FIVE SUMMER GIFTS – Strictly Briks For Kids

Strictly Briks want kids over the age of five to dream, create and glow by using plastic bricks? Sound familiar?

briksThe world would have it that all kids do nothing all day but stare at a multitude of screens, both big and small, and call that entertainment. However, the world is not just a place for pixels, it is a place for play… play in the real world.

While screens have a great part to play (ahem) in the development of the younger generation’s brains and creativity, the analogue world is just as important, not least when it comes to texture and building.

Naturally, a four-letter beginning with ‘L’ is the product that most people associate with plastic bricks, but here are other emulators and innovators who also offer great gameplay for children, and adults as well.

So step forward Strictly Briks, a company that has more than 20 years experience in the toy industry and provides high-quality and innovative creative products. Two of its products seem to bear this out.

The first is its Brik Tower product that lets kids do what they do best, build as high as they can for as long as they can. The multi-coloured bricks heighten interest and provide a framework for other games played within the tower. It provides, literally, hours of fun.

Strictly Bricks also sells its Trap and Gap baseplates that, again, provide a solid framework for games that are played on the ground, not up in the air. Maybe not as much fun as building plastic towers of Babel, but great nonetheless.

For parents brought up before the screens came down to decimate play as they knew it, using and playing with Strictly Briks will bring back memories when the world was a smaller place, less connected and more human-friendly. That’s not a bad thing… for them or their kids.

REVIEW: Mini: Advanced BT5.0 Earbuds

Mini: Advanced BT5.0 Earbuds are crowdsourcing now. As the people of the world retreat into their respective shells to listen to music and podcasts, they may as well do so with awesome earbuds.

BT5.0BT5.0 Earbuds make listening on the move easier as a swathe of products are hitting the market in response to Apple’s very strange-looking earphones that look like Star Trek mismatches.

Consequently, many prefer large headphones to cancel out external cacophony and I am one of them, especially when it comes to flying. I’ve been loyal to Bose and Sennheiser for more than a decade, but recent earbud products are turning me around.

So step forward Surge Mini Wireless Earbuds that apparently support Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), and ‘provide an amazing audio experience like no other’.

For once the hype rings true. These earbuds really are exceptional, not only for noise cancellation on a flight or other noisy transporation, but also provide a very, very good mode for listening to music of all descriptions… via Bluetooth, of course.

The latest Bluetooth 5.0 technology ensures a broader signal range and an ultra-stable connectivity and the accompanying charging pod can charge the earbuds for 100 hours of total play time.

The pad can also function as a power bank for users’ phones. The cosy design produces excellent noise cancellation and keeps it securely in place for even the most vigorous exercise routine, which is a feature that is unlikely to bother me, but will please those who run, cycle and go to the gym.

BT5.0

The company’s second product, Surge Lite is the 400mAh charging pod version, which is smaller and lighter and provides 20 hours total play time.,

Finally, Surge Pro is the IP67 waterproof and dustproof version, protected from one-metre water immersion for up to 30 mins. The earbuds provide six hours playtime at one charge, perfect if for those who like to swim or snorkel while listening to music.

My ageing Sennheiser headphones are still with me, but the BT.50 earbuds are now also in my hand luggage. It won’t be long before they replace them. Who needs something heavy and large, when BT.50 earbuds are easy-to-carry and light?

This is a highly recommended product and that retails less than $80, somewhat cheaper thany anything Sennheiser or Bose offer.

BOOK REVIEW: The Human Workplace by Andy Swann

The workplace is changing in ways that seemed impossible only recently. Andy Swann’s book explains what is happening in lovely business language.

workplace

I’m really not a fan of business books and as somebody who’s worked from home or a beach for the past decade, I’m not really interested in ‘workplaces’ either, but I really enjoyed this super-fast read.

I’ll disclose now that I’ve met Andy Swann a number of times and although we operate in different, ahem, work places, I’ve always been impressed by his demeanour and manner; he also loves what he does, so I promised that I would review his book.

Admittedly, it has taken longer to do so than I thought because I don’t read business books, but this is a nicely written book that will interest those who work in office management, HR, head-hunting and even psychogeography.

It does suffer from the devilry of small text and font, but that might just be my eyes. Swann uses many modules, graphs and box-outs and they are deftly utilised, not least being on the same page as allusions to them.

So many business books are irritating in that area. On one page is the description, then readers have to go overleaf to find the object of the description.

It’s really easy to read and refreshingly free of anecdotes and clever stories. It gets straight to the point and it’s not surprising that Swann is also a consultant, strategist and public speaker at conferences. It gets to the point.

Being over-critical, it looks as if this book has taken time to be written. Some of the industry examples seem from a lot time ago (18 months/two years!), but that is like any book that is published nowadays; they’re out of date before they’re published.

However, and this is important, The Human Workplace is not time-critical, its messages are current and even visionary, so that slight weakness can be overlooked.

You can buy the book here.

It’s expensive for somebody like me who prefers LITERATURE, but if this is your line of work, The Human Workplace will prove valuable in the way we work and how we do so. It’w worth the £20 or so for a hardback, but Kindle at £12 might be more appropriate.

I would imagine that The AI Workplace will be the sequel, but Swann’s book has at least a decade before it, like all humans, becomes obsolete.

REVIEW: PaMu Scroll BT 5.0 Earphones

The new PaMu TWS earbuds are so cool for listening that your ears may never be the same again.

TWS

Earphones or buds or whatever you’d like to call them are omnipotent and we are literally up to our ears in them.

Some think that we are likely to lose the power of talking to humans because of our bud-like obsession, but when as the products improve so quickly, it’s impossible to stop.

This site has reviewed PaMu products before and they’re received the thumbs-up, not least because we like a crowdfunded product that over-raises and delivers on its product and promises.

Their lates effort, the PaMu Scroll BT 5.0 Earphones have not only over-raised, they’ve smashed it. At time of writing, the raise was more than $260K on an initial ask of $20K, a sum they received in less than 24 hours.

So, what of the product itself? It’s pretty awesome and not difficult to see where the product name ‘Scroll’ came from. The buds roll out as if from a digital Dead Sea scroll, immediately looking as cool as can be.

As we know, looks aren’t everything and any old dead goat (mutton) can be dressed as any young sheep (lamb), but the PaMu Scroll BT 5.0 Earphones are one of the best Bluetooth-associated objects I’ve touched.

Sounds quality was excellent, a huge improvement on the PaMu TWS that was previously reviewed here and the wireless charging is easy and fast.

The shape is probably the most design-beautiful, it’s easy to fold up and put in any pocket of clothings without being uncomfortable and its portability in any handbag or rucksack an utter cinch.

There is still.a month to go before the crowdfunding is over and while we very rarely enthuse about a product during this process, this time we’re making an exception.

One final word or two…

… the PaMu Scroll BT 5.0 Earphones are going to retail at $39, a ridiculously low price, get on the waiting list now.

Fortunately, I have a pair on the table in front, of me, there’s no way PaMu are getting them back… really.