End User phones

A postcard from Newark

I quite like the title “A postcard from Timico”. It suggests destination, travel, communications even which is quite appropriate in our case. The reality is often different. It could be a reminder to book your dental appointment! Yuk.

On this occasion it is merely a  clever ruse to entice you to read this blog post which in actual fact is simply about the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the fact that it has a really cool feature that allows you to take photos using both cameras simultaneously (at the same time).

The simple things in life eh? Postcard below shows my face on a stamp – it’s the only way it’s going to happen:) The beautiful view is across the car park to the ball bearing factory (or some similar industrial manufacturing plant) and beyond to the rooftops of our fair town of Newark.

postcard from Timico

End User phones

Samsung Galaxy S4 compared with Galaxy S3 – #review #SGS4

Galaxy S3 side on compared with an S4I have a new phone. It is a Samsung Galaxy S4. It is a good phone. My previous phone was a Samsung Galaxy S3. That was a good phone too. The Samsung Galaxy S4 is better than the Samsung Galaxy S3.

My initial diagnosis was that the two phones are not a million miles apart and in fact I preferred the feel of the S3 with its rounded rear edges. However as I play with the S4 a bit more and check out some of the new features that have been pitched I’m starting to think that there is a lot of good stuff in here that is new.

What’s better about the S4? The speed of response seems to be better. With the S3 I sometimes find myself waiting for images to load, icons to reappear on the screen.  Haven’t seen this so far. Also Tweetdeck quite often takes some time to load with the S3 but not with the S4. This could just be down to the fact that there is a lot more stuff on the S3, it being an older phone but I don’t think so – all the apps have moved over nicely.

The other pleasing thing is that all the wifi credentials have moved across and I had no trouble in getting online at home, office and out and about over the weekend using various public networks. I did have to reenter some password details for specific apps such as Facebook but once per phone doesn’t seem unreasonable.

The screen on the S4 is bigger & uses up more of the available space. If you can why not? However I wouldn’t say that the screen needed to be any bigger than the one on the S3 so this is a hmm ok nice to have but not a huge deal. I will say though that the camera is better with more pixels 13M vs 8M. Although this does result in larger jpg sizes – up to 4.5MB so far who cares.

One highly published feature of the S4 is the fact that when you look away when watching a video the video pauses. This works really well for video stored on the phone itself. It did also work when watching YouTube using the YouTube Android App though it wasn’t quite as responsive with having to manage video online. All in all I found this “video pausing” feature to be pretty cool and think it might be useful.

The gesture recognising capability also works and is cool. I can answer the phone with just a wave of the hand. I think with will be useful – if you are tapping away at your laptop and the phone rings you just wave your hand over it and it automatically answers with the speakerphone on. This also works if I just say “answer” though I’ve had to repeat it several times when I’ve tried it.

The phone also makes calls when you hold it up to your ear though I’m not sure that’s specific to the S4.

Scrolling up and down web pages also works well with a gesture (picture the ad “simply wave your hand up and down the screen and hey presto, it scrolls”) in the demo/test in “settings” but I don’t seem to have much success with that “in anger”.

I’ve seen some comments re build quality of the case and the fact that the plastic feels “plasticky” if I can put it like that. It feels ok to me though the S3, which I’ve said I prefer the feel of is starting to show quality issues with the back cover that no longer sits totally flush on the rest of the phone. I also had a number of problems early on with the S3 not charging and needing to be replaced. Hopefully it won’t be the same with the S4. So far so good anyway.

On balance if I was looking for a new phone I’d buy the Galaxy S4. I’m not sure I’d be rushing to upgrade from an S3 before the end of my contract.

Pics for perusal below. I trust you like the arty nature of the phones taking pictures of phones taking pictures of phones…

Samsung Galaxy s3 and s4 side by side

Samsung Galaxy S4 taken by Galaxy S3Samsung Galaxy S3 taken by Galaxy S4

Galaxy S4 on top of a Galaxy S3

End User phones

This iPhone is dead

dead iPhone 4S
This iPhone is deceased, dead, non-functional, lifeless, no longer functional, not of this world, sent its last packet, kaput, a gonner, calls no more, textless, will not switch on, pushing up Apple seedlings.

Wife dropped her iPhone last night. It no longer works. I have mobile phone insurance with my Lloyds Bank account but it is a time consuming process. I entered all the data online but they wanted me to print a local copy, sign it and send it in the post. They do promise a quick turnaround for a decision – 1 working day – but I will then have to wait for them to send me the wherewithal to send the phone off for them to decide whether it can be repaired. The turnaround for this is said to be 5 working days from receipt of the phone.

All in all I can’t see her getting a new phone inside 2 weeks. She is a Timico customer and Timico could deliver her a new handset within 24 hours, or I could even pick it up from stores and take it home. However that is not how my personal insurance works.

When I made the claim I went through the online banking’s two stage authentication to access the portal. Everything bar the proof of purchase was entered online & I could easily have uploaded a PDF of the contract when filling out their forms. It’s hard to see what additional value my signing the form offers when one considers the delay that the process introduces into the system. The credentials for logging into the portal are known only to me and are just as good a contractual validation of my claim as my signature, which could easily be faked anyway if someone really wanted to do it.

So now we wait…

PS in the meantime she has been forced to borrow my Nokia Lumia 920 which I suggested with trepidation. It isn’t going to be particularly easy for someone who is used to the iPhone to adjust to the less good UI of the Nokia but she was desperate – texts are her communications lifeblood and that is the only other phone I have. Ah well!

Apps End User mobile connectivity peering phones

Google Now wow

googlenowGoodness gracious me it’s the 12th of April already. We are nearly a third of the way through the year #wosthatallabout? Fortunately the worst bit is over, weatherwise, supposedly. Those that have survived the winter are clearing out their nests in anticipation of a new season of renewal and growth etc etc etc.

Today I have a bunch of conference calls and am working from my home office. Looking out onto my back garden the birds are gathering new nesting materials. Nice.

I just popped down to the station to pick up a bunch of train tickets bought in advance to get the best deal (coz I’m tight) and noticed something eerie on my phone. Google Now not only told me the weather at Lincoln train station but also at Schipol Airport and in Hamburg.

googlenowI can already hear the “so what”s and the “get to the point”s. The fact is I am traveling to Hamburg tomorrow via Amsterdam Schipol for the 22nd Euro IX Forum. It’s in my calendar. Google Now saw this and told me what it thought I wanted to know.

Well it is absolutely right. I did want to know the weather at my destination because I have been wondering what to wear. Those who know me will realise that this is somewhat unusual for me but we have been suffering from “brass monkeys” weather and how am I to know that it isn’t just the retribution of a merciless god on a heathen population. The same powerful being might have had a different attitude towards the Germans who have been very generously propping up the Euro for a substantial chunk of mainland Europe, as well as the occasional paradise isle. No point in me turning up in Germany in my thermals if shorts would be more suitable.

As it happens it looks like the weather is going to be the same in Hamburg as it is in Lincoln Station so the Germans must also have done something wrong. Hah!

So for me Google Now, right now is looking quite useful. I like the way that it tells me how long it would take me to drive home from wherever I am at any particular time in the same way that in the morning it tells me how long my drive to work is going to be. It also seems to vary its output based on traffic conditions.

It’s pretty cool. At this point in time I’m not worrying about the fact that it knows quite a bit about me though that is something I will have to keep an eye on. The fact that I can switch Google Now off doesn’t make much difference here because probably all that is doing is switching off the display mechanism and not the actual gathering of the data itself. I dunno.

Anyway I’ll keep you posted on my progress in Hamburg. Look out for a post on the world’s biggest model railway. Oh and there’s Euro-IX of course. A gathering of the world’s finest internet exchanges which I will be attending as a director of LONAP. I will report back.

Ciao baby.

Business mobile connectivity phones

year on year blog stats show huge growth in mobile users

Interesting to see how readership of this blog has changed year on year.

In March 12012 only 12% of visits came from mobile devices. By March 2013 the figure was 35.5%. The number of visitors to the blog has also grown by 88% year on year (March 2012 – March 20131) so the actual real terms increase in readers accessing via a mobile device has increased by 458%.

I note that in 2012 the iPad was the most popular device followed by the iPhone and the SGS2. In 2013 this has changed to iPhone/iPad/SGS3 though there are so many variants of Samsung phones in use that if you add them all up the numbers for Android are roughly the same as for iOS.

There were very few visits from the Nokia Lumia series and none from the Blackberry Z10.

1 year on year for the full year numbers to the end of March have grown from 110k to 220k visits fwiw. It is only a small property as blogs go.

End User mobile connectivity phones

Samsung Galaxy S4 launch – exclusive

Apparently today’s the day. The Samsung Galaxy S4 launch. A quick Google for “galaxy s4 release date” produces about 29,400,000 results. Lots of people writing stuff, trying to get on the bandwagon, attract traffic to their site. Dirty attention seekers! Bet they carry advertising :).

Regular readers will know I am a Samsung Galaxy S3 fan. It is a good phone. I have been trying out the Nokia Lumia 920 but it doesn’t really cut it. It isn’t that it is a bad phone. It’s just that its User Interface isn’t as good as the Galaxy.

My concern, and this isn’t particularly a big deal, is that the Galaxy S4 will just be an increment on the S3 in the same way that the iPhone 5 is just a small evolution from the iPhone 4. We will find out soon enough.

These gadgets are getting so good that we expect each new one to be a huge leap forward from the previous. One wonders1 how much further evolution there is in the smart phone.

That’s all. Just on my way to the Information Commissioner’s Office Technology Reference Panel meeting at the British Computer Society.

No such thing as a free launch.


1 I don’t really – just thought I’d say that.

Apps End User mobile apps phones

Nokia Lumia 920, Windows 8 compared to the Samsung Galaxy S3 when using social media

 windows phone 8 screenshotsMy next observation on my play with the Lumia 920 relates to the user interface. It’s a very smooth phone for moving around mechanically. A swipe of the finger take you to another relevant screen – more so than the S3 which feels as if you have to return to the main screen more often.

I use Tweetdeck on the GalaxyS3. Since using the Lumia 920 I’ve grown to realise the things that are particularly good about Tweetdeck.

Tweetdeck lets me easily move between my stream, mentions and DMs and when I read a tweet it shows the conversation trail.

The Nokia Lumia 920 is organised differently and I’ve not found it easy to remember my way around. The tweet stream is shown in “People” but my own tweets and mentions are shown in “Me” which is a completely different tile. I can’t therefore flick easily between them as I can with Tweetdeck.

Tweetdeck doesn’t seem to be supported on Windows 8 yet.

The same me/people split seems to apply for Facebook. The concept is good but the reality is that I personally want to look at all my Twitter stuff in one place and all Facebook in another. Ok so I can just use Twitter directly using the browser. I sometimes have to do this even when I am using Tweetdeck – Tweetdeck doesn’t let me easily see who is following me & who I am following.

Perhaps where I am getting to is that everyone has their own preference for UI and the Lumia 920 / Windows 8 is being constantly relegated to second choice whilst I have the Galaxy S3 as an option.

I’m not giving up though. The Office suite is more important for work that is all this social media stuff and that may be where the Lumia 920 finds it’s niche. It’s probably not where Microsoft and Nokia want it to be though. More in good time…

End User phones

Nokia Lumia 920 camera compared with Samsung Galaxy S3

snow on railway lines taken with Nokia Lumia 920I’m not going to go into a detailed comparison/review of the Nokia Lumia 920 camera compared with Samsung Galaxy S3 camera but I will share a few observations.

First two photos:

Alex Whitworth taken with Lumia 920Alex Whitworth taken by Galaxy S3






The one on the left was taken with the Nokia Lumia 920 and the one on the right with the Samsung Galaxy S3. I have no complaints about the photo quality of either camera but you do have to say that they look different. They were both taken at the same time – the Lumia in my left hand and the S3 in my right. I personally think the Galaxy S3 looks more natural.

The  S3 camera definitely has more functionality out of the box. For example panorama mode is an additional app download for the Nokia and the S3 has far more variables that can be modified in its settings. Having said that I guess the Nokia stance is that the simpler the camera, ie the fewer settings you have to play with, the less likely things are to go wrong.

I don’t feel that the increased functionality of the S3 has been detrimental to my photo taking though. The Lumia 920 is a lot faster in bringing up a photo on screen once you have taken the picture. It’s just a sideways swipe of the finger. I’m wondering whether the reaction time of the S3 is because I’ve got a lot more running on it. It’s something I’ve begun to notice recently. Both camera apps  take the same amount of time to fire up which is important because I often find myself wanting to take a quick photo of something – Lancaster bomber flying by etc1.

The header photo is “snow on the line at Newark Northgate train station” taken with the Nokia. You will be relieved to know that this light dusting was not enough to cause railway chaos though it did mean we were slightly late into Kings Cross as the driver was taking a tad more care than he normally would – good to know we were in safe hands. Arrive alive and all that!

Alex Whitworth, the model shown sitting down is one of our excellent product managers. Which photo do you prefer? The people shall have their say!

1 I should point out that I don’t often take photos of low flying Lancaster bombers. I was merely using that situation as an illustration of the kind of scenario that demands quick reaction time with the camera. I could have used a low flying spitfire as an alternative. That of course would have required even faster reaction time being a fighter and therefore designed for speed and agility instead of bomb carrying capacity and range.

End User phones

A stroll through the Lincolnshire countryside with Nokia Lumia 920 and Samsung Galaxy S3

Drive Carefully Sign at North GreetwellI’m just doing a lot of work with Microsoft Windows 8 at the moment and am running it on the desktop and on the Nokia Lumia 920. It is taking me a while to get into the OS but it is going to be on the menu on for the next few weeks.

I am also going to be comparing Windows8 with the Google ecosystem – Chrome and Android. This isn’t one big post or article. It’s a series of bite sized chunks discussing specific aspects. I think this whole subject area is important because I see the business customer base polarising between the two. It might take some time for this to be totally apparent but it is happening.

It’s a cloud versus mobility versus desktop play. Whoever gets the mix right will take the top spot and by definition, money. Apple isn’t in this business centric game other than a boutique player.

Nokia Lumia 920 mapsgoogle maps on Samsung Galaxy S3In playing with Windows Phone 8 (or whatever it is specifically called) – I am using the Nokia Lumia 920. Some of my comments may be specific to Nokia rather than Microsoft but for simplification I am going to assume that they are one and the same.

The first opportunity I had to compare the two was last Saturday when my beloved wife and I decided to go for a stroll through the (bitterly cold) flatlands of Lincolnshire. We settled on a walk to the Cherry Tree Cafe, a renowned purveyor of hot drinks and home made cuisine in Sudbrooke.

To figure out how far it was to walk and how long it would take I used Google Maps. 3.5 miles and one hour five minutes. Perfect. We could get there for a cup of tea, walk back and I would be able to sit down and watch Wales wallop Ireland at the rugby. As a cross check I did the same with the Nokia Lumia 920. The answer I got was a slightly longer 3.6 miles but giving me an elapsed time of one hour thirty seven minutes. Oo I thought.

The walk actually took bang on one hour five minutes – it would have been less had my wife who is a bit of a racing ferret not had me in tow slowing her down.

Now it may be that Nokia assumes a slightly older and less mobile demographic as its main customer base but this isn’t a good start. The error of half an hour represented around 50% delta in actual time taken. Not much use if you rely on a service to plan journey times. That’s all for now.

PS note the header photo was a sign we passed in the village of North Greetwell. It should read North Greetwell, Please drive carefully through our village!

PPS Each phone photo taken with the other – review of cameras to follow soon.

End User phones

Nokia Lumia920 dead on arrival #Windows8 day


I’m having a Windows8 day. This means I’ve backed up my laptop and flattened it to install Windows8 Professional.

I tried installing Windows8 & keeping my files last week. After a whole afternoon in which Windows8 “checked my programs for compatibility”, advised me which ones wouldn’t work or were not supported and then went through a whole rigmarole including several restarts only to find at going home time that the install had failed and the PC was restoring Windows7.

I parked it until today and have gone for the complete reinstall. All in all this took a couple of hours including creating a new Microsoft account. I used to have [email protected] but I haven’t used it for years, lost the password and I think at some stage Microsoft might have locked it. Anyway I now have a new one – surprisingly enough [email protected] was already taken:)

In tandem with all this I started up my new Nokia Lumia 920, fully charged last night and ready to rock and roll. Except it isn’t.  An hour into the setup it stopped working. Dead. No life at all. This isn’t a phone you can take the battery out of and put it back in to see what happens. The battery is not removable. Putting in the charger had no effect. It is an ex phone.

The Nokia Lumia 920 has been sent back whence it came. Not a good start. I have another charging up. This is a shame because I have a feeling that, availability of apps aside, the combination of Windows8 desktop and mobile is going to be good.

There are two other issues to consider. Windows8 is very different to everything I have seen before. It’s going to take a while to learn its foibles. The first feel though is that one the intricacies have been sorted it will be fine but this will be a subject for another post in a week or two.

The other issue is disk space. I backed up my Windows7 laptop to a 2Terabyte hard drive. I had around 60Gigs free on the laptop at the time. Restoring the data from the backup is a problem. I have run out of disk space before the job has been finished. I can’t imagine that Windows 8 is 60GB bigger than Windows 7 so something needs sorting out. At the time of writing I haven’t had time to do this.

I took some photos of the Lumia before sending it back. I’ll need to get them off the phone via Google+ for the moment. That brings me to another point. With this Windows8 setup I want to be an all Microsoft user. This means not using Chrome. I’m not sure whether that will work for me but we shall see. I’ll have to switch to SkyDrive for backups and whatever other “apps” that Microsoft brings to the party. I think it’s going to be a tough week or two getting settled with Windows8.

This is the plan. All stuff relating to [email protected] is going to be just Microsoft and all [email protected] stuff is going to be just Google. I’m waiting for the touchscreen Chromebook to come out but may have to bite the bullet before hand.

When I announced this morning on twitter that today was Windows8 day all I got was sympathy. I have to say that so far the sympathy has been justified but I am going to persevere. The biggest issue for Microsoft is whether the general public will persevere. I guess if all new PCs are shipped with Windows8 then eventually people will have no choice but to run with it. I don’t think it is going to go down too well in the corporate world if my own experience is anything to go by.

Watch this space


End User phones

BlackBerry Z10 smartphone comparison with Samsung Galaxy S3 and iPhone

trefor with blackberry10We have a BlackBerry 10 and have put it through some rudimentary comparisons with the Samsung Galaxy S3 and iPhone 4s1. The iPhone5 may perform differently but I don’t think it hugely matters as the comparisons are not particularly scientific.


  • iPhone4s 38seconds
  • BlackBerry10 79 seconds
  • Samsung Galaxy S3 26 seconds

Galaxy S3 wins hands down but reality is that most people keep their phones on 24×7 and the BlackBerry has to perform a handshake with the BlackBerry Enterprise server so it is no wonder it takes longer. This test is therefore probably not hugely relevant but seeing as we had done it I’m not going to waste the info.

At this point the iPhone4s left the room and we continued testing:

Web browsing

BlackBerry10 ZThe BlackBerry10  is supposed to major on speed of web access and this would appear to be the case. We tested the BB10 versus the SGS3 on two websites. Initially we chose a random site – speciality fasteners and screws – you know it makes sense. Both devices loaded this site in around 6 seconds though there is a lot of room for error in the measurement with this method – clicking on start buttons on timers and also trying to ensure that both of us did it simultaneously on two devices.

We moved on to which gave us a reading as to the speed of our web access – at least for html5. For good measure we also threw in Google chrome running on my laptop.

  • BlackBerry10 485
  • Samsung Galaxy S3 390
  • Chrome on Windows7 448

Higher is better here so at first glance, and with only a small set of comparison points BB10 is, as it claims to be, a fast device for accessing tinterweb.

Couple of videos for your delight and delectation. Firstly Timico Engineer Dean Asher talking about his first impressions of the BB10 which are very good.

The second vid is Dean showing off BlackBerry Flow which does seem to have some very nifty features in allowing you to switch between applications.

All in all the BlackBerry10 is likely to be a device that corporate IT managers can give to their staff that won’t make them complain about its functionality. To a large extent it is going to be all about the timely availability of apps. Time will tell whether the BB10 turns around RIM’s fortunes but it looks like it could give them a sporting chance.

1 I couldn’t find an iPhone5 around the office and not being an Apple fan I don’t care if someone comes along whinging saying that the iPhone5 is much better than the iPhone4s. iPhone5 sales are disappointing the markets anyway and it’s no wonder I couldn’t find anyone with one 😉

End User phones

Android, Windows 8 – Windows 8, Android – just like that!

Samsung Windows8 and Android phonesCars always seem to look the same these days don’t they? That’s because they are all designed with optimum aerodynamic efficiency in mind. The result is a bit boring by and large and very challenging for an advertising industry that has to resort to increasingly off the wall ideas to differentiate their client’s product.

The mobile handset industry has to some extent evolved along similar lines. After years of trial and error there are only a few mechanical designs that make sense, notwithstanding the fact that manufacturers keep suing each other for copying their rounded edge or single button.

Here are two Samsung phones. Clearly one is Windows8 and one is Android. The only real differentiation is in the software running on them. The time can’t be so far off when all phones are pretty much the same, probably made in the same factories and with well established software and from a few global players. The applications sets will be pretty much identical on each platform.

All that will be left will be the challenge of how to differentiate one phone from the other – the pitch for cool factor. I was at a meeting yesterday where one presenter was clearly an Apple and Facebook enthusiast. I am not. I don’t trust either organisation. I am a Google and Twitter fan.

There is no real reason why I should trust Google and Twitter any more than Apple and Facebook or even Microsoft for that matter. They are all after my money one way or another.

So that’s it. The future of the mobile phone. I’d like go fast stripes on mine please…

End User phones

The mobile OS landscape in 2013 #Android, #iOS,#WindowsPhone8,#Ubuntu,#Mozilla,#Tizen

Trefor DaviesI have yet again looked up and this time noticed new stirrings in the mobile world in 2013. We have the usual Android v iOS battles but there are skirmishes at the outer extremities of the mobile universe that we will be able to watch from the comfort of our armchairs and 24×7 media coverage.

First of all the fight for the number 3 mobile OS position. We have all been watching with interest to see if Microsoft can get anywhere. They have spent a lot of money on Windows Phone 8. I have typically poopooed1 Microsoft’s chances especially as there seem to have been a lot of negative reviews for Windows 8 at the desktop. However the Davies family is currently testing Windows 8 on a laptop at home and the first reports are very positive. If further analysis supports this diagnosis then the prognosis could be quite rosy. Microsoft would have to work very hard to get beyond #3 but they have the stamina to play a long game.

Next up is RIM. I have long since written off RIM but I have heard nothing but good about the BlackBerry10 and I actually get to lay my hands on one next week in advance of the launch. This comes with reams of pages of NDA but hands I will indeed lay on (it). The stakes for RIM are massive. Whilst Microsoft has many irons in the fire RIM’s shirt only has BlackBerry written on it and it is very much on the table.

Then we have the new kids on the block. You might think that the block ain’t big enough to accommodate a new kid but these kids come with some attitude2. There’s the Ubuntu for mobile due, we hear in 2014. Building upon an Android base, if Ubuntu for mobile gets attention from the global open source community it could become a real force to be recognised.

Mozilla have announced their intention to move into the mobile OS space with a pitch for standardisation and true portability of apps without being locked in. Then there’s Samsung’s Linux based Tizen. Samsung, if you believe the word on the web, is looking to reduce its reliance on Google and has become a Platinum member of the Linux Foundation with a bung of $500k.

All in all it is going to make for an interesting couple of years ahead. In my mind I was thinking consolidation of the mobile OS market but this is pointing at fragmentation. Whether the new contenders get anywhere beyond throwing the occasional punch remains to be seen but we will all have ringside seats for the big fight3.

That’s all for now. Have a great weekend 🙂 I’ll let you know how we get on with BlackBerry10 and Windows 8. TTFN.

1 doesn’t really look like a word when you see it in print does it but I couldn’t be bothered to think of an alternative and it is in general use.

2 I’m sorry this language is getting even more flowery than normal but it is 4.30 on a Friday afternoon and the chances of anyone reading it are rapidly reducing

3 OK that’s it I promise. I’m off.

PS My New Years resolution is henceforth to not use so many cliches in posts in 2013.

Cloud End User phones

External SD card or no external SD card – Google Nexus4

Trefor DaviesJust scanned through a review of the Google Nexus 4 Android handset in the Grauniad. One of the things that caught my attention was the decision to not support an external SD card. Apple has lead the way with doing away with SD cards on the basis that they wanted everyone to do everything through the cloud.

The argument for a removable drive is that you can easily move data on and off the handset. My Galaxy S3 does support an external (micro) SD card but I have to say the only time I ever remove it is when I change handsets which, repair jobs aside, is less frequent than once a year.

Proponents of removable storage also remind us that we are using more and more space for photos and games. The former is certainly true for me but my needs would be accommodated with a large enough internal storage in the first place. What currently happens is that I run out of space on the phone (say) and have to adjust the settings to save media to the SD card which is a manual step that should be unnecessary.

All my pics are automatically backed up the the cloud using Instant Upload over WiFi. Once Instant Upload has done its stuff I then also shift them off the phone via USB to my laptop and once a month (ish) back up to one or two external hard drives. I’m not sure I’ll ever rely totally on the cloud for the backup.

So on balance I agree that we no longer need to support external SD cards as long as the phone itself has a suitably large capacity in the first place which, considering the low cost of memory, should not be difficult. Any growth in storage usage is likely to be down to a change in habits that accompany the use of a new handset so I can’t see that running out of space should be a problem – just make sure you have enough from the off.

Whaddaya think?

Engineer phones

kiss goodbye to the set top box – Android Stick

Trefor DaviesI think I’ve been burying my head in the sand as I have only just noticed Android thumb drives. Following on from my earlier post on low cost Android tablets 2013 could well be the year you kiss goodbye to your set top box, if you had one in the first place. Mini thumb drives loaded with Android and with a HDMI interface for plugging into your TV are the way ahead. They are sourced from China for around £32 including delivery!

Running with Android allows you to download apps from the Google Play Store which means you can, in theory use the drive to run BBC iPlayer, Netflix or any other media service service. You can also insert a micro SD card with some of your favourite1 movies or music for locally sourced content. These drives support WiFi for internet access and you can either plug in a USB keyboard or use wireless access to control it.

It’s everything you can do using the RaspBerryPi but without having to learn to programme or sysadmin. If you use an external powered  USB hub you can plug in some extras and, for example, use a webcam for video chats.

I’m going to get one and check it out. The only problem I can forsee is that we only have one telly at home. This is already called upon by two boys competing for XBox time and my wife who wants to watch every cookery programme on the planet. Also I don’t really watch that much TV but hey… It’s got to be done I think. It’s a cheap way of hooking your TV up to the internet.

The next problem is which one to buy – Amazon has 840 results for “Android Stick”. Any suggestions duly noted.


1 I think I’m starting to sound like a cheesy TV advert here!

End User phones

7″ Android tablets for $40! How low can they go?

Trefor DaviesMany moons ago when 10BaseT still trod the plains of Shenzhen and ATM was still just about available at the desktop I worked for GEC developing Ethernet physical interface components. On a number of occasions I visited our manufacturing customers in Taiwan to discuss specifications & show off new products etc.

What struck me about the high volume consumer electronics market that we were selling into was the total lack of secrecy in the game. Who was paying what for which component was know to the cent and if a new and cheaper alternative became available then the old part could be designed out in two weeks. It was all about cost, cost, cost.

As is massively obvious to us all this world has continued to move on. The days of discrete Ethernet components have long gone and everything is now very much system on a chip. You really need very little technical nous to put together new electronic gadgets and products these days. Reference designs do it all for you.

At the bleeding edge most of the differentiation is in software and the ease of its use: hardware specs are pretty similar and the battleground is in iOS, Android, Windows8 and “cloud”services.

At the trailing edge, and specifications seem to move to this space very quickly, it is still very much about cost. Much of what you hear is the high profile publicity pushed out by the tech giants – Samsung Chromebook £229, Googe Nexus 7 tablet running Android 4.1 (Jellybean) for £218, iPad mini £269 (expensivo), Kindle fire HD £159. I realise these probably don’t fit into “trailing edge” but they are cut down versions of the headline product or cheaper equivalents.

At the seriously low end there are some amazingly cheap me too products around that are probably seriously work taking a punt at. Check out They have 7″ Android tablets selling as low as $40.89 – that’s roughly twenty five quid. it isn’t difficult to envisage having a few of those scattered around your house for when you want to check what’s on TV, the weather, train times etc etc. At that price the tab doesn’t even have to last that long. If it breaks chuck it away and get another one, probably even more cheaply. The performance needed out of these devices doesn’t have to be highly specced.

Although we all live in a consumer world some of us also operate in business. It is clear that the business world will also move to the point where the hardware is totally incidental and that companies will run on a set of integrated services defined according to the needs of their particular industry or market.

If I was starting a business from scratch today I doubt that I would set out to physically own any software. I might not even provide staff with hardware – they could use their own, cheaply sourced and probably more up to date than anything I would provide.  I would concentrate on the service set that I needed together with establishing an appropriate level of security so that my business could not be compromised.

The one thing that does differentiate the needs of business and consumer is the level of service received. As a consumer if I lose my phone or my broadband gets cut off its a pain but I’ll live with it for a while. If this happens in business it is likely to cost me hard cash and so I want to be able to call someone for help as quickly as possible.

2013 is shaping up to be an exciting year in the tech world. It’s going to be a fun place to be but I will start the year with  a slightly more serious end to a post. If you are in business you are going to need a reliable partner that can provide you with communications service levels that will help and not hinder your plans. Check us out here and give me a shout if you have any specific needs or questions.

Happy New Year 🙂

PS Oh and let me know if you have bought one of these cheap Android tabs & what the experience was like.

End User phones

Who needs a mobile phone?

sometime in the future in a far away GalaxyS3Mankind is evolving. We are getting taller (and fatter) and our right hands are changing to the shape of our mobile phones. The mobile phone is becoming physically a part of us. We are glued to it.

It is only a matter of time before the bio engineered phone is invented and this will eventually become part of our genetic make up with every new born child having a built in device capable of sending messages and allowing you to talk to people over long distances.

It’s going to be a strange world. One where it will be quite normal to see people holding their empty hand to their faces and taking into it – perhaps in the same way that you or I might hold our hand up to shout to someone in the distance.

Before long we will communicate in instant messages by dictating the note into the palm of your hand and saying “send” (or “go” – whatever you like 🙂 ).

Near Field Communications built into our “hands” will meant that entire brain memory sets could be transferred simply by touching palms with another person. We will have to be careful when shaking hands or giving high fives not to accidentally take on a virus or transfer stuff out that we didn’t want others to see. A mental firewall will be required.

Educating children will be easy, a simple download. Education will evolve to focus on physical and social skills because the academic side of it will all be automated. This will in time solve the obesity problem that developed over the millennia.

Particularly bright kids will get involved in research projects that will solve all conflict, create enduring world peace and finally explore the galaxy spreading the word to far away civilizations that today only exist in the first thousand Star Wars movies.

I expect you’re all wondering what on earth I’m going on about. Me too.  I went to the Newark 1 Business Awards last night, and forgot to take my intergalactic communicator. At first I was annoyed with myself. That feeling turned to resignation and then liberation and without twitter/email/facebook/sms  I proceeded to  spend a very enjoyable evening being witty2 and engaging and attentive and contributing to the overall convivial atmosphere of our table.

My world did not stop. Who needs a mobile phone?

1 in Newark 🙂

2 well I thought I was!

End User phones

Most popular blog posts

Samsung Galaxy S3 seen next to a Samsung Galaxy S2The most popular blog posts at the moment are those talking about problems with the Samsung Galaxy S3. In the last month I’ve had just under 7,000 page views of the “Galaxy S3 not charging” posts here and here (in order of popularity) and over 4,600 views of the “problem with headset socket on Galaxy S3” post. That last post has had over 14,000 views since it was written (as an aside it’s surpassed only by the “how to bypass Pirate Bay filters” post which has had over 18,000 views).

That’s a lot of problem phones out there.

End User phones

Looking forward to getting my Samsung Galaxy S3 back

Sandown Park panorama taken with Samsung Galaxy S3Quick brain dump. I’ve been using the HTC One S for just over a week now. You may recall I’ve had to send the Samsung Galaxy S3 off for a new screen.

The keyboard keys on the One S are smaller than I’m used to and I have to be very careful when typing things in not to get it completely wrong. The User Interface seems not to be quite as slick – more button presses than required for the S3. This might be totally wrong and I don’t have a specific example, particularly as I haven’t got both phones side by side to compare, but that’s what it feels right.

The smaller form factor of the One S is good except that it means that things are smaller on screen (ref keyboard above). I also like the “ring pull” feature you use to activate the screen but this in itself is not a major reason to buy.

I guess the One S must be cheaper than the S3 which is probably how it is positioned and sold and in reality it does have a great many of the benefits of Android ICS. The One S doesn’t have an SD card slot so I haven’t swapped my music across although I suppose I could have done it via cable – it does have 32GB on-board memory. I don’t listen to music often enough for me to have bothered.

Also I don’t like the zoom function on the camera. “pinching” the screen doesn’t work. You have to use the +/- slider to zoom in and out. The One S doesn’t seem to have the panorama feature though the burst mode of the S3 is there by default – you just hold the shutter button down and it just happens. The header photo is reused from a previous post – notionally to show off the panorama feature of the S3 but in reality so that I can “pin” the blog on Pinterest – it won’t let you do it without a photo (yes I know I’m a tart).

I don’t know whether these features also apply to the HTC One X but I’m not going to find out. Bring back my Galaxy S3 – as soon as possible – I will try and be more careful with you in future (strokes an imaginary phone lovingly) 🙂

That’s all folks…

PS I realise I have to be careful here. I don’t want to appear too much like an Apple fanboi. Samsung fanboi? Nah.

PPS this post is for Jonathan – he will understand.

End User phones

iOS5 versus iOS6

An apple - grown in my back garden at homeOk lads and lasses. My wife has an iPhone4S. Should she upgrade it to iOS6? Pros and cons? Answers on a postcard or in the comment box.

PS she is desperate to have a navigational tool in her car. This should be a consideration in the discussion.

broken gear End User phones

Galaxy S3 mended under warranty – faulty USB socket

Y’all will recall that I had to send my GalaxyS3 back because it wasn’t charging. Well I’ve got it back and they have mended it under warranty. The USB socket was faulty so all is now well. If it had been water damage I would have been cross.It wasn’t water damage.

That’s all…

End User phones

Super dooper Blackberry upgrade offer

My oldest boy Tom who is a good lad and is at Warwick University is coming up to contract renewal time on his mobile phone. He currently has an iPhone4 (I know very impressionable these youngsters) and is pondering an iPhone5 but a) it is more than he really wants to pay (good boy) and b) he can’t get 4G where he lives anyway.

His current phone would actually do him were it not for the fact that the connector socket is not working properly and he wants to stream stuff onto his TV.

His mobile phone company just rang to tempt him with a free handset upgrade if he renews his contract. He was offered a BlackBerry! I know not which one. What do readers think he should do? Should he accept the offer as a great deal or should he bide his time?

Suggestions in the usual way…

4g End User mobile connectivity phones

iPhone5 – why would you want to buy it? #4G #LTE

The iPhone5 est arrive. This year has seen a long list of major events come and go. Now it’s the turn of the iPhone5. Ordinarily this would do nothing for me. From what I can see the spec, in the main, is no better than the Samsung GalaxyS3. I’m not a zombie fanboi, activated by keywords in Apple marketing material, programmed to obey unquestioningly, asking only how much money to profer on the altar of the fruit.

The one feature that the iPhone5 has that makes me think about getting it is support for 1,800MHz. This is a massive coup for EE (eh?). We don’t have a real list of LTE alternative handsets yet. All the main manufacturers are on the list. I don’t want two S3s (my current phone is an S3 on O2) and I don’t see a compelling enough reason to go Lumia.

My attitude to Lumia might change when Windows8 is properly launched but for the moment it aint. So it looks like iPhone5 then.

I’m not totally convinced. Do I really want to toss my principles aside for the sake of using a LTE service that won’t work in my home town using a handset that won’t roam on any other network?

End User phones

Samsung Galaxy S3 factory reset – phone not charging battery

Samsung Galaxy S3 reset to factory settings for sending back to, you guessed it, the factory. Hasta la vista baby. I’ve given it 24 hours to fix itself but it is still only charging the battery when it feels like it. The symptoms are identical to those I had with the Galaxy S2 – PC doesn’t recognise USB device and can only see it intermittently.

The new phone is plugged in and charging. Rather than waiting for the full charge I’ve switched it on and it is set up to go whilst still charging. It started reloading the 98 apps at 09.51 and it finished at  10ish. It’s now doing a firmware upgrade. Not taking long.

There restore doesn’t go to the extent of organising the “desktop” or whatever the equivalent is in mobile terminology but it is still easy going.

It’s all very well having great software but there is no excuse for having unreliable hardware in this day and age, especially at the volumes that Samsung is shipping the S3.

Stay tuned…

broken gear End User phones

Samsung Galaxy S3 not charging problem

Samsung Galaxy S2 water damageShort news bulletin to inform you that this morning my Samsung Galaxy S3 is not charging. This follows on from the same problem I had with the Galaxy S2.

The diagnosis for the S2 was water damage despite my assertion signed affidavit that it has never been anywhere near water.

It looks as if I’m going to have to get the S3 sent away for repair/analysis. Not good. All I can say is if the same diagnosis comes back  as for the S2 I’m going to be hounding Samsung. It’s too much of a coincidence or at the very least poor reliability in the design. Note this is already my second Galaxy S3 – the first had a headset connector problem.

The header photo is the “water” damage on the old Galaxy S2. Stay tuned for updates on this hot news item.

PS to make it easy for those who are interested I’ve pasted links to all the other posts that talk aboutSamsung Galaxy S2 and S3 problems:

End User mobile connectivity phones

Monthly mobile data usage August using Samsung Galaxy S3

August mobile data usage using Samsung Galaxy S3It’s been a busy month on the mobile internet usage, what with the Olympics and being on holiday. So far this month, and it is pretty much over, I have consumed just shy of 20GB of internet bandwidth using my Samsung Galaxy S3. That’s 2.40GB of 3G/mobile data and 17.13GB using WiFi.

My hard drive tells me I have taken 9.38GB of photos and videos and I’m sure there are a few sound files on top of that though they won’t contribute much towards the total.

The first screenshot shows the applications that were the heaviest mobile data users.

Note that Gallery is the number one user by far. I like the way that Android pulls down albums from my online Google+ store but clearly there is a price to pay for this with the data usage.

At number two Tweetdeck comes as no surprise and I’m thinking OS Services must mean operating system upgrades and / or general system management though I’m not totally sure about this. I’d normally save any major OS upgrades for WiFi.

During the month I did a lot of speed testing which shows up in the stats as that app came in fourth.August WiFi data usage from Samsung Galaxy S3

Straight internet access/web browsing was only the 6th most popular activity! In total 56 apps used the mobile data connection to some extent in August!

The next screenshot is of the WiFi usage from the phone.

Obviously it was used a lot more when in range of WiFi.

You can see that the amount of photographs taken is reflected in the usage of Google+.

I also took advantage whenever I had good WiFi, as I did in a number of places around London, to upload videos to YouTube. This way I could easily embed a video in a blog post at a later date whilst on the hoof.

In all 55 apps used the wifi connection in August.

The next screenshot is somewhat revealing and in some respects tells me I need to get a life.

I spent nearly 26 hours in the month using Tweetdeck wtf?! That’s almost an hour a day.

time spent using data connectivity in August

16 and a half hours using chrome. Interesting to note that the times spent on specific applications haven’t resulted in those apps beign the heaviest users of mobile data. Shows how light Twitter traffic in particular is.

Then it was nearly 14 hours using TouchWiz which is the Samsung user interface. All that time spent prodding the phone. I’ don’t know how much time is allocated per prod but this seems to be a lot.

Maps I can understand – that four hours is probably a couple of car journeys.

I’m not sure I know what to do with all this information but it is certainly food for thought.

You can see from the pics that the app I used to gather all this data is My Data Manager. It’s great. Go get it and let me know about your own usage.

End User phones

Father’s Day special – like father like daughter

Because it is father’s day I have special permissionfathers day - give us a kiss to publish some previously unseen photos of me and my daughter Hannah. They were taken earlier this month at the Sir Joseph Banks conservatory at the Lawn in Lincoln.

As you can see she is the spitting image of me.

I have entitled the first photo “Give us a kiss”. The second is “Where’s my teef?” and the third is “The Cheesy Grin”.

The quality of the composition is clearly of the highest order though the naysayers out there  will say it is easy when you have great material towhere's my teef work with:)

The photos were taken with the Samsung Galaxy S2 – they predate the delivery of the S3.

Hannah is a real sport and although she has almost certainly inherited some wonderful traits her one great misfortune is that she also has my sense of humour.

I say if that is all she has to worry about she will be ok:)

The Cheesy Grin

End User phones

Telegraph pole picture – another Samsung Galaxy S3 masterpiece

It’s my blog. I decide what goes in.telegraph pole in Lincoln Here is a picture of the label on the telegraph pole near my house. I still look most days for signs of the cabinet being upgraded to FTTC. Nothing yet. End of June is not looking good. It’s already slipped by three months from end of March to end of June. We’ll see.

Photo taken with Samsung Galaxy S3 (fwiw).

PS don’t ask me to interpret the code – someone might leave a comment explaining.

End User phones

More photos from the Samsung Galaxy S3 series using the macro function

daisy with ladybirdIt’s the weekend. I don’t normally do stuffred rose with aphids over the weekend but I have had a very productive day, whistled through the jobs list and more, and am settling down to watch the football with the kids so posting to the blog seems like an useful thing to do.

Annoying though the non functioning headset socket might be the quality of the camera on these new phones continues to impress me. The camera on the Galaxy S3 is pretty much the same as on the S2 apart from some software features such as the burst mode. Notwithstanding this I find myself taking snaps of all sorts of ordinary things just because I happen to have my camera in my pocket.wet rose

When I do this I find some interesting things unexpectedly appearing in the photos I take. The red rose on the right for example has green aphids on it. Looking at the photos I can also see what I can only call red aphids. I suspect these insects are colourless and are just showing the colours of the background object.

The next rose still has droplets of water on it after the rain. These photos all use the macro function on the camera.

You are beginning to see what a softie I am. It’s just that I’m so impressed that I can take photos like this. In the “old” days I used to have to take a whole reel of film (36 shots) to get a couple of decent photos. Now, with the screen for me to be able to line up the shot properly and great autofocuspink rose technology I probably only discard two pictures in every 36 I take. One more rose, for luck.

I also had to put in this other ladybird photo. When I took the picture I hadn’t noticed that there was a small spider nearby. I wondered whether the ladybird was after the spider for food. There were plenty of aphids nearby had it but known:)

I liked the contrast between the bright primary red and black of the ladybird with the delicate pastel colourings of the flowers around it.

I’ll have to draw the line on nature shots for now – these pics ladybird near to a spidertake time to edit.

If someone could tell me what the purple flowers below left are I’d be most grateful. They are in our back garden.

purple flower from the Davies back garden - what is it?

End User phones

Headset socket on my Samsung Galaxy S3 is not working – audio problem

Samsung Galaxy S3 seen next to a Samsung Galaxy S2Much as it pains me I have to tell you that the headset socket on my Samsung Galaxy S3 is not working. I found out because during the week I started to net no audio on my phone though it would work in speakerphone mode.

When this first happened I checked all the settings and there was nothing obvious. Switching bluetooth off seemed to do the trick and I put it down to somehow the phone not having unhitched itself from my Parrot car kit. I can see my car from my panoramic office window:)

It must have been a coincidence because it is now happening all the time. In the wee small hours of this morning I woke up and googled the problem. I found an android forum with a thread that showed the same problem on a different model of handset.

If you had been using the headset sometimes the sensor didn’t work to show that the plug was no longer in the socket. I had to wait until morning to confirm this on my phone. My wife Anne would not have been too happy if I had accidentally switched something noisy on the phone during the night.

I can indeed confirm that the problem lies with the headset socket. Nothing in fact works through the headset.

Sigh. Someone on Twitter mentioned that this sort of thing often happens when a phone reaches end of life. Unfortunately this is the wrong end.

Its worth noting I still haven’t finished testing all the features on the Samsung Galaxy S3. The bit where the phone isn’t supposed to switch off doesn’t seem to work all the time and I have supposedly disabled the LED for alerts but it still comes on. Early days for the S3 I guess.

We are about to find out how well the returns system works!

Other Galaxy S3 problems here.