FIVE SUMMER GIFTS #4 – FretX guitar LED learning

Now you have no excuses, the FretX makes learning the guitar a walk along the fretboard with lights to show the way.

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The FretX device is an ingenious piece of musical kit that was originally launched on  Indiegogo and was successfully crowdfunded to 198% of its target.

It is now, indeed, a most viable product… in fact, there are two viable products, one is the Rockstar that retails at $89 (£62) and the other is FretX pack at $59 (£42)… and it is fantastic for anybody who has struggled to learn the guitar.

I am one of those such people. I tried to learn when I was travelling, looking good with it wrapped around my neck, but not so much when I played. I was always a long way from perfect pitch, tuning was difficult to my ear and my fingers were like thumbs when I used the fretboard.

However, that guitar has always been my friend and I’ve always wanted to improve my relationship with it. The first action was to get hold of a Roadie 2 so I could actually tune my guitar; the second was to use the FretX.

At first, I was unimpressed, it looked like a stencil kit for amateur artists, but once I realised that I could stretch its four ‘fingers’ around the top four frets of my guitar, then it all made sense.

The next step was to download the app (available at leading stores) and then link the device, when then effectively becomes an LED learning device, with lights coming on and off when the wannabe musician needs to make a chord shape.

After registering as a user and inputting the skill of the guitarist and type of guitar, the new musician then has to follow YouTube tutorials and other media to learn the guitar.

This device does not come with a manual and that makes the learning experience obviously digital, but also a more effective and modern one.

I have a long way to go before I can even consider myself a minor musician, but the FretX has set me on a better way.

It’s certainly struck a chord with me, maybe it will do the same for you. A most excellent smart learning device.

FIVE SUMMER GIFTS #3 – The nanotech Lotushirt

Sick of shirts that take ages to iron, stain easily when travelling to business conferences? Look no further than the ‘nanotech’ Lotushirt that is a shirt for all occasions.

LotushirtFor the business travellers in this audience, be they male or female, there is nothing worse than packing the wrong clothes for that conference.

Even for those such as myself who travel light for those three-day trips, getting the wardrobe right is never easy. One pair of shoes, two pairs of trousers (one for travelling, the other for the conference) and three/four shirts is generally the right mix.

The shirts, however, are always an irritant. Those freshly dry-cleaned articles are now crumpled and look dirty as soon as arrival at the hotel… and the iron and ironing board never seem to sync.

So step forward the so-called Lotushirt, a shirt for all seasons that launches tomorrow on Kickstarter and something its creators MircoNovelty believe will change the way we wear.

I gave the Lotushirt a thorough road test when I recently flew from London to the STEP conference in Dubai and I can report that it wears it well. I wore the shirt in high temperatures when I was emceeing, no small challenge when running around.

It was excellent. As previously mentioned, I didn’t need to iron the Lotushirt and it still looked as if I had. It was comfortable, looked good and felt natural. The reasons for doing so are tabulated here:

• Designed to repel water and stains
• Inspired by the self-cleaning lotus leaf
• Doesn’t wrinkle, no iron needed
• Flying Fish breathable underarm netting
• Suitable for any occasion

The future retail price for the Lotushirt will be US $99 (£70). But early backers on Kickstarter will receive special discounts to our kind backers. The early bird perk of the Lotuhsirt is us $49 (£35).

Get in now; it will change your life… it has mine. No more ironing boards, no more irons and no more hassle.

Pitch@Palace 9.0 selects next cohort of tech entrepreneurs

Pitch@Palace’s new cohort of innovative entrepreneurs will be competing in the semi-final today at the University of Manchester.

Image ©Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media.
contact – dan@heisenbergmedia.com or +447821755904

Pitch@Palace, the programme established by The Duke of York to guide and support entrepreneurs, is today assessing the 42 entrepreneurs that have been selected to pitch at Pitch@Palace Boot Camp at the University of Manchester.

The theme for Pitch@Palace 9.0 is ‘Data, Intelligence and the Future of Security’ and will showcase companies that have developed innovative technologies to solve prevalent security issues that businesses and individuals are exposed to.

Pitch@Palace Boot Camp provides Entrepreneurs with the chance to hear from leading industry experts and Pitch@Palace alumni, as well as receiving support and mentoring.

All are asked to Pitch their business to a panel of judges, as well as senior business leaders, investors, and influencers from across the technology, investment and business communities.

The Judges will select 12 of the 42 entrepreneurs to pitch for three minutes at Pitch@Palace 9.0 at St James’s Palace on 25th April. The rest of the Entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to Pitch for 30 seconds.

Pitch@Palace attracts a wide range of businesses from across the UK. Since its launch in 2014 it has helped more than 490 businesses, which have created 1,865 new jobs and generated over £541 million in new economic activity. Pitch@Palace Alumni companies include Blocks, Desolenator, Open Bionics, Appear Here and Grabble.

Daniel Murray, Co-Founder of Grabble said of his Pitch@Palace experience: “Since winning we’ve been on a rollercoaster, having expanded our initial offering, building Mobula for B2B, launching another B2C App, and raising a further £3 million since taking part. I can wholeheartedly say we’ve had unwavering support from HRH The Duke of York and the whole Pitch@Palace team.”

BOOK REVIEW: Digital Human by Chris Skinner

The fourth revolution of humanity includes everyone and this book explains how we’re all likely to be involved.

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There is only one thing wrong with this truly awesome book by Chris Skinner about technology and that is the title – Digital Human. This book covers so much more than what sounds like just-another-book-about-the-so-called-future.

The author knows his stuff, but his stuff is not only general, it focuses on the future of money, the fall of banks and the revolution that he knows is going to happen.

I’ve met the author and he is a modest, humble and deep guy who clearly cares about the future and the best way to deal with it. In print (which is the best way to read this book) he writes clearly and smartly; I read Digital Human in three sittings.

As somebody who has shared podcasting with Skinner a couple of times, I’ve always been impressed by his knowledge of FinTech and here it shines through, not least his understanding (and respect) of what is happening in Chinese FinTech, an area that deserves much more exposure.

He acknowledges a debt and respect to Yuval Noah Hariri and his best-selling books Sapiens and Homo Deus, but this is a different book, albeit worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as Hariri’s works of brilliance.

There are a couple of interesting stories here about early money, prostitution and the etymology of the word ‘whore’ and ‘harlot during the Sumerian Empire, but that’s just for the populists.

Skinner is about to embark on some serious travelling around Africa to find more stories about life and banking for what will presumably be his next book, I can only envy him both projects.

Sometimes it’s difficult to praise fellow-writers, especially when they are known to each other, but in this case it’s easy. Digital Human may well be a terrible title, but this is a terrific book; for those in the the know and those who aren’t.

Let’s hope they change the title when the paperback comes out.

You can read the first chapter here for free.

If that whets your whistle and wets your appetite and you’ve had enough of my misguided and false Spoonerisms, you can buy the book here.

PRODUCT REVIEW: Roadie 2 – Automatic guitar tuner

The Roadie 2 is a beautiful product for musicians of all abilities and worth the investment.


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I am a terrible musician and guitarist, but I love playing music. It’s one of the only times, like post-coital sex, when time stays still and the brain is alive with pure happiness.

However, as an unnatural musician who is diametrically opposed to pitch perfect, I am tone deaf and while I know when a guitar is untuned, I have always found tuning a guitar a huge problem.

I have previously bought tuning devices, but have found them to be cumbersome and unreliable.

So step forward, the Roadie 2, an automatic guitar tuner that is as beautiful as it is functional. Moreover, as can be gleaned from the product name, this is an update on the initial Roadie device.

It is devilishly simple. The device comes without batteries (hurrah!) and is charged using the omniscient USB charger. Once fired up, the Roadie 2 turns on with a blue light, then the user adds ‘new instrument’ to the easy-to-read menu and is then connected to the pegs of the guitar.

Then the magic begins. When the relevant string is plucked, the Roadie 2 automatically tightens and untightens the strings until the blue light turns green, indicating that string is perfectly attuned.

The musician (or in my case, guitar-owner) can then automatically tune the remaining five pegs in turn. The best way is to do it like this, not as I initially did by holding it at the side and nearly breaking my wrist.

Moreover, the Roadie 2 works by vibration, so tuning can be done in a noisy environment, not necessarily a quiet room and it is awesome for somebody like me. Instead of wasting time trying to tune my instrument with a cocked ear, it means I can play almost instantly.

While that is good for me, my family don’t agree and I am inured to them closing the door of any room I’m in when I’m playing and walking away, but I don’t care.

The Roadie 2 isn’t particularly cheap at around just over £100, but it is extraordinary value for constant use. It works for guitars, electric guitars, ukuleles, banjos and is for life.

Recommended for the amateur as well as the professional.