How to Make a Pinhole Camera for Friday’s Solar Eclipse and Not Go ‘Selfie Blind’ | Gizmodo UK

My brother is an eye specialist and while common sense should prevail, he stresses, as do I, to please take the care needed when observing the solar eclipse tomorrow 🙂

Technology Getting Considered In The UK Government (Pre-Election) Budget

In case you missed it, there is an election going on in the UK 🙂  While the British Government has delivered a pre-election budget, I wasn’t interested in the alcohol duty (don’t drink such beverages) and glad to see the fuel duty is frozen.  But it was the reference to technology that peaked my interest this time around.

The UK is home to some of the greatest minds delivering awesome innovations over several years. While it is often viewed as one of the best places to innovate it is also home to suffering average UK broadband speeds of 17.8Mb/s (Ofcom, Nov. 2014).

But that looks like it is set to change.  With this budget there are intentions to ensure all homes and businesses have a minimum of 100MB/s, as described in their ‘national ambition‘ statement with both Virgin Media and BT backing that up by committing to bringing speeds up to 500MB/s to most of the UK over the remainder of this decade.  But we’ve heard this before.  Intending to get 90% of homes with ‘superfast broadband‘ (defined by the government as 24MBps or more) was promised last year.  But being the eternal optimist, there shouldn’t be anything preventing this from being delivered this year, right?

Another notable item being included was to clear the spectrum frequencies at 700MHz . What does this mean for us?  This should deliver better mobile networks, in turn offering better quality broadcast TV for mobile services for us to consume.  And with Apple making a play for delivering such media services over the wire (rumored to be in talks with Fox, CBS and Discovery networks), the investment of near £600m to free up this spectrum will help grow this particular vertical.

This is all great news, but what’s fascinating for me is the inclusion of the ‘Internet of Things‘ being mentioned in the budget.  Is this just lip service or a genuine intention to ensure the UK ‘keeps up with the Joneses’? Time will tell.  All in all, it’s a step in the right direction and if the Wearables 2015 show I recently attended demonstrated anything, this is a growth area that the UK needs to lead where possible to maintain it’s reputation as a country of innovation.

Asad Malik, @asadmaliksimba

My Photography Journey Continues Here …

I’ve been fascinated with photography for as long as I can remember.  From the first time I saw a photo in my hand (taken by a Polaroid camera), I knew I wanted to learn photography.  It wasn’t until I first became a father that I put serious investment into this popular of most hobbies. I wanted to ensure I had a decent camera to take photos of my first child. Picked up a great offer for a Canon 400D and haven’t looked back since.

Since then, I’ve been on a couple of courses and have been inspried by many photoblogs since then.  Nigel Beighton (check his blogs on infrared photography and those taken from his humble smartphone) really brought photography home for me and I thank him continually for helping me along this journey.

And so, here I go.  Consolidating some mini-photo-blogs into this section of my main blog, techinmydna.  Look forward to your feedback!

Asad Malik, @asadmaliksimba

8 Jokes Only Engineers Will Understand. Who Says Engineers Don’t Have A Sense Of Humor?

1.  Normal people believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Engineers believe that if it ain’t broke, it doesn’t have enough features yet.

2. To the optimist, the glass is half-full.
To the pessimist, the glass is half-empty.
To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

3. The graduate with a science degree asks, “Why does it work?”

The graduate with an engineering degree asks, “How does it work?”

The graduate with an accounting degree asks, “How much will it cost?”

The graduate with an arts degree asks, “Do you want fries with that?”

4. Three engineering students were gathered together discussing who must have designed the human body.
One said, “It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints.”
Another said, “No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system has many thousands of electrical connections.”
The last one said, “No, actually it had to have been a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?”

5. A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers. The engineer fumed, “What’s with those guys? We must have been waiting for fifteen minutes!”

The doctor chimed in, “I don’t know, but I’ve never seen such inept golf!”
The priest said, “Here comes the green-keeper. Let’s have a word with him.”
He said, “Hello George, what’s wrong with that group ahead of us? They’re rather slow, aren’t they?”
The green-keeper replied, “Oh, yes. That’s a group of blind firemen. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime.”
The group fell silent for a moment.
The priest said, “That’s so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight.”
The doctor said, “Good idea. I’m going to contact my ophthalmologist colleague and see if there’s anything he can do for them.”
The engineer said, “Why can’t they play at night?”

6. Two engineering students were walking across a university campus when one said, “Where did you get such a great bike?”
The second engineer replied, “Well, I was walking along yesterday, minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike, threw it to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, “Take what you want.”
The first engineer nodded approvingly and said, “Good choice; the clothes probably wouldn’t have fit you anyway.”

7. An engineer was crossing a road one day, when a frog called out to him and said, “If you kiss me, I’ll turn into a beautiful princess.” He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket.
The frog then cried out, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I’ll stay with you for one week and do ANYTHING you want.”
Again, the engineer took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket.
Finally, the frog asked, “What is the matter? I’ve told you I’m a beautiful princess and that I’ll stay with you for one week and do anything you want. Why won’t you kiss me?”
The engineer said, “Look, I’m an engineer. I don’t have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog, now that’s cool.”

8. A wife asks her husband, a software engineer…
“Could you please go shopping for me and buy one carton of milk, and if they have eggs, get 6!” A short time later the husband comes back with 6 cartons of milk. The wife asks him, “Why the hell did you buy 6 cartons of milk?” He replied, “They had eggs.”

Windows 10 – Enterprise Cloud-ready?

In the past, Microsoft’s attempts at delivering a user experience similar to Apple and Google have been fairly touch and go. After introducing Cortana for Windows Mobile (in line with Apple’s Siri and Google Now) as well as the Metro user interface, Microsoft was criticised for being late to the user experience party and not delivering.

However, user experience is but one piece of any new operating system, and with Windows 10 slated to be a unique ‘mobile-first, cloud-first world,’ there is a genuine feeling of promise with Microsoft’s latest release. Whereas Windows 8.1 has been merely patched up to survive in today’s ultra-fast changing OS landscape, Windows 10 appears to fully embrace the world of mobile computing and cloud computing from the ground up.

Clearly, we can acknowledge the influence of Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, on Windows 10. Before the release of Windows 8.1, Microsoft surveyed the market and then decided what needed to be developed, but on this occasion, Microsoft has invited the community to influence the eventual release of Windows 10 by deploying a technical beta version of the code. To date, over 1 million users are evaluating Windows 10, with Microsoft receiving 200,000 distinct pieces of feedback already. This is a clear indication from Microsoft that they are looking to get back in the game with old adversaries (Linux vendors), as well as new competitors (Amazon, Google, and Apple). With Windows 10 due for release in late 2015, the enterprise community has a unique opportunity to positively influence this ecosystem.

But despite inviting its users to help build a better product, a focus around business benefits seems to be amiss. In the age of cloud computing, businesses and their customers are looking for an experience that allows the accessibility of the cloud alongside cast-iron security. Given this, Microsoft has a tall order to fulfill; Google and Apple have both implemented several recent features to be cloud-compatible and more user-friendly.

While much can be debated around Windows 10’s core elements such as security, ease of support, and manageability, Microsoft simply needs to ensure that they deliver a robust platform that can overcome previous shortcomings. This is what customers will respond to.

There is no room for error with this release (an impossible feat for software development). This day and age requires immediate fulfillment and zero tolerance for product delays. While the public may once have more readily accepted earlier OSs, the onus is now on Microsoft to ensure its platform is flexible, high performing, scalable, and secure if they are to compete and lead the way for computing platforms in the future. Since it is assumed that Microsoft will deliver consumer-grade experiences with next-to-zero failure rates across the platform, Microsoft will need to meet and exceed the high bar set by their competition in order to be seen as an innovator and leader in software development.

All too often, advances in technology can be a distraction, but for the market in 2015, what will Windows 10 really mean? Is it practical, is it productive, and is it a perfect strategy? Time will tell, but for now, Microsoft seems to be making a concerted effort to reach out to its users on how to improve upon Windows 8.1. Perhaps it will be this key strategy that will help Microsoft to avoid falling further behind the other ecosystems in the enterprise space.

Reassessing the ‘Fit-For-Purpose’ Cloud

The term cloud computing holds many different definitions depending on who you ask. And with cloud computing-related issues hitting the news every other week, there has never been a better time to revisit what cloud computing can offer, the important aspects of cloud computing that need to be considered and how to make it work for you, not against you.

How would you like that workload delivered?

It all starts with understanding the use case, associating the workload to the right type of cloud resource and implementing the right service that is fit-for-purpose for your business.  And while each type of cloud (public, private and hybrid) have use cases that are a natural fit, it’s the blend of dedicated and shared resources that are garnering the most interest, i.e. hybrid cloud computing.  So, which use cases are suited for a hybrid cloud?  They include (but are not limited to):

  • Web/E-Commerce, e.g. retail sites needing compliance with easy, quick scalability for sales & marketing campaigns/promotions
  • Data Protection, e.g. utilising a cloud resource in a secondary DC for Disaster Recovery purposes
  • Development and Testing of Applications, empowering developers with the freedom to utilise dynamic, flexible compute/storage resources
  • Standard (Office) Applications, i.e. offloading business functions such as email (Exchange) and collaboration (SharePoint), releasing on-premise resources for more important and/or strategic projects
  • Outsourcing Data Centre Resources, providing immediately available, on-demand resources, that can be turned off when not required

At MTI, many of our clients are planning a transition to adopt or at least better utilise cloud services and want advice as to which is the right type of cloud service for their specific use case/s.  Some of the most common challenges are to ensure the proposed service is in line with overall business objectives and IT strategy, to eliminate security concerns and to deliver a tangible service improvement and/or return on investment (ROI). Whether the recommendation is to utilise MTI’s Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), to help deliver a hybrid solution, or broker a partnership for other services, it is our role as a trusted service provider and partner, to help our clients build the appropriate business case, to support proposed investment and transition and to make the process as clear, simple and risk-free as possible.

All for one and one for all?

Let’s cut to the chase.  While cloud computing can benefit all organisations, not all applications or workloads readily fit into the cloud computing models, illustrated above.  And then there are the different types and merits of cloud services on offer (public, private, hybrid) that need to be considered too.  However, don’t feel that you’re late to the cloud game.

In my opinion, 2011 was the year when cloud computing was really introduced. Many believed it was nothing more than a spin by marketing to create a new industry buzz word.  However, the demand for scalable, flexible compute and storage resources was always there.

In 2012, many vendors started to understand this new form of providing compute/storage resource and jumped on the bandwagon, some faster than others, via proof-of-concept (PoC) projects. Businesses were learning about the concepts of cloud computing and understanding the importance of having a secure cloud service, which could improve business processes and reduce costs.

2013 was the year of the ‘cloud savvy’; where businesses became more comfortable where and how cloud computing could fit into their IT strategy. Based on proof of concept (PoC) projects, organisations started to implement both test/development and production clouds to realise benefits such as better control of costs and removing infrastructure distractions, in order to focus on more valuable and strategic areas of IT in line with business goals.

However, fast forward to 2014…With year-on-year challenges to meet aggressive revenue targets, to manage the continued growth in shadow IT, and to keep control of increasing costs associated with business-as-usual activities, the need for cloud computing is almost a given to survive in today’s global economy.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a business enabler, not just a cloud…

As obvious as this may sound, it’s absolutely imperative that businesses ensure the integrity of their intellectual property, stored in a cloud service, to protect the brand and reputation of their company. Selecting the right cloud service/s, such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), can help with consistent and increased delivery of revenue/market growth streams.  To do this, it’s important to understand the characteristics of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS):

Resource Pooling Clients may use IaaS to change their model from machine-based resources to highly elastic resource pools, shared across applications and users.  This enables automated on-demand resource allocation in the most efficient and flexible manner.
Zero-Touch Infrastructure Policy-driven management automates routine operational tasks, minimising operational expense and overheads.
Platform Control A robust platform built for high availability with the ability to optimise resource allocations, ensuring defined service levels are met.  Inherent disaster recovery mechanisms ensure business continuity.  Self-optimising security model encompasses dynamic infrastructure ensuring application performance is not affected.
Cloud Interoperability Application mobility between clouds within a common management framework, based on open standards, extended to a large ecosystem of public cloud providers.
Utilisation of Existing Assets Ability to bring existing applications and all of IT into an appropriate cloud computing model, through a staged, evolutionary approach, often starting with an organisations’ on-premise IT infrastructure

Once clients have decided to adopt Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), businesses need to consider how the cloud service will impact the organisation. That’s where MTI comes into play. Our role is more than just provisioning on-demand compute and storage resources.  It is much more about enabling and underpinning other services to increase productivity, improve business processes and reduce costs, providing 24/7 support and consultancy. It’s also important to agree a roadmap of the different cloud services available and how each could positively impact the business and be beneficial in the long term.  Here are my top tips for businesses adopting cloud:

  1. Improve user experience

The cloud service must be so good that employees want to use it on their personal device, and so easy to use that they would also adopt this service for personal use, if available for that purpose.  This starts to help manage the continuing challenge of shadow IT.

  1. Provide security assurance

With more and more intellectual property stored/processed in the cloud, businesses need to be aware of the broad and varied selection of security tools on offer to protect their business.  Such tools range from die-hards like anti-virus and firewalls, but intrusion prevention systems, web reputation services and vulnerability shielding are all becoming popular in the fight to protect the cloud.  At MTI, we take it further and help by offering options to respond to attacks like ransomware, such as Cryptolocker (check my earlier blog on this).  Ransomware encrypts all files in the cloud and then demands a ransom (normally money) to unlock them.

  1. Deliver new value-added services

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provides organisations with the ability to scale up and down to meet demands, increase agility and flexibility. IaaS can help to improve business continuity, collaboration in the workplace and managing/sharing large files.  However, it’s important to note that cloud computing is a new paradigm with regards application development, so be prepared to assess your existing IT enterprise and architecture and create a cloud-ready application landscape.

  1. Know what your workforce needs

Businesses looking to migrate to IaaS need to plan from a technical, operational, commercial and, most importantly, cultural perspective. Culture is important, as the initial motivation for adopting IaaS to drive new value-added services, as employees must want a service that works for them, is flexible to meet their needs, delivers increased productivity and helps them manage their workload.

  1. Get supported

Everyman and his dog is able to deliver an IaaS platform, but organisations need a platform which will enable them to deliver new value-added services, to remain robust and high performing.  Any vendor/service provider worth its salt, that is providing IaaS, will also have a managed services division providing 24/7 support. There should also be clearly defined service level agreements (SLAs), backed by service credits, with flexible options to meet specific requirements and service level objectives (SLOs), based upon an industry-recognised framework such as ITIL.

Hopefully I’ve offered some insights and food for thought on important aspects for consideration, when procuring and utilising cloud services. Organisations need to be aware of the different types of services on offer, potential impacts and which will best suit their business and culture. The adoption of a cloud service should not be a daunting task for organisations.  It should underpin business growth, the ability to deliver new services to market in reduced timeframes, provide simplified business processes, ease of use that encourages collaboration in the workplace and reduced cost, in turn, accelerating more profitable returns.

How notifications can change everything…

How would you like to be able to foretell the future? What would you do? For those of you who have seen Back to the Future 2, you might, like Biff, decide to use a copy of the Sports Almanac to make ‘informed decisions’ in order to secure yourself the best chance of making more money… Right?

Well, before you start thinking I’m about to offer you a magical document like the Almanac (don’t have one, sadly), or read today’s horoscope (don’t believe in it), or share weird and wonderful stories from fortune tellers (know anyone who has visited one?!), I’d like to share my thoughts on the next best thing… Remote Infrastructure Management (RIM).

“How’s that going to help me make more money?”, I hear you cry. Read on and I will explain…

When one considers the initial and on-going investment made in IT infrastructure, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that continual monitoring and maintenance of physical, virtual and digital IT assets are important. Whether it’s to help find performance gaps, or proactively identify potential issues to avoid service downtime, organisations are looking more and more towards managed services to help simplify and improve their IT infrastructure management.

With this in mind, it’s perhaps no surprise to find that Remote Infrastructure Management (RIM) has increased in popularity over recent years.  Put simply, this service allows an organisation to offload routine-but-essential, or even mission-critical, tasks, to providers who focus on the monitoring and management of IT environments. In doing so, Remote Infrastructure Management (RIM) leaves a business free to re-focus internal IT teams on more valuable and strategic activities, such as rapid application delivery to market to secure competitive advantage, to support growth and increase market share or shareholder value.

So, what other benefits can be realised? First and foremost, up to a 30% reduction in on-going operational cost. Coupled with less initial investment required, this means that the potential overall cost savings can be significant. An additional benefit is access to a team of highly accredited and experienced technical experts, who utilise best-in-class toolsets that some businesses may not readily have access to. Trained professionals plus leading, enterprise-class tools deliver a real sense of reassurance and peace of mind that most IT managers yearn for.

However, the real power of Remote Infrastructure Management (RIM) lies in the notifications. The IT infrastructure is proactively and remotely monitored by a team who intimately understand the corporate environment. Through the generation of notifications, these highly skilled teams help an organisation detect potential impending issues and take action at the earliest possible opportunity – before minor issues turn into full-blown problems. Whether data resides in one data centre or several located worldwide, these notifications provide an organisation with a clear view of their IT infrastructure and enable them to identify areas for improvement. Critically, this service significantly lowers the risk of IT failures and service outages.

When it comes to Remote Infrastructure Management (RIM), setting the correct thresholds is key. Not only do the thresholds need to correctly relate to the platform being monitored, from a technical perspective, interpreting thresholds correctly is just as important.  For example, for servers, one would monitor the number of cores, the clock rate, the number of threads, the number of memory channels available, the respective maximum memory bandwidth that needs to be monitored, and so on… IT departments then need to interpret that data and determine what, if any, impact there is to the business. Things can, very quickly, become very complex.

Such complexities often distract members of the IT department from their primary roles and responsibilities. Often, too much time is spent troubleshooting issues when, for example, IT departments could – and should – be evaluating new applications and technologies to help support company growth objectives.  By reaching out to a provider of Remote Infrastructure Management (RIM), a business can sleep tight in the knowledge that its infrastructure is being proactively monitored. Moreover, the CIO can be confident that precious data is safe in the hands of experts, who will provide recommendations as to how IT infrastructure, platforms, applications and the wider environment can be further optimised.

Regardless of the situation, notifications are important. Whether it’s an email from a loved one asking you to pick up some groceries on the way home, or a car warning light indicating that you only have x miles left before you run out of fuel. Notifications let you know you need to take action. They draw your attention to potential issues and, just like the Sports Almanac, let you know where you should be focusing your efforts for maximum return. Translate that into the peace of mind derived from knowing that significant IT investments made are protected, knowing that valuable data is being proactively monitored and managed, knowing that a team of experts are anticipating issues and addressing them according to pre-agreed thresholds and ITIL processes… now that’s the sort of peace of mind that I’d like, wouldn’t you?

Welcome to 2014! Start the year as you intend to go on, take advantage of the expertise, experience and excellence waiting to help you make the 12 months ahead more successful than ever before…

Find out more about MTI’s solutions and services at, email or speak to a trusted advisor on +44 (0)1483 520 200

Asad Malik
Product Manager, MTI Technology

And you think Data Recovery isn’t important?!

Cryptolocker. A fiendishly evil, but highly effective, malicious IT attack; once it infiltrates your IT system, it is set to stay and let nothing and no one else in. More and more articles are being written about how this Trojan, using encryption, locks up your data. Cyber criminals then demand money for your data to be unlocked, but more worryingly, it’s the ease with which it attacks the IT infrastructure in the first instance that causes the most concern.
By hiding within perceived innocent files such as Excel spreadsheets or documents, robust firewall protection and traditional security measures are not enough. Malicious IT attacks of this nature are driving more and more businesses to invest in more secure IT systems, such as penetration testing, or to look for real, proven alternatives to recover from such breaches.

On this particular occasion, the most reliable solution for a Cryptolocker attack, is to carry out a data restore. However, the subject of data recovery isn’t just about the ability to restore business critical information from malicious attacks such as; viruses corrupting data, phishing attacks stealing data, or in this case, Trojans that make all business data inaccessible.

Data Recovery is rapidly becoming a higher priority on the CIO Agenda, to mitigate risk and to ensure that in the event of an unplanned event (a disaster or human error), the business will not lose data nor access to data. For IT operations and support, planned events (such as maintenance and upgrades) require a backup plan, in case there is a need to ‘rollback’ should the upgrade or support fix not resolve the issue, or worse still, cause more serious outages. Then there is the need to meet compliance requirements – with more and more businesses under more complex and stringent regulatory pressures, forced to retain data for months, years or tens of years, the need for efficient, cost effective file and messaging archives has become a necessity.
So, the next time you are planning IT budgets, it is worth remembering to reach out to a trusted advisor, such as MTI, who can consult and provide you with options on how to create clean, secure, efficient, backup, restore and archive processes your business can rely upon. Whether it’s an on-premise solution or in the cloud (with offerings such as MTI BaaS / MTI SAFE), data recovery has increased as a business priority. A backup, restore and archive process is no longer considered a mundane, daily task, it has become a business-essential activity. The question you need to ask is can you afford not to protect your intellectual property, your revenue streams and ultimately your customers’ satisfaction?

Discreetness Empowered

Pebble-1Wearable Technology.  Fitness trackerssmart watches, even products that monitor vital health statistics of babies while they are sleeping.  We are clearly in the age of technology becoming intimately close and creating more, valuable information about our daily life.

While much has been written about the social, political and health elements of this new evolution of personal/mobile tech, it still comes down to the use case.  Will wearing a fitness tracker help me improve my fitness?  Will a smart watch make me more productive?  How important is technology in safeguarding my family?

Keep these themes in mind when I share with you my experiences with the Pebble Steel smart watch (I’ll refer to it, going forward, as ‘the Pebble’).  While the name may not yet have reached the dizzy heights of Casio and Seiko in terms of brand recognition, the Pebble will go down in history as a pioneer of the next wave of technology influencing our lives.  Today, we’re on the cusp of the Wearable Technology era.

Google recently announced its Android Wear initiative at its annual Google I/O developer conference. Amongst several announcements, one of the main takeaways focused on better engagement with wearable tech, in turn, delivering improved lifestyles. And with IFA in Berlin announcing smart watches based on Android Wear from several well-known brands (Asus, LG, Sony, Motorola and Samsung), the Pebble now has a lot more company. Back to the Pebble, famously known for helping Kickstarter, kick-start (pun intended!) their reputation to help fund creative projects, the Pebble certainly captured the imagination of many for what they were looking for in a smart watch today. Their vision still remains fit-for-purpose despite the recent announcements at IFA.



Why do I say this? Having worn and used it for the best part of six months, this is my verdict. I get to swap out watch faces, select and match one with cufflinks worn that day. More importantly, it looks like a watch and not some odd piece of technology strapped onto my wrist (for example, the Moto 360 is significantly thicker drawing, potentially, the wrong kind of attention). A compelling feature is the e-ink display, which is easy to read, even in direct sunlight (OLED/LCD displays are usually rendered ineffectual in daylight; look at your smartphone screen and you will see why). The Pebble provides me with all sorts of information I need to know at a glance (time, date, day, weather forecast in my current location). But underneath its Corning© Gorilla© glass lies a daily companion who can keep up with you.

Pebble-6The lead feature, relaying notifications (via Bluetooth) from your Android or iOS smartphone, keeps you updated but does not get in the way of your daily routine.   By far, this has been an important, and arguably, the most compelling reason for the Pebble.  Today, an individual checks their phone, on average, 125 times a day (Google I/O 2014). That’s a lot of taking the phone out, unlocking it and swiping across the screen. With the Pebble, it will vibrate and subtly notify you of updates only you will notice.  This ability to discreetly check the latest text from my family or a reminder of my next appointment during a meeting keeps me on track with my day.  Social etiquette is preserved at social and work gatherings ensuring I am still engaged with the actual people I am with.  No longer do I need to take my phone out and swipe a few times to check my notifications.  It’s all there, on the Pebble, at a glance.

But there’s more! The relatively recent launch of a dedicated App store (on both Android and iOS) has a growing list of applications and watch faces to customise your Pebble.  Applications range from games, productivity, fitness and more. Well-known brands are catered for (Yelp, Evernote, RunKeeper and more).  A couple of decades ago, you would find standard features like a stopwatch, timer and alarm on most watches.  Now, the choice is yours.  Load up a game, a fitness app or perhaps an RSS feed.  With capacity to load up to eight apps, you get to customise your Pebble to your choosing, suiting your lifestyle.

However, it’s additional, small details that seemingly offer the most value.  For instance, the Pebble subtly notifying you are out of range from your phone.  Now, I no longer worry I’ve left my smartphone behind.  Storing short notes like grocery shopping lists making it easier to access, instead of fumbling with the phone scrolling down a list while negotiating turns of your part-full laden trolley in the local supermarket. Changing music tracks while working out at gym is another plus point.  With Bluetooth headphones connected to my smartphone, I do not need to have the phone itself on me.  Now I can leave it near me, in my gym bag, but continue to listen and change music tracks while I work out.

Any issues?  Battery and charging.  The Pebble is charged using a proprietary magnetic charging cable that attaches to the side of the Pebble.  This means you need to keep this handy to charge up your Pebble.  Ideally, other forms of charging, such as wireless charging pads, solar-based panels (such as Citizen’s Eco-Drive system) and even kinetic energy (often found in Seiko watches) would help to keep the Pebble charged for longer.  Despite the use of E-ink technology, battery life is 3-4 days presently, but with improved firmware, this could increase to a few days more.  Unlike the daily need to charge the smartphone, I’m glad I only need to charge the Pebble twice a week, but a monthly charge cycle would be ideal.

So, has the Pebble become my daily companion? In short, yes. I’m loving the increased productivity it’s delivered thus far. The price tag is comparable with other brand watches ($249 / ~£155). And while new smart watches have recently been announced at IFA, there hasn’t been anything compelling to make me choose a new smart watch over the Pebble. Daily charging still remains a deal breaker despite the rich functionality showcased by Android Wear. Therefore, at this time, the Pebble, being a relatively mature offering, continues to deliver the added benefits of productivity & flexibility complementing my lifestyle (not getting in the way of my usual routine) and that brings me huge value.

Asad Malik