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Scriba Stylus Review: More Than Just a Pencil

Steve Jobs once said that nobody wants a stylus. The comments he made in 2007 might have been spot on at the time but all these years later the stylus hasn’t died. In fact, even Apple released the Apple Pencil back in 2015. While Jobs was speaking about the stylus’ of the time which were basically plastic sticks, the new generation like the Pencil or the Samsung S Pen includes tech to make them much much more. What if we told you there’s an option out there which is cheaper, better and Irish? That’s where Scriba comes in. Designed by Dublin Design Studio, I’ve been getting hands-on with the Scriba Stylus over the last few months to see how this unique looking stylus stacks up.

Here’s everything you need to know:

What is the Scriba Stylus?


Scriba is a new age Bluetooth stylus, designed, developed and manufactured in Ireland. It has been created by David Craig, a Dublin based architect who during the recession began looking for a new challenge. He noticed that the modern stylus was basically just a digital pen so he set out to build something that was designed around the user.

Enter Scriba, the self-proclaimed world’s most innovative stylus. The Bluetooth enabled product has won a tonne of design and innovation awards already due to its features that include a unique ergonomic design, “squeeze motion” technology instead of buttons, and haptic feedback. The Scriba can be paired with any tablet or smartphone to be used as a standard stylus but when used on iOS products you can see it’s true potential. With it’s own range of compatible apps users can do so much more than just doodle, but we will talk a bit more about that later.

What you get

Scriba keeps it nice and simple. In the box you get your ergonomic stylus, the Micro-USB charging cable and 3 additional replacement tips. The replacement tips is a very nice little touch, would Apple do it? I think not. For me this is the advantage of supporting the ever-growing Irish tech start-ups, they actually give more of a toss about their customers. While replacement tips might seem like a small thing it’s that thoughtful touch that the bigger players will never do.

Specs

I’ll keep mentioning the price but at a price point under €100 the Scriba Stylus is much cheaper than the competition, namely the Apple Pencil. But that doesn’t mean a weak spec sheet. Weighing in at 16 grams it’s actually lighter than the competition which might seem strange given the design. It’s down to the ergonomic design, while Scriba might be a bigger product it’s lighter due to the material selection and overall design. You also get over 200 hours per charge again an incredible stat when you think the average for other similar products is roughly 12 hours. We’ve mentioned that Scriba is charged via Micro-USB, simple and effective, plus chances are you won’t need another charger when travelling.

There is also the Dynamic “squeeze motion” technology for extended app interactions and the haptic (vibration) app support for tactile feedback but more on that later. Finally, Scriba also offers it’s own supported apps: Brushes for Scriba for drawing, Scriba Slides which brings more intrigue to standard powerpoint presentations as the app makes work as a digital pen and remote for the presentation. They also have an app called Scriba Photo and this makes the stylus a remote for your device’s camera.

Design & Features

Did you know that these guys made 136 prototypes before they settled on their award winning design? You know when a team takes this kind of care and patience they are going to create something impressive. We wan’t to focus on the product but if you want to read their full story check out their website.

Ok so the Scriba Stylus is a ergonomically designed open framed tool that is made to share around the movement of your hand. While the stylus itself is straight the “handle” wraps in such a way that it’s contoured to create a natural gripping point for both your thumb and pointing finger. Both touch-points are enhances with a rubberized surface to further improve grip and comfort.

Interestingly, unlike most other styli you won’t find a single button on the Scriba. The body is flexible which enables the “squeeze motion” pressure-responsive technology through simply pinching or squeezing your thumb and forefinger. Rather than using buttons, this intuitive system helps the user control stroke widths and a variety of other controls across their presentation and drawing apps. The Scriba stylus is also the first stylus to use haptic feedback which is essentially using vibrations to confirm squeeze based actions, connectivity and alerts for compatible apps. It might feel odd at first but to be fair you learn the controls so quickly that these new features just feel right.

Full disclosure, I spent way longer than I should have when trying to find the charging station (guess that’s what you get for thinking you don’t need the instructions). Anyway making me look stupid, all you do it grab a coin and unscrew the base of the pen to pop in the charger. Really it’s that simple but thankfully for me with a battery life over 200 hours and 6 months of standby you wont need to charge the Scriba all that often. Better again a full charge takes only two hours.

At the other end, the stylus uses the standard silicone tips that you will see on any normal stylus. This is held on by a screw on cap to keep it tightly in place in use but allows for a quick change when needed. Oh and it weighs just 16 grams, incredible considering the Apple Pencil is 20 grams and that’s just a stick.

Compatibility & Apps

The Scriba stylus will work with any touch screen but it’s on iOS where they have the most support. It works best using their own software which has been optimised to take advantage of the squeeze controls.

Firstly get onto their app called Brushes for Scriba, this will give you the best platform to get started and gain a decent understanding of the inner workings of the stylus. Beyond that, there is a list of apps designed specifically for the product which you can check out here.

Brushes for Scriba is their own custom variation of the popular Brushes app, optimized for their stylus. You are able to control brush stroke width and a bunch of other bits and pieces by simply squeezing the device. Within the app, you can control up to 10 layers while you can switch between the brush and eraser by double-clicking Scriba or triple-clicking to hide the interface and focusing on your work. Other apps include Scriba Photo and Slides. Scriba Photo lets you use the stylus to control your device’s camera while Slides is a productivity app that makes the device do double duty as a digital pen and a presentation remote. All good stuff, just remember that the advanced features of the Scriba will only work on Scriba enabled apps.

Connecting the Stylus couldn’t be any easier, squeeze the pen to search visible Bluetooth devices and pair, job done. In terms of connecting the stylus with a compatible app, use the setting tool to highlight the ‘connect to Scriba’ icon, click that and now you can control the app through the pen. That connect icon doubles up as a battery indicator which is quite nice.

Final note regarding the compatible apps – Scriba are doing a lot of work in the background, Android support has grown quite a bit since my last conversation with David. Handwrite Pro has just launched support in addition to Infinite Painter in testing mode. So keep an eye on their website for future updates.

How does it Perform?

To be fair it performs quite well. I’ve been very impressed with Scriba considering I’ve been using it for about a month now and it’s potential is obvious. The stylus fits naturally in your hand so you can maintain constant control when writing and it requires less pressure than your typical pencil looking stylus. This means you can use the product for longer before feeling any strain making it ideal for designers and others who would use a stylus for long hours.

If you are looking at a straight comparison with the Apple Pencil, the Scriba hasn’t a hope given the precision and control the Pencil can give. However, the Scriba can also not be compared to what a Pencil can do, it’s just that different.

Drawing

I have been doodling away using Brushes4Scriba and to be fair their own platform is designed to show the true potential of the squeeze technology. Anyone who has ever worked with an airbrush will feel right at home using Scriba. You are able to set limits for maximum and minimum brush widths alongside levels of transparency to add your personal style to your work. It’s worth saying the control and precision of the stylus is brilliant but the silicone tips are a bit stubby for fine detail, a common issue for most stlyi.

In terms of overall performance, the haptic feedback offers great control that I was very happy with however it’s only available on supported apps as we have mentioned already. It’s not a big deal for me because this is only the start of their journey with great potential for future growth. We are already seeing more developers including Scriba compatibility so the future is bright.

Notes an other bits

Scriba ain’t just for doodling! I’ve been diddling about with a few of their apps and when it comes to regular handwriting the Scriba Stylus is far more comfortable to use versus the Apple Pencil.

Using an app like ZoomNotes (a supported application) you can take your notes through general writing, this is what I used and personally speaking I found Scriba more than capable of doing any general writing function.

Beyond general writing or drawing, Scriba can also be used as a presentation tool in their platform ScribaSlides. Using the Bluetooth connection you can flick between your slides with ease. You can also make more engaging presentations by using the stylus to highlight areas, focus on particular points or draw on your presentation in real time to get across your point. Thank god because something that’s even slightly more engaging has to be better than death by PowerPoint.

Finally, Scriba can also be used as we mentioned as a photo-shooting tool. It’s really cool and different, you basically use the stylus as a Bluetooth-enabled shutter release for your camera app. Really that’s it.

Being Picky

I’m a picky bollox so of course, there had to be something I’m not 100% sold on. That’s the silicone tips. They are a bit on the stubby side and that makes Sciba a tad dodgy when you’re trying to get those finer details The Apple Pencil pips the Scriba Stylus in this area due to it’s finer tip and active sensor but in comparison to most conventional styli, Scriba is streets ahead. Told you I was just being picky, but if they could tweak the tip or offer a finer solution then it’s game on.

Vs The Apple Pencil

I don’t want to look like I’m bashing the Apple Pencil but let’s be realistic here, the Scriba Stylus is going head to head with one of the biggest forces in the tech. From what I’ve seen Scriba is more than just a competitor to the Apple Pencil.

Due to the sleek ergonomic design you can use the Scriba for hours without any strain whatsoever. Take that against the standard pen style of pretty much all the competition and it’s easy to see why Scriba is more comfortable. This style also means that for younger users it will aid the development of fine motor skills which are being lost somewhat as mobile takes precendance over pen and paper for today’s youth.

Again unlike the Apple Pencil, the Scriba Stylus is responsive to the user’s touch with a direct correlation between user action and NUI reaction and gestures avoid the need for the annoying buttons. For me, the biggest difference between the two besides price is the insane battery life in the Scriba that is almost 20 times that of the Apple Pencil. Couple this with the fact that Scriba actually works with more iOS devices than the Pencil (anything in the last 5 years vs 2018 or newer) and the fact that this is the first stylus to feature haptics and you can probably understand why I wanted to address the elephant in the room. Including post and packing the Scriba Stylus is almost €30 cheaper just goes to show branding isn’t everything.

Who should use it?

Scriba was initially designed to offer creatives an improved user experience and a greater level of control. Modern designers, architects and such professions are now shifting their work flow between the physical and digital environments: whether sketching, note taking and presenting, they demand tools that deliver a seamless transition between the two.

Having said that it’s not just for the big kids, Scriba has been unexpectedly been picked up by children as a tool to improve motor skills and writing technique. This comes at a time when paediatric doctors are concerned over children’s use of technology impacting their ability to hold pens and pencils.

Future Avenues

We mentioned that Scriba has somewhat stumbled upon a secondary market surrounding younger children. Well after speaking with David I discovered that they are now working with occupational therapists in Trinity to conduct a qualitative assessments. They are looking to understand and discover how the squeeze-action compliments the development of the child’s mechanical skills of writing at both the “Refinement” and “Integration and Implementation” stages with a controlled ‘scaling’ action between their thumb and forefingers.

Sounds fancy, but basically they want to see if the Scriba Stylus offers something valuable to the next generation. He also mentioned at the point of writing that the studies are so far getting some very positive feedback. We will be keeping a close eye on this and I’m sure David will keep us posted and once we know more, so will you.

Goosed Verdict

I’m a fan of the Scriba Stylus and as someone with a background in design I can say this honestly. For the creatives out there this is the well worth the look. From the ridiculous battery life to the control and ergonomics, Scriba has thought of pretty much everything. The squeeze technology and haptic feedback are innovative tools where a stylus is concerned and with all the work being done in the background I am excited to see what the future holds.

While it will be cool to see their own tools and compatibility improvements, it’s the work with children that I can’t wait to come to fruition. In a world where tablets are soon to take over from pen and paper in schools, Scriba is ready to pick up the slack to help develop motor and writing skills for the new tech-savvy generation.

In comparison with the Apple Pencil, the Scriba Stylus can be used across operating system platforms and devices, unlike the Pencil that is restricted to only the iPad Pro/2018 models. So for me if you’re in the market for a sylus that offers comfort and precision, is two thirds of the price of the Apple Pencil and was designed, developed and manufactured in Ireland, there’s only one winner.

Pros & Cons Summary

ProsCons
Beautiful Ergonomic Design3rd Party app compatibility to
be improved
Free-flowing controlFurther support on no nApple
products (in development)
LightweightSilicone tip has minor issues
with fine detail
(common for most styli)
Huge battery lifeBig competition
Innovative dynamic squeeze technology
Massive future growth areas
Cheap vs competition and it’s Irish made

Tech for Tech-Sake: Tech Notions or the Cusp of A Better World?

tech for tech sake

I’m going to let you in on a little writing secret of mine. When I write an article, I focus on three “whats”. First of all, is just “what”. What happened that triggered me to write. Is it a review or maybe a newsworthy event? Next up, “so what?”. Ok, so I’ve decided I’m going to write about something, the next thing is why should you, the reader, care about it. Finally comes “now what”. This is where I ask you to take an action. It might be downloading a free app, buying a new gadget or making a recommendation around how you behave online – like using a password manager or something similar.

I’ve found that this helps me focus on the content that will best benefit you. At the end of the day, the whole idea about Goosed.ie is to bring you tech insights that empower you to live a better life with tech. But isn’t tech sometimes a little useless and over the top? Here are two tech stories from the past week that may, on the surface appear to be tech for tech-sake, but really there’s some underlying coolness there to be seen too.

Nike’s Auto-lacing Shoes

My favourite movie is Back to the Future – well all three of them to be honest. Seriously, here’s me at a street festival in Germany.

My hover-board at German Carnival Festival

I adore back to the future to the point where I’m now known as Marty! That moment where Marty McFly’s shoes laced themselves up, could have been the moment I fell in love with tech. Eager to cash in on a 1980s movie moment, Nike actually founded a development team which created the HyperAdapt. It actually happened. You could buy (a rather expensive pair of kicks) which, at the touch of a button, could lace themselves up.

Useless? On the surface, yes they are a little. I was watching Unbox Therapy’s first look at the latest pair with my better half recently and she said this was the line. Auto-lacing shoes are more than a little silly. The trigger point for her was the wireless charging platform. Lewis had to call out that when the battery dies, the shoes stay tied and reserve enough power for you to take them off. I accept, this are some silly problems to have with your shoes. Then I got thinking about the real world applications of this.

Formula 1 returns soon, and I’d just witness Williams release their new car for the year. One of their drivers, Robert Kubica, was in a bad crash a few years ago which left one of his arms badly damaged. He’s capable of driving a F1 car but still, it got me thinking that something like tying shoelaces could be a genuine issue for him.

My mental floodgates opened.

So many people’s lives could be made easier by a pair of shoes which can be tightened through an app instead of using traditional knot tying. Now I understand that Nike probably doesn’t have this in mind when selling a pair of basketball shoes for a couple of hundred dollars. However, innovation for one reason often benefits consumers in another. To return to F1, the reason we have hybrid cars on our roads is largely down to development for the racetrack.

Sure, this tech might seem silly on the surface and for many reasons it is, but who knows what brilliant technological advances will come down the line because of this.

Huawei Finishing Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony

The link between Nike and Back to the Future is rather slight. I think that’s what makes people rush to the “cashing in on Hollywood” conclusion. I’d have had a similar feeling about Huawei using a Mate 20 Pro to create music. But then I set aside the “sure that’s ridiculous” mindset and really thought about what had happened here.

So…What Happened?

Symphony No. 8 by Franz Schubert is one of the best-known pieces of classical music, even though it was never completed. Whether this was down to the composers ill-health or distraction with another piece of work, Huawei wanted to put this piece of music to bed. They took my current daily rider, the Mate 20 Pro and used the on-board Huawei Neural Processing Unit to complete Schubert’s work.

That’s how powerful smartphones have become. Huawei specially designed an app which could analyse a piece of classical music for traits of the long-dead composer and then make suggestions and recommendations of how the piece should continue beyond its premature conclusion.

So again, isn’t this a little useless? Like, the piece isn’t what Schubert intended or planned so what’s the point?

Well, watching the clip and seeing how it moved Emmy Award-winning composer Lucas Cantor, it’s impossible to ignore how marrying together technology and culture together is an important part of human progression. Technology has a reputation for being cold and clinical, but here, we have an award-winning composer highlighting the benefits of AI as a partner in collaboration. A partner that never gets tired and never runs out of ideas.

There’s something particularly special about seeing the finished piece transition from Schubert’ original into a machines interpretation, an interpretation curated by a human composer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcFkoTUraMM

Like the example I gave earlier, Huawei’s experiments with artificial intelligence are far from tech for tech-sake. Last year the Chinese manufacturer released StorySign, an app which uses artificial intelligence to translate written word into sign language, making reading easier for deaf children.

The technology behind the completion of Schubert’s No. 8 Symphony could help deaf people enjoy music or complete other artistic works someday. Marrying culture and technology while also improving lives.

I’m sure many will read this and think I’m just being my usual positive self about technology, but it’s too easy to see a lot of what’s going on out there as tech for tech-sake. I will conceed defeat on this one thing though. No body needs a connected hairbrush.

Notions.



The Grand Tour Game: Looking Under the hood

Car racing games, you either love them or hate them. So for those who enjoy a good old fashioned racing game, the famous tv series the Grand Tour has come to the PlayStation. It’s quite an interesting concept that was released in conjunction with the third series of the car enthusiast tv show. The game released a couple of weeks ago on the PlayStation store for €11.99 so the question needs to be asked… is it any good?

Overview

The Grand Tour Game is aimed towards putting fans behind the wheel of the cars from the latest series by bringing them to the shows iconic locations including their home test track, the Eboladrome. Clarkson, Hammond and May have been involved in the making of the game, lending their voices to add to the “banter” and authenticity.

Moving seamlessly from clips of the show to gameplay, Amazon’s aim is to create a game that will infuse the series elements with the game to make a satisfying experience for the shows fans.

“It’s a video game featuring me, the crashy one, and the slow one. That’s all you need to know,” said Jeremy Clarkson.

In The Grand Tour Game, players aren’t just stuck with an episode by episode story-line but they can race and challenge each other face-to-face. Using the four player split-screen (it’s been a long time since I’ve said that) you and 3 of your mates can sit on the couch racing the cars and sling both physical and virtual insults at each other as you race to the finish. In a kind of watered down Mario Kart way, players gain power-ups like High Tea, which spills tire-shredding cups and saucers, and More Horsepowers, which lets you blow past the competition to help make the action unpredictable.

“We’re committed to authentically capturing the spirit of the show: cars, banter with friends, and (mostly) friendly competition.”
Craig Sullivan, Creative Director at Amazon Game Studios.

Interestingly no other video game has ever tried to keep pace with a tv series before, especially releasing installations alongside episodes which means what’s to come is relatively unknown until we see Series 3 of The Grand Tour. This weekly dropped content will take the form of challenges based upon the series, meaning that if Clarkson and his pals drive a supercar, you’ll drive a supercar. If they instead, say, drag race forklift trucks… it’s time to start working on your forklift license.

The Good Stuff

Now we know what the game is all about, let’s get into the review. To be honest I don’t really have a lot of positive things to say about The Grand Tour Game. Unless of course you are already a fan of the show. I’ll get onto the bad stuff in a moment but first let’s look at positives.

Firstly, the details gone into each car is properly slick. Engine noises for each car are different, the spoiler on the McLaren actually moves in tandem with your acceleration/braking and in general, the cars just look really good. This car detail goes a long way towards streamlining the game. Especially considering the transition between tv series footage and in-game cutscenes is meant to be seamless. That’s really it when it comes to the graphics, other than that there isn’t a lot to write home about. As the game is predominantly track based there is very little detail gone into the scenery which means it just looks a bit dated. Sad that, when the cars are done with real care.

The only other thing I can find to say positively about The Grand Tour game is the novelty factor and the popularity of the tv series means that fans of the show will get their kicks. One moment you’re watching the hosts attempt some questionable automotive antics – the next you’re at the wheel yourself – same car, same location, same chance to make a massive mess of it (which you probably will). The episodic nature of the story mode will get fans excited but once the novelty factor wears off that’s it, bubble burst.

The Bad Stuff

It’s safe to say I’m not a fan of The Grand Tour Game, but my experience with that game led me to have a good idea of what the game could have or should have been.

On a purely technical level cars handle weirdly, the game looks aged (beyond the actual cars), and the physics are bizarre. Which is annoying considering the developers’ pedigree. The staff included developers from the Burnout and Need for Speed franchises yet this game somehow feels lacking.

From a visual standpoint overall the game doesn’t even compare to racing game benchmarks and in most cases, the commentary by Hammond and co kills the user experience rather than adding to it. Seriously I ended up playing in mute for a while so I could focus on getting to grip with handling rather than listening to their nonsense. If you’re a big fan of the series this probably won’t bother you too much but for me the forced banter that seeps into every crevice of the far screams “We’re funny lads laugh with us”. It’s also not limited to just the story mode. In split-screen there is a power-up called Texting, where you send “hilarious” texts to your friends to force them into crashing. Granted these things are funny to fans of the show but if you’re looking for a car based game, there’s better around.

While I said that the cars looked great and they all sounded different you would have thought each vehicle would handle differently. Well, you would have been wrong. There is no difference between driving the Mustang vs the Rimac electric vehicle. It’s going to be interesting to see as the series develops if these problems are fixed by the time bikes and other vehicles are included.

Single Player

As we said there are a couple of different gaming modes. In terms of single player there are two elements, the story and single racer. Using the Grand Tour track you can complete straight up driving challenges like time trails where you earn a gold, silver or bronze medals based on your lap time.

I found the single player experience missed that wow factor. I played the first three segments of the story based on old episodes of the Grand Tour and it’s just kind of meh. There’s a challenge called “Hammond’s Clean Pants” which is based on one the episode’s other races, driving around a track in a McLaren P1 – a car so fast Hammond might you guessed it ‘poo himself’. The challenge is pretty simple, don’t make Hammond sh*t himself. Your goal is to perform a clean lap but any time you crash the man himself would shout ” oh, poo!” and you get awarded a poo emoji. Yup, that’s the challenge and it tells you all you need to know about the quality of the story mode and scrptiing.

Split Screen

The main saving grace for The Grand Tour game in my opinion was the four-player split-screen mode. Gone are the days where interactive gaming with your friends in the same room was commonplace. Nowadays we’re more likely to stick on the headsets and play together but alone. So during Dry January the idea of having “the lads” up for a car racing evening was a bit of blast from the past.

In reality, it’s a pretty standard four-way race, across a few different tracks and the person with the most points at the end of the races wins. This feature is meant to show the camaraderie of the show but it ultimately fails as the banter in the room with your friends far outweighs the canned laughter The Grand Tour game actually brings to the table. Also in a move like a watered down Mario Kart players can use a bunch of power-ups such as a speed boost and texts, which flash up on the screens of your opponents, obscuring the view. It all feels a bit cheap but fun, the exact opposite of the show. While it’s fun and we can all have a bit of laugh in the multiplayer mode the races eventually end up as a farce as the poor control system takes over. Cars spinning out, players bouncing off each other like bumper cars through each turn and just annoying commentary takes the shine away from what could have been a really fun feature.

The Goosed Verdict

I want the game to succeed, it’s a great concept and the Grand Tour is probably the biggest car enthusiast show on the planet. And here comes the but…. the Grand Tour Game just feels like a bit of a cash in on the iconic trio’s reputation.

The detail in the cars is quite nice and the idea of split-screen gaming with your friends is becoming a thing of the past, so it was really cool to be able to do that again. However, the control system feels a bit clunky, the “banter” is clearly forced and the story mode is kind of boring. Oh and finally in today’s day and age not having an online option is shooting yourself in the foot.

We will wait to see if Amazon Games come good on their promise of recreating the shows each week. Having said that I think asking punters to buy into the game to drive watered down version of each weeks episode is a bit of a tough ask. Put it like this, I won’t be patiently waiting for the latest episode/DLC, the game simply isn’t that good. Guess that’s why the game is under €20.

Maybe it’s me, maybe I’m asking too much but as with the PlayStation Classic, this just feels like a rushed attempt to hit the market and make some profit around the novelty/hype factor of the shows return to the air.

An Uber Simple Solution to Rural Drink Driving Laws

countryside uber

I find the national discussion on rural drink-driving laws to be a bit of an embarrassment for quite a few reasons. I’m from the countryside myself and while I live in Dublin now, I appreciate that there’s little to do in many parishes that doesn’t involve popping down to the local.

Going to the local and not having a pint? Unheard of.

Getting a taxi from your local? Often a nightmare.

Finding something else to do without the local? Nah.

So, why don’t we just relax this whole Uber-style service ban and have locals do it? Hear me out…

The Perceived Problem

The perceived problem down the country is there’s very little to do in the countryside with the exception of heading down to the local. The local pub is the hub where people come and meet each other for a pint and a chat. In recent years, laws have tightened around drink-driving. Here I need to call something out.

Drink driving laws can never, I repeat never, be to strict. People die on our roads because someone has a drink and gets behind the wheel of a car. It’s a selfish and needless loss of life that’s totally avoidable. To anyone who believes that drink driving laws are killing the social lives of those living down the country; good. While I want everyone to have a social life, that doesn’t come at the cost of more dangerous roads.

Full stop.

All that said, you’ll notice I said perceived problem. Drink driving isn’t the problem at all. It’s rural infrastructure.

Taxis in the Countryside

Some bigger parishes won’t suffer from this problem at all. Smaller ones almost certainly will. I never did because I was lucky enough to have a taxi driver also considered a family friend. Once I call them, I get a taxi. Loyalty gets rewarded which has lead to some interesting discussions on the way home around apps like MyTaxi and the likes.

However, the real problem down the country is that people feel like they have no alternative way of getting to and from the pub other than their own car. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a regular taxi driver who’ve they’ve built up years of a rapport with, to the point of calling them a family friend. In fact, many localaties will struggle to have a taxi driver arrive out to them on a call of a busy Saturday night.

Unfortunately, it does make sense.

Taxi drivers can boost their revenue by avoiding long haul trips from the town or city to the countryside to do a local job. In the time that takes, they could do three or four spins around the city making much more revenue. Can’t really blame the taxi drivers. So why don’t we relax the laws which make having a proper Uber system in place?

Countryside Uber

If the real problem is countryside transport infrastructure, why not allow a service like Uber to come into the market?

This would need to be done carefully. Uber came up against stiff challenges from traditional taxi services and was banned from allowing the public to effectively operate as taxi drivers. My suggestion would be to trial an Uber-style system in rural parishes. I really don’t want this system to remove taxi drivers, but it could relieve the pressure on taxi services in rural Ireland.

Some precautions would obviously need to be in place. Drivers would need to be vetted and have a roadworthy car. The service would need to be geo-restricted. By this I mean drivers could drop people anywhere but only pick up in rural areas where there’s a shortage of taxi drivers. Considering Uber does have access to taxi drivers too they may be able to gauge availability and trigger this private ride sharing system based on demand.

Would Uber Work in the Countryside?

So would the system work?

I’ve no doubt it would come up against the same resistance that Uber came up against in general here in Ireland. Still, the benefits of this system are manifold.

We’d be keeping drink drivers off the road.

Connecting rural areas and keeping social life going.

Stimulating rural economies and generating a local “gig economy”.

Keep the local pub ticking over with punters, confident they can move about the parish.

Allowing traditional taxi drivers to remain in high-profit areas.

I could be totally wrong. Maybe taxi drivers aren’t bothered by the long spins and if that’s the case, we don’t need this system. But such a fuss has been kicked up about drink driving laws in the country, I can only assume there’s a genuine issue hindering people from moving about of a Saturday night. Maybe this is the answer to everyone’s problems?

Revolut’s Creepy Ads Misfire in Ireland

revolut ads misfire

I want to make this completely clear from the outset here. I absolutely love Revolut. They are wiping the floor with most of Ireland’s archaic banks and are quickly racking up users with over 200,000 in Ireland already. But one of their recent ad campaigns that launched in Ireland recently is a little creepy and are more than a little tone deaf for the Irish market.

Revolut’s Crappy Ad Placement

The ad in question was spotted out in the wild by Séan Cannon-Earley from Teneo Ireland:

Their ad calls speaks to over 11,000 people who bought a vegan sausage roll following the who Greggs/Piers Morgan vegan sausage roll drama/PR stunt.

It’s easy enough to spot what Revolut were going for here. Showing off the tracking side of using their account and flaunting the fact they have lots of data on everyone. Spotify did this a while back where they spoke to individuals with unusual listening habits.

Some people loved it. Some people hated it. Most people thought it was a little creepy and this was all pre-GDPR and pre-Cambridge Analytica. But that’s not even where I want to start with why this is a terrible ad from Revolut.

What’s Wrong With The Revolut Ad?

Let’s take it apart.

The Revolut ad calls out:

  • The Greggs Vegan sausage roll
  • Piers Morgan
  • How many people bought the Greggs sausage roll
  • Revolut’s Brit Award sponsorship

Now, here’s what’s wrong with this. Sure, I’m writing this post-Six Nations loss to England, but Revolut would appear to have completed missed the whole Republic of Ireland being a different market, place, country, group of people thing. 

Greggs doesn’t exist in Ireland.

Piers Morgan is one of the most British things on the planet.

That whole thing just popped up on Irish peoples’ Twitter feeds for a while and that was that. It’s not something that we relate to and I’d imagine the vast majority of people who see this are like “I don’t get this?”

Finally, while you could argue I’m being a bit over the top, the inclusion of the Brit Awards on this makes me think someone in the Revolut marketing team has just completely ignored the fact we’re not British or has released this suite of ads on Ireland in error

This Isn’t a Big Deal Though?

It’s really not, but I want Revolut to succeed and be perfect. Already, when considering joining their top-level premium account I discovered that Ireland is the only country that can’t get their gadget insurance package. Considering Revolut has over 200,000 Irish customers, it’s important we hold them to account when it comes to paying Ireland the attention it deserves.

So come on Revolut. If you’re going to give us creepy ads, the very least you can do is make them relevant.

Time for Change: Modern Alternatives for Permanent TSB Customers

alternative to ptsb fees

For a very brief spell, I used to work for Permanent TSB. During that brief period, I was also a Permanent TSB customer, but soon after I finished up with them, I closed my accounts. I just couldn’t justify having an account with them. They don’t offer any modern services like Google or Apple Pay and just today, they’ve announced they are making banking even more complicated for their customers.

Permanent TSB Introduce New Fees

Back in the good times, Permanent TSB offered customers fee-free current accounts. These were great and plenty of customers held onto these for dear life in recent years. It’s become the norm for accounts to offer free banking in return for you meeting certain requirements. PTSB will strip holders of these accounts of their fee-free banking unless they meet some requirements, which even by modern standards are pretty harsh.

Conditions for New PTSB Fees

To qualify for fee-free banking, customers must now maintain a balance of €2500 in their current account every day. Not lodge – maintain a balance! Failing to do so will result in a quarterly fee of €18 per quarter, or €72 per year.

An exception will be made for account holders over the age of 66 who can maintain their fee-free banking account.

Modern Alternatives for Permanent TSB Customers

While these introductions are, in the very least, annoying, they also come at an interesting time. There are some fantastic digital alternatives out there for you to consider if you’ve just been trundling along with PTSB because you happen to have a fee-free bank account. Here are my two favourites.

N26

I’ve been an N26 customer for a good few years, though I’ve not really used it that much. Largely that’s down to Revolut – more on that in a moment.

N26 is a proper bank as in they are a fully licenced bank, just like AIB, Bank of Ireland, KBC, Ulster Bank and PTSB. The difference is that they aren’t really based in Ireland. Instead, they operate out of Berlin. There’s no branch you can call into and they don’t offer the likes of mortgages and all that jazz. N26 is a simple current account that doesn’t charge you for the privilege of having it.

Now, you do need to be aware that all that digital means withdrawing cash will cost you – €2 a pop! But you can use your card for payments in store as much as you like. 

Revolut

Technically, this would have been a controversial inclusion in the list but last December Revolut was also awarded a European Banking licence. This means, just like N26m customers would be protected for up to €100,000 should they opt to lodge their salaries into a Revolut account. 

Last year in The Times, I weighed in on the importance of trust when it came to these ‘challenger’ banks in Ireland. If people know they’re safe enough lodging salaries into these accounts, traditional banks like Permanent TSB will find themselves in right bother.

Revolut offer a wide range of benefits, my personal favourite being the fact your account is currency agnostic. You can shop in Sterling, Euro or Dollars along with a wide range of other currencies. This is great for an Amazon binge or trip to the States. 

While I’m on a premium account with Revolut, you can use their accounts for free. Like N26, ATM usage is where most customers might encounter a fee. You can withdraw €200 without paying a penny extra – which is nice.

KBC

I’m reluctant to give KBC a mention here. Their basic current account charges €6 per month and their other current account requires €2500 to be lodged every month. Still, their technical advancements are incredible, leaving every other Irish bank in their wake. A range of modern payment methods are on the table along with them being first to market with a PSD2 offering.

KBC is my primary bank account at the moment, but that could easily be Revolut shortly, while N26 remains the old Goosed.ie Business account option. I guess, if you take one thing away from this read it would be to at least consider your banking options. We all tend to just stick with what our parents set up or whoever gave us an overdraft in college. Switching your account could save you a fortune, so if you have any questions, hit us up on social or chat with the good folk over at Bonkers.ie.

Lost Sales and Security Bugs: Is Apple Crumbling?

apple facetime bug

You’ll often read articles with headlines like this which end up being long-winded to dance around a question before ultimately leading anti-climatic answer. Let me skip that and get to where this whole thing ends.

No. Apple is beyond enormous and security flaws like the Facetime bug this week are just something we have to accept as a side effect of the brilliant technological convenience we are privileged to enjoy these days. Should it have been avoided? Yes. Will things like this happen again? Absolutely, and we need to accept that.

Now, for the long winded dance I was talking about.

The Apple Facetime Bug

If you’re an Apple user, you’ve more than likely been sweating over the news that a bug in Facetime group calls meant people could listen into your phone without you knowing anything about it. Actually, if you’re an Android user, you probably heard about this issue too and were quite smug about it. Come on. Don’t be that person.

The bug was a very unusual one for two reasons. First of all, Apple prides themselves on both security and privacy, so them slipping up is a massive jaw-dropper. Secondly, the bug needed users to take a very weird action to discover it. But, as with most bugs, it’s a lot less unusual once you hear what you needed to do.

To listen in on another person’s iPhone, all you needed to do was start a Facetime call with them. Once dialling, you simply try to add another caller and add yourself. Then, without any further action from your target, you could listen in on their device. If they were to hit the volume button, you get a full video feed.

How Did This Happen?

How this happened is very simple. I’m a massive Android fan. For years, I’ve been beating a drum that sounds something like “Apple is over-priced and under-innovative”. I’m not alone, but still millions upon millions of shoppers hand over money for Apple. Why?

Well, to coin Steve Jobs’ own famous line, “it just works”. iPhone is simple and it just works really well. If you want straight forward, iPhone is the phone for you. And that’s why millions upon millions of people do choose iPhone every year for every upgrade.

Back to how this Facetime bug happened. Apple is run by thousands of humans. The end.

Seriously, we all need to accept that even one of the world’s biggest tech companies is going to make mistakes. For a release to go to millions of devices, it needs to go through an incredibly complex testing process to check for security issues and bugs. Throughout all these processes, no one thought to see what would happen if you tried to start a group Facetime call and then add yourself.

Should Things Like This Really Happen?

Absolutely not. Will they happen again? Absolutely. It’s unavoidable because Apple is run by thousands of humans, of which some are testers. But once that version of the software that runs iPhone is out in the wild, millions of people are looking at it. People do odd things, both on purpose and by accident which turns up problems from time to time. That’s why we get so many updates. The difference with regular updates is it’s internal testing that often turns this stuff up, not bugs out in the wild.

Unfortunately for Apple, headlines also happened. Hell, I couldn’t even resist an Apple crumble reference in the title of this article.

When you’re one of the top-selling consumer gadgets in the world, everyone wants to see you fail

When you’re one of the top-selling consumer gadgets in the world, everyone wants to see you fail. Papers and websites (ourselves here at Goosed.ie included) know that people want to know about this kind of thing and they go heavy on the coverage. For me, as much as I’m not a massive fan of iPhone, this was the time for a reality check, mainly because Apple is far from being alone here.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

I remember being at the Irish launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 in Dublin and I fell in love with it. It was the most impressive phone I’d ever seen. But after an August launch, the phone was dead in the water come October.

Following battery issues and a few phones going up in flames, the Note 7 had garnered such a bad name for itself, airlines would no longer let passengers board with them. Yup, that’s about as toxic a PR situation as a phone maker could find themselves in.

What caused this? Samsung found themselves rushing to meet deadlines. Everyone single one of us has likely come up against a tough deadline in work which has lead to some questionable decision making. That’s humans for you. Even one of the best-known PR disasters came down to what was effectively human error.

Two years on, Samsung has released two new phones in the Note series and they’ve been mightily impressive.

Facebook: Cambridge Analytica

Ah Facebook. How quickly that fall from grace came. The Cambridge Analytica scandal is very well documented at this stage. Third parties using innocent-looking Facebook apps to harvest user data and to influence massive world events including the election of Donald Trump and Brexit.

Wow, right?

Again, Cambridge Analytica wasn’t the result of the machines rising up. No, this whole thing came down to humans. On one side, we have the more evil than not people behind Cambridge Analytica who effectively weaponised a social media platform.

On the other side, you have Facebook. Facebook didn’t necessarily stand idly by while all this was happening. Instead, they were, to a certain extent, unaware of how bad things were. Sure, they knew about some issues of data being passed to third parties and there were some gaps in their security protocols, and yes they absolutely should have done more. But the powers that be in Facebook had no idea just how much damage was being done with these security issues.

Like Samsung, Facebook seems to be surviving their PR nightmare. Can any big tech company be taken down by controversy?

Huawei and Chinese Spy Theory

When you think big tech companies, you think Apple, Samsung, Google and Facebook. I haven’t gone into the issues Google had over the past twelve months, but their Google Plus platform has security issues akin to those of Facebook. The unholy quartet of tech companies running into problems in recent times. But now, we can’t talk about massive tech companies without discussing Huawei. Nor can we talk about tech controversy without shining a light on the Chinese phone manufacturer.

Huawei shot to the rich and famous smartphone maker list in 2018 thanks to their incredible P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro smartphones. In fact, their 2018 was so good, they overtook Apple to become the second biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world. Like, that’s huge!

Then, in almost soap-opera fashion, with everything flying high, accusations began to emerge about Huawei. 

First, Meng Wanzhou – Huawei CFO and daughter of the company’s founder, was arrested on suspicion of bank and wire fraud in an attempt to violate American sanctions against Iran. Now, the US government has just made public their exact claims against Huawei but I’ve my own opinions on this. 

I find it very convenient that these accusations come out from the US after the Chinese manufacturer knocks the American Apple off second spot. Sure, you can’t even buy Huawei in America because they’re all so paranoid about them. It might be some tinfoil hat stuff from me, but it all seems strangely timed. Then again, just because you’re not paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

Should We Be Worried About Huawei?  

Now this is the big question. I’ve been using Huawei as my daily driver for nearly a year now. They have come a long way in a short period of time. That’s just for smartphones. Huawei also develops the technology that runs mobile networks and was planning to play a big part in 5G rollouts globally. In a recent interview, telecoms expert Mark Gregory described Australia’s ban on using Huawei for 5G as “unfair”, before highlighting “There’s no direct evidence that I’m aware of that Huawei has been involved in security breaches or state espionage”.

I’ll admit, I’ve worked rather closely with Huawei but I refuse to let that colour my view. However, after watching Vice recently, I’m under no illusions at just how drunk power makes world leaders. It’s just as likely this is all a smear campaign as it is Huawei has done something wrong.

How Huawei will fair is still TBC. But given their progress to date and understanding how the US government works, I’d be very surprised if the Chinese mobile maker is even close to losing momentum.

And the Apple Bug?

Hopefully, that didn’t all sound like a completely mad rant and I’ve set myself up here to explain my stance on the Apple bug thing. Unfortunately, these things happen. It’s all part and parcel of our new technological life. It’s a side effect of the convenience. We get to enjoy video calling in groups but sometimes there might be a bug. Remember though, that bug will be fixed so don’t lose your life when it appears.

Facebook. Man, they screwed up and I really can’t forgive them for some of the mistakes they made. Still, they are a relatively young company in an industry that’s the exact same age as them. They are learning on the fly, so again, we have to accept that some things are going to go wrong from time to time.

People are generally apprehensive about technology. I get it. It’s new and scary and it provides lots of scary groups with your data. But we need to be focused on what we can do to protect ourselves while these companies go about their business because accidents will keep happening. Use password managers, use different passwords and while you’re at it start using passphrases altogether. If there’s a platform or a company you really don’t like the look of, don’t use them. Beyond that, don’t get caught in the hype.

With the example of Huawei, potentially unfounded paranoia could be costing a lot of consumers money and quality network experience. Already, I’d argue that the US stance on Huawei has cost a lot of people access to great smartphones. 

Isn’t That A Free Pass?

No. Companies need to be held accountable for their actions and mistakes. But if we keep focusing on failures, innovations become fewer and farther between and that’s not good. We need to find a happy medium with our technology providers and develop a mutual trust. Facebook is skating on thin ice because they’ve had several knockbacks, but Apple should come through this issue relatively easily. Why? Because they have made massive efforts to protect privacy so far. The least we owe them is a shot to clear it up and not just a raft of headlines.

We’re largely in the unknown with tech. It’s a great big dark expanse that we’re all plodding along through, blindfolded for good measure. Look after your own privacy, pick your tech carefully but also, look beyond the surface of how people talk about tech. How many people told you they’d delete their Facebook account but still they like your posts.

Skullcandy Hesh 3: Wireless Headphones Review

Skullcandy is considered one of the biggest consumer headphone brands in the market. Unlike a lot of their competition they seem to specialise in bringing quality at a reasonable value. We got a hold of the latest Hesh 3 Wireless headphones to see how they stack up. Spoiler alert I bought these myself as my daily driver such is my addiction to Spotify.

As the name suggests the Hesh 3’s are the third iteration of the Hesh range. Do they live up to the Skullcandy name and are they actually good value for money? let’s find out.

Design

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First things first, the Skullcandy Hesh 3 headphones are a fairly slick looking bit of kit. Sure enough, they look like the previous renditions but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it as they say. They are a little smaller, a little lighter and the control placement has been tweaked to improve usability.

The build quality is also quite good if you ask me. Yes they are plastic but the padding around the ears and on top of the head is very comfortable. The plastic is also quite durable and doesn’t feel in any way cheap. I guess the reason they chose plastic over a metal framework was to keep the cost down.

The most important part of the headphone, the headband, is reinforced by a metal band that inspires even more confidence.

Buttons are nice and chunky and provide good tactile feedback.  I like that they are sleeved in a soft rubber that will stop dust from getting trapped as it does on Bose’s QC35.

On the right-hand side, below the ear standard, you will see the micro USB charging port and the 3.5mm aux jack (ideal for connecting with a PlayStation) as well as the playback controls. The controls include a volume up and volume down button. There is also a central multi-use button, which you can use for calls and playback.

In the packaging, you get yourself a charging cable and aux cable, but no carry case which is a slight bummer but definitely not a deal breaker.

In general, the Skullcandy Hesh 3’s are a well-built set of headphones. If style is your primary reason for purchasing headphones then the Skullcandy Hesh 3 is probably not going to appeal to you. In my humble opinion, they are one of the nicest looking sets around the €100 price point.

Comfort

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When buying headphones comfort is a big deal. For me, I like to zone out listening to my podcasts so that I can concentrate on what I’m doing. Therefore, comfort is going to be key.

The Skullcandy Hesh 3 Wireless headphones offer a nice over ear form factor which is great for comfort. Both the ear cups and in the headband have more than ample padding which was very helpful in keeping the headphones comfortable. I’ve used these walking, in the gym and in work so it’s fair to say they have been tested in most normal circumstances and there is very little to complain about.

Alas, of course, I will have a little whinge. The clamp is tight which is fantastic for isolation purposes, blocking out a lot of outside noise for a quieter listening experience. Having said that the tightness of the headband can be a problem for some. The current design does grip tightly and reports suggest during longer listening sessions people report discomfort. I haven’t had any problems but a mate borrowed them for a day and that was his complaint. I discovered that this can be managed by ensuring the top of your ears fit right into the top of the cup opening. It may be down to the memory foam creating pressure points in places but if like me you have small ears then you won’t have a problem. My best advice here is to try before you buy to be sure the Hesh 3’s are the right fit for you.

Audio Quality

Without pissing around too much we know Skullcandy as an experienced brand so it’s no surprise they offer more than decent audio quality. More to the point they haven’t ripped the guts from the old Hesh 2’s and stuck them in a new shell, they have actually gotten a proper upgrade.

The bass is well tuned and defined, it seems they are equipped with a boosted bass sound that will taper off in sub-base areas. The mids are clearly tuned and the low-mids offer enough warmth to make the majority of users happy. Maybe the high- mids could have been boosted a tad to improve vocal and guitar range that’s being picky.

The high frequencies are where these headphones truly shine. They’re clear and crisp, offering plenty of sizzle in the cymbals and vocal sibilance — which is a good thing.

Treble is also surprisingly crisp, far more than is on display in other Skullcandy headphones.

Putting a disclaimer out here. The Hesh 3’s aren’t built for audiophiles, more your average consumer. They have a classic EQ tuning i.e boosted lows and highs with a slight dip in the mids. In the simplest sense, they do exactly what they say on the tin. All in all the Hesh 3 offers a rather enjoyable audio experience.

Connection Quality

Would you believe the Skullcandy Hesh 3 wireless headphones don’t come with NFC? Although in their defence at the price they are going for allowing the one-tap-pairing with your smartphone is asking for too much. That leaves us with the now old school method of manually pairing the headset to your devices. Luckily your device should automatically connect to the headphones for future connections if Bluetooth is activated on both the source device and headphones.

You should also remember that you can only connect to one device at a time so you can’t hook it up to both a computer and phone at the same time. Again minor roadblock but not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. The Hesh 3 also has a Bluetooth range of 10 metres which is quite good for something in this price point.

Battery Life

In all fairness for a €100 set of headphones, the Hesh 3 stands up for itself quite well. According to Skullcandy, you should get a whopping 22 hours from a single charge. While it’s not a record breaker by any stretch it’s still better than most of the competition. Now, in reality, I was able to get 19 hours out of them. When you compare this to Martin’s Bose QC 35’s that give you 30 hours of charge it doesn’t look great. Yet, the Skullcandy’s are less than half the price so I’m happy to pay €200 less and still get good solid battery life.

Beyond the battery life, the real news here is that they offer a form of quick charging. 4 hours of playback in 10 minutes of charging. That’s a pretty big deal especially for those that don’t want to wait for ages to listen again or if you’re like me you forget to charge them before you jump out for a run. Again without picking on the Bose headphones, they offer 2.5 hours for a 20 min charge… just saying.

Wireless and other features

The Hesh 3 are Bluetooth headphones, but they don’t offer more special features such as aptX HD and active noise cancellation. If you’re after a solid, affordable wireless set of headphones then you won’t necessarily be wanting these extras anyway. You get the isolation/noise cancelling effect through the snug-fitting ear cups.

Skullcandy has the basics nailed down. Bluetooth stability is very good and as we mentioned already so is the battery life.  You’ll hear a voice prompt when the battery is low and on my Samsung S8 I can see the battery level remaining which is handy. Sure you can plug in the 3.5mm if you do run out of juice but why when you can get 4 hours from a quick charge.

The right ear cup as mentioned earlier is home to the buttons that you play/pause and alter the volume. A three-second press skips a track, rather than the usual multi-tap gesture.

Value

As I’ve mentioned before the Skullcandy Hesh 3’s are a solid set of headphones around the €100 price point. Price does have the power to make or break a product. While they make not make you swoon the same way as the Bose QC 35’s or the Sony WH-1000MX2’s both of these are far more expensive by at least double if not triple. If you’re in the market for a set of wireless headphones that won’t break the bank then the Hesh 3 is a real alternative.

It’s almost unfair to pit these against the two heavy hitters but I do so for a very good reason. Yes, the sound quality is weaker. Sure, they are going to be slightly less comfortable. Yes, the range and overall battery life might be weaker but for the huge difference in price, the value for money that Skullcandy is offering is commendable. So if the idea of walking the streets or going to the gym wearing a set of €300-400 brings about nervous sweats, then give proper consideration to the Skullcandy Hesh 3’s.

Skullcandy Hesh 3: The Verdict

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The Hesh 3 wireless headphones are a solid bit of kit. They are well designed in general, offer decent comfort and they sound nice too. All for under €100 in fact at one point I saw them and carry case on Amazon for under £80 which is pretty sweet if you ask me. It’s important to remember that they aren’t going to beat the big guys but for anyone looking for quality on a budget then these are by far and away the best option.

As Martin has alluded to before with so many phone manufacturers moving away from the audio jack, we have little choice but to adopt wireless audio. It’s unavoidable so it’s best we all start looking for the best wireless audio we can. In my opinion, the Skullcandy Hesh 3 is just bloody great value for money.

A Closer Look at Ambr Eyewear

If like any of us here you work in an office, then no doubt you’re in front of a screen all day. In the past we have written about how sitting is the new smoking. But did you know that all those hours in front of your desktop/laptop is doing some serious damage to your eyes? Hence why we decided to take a closer look at Ambr Eyewear (excuse my pun).

Put it like this, even if you have perfect eyesight, hours looking at a screen will put a real strain on your eyes. If you have trouble sleeping or get random headaches, then it might be down to the length of time spent in front of a screen. The solution? Ambr Eyewear.

Aren’t they just glasses?

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Ah no, Ambr glasses are for anyone who spends a large amount of time using screens for work or leisure. We’ve got multiple devices these days so it’s inevitable that prolonged screen use is becoming an issue to eye health. These glasses are perfect for designers, students and anyone fond of a Netflix binge! If you spend over 2 hours a day in front of a screen you might want to think about investing in a pair.

Right before going on it’s good to say this, I spend quite a few hours in front of a screen daily. (8-12 hours per day on average) This has been the case since college so we are talking about 10 years of sitting in front of a screen without thinking of protection.

When you spend that long in front of a screen it’s no surprise that you get a few problems. These problems can be headaches, issues with sleep or generally feeling like your eyes are goosed. Have you ever walked out of work and had the thought “Jesus my eyes are fucked” or when you’re looking at images on your screen and you think they seem blurred but in fact, it’s just you? Well, then you know exactly where I’m coming from here.

After having enough of the headaches, a visit to Specsavers was in order. The optician said my eyesight was perfect and that was fine but I still wanted a solution. That’s when I found Ambr Eyewear. After reading some reviews on social media and through their site it was time to take the plunge and give them a go.

Now initially I was off the belief that these glasses would be nothing more than a snazzy looking placebo or at the very least be a better-looking alternative to the naff looking screen lenses we’ve seen before. Luckily enough for me, they look nice. So even if they didn’t work as planned I thought at least here’s a nice accessory that might make me look a bit smarter.

Within a couple of days the difference was noticeable. Now over 2 months later I can say this with confidence, Ambr Eyewear glasses are the real deal. Those pesky headaches I used to get – gonzo. Also sleeping has vastly improved, if you notice you struggle to sleep after watching tv or binging on Netflix, it has to do with the screen blue light being emitted. With these glasses I find going to sleep a bit easier which is great for anyone who gets the pleasure of dealing with me on a daily basis. This might sound like an ad but trust me it’s not. I actually bought my pair of specs myself, in fact, I went for the Asteri frame in black because they reminded me of the pair worn by Henry Cavill’s, Clark Kent.

The Dublin based company has six different styles in their range with an option of colours for each frame. If you’re braver than me there are some funky red, clear and even emerald colours available.

The brains behind the brand

We love showing off the best of Irish Tech and to be fair Ambr Eyewear properly finds itself in this category. Founded by Dan Nugent and Sacha Cahill, their backgrounds have helped put the company on the map.

Dan’s background is in online marketing. With a degree in commerce from UCD under his belt and work history including time spend in Dublin based creative agency In the Company of Huskies. Sacha then is the style guru of the team, her background contains an art degree in Trinity as well as time working in the Dumbo art gallery in New York. This double act couples the beautiful with the brilliant to bring a new product that has already grown beyond their imaginations. You can now see their kit on the high street in Brown Thomas.

They have also recently won the Lead Entrepreneur Award at the recent TU Dublin/IADT New Frontiers annual showcase. At the showcase over 100 startup stakeholders were involved. Ambr managed to impress the judging panel of venture capitalists to take the home the gong.

Off the back of this, it was announced that the company is now attracting customers in 60 countries and should be in the remainder of the Selfridge outlets before the end of the year.

Who should use them?

As a society, most of us have become dependant on screens, whether that’s for work or entertainment purposes. One study went as far as to suggest that over 60% of adults are spending six hours plus per day in front of some form of digital display. Hard to argue with aswell by the time to take into account your TV, tablet, smartphone and laptop. While we love our computers it’s a known fact that overuse can do significant damage to our eyes.

Right now Ambr Eyewear has been cornered by the bloggers, writers, designers and those sorts but the reality is anyone who is in front of a screen that much should consider investing. If you already wear glasses make sure you’re protected and get a set that you can wear on the daily that happens to have the blue filter as standard.

The Techie stuff

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Sure it’s not exactly a secret that the blue light is going to mess up your eyes, especially before bed. A recent study from the Harvard School of Medicine has shown that blue light exposure, especially over an extended period depletes the brain’s ability to produce melatonin. This is the hormone that regulates sleep, hence why after a Netflix binge sleeping can be that bit more difficult. Not only does is affect your melatonin but the high-frequency light flickering also increases eye strain thus making them tire quickly. So on one side your struggling to sleep while on the other your eyes are knackered, not my idea of a fun combo.

During his time in an agency, Dan started realising he was having these problems and while blue light filters on lenses have been available as an additional feature for prescription glasses but they needed something more.

“I thought it was a problem I’d just have to deal with but after trying the glasses, all that discomfort vanished.”

Ambr Eyewear glasses use anti-glare technology that not only block around 55% of blue light but will also greatly reduce macular degeneration and if that’s not enough they will also block 95% of UV light too. Another recent study we have seen from the University of Houston claims that people who wear blue light blocking glasses before bed had a 58% higher level of melatonin. Basically no more waiting for your eyes to adjust to darkness when you shut down the laptop to go to bed and no more lying in the dark trying to sleep.

What sets them apart from other tinted glasses?

Traditional amber tinted glasses designed for computer use have generally been an ugly bit of kit. Like look at those yokes, they remind me of something Edgar Davids used to wear playing football back in the day. Thankfully Ambr’s glasses look like normal glasses and the tint isn’t noticeable at all. Handy for when you’re out and about.

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Not only that but for people like graphic designers an accurate colour perception is required and with the old style glasses as you can imagine everything is going to look a bit yellow which isn’t ideal. What you get is a pair of glasses that seems like there is no colour difference between wearing and not wearing them while looking at a screen. The long and short of it is you Ambr Eyewear glasses won’t have you looking like an early 00’s Dutch footballer while improving the functionality of screen protection glasses of the past.

Ordering process

Ridiculously simple actually. Buying glasses can be a bit of a risky business when choosing the right set in a shop let alone online. Yet the team at Ambr nail it. Once you decide on a pair you like, you need to try them on right? well, using AR you can virtually try on any pair of spectacles to make sure you’re getting the right set. Open the camera you line up your face with the outline and like a Snapchat filter, the glasses are on.

Once you find the set you want to buy, simply order online as normal or upload your prescription if you already wear glasses. That’s really it, no bells or whistles just an easy to use, innovative process that’s exactly as it should be.

The Goosed Verdict

Most of the time we review products that are more hands-on so something that is made to help the modern office worker or anyone who spends over 2 hours a day in front of the screen is something I was very interested in.

As we mentioned earlier Ambr Eyewear has already become the spectacles of choice for writers, editors, bloggers and vloggers alike. Well, now you can count Goosed.ie on that list because they really do work.

Within a week I could feel the difference. My eyes felt less strained, I started sleeping better and the occasional headache from a proper gaming bing session all became a thing of the past. To think that something as simple as a filter on a pair of glasses could make such a difference. It just goes to show the damage a screen can do to your eyes due to prolonged use without protection.

Stylish and serving a purpose, what more could we ask for?

Want to grab a set? We have a discount code for 10% off, just use our referral code.

PSD2: See AIB and Bank of Ireland Bank Accounts in KBC App

see bank of ireland details in kbc app psd2

It was a good while ago when I wrote about it, but I have mentioned how PSD2 would change the face of banking in Ireland forever. To many, it wouldn’t appear to be a very exciting directive to be handed down from the EU, but Ireland’s most digital bank, KBC, has just released an app update which lets you see AIB and Bank of Ireland account balances in your KBC app. Here’s how to get it done, and first, why I think this is cool.

Why is This Useful?

I’m a KBC customer and my better half is AIB. Every month, we transfer a few bob for rent and expenses, dinner out and the likes, into a joint account. Sure enough, that account is Bank of Ireland – completing an impressive trifecta of bank accounts. 

I log into my Bank of Ireland app, maybe, once every two or three months to make sure there are enough funds in there to pay the bills. It’s often a struggle as I try to remember the logins. Thanks to PSD2 and KBC adding additional functionality to their already impressive app, I can now connect the Bank of Ireland joint account (though it’s officially my old Bank of Ireland account) to my KBC account and simply view the balance from within my KBC app. This is called multibanking.

KBC’s ambition is to change the way that Irish people bank 

Now, rather than fumbling around with Bank of Ireland passwords, I can unlock my KBC app with my fingerprint and see the Bank of Ireland balance.

How to Add AIB or Bank of Ireland to KBC App

To get the ball rolling with this and see your AIB and Bank of Ireland account details in the KBC app, you’ll need your online banking details. AIB is one of the few institutions I’ve never been with, so I’ll be testing this with my Bank of Ireland account.

Adding your Bank of Ireland Account to KBC App

  1. Open the KBC App
  2. Select the menu button on the left-hand side and choose Other Bank Accounts
  3. Punch in your banking details for your Bank of Ireland account
  4. Confirm you agree to all the terms and what not
  5. Lob in your KBC password
  6. Wait a few moments

And just like that, you’ll be able to view your Bank of Ireland account balance in the KBC app. I think this is going to be a brilliant feature for joint account holders and the likes. While it’s very early days yet in the world of PSD2, it’s exciting to see KBC adopt these types of features proactively. Just remember, Bank of Ireland has yet to adopt Google Pay, Apple Pay or show just about any kind of initiative at all really when it comes to digital banking.

Multibanking: Consumer Benefits of PSD2

The concept of multibanking is non-optional for EU banks as this is a European Union directive. While KBC is first to act in the Irish market, others will have to follow. It looks like Ulster Bank and Permanent TSB are not capable of supporting this system yet, but again I stress this is non-optional. Banks are expected to have PSD2 support in place by the end of the summer.

These new rules stretch beyond the online digital banking experience.

PSD2 will also

  • ban extra charges on the use of debit and credit cars online and in shops
  • allow third parties to access payment information and help consumers find better value across loans and mortgages
  • introduce additional layers of security for consumers financial information
  • beef up consumers’ rights when it comes to the likes of non-authorised payments.

Upon announcing this latest app release, KBC’s Director of Transformation and Innovation, Kelvin Gillen outlined that the bank’s “ambition is to change the way that Irish people bank by providing instant, accessible financial products and services with this being a big step on our journey towards achieving this”.

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