debate the harmful uses of gaming but in most cases an underlying issue is at hand. What we need to do as a whole is reinforce a philosophy of balance in our society and especially our youth. We can still enjoy the ever advancing world of gaming as long as we choose to do it responsibly.

 

Check out the Rutland Centre in Dublin who offer a range of addiction services, so if you or anyone you know is struggling with a gaming or any other addiction they can seek help.

Where to Buy the Google Pixel 3 in Ireland and Pricing

buy google pixel 3 ireland

Finally, it’s happening. Today, Google announced the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. That’s great. More importantly, Google is finally going to sell their smartphones in Ireland. Yes, you’ll soon be able to buy the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL in Ireland – no funny business.

Meet the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL

It’s been a long time coming. For the past two Google Pixel phones, we’ve been on hand to show you how to order Google Pixels from the UK. At long last, you’ll be able to order them directly from Google SIM-free or get them on a contract with Vodafone Ireland.

The Google Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch screen and costs €899 for a 64GB model and €959 for a 128GB model. The bigger brother is the Pixel 3 XL, boasting a 6.3-inch screen and is priced at €999 for the 64 GB model and €1099 for the 128GB model.

Both sizes come in Just Black and Clearly White, and an additional Not Pink colour available from the Google Store exclusively. Pixel USB-C earbuds come included with all models.

Pre-order the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3XL in Ireland

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are available for pre-order now through the official Google Store and will be on sale online and in-store on 1 November from the Google Store and Vodafone Ireland.

Facebook guarantee privacy with launch new smart screen

Amid a controversial year for Facebook concerning the infamous data breach of over 50 million users privacy, Facebook have boldly unveiled 2 new smart screens. In what seemed to be a relatively low-key announcement, we were introduced to the new Portal and Portal+.

Just another tablet?

The Portal and Portal+ seem like another tablet that you keep permanently in your home. The combination of tablet and smart speaker connects to your Facebook Messenger and sports a 12mp camera which allows you to video chat your friends, even if they don’t have their own Portal. The camera uses AI to pan and zoom automatically in order to keep everyone in the frame during video calls or recording. A pretty cool feature.

The Portal has a 10” 720p display and Portal+ has a 15” 1080p display. The standard Portal will have a built in camera with a speaker below the screen. While the Portal+ will have a more prominent camera that sits on top of the tablet. There are 4 mics in both models so that it can pick up your voice anywhere in the room for when you’re talking or giving commands.

It looks like Facebook have teamed up with Amazon and will be powered by Alexa. However, to give it commands you must say “Hey Portal.” Which doesn’t have the same ring as “Alexa” in our own opinion. As you know by now, us at Goosed are massive advocates of the Amazon Alexa series.

And as with most smart speakers, you can play music, audiobooks and essentially everything you can do on the Alexa.

How private is your privacy?

One thing that Facebook emphasised when unveiling the product is that your privacy will be safe. Due to their track record, most people will take that with a pinch of salt. They have even gone as far as providing you with a physical lens cover to place over the camera lens.  So they shouldn’t be able to snoop on you from the privacy of your own home. Although of course with all tech these days, that’s not really a guarantee. Due to the whole privacy breach this year, the Portals were actually pushed back 6 months. How this will affect sales is yet to be seen since most of their users have probably lost confidence in the social media platform.

The prices in the US for pre-order are currently $199 for the Portal and $349 for the Portal+. Although you got to ask yourself too, is your privacy worth that much?

There’s not word as of yet for a release date in the UK and Ireland but when it does we will be sure to keep you up to date, but don’t say we didn’t warn you before you splash out on one!

GIF Meme Generator: Morphin Lets You Star in a GIF

morphin meme gif generator

GIFs are amazing, aren’t they? Pronounced GIF, with a hard “g”, like golf unless you’re a weirdo who pronounces it JIF, GIFs have changed how we communicate with each other rather dramatically. I’d say they’re actually second only to emojis. Just recently, Revolut added the functionality to send money to friends along with a GIF. Why? Well, why not? There’s a team of app developers who realised people want more from GIFs and these guys created Morphin – a GIF meme generator that lets you star in some of the best-known GIFs from modern popular culture.

How Does Morphin Work?

It’s mad simple. The team behind Morphin has taken some of the best-known GIFs on the planet and created computer-generated versions of them. I’m talking Ross from Friends’ offensive hand gesture, Iron Man donning his JARVIS powered suit and, my own personal favourite, John Travolta as Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction looking around completely lost.

The app loads by bringing you through the process of picking a GIF meme you’d like to star in before helping you take a selfie. Just like that, you’re done. You need to wait a moment as the app works its magic and you can read a fun pop-culture fact about your meme while you wait before you’re GIF is delivered, all nice and ready to share.

The backgrounds are generally photo-realistic while the CGI-based actors sometimes look like PS2 graphics. Still, don’t let that take from how gas this is. I can only imagine the Morphin team will be expanding their catalogue and improving imagery.

Examples of Morphin’s GIF Meme Generator

Here are some I made earlier:

Ross from Friends giving the hand gesture

ross hand gesture gif reactionIron Man suit up GIF

iron man suit up gif meme

Raise a glass to Morphin

the great gatsby gif reaction

Make your own Pulp Fiction Gif

make your own pulp fiction gif

Morphin: The Verdict

Are the resulting GIFs perfect? No, but the app is in a very early BETA at the minute so I expect it to improve. With that said, Morphin is absolutely worth a download right now to have a play with. I, for one, will be adding all of these GIFs to my arsenal.

Don’t just send the usual boring old GIFs. Wow people with a well-known meme’d GIF starring your good self. You can apply to join the early stage BETA over here for Android and iOS.