2014 was a great year

2014 was a really great year at UKTR.

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Back to school giveaway

kai2 competion picture

Would you like to win a Kai2 portable bluetooth speaker from X-mini?

To enter the prize giveaway

1. You must be following @mruktechreviews on twitter. Click this link if you are not already following me


2. You must tweet out the following message “I have entered the "Back to school" giveaway from @mruktechreviews to win a Kai2 bluetooth speaker http://ctt.ec/baxAV+” by clicking on the twitter icon below or by following this link

Tweet: I have entered the

Rule and notes

* Entry is restricted to the UK
* The prize will be drawn on Sunday 31st August 2014
* There is no cash alternative
* Only 1 entry per twitter account will count


For a full review of the X-mini Kai2 speaker check out our review here





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TurtlTeck

TurtlTeck - a Kickstarter project I have backed

Ryan Walmsley, an 18 year old computer science student is launching another product via kickstarter and in less than 24 hours has already raised over £500 towards TurtlTeck.

Ryan’s kickstarter page can be found here

TurtlTeck is a new way for students (age 3 up) to build and program simple robots. All you need is a battery pack and two motors and the rest is up to you. I have already had a good look at this project as I helped with some of the publicity photos and videos. Within a few minutes of building my simple robot I was fighting my two boys off as I tried to photograph it!

Programming the robot is incredibly simple through a clear set of buttons. Forwards and backwards buttons move the robot approx 30 cm and left and right move it about 45 degrees on the spot. Ryan has included a simple yet effective programming sheet for students to record their programs on. If the interest and delight shown by my two boys is indicative of the response of primary school students this is going to be a great little product. Assuming Ryan lets me borrow the board he sent me a little longer I will be trying this out at school when we get back from the holidays.

Here are some photos


IMG_1989IMG_1990IMG_1997IMG_1998IMG_2014IMG_2018

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Using social media when you are on holiday

As we got nearer the end of term I noticed on both Twitter and Facebook an increase in posts about holidays. Even in the last 24 hours a few people have posted comments about how they are leaving to go on holiday for two weeks.

This poses a very real safety concern for your home while you are away. In effect, people are saying “The house will be empty for the next two weeks”.

Assuming you have taken care with all your privacy settings this may not be a problem.

BUT ...

With GPS and location tracking built into many devices and websites it is very easy to leave your actual location embedded in a picture or video. Whilst these may be only accurate to a few meters it only takes one photo of the front of your house for any potential theif to identify where you live.

Our advice is one of common sense:

  • Turn off location based services when you are at home (or at work) to avoid tagging your physical home address
  • Avoid taking photos at the front of your house
  • NEVER tweet or post “We are about to leave ....” or “looking forward to 10 days away in Spain” etc
  • Avoid the temptation to post lots of photos / tweets while you are away - again you are advertising the fact you are away!

Stay safe this summer and enjoy your holidays!

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Frog_14

I spend a very enjoyable day today at the ICC in Birmingham visiting Frog 14.

Frog is a very versatile, powerful and creative VLE solution for schools. I work at a Frog school so also write this from the perspective of an end user. Frog 14 was a mixture of education / technology conference wrapped up in a trade show. The event was held at the ICC in Birmingham and whilst being a promotional event for Frog also had many good opportunities for continued professional development.


Frog_14_1

The ICC in Birmingham (next to the new Library)


Frog_14_2

My traditional cooked breakfast to start the day


Frog_14_3

The start of the keynote presentation

Frog_14_4

Waiting for the morning to start


Frog_14_5

How can you spot a world class school? You look for authenticity!

The highlights of the day for me were:

Presentation from Gareth Davis - despite being a marketing presentation there were many good messages about the moral purpose behind why we use technology and the place it has in our learning community.

Presentation from Alistair Smith - I could listen to Alistair for hours, he is totally committed to learners and wanting the best for them from whatever background they come from. His characteristics of world class schools were something that we should all aspire to.

Playing with the demo machines using FrogLearn. I am looking forward to our transition from Frog 3 to Frog Learn.

Overall, a very good day.

related posts

Frog homepage

Videos from the event will be here

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WWDC2014 blog part 3

Preloading screen

Yosemite arrives this fall and it will be free!
Public OSX Beta preview!



Carrying on with iOS

* 800,000,000 devices sold!
* 100,000,000 iPod touch
* 200,000,000 iPads
* 500,000,000 iPhones

* 130 million new customers in the last 12 months and many were switches from Android.

* 97% customer satisfaction with iOS 7

* Customers love that the fact that most users can use the new iOS 89% compared to Android where only 9% of users are using the latest version.

iOS 8

* A giant release - new user features, incredible developer features

User features

* Builds on the design of iOS7
* Interactive notifications - just pull down and you don’t need to leave an app
* Safari tab views on iPad
* New mail management with new tools for flagging and deleting
* Swipe down on mail messages to give more space
* Access to your favourites in the app switcher

Spotlight

* Better spotlight selection including app store, news, restaurants, songs from iTunes
* Enhanced search from within Safari

Keyboard

* Quicktype
* Predictive typing (incredibly smart and context sensitive, personalised to people and apps)
* No keystrokes leave the device
* Great language support

Continuity

* All the continuity features

Messages

* Most frequently used app
* Great enhancements to group messages, add people from conversations
* Don’t not disturb on a thread
* Tap to talk on microphone button and then send what you say
* Messages looks very powerful

iCloud drive

* iCloud drive gives you a better way of working across applications
* Other application documents can then be opened and gets saved back to original location

Enterprise

*iOS is huge hit in enterprise 98% used in Fortune 500
* Device enrolment program - automatic configuration out of the box
* Passcode protection
* VIP threads on the lock screen from just one tap
* Manage books and PDF

Health

* A vast array of health care devices and application (yep I use one of them!)
* Healthkit provides a single place where data can be submitted to
* New app “Health” that measures analytics

Family sharing

* We use the fridge to share notes for the family.
* We can now set up our family
* Photos
* Calendar
* Find devices
* Reminders
* Digital media and purchases (up to 6 family members!)
* Permission

Photos

* Photos joins with iCloud and are available on all your devices
* Great search of photos
* Smart photo editing controls

New ground up photo solution for the Mac shipping early 2015

* Moments
* Collections
* Years
* Beautiful magnification
* Amazing prices on photo storage.

Siri

* Hey Siri
* Shazam song recognition
* 22 new languages

iOS8 and support for developers

* App store has over 1.2 million apps
* Explore tab in the app store
* Top trending
* Faster search and related search
* Editors choice
* App bundles
* App preview videos of great features
* Test flight - beta test apps (FREE!)
* Available in the fall







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WWDC2014 blog part 2

Preloading screen

iCloud Drive

Documents in the cloud is great for sharing.

* You can get content from apps that are not stored on your Mac.
* Full synchronisation across all your Macs.
* Available for iOS and Windows!

Improvement to Mail

* All the basics
* What happens when we want to send large attachments? Mail Drop - you can have it sent via iCloud and rendezvous at the other end. Send attachments up to 5GB
* Markup - if you could only circle, write and add scribbles to email - you can now sign a pdf and adding to the email message.

Safari

* Pack all of Safari into one single bar
* Smart search field includes favourite sites etc
* Spot-light searches straight into search bar
* Easier to share and subscribe
* Improvement to tabs - stack tabs from each site
* Private browsing, can create a new private window with other windows unaffected
* HDML premium video - can stream from e.g. Netflix without plug-ins (benefits for battery and energy efficiency)

Continuity

* Use the right device for the moment
* Smooth transition between moments
* Airdrop - now works between iOS and Mac (YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
* Handoff - other devices are aware of what you are doing and you can pickup where you were working on another device.
* Mac can see the phone and automatically sets up a hotspot (nice)

SMS

* We all love iMessage
* What do we do about those green bubble friends with inferior devices but they won’t show up on our other devices!

Can receive calls on your Mac as a speaker phone or make calls from an app such as Safari!

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WWDC2014 blog part 1

Preloading screen

Welcome to my live WWDC2014 blog - part 1

I am sat with my iPhone streaming the live stream and watching Chris Pirillo live commentary.

We start the keynote with app developer adverts - very nice.

The bionic hand was awesome - great use of the technology above and beyond!

Here we go!

A great introduction from Tim Cook - a big thank you to all the developers (just remembered that I am one!)

9 Million app developers (that includes me!)

Great new features for OSX and iOS

Seamless integration of OSX and iOS - yes!!!!

The “Mother of all releases”

Mac growth of 12% - awesome with a great growth of Mavericks with 40 million copies installed with over 50% running this. What an amazing user adoption. Windows 8 which shipped year before Mavericks is only at 14%

We are always future focused!

Here comes Craig for the first big update.

Time for a new name - here comes the spoof ones! OSX Oxnard, Rancho Cucamonga, Weed and here it comes: Yosemite!

So what is new in Yosemite?


* Flat icons
* Focus on charity and utility
* New toolbars, window construction, translucent materials in the title and sidebars, adaptive translucency.
* New translucent dock
* New trashcan!
* precise and consistent typography
* dark mode
* Maximises space for content
* New look sidebar
* New design, more useable,

Notification centre

* Today view with at-a-glance look
* Can extend with widgets

Spotlight

* New interface
* Big search field in the centre of the display
* Spotlight now links with the internet






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Predictions for iOS8

It looks very much like iOS8 will be announced tomorrow.

iOS8


I would love to know what your predictions are:

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.


Click here to see the results

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WWDC2014

What are your predictions for WWDC2014?

wwdc_banner_promo

As I start to write this blog post #WWDC14 is trending on Twitter. After the excitement last year of iOS7 and Mavericks the rumour mill is in overdrive. We are only 2 days away from the next big announcement, these are my very predictable predictions.

  • A new iPhone model (iPhone 6)
  • Real integration of wearable tech (through medical and fitness apps)
  • OSX 10.10 and iOS 8 announced with greater integration between operating systems
  • A new Apple TV (please!!!!!!)

My wish list ....

  • An update to iLife
  • iWatch (please, please, please)

What do you think?
Leave your ideas and thoughts below.

related posts



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How I became a tech blogger

I’ve been asked a number of times recently how I became a tech blogger and what do you need to do to become one.

At the moment I currently review for the following companies
Hauppauge, CyberLink, QDOS, Olloclip, Sir Lancelots Armor, eBeam, X-mini, Toshiba and Sennheiser. The majority of these reviews came about by being contacted by various PR companies who found me on YouTube or on my website. As time has gone on I have contacted directly by companies looking for reviews.

I almost invariably get asked “how do you get free stuff” and I am convinced that if you are only after the “free stuff” you are
destined to fail. Companies are investing resources in supplying review items and always expect something in return. I have had several abusive emails and tweets from people asking me to give them the contact names of people in the companies I review for just so they can get the free stuff. I think this is totally missing the point.

I am a very small and modest review blogger but am steadily gaining momentum and a positive reputation amongst companies and this is a brief account of my journey.

Tip 1: Review what you have at home and showcase it on YouTube

Simply start by making review videos of the products you have at home, showcase the best features and produce a balanced argument of the features. When it comes to Birthdays, Christmas or when you buy new tech make an unboxing video. Think carefully about the tags you use when uploading to YouTube to get good exposure.

Tip 2: Find a good role model of someone who is already doing this well and learn all you can from them

For me this was David Di Franco aka
The Creative One on YouTube. He now has over 100,000 subscribers and uploads a never ending stream of unboxings, reviews and personal / family blogs on an almost daily basis. He has been an inspiration for me and through emails and watching his videos has taught me so much. With an awesome number of subscribers he is clearly doing something very well.

I have also watched nearly every video from Dave at
Geekanoids. He also has a massive number of subscribers over 80,000. There is so much you can learn from him for both style and content. He has also helped me out when I needed advice through emails and tweets.

Tip 3: Decide on a brand name that has the potential to grow

UKTechreviews.com has been live for 2 years (we celebrated our 2nd Birthday at the start of May) but I had been uploading videos to YouTube since June 2011. I waited very patiently until my views and subscribers started to grow before starting to write and design the website. I was also very careful to ensure that all different social media streams were consistent.

Tip 4: Enter competitions!

Not long after starting the website I saw a competition of Facebook to win a chance at becoming a reviewer for Sennheiser. All you had to do was upload a review style video to YouTube and send them a link. I decided at the time to do a review of my
digital camera . I was so chuffed when I won. It took a little while for my first pair of headphones to come through (an awesome pair of Momentum) but I was an official reviewer! This then generated further opportunities to attend product launches etc.

Tip 5: Engage well with social media

I have steadily grown my twitter following to 1.3k of which many are big companies. Big tech companies love their products being showcased, tweet out a link to every video and blog post. I have been approached by companies simply on the back of including them in a tweet. Remember - never, ever ask for free stuff - this is probably the worst message you can send! I recently attended
Gadget Show Live 2014 where I deliberately made a point of speaking face to face with companies I had chatted to on Twitter. I spent the day with my son who helped with recording interviews and he was really surprised when I was given a very nice free gift from one company. He pointed out to me later that I didn’t ask anyone for anything I just went to say hi!

Tip 6: Don’t feed the trolls

For a time recently I had to switch off comments as I was getting a barrage of Trolls leaving me comments. In the early days it was very hard to believe that people would write such vile comments slagging off my work which I have invested good time into. I often have to tell myself that these people are not creating any content themselves.

Tip 7: Content is crucial

Simply unboxing a product is not going to generate further reviews. Good quality and original content is central to a good review. I almost want to say that content trumps video quality but there is no point in having a beautiful polished video which basically has no content. I would always say that written content and clear video content are central to gaining more followers and more reviews.

Tip 8: Always give a call to action

This is one that I am not too great at remembering. At the end of a video always give the viewer a chance to subscribe to you and preferable watch over videos you have created. The more time they spend with you the more chance you have of them coming back.

Tip 9: Give back to the community

I have given away every single review product I was sent to keep (apart from one). Engaging with the tech community and giving something back shows that you are not just doing reviews to get free stuff. People value this two-way engagement and competitions are an excellent way of increasing subscribers.

Tip 10: Reputation is everything

You may be 10 or much older like me (39 and a Dad of 2!) but this same rule applies. Reputation is everything and can be lost so easily. Companies, PR reps, your twitter followers and YouTube subscribers will soon go if your reputation become toxic. Be very careful about the public message you give across all different platforms. If you run a competition make sure you have a set of rules and always clearly show who won! If a company wants a review sample sending back make sure you do it promptly even if you have to pay the postage yourself. Never copy someone else’s work, blogs, website design or video content - you will get found out!

Finally,

We do this because we love technology, talking about it and sharing it with our followers. We don’t do this because we want free stuff!

I would love to know what you think, please leave a comment below.


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First look at the MacPro

I had my first look at the Mac Pro today in the Apple store.

Mac Pro

Whilst the thought of spending in excess of £2500 on a Mac seems crazy my first reaction was to reach for my credit card. Luckily common sense took over and after a quick play I walked away. The specs are awesome, the design is beautiful and to see it running Final Cut full screen on a 4k display was amazing. Just to see the preview window effectively bigger than my 11” MacBook Air screen was stunning.

Is it good value for money? I absolutely think so, this is a beast of a machine and will deliver amazing performance. Is it within the reach of a normal home user? I think probably not.

My first impressions did not disappoint and whilst I would love to invest that sort of money into my tech gear I can only dream.

What do you think?

Leave your comments below.

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May giveaway 2014

Do you want to win a prize?

I love reviewing products and the best part is being able to give back to the tech community who support me.

I have three neat little giveaways for May 2014:

X-mini We bluetooth speaker
Available from Amazon here:
http://amzn.to/1h7rVmD
My review and unboxing here:
http://home.uktechreviews.com/Reviews/Reviews/AV_files/X-mini.html

8GB Toshiba FlashAir SD card with built in wireless data Transfer
Available here:
http://amzn.to/Q1kFn2
Review:
http://home.uktechreviews.com/Reviews/Reviews/Other_files/FlashAir.html#.U4WuOF5L79M

Wolfson Pi Audio card
Available here:
http://amzn.to/1nzU2SB

To enter simply make sure you are subscribed on YouTube and leave a comment on the video saying which product you would like. You can enter every day to give you more chances of winning.



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Can tech get you fit?

Can technology get you fit?

I have to start this with a confession. I am overweight. After the Easter holidays I got on the scales and it worryingly said I was just over 15 stone (about 210 pounds) which isn’t great. I would love to join a gym and do more exercise but working from 7am - 5pm and then 7pm - 10pm each work day doesn’t really leave much time left.

So after seeing some of the wearable tech and fitness apps available I decided to turn to tech to see if it could help me lose some weight. The biggest two issues for me would be finding time in my daily schedule to ‘do exercise’ and something to keep me motivated. I was quite convinced that the use of an app / device would definitely help with the motivation as it would give me an excuse to play with tech!

In the end I settled on the Fitbit One wireless activity monitor. I have written a review and unboxing
here.

Basically the One would give me both a daily measure of my activity (steps done, distance covered, calories burnt) along with a detailed record of my food intake (via the app). I first wanted to know if I was actually doing any exercise at school while I walk around the classroom and overall was I balancing my energy intake.

I was actually quite surprised with the amount of walking I was doing - on a typical day I was walking in excess of 10,000 steps (which is my daily target). With a real time measure of the steps covered on the device and on the app I was able to set myself little goals of trying to improve it each day.

Counting calories came as a massive shock to me. I know and understand the theory quite well, as an adult I need about 2000 calories per day but I was not prepared for the number of calories in many of the foods I enjoy and love. Logging each of the foods eaten throughout the day has been a real motivation for me. Seeing the number of calories eaten displayed in real time as a graphic with the number available left was really encouraging. I like the encouraging notifications when mile stones are reached throughout the day and felt quite bad when I had exceeded my recommended intake on one day! The app does hold you to account which is definitely good for motivation.

The quality of analytic data from the device and app is really helpful and again I have found this to be really motivating.

Fitbit5 Fitbit2

Fitbit4 Fitbit6

Fitbit7 Fitbit8


The Fitbit One monitor and app are a really great way to start the journey of weight loss. I have found the motivation alone really helpful. I am now down almost half a stone which is great and I am starting to think about food in a different way. If like me, you want to start on the journey of improving your fitness and want to lose some weight this is a great way to start. According to a stat I found online just now 60% of people who make a resolution to lose weight generally give-up within 10 weeks. I know there are loads of different reasons for this but I am sure that motivation is a big factor. I feel motivated to lose weight and although I understand clearly the health benefits my primary motivation is coming from the graphs on my app.

I will keep you posted on how this journey goes!

related posts

Fitbit One unboxing and review

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Internet Radio

I want to start this blog post with a confession. I love radio.

Actually to be more precise, I love spoken radio and have done since I was a little boy. I listen to the radio for about 4 hours everyday. Interestingly very little of my radio listening is actually done on a radio but mostly streamed or downloaded as podcasts. As a YouTube video content maker I do spend time watching lots of video but even now I still prefer an audio download or podcast.

I go through phases of what I listen to. During the winter months I listened to every podcast by Lee Cameron of The Christmas Stocking. This is an excellent Christmas themed podcast that runs during the Christmas season with an additional Summer special. Each episode is about 10 minutes long and features stories, songs and holiday traditions. This podcast has excellent production quality and is very easy listening. Full details of previous episodes can be found here
http://www.mychristmasstocking.net/episodesshow-notes.html

The Christmas stocking

I am also an avid listener to “This American Life” which is a very well established public radio show broadcasting to over 2.1 million listeners. For each show there is a theme which is then reflected through a number of short stories (often true). The stories are always very engaging and often are quite varied in style throughout the episode. I listen to this show in the car every day when I am driving home from work by downloading onto the iPhone podcast app and using a decent Bluetooth speaker. More details and episodes can be found here http://www.thisamericanlife.org

this-american-life

What is your favourite online radio show? Leave a comment in the comment section below.

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A walk around Brighton

I took my camera around Brighton looking for hidden beauty.

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Dial up modems

Retro day: Dial up modems

How long have you been using the Internet? I don’t mean how many hours have you been on today! When was the first time you went on-line?

My first taste of the Internet was back in 1994 at Exeter University when I would login to a server called
chem to check my email with the unix program elm. Jump forward nearly 20 years and almost every aspect of my day is governed by the Internet!

Exeter-University photo

The most exciting part of being online at University was the ability to dial-in from home during the holidays and I remember the confused look on my parents faces the first time I connected a modem to their phone line at home.

The story of the modem starts for me back in the late 1980s with a friend of mine had an Acoustic coupler which his Dad used to connect a computer up to the telephone. I can’t find a photo of the exact model but it looked something like this:

Acoustic coupler

I will never forget the noise it made as it connected to the phone line and then to a computer at the other end. This was the world of the Bulletin board (a precursor to message boards and forums). This was very exciting times and something I wanted to be part of.

At college my tutor had an Amstrad PPC portable computer, which wasn’t all that portable but it did have a model with a telephone socket.

800px-Amstrad_PPC512_open

Skip forwards a few years and I had my first laptop with a massive 20MB hard drive (amazing to think that was considered large at the time!) and an external US Robotics 56K external modem. I am fairly sure the modem connected via the serial port.

us-robotics-56k-faxmodem

I remember at the time being so excited by the speed of the 56K modem that waiting one min for a page to load wasn’t all that bad. I guess if you have only ever used broadband you don’t remember the frustration of only able to be on-line when your Mum (or wife) wasn’t using the phone. It almost seems crazy the idea that before you could do something on-line you had to dial up, connect and get your login authenticated. I can still remember the dialling tone, connecting sound and hand-shake of AOL.

This
YouTube video I found will bring back so many memories!

Use the comments below to share your own memories of how you first connected to the Internet.




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50 years of BASIC

Happy Birthday BASIC!

When I was about 9 or 10 my parents bought my brother and me an Acorn Electron. This was a classy little device which plugged into a TV and started a life long love of programming.

Acorn_Electron

Going back nearly 30 years I still remember the very first program I wrote and I guess would count as a “Hello World”.

10 PRINT “HELLO”
20 GOTO 10

The excitement of the word HELLO across the screen was awesome!

Today we celebrate the 50th Birthday of BASIC or “Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code” which has it roots at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire with Professor John Kemeny who wanted to help his students interact with computers.

Roll forward to early 1980s and the BBC introduced a version called BBC BASIC which ran on the awesome BBC Micro computers as part of the BBC Computer Literacy Project.

BBC Micro

BASIC also came in other flavours such as: Apple BASIC, Atari BASIC, Sinclair BASIC, Microsoft BASIC and who can forget Visual BASIC!

My lasting memory of childhood and my Acorn electron was borrowing books from the library to write your own adventure game. Because of the different flavours of BASIC the books come with a core set of code and then variations to change for each device.

adventure game


So, a very special Happy Birthday to BASIC - it has been a great 50 years!

Whilst we are being nostalgic does anyone else remember Granny’s Garden from Primary school in the 80s on the BBC B?


Grannys garden


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Minecraft and Education

I have spent many hours over the last few months playing Minecraft. I am not a gamer in any real sense, I don’t have the time to spend. My son finally persuaded me to buy him an account in December of last year and within a few months I was also hooked!

minecraft

When I am not blogging, making unboxing videos or living the geek dream I am also a Secondary School teacher. So I have been thinking over the last few months about the educational merit of Minecraft in the classroom to engage learners (particularly boys!)

What have I learnt?

I guess like any parent (and teacher) my first worry was that Minecraft was yet another shoot-them-up-drive-around-fast-kill-people game. There is definitely some killing that takes place - we all like that satisfying moment when an arrow hits a Creeper in the head, but there is also so much more to the game.


Mine-craft creeper

My observations of my own 9 year old son playing have shown him developing many skills over the last 4 months.

Creativity

From building a simple house to a much more complex village with farm, there is a massive amount of creativity involved in Minecraft. Once that initial house is built the only thing holding back the player is their imagination (or resources if you are playing in survival).

Patience and tenacity

Minecraft demands patience, unless you visit a realm or server already created you are basically starting with a blank canvas. If you are playing in survival mode you have to work to find resources to craft tools which in turn help you find more resources. There is a logical process which needs to be followed and it is only by showing patience and tenacity that worlds can develop and grow.

minecraft house

Collaboration

Whilst Minecraft is fun on your own it is also great when played with other people. This opens up a whole world of sharing resources, working on plans together and collaborating to defend against the mobs. It has been great watching my children show empathy for other players even offering them their prized enchanted swords when things have gone wrong.


Problem solving

MInecraft redstone Redstone offers a whole new dimension to the game and stealthily introduces elements of programming to the players. Redstone circuits are a cross between simple electrical circuits and logic gates with elements of computer programming. Looking at some of the amazing contraptions that can be made and the language being used by kids programming them is fantastic. As teachers we always want to get our learners working independently, solving problems logically, looking at tasks from different directions and using correct vocabulary. Simply ask a group of year 5 students to create a bridge over lava which can be retracted with a lever and you will be amazed at the conversation which follows.


minecraft redstone project

Is Minecraft safe to be used in schools?

I’ve been asked if Minecraft is safe to use in schools and how easy is it to use?

Unless you are connecting to an external server or realm it is unlikely that students will be interacting with other people outside of the school. It is possible to have a school account which can then be ‘opened up to LAN’ which means other users on the network can connect in. It is relatively easy to host your own Minecraft server and this can be done for as little as £40 if you use a Raspberry Pi.

If you take reasonable precautions it is possible to use Minecraft safely in a school context.

Some curriculum examples

This is by no-means an exhaustive list of examples but might give you a flavour of ideas you could try.

-
Create different shaped objects in 2D and 3D to teach concepts such as area and volume.
- Minecraft blocks make excellent counters when teaching ideas like square numbers
- Ratio, I can mine10 blocks of grass in 20 seconds how many would I mine in 30 seconds
- Make a model of different types of castle. How easy are each to defend from the mobs?
- Evaluate the design of a castle and suggest improvements
- Pirate Treasure hunt and coordinates (take 10 paces forwards from the big tree.....)
- Designing and building houses, how can we improve them?
- Make a model of a farm, crop rotation, harvest, importance of water
- Igneous rocks (what happens when lava cools?)
- Demonstrating coastal erosion with sand
- Building an aqueduct
- Building a mine cart system
- Conservation of energy - build a simple roller coaster - why does each hill need to be lower than the one before.
- Building simple circuits with redstone to mirror real circuits
- Simple mechanics with pistons
- Team games and problem solving: how could you bridge a gap with only limited resources?



Minecraft-steve_12

I am convinced that Minecraft offers a wealth of educational opportunities and has the potential to engage a whole group of learners. We want our students to be determined, engaged, inquisitive, able to express themselves, solve problems, think logically and to work independently. I believe that with a little help from Steve we can achieve this!

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GSL2014 Kit list

With less than a week to go until Gadget Show Live 2014 I need to start thinking about what I am going to take with me.

My current kit list looks like this:

  • Canon EOS 70D
  • Canon EOS 18-55 lens
  • Lavier microphone
  • Tripod
  • Canon DSLR (over the shoulder case)
  • 16GB and 2 x 4GB SD cards
  • Spare Canon battery

  • iPhone 5
  • Anker 3200mAh External battery for iPhone
  • Business cards
  • UkTechReviews branded Tshirt
  • Money

  • A small child to help carry it around!

Share your packing / equipment lists in the comments below.

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March Giveaway

With less than 10 days until Gadget Show Live 2014 we are getting very excited at UkTechReviews.com

To celebrate our excitement of GSL2014 we are giving away a free pair of KS Manhattan Wired Headphones worth £30.

Manhattan Wired Headphones


To enter the giveaway simply leave a message telling us your favourite gadget of 2014.
You can enter once a day until the giveaway ends on Saturday 12th April and 8pm.

The giveaway is only available in the UK and I will post the headphones on Monday 14th April to lucky winner. No cash alternatives are offered and no correspondence will be entered into.

Please do not leave an anonymous comment as we won’t be able to contact you if you win!




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Gadget Show Live 2014

With less than a month to go until the Gadget Show Live 2014 I have started arranging appointments with companies to record reviews and vlogs.

I am a huge Gadget Show fan and really enjoyed visiting last year.



Currently I have appointments with


Watch this space for more news about GSL14
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Amazing customer service

We are always quick to complain about bad customer service, but often forget to big-up great customer service.

During the last couple of weeks I have received amazing customer service from


breffo

CPC-Logo


Both companies make great use of Twitter and reply very quickly to comments and issues. These have been a real pleasure to do business with and I would recommend both of them for their great customer care and service.

I would also recommend CPC if you are looking for great accessories for your Raspberry Pi.

Well Done!

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Show My Homework

Show My Homework - review

show-my-homework-logo-large-2

I had a great chat and demo from the guys at showmyhomework.co.uk yesterday.

I must confess that I struggle with homework, I always have the best intentions but by the time you get to the end of the lesson I sometimes forget to set it, collect it.

Show My Homework is an integrated one-stop solution for all your homework management needs.

Some of the key features of this web based tool include:

  • No need for learners to log-in eliminating the “I forgot my password” problem
  • The ability to schedule homework over many weeks, days etc. You can sit in your pyjamas on Boxing day setting up your homework for the rest of the term!
  • A homework reuse function
  • Collaborative sharing of homework tasks from any of the users nationally if you select to share your resource.
  • Easy attachment of documents and links.
  • Documents are stored in the cloud - eliminates the “sorry the worksheet is on my laptop in the office”
  • Excellent monitoring tools which are available to all users in the school
  • Grading criteria
  • An electronic homework mark book
  • Learners can hand-in work physically or electronically

Having been teaching for nearly 20 years I have seen many homework solutions come and go but this really does what it says on the tin!

I just need to go back and persuade my leadership team that we need it!

Congratulations for the bett award 2014!

Check out www.showmyhomework.co.uk today!

show my homework at education innovation show

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Sennheiser headphone gallery

Apart from the amazing audio quality Sennheiser headphones are also beautiful to look at!


I love taking product photos of review products. Check out my photos of the stunning HD335s and Momentum headphones.

I would love to know what you think of these.

Read More...
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The Lego City Gold Mine

We love Lego here at UK Tech Reviews and want to share with you our Lego City Gold Mine set. Read More...
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