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Favourite Five: Apps

We’ve got a new series for you where we will tell you about our five favourite things. First up, it’s our five favourite apps, whether it’s for Android, iOS or Mac (or more than one). Enjoy!

1. Wunderlist

Wunderlist is a very useful app that allows you to create and share lists, for example, shopping- or todo-lists. It works on Android, iOS and Mac. The best feature is, that everyone you share the list with can add items to it as well as “cross off” entries. Continue reading

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Latest Updates from the IFA

b2c.ifa-berlin.de

b2c.ifa-berlin.de

The IFA is one of the oldest trade shows for consumer electronics in Germany, and calls itself “the global innovations show”. In the past, many important innovations had their world premieres during this annual event – for example the music cassette and the compact disc.

This year the IFA had its focus on TVs with ultra HD resolution (4k), the Google smart watch “Galaxy Gear” and the topic that has become increasingly important over the last few years: “how can I remote control everything I own with my smartphone?”

I do like some of the ideas that were presented this year. For example a fridge that has cameras inside and can send you pictures of its content, in case you don’t remember your shopping list. This may prevent people from buying more food than they need, so it could help to reduce the masses of food thrown away each year.

Also, it sounds awesome to start your washing machine, the oven and the cleaning robot while you’re on your way home, so that by the time you arrive all the work is done.

But besides all the advantages and comfort this technology brings into our homes, there is one major problem – everything that is connected to the network can be hacked. I don’t really worry about someone starting my washing machine or my cleaning robot, but I do worry about things like Smart-TVs with built-in cameras and microphones, electronic doors and window locks, remote controlled garage doors, wifi babyphones – or network surveillance cameras. A German website collects IP-addresses of cameras that are not well protected. (http://www.schnatterente.net/technik/unsichere-ueberwachungskameras) These cameras have not been hacked, they are just not safe and available for everyone who can google. The range of webcams available on this website include those inside a casino, private houses and an ATM inside a bank.

Technology is certainly getting smarter and changing the way we interact with our household goods and our houses themselves, but it also raises the question: is smart too smart? I guess it’s like always, everything should be taken in small doses and we need to think about the consequences of too much connectivity. Still, despite this, it’s exciting what is in store for us and what the future holds.

Let the games begin!

Yesterday the world’s largest trade and public video games expo “Gamescom” opened its doors in Cologne for approx. 275.000 visitors. The not entirely surprising Nr. 1 topic is the battle of the giants; Microsoft versus Sony, Xbox One versus Playstation 4.

Since Microsoft offended their fans earlier this year by announcing ridiculous restrictions and more than questionable data collection plans concerning their latest console, Sony had a very good start to the race. Although Microsoft revoked most of the planned restrictions, there are still a few things that are keeping Sony on top – a few days ago, Sony said it had over 1 million preorders for the PS4.

Despite the bumpy start, Microsoft believes in their concept of a media-center / game console / TV / Internet / all-in-one solution – and of course in their phenomenal new Kinect-System, that should provide a new gaming experience.

Just before the Gamescom started, Microsoft announced that there is going to be something “exclusive and unique” that Phil Spencer will present during a press conference on the fair. The speculations go from “it’s only another exclusive game” to “a new piece of hardware that will make the Xbox One the ultimate gaming device”. And indeed, Microsoft is working on a project called the “IllumiRoom”, that could be a game changer in this race. In January this year, Microsoft Research published this video on youtube showing the technique in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=re1EatGRV0w

We’ll keep you posted on what Microsoft has up their sleeves and if it is worth it to pick the less powerful, more expensive hardware with more restrictions, or if the Playstation 4 is just too far in the lead.

Gallery

Experimental Kitchen: Asparagus with Strawberries

Kokstars: Introducing Michael to our modest site. He will be writing about photography and photo editing and today, a dish that he learned to make during a cooking course in Germany.

It is asparagus season here in Germany and it is very common to make dishes with white asparagus, though Steph tells me that in Australia it’s mostly all green.

Some things go together very well, even though they don’t look like they do. Here is a perfect example and also a quick and yummy dish for you to try:

White asparagus with strawberries on pasta

White asparagus with strawberries on pasta

Ingredients
300g Asparagus (green or white)
300g Strawberries
300g Pasta

Salt
Pepper
Parmesan (grated)
Honey
Balsamic Vinegar
Fresh Basil
Sunflower oil

Method
1. Cut the strawberries into quarters, larger strawberries can be cut into eigths.
2. Chop up about 10 leaves of fresh basil and stir with 2 teaspoons of honey. Add 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and stir well.
3. Stir the mixture with the strawberries and set aside.
4. Wash the asparagus (if you use green asparagus you only have to peel the bottom part. For white asparagus peel the entire stalk otherwise you’ll be left with hard-to-chew pieces).
Next, cut off the bottom of each stalk and then cut the remaining asparagus into 2-3 cm long pieces.
5. Set 2 pots of water on the stove – one for the pasta and one for the asparagus.
6. Put the pieces of asparagus into one of the pots of boiling water and cook until al dente. It should take no more than 5 minutes. Just make sure that the asparagus does not become too soft.
Put one cup of the boiled water from the asparagus aside and sieve the asparagus out.
7. Put the pasta into the pot of boiling water and when done, add them to the pan and stir thoroughly. Then add the cup of water from the asparagus and stir through again.
Add salt, pepper and basil to taste.
8. Heat up a pan with oil, put the asparagus in and fry for about 4 minutes. Then add the strawberries and fry for another minute. Make sure they don’t cook for too long
otherwise the strawberries will become mushy.

Garnish each dish with parmesan.

Guten Appetit!