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Showing posts from 2015

Of broken wrists and summer breaks....

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To all my Phones Show viewers, please note that I didn't take a break over the summer holidays as I normally do, i.e. the shows kept on coming and indeed, increased in frequency. However, my elderly (79) and recently widowed father has just had a major fall, breaking his arm and wrist and I'll be needed helping him at least part time for a few weeks, as you can imagine. Adding complications are that he's on the other side of the UK, so there will be many miles on the motorway backwards and forwards.... So.... I'm taking my annual short break from filming now. The Phones Show will return soon, probably around the time the new Nexus devices appear on the streets.
The Phones Show Chat audio podcast will continue, of course, since there's a lot less time that's involved in that - a PSC takes two hours to put together, of which 75 minutes is spent recording. Whereas a ten minute video Phones Show takes around fifteen hours of planning, writing, filming and editing!…

August 2015 was when the Web broke and the red mist descended

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The World Wide Web is broken. It's been breaking for the last few years, but I saw red a week ago

when pages on almost all sites were taking 30 seconds plus to load, with widgets and content being dragged in from dozens of sites that I wasn't visitingwhen 90% of what I was seeing was advertsAnd, most of all, when stories starting emerging of malvertising - malware, spyware and ransomware all being spread through various advertising chains used on high profile web sites
"Enough is enough", I thought and I asked around as to whether there was an easy way to just block ads once and for all, for my family's farm of laptops and PCs, to keep us all safe. The unanimous reply was "uBlock Origin" - look under 'Extensions' in your web browser and you'll find it. It's free and fast and has dramatic effects.

Typically, an ad-heavy/laden web page in 2015 might take up to minute to load and will contain content from multiple ad servers, any of which mi…

Hacking the most out of the Nexus 5 speaker

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Having been donated a slightly battered Nexus 5 as an Android M test device, I thought I'd got nothing to lose in terms of hacking it further. One of the biggest drawbacks of the otherwise still perfect '5' has been that the mono loudspeaker isn't very loud and is tinny.

Now, obviously you can't turn a small speaker into a big one, but there are things you can do to let the component produce everything it's capable of. LG's design rather muffles the Nexus 5's speaker (positioned bottom left as you look at the phone normally, or bottom right from the back), by as much as 25% in terms of volume and tone.

So, why not claw back that 25%, at the expense of a few err.... extra holes? This was originally postulated here, but I went slightly further. Again, this Nexus 5 already had scuffs and a few bits of plastic broken off, so I had nothing to lose!

Here's a pictorial representation of what I did, with the red arrows showing the new holes:


The theory is t…

Review: OtterBox Symmetry for iPhone 6

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The world of iPhone cases is vast, of course. Every street corner, every vendor. Every pattern known to man - yet invariably made in a similar fashion, with the in-situ cases made from hard plastic or TPU. And above it all strides the phone case colossus that is OtterBox, one of the biggest brands and best known for designs that can take extreme punishment. This is their new offering for the iPhone 6 and it 'does exactly what it says on the tin', at the expense of increasing the cased thickness to 12mm. Job done, though.



Yes, it seems sacrilegious to encase the iPhone's smooth aluminium lines in plastic and neoprene, not least because it almost doubles the thickness, but if you drop your phone once a month (which seems about average for iPhone owners across the globe who try to use the device 'naked') then a case is the only way to go, protecting against unsightly dings to the metal and a probable shattered screen.


The Symmetry design looks similar to other OtterBo…

The crazy world of Windows updates, startup items, and 'normobs'

Got to get this off my chest. Here's the situation.

Joe or Josephine Bloggs uses their Windows PC every few days. Sometimes. For a few hours at most. Sounds OK, doesn't it? Except that they keep saying to you "I still use my PC but it's so slow now, do you think I should get a new one?"

Tempting though it is to say "yes'(!), what's actually happening is that Microsoft's update system doesn't take into account PCs which are only turned on for a few hours every few days. With patches being pushed out weekly (or so), they get no chance to download and install in the background (because the computer is - literally - not usually turned on), so when the user does fire up the PC, they have to live with 'updates downloading' in the background. All the flippin' time. Because they're rarely turned on, and online, long enough for the updates to complete.

Add in that when they do boot up their PC it takes 'longer and longer' becau…

iCloud Photos issues!

I'm posting this here, since other short form social networks are proving inadequate 8-)

Here's the problem.

Friend's iPhone, latest iOS, patched up to date etc.

She has a PC with Windows 7 and iCloud installed. Again all up to date. iCloud is on default settings, set to sync all photos to Pictures\iCloud Photos etc.

The iPhone is set to upload all photos to iCloud and 'My Photo Stream' and, after taking a photo, something seems to happen in terms of uploads.

However, we've waited a few DAYS now, and iCloud doesn't seem to have synced anything down.

Any clues, from Apple experts, as to what to try next. It's driving us insane!! Comment below to add your tuppence worth?

Ideas from me so far:
re-install iCloud on the PCpraysmash the iPhone with a large hammer and switch my friend to Android or Windows Phone Cheers!

[I'll update this post with more info as requested by anyone kind enough to help!]

Hmm... http://rianjs.net/2014/09/fixing-icloud-on-windows…

MS DOS on Windows Phone - in 2015

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Well done to the Connects team for a well done April 1st prank - creating a mini-clone of MS-DOS (from the 1980s) that runs under today's Windows Phone. It's semi-convincing too:


And there's a promo video to go with it:



The packages sent to bloggers missed a trick though - there was a fully working USB floppy drive (I last used one of these in the early 2000s!), with a floppy disk on it. I was expecting the video again, or some PowerPoint or PDF presentations or a special multimedia message, but in fact the 1.44MB floppy just had a tiny TXT file pointing people towards an online URL to grab the app on their Lumias.


Plus a neat notebook with floppy disks as covers, shown above! 8-)

Not that I'm grumbling - hey, who knows when someone will next need me to read a floppy disk(!) - but I think the April Fooling could have gone this one step further in terms of production!

Still, the prank application does work, and even kicks off the likes of Cortana if you're really de…

Screen protection overkill - OMG

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It beggared belief. There was I accepting a second hand Android smartphone as a 'thank you' for a favour done for its previous owner, and undergoing my usual 'clean it up, check it out, before re-selling or passing on' routine.

Nothing out of the ordinary so far. Bog standard Android phone, Gorilla Glass screen and... the owner had put on a crude screen protector, seemingly fashioned out of a sheet of OverHead Projector slide. I sighed, peeled it off and set to work trying to clean the glass underneath with my wipes.

But there was still a 'ridge'. I looked more closely. There was a second screen protector! Yep, you read that right, the owner had put on a crude screen protector to err... protect the protector underneath. Which was 'protecting' the Gorilla Glass underneath. #facepalm

Complete and utter experience-ruining overkill.

Two, repeat two sheets of shoddy plastic to get in the way of using a capacitive touchscreen, all to 'protect' a sheet…

The Great Instant Messaging Disconnect of 2015

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“Hey!”, came the shout from Tom, across the office, “Are you coming along to my river bash at the weekend?”

“First I’ve heard of it”, I shouted back. “I sent you an invite on Facebook Messenger!”, he said, coming over to chat in a more civilised fashion. “Did you not get it?”

“Nah, I uninstalled that a while back”, I replied. “I use GroupMe now.”

“GroupWhat?” Tom came back at me. “Never heard of it!” “It’s really powerful, look what it can do…”

“I’ve never heard of it either”, chipped in Diane from the neighbouring desk. “What do you use to keep in touch with everyone, then?” I asked, somewhat resignedly.

“WhatsApp, of course, silly”, she said. “Though it doesn’t do any good with my teenagers, they only use Snapchat these days. And neither help me with Ian (her husband and better half), he’s dotty on BBM, which I can’t stand…”

“So Tom, who else did you invite?” I said, inviting more trouble. “Well, I was going to invite Daniel, but I know he’s a bit of a geek only uses Google Hangouts…

Car speed and efficiency

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Call me somewhat obsessed if you like, but ever since acquiring a car (2006 Renault Scenic) with an actual computer inside, along with a miles-per-gallon readout, I've been taking rather an interest in the efficiency at various road speeds. Yes, I realise that petrol has become cheaper in the last month or so, but it was downright pricey for most of 2014, so every gallon saved is the best part of £10 back in my wallet.

So what IS the most efficient speed to drive along at? Classic car manuals and Internet advice often throw up '56mph', but then we've seen that speed quoted from as early as the 1950's, when car shape and aerodynamics were incredibly primitive. Surely modern cars, designed in wind tunnels, should be able to slice through the air better and this should have some effect on fuel efficiency?

[The problem with going fast is that there is far more air resistance - this increases as the square of velocity, so there's four times as much drag to overcome a…