Showing posts from October, 2018

No, leaving lights on and gadgets on standby, doesn't NECESSARILY waste power...

It's something that occurs to me every Autumn and winter in the UK. I have to confess. Now, I'm all for everyone saving energy all the time in all countries throughout the year, but I just wanted to state that there's an exception of sorts. When the temperature's below about 10℃ outside, it doesn't really matter in the slightest if your kids leave lights on or if all your gadgets are on charge for too long or your TV and video system's on standby all the time. Not in the slightest. So you can stop shouting at your kids and worrying. It's because lights and mains adapters and so on all, ultimately generate heat - all the energy that they're consuming is - in the end - being emitted into the house in some way, meaning that there's less work for your central heating system to do. So, let's say that you use up an extra 50p of electricity a day by being super wasteful by ignoring all the usual energy-saving tricks. By my reckoning, you'

Google DACs - versions 1 and 2!

People will know that I'm a fan of high quality wired headphones and - by extension - 3.5mm jacks in phones and tablets. Which has made the latest generation of phones (e.g. Google Pixel 2 and 3 ranges) a little galling, as they require external DAC (Digital to Analog Converter)s, typically in USB Type C-to-3.5mm 'adapters'. Note that I'm not talking about £2 (on eBay) Type C to 3.5mm adapters, these are dumb analog things with no active circuitry. Many phones don't output an analog signal anymore and these won't work. You may remember that I reviewed a XiiVio mini-hub recently , and this is a good example of an all-digital, microprocessor-based gadget, in this case allowing charging and listening via a built-in DAC. But there are simper and cheaper DAC/dongles, including the first party gadgets from Google. The Pixel 2 range came with their first version, the Pixel 3 range came with version two, though both are also available standalone from the Google Stor

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

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,

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 of

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