What Is Inventory Management Software?

As any new business grows, one can quickly find that sales, orders and deliveries become too much to handle with a simple spreadsheet. Sooner or later you need a more advanced system to keep track of what comes in and goes out - which is where inventory management systems (IMS) come into play.

There are a number of IMS to choose from and finding the right option for your business depends on a range of factors, namely, the size of your business, how much stock you typically have coming in and going out on a daily basis, your current IT network, and your budget.

What does inventory management software do?

Inventory management software is an application that helps you keep on top of your stock by tracking sales, orders and even material costs (for service-based businesses). The concept is quite simple: You never want to run out of stock, or order more than you need. However, in practice this can be much tougher than it sounds when you have surprise bulk orders, supplier issues or defect products come in.

Inventory management software means you always know what you have in stock, what is coming in, and what is going out. Let’s say your customer makes a bulk order for your biggest selling product. You don’t want to accept the order and then have to explain to your customer that you don’t have enough in stock. Or, worse, sell to another customer in the meantime after the goods have already been paid for.

With inventory management software you know exactly what stock you have on premises and when the next order is due. You can also set items aside as they’re sold, so you never have to worry about running out or selling the same product twice.

How to choose the right software

The right inventory management software for your business depends on your specific needs as a company. There is a wide range of free and paid options available, each with a variety of features to help you keep on track.

Some accounting packages like Quickbooks include inventory management features, while dedicated inventory applications like Inventory Pro focus entirely on your in-store stock. More advanced systems often include barcode/RFID scanning, custom pricing models and transfer management - but how useful these are depends on the nature of your business.

It’s not just about features when it comes to inventory management software, and just like any application, you’ll want a fine balance between features and efficiency. The whole point of this software is to avoid mistakes with your inventory so you don’t want a confusing or difficult system. And when you do run into difficulties you want to know you have a good support team available 24/7.

A system for every budget

With a wealth of inventory management software options available there is a package for just about every budget. The most expensive option isn’t always the best so check independent reviews before you commit to buy. And if you’re on a tight budget, just remember that investing more now could save you more in the future.

What is the Best 4G Network for Roaming Abroad?

From the dreary days of dial-up through to the ultra-slick broadband of today, the communication networks around the globe have continued to evolve at a rate of knots that makes them unrecognisable from their predecessors.

All the while, the mobile phone industry has kept steady pace with its own giant leaps from the painstaking days of WAP-based browsing to today’s incredible 4G experience which now promises speeds of up to 10 times faster than the 3G of yesteryear. However, whilst 3G can be found in the majority of our planets nooks and crannies, 4G has, and still does require, a big upheaval in infrastructure to accommodate the faster speeds.

With this in mind, consumers are faced with a conundrum when it comes to deciding between the two major players in 4G roaming – Vodafone and EE. Although other networks are currently working on plans to develop and enhance their own offerings, these two giants of the mobile world are leagues ahead of anything else, but with some key differences between each of them. With 42 million trips now being made each year from the UK to 4G-enabled roaming zones, here’s a handy reference guide so that you can find out for yourself which of the big two could be best for you.


If you’re regularly jet-setting across the globe then one of the major factors in selecting an appropriate network is going to be the sheer number of countries that are covered. Whilst 4G is still in its relative infancy as nations look to integrate the new technologies that are required, there has been a behind the scenes battle between Vodafone and EE as they compete for the greatest roaming coverage. As recently as October 2014, Vodafone announced that a further 19 new destinations had been added to its available destinations list, totalling an impressive 23 countries in all.

Cost is always going to be a major consideration of the phone buying public and Vodafone seem to be erring on the side of caution when it comes to what they charge. If travelling to a specified Vodafone “EuropeZone” country, then you can access your UK minutes, texts and data for £3 per day without any other hidden costs. If you’re travelling to a “WorldTraveller” Zone then it goes up to £5 per day, but that will allow you to call any UK numbers based on your standard tariff, including your free allowances. Phone Shop by Sainsbury’s offer one of the most transparent guides on the impact that roaming and international calling can have on tariffs if you’re still unsure of the details.

As an overview, Vodafone 4G roaming is now available in the following countries:

Europe: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain and Switzerland.

N. America/S. America: USA, Canada and Brazil

Asia/Oceania: Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and New Zealand


The country’s largest mobile network operator sat at the centre of the launch of 4G back in 2013 when a contract worth over £500m was agreed to allow them to pioneer the service in the UK. With all that experience under their belts, they certainly know what they’re doing.

However, since this spritely launch they have been overtaken by Vodafone in terms of their reach, but still cover an impressive 16 countries after their initial successes in France and Spain.

EE has decided to continue with its acclaimed bolt on packages as, like Vodafone, they are keen to avoid their customers accidentally racking up astronomical bills and damaging consumer trust. Rather than splitting their qualifying regions into zones, EE will allow you to purchase a 50MB EE data add-on pack for £3 per day. This can be topped up depending on usage, but in effect it achieves the similar result to Vodafone in limiting the overall spend.

EE is available in the following countries:

Europe: France, Spain, Norway, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia and Switzerland.

N. America/S. America: Canada

Asia/Oceania: Saudi Arabia, UAE and South Korea.

Plans were announced last year by the European Union to end roaming charges from mobile providers. The debate got underway this week in Italy as to how to implement this new strategy. The coming months may be the last opportunity for providers to make a quick buck from roaming customers, so use it to your advantage by targeting the countries that you’re likely to travel to most over the next year as it’s unlikely to be an issue beyond 2015.

Video Mask Challenge

Here's something freaky & geeky for you. A fun challenge for Halloween or indeed any time over the next two weeks. 

Below you will find a link to a JPEG of my face. The challenge is as follows;

1. Download the JPEG.
2. Print out my face (whatever size you want). 
3. Make a video up to two minutes long of you or someone wearing the mask (be creative).
4. Upload to your YouTube account, with "Geek out with Geekanoids" somewhere in the title.
5. Put a link to - Check out http://www.youtube.com/geekanoids - in the video description.
6. Tweet the video out & @geekanoids in the tweet so I see it.

That's it … after the closing date of 14th November 2014 I will choose my favourite video and award a surprise gift, which I am sure you will love. 

Download my Face

Download my Face

Please note; Anyone can enter, any age, any country. No correspondence will be entered into with anyone other than the selected winner. The winner and gift will be chosen at Geekanoids discretion. There will be no cash alternative.

Geek Out with Geekanoids 001 - No Edits Here

Many years ago I used to encode some of my videos to a podcast format and upload to iTunes. Well, the time has come to give you audio without my face !!! There are certain times of the day when I listen to podcasts … whilst driving, cooking and relaxing in the evening, to name just a few. So if it works for me, it might work for you too. Enjoy & give me some feedback if you would like to.

Note: This first audio treat is on Soundcloud only at the moment. Once approved, this and future Geek Outs will also be available to subscribe to on iTunes.

GoPro Introduces HERO4 – The Most Powerful GoPro Lineup, Ever

September 29th, 2014GoPro, Inc. (NASDAQ:GPRO), enabler of some of today's most immersive and engaging content, today unveiled HERO4, the highest performance line of capture devices the company has ever made.  HERO4 is available in two editions, HERO4 Black at an RRP of £369.99 and HERO4 Silver at an RRP of £289.99. GoPro’s Emmy® Award-winning imaging technology combines with enhanced ease-of-use and powerful new features such as 4K30, 2.7K50 and 1080p120 video capture (Black) and built-in touch display convenience (Silver), to make it easier than ever for consumers to self capture and share stunning, professional quality content of their favourite experiences.

HERO4 Black delivers 2x the performance of its best-selling predecessor and now captures cinema-quality 4K video at 30 frames per second (fps), 2.7K video at 50fps and 1080p video at a blistering 120fps, virtually eliminating rolling shutter in most scenarios while allowing for time-bending slow motion effects. HERO4 Black also features an entirely redesigned audio system that captures high fidelity sound with 2x the dynamic range of previous models. Additional enhancements include improved image quality, low light performance, highlight moment tagging and an improved user interface that allows for easier discoverability and access to key features and controls. The HERO4 Black is simply the highest performance GoPro yet.

HERO4 Silver delivers the same professional image quality as HERO4 Black less some of the higher performance video capture modes including 4K30, 2.7K50 and 1080p120. HERO4 Silver includes a brilliant built-in touch display for those who value convenience and ease-of-use over the no-holds-barred performance of the HERO4 Black.

The new HERO4 line will be available from 5th October on GoPro.com and at select retailers worldwide.

“For the past twelve years, our passion has been to make it easy for people to self-capture jaw dropping, professional quality footage of themselves engaged in their favorite activities,” said GoPro Founder and CEO, Nicholas Woodman.  “That passion led us to embark on our most ambitious design and engineering effort ever, and the result is nothing short of the ultimate GoPro—the HERO4 Black.  We can’t wait to see what the world captures with it.”

HERO4 Black – 2x the performance, yet again.
The flagship HERO4 Black builds upon GoPro’s Emmy® Award-winning technology to deliver the next level of GoPro image quality, versatility and performance:

·         Incredible ultra high definition 4K video at 30fps allows for life-like video capture as well the ability to extract 8.3 megapixel video stills to use as photos

·         Faster* high resolution frame rates of 2.7K at 50fps and 1080p at 120fps

·         12MP magazine cover-quality photos at burst speeds of 30 photos per second

·         Updated user-interface with improved discoverability and access to key camera controls

·         50% faster Wi-Fi* combined with Bluetooth® delivers enhanced GoPro App performance and improved power management

·         RRP £369.99

·         For more information visit the HERO4 Black product page

“A common pain-point is deciding between capturing video or photos of an experience,” remarked Woodman. “Each frame of 4K30 video is similar to an 8.3 megapixel photo. The result is that users can simultaneously capture eye-popping 4K30 video and impressive 8.3 megapixel photo-like video stills at 30 frames per second when using HERO4 Black. It’s one of the many wild capabilities of this impressive new device.”

HERO4 Silver – Professional quality capture. Touch-display convenience.

The HERO4 Silver sets a new precedent for convenience and ease-of-use with GoPro’s first built-in touch display:

·         Brilliant built-in touch display allows for easy camera control, shot framing and playback

·         Professional quality video capture at 2.7K30, 1080p60 and 720p120

·         12MP magazine cover-quality photos at burst speeds of 30 photos per second

·         50% faster Wi-Fi* combined with Bluetooth® delivers enhanced GoPro App performance and improved power management

·         RRP £289.99

·         For more information visit the HERO4 Silver product page

The most advanced GoPro cameras yet.

HERO4 Black and Silver share powerful new features that expand what’s possible with a GoPro.

Protune™, now for photo + video.

·         For those who prefer to take manual control of their GoPro to maximize versatility and performance, we’ve expanded our professionally minded Protune mode to include Color, Sharpness, ISO Limit, and Exposure controls for both photo and video capture.

New settings for after dark.

·         Whether you’re shooting the Milky Way or a campfire hangout, Night Photo and Night Lapse allow you to capture stunning images of ultra low-light scenes with customizable exposure settings of up to 30 seconds.


Mark your best moments.

·         HiLight Tag enables you to mark key moments with the push of an on-camera button while recording, making it easy to find, playback and share your favorite clips in GoPro Studio or with the GoPro App.  You can also HiLight Tag using the mobile GoPro App or the new Smart Remote accessory.

QuikCapture speed and convenience.

·         QuikCapture makes it easy to power on and record with the press of a single button. When enabled, a single press starts video capture, while a press and hold engages Time Lapse photo capture.

High-performance audio.

·         A totally re-designed internal audio system combines with a state of the art microphone to capture clean, high fidelity sound with 2x the dynamic range of previous models.

Introducing the HERO – The perfect entry-level GoPro.

GoPro is also proud to debut HERO, the perfect entry-level GoPro. Designed with simplicity in mind and built directly into a rugged, waterproof housing, HERO captures high-quality 1080p video at 30fps and 720p video at 60fps. HERO captures the same immersive, eye-popping footage that’s made GoPro one of the best-selling cameras in the world—all in a simplified package that’s accessible to everyone with an RRP of £99.99. For more information visit the HERO product page on GoPro.com.

New Mounts and Accessories that Help You Capture and Share Your World

October 5th also marks the availability of these new GoPro mounts and accessories:

·         Smart Remote – Control your GoPro from up to 600’ (183m) away with the wearable and waterproof remote. Conveniently mark key moments as they happen with the Smart Remote’s HiLight Tag button when paired with a HERO4 Black or HERO4 Silver.

·         The Handler – A compact floating handgrip. Lightweight, ergonomic and durable, The Handler is perfect for handheld shooting during any activity.

·         New BacPac accessories – A new and improved Battery BacPac provides almost twice the battery power over the camera’s internal battery alone. And a new LCD BacPac provides improved touch and swipe performance when used with HERO4 Black.

iRig Pads from IK Multimedia now shipping

IK Multimedia, the leader in mobile music creation apps and accessories, today announced it's shipping iRig® Pads, the full-featured, ultra-portable MIDI groove controller for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch as well as Mac and PC. It's the perfect companion for the mobile electronic music producer on the move: Now you can make beats, grooves and mixes anywhere you go.

Effortless portability
iRig Pads is designed to be effortlessly portable. It's smaller than an iPad and less than 1" thick - it's the smallest groove controller in the market. It has a slim, compact form factor and it's lightweight, which means that it can be slipped into any iPad or laptop bag or backpack and carried around with ease. For maximum portability, iRig Pads is a low energy consumption device - it draws its power directly from its host device and does not need a power source to be fully functional. It can be used with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch via its included Lightning cable (30-pin connector sold separately) without the need of an adapter as well as Mac and PC via its included USB cable.

Extreme versatility, custom controls
At the heart of iRig Pads is its 4x4 grid of 16 velocity-sensitive, backlit multicolour rubber pads. Each pad lights up in multiple colours - red, green, orange and every shade in between - depending on the velocity of your playing and the MIDI information sent by your chosen music app or software.

But iRig Pads does more than your average mobile pad-based MIDI controller. Its full spread of controls - two knobs, two buttons, one slider and one pushbutton rotary encoder - let you get creative. All controls are MIDI assignable and customisable: Up to 16 distinct MIDI maps or "scenes" can be saved, which allows for full control of apps and software on stage or in the studio. iRig Pads comes with 6 pre-programmed scenes designed to work with many of your favourite apps and software right out of the box.

Apps for Beats, Loops, Decks and more
To help you get in the groove, IK is working to make iRig Pads the ultimate controller for beats, loops and more by adding support for a growing suite of powerful apps and software. iPhone and iPad users will be able to make beats out of the box with the included SampleTank® free, and they'll soon be able to control grooves and launch loops with GrooveMaker® 2 free for iPhone and iPad and remix their preferred tracks with DJ Rig™ free (all downloadable from the App Store℠).

On Mac/PC the included SampleTank 3 SE (worth $99.99/€79.99), available as a standalone and a plug-in virtual instrument for every major DAW, includes over 6.5 GB of sample contents, 400 instruments and 150 MIDI patterns, for a complete music production workstation, out of the box (coming soon as download from the IK user area). In addition, by registering their iRig Pads, users will be able to receive The Grid, an exclusive and free additional collection of 50 instruments (800 samples) and 50 MIDI patterns - designed exclusively for beat makers and groove performers who use iRig Pads - for SampleTank on iOS and Mac/PC (a value of $9.99/€7.99 for iOS and $39.99/€29.99 for Mac/PC).

And that's only scratching the surface - iRig Pads is also fully MIDI class-compliant, which means you can use it and customise its controls for use with virtually any MIDI-compatible app such as FL Studio Mobile, iMPC Studio and GarageBand or Mac/PC software such as MPC Studio, Ableton Live, Maschine, GarageBand and more.

Pricing and Availability
iRig Pads is now available from music and electronics retailers worldwide for $149.99/€119.99 (excluding taxes) as well as on the IK online store. Thanks to its generous feature set, included content value and universal uses for iOS devices as well as Mac and PC, iRig Pads offers the best quality to price ratio of any MIDI groove controller on the market.

You can find out more information here.

Phones 4u Limited (‘P4U or ‘the Company’) - in administration

Robert Jonathan Hunt, Ian David Green and Robert John Moran of PwC have today been appointed as administrators to Phones 4u Limited (P4U), a leading independent mobile phone retailer with an annual turnover of £1 billion, operating from more than 700 outlets with 5,596 employees.

In addition to its retail operations, P4U also runs its own network operator, Life Mobile Limited, which is also in administration.

Rob Hunt, joint administrator and PwC partner, said:

"This is a very sad day for the business and the many people working there. In light of our impending appointment the directors understandably took the decision to close all the shops today and sent many staff home.

"Our initial focus will be to quickly engage with parties who may be interested in acquiring all or part of the business, and to better understand the financial position and options for the company. The stores will remain closed while we have these conversations.

"We will also be talking to network operators and suppliers, and trying to access funds to pay for the costs of the business, including wages.

"These conversations will determine whether we can re-open stores and trade, and also if and when we can pay the arrears of wages to employees. Our hope is that we will be able to pay all the outstanding wages arrears.”

Phones4U Administration & iPhone 6 Preorders

Phones4U has gone into administration, as of Sunday 14th September 2014. All of its retail stores will be closed from Monday 15th September 2014. This has left a lot of customers wondering what will happen to their existing orders and in particular, with the recent iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus preorders going live on the company website, including that of Dialaphone (which is owned by Phones4U).

The official response from Phones4U press office is as follows… 

Robert White confirms that … "Any orders that have not already been dispatched will be cancelled and any payments refunded to customers. Phones4U apologises to its customers for the inconvenience."

Although this is a frustrating situation, at least customers who have preordered their iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, or indeed any other outstanding orders awaiting dispatch, will get their money back.

Of note, the Phones4U and Dialaphone websites are still actively taking preorders. It would be a wise move to not place an order until the appointed administrator makes a decision about the future trading of the company.

Update: As of 7:35am on Monday 15th September 2014, both the Phones4U and Dialaphone websites are now offline and no longer visible to take orders. If you have any questions and still need to get in touch with the companies, the numbers are as follows, though do take into account they will be very busy and their sales lines may well be closed too.

Phones4U 0800 072 5855
Phones4U Customer Care 0844 871 2231
Dialaphone 0800 183 7902
Dialaphone Customer Care 08448 712 251

Update: 8:45am 15th September. There is now a message on both the Phones4U and Dialaphone websites, as follows … 

Dear Customer,

Following the unexpected decision of EE and Vodafone to withdraw supply from Phones4U , we regret that we are offline. Please accept our apologies and we will update you as soon as possible.

Our customer service lines are: 
• Phones 4u Care (Insurance) 0844-8710535 
• Technical Support 0844-8712233 
• Handset Repairs 0844-8712269 
• Phones 4u Customer Service 0844-8712253 
• LIFE Mobile Customer Service 08443 221133

Thank you for your custom 
The heartbroken Phones4u Team


How to improve your company’s email system

The development of email has revolutionised the face of contemporary business, offering companies a fast, effective and borderless form of communication. The service has evolved in leaps and bounds since its early stages, with modern day users enjoying increased efficiency and flexibility that has never before been possible. Yet despite the cutting edge advancements, many companies still lag behind when it comes to making the most of email communication.

To help you improve your company’s email system, we’ve come up with this useful collection of suggestions that will ensure you, your employees and your business are taking full advantage of electronic mail.

Email security

While email offers unparalleled convenience and efficiency, the move to digital communications also presents a range of complex security threats. From malware, spam and phishing to DDoS attacks, data leakage and social engineering assaults, inbound and outbound email borne threats are a serious issue that every company should address.

A stringent security solution is particularly vital for companies dealing with sensitive dataand classified customer information such as credit card details or personal health records. The key is to enlist the services of a trusted email security provider with proven experience in managing risks without jeopardising productivity.

Large file sending

Despite the extensive benefits of email, many providers have not yet mastered the art of offering users large file sending capacity. It is an issue continually faced by email users who often struggle to share important content with email contacts due to pre-set file size sending limits. This forces users to resort to unofficial consumer applications, most of which lack adequate security, policy enforcement and archiving protection.

This not only endangers the security of company files but can also break serious compliance regulations. Mimecast offers an intelligent solution to the wide felt issue, its large file sending service providing a secure and reliable answer to bypassing corporate restrictions on file size limits. Compatible with Exchange and Office 365, the service allows IT departments to retain control while offering employees complete flexibility over email operations.  

Email archiving

With the rise of email has come the increased need to keep digital records in place of traditional paper documents. This is a critical part of modern day business, with some sectors legally required to uphold comprehensive email archiving records. Barclays Capital Inc is the latest company to fall victim to non-compliance offence, the enterprise was recently fined US$3.75 million by the The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for failing to preserve electronic records, emails and instant messages. As well as regulatory compliance, instant access to email history also plays an important role in maximising employee productivity and easing the burden on email servers. As such, it is critical for companies to have an effective email archiving strategy in place. An increasing number of businesses are turning to cloud archiving technology, won over by its efficiency, cost effectiveness and unmatched flexibility.  

By following these three simple tips, you can empower your company with a secure, efficient and compliant email system that will help your business reach its full potential.

Will the Lytro Illum Succeed?

You’d be forgiven if you perhaps hadn’t heard of Lytro before now. A relatively new company in the world of photography, Lytro manufacture consumer targeted - and indeed relatively affordable - light-field cameras. 

Lytro’s first camera, the aptly named ‘Lytro’, perhaps didn’t generate the sales and reaction the company were hoping for. Liberties with the camera’s design, ostensibly to allow the light-field technology to work, didn’t endear consumers to its merits. 

Their second camera, the ‘Lytro Illum’, has seemingly remedied this issue with a much more conventional and arguably user friendly design. A traditional style lens sits on a compact form factor body, making it strikingly similar to the Sony Alpha series. The only indication that the Illum has anything groundbreaking to offer is its awkwardly angled body - something which has potentially been avoided by other manufacturers for good reason. 

That being said, the Illum packs a rather unique punch. The Illum (and the initial Lytro) use modified CMOS sensors and some clever physics to create a ‘light-field sensor’ instead. So what on earth is a light-field sensor and how is it different to a CCD or CMOS sensor? We’ll start with old money: the CCD.

A CCD, or Charge-Coupled Device, is a sensor comprising an arrangement of pixels in rows and columns. As an example, open a spreadsheet and imagine the spreadsheet itself is the camera’s sensor (a CCD in this case). Each cell of the spreadsheet is a pixel in the sensor. The megapixel count of your camera is related to this. A 20 megapixel camera would have 20 million pixels on its sensor. In the case of the spreadsheet example, it would contain 20 million individual cells - that’s a big spreadsheet! 

Each pixel is essentially a bucket that collects light incoming from the camera’s lens whilst the shutter is open. When light strikes a pixel, it generates a small electrical charge in that pixel (for the real world analogue, it begins to fill the bucket). Once the shutter has been closed, the sensor is ‘read’ so that the amount of charge (or water in the bucket) in each pixel is analysed. At this point the camera’s processor interprets the information it has read and turns this into an image which is saved to the storage unit. 

Most smartphone, tablet and indeed DSLR image sensors are not CCD based. They are in fact CMOS, or Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor sensors. The CMOS style of sensor is, essentially, a more technologically sophisticated version of a CCD that uses a different process to read each pixel. The process uses transistors mounted to each pixel making CMOS sensors much more cost effective, as well as more efficient, hence their uses in devices that need to use power sparingly like smartphones and DSLRs. Telescopes, interestingly, use CCDs. 

Regardless of sensor types discussed, the images they produce will always be 2-dimensional. Whilst we may perceive depth in the image, that depth is manufactured and interpreted by the brain and not embedded within the image. To understand why some theory is required.

We live in 3-dimensional space. Things have height, width and depth. Light is similar, only it is has many more dimensions. It has the 3 spatial dimensions (height, width and depth) but also further dimensions that describe associated quantities that make up the literal light-field. A conventional CCD can only capture information based on height and width as the CCD’s pixels all lie on a flat surface, hence why the image it produces is also flat (2-dimensional, as it lacks depth information). The Lytro’s light-field sensor cannot directly detect depth information as, much like the CCD, its pixels are once again on a flat surface. It can, however detect further information from the light-field that it then uses to ‘fake’ depth in the image using both clever hardware and clever software.

In terms of clever hardware, the light-field sensor uses an array of incredibly small lenses (Lytro market this as a microlens array) in front of the pixelated sensor so that the incoming light is broken up into individual light rays. This allows the sensor to analyse individual, rather than multiple, rays of light as would have been the case with a CCD. The microlens array also allows the camera itself to take images through each individual microlens, therefore generating information about each megaray. As a consequence of this Lytro market their cameras with a ‘megaray’ value rather than a ‘megapixel’ value. The megaray value is the number of individual light rays the sensor can process and doesn’t necessarily correspond to the megapixel value of the sensor. As such the Lytro could use a relatively small number of megapixels but still generate a fairly high megaray value. 

In terms of the clever software, the light-field engine does something quite spectacular. Because a traditional camera cannot detect depth information, it relies on its user to define the position of the focal point prior to taking the image. The Lytro Illum has a fixed focal length and aperture (resulting in an f-number of f/2) so its focal point cannot be manually defined by the user. Thanks to the information that the light-field sensor captures however, the light-field engine can combine each microlens image and adjust the focal point and aperture after the image has been taken. On the topic of focal points, the Lytro Illum does allow the user to change the focal point using the integrated touch screen. The user simply taps the location of the desired focal point and the light field engine mimics the change in focal length required.

The light-field engine does not output standard JPEG or RAW files, preferring a proprietary file type called LFP: Light Field Picture. Through Lytro’s desktop application, Lytro Desktop, these files can be read and edited to allow the full functionality of the Lytro to be realised. These images can then be uploaded and shared through Lytro Web (https://pictures.lytro.com), Lytro’s web interface to allow rich interaction with its unique images.

All of this technology comes at a price, and a fairly hefty one at that: $1499. Moreover the sensor, although advanced, is limited to an effective resolution of 4 megapixels meaning that the dimensions of a conventional format Lytro image are small in comparison to its competition. Whilst bigger doesn’t always mean better, the rather limited functionality outside of the Illum itself and Lytro Web mean that your interaction with Lytro images is severely restricted. Coupled with the small image size reducing the likelihood that Lytro image JPEGs would appear in print format, the Illum may just be another expensive novelty item. It deserves to be more, but only time will tell if it gets what it deserves.

Author: Tomas James - Twitter


It Breaks. You Send. We Fix

Last year it was reported that 7 out of 10 people in the UK own a Smartphone. Nowadays, many of us have come to rely heavily on our mobile phones, from the mundane function of waking us up; to reminding us about important events and, obviously, keeping us connected with others. Naturally, mobile device related mishaps happen from time to time; these accidents can be anything from breaking the screen to more technical issues such as liquid damage. In fact, a well-known technology news source reported that 26% of iPhones break within 2 years of purchase.

Quick Mobile Fix is a new national mobile device repair service that offers a solution to the problems many of us face when our mobile phone breaks, mainly, how do I contact people now? Not only will Quick Mobile Fix mend your current mobile phone, tablet or iPod with their 24 hour service, but, also, offer incredibly competitive prices, include free postage and a 1 year warranty on all repairs, and will, additionally, offer you a courtesy phone in return. The phones on offer range from basic Nokia’s to the latest iPhone & Samsung Galaxy.

Quick Mobile Fix repairs all Samsung phones, iPhones and iPads, which is handy, because iFixit have recently announced that the latest iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S are trickier to repair than the iPhone 5, and the Samsung Galaxy S5 is harder to fix than its predecessor. Aside from these fantastic offerings, Quick Mobile Fix also sells a number of different used and reconditioned mobile phones at affordable prices.

To find out more about this useful new service please check out www.QuickMobileFix.com or follow @QuickMobileFix on Twitter.