Showing posts from 2018

Introducing VideoDuke 'advanced video downloader' for Mac

One of the things I like to do is 'archive' YouTube (and DailyMotion etc.) videos to local storage on my computers and phones. Usually, this is so that I can enjoy music videos and documentaries (usually on my large-screened smartphone) while on trains, coaches, tubes and planes, without interruption and without needing huge cellular bandwidth.

Actually doing this has been a battle with Downloader plugins to the Firefox browser - they seem to come and go almost monthly - but now there's a better solution, at least if you have a Mac.

VideoDuke is a dedicated browser/downloader for the Mac and it works brilliantly. You use the integrated basic browser to go to the relevant video site and the available download options are shown in the interface, with the most likely, the highest resolution video file, the default.

Note that you can't download the highest resolution videos as YouTube keeps those as streaming only, possibly as an extra anti-piracy feature. Talking of which,…

How to: connect a Google Pixel 2 or 3 (2 XL or 3 XL) to an Apple Mac using Android File Transfer

In theory it should be easy. Right? Just unlock its screen, plug in the Pixel and wait - Android File Transfer leaps into action and you can see your Pixel's folders, ready for all that lovely dragging and dropping.

In practice, you get a 'Could not connect' error on the Mac screen.

"Aha", you think, I need to change the USB mode, so you tap on the Pixel's notifications screen, changing the mode from 'charge only' to 'file transfer'.

Nope. Still nothing.

What's going on? I'll tell you, after much testing. The chances are that you have either Dropbox or Google's 'Backup & Sync' installed on your Mac. And these using communications protocols that get in the way of the bits and bytes that Android File Transfer wants to send.

Really. They shouldn't, but they do. Go blame Google.

Anyway, the fix is quick and easy - use your Mac's mouse or trackpad to go into the top system bar and right click as needed, quitting both…

Review: Tronsmart MEGA 40W speaker

Sent in for review, I'm always happy when I hear decent bass from an audio accessory. It's not that I'm into house music or drum'n'bass, it's just that I like to hear both the bottom and top frequencies in my music.

In this case, there's certainly plenty of bottom end, pumped out by the twin 20W speakers and some bass reflex out the back of the wrapped metal grilles. The middle frequencies are a bit muddled and the top end is mushed in somewhat.

But I'm being a bit picky, since you wouldn't buy this for absolute audio fidelity. You'd buy it for the super-futuristic LED-illuminated touch controls on the top, and for the NFC functions.

The first looks terrific in a dark room (perhaps a party), just slide your finger along the touch bar to adjust volume, plus there's 'Mode' if you want to start loading songs in via microSD or via someone's phone via a (supplied) 3.5mm jack.

The second is a feature that speakers often had a decade a…

Introducing the economy 'Car Health' indicator concept!

Yes, I'm sure newer cars have diagnostic sensors built into everything, right down to tyre pressures and cabin pollution. But what about 'normal' cars, where it would be great to get a 'thumbs up' from the car computer that all's well for that big journey ahead?

Typically a car's dashboard gives warning lights for all the obvious stuff - low oil pressure and levels, and coolant temperature, but what about subtleties like low tyre pressure on one wheel, or something wearing out in your timing or pump chains/belts?

So I have a huge tip for anyone whose car does give a readout of 'fuel economy'. This is intended to help you get a feel for how your driving style affects miles-per-gallon (mpg), but I contend that it can also be used as an indicator of how healthy your car is, all other things being equal.

But it can't be done on normal roads, where braking, roundabouts and traffic all get in the way.

Here's the drill. Once you're on the motor…

Case roundup: Apple iPhone XS Max

Another flagship in for review can only mean one thing - loads more cases to try out and score!

Of course, the iPhone is so popular with accessory makers that there are literally hundreds available, but I've taken a likely cross-section in hand, thanks to the folks at MobileFun, kind people that they are, and also to the folks at EasyAcc.

See Mobile Fun's complete range of iPhone XS Max cases and covers here.
See the EasyAcc range of XS Max cases here on Amazon UK.

In no particular order(!):

Olixar Tough Premium, £30

An inner tough rubber layer and a harder plastic layer mean top protection here, including reinforced corners, but you pay a price in terms of added thickness, around half a centimetre.

Plus - and I have to say this - the steampunk styling does look rather cheaper than the case's price suggests.The textures, faux screwheads and ultra-plastic kickstand are all staples of cases that usually come in at half the price.

Oh well - not a bad option, but your XS Max wi…

Case roundup: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

As usual for my case roundups, I'll cover a variety of styles, with all samples supplied by MobileFun, kind people that they are. See their complete range of Galaxy Note 9 cases and covers.

Note (puns intended throughout!) that I'm going to refer to the phone as the 'Note 9', as do MobileFun. Samsung's stylistic 'Note9' just won't catch on - it looks awful!

In no particular order (and with no winner picked, in that all the cases here are worthy of consideration for one reason or another!):
Spigen Rugged Armor, £18 As usual Spigen's Rugged Armor case is top notch and, if you're in a hurry, then look no further, this is the best in-situ case for the Note 9 bar none:

The matt exterior finish and cushioned interior is the perfect blend of materials and textures. Not too thick, not too thin, and fitting like a glove, as usual for Spigen:

The patterned gloss panels on the back serve to add interest and some extra grip - and the design has been much cop…