Elon Musk and the SpaceX launched a Tesla Roadster into space with the help of David Bowie!

So, 10 days have now passed now since Elon Musk’s SpaceX sent his Tesla Roadster on it’s way to Mars (via the Asteroid Belt). Aside from the obvious enormous publicity stunt that inevitably comes with sending your prized electric sports-car into the vacuum of outer-space, what was the real benefit of one of  luanching one the world’s largest rockets into space and returning it to Earth (ably assisted by the timeless voice of rock legend David Bowie)?

Although extremely successful, SpaceX MUST continue to prove that their rockets are both reliable and REALLY cost effective to launch. In order to do this they are ramping up launches from the Falcon 9 to the Falcon Heavy on the journey to the launch of the BFR which will (when completed), be the largest and most powerful rocket ever launched from our planet.

The Falcon Heavy is currently capable of carrying 64 metric tons which positions SpaceX as the obvious choice for resupply of the ISS and eventually transporting astronauts to the station. Falcon Heavy launches are in space terms ‘cheap’ at about $90 million per launch compared to the eye watering $500 million that the new NASA rockets are projected to cost!

The new BFR will be able to carry evening heavier payloads of up to 150 metric tons, a seriously large amount! Enough indeed to be able to partake in interplanetary missions to The Moon and Mars.

So, why launch Musk’s prized Tesla Roadster into space at all? Again this is all about delivering a service to NASA and proving the rockets capabilities in the long term. SpaceX HAD to take a large payload as part of this test flight, so rather than packing the bay with concrete blocks, they chose his Electric Sports Car as it added (as it turns out) a massive amount of theatre to the mission, not only were SpaceX launching three rockets and returning all of the main launch rockets back to earth (with some stunning images of the two boosters landing together at Cape Canaveral), but also successfully unloading a $100,000 Electric Vehicle into orbit and then on to Mars (via the Asteroid Belt).

So after the theatre of the 6th February, Starman continues on his journey strapped into the Tesla Roadster, his armed resting on the window ledge, relaxing as he begins his Billion year journey through outer space. Currently (as of writing this), he is 1,817,804 miles from Earth with an mere 139,926,200 miles to go before he reaches Mars, travelling at a speed of 43,400 mph, way beyond Tesla’s service range! (http://www.whereisroadster.com/)

I am now sure that  we really might see man set foot again on the Moon and then continue on to Mars in the next 10 years. Something that I personally can’t wait to see.

Images: SpaceX, Wikipedia
Music: David Bowie, Life on Mars.

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

 

 

 

Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme – The perfect laptop for any road trip #gadgetroadtrip

Before departing on our electric road trip in the Tesla Model S in October, we were kindly lent lots of kit to make the journey easier and more tech-packed.

Of all the tech we used and tested on our trip, one of the most useful was the Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme, a gadget perfectly suited for the journey to Scotland and back.

Dell Latitude 14 Rugged
Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme at Leicester Services.

As the name suggests, this is a Rugged laptop specifically designed to withstand some pretty extreme conditions. It is aimed at people who need to be working out in the field in all kinds of weather conditions. Perfectly suited for the west of Scotland then!

Dell Latitude 14 Rugged
The Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme comes with Resistive Touch Screen and Stylus fir ease of use in wet conditions.

The Latitude 14 Rugged was to be the central hub of our video and blogging management, allowing us to edit video whenever the chance presented itself and manage blogs and social media in a full screen environment. Video was edited using Adobe Premiere Pro CC and uploaded over EE’s 4g network.

Dell Latitude 14 Rugged
Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme Designed for ‘in the field’ use.

As laptops go, this is a seriously luggable device, it’s bulky and heavy to the point that it has an integrated carry handle. The bulk and weight are due to it’s armour added to protect it from fairly substantial drops and providing it will water resistance.

Dell Latitude 14 Rugged
All I/O ports are rubber sealed.

Each of the myriad of i/o ports are rubber-sealed to protect them and it’s touch screen is resistive rather than the market standard ‘capacitive’ touch in order for it be used in wet conditions and dell have even provided an inbuilt stylus to aid use of it in cold conditions where you wouldn’t want to expose your fingers to the elements.

Dell Latitude 14 Rugged
Integrated finger print reader is included.

The model we tested was packed with hardware features including a Intel Core i5-6300U Processor (Dual Core, 3M Cache, 2.40 GHz), 8GB 2133MHz DDR4 Memory, 128GB Solid State Drive, Intel Integrated HD Graphics 520, Intel Dual Band Wireless 8260 (802.11ac) with Bluetooth, Dell Wireless Qualcomm Gobi 4G LTE (DW5809E for Win8/Win10), 35.6cm (14.0″) HD (1366×768) Touch Display with Microphone Camera with Privacy Shutter all powered from E5 90W AC Adapter.

The Dell Latitude 14 Rugged
The Dell provided excellent battery performance during our trip and we ensured we topped up overnight where possible.

The processor, memory and solid state drive all helped to run Windows 10 Professional with ease. I was able to happily edit 4K video footage in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2018 and upload these files with a EE 4G data Sim card. Everything was taken care of without having to mess around with secondary devices to connect to the internet. In retrospect, we could have employed the Latitude as a virtual studio for our video broadcasting, but time constraints simply didn’t give us the time to set this up.

All in all this was a seriously impressive device, although this is in no way a practical machine for use in an office,  but when used for it’s intended purpose in extreme weather conditions and less that welcoming environments, it simply excels with a feature packed all in one solution with water resistance and extreme durability.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that these features come at a premium, the Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme is priced around the £2900 mark.

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

 

 

Best gadgets for Valentine’s Day gift 2018

It is already February and you know that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! If you aren’t a romantic person and you don’t feel like wasting money on chocolate hearts and flowers I have few ideas you can use. Here are most interesting presents you can give for Valentine’s Day which are useful, cool and very interesting.

Prynt Pocket photo printer for iPhone

I assume that your better half loves to take pictures and her iPhone memory is always full so this little printer can help her pick the best ones for her wallet or even phone case. The printer is small, light and the best part about it is the fact that each picture is actually a sticker so she can literally make a phone case out of the dearest photos. I am pretty certain you can score with this smart gadget this Valentine.

Leather tassel charging cable

This leather tassel may not be as attractive as the photo printer but it is one of the most useful and best-looking things she will own. It is a keychain and it looks like those modern keychains everybody is buying, but it is also a charging cable. Basically, it means that she can connect her phone to the laptop whenever she wants and wherever she wants. The best part – she will look amazing doing it 😀

Foosball iPad stand

Now, this is more like a present for the male population than for female, but who says that men can’t get Valentine’s Day present? Foosball iPad stand is a combination of virtual foosball and real foosball (but pocket version). It is a gadget that looks like a foosball table but without the field. Yes, the gadget has 4 legs, 3 scoring systems, and 8 rods, 4 on each side and the field is actually your iPad. If your loved one doesn’t have room for foosball table but he really-really wants one; I would recommend this foosball gadget!

R2-D2 App-Enabled Sphero Droid

This is the droid for everybody! If you say that you don’t want to have your own R2D2, you are lying. It is like you are saying you don’t want a cake for your birthday! This droid may be a toy, but it has so many details that really looks like R2 and I am sure that there are more grown-ups with this gadget than kids. For every Star Wars fan is a dream to have this little beepy droid and you can make this dream come true. Yes, I said beeply, because the gadget produces sounds just like the real R2D2.

Gadgets like the ones on the list are interesting and useful so they are the perfect present for any occasion, not just Valentine’s Day. When you wrap them in hearts and chocolate you will surprise and impress your loved one because you will show that you made an effort and this year, thought outside of the box! Happy Valentine’s!

Author bio:

Mark is a foosball blogger who has a blog about the most addictive game table in the world. His blog, the FoosballZone is the best place for all foosers and people who want to be that. If you want to learn more about foosball tables, or history of foosball, visit his blog because it has everything you need to know. If you want to check out his work, visit his site and detailed post about Tornado table features.

Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3z USB Drive – Move over James Bond and Ethan Hunt, this data really can self destruct in 5 seconds!

Mission Impossible : Rogue Nation - USB Memory Stick deletion scene - image credit: Paramount Pictures
Mission Impossible : Rogue Nation – USB Memory Stick deletion scene – image credit: Paramount Pictures

If you watch Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, you will find a scene near the end of the movie where Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) hands a USB drive to her ‘handler’ Atlee (Simon McBurney), he then proceeds to surreptitiously erase the contents of the USB stick using an combination of distraction, slight of hand, a Nokia 930 smartphone and a copy of the Financial Times. Thus Faust is oblivious to the smoke and mirrors that has just taken place and continues on with her mission (should she choose to accept it!).

All of the above just seemed completely unnecessary and it was with this still in mind that I began testing and reviewing the Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3z, a storage device which not only hardware encrypts your data but also includes a self destruct option for those most inconvenient moments when your only option is to completely destroy the data!

The majority of disk encryption is at software level which means that you can access the information, but it is in effect ‘scrambled’ using a password or code. Try enough times using either brute force or dictionary attempts and you may just crack the key and thus give yourself access to the information.

Gadget Man Reviews the Aegis Secure Key 3z
Additional technology is simply not required to secure your data with the Aegis Secure Key 3z

The Secure Key 3z uses a hardware based encryption, namely 256-bit AES XTS. AES is an acronym for “Advanced Encryption Standard”, originally invented in 2001 as the “Rijndael Cypher” after it’s creators Daemen and Rijmen. AES is a widely used encryption standard able to be resilient against attacks. It is in fact so highly respected, it has become to ‘go to’ encryption method for security agencies, banks and governments to trust it with their highly sensitive information and state secrets. The 3z uses 256 bit encryption, which gives a hundred thousand billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion combinations of keys. With the further addition of the XTS cypher, it renders data stored on the device effectively impossible to access or decrypt.

Gadget Man Reviews the Aegis Secure Key 3zOut of the box, the Secure Key measures in at 81mm x 18.4mm x 9.5mm and weight 22 grams and has an internal rechargeable battery. Once unpacked, you will need to set up your Admin pin number straightaway as there is no pre-programmed key. This must be between 7 and 16 digits, you cannot set consecutive numbers or numbers which are all the same, this pin is users to set up the Secure Key allows to to manage other features, but more of that later.

As soon a you’ve added your admin user, you can then (if you like) add a standard user. You would use this feature if you were going to manage the Secure Key and were going to issue it to another person to use. Again, this is a fairly straightforward and covered in the ‘quick start guide’.

Gadget Man Reviews the Aegis Secure Key 3z
In its locked state, the Secure Key is is not recognised when plugged into a PC, Mac or mobile device

Whilst locked, the USB is effectively useless, plug it into a computer’s USB port and you will find the computer won’t even recognise the device as it is hardware disabled, in other words it’s switched off. This is indicated by a ‘red’ led illuminating on the device. To unlock the device, you press the green padlock key and then enter either the user or admin pin number and press the green padlock again. The red LED will switch off and the green LED starts flashing, this indicates that device is unlocked and ready for use, it is simply a matter of plugging it in to a spare USB port.

The Aegis Secure Key’s FIPS 140-2 validation covers 11 areas of its cryptographic security system, including physical security, cryptographic key management and design integrity.
The Aegis Secure Key’s FIPS 140-2 validation covers 11 areas of its cryptographic security system, including physical security, cryptographic key management and design integrity.

The key itself is USB3.1 but is backwardly compatible to v3, v2 and v1.1. This gives it a surprising turn of speed of  to 190MB/s read and 80MB/s write.

OK, so the key performs really nicely and had government grade encryption, what happens if I lose the key and it gets into the hands of an enemy?

Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3z
Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3z

First off, the key is encased in a IP58 Dust and Water Resistant tough metal shell with polymer coated wear resistant keys. Inside the electronic components are protected by a filling of hard epoxy resin, making a physical attempt to access the electronics virtually impossible without causing catastrophic damage.

PIN entry ‘brute force’ protection means that if you enter the code number incorrectly more than 3 times, the space between entry of subsequent pins slows down, if the incorrect entry of keys hits 10, the red light on the key will start flashing rapidly, at this point you have 10 more attempts left, if you fail to enter a correct pin within these last attempts, the key will consider itself as under attack and will delete it’s data as a precaution.

Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3zShould you be left in the position of Faust and Atlee in Mission Impossible : Rogue Nation, there is in fact a better option for destroying the data on the card (or in fact having a third party do it for you). Yes, the Secure Key supports the entry of a self destruct key, a key which is designed to delete all data on the key and reformat the device, this key is then assumed as the standard key for the device and it will behave as a brand new drive.

It was quite fiddly to set up, but I was successful in testing the ‘Self Destruct’ mode, it worked as documented and didn’t give me any indication that it was taking place.

Apricorn have made a very solid product with the Secure Key 3z, it looks and feels the part, it worked very well and the security features were exceptional.

I loved the fact that a company is working SO hard to make the theft of data so difficult. In times of cross border data theft, the counter-measures employed by the Secure Key 3z are both impressive and comforting.

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

Starting at £74 for the 8GB to £228 for 128GB models, the USB Storage Key is reassuringly priced for the corporate market.

 

Transcend DrivePro 230 – A superior dash-cam packed with features #gadgetroadtrip

It’s been a while since Paul and I ventured to Scotland and back in the Tesla Model S on our East West Road Trip. During the trip we had the opportunity to test lots of technology.

Transcend DrivePro 230 - A superior dash-cam packed with features #gadgetroadtrip
The Transcend DrivePro 230 was welcome addition on The East to West Road Trip last year.

It was particularly comforting to have the Drive Pro 230 in car camera along for the trip, providing us with the added comfort that should anything unpleasant happen during our 1200 mile trip, we would have full audio-video documentation to refer to.

Dash-cam’s have become an essential gadget for drivers over the last few years, providing evidence in road traffic accidents and thus being referred as an IEW or Independent Eye Witness by the Police, but also by providing additional features to make the drivers experience safer and legal.

The Transcend DrivePro 230 is as feature packed as any Dash-cam currently available currently. Aside from packing at Sony Exmor™ image sensor to capture 1920×1080 video at 30FPS which offers excellent lowlight video capture with the able assistance of the F/2.0 wide angle lens.

Attaching the camera to your windscreen using either suction or adhesive mounts. The camera also packs a GPS receiver and synchronises your geographical position to the video using Transcends PC, Mac and Phone Apps.

On the rear of the camera is a 2.4″ colour LCD screen and remote display is also possible via Wi-Fi to phone app. Obviously, this is targeted for use by passengers of the car.

The package comes with a very long MicroUSB to 12v car power adapter which charges the camera whilst driving and with the on-board battery, it can be configured to continue to monitor the car in ‘Parking Mode’. silently monitoring it’s field of view for movement and then recording this movement for later review.

Transcend DrivePro 230 with included 16GB MicroSD card
Transcend DrivePro 230 with included 16GB MicroSD card

Aside from the ‘quick record’ button, the camera also packs an emergency recording feature which also prevents overwriting of recorded video when the included 16GB MicroSD card fills up. In normal mode the camera records in chunks of video and gradually overwrites the oldest video files enabling continuous recording for as long as your journey takes.

Transcend DrivePro 230 - A superior dash-cam packed with features #gadgetroadtrip
Transcend DrivePro 230 – A superior dash-cam packed with features #gadgetroadtrip

Other safety features included are Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS), driver fatigue alert and headlight warning system (when light conditions begin fail.

The camera also comes with speed warning settings which will audibly warn you when you exceed the set speed limits set within the camera.

Transcend DrivePro 230 Dash-cam Transcend DrivePro 230 Dash-camTranscend DrivePro 230 Dash-cam

This type of device demands simplicity of use, and the DrivePro 230 excels in this area. It simply is a ‘plug-in and go’ solution which aside from the obvious safety and legal comforts provides a vast amount of other features which make driving that little bit less stressful.

At around £136, the Transcend DrivePro 230 is excellent value for money, with a high quality device providing excellent video quality with an enormous amount of added features.

For more tech news, reviews and comment visit www.thegadgetman.org.uk

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

 

 

The Gadget Man – Episode 106 – Unused Kitchen Gadgets

I chatted to Mark Murphy at BBC Radio Suffolk this morning as part of a discussion about Kitchen Gadgets that have fallen out of use.

We have all bought something for the kitchen to help us cook or prepare food and consequently found that although useful, they end up sitting in a cupboard, in a draw or on top of a kitchen cabinet.

Listen into the audio stream to find out what I thought and how I placed my foot in my mouth at a well known shopping channel.

 

YouTube dumps monetisation of video for millions of creators

I‘ve just received an email from YouTube. It informs me and millions of others, that we are being dumped from their advertising program. This apparently is to stop ‘spammers, impersonators and other “bad actors”‘ from making money from their ‘eco-system’.

**UPDATE** 21 Feb 2018

YouTube have emailed again today to confirm the cessation of advertising revenue. The rollout of these changes was documented by Ken Heron on his YouTube channel where advertising was removed from his videos according to his dashboard. Ken meets with YouTube’s new rules and should in fact continue to receive monetisation.

Ken Heron’s YouTube video relating to this change is below

YouTube’s most recent letter confirming removal of monetisation is below. Whilst my Youtube video’s are in no way Studio Quality, they are not SpammyImpersonating anyone or re-uploading video (unless where permission is giving such as SpaceX).

YouTube Confirms Removal of Monetisation
YouTube Confirms Removal of Monetisation

In reality, they are removing the ability for non-professionals to make any kind of money from their advertising platform (I can tell you it is a very small amount).

Big Hitters such as MKBHD and Casey Neistat will continue to reap the rewards of monetisation
Big Hitters such as MKBHD and Casey Neistat will continue to reap the rewards of monetisation leaving the less fortunate ‘potless’.

Simply put, people such as Casey Neistat, Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) and other extremely successful ‘YouTubers’ will continue to rake in millions in advertising revenue, whilst the less fortunate will lose all forms of income from this platform.

Whilst there is nothing wrong with being paid for high quality content, successful YouTube creators also earn massive amounts of revenue from advertising and affiliate links. Basically they continue to get the best of all worlds, whilst the less fortunate get completely cut off.

The Gadget Man YouTube Channel
The Gadget Man YouTube Channel

In all honesty my videos on YouTube make a pittance through advertising, however I also have a Patreon channel. This is a 3rd party channel which many YouTubers current use to make a sensible living through their hard work. If you feel somewhat inclined to support The Gadget Man site and Youtube channel, you can use Patreon to do this. Not only will this help encourage me to produce more content, it will also help towards buying better equipment to produce content.

YouTube is owned by Google who’s corporate code of conduct is Don’t Be Evil.

With this in mind, I would appreciate your support by subscribing to my Patreon channel for as little at $2 per month https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?c=335884

Statement from YouTube 17/01/2018

“2017 marked a tough year for many of you, with several issues affecting our community and the revenue earned from advertising through the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). Despite those issues more creators than ever are earning a living on YouTube, with the number of channels making over six figures up over 40% year-over-year. In 2018, a major focus for everyone at YouTube is protecting our creator ecosystem and ensuring your revenue is more stable.

As Susan mentioned in December, we’re making changes to address the issues that affected our community in 2017 so we can prevent bad actors from harming the inspiring and original creators around the world who make their living on YouTube. A big part of that effort will be strengthening our requirements for monetization so spammers, impersonators, and other bad actors can’t hurt our ecosystem or take advantage of you, while continuing to reward those who make our platform great.

Back in April of 2017, we set a YPP eligibility requirement of 10,000 lifetime views. While that threshold provided more information to determine whether a channel followed our community guidelines and policies, it’s been clear over the last few months that we need a higher standard.

Starting today we’re changing the eligibility requirement for monetization to 4,000 hours of watchtime within the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers. We’ve arrived at these new thresholds after thorough analysis and conversations with creators like you. They will allow us to significantly improve our ability to identify creators who contribute positively to the community and help drive more ad revenue to them (and away from bad actors). These higher standards will also help us prevent potentially inappropriate videos from monetizing which can hurt revenue for everyone.

On February 20th, 2018, we’ll also implement this threshold across existing channels on the platform, to allow for a 30 day grace period. On that date, channels with fewer than 1,000 subs or 4,000 watch hours will no longer be able to earn money on YouTube. When they reach 1,000 subs and 4,000 watch hours they will be automatically re-evaluated under strict criteria to ensure they comply with our policies. New channels will need to apply, and their application will be evaluated when they hit these milestones.

Though these changes will affect a significant number of channels, 99% of those affected were making less than $100 per year in the last year, with 90% earning less than $2.50 in the last month. Any of the channels who no longer meet this threshold will be paid what they’ve already earned based on our AdSense policies. After thoughtful consideration, we believe these are necessary compromises to protect our community.

Of course, size alone is not enough to determine whether a channel is suitable for monetization, so we’ll continue to use signals like community strikes, spam, and other abuse flags to ensure we’re protecting our creator community from bad actors. As we continue to protect our platform from abuse, we want to remind all of you to follow YouTube’s Community GuidelinesMonetization Basics & PoliciesTerms of Service, and Google AdSense program policies, as violating any of these may lead to removal from the YouTube Partner Program.

While this change will tackle the potential abuse of a large but disparate group of smaller channels, we also know that the bad action of a single, large channel can also have an impact on the community and how advertisers view YouTube. We’ll be working to schedule conversations with our creators in the months ahead so we can hear your thoughts and ideas and what more we can do to tackle that challenge.

One of YouTube’s core values is to provide anyone the opportunity to earn money from a thriving channel, and while our policies will evolve over time, our commitment to that value remains. Those of you who want more details around this change, or haven’t yet reached this new 4,000 hour/1,000 subscriber threshold can continue to benefit from our Creator Academy, our Help Center, and all the resources on the Creator Site to grow your channels.

Even though 2017 was a challenging year, thanks to creators like you, it was full of the moments that make YouTube such a special place. Creators large and small, established and emerging, transformed their talent and originality into videos that captivated over a billion people around the world. They made us laughtaught us about our world and warmed our hearts. We’re confident the steps we’re taking today will help protect and grow our inspiring community well into the future.

Neal Mohan, Chief Product Officer and Robert Kyncl, Chief Business Officer”

CES 2018 Special – Orbitsound The Dock E30 Speaker

Orbitsound The Dock E30
Orbitsound The Dock E30 Speaker

Today at CES 2018, Orbitsound have announced the launch of their latest Airsound™ product in the form of The Dock E30.

The Dock E30 brings their unique Airsound™ technology and true stereo audio to a new device good looking enough to be the the audio centrepiece of your home.

Featuring wireless Qi charging, USB Type C connectivity, Bluetooth aptX audio and of course WiFi connectivity via Orbitsounds own app which gives uncompressed audio quality, coupled with audio connectivity via 3.5mm AUX and Optical connectivity, The Dock E30 sets new standards for home audio utilising their unique Airsound technology which gives a true stereo experience whilst eliminating the need for a audio sweet-spot. Mobile devices can sit securely on the device in a unique  multi-device ‘groove’.

The Dock is designed with detachable magnetic front grille in a variety of colour schemes. As we other Orbitsound products, its design is restrained and neutral to allow it to sit comfortable in any setting. Listeners should be able to both enjoy the look and the superb sound provided by the device.

Orbitsound The Dock E30
Orbitsound The Dock E30

Orbitsound Managing Director – Dan Fletcher said “Over the years, we have been refining and improving all aspects of our loudspeaker designs, constantly working to create even more realistic sound from practical sized loudspeakers. The Dock E30 leverages our latest work in acoustics; achieving unbelievable bass from a small box and superb clean spatial sound from our patented Airsound technology. Together with new high performance wireless technologies for Bluetooth and WiFi, our ‘Dock’ is a device that I am extremely proud to have created, and am looking forwards to using every day.” 

Airsound was developed by Orbitsound founder Ted Fletcher who has worked in the music production industry for many years and is particularly famous for his work with Dusty Springfield and The Who. The technology is present in all Orbitsound products and sets it apart from the competition.

The Dock E30 Speaker can be extended further by the additional of a 54 wireless subwoofer where higher volumes and bigger audio is required.

I’m a big fan of Orbitsound and I’m looking forward to seeing device soon.

Dreaming of Billions in Bitcoin and Ether & how I started Mining Monero

Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency
Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency

So, I have been experimenting with crypto currency for the last month, it has been an interesting experience from buying (investing) in crypto currency to actually mining currency itself.

In the first instance, I decided to ‘invest’ in £50 worth of Bitcoin. This had followed a frantic year, which had seen the crypto-currency rocket in  value by over 9400%. Being a realist (or a cynic), I was fairly sure the warnings of a burst bubble (or at the very least a plateau) was fairly real, so my investment of £50 was based on the assumption that it was as much as I was prepared to lose if it went pear shaped.

Ether Bitcoin and Monero
Ether Bitcoin and Monero

After a little bit of investigation, I opened a free wallet with a company called Blockchain in Luxembourg. This is where my Bitcoins reside.  It appears to be legitimate and logins require two factor authentication to gain access. After registering the wallet, I was now ready to purchase by Bitcoin. Now at the time of purchase, a Bitcoin was valued at around £12500, so I would need to but a fraction of a Bitcoin with my £50. Fortunately, Bitcoin has smaller divisible units called Satoshi’s, with 100,000,000 Satoshi’s in a Bitcoin. Thus my £50 bought be 402.749 Satoshi… Well actually it didn’t, my £50 turned into £44.69 (after fees!). I was down a fiver already!

As expected, the Porter Curse reared itself and instantaneously Bitcoin stopped rising.

Are you considering investing in bitcoin?

After five days of grumbling to anyone that would listen and deciding that Bitcoin was actually not a great idea, I decided to look at other currencies.

As I was using Blockchain for my wallet, it seemed worthwhile to use that same service to diversify into another currency that would be supported and seamless. In the case of my wallet, the other supported currency was Ether (or Ethereum). This is another cryptocurrency which is traded in the same way as other currencies. I therefore decided after less than a week of investing that it was time to ‘chop’ in some Bitcoin in return for Ether.

After a badly thought out calculation in my head where I was half expecting to split my investment 50/50 I attempted to transact £38.06 of Ether. Now, when transacting any digital currency, you should take notice of the warnings that say “Please note the Bitcoin network is under extreme load, transaction fees are likely to be higher than normal”. Having conveniently ignored this warning, I pressed on and watched as my £38.06 of Bitcoin turned into £21.75 of Ether (after fees). Giving me a wallet value of about £34.00.

So, after less than a week, I was now £16.00 down! Good Start!

At this point, I came to the assumption that the miners were making the money here. Miners (in the sense of a crypto-currency) are the people or machines that run very complex mathematic equations which in turn are used to confirm transactions within the system. Because there is no central bank as such, the network itself if self-governing, thus the people or computers that take part in this job are rewarded with currency of their own. Generally, this is a VERY small amount, but with enormous computing power, these amounts can add up to large amounts.

Thinking of Buying Bitcoin? Here are 10 useful articles to help you make a decision

Having decided that it was perhaps better to leave my ‘investments’ alone, I began looking into mining. Now Bitcoin and Ether are well established ecosystems and thus the computational power needed to mine their currencies has become very large. In fact, so large, that most Bitcoin and Ether mining is now carried out in large data-centres with thousands of custom built systems (or Asics), these have been constructed specifically to mine both Bitcoin or Ether. These data-centres generally exist in Iceland, China or other operations running from very cheap renewable energy sources such as geo-thermal or hydro-electric sources. This effectively puts the mining of both Bitcoin and Ether out of the hands of ‘Joe Public’.

This is not to say that you couldn’t build your own mining ‘rig’ or buy a pre-configured rig, but the cost of constructing it and the low return would mean that simply buying the currency would be a better bet.

Asic Mining Rig
Asic Mining Rig

Fortunately, there are thousands of other crypto-currencies available for mining. With this in mind, I began looking at CPU based mining. CPU based mining basically means that you run a program on your computer which does the mining calculations for you, you generally don’t need specialist equipment, but the returns are sure to be much lower that using an Asic.

After some more investigations, I discovered a crypto-currency called Monero. This was a currency that supported CPU mining, so by simply installing the software on a spare computer, I could be well away. It also seemed sensible to join a mining ‘pool’, this means that rather than mining alone, I would be mining as a collective in a large group of other miners, which speeds up the process and you share the rewards within the group.

I setup an account with Minergate, installed the software on my home iMac and away I went using 3 of the available 4 CPU cores. Now, mining speeds are measured in ‘hash rates’, my iMac was indicating a hash rate of 100h/s (hash calculations per second). In layman’s terms, 100h/s is terrible. Even without including the electricity usage to mine, I was looking at a profit of $9 per month in Monero. Now Monero has a fluctuating exchange rate as do all the other crypto-currencies, so I might be lucky and the currency might rocket like Bitcoin and Ether, more likely it wouldn’t, but the notion of printing digital currency was very appealing.

With this in mind, I began installing the mining software on other devices in my home and work. After a couple of days, I had turned everything into Monero mining systems. My 100h/s iMac was joined by another iMac running at 110h/s and a Macbook Pro running at 200h/s. I then started looking at mobile devices, thus a Sony Xperia XZ1 (39h/s), a Xperia XZ Premium (39h/s) and a HTC One M9 (26h/s) joined the fray. Finally (and inexplicably), I decided to see if a Raspberry Pi2 could manage to mine Monero? Yes, it could, but at a lowly 6.3h/s.

Thus, my mining rate is around 500h/s, but has displayed at 1200h/s a couple of times. Every day or so, my mined balance is confirmed, this then allows me to draw down this currency to another Monero compatible wallet which again is two factor authenticated.

So, what about my original ‘investment’ of £50? Well, although Bitcoin has only increased 1.5% (at time of writing) since my initial investment, conveniently Ether has increased by 149% and so I have clawed back my losses and now have a wallet with £51.50 in crypto-currency and of course I have the $9 dollars in Monero. However, if I decide to convert this back to Sterling, I will be sure to lose a substantial amount in ‘fees’, so for now I am happy for these funds to stay where they are.

It may be sensible to note that I have actually not made any profit at all so far. Only when I start drawing down a larger amount that I have invested that I will begin to turn a profit and that is a long way off for now.

If you find this article interesting and would like to investigate the world of Monero mining using your computers processor when you aren’t, you can visit Minergate using this link

Pininfarina H2 Speed Hydrogen Concept at Adastral Park

We are very lucky to share our premises with numerous high tech companies here at Adastral Park.

Pininfarina H2 Speed Hydrogen Concept
Pininfarina H2 Speed Hydrogen Concept – pictured at Adastral Park, UK.

A few weeks back it was the turn of Tech Mahindra to wow us in the form of the Pininfarina H2 Speed hydrogen concept car which was touring the country.

Marco Pintor - Sales Executive, Pininfarina S.p.A.
Marco Pintor – Sales Executive, Pininfarina S.p.A.

We were very pleased to spend some time chatting to the guys at both Pininfarina and Tech Mahindra on the day and gained some very interesting insights into this marketplace.

I spoke to Marco Pintor, Sales Executive at Pininfarina at length about the H2 Speed and how the challenge of powering a high performance vehicle with hydrogen, but retaining the traditional designs cues we have become accustomed to.

Sports car designers are faced with similar challenges when designing vehicles, they must be aerodynamic, light, appealing to the eye and evoke the ideals behind the vehicle. Thus, the H2 Speed’s body is constructed from carbon-fibre.

Pininfarina
The timeless Pininfarina badge
Pininfarina H2 Speed
Pininfarina H2 Speed

Propulsion is provided by the GreenGT Full Power Hydrogen powering 2 synchronous electric motors giving the equivalent of 500 horsepower. Energy is provided from 2 stacks of PEMFC Fuel Cells with a combined 210kW of energy.

Pininfarina H2 Speed
Pininfarina H2 Speed

Power is applied directly to the rear wheels at a ratio of 1:6.3, as we many other alternative fuel cars, there is no clutch, differential of gear changing necessary, just immediate maximum torque, traction is controlled by torque vectoring.

Fuel is stored in two side mounted Hydrogen storage tanks either side of the cockpit with a combined tank capacity of 6.1 kg, with a pressue of 700 bars. Refuelling times are estimated at around 3 mins. Further energy is recovered from the braking system at 400V and a capacity of 20Ah.

Pininfarina H2 SpeedEmissions are simply air and water from the exhaust system, there is ZERO pollution from the vehicle.

So, how does this stack up in peformance? Pretty well it would seem! Th H2 is capable of a 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds,  a standing quarter mile in 11 seconds and a top speed of around 186 mph.

Sergio Farina with the Testarossa
Sergio Farina with the Testarossa

Pininfarina have been styling automobiles for over 86 years, for manufactures such as Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Maserati, Peugeot and of course Ferrari with the benchmarks of design of the Testarossa and Dino.

Now they find themselves in the 21st Century producing leading edge design and technology for a new breed or race cars. The future is looking very bright for both Pininfarina and their owner Tech Mahindra.

Currently, the H2 Speed is priced at around $2 million dollars and aimed at a very particular marketplace. We should however look forward to this amazing technology finding it’s way to our vehicles in the near future.

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

Technology and Gadget Reviews on air, online, in print and in person

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