End User mobile apps

Would you trust Samsung with your health data?

Walking Mate S HealthStill in the process of moving icons around since regaining my SGS4 and clicked on the Walking Mate App – “keep track of how many steps you take each day with S Health”.

OK I’m interested I thought and clicked. The App took me through a process and got to the page shown in the screen print on the right.

They seriously need their brains examining if they think I am going to trust Samsung with that kind of data. One wonders how many active users the S Health app really has. Health certainly seems to be an application, if you can call health an application, that the vendors of wearable devices seem to have latched on to. Partly I suspect out of desperation to find some functionality they can add to their gadgets.

My SGS4 isn’t wearable, yet, unless  I strapped it to my wrist 🙂 but I do use some health apps, if you can call Runkeeper a health app.

I’m about to join a gym btw, talking about health applications. There is one near the office at the University. The plan is 30 mins in the pool first thing, 30 mins walk to work 5 days a week (when I’m in Lincoln) and then perhaps 1 hour in the gym three days a week in the afternoon before I walk 30 mins home. Assuming I’m not too knackered for the walk. In such an eventuality I will have to resort to Plan B which as yet has not been defined.

When joining a gym one does have to consider the cost. This in my case isn’t the cost of using the gym. It’s the cost of replacing all my clothes when I lose a load of weight and get trim. And all that lycra I will need! It’s gonna happen:) What price health eh?

The Samsung app was free but what price privacy, eh?

End User google mobile apps

Reduce data usage with Chrome

chrome data usage Came across this by accident but I think it is pretty cool.

I’m not particularly bothered about my data usage. I don’t come close to my limits either on my broadband connection or my SIM.

Still think it’s good that Chrome does this though.

PS this post had 6 LinkedIn shares in the space of 30 mins after going live – good eh?

Engineer fun stuff mobile apps Weekend

Warp drive & a forecast date for technology of teleporting

I was discussing my experiences of being without a phone for ten days concluding that the phone was something I’d rather have than not have despite the fact that to some extent the damn gadget takes over your life. It isn’t really a phone any more anyway. The percentage of its time spent making phone calls is tiny compared with all the other intergalactic communicating computer functions.

What is missing it seems to me is a Teleporting app. It just seems a natural evolution of the capability of the hand held computer personal computing device (it isn’t going to be hand held for very much longer). Who wouldn’t want to be able to just say “beam me up Scotty” and reappear in the pub saloon bar1.

Yes this is all dreamland stuff but it is Friday afternoon and the weekend beckons. Clearly the problem is the lack of any technology available to make this happen. It would be easy enough to put together an App, integrate it with Google Maps for setting coordinates and provide a button with the words “beam” or “beam me up” (or even one with user-programmable text – let’s push the boat out). Of course it wouldn’t work but might look good.

The App could just be waiting for the back end tech to catch up and don’t worry, this it very much will do. We would also need more maps data than just for planet Earth

The question is when. When you think about it the answer to this is really obvious. Teleporting technology will become available at around the same time as dilithium crystal powered warp drives. Stands to reason, innit. This won’t be for a while yet but it will come.

I won’t be around to see it but that doesn’t matter. It’s the same principle as planting oak trees. You don’t do it for yourself. You do it for the enjoyment of later generations. The savvy amongst you (that’s pretty much everyone who reads this blog:) ) will have spotted that I’ve omitted to put a date against this. I don’t have an Alpha date let alone Beta or General Release. That’s cos I’ve been around the block. It can be fatal to put a date down that you are doomed to miss. Better to keep it vague.

This does make it harder to put a business case around it but lets face it. Business cases are often based on sales figures plucked out of thin air anyway. Either that or an analyst report that someone has paid a lot of money for so it must be right. Right?

The vagueness of the schedule also points to budget overruns. Whoever owns the project should factor in some additional capital up front. Lots of additional capital. Probably more capital than the Gross Domestic Product of the world. Totally buggers up the ROI numbers but well worth it. After all it is a Friday and the more time we have available to spend in the pub the better which is what Teleporting will do for us.

In considering the business case we shouldn’t forget ongoing operational costs. By buying additional drinking time it is going to mean we will be spending more money on beer. This is a difficult one to cost in because everyone drinks at a different pace although there must be an ONS report somewhere with an average number of pints drunk in a given time period. The average time saved by Teleporting would also need to be calculated and this will in all probability require some extensive primary research involving visiting many Public Houses around the country globally.

Finally we would need to forecast the cost of a pint at the time the tech becomes available. Hopefully the government won’t have upped the tax on beer too much by then2.

So there you go. A take on the timeline for Teleporting. It will arrive at the same time as Warp drive…

1 Mine’s a pint of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord bitter.
2 I did say this was a dream.

Apps Business Mobile mobile apps mobile connectivity UC voip

Will OTT VoIP Apps Destroy the Telecoms Industry? welcomes VoIP Week contributor Alex Kinch, Founder and CEO of Ziron.

As soon as the Telecoms industry came to terms with the WhatsApp acquisition and what it could mean for their SMS revenues, CEO Jan Koum dropped another bombshell: the company would be launching voice services from Q2.

For many this announcement spelled the end. Surely operator executives around the world should start packing their suitcases and call it a day. After years of racing to the bottom the industry has finally hit rock. Well, not quite. In my view, it’s high-time these doomsayers started to examine the opportunities that come with the increase of OTT voice apps (mVoiP), rather than demonising the unstoppable tide of technological evolution.

The ‘telco industry camp’ and the ‘mVoiP camp’ needn’t be enemies. There is room a-plenty for them to co-exist, at least for the foreseeable future. News reports would have you believe that the only people using landlines are rural dwelling anti-tech luddites, however Ofcom has reported that in the last statistical year call volumes from both fixed and mobile phones were in excess of 100 billion minutes. Their report states that 82% of adults still use a home landline – but only 28% of adults use any form of VoIP. The report also said that there are currently 82.7 million active mobile subscribers in the UK, but a report from Analysys Mason clarifies that only 20% of them are active mVoiP users.
Ziron logo

It is essential to keep in mind that mVoIP isn’t new, as in recent years a host of mVoiP apps have launched, including Fring, Nimbuzz to Viber. We’ve had a long time to come to terms with mVoIP apps and adapt business models accordingly. The key is to think about how you can value, rather than trying to stand in the way of change. At least one popular OTT app has been conducting trials with traditional telcos, in which calls from the PSTN made to a user’s regular GSM number are intercepted and delivered to the app instead of via the SIM. This kind of forward progress must be embraced. We must ask, “How we can add value and work together to deliver an enhanced customer experience?”

Massive scope exists for smart VoIP operators that can act as a gateway between the old world of the PSTN and the new world of OTT apps. As someone that has been in Telco for more years than I dare ever admit, I remember similar hysteria taking hold ten years ago when Skype first became popular. Today, Skype is feeding and contributing to the Telco industry, driving a third of the world’s phone traffic. The fact is that Telecoms is evolving, and,to survive we are going to have to evolve with it.

VoIP Week Posts:

broadband Business business applications internet net neutrality peering voip

Net Neutrality and Telephony

Net neutrality and VoIP telephony – thorny issues the industry needs to negotiate welcomes “VoIP Week” contributor Rob Pickering, CEO of ipcortex.

Most folks who work in the VoIP industry have at some point been subject to a casual horror story from a new acquaintance about evil VoIP and how they tried it once and that it nearly brought their business to its knees. My heart sinks whenever I realise that this is the direction in which the conversation is going, at which point I usually find myself wishing I’d said that I did something less controversial for a living…like writing computer networking software! I listen, though, nodding politely, already forming a conclusion — after all, it would be unlikely that the problems experienced were due to a fault in their equipment or termination provider, both of which are probably perfectly reliable. No, a lack of a suitable quality of service (QoS) between their premises and termination provider is almost always the culprit in such circumstances.

The UK service provider industry has developed lots of solutions to the QoS problem, and things are far better now than they were just five or ten years ago when the market was in its infancy. The quality and availability of last mile circuits, particularly in metropolitan areas, has massively improved with successive advancements such as LLU, FTTC, FTTP, and cost-effective, high bandwidth Ethernet IAD type circuits. There has also been a trend towards integrated providers delivering the whole service — access circuit, Internet and telephony — as a single package. Behind the scenes, this may or may not translate technically into a full end-to-end in-house QoS-managed solution, depending on the provider and sometimes the geography of the customer. It does, however, assign commercial responsibility for delivering a fit-for-purpose solution to a single party, and this can only produce a better quality outcome for the customer.


Such an approach is certainly not universal. The US market has developed differently, for instance, and most VoIP termination providers don’t get deeply involved in provision of access circuits, instead opting to rely on decent low loss, low jitter transit or peering arrangements, and their customers’ own commodity access circuits. Often they will do a bit of automated “connection testing” as part of their signup process, however in general customers on unsuitable circuits tend to weed themselves out.  This does produce some benefits for customers, including more transparency with regard to costs, as well as a bit less lock-in as there is no commercial linkage between access and over-the-top (OTT) voice service. Today, in fact, several of those US suppliers are entering the UK market with this same business model.

Which brings us on to Net Neutrality. Whenever this subject comes up, we tend to think about its obvious effects on consumer entertainment services. The future development of the telephony industry is, however, intimately linked with this issue. Whilst the raw, per-consumer bandwidth requirements of a VoD service like Netflix is greater, the network characteristics required to deliver a reliable telephony conversation of at least ISDN quality are in some ways more onerous. Though buffering can always be used to counter horrible jitter on the underlying path for a video stream, and content caches are already used to reduce transit requirements, neither of these methods can be used to reduce the pain on a real-time voice conversation. If telephony providers can no longer get good, zero-packet loss, low jitter transit, or peering with many leading access providers, then an entire business model may very well be frozen out.

How do you think the industry will develop? Vertically integrated one-stop shops for network access and telephony, or universal OTT providers? I’d love to know your thoughts.

VoIP Week Posts:

food and drink fun stuff mobile apps

TVs, lost remotes and fish tank screensavers

@tref_350Our TV remote control is lost. It is almost certainly down the side of the settee or one of the armchairs. I did look. It must have been a fairly cursory glance because that bit of plastic was not found. Didn’t jump up at me saying “here I am Tref”.

Not that it knows my name. At least it never got it from me. Might have heard it while we were watching the snooker, I suppose.

The fact is that the TV remote being lost hasn’t really affected me. I discovered the manual buttons down the right hand side of the screen. They allowed me to switch on the snooker. Fortunately the faff of switching channels was unnecessary. It was already tuned to the snooker.

Since then TV has played no part in our lives. It is there flat against the wall. Red LED indicating it is powered up but on standby.

I could I suppose find an app on the droid that serves as a TV remote. Not bothered. I quite like the idea of a screensaver showing fish in a tank. Tropical job. I’d like a fish tank although I don’t want the hassle of looking after the fish.

Friend of mine from University, Rhys, had an undergraduate project to observe the behavioural patterns of goldfish. He was supposed to feed them at the same time of day in the same part of the fish tank to see if they would congregate there in hungry anticipation.

The problem was we would shoot off somewhere for the weekend so on Friday Rhys would give them enough food to last until Monday morning. Totally messed up the experiment. The fish began to die and by the end of the spring term 39 out of 40 of them had died. Kicked the aquatic bucket. Rhys had to totally fabricate his experimental results:)

My other university “fish tank” story related to one of the lads who declined to come out with “the boys” one sunday night because he had a date. In those days Bangor was dry on a Sunday. The only source of alcohol was through a private club such as the British Legion or the Students Union or at a restaurant. We frequented the Taj Mahal, sadly now defunct.

On this occasion we hit the cinema and ended up in the Taj for a chicken biryani (meat vindaloo, onion bhaji, pilau rice, plain naan etc) and a few pints of lager.

Upon arrival we were sat next to the fish tank, always a favourite place to sit. Very relaxing when combined with Bollywood’s Greatest Hits. Just a few minutes later our pal was ushered, girl in tow, to the table the other side of the tank. I have no idea whether he had noticed us but we could definitely see him. He was out to impress big time and ordered a bottle of Blue Nun, in those days the height of sophistication. You have to believe he had the mickey taken out of him big time when we got back to the hall of residence. Blue Nun!

Hey. He had the night out with the girl and we didn’t 🙂

In those days I didn’t watch the TV. In fact Kid1 was thirteen years old before we had our first TV. We have one now, as you know, although we don’t watch it because the remote is lost. Feels just like the good old days:) There’s always iPlayer and tinterweb anyway and we didn’t have that in the good old days!

PS pic is totally arbitrary – fancied sticking it up

Business business applications mobile apps

Irrationally looking forward to meeting Pardeep or hello Pardeep goodbye Galaxy Mini

Some of you will have been following the story of me being without my phone for over a week now. I well I am irrationally excited to tell you that it is nearly here. I’m sat at home in the conservatory waiting for Pardeep.

Pardeep works for courier DPD. I know exactly where Pardeep is. I’ve been following his progress with great interest to the point where I’ve been constantly refreshing my screen to see if he is getting any nearer my house.  The screen shots at the bottom of this post tell the story.

There are a couple of very slight disappointments. The first is that there is a lag between the status shown and Pardeep’s real location. As he pulled up outside my house I wanted a screenshot of him doing so. It didn’t happen and the next time I looked, which was when he had gone, the status of the delivery had changed to “your parcel has been delivered”. Not a major issue, just a very slight disappointment:)

The second disappointment was that I wanted to take a photo of Pardeep. He was a very cheery bloke. The problem was that the device I would have normally used to take the photo was the one being delivered by Pardeep. He wouldn’t have wanted to hang around while I opened the box, took out the phone, inserted the battery, SIM, SDCard, entered my credentials and waited for all the device updates to happen.

Hey, no big deal:) The updates are happening right now. I am pleased to tell you that my wallpaper and lock screen photos are back in place although little things such as the screen lock, lock screen message (Tref’s phone) and misc other settings such as which icons go where have to be manually redone.

I can tell you that the last time I used this phone appears to have been on Shakespeare’s birthday, 23rd April, because that is the date of the most recent SMS restored by my Samsung backup account. The SMS, fwiw, is from my wife and it says “Powerpoint for beginners”. What gets backed up where is something I will have to check in making any decision to move handset vendors.

All my apps are being reinstalled. I’m not totally comfortable about all the permissions I’m having to give. Security around what an app can and can’t do is is something that the Android will need to sort out. It also seems odd that the “internet” app automatically installed on the home screen is not Chrome. It must be something Samsung has chosen. IE perhaps but there is nothing to tell me what it is. That one won’t last.

Anyway follow the progress of Pardeep as he winds his way through the sleepy streets of Lincoln towards my house, dropping parcels off on the way:

parcel status DPD1

parcel status2

DPD parcel status

DPD parcel status

DPD parcel status

DPD parcel status - delivered

Other good parcel delivery reads:

iPad tracked whilst on TNT overnight delivery

End User events fun stuff gadgets google H/W internet mobile connectivity UC wearable

Band Camp Coincidences

Google Glass. Telephony. Synchronicity

At my age, you would think that I would be long past adolescent self-consciousness; that I wouldn’t feel awkward with the geeky way of thinking. A girl that I had a crush on back in the 2nd Grade said to me, “You talk funny. You talk like a scientist.”, referring to my vocabulary. At that age this wasn’t a compliment, nor was it really a criticism. It did not, though, bode well for any potential romantic entanglements.

On the way to the conference I find myself sitting next to two attractive, well dressed middle-age women, three abreast in the aisle seat. We start the long first leg of the flight with a little small talk. We are flying together from Dallas to Albuquerque, where they will leave the plane prior to its flying on to Seattle (my destination).

“What’s in Seattle?” they both ask.

I feel like I’m on my way to band camp. What do I say to them? I tell the truth.

“I’m going to speak at a conference on Content Management – a technology conference.”, I say.

“Oh. Technology stuff.”, from which they return to conversing among themselves for the remainder of the flight. It’s fine. I wanted time to think, anyway, to be quiet on the plane so that I could figure out what I am going to talk about at the conference. I booked the conference before deciding to leave my last corporate job. I opted to keep my commitment, though, and now I need to put my presentation in my own voice.

The plane is landing in Albuquerque. The small talk starts again, and it turns out that the two women also live in Austin. I hear them say something about two local radio hosts known as JB and Sandy. I ask a question regarding Sandy. They fill me in. It’s friendly, partly because we’re parting way in five minutes.

Nobody sits next to me on the Seattle leg of my flight, and I have time and space to think, to figure out a theme for my talk. I’m basically speaking on the lessons learned over the last year as a software team trying to buy the next generation of the solution instead of building the next generation of solution.

“Choosing a system is like a plane trip…”

“Choosing a system is like traveling through Mexico…”


ecommerce End User travel

Is there a travel agent left in town? Internet upsides and downsides

sunny Bank Holiday in the UK - calm before the stormTravel agents seem to have disappeared off the face of the earth. I’m not surprised. Everything like that is done online these days.

I’ve been researching the destination for a family holiday. For various reasons we can’t push the button until much nearer the end of school summer term. Doesn’t stop me looking to see what is out there though.

You can source hundreds thousands of holidays online. You can see the reviews, check out what’s on offer, look at average temperatures for that time of year, even see how much a pint of lager costs (we are talking overseas here).

My problem is that with of us in the family with a range of ages between 14 and 52 trying to identify a single location that will satisfy everyone is proving very difficult. Few of us like sitting on the beach but we all like nice weather though not too hot. We want to be able to mix doing stuff with lazing around, sightseeing with snorkelling, pool bars at the hotel with dinners out at great local restaurants (no doubt with a low key violinist or simlar playing away in the corner).

We don’t want something pitched at a lowest common denominator but we do want a combination of independence and hotel pampered luxury, without paying through the nose for it:). Somewhere everyone speaks English is a nono but the availability of discretely translating waiters when my own limited language skills prove inadequate is desirable. Pictures of food on the menu don’t cut it j’ai peur I’m afraid (pretentious moi?).

What I really need is to be able to go into a travel agent, tell her what I’ve just told you, and wait for a description of the perfect spot based on a fact finding trip made last summer where all of the above was showcased.

I don’t think I’m going to get it. I walked through Lincoln to where I knew there were a couple of travel agent shops but they are there no longer. The downside of the internet. One of them is now a Joules shop. What use is that? Probably end up camping in South Wales again! Where did I put the hammock!?

Related summertime posts:

Why go abroad when there is camping in the UK?
I bought a barbecue

Bad Stuff End User fun stuff media obsolescence travel

Two Hours and 55 Minutes

I have 39 versions of the song “April in Paris” in my digital music library. The earliest recording is an Artie Shaw track from 1940 and the most recent is by Wynton Marsalis from his 1987 “Standards, Volume One” release, with many seminal versions threading in-between, delivered by a staggering array of artists that range from Frank Sinatra to Ella Fitzgerald to Nirvana (OK, that isn’t true…just checking wakefulness out there)…er, Blossom Dearie. Of course, considering “April in Paris”‘s status as a 20th Century classic and the size of my jazz collection, I shouldn’t be surprised that I have 39 versions of the song, and yet seeing them all before me on my monitor (the result of an iTunes search) is really just a couple of steps shy of astonishing.

April in Paris x 39

If 14+ years ago someone had asked me when I first moved to Paris in 1999 (August — not April) “How many versions of “April in Paris” do you have in your music collection?”, I could not have answered the question with any kind of accuracy or authority. Not without taking hours to thumb through my 2000+ CDs with a notepad and pen at hand, anyway.

I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never new my heart could sing
I never missed a warm embrace
chromebook End User google phones

First night without a phone

Yesterday I smashed the screen on my S4. Correction. I accidentally dropped it and the screen smashed. This wasn’t a wanton act of vandalism by a man frustrated with the inadequacies of his communicator.

Although I’ve stuck my SIM in Kid4’s Galaxy Mini i’ve decided that to use that device is too much of a hassle. It wouldn’t let me delete his Google account as to do so would render some of the apps unusable. I did add my personal and business accounts to the device but deleted them before they had managed to synch. I decided I didn’t want my credentials on someone else’s device if deleting them after the fact was going to be problematic.

Now I lie in bed typing on my Acer C720 Chromebook having used it to check Facebook, Twitter, respond to a comment on this blog, read the papers (the news is the same wherever you look), check mails, look at the weather forecast and no doubt do a few other things subconsciously that I’ve already forgotten about. Ordinarily I’d have done all that on the phone. The Chromebook form factor isn’t as convenient for a Sunday morning.

Two other things I’ve not done with my phone spring to mind. One is I haven’t taken a photo of the beech hedge in our back garden. It is just coming into leaf and I quite liked the way that one part of it is budding before the rest showing a little splash of green colour in an otherwise brown hedge. I use the phone a lot in this way, taking ad hoc pictures of things that catch my eye. Check out the photo of petals lying in the road at the end of the post.

The other thing left undone is that I didn’t wake up in the night and didn’t check the phone. Maybe I wasn’t destined to wake up last night or maybe it was because the phone wasn’t there. Why on earth do I need to use the phone at 3am anyway? I don’t.

There is a third “not done” thing. I went out to early doors at the Morning Star without a phone. I also left my wallet at home and just took cash. Normally before leaving the house I check that I have phone wallet and house keys. Yesterday I just checked the house keys. Very liberating. Conversation flowed in the pub and I was 20 minutes later than normal leaving. This was done with a modicum of guilt knowing that Anne couldn’t call me to remind me that tea would very shortly be on the table.

It mattered not. The initial experiment was a success and my first 24 hours without a phone has almost been completed. I’m feeling remarkably relaxed…

petals in the roadOther posts with with photos:

Mobile phone photo competition
Photographic evidence of a great night out
Poignant phonebox photo

Engineer engineering google

Ever wondered what the translation for Huawei is? #UKNOF28

HuaweiHuawei is the main sponsor for UKNOF28 in Reading. These are great meetings and couldn’t happen without the support of equipment suppliers to the community.

So at the lunch break we were discussing the Huawei presentation and I wondered what the word Huawei actually meant. Did it have a literal translation?

In a flash I whipped out my trusty droid and clicked on my Google Translate app.

The photos on the right show the process. I typed in “Huawei” and asked Google to translate it from Chinese into English.

Google, being the perceptive  creature that it is asked me if I meant 华为 instead?

I suppose I must have meant 华为 so I clicked on it and hey presto Google gave me the answer.

I can definitively (ish) tell you that the translation for Huawei (华为) is,         Huawei.

There you go. All part of the service.

You heard it first on (etc)

HuaweiOther UKNOF related post:

Growth in UKNOF attendance points to healthy networking industry
The leaving of UKNOF 23 – bus #205 to Paddington
Nominet precautions against a nuclear attack

chromebook End User google H/W

Contagious Chromebook Ardor

Yesterday morning found me doing the usual, staring at my monitor and rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, catching up on all of the whats and wheres and whos that took place while I lay me down to sleep. I slid on over to this website to put one last tweak on my piece scheduled to post a couple of hours hence and noticed that Tref has put up not one but two posts featuring Chromebooks, Second Hand HP Chromebook for sale £199.99! and New HP Chromebook for £170 with voucher code save30est. Now being well aware of Tref’s enthusiasm for Chromebook technology, philosophy, and hardware, seeing these two postings didn’t surprise me, but they were enough to give my own somewhat-dormant Chromebook interest a nudge. A nudge that as the day wore on started to feel more and more like a good hard shove.

I bought a Samsung Chromebook when they were first released in the U.S. in November 2012, driven by the same curiosity that pulled me back to Apple in 2008, the sharp design, and the remarkable pricepoint. From the get-go I was delighted with it, too, so much so that I deemed it “KoryChrome” (fellow Paul Simon fans will smile at that), had a protective sleeve made, and declared it good.

KoryChrome 1And KoryChrome was good. It opened me up to the possibilities of the Chrome operating system, turned my attention to Chrome apps and the Chrome Web Store, provided plenty of configuration itches for me to scratch, and on more than one occasion it helped me out of a business communication bind (with AppleKory, Google Docs + Google Hangout = Beachball). What KoryChrome didn’t do, though, was transform my cyber-life or work practices, and once I figured out how everything worked and had login environments set up for me, My Missus, and The Boy…well, there just wasn’t much use or fun to be had, as all three members of La Famille Kessel have MacBooks that are already quite light and which go mobile with no discernible difficulty. Despite this, though, KoryChrome held its spot in our household for well over a year, until I finally steeled myself up and put it up for sale on eBay this past February. Purchased for $249, sold for $150 just 15 months later, and I got to keep the 100GB of Google Drive storage that came with KoryChrome through to November next. All in all, I dropped $99 to improve my knowledge, increase my marketability, and satisfy my curiosity.

All of which leads me to ask…what is it about the recently-announced Samsung Chromebook 2 that has my eyes lighting up, my fingers tingling, and my thoughts racing to justify making a pre-order in time for one my May visitors from the U.S. to make delivery (got my crosshairs on you, Marcos Campos)? It must be the stitched faux leather finish…yeah, that must be it.Faux Leather Stitching!

Related posts:

chromebook End User google

New HP Chromebook for £170 with voucher code save30est

chrome_logo_headerHot on the heels of my last post about CashConverters trying to sell a second hand HP Chromebook for £200 Gavin Lewandowski dropped me a line on Twitter saying he’d just bought a brand new one for £170 using a voucher code save30est. Link is here though it is likely to be a time limited offer so may not work for very long.

I paid £180 for my Acer 720 from PC World Business. These laptops will keep coming down. They can hardly have any components. Even at the existing prices they are almost disposable. At least if you lose one it isn’t going to break the bank.

I’d buy another one if I didn’t already have two Chromebooks:

Using different Chromebooks for personal and business
Comparison of Samsung and Acer Chromebooks

Business chromebook google H/W

Second Hand HP Chromebook for sale £199.99 !

CashConverters in Lincoln are selling a second hand HP Chromebook for £199.99.
hp cash converters chromebook

Caught my eye in the window as I was walking home from work yesterday. Second hand Chromebook for two hundred quid?! When you consider that I paid £180 in VAT for the Acer Chromebook I’m using to type this post makes you wonder how clued up the management at CashConverters are about this sort of thing.

I suppose they are offering easy terms.

End User google

Cop this – one billion downloads

You have to be impressed. Over one billion downloads for the Android Google Play app. It is worth noting though that with over one and a half million ratings which is a pretty good sample size the app only gets three and a half stars. You would think that Google would have had enough feedback to improve the app and up the rating to five stars for something with that many downloads.

google play downloadsApps to blow your mind (ish):

Cycle gear
collaboration using Google Docs simplifies takeaway order

bitcoin End User travel Weekend

Forty shillings fine


There is still no Bitcoin Exchange UK

Came across this in the Parcel Yard pub in Kings Cross Station. I liked it so took a photo.
When you look at it you can almost imagine the steam trains chuffing by, whistle blowing, engine driver leaning out of his window with blue overalls,  cap and red neckerchief.

Keep away from the line. Kids! It’s bloody dangerous.

The fine for being caught is forty shillings. Takes me back. Strange to admit I was around pre-decimalisation. My pocket money was 3d which as I recall bought me a Beano and a sweet or two. It went farthing, ha’penny, penny, 3d, groat, sixpenny, shilling, two bob and two and six. As far as I can remember. Correct me if I’m wrong or have missed one out.

It’s ok to take a nostalgic trip but reality is we are massively better off where we are now. It was a nightmare trying to learn adding up in old money.
Winding the clock forward to now my Bitcoin is worth £277. I paid £292 for it a few weeks back. It’s been up and down over the weeks. V volatile but it’s an experiment. Image below shows fluctuations over the past 12 months. No Bitcoin exchange UK mind.


I’m not sure we are going to be better off with Bitcoin. They don’t take it as payment in the Parcel Yard yet and it won’t get me a Beano. Afaik. Cheers…

End User gadgets H/W internet media Mobile mobile apps phones

Gaining Focus

As readers of last week’s Conscious Uncoupling already know, I am making moves to unhitch myself from my iPhone 4 of the past 3 years and start anew at some point in the near future with an Android KitKat device. And as I am always looking to put the latest tech into my hands when the time comes to upgrade (or as my Apple-inebriated friends would likely put it in this case, “mistakenly change”), I have been looking quite fervently at both the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S5, both of which have just recenlty seen release and both of which are racking up impressively high numbers with regard to NRP (Number of Reviews Published…my statistic, my acronym, and no amount of search engine pounding will turn it up).

Two weeks ago (week of 31-March) HTC brought their blitz of HTC One M8 promotion to a crescendo that rolled over and straight through the technologically inclined and/or curious, and which resulted in a quantity of review inches more than adequate enough to ensure informed options would set in time to counter the Samsung Galaxy S5 wave that followed last week (week of 7-April). Now, of course, I cannot and will not make such an important relationship decision without first establishing a level playing field upon which I can hinge it, so I have resolved to wait a few weeks…a couple of weeks…at least a week to let all of the new information foster (fester?) within.*

So all of those reviews. Essentially, they boil down pretty straight across party lines (yes, that is a telephony joke…a groaner of a telephony joke but a telephony joke nonetheless).

HTC One M8
Pros: Gorgeous build and design (actually it is more accurate to go All-Caps on GORGEOUS, as this is the overwhelming first-notice feature cited in every one of the product reviews I have read or skimmed or found myself subjected to). The expected high level of display, speed, and functionality. GREAT speakers! “Motion Launch”, which allows the user to perform specific commands with the display off via tap, swipe, or gesture. Better than expected battery life (and a power-saving mode that can be configured to set energy amount parameters).
Cons: Lousy camera. Just awful. Won’t anyone say something nice about the camera? Or, at least, not be so enthusiastic in dinging it?

Samsung Galaxy S5
Pros: Waterproof! Yup, the Galaxy S5 is waterproof, up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter. Terrific screen, camera kudos all around, noticeably great battery life (and the battery can be swapped out as needed, too), storage expandability up to 128GB, health features (a heart rate monitor as part of the on-board hardware won’t keep me from drinking a single Cola-Cola or eating a single chip) significant reduction in the amount of Samsung TouchWiz bloatware from its S4 predecessor, speed and functionality to beat the band, and light.
Cons: Perhaps TOO light, as every reviewer critisizes the S5’s “cheap” feel (at least in comparison to the heavy and shiny smartphones in the arena, all of which suffer phone reception for their metal-enwrapped goodness), the fingerprint scanner is not as smooth as Apple’s Rolls-Royce-aspiring iPhone 5S, and though the TouchWiz bloatware is less than it was on the S4 it is still a proverbial fish-in-a-barrel target for criticism.

So pushing cost/plan out of the equation, I find I am leaning hard towards the Samsung Galaxy S5. I cannot say that I have spent much time wishing I could use my phone in the sea, pool, or shower (and I haven’t found my phone doing a toilet tumble since the days of the Nokia 3310), but what I can say is that I cannot imagine spending ANY time with a smartphone that is camera-lacking. The (at the time) industry-leading camera is what put me in my iPhone 4 back in 2011 to begin with, and as criteria go that function is even more of a decision-maker for me in 2014.

Get the picture?

Yes, there are tens of other KitKat-able phones that warrant consideration along with thes two new goliaths now stomping around, however I did lead with my propensity for grabbing up the latest tech and it doesn’t come any “latest” than the new flagship products from HTC and Samsung. Of course, the fact is that “With Great Popularity Comes Not Only Great Punditry But Great Amounts of Shared Opinion and Technical Insight.” (humblest apologies to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, both of whom are thankfully still with us as of this writing), so there is that, too.

End User fun stuff gadgets mobile apps phones wearable

Cycle Gear

A long time ago I used to cycle everywhere; then I learned how to drive……. then I learned how to drink and how to hail (and afford) a taxi….. then I moved to the countryside with idiot drivers like me that didn’t really look out properly for cyclists….. then I moved to the Surrey / London border and the quack told me to stop abusing my joints.

But now, I have an all clear and the realisation that there is some epic cycling country around here. I write this, for example, after following National Cycle Route 4 pretty much from home to Tower Bridge this morning, through Richmond Park and substantially along the river (including past Craven Cottage, home of the mighty Fulham Football Club). I am now editing it a few days later after a 25 mile blast from home to Richmond Park to say hi to the deer.

Of course, being in telecoms means such a venture cannot be undertaken without some degree of geekist equipment. So, I have my bike, a Specialized Crosstrail. Hybrid, obviously, because (1) I don’t want to be associated with the LycraLouts that ride two abreast on main roads and (2) becasue there’s no way a roadbike can handle tow paths at speed.

There’s the Moon LED lights that charge from a microUSB socket, which is incredibly useful. They have a multitude of settings, which I cannot master despite them having only one button. Oh, and they’re bright, which I suppose is the main thing. There’s also the generic Chinese reverse engineered wireless speedometer, which is essential for knowing just how fast the idiot BMW driver that missed you with a nanometre clearance was going relative to you…. and, more importantly, how far it is to the pub for pie, chips and ale.

Which pretty much just leaves some form of mapping solution. And for that, I have two essential pieces of kit. The first is my iPhone; the second is something to put it in – for which I have this handle handlebar bag. It is importantly water resistent (to be fair it only gets mildly moist even in a monsoon downpoor). It’s large enough to hold a wallet and a battery pack (essential for mobile mapping, for reasons I have previously written about) and has a clear plastic cover on top and a pouch for your iPhone (apparently other devices are allegedly available). There’s also a neat slot for a headphone cable, though I for one would rather hear the idiot in the BMW coming than listen to my playlists.

Business ecommerce obsolescence

Windows XP ATM failure

There’s a Post Office down the road from my mam and dad’s place with a Barclays ATM. Yesterday I strode up to said ATM with a view to extracting some cash. Totally legally of course.

Imagine my surprise when I was confronted with a screen showing what appeared to be Windows XP booting up. Wow I thought and reached for the gun in my holster phone in my pocket to capture the moment in pixels. I was too slow. I’d never have made a good cowboy.

By the time I had unlocked the phone and fired up the camera (checked the film, taken a light reading, adjusted the focus etc) all I got was a curt apology stating that the cashpoint machine was currently dysfunctional and would I mind awfully trying the one at the Isle of Man Bank down the road.

Disappointed I turned my back on the machine and walked dejectedly towards the IoM bank. I thought that might have been a scoop. “XP brings down global banking system”. Wasn’t going to be the same without the photographic evidence.

I parked the thought whilst we spent the afternoon enjoying the delights of Onchan Park on its opening day of the season. Crazy golf at its best. The pitch and put and the bowling were closed due to waterlogged greens but that didn’t spoil our fun.

This morning my thoughts returned to the global banking crisis but research suggests that nothing untoward had happened. No doom laden headlines. Shock horror probe. Must have been a local issue.

I did find a few timely articles discussing the fact that all the world’s ATMs appear to run on XP. Speculation as to whether this was a ticking time bomb together with quotes from Microsoft suggesting that a move to Windows 8.1 would be very sensible from a security perspective. No news at all really.

One does wonder what the next generation of ATM o/s will be. Microsoft doesn’t exactly feel right but there again it would probably be easiest from a backwards compatibility perspective. I’m not that interested. It’s Sunday morning and I’m typing this post with my thumb on my droid. There is bacon to be cooked.

Easy like Sunday morning…

End User food and drink google

Collaboration using Google Docs “simplifies” ordering of takeaway curry

onion barge geegeeLast night we decided that tonight, Friday night, would be curry night. The only problem is that not everyone here likes Indian. Some prefer Chinese. Actually not a problem. The Chinese and Indian restaurants are next to each other on the street of a thousand three restaurants (the other one is a  greasy spoon). People can order their preferred ethnic takeaway and I’ll pick both lots up near simultaneously. Simples.

What’s more we can mix and match. You’d prefer a Chinese starter and Indian main? Sure, gofrit.

Now then the only problem here is that juggling menu options starts to get complicated. It’s all very well writing it all down on a piece of paper but with so many possible combinations of nosh people keep changing their minds.

The solution? A shared Google Doc. Everyone has a gmail account or so it transpires. Even non google domains were resolved to a gmail address when an invite was sent. After dinner last night everyone sat round with their laptops editing the Google Doc – six persons at the same time (I did mam and dad’s).

This was pretty cool. You can check out the creativity of the end result here. I was going to share the doc publicly but the process of securing permission from 4 offspring was going to be too onerous and almost certainly cost me more than a curry so I haven’t bothered. A little interpretation is necessary as may be seen from the header photo and not a little simplification but it worked and there can be no quibbling over who ordered what.

A couple of links were included in the doc: The Poppadom Song and a hippo showing the after effects (presumably) of eating a curry.

Collaboration using Google Docs – not just for business 🙂

End User google

Adsense logic on

Be interested to hear what ads people see in the sidebar adsense box. Since installing it I’ve only ever seen BT infinity except once this morning on my mobile where I say some “ever taken out a bank loan” ad – I assume it was PPI related.

Normally I associate google ads with things I’ve been searching for myself but in this case I’m wondering whether the ads are based on the content of the site. There is a lot of broadband content and quite a number of posts where I slag off PPI phone calls.

What do you guys see?

End User obsolescence

Poignant phonebox photo

There is something about a photo of a phonebox taken using a mobile phone camera. It’s almost gloating. An icon of the past captured by the technology that rendered it obsolete. There should be an air of dereliction about the picture. Sadness. There isn’t. I’m smiling  though the photo is not helped by the fact that it’s a cloudy day.

I may have asked this one before but it’s worth asking again: when did you last use a phonebox?

phoneboxOther posts containing images of phoneboxes:

HTC Desire HD review
What to do about automated spam calls to mobile
Non internet use > neo-monsaticism

End User google travel

Allow location use #GoogleNow

google now places nearbyI’ve just allowed Google to use my location. Up until now I’ve always rejected the request. Having mulled it over for a few years (I don’t like to rush these things) I’ve decided I’m ok with it. It will enhance online services for me. I don’t care about whether others know where I am or not. My location is pretty obvious if you read this blog.

Location data is useful to me when I use Google Now. I’m happy that it is able to give me hints about things in my locality. Currently it shows photos of nearby places. V handy I’d say.

Years ago when we were working on the commercialisation of SIP one of the things it was going to bring to the party was presence. Presence wasn’t really just about whether you were online and available or not. It was also about where you were online.

Getting off a plane in a new place was going to be made easy by automatically telling the hotel you had landed and pointing out good bars and restaurants you might want to hit. Only possible with location information.

I think I also like the idea that all my photos will have location information in them. Why not? It’s hard enough finding photos. Why not make it easier by telling you where the photo was taen?

Embrace the future. The future has the presence. The future is here and Google Now.

PS I’ve written about GoogleNow before. Had forgotten when writing this article. I don’t think I’ve had location switched on as standard before though.

PPS Off for a stroll now. There are places to see within 14 minutes walk! 🙂

Business google

We currently don’t support that webmail service – LinkedIn

I’ve started to use LinkedIn a bit more than I used to. It is looking more and more useful for me in finding handy contacts for my startup business and less and less like just a recruiting ground for head hunters.

I’ve never used it’s “find other people you might know” type function though but this morning I’m up early doing stuff and casually entered my email address and clicked “continue”. Imagine my surprise when it told me LinkedIn didn’t support my webmail service. is Google based so Linked in is missing out big time. I didn’t bother continuing.

linkedinRelated posts

Punters rush to sign up to funky new LinkedIn group
LinkedIn should know better
Your password here? Oh Dear. LinkedIn

broken gear End User mobile apps storage backup & dr

Credit where credit is due – Windows 7 networking

Trefor Davies photo storage requirements ytd 2012Yesterday my SD  card blew up on the Samsung Galaxy S4. Not literally of course otherwise the nature of this post would be different. It would probably be ringed with a thick black border mourning the passing of one of the brightest prospects ever to have graced the Morning Star. Either that or it would be quite short as I might well have been typing one handed having been removed from the operating theatre via intensive care to a big ward where I would have felt quite out of place being young and full of life.

Last night I spent some time on the Netgear ReadyNAS retrieving files. Except

Engineer gadgets obsolescence

The ghosts of computing past

I have a large plastic box with a lid (you know the type you can buy from the local DIY ‘shed’ or independent hardware store) filled with various cables, adapters, a backup ADSL router, an old US Robotics dial up modem that connects via good ol’ RS-232, and — most interestingly of all, I think — two Iomega zip drives (a 100 MB drive that connects via parallel, and a 750 MB USB drive).

Along with the goodies mentioned, I also have an opened box of 100 MB disks and an unopened still-in-shrink-wrap box of 750 MB disks. At the time I bought these disks USB flash sticks weren’t so prevalent and neither was broadband. I bought them as a backup solution for the Pentium 166 PC I had at the time but never really got round to setting up a backup procedure. And y the time I retired that machine I had USB sticks bigger than its hard drive (a whopping 2.1 GB) so data transfer was no problem.

So I feel I am holding an important bit of computing history in my hands, but I am also wondering what is best to do with the Iomega zip drives considering that the company is apparently no more and that these days the drives only appear on eBay.

All suggestions welcome, and I’ll get the camera out tomorrow and add a picture.

Apps bitcoin End User

How to buy a Bitcoin – part 2 setting up an anonymous wallet

bitcoin logo
bitcoin wallet app
bitcoin app permissions
bitcoin movement
Following my first attempt at setting up a Bitcoin wallet I decided that having provided my email address this didn’t make me anonymous enough so I started again.

I had considered using the Tor network to make it “totally” anonymous but figured this was totally over the top so I just opened an incognito window and signed on without providing an email address. The downside of this level of anonymity is that it becomes much harder to recover a lost password so there is an element of risk.

Everything has to be written down on paper and not kept on your PC. I don’t have a printer hooked up to my PC so I couldn’t even print any password details. I can email the home printer but that would send the info via Gmail and then via HPs own email server which is not trusted. Neither is Gmail really even though it is encrypted.

It wasn’t just a complex password that had to be written down. Bitcoin addresses, wallet IDs and the mnemonic  that have to be recorded are all extremely long and with my handwriting prone to mistakes. I had to differentiate between upper and lower case text by underscoring the lower case to make sure that a “b” for example wouldn’t be mistaken for a six in future. I backed up the wallet recovery file somewhere secure.

Once set up I bought a Bitcoin from Dan Howitt in the office next door. Dan’s business is Bitcoin – check out his post on the recent HMRC VAT announcement here. Dan transferred one Bitcoin, priced at £292 (E352) to my Bitcoin wallet and sent me an invoice. I then sent Dan’s business the cash via internet bank xfer. We were both happy.

The acquisition process was not as simple as one might imagine but when you think of it if you buy foreign currency you usually hand over cash one way or another in exchange for travellers cheques or notes. It isn’t usually a purely electronic transaction. Also I think that not having a direct link with a bank account is a good thing here considering the nature of the beast.

There is a Blockchain Android App that allows you to carry your wallet on your phone. I looked at this but couldn’t really see how this was different to providing my email address – it asks you for all sorts of access permissions and Android in my mind is not that secure. See the screenshot.

So now I have a Bitcoin. Bought at £292 it is apparently worth £296 as I write. Well on the way to that holiday in Barbados. This is an experiment. I’m along for the ride and we shall see where it goes (probably not Barbados). When there is enough data I’ll stick regularly updated tracker on the site so that you can see whether it is Barbados, Skegness or stay at home:)

The Android tracker is from the Bitstamp Widget from the Google Play Store. You can see there has been a swing of $20 over the last 24 hours. No different to playing the stock market really. It’s all a roll of the dice.

So I have a Bitcoin. It is accompanied by paranoia about security but we are talking cash here and we have already seen examples of Bitcoins have gone missing  (MtGox) so I don’t think the paranoia is unwarranted.

If anyone has personal Bitcoin stories feel free to share.

Ciao amigos…

Apps End User mobile apps

DroidBeat Synth

Ambitions come and go, and they generally tend to go unfulfilled as a sense of reality creeps up as you mature. Of course, the dreams are still there, though you do have to alter them accordingly. I’ll no longer be a 100m world record holder, but in theory I could be the world darts champion. I’m never going to present the Radio 1 breakfast show, but I understand that community radio is a much more creative experience than being required to play Rihanna on a loop (although less popular).


Since I first knew there was a top 40 music chart I have wanted to have a Number One hit. My brilliantly named first band, The Streaky Boneheads, was formed in drama class at school, and because we had no instruments we mimed them and our visions were big. Naturally, the band split as we parted ways into employment and further education. The Number One ambition still gnaws away at me, though, and with bands having come and gone I now resort to ideas for novelty records, something that annoys most music lovers but that a a fad has the potential to grab the attention of the few thousand people needed to become a Number One recording artist in 2014.

Given a spare ten minutes I can be found sprawling over, downloading, experimenting with, and quickly uninstalling, some app or other that may or may not be the key to producing a chart topper. This habit is what led me to the Google Play Algorithm that suggested I try DroidBeat Synth. The product had good feedback so I gave it a spin.


To quote the late, great, Factory Records genius, Tony Wilson, what I got out of DroidBeat Synth was “like listening to a headache”. Droidbeat describes itself as a simple open source app, so with the right programming and patience I’m sure that someone could engineer the existing sounds into something preferable, like the scratching of nails down a blackboard. It’s not for me, though, as I’m very much the end user – a want-to-push-a-button-to-play-the-drums kind of musician.

DroidBeat Synth is significant for me, though, as its the first time in two years of regular app installation that I have seen the screen at the left.

They don’t want anything from me, and I find that very refreshing. Even so, I got rid of the app and now I’m  off to get The Streaky Boneheads back together for a comeback tour of pubs with good dartboards. Wish us luck!

Paul Tyler presents Lincoln A to Z on Siren FM


Apps End User Mobile mobile apps phones UC video voip

A Chatty Kory

Who among the teeming throng hasn’t at some point or another had the thought, “Instant Messaging sure is a marvelous thing…no idea what I’d do without it…but really, by this point shouldn’t I be able to seamlessly carry on an IM conversation via Yahoo! Messenger with a contact using Google Talk? Or AOL AIM? Skype? And vice-versa? And do I really need to subscribe to all of these services – and lest I forget to mention Windows Live Messenger, Facebook Chat, Twitter, and so many others — to ensure real-time IM reachability?”

Yes, that is one large mouthful of a thought, but it should be easy enough to chew and swallow.

Numerous times over the past 15+ years the effort has been made to establish a unified standard for Internet-based instant messaging, and all of these efforts have thus far come to naught. Entrenched proprietary protocols die hard, after all, and with such integrated services as IP telephony, video conferencing, desktop sharing, and file transfer thrown into the IM provider mix (to name but a few) the potential for absolute and utter world communication dominance is such that no one major player is ever likely to champion a true standardization. No, “the greater good” will never be enough of a reason to hasten such a sea change. Instead, it will require either (1) a scenario in which instigating such a protocol will benefit all parties, (2) an irresistible push/pull prompted by a powerful outside party (government?), or (3) good old-fashioned fish-eat-smaller-fish empire building.

A Chatty KoryNow to be fair, there is some light in the sky these days regarding inter-network IM capability. For instance, with Yahoo Messenger you can add and communicate with contacts using Windows Live™ Messenger, and you can add your AOL AIM contacts into Google Talk. Such functionalities, however, are the result of agreements reached between the networks, agreements in which a bridging of two (or more) proprietary protocols has been put in place not to open communication up but to simply extend one IM provider’s boundaries to include those within another’s.