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Dr Mike J Smith
Kingston University

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Nook Simple Touch
Over the last wee while I've written sporadically about the Kindle ebook reader, with a wide range of posts....

posted on: Fri, 21 Jun 2013 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Asda's Not-so-easy Wifi
I was in my local Asda recently and saw the stand below - I don't think "Follow these simple steps....." could be further from the truth! The words "can't be bothered" spring to mind.

posted on: Thu, 09 May 2013 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Google Translate goes offline
Google Translate is an excellent service and so useful for many translation tasks. It really is the closest thing to the Babel Fish that we have. As with many Google services (although alas not Reader) it is available across mobile platforms and it is really good to see this being offered as an offline service for Android 2.3 and higher. That doesn't leave all those Gingerbread devices orphaned (and it still remains a very active platform), offering an extremely valuable service. Download!

posted on: Thu, 28 Mar 2013 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Goodbye Google.......
Google's announcement that they are killing off Google Reader seems to have been met with dismay, including a petition to the federal government in the US (and the ubiqutous Hitler meme below)!...

posted on: Sat, 16 Mar 2013 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Deleting multiple blank cells in Excel
I was doing some straight forward data management in Excel today and had gone through a long list of items and deleted a number of them....

posted on: Wed, 13 Mar 2013 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Uninstalling apps from your Android ROM
Sick and tired of the crap and bloatware that invades the version of Android on your phone but can't remove they because they are built in to the ROM?...

posted on: Sun, 17 Feb 2013 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Get some Oomf(o) in your presentations.....
Have you ever been watching a TED talk and wondered how they got that cool dynamic chart? Did someone slave for hours over a long Flash animation?...

posted on: Fri, 15 Feb 2013 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Word Useful Tip of the Day: how to draw a straight line
How many times have you thought you'd just use the drawing tools in Word (2003 in my case!) to draw a straight line to add that extra design dimension to your document to find that it wasn't quite straight and ended up with some ungainly "jaggies" in it?? Maybe not at all, but every so often for me. So much so that I've tried alternative methods for creating line (like using paragraph borders or tables). In trying to sort out a design today I finally did some online search to find...... press and hold the Shift key whilst dragging until after you've released the mouse button. This holds the line to principal points of the compass and ensures it's straight. Problem solved :)

posted on: Sun, 03 Feb 2013 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Nexus 7 Upgrade
It's been quite awhile since I posted on my Nexus 7 - I can only say that it works, very well, and is exceptionally good to stuff in a bag and let you to web and email stuff on the move largely without the restriction of a small screen....

posted on: Mon, 21 Jan 2013 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

KindleFirmware Update: 3.4
Kindle updated the firmware for its keyboard (and other) ebook readers to version 3.4. Amazon have always been good with long support and incremental improvements to stability (a rare thing in the "I can top that" IT industry)....

posted on: Thu, 20 Dec 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

If you're a noob to IT forums.....
......watch this video. I couldn't stop laughing.....but O so true.

posted on: Thu, 13 Dec 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Tech nostalgia......
Stuff has a great article on the sound of tech - listen, remember, feel nostalgic. Yes, we really did think they were cool!

posted on: Wed, 12 Dec 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Puppy Linux
I came across the rather excellent Puppy Linux recently....OK, there are many Linux distributions most offering far more sophisticated OS implementations, however what is so satisfying about Puppy is that it is small, fast and very usable. A full OS that fits within 100Mb (250Mb with OpenOffice) means that it runs entirely within memory and is *very* fast. Want to be as discreet and private in your PC habits?? Carry Puppy on a CD/USB, boot directly in to it and run office, web browser, email directly off it. Comes with a variety of tools to work with your PC as well. Incredibly satisfying to use!!

posted on: Wed, 07 Nov 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

DVD Backup
Every so often I want to backup a DVD or portion of a DVD from a disc and need a simple solution to do it (ideally open source!)...

posted on: Sat, 29 Sep 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

East Midlands Trains Wifi
The good people at East Midlands Trains run an occasionally satisfactory service that I sometimes frequent....

posted on: Fri, 28 Sep 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Open Dyslexic
Nice article at the BBC on Open Dyslexic....openly accessible fonts (and associated software) to make screen reading easier for dyslexics. Very good.

posted on: Thu, 27 Sep 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

DVB transmission to archived XVID
I had recorded a short clip off the TV using my Humax box - once your Hummy is connected to a network, with UPnP switched on, it's easy enough to copy standard definition recordings straight off the box on to your PC (see previous post). These come off as .TS files, but this time I had a load of aggro trying to archive them to XVID. Not sure why and VLC wasn't playing the file either. Anyway, after a fair bit of head scratching this workflow seems pretty good: 1. Split (demux) the .TS in to constituent audio and video streams using ProjectX 2. Combine (mux) the streams in to an .MPG (using .MP2); use MPEGStreamClip 3. Transcode the file using Mencoder 4. Play using SM Player Portable

posted on: Tue, 25 Sep 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Large FAT32 hard disk drives?
If you order an external hard disk drive (HDD) chances are it'll come formatted using NTFS. That makes sense as it's an up-to-date system, however it isn't so easy to use when you want to switch between different OSs. For those that want to use FAT32, which is well supported, then they hit a wall in Windows as formatting only supports up to 30Gb. Well that's an artificially imposed limit by Microsoft. Simply use FAT32 Format and it'll do the job. Nice

posted on: Mon, 24 Sep 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Android App Update
String of recent app updates that are worth a mention: Mapdroyd: my favourite offine maps. Yes, offline, on your device, using full street level data from OSM....

posted on: Fri, 21 Sep 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

PortableApps mp3 player
I listen to a lot of music when I'm working (not a Spotify user though) so tend to play mp3s from my CD collection. For ages I've used CoolPlayer, a lighweight but good (uses the MAD decoder) and well designed player. It sits in the system tray and is nicely configurable. However I've been on the lookout for a replacement, something thats equally lightweight but up-to-date and with a little more functionality. And I think I've found it.... The good people at PortableApps have now made AIMP available and well worth a try it is. Includes audio convertor, internet radio player and more. But all still very lightweight and fast.

posted on: Fri, 07 Sep 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Nexus 7
The tablet urge finally hit and I went out a purchased a Google Nexus 7. There are plenty of reviews around (CNET, PCPro) so I won't labour the point that it's cheap, extremely good hardware (processor, screen)m runs Android 4....

posted on: Fri, 17 Aug 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Dealing with email......
Several years ago I wrote about Getting Things Done (GtD) and whilst I don't anally (!) follow the setup to the letter of the law, I find it invaluable as an organisational process for managing projects in outline and implementation via email collaboration. However the mass inundation of crap into one's InBox means we need to have a variety of tools to deal with this influx - and whilst GtD is good, a dose of pragmatism is needed. Take a look at Matt Gemmell's salutory advice which is somewhat refreshing. If you do 85% of this, you'll be a much happier camper.

posted on: Tue, 14 Aug 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

The king is dead (my San Fran) - Long live the king (my new sparkling San Fran II)
Well I guess the day had to come, but sadly (particularly after the Gingerbread upgrade) my San Fran passed away....

posted on: Sun, 29 Jul 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Gingerbread Upgrade
Well I finally took the plunge and, 18 months on from installed Froyo (Android 2.1), finally upgrade to Gingerbread (Android 2....

posted on: Wed, 11 Jul 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Leaf Motion
The Leaf Motion is doing the rounds, but is well worth repeating again anyway, not least because, amongst other things, it shows some Google Earth navigation. Minority Report style motion control is arriving....

posted on: Wed, 04 Jul 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Inkscape
It's now new, however for those not in the know Inkscape is the grand-daddy of open-source vector graphics software....

posted on: Mon, 14 May 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Battery charging best practice
A good pick-up from the Guardian on battery charging with this summary salutory advice: What does all this mean in practical terms?...

posted on: Fri, 04 May 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Office 2003 End-of-Life
Aggghhhhhhhhhhh..... Microsoft announced end-of-life for Office 2003 this week. Come on guys, I've only just upgraded from Office 97 ;)

posted on: Fri, 13 Apr 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Txt polls.....
It's good to bring a little more interactivity in to talks and presentations, particularly where you want to generate some feedback, produce discussion points or gauge audience consensus....

posted on: Mon, 02 Apr 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

The Guardian: Data Visualisation 101
The Guardian have been forging ahead with the whole "data journalism" area (and I guess I should mention their book!...

posted on: Wed, 28 Mar 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Podcasts for learning
Donald Clark wrote a good blog entry on the usefulness of audio, listening and podcasts for learning....

posted on: Wed, 28 Mar 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Freemind location
I blogged on Freemind, the open source mind mapping software, a few days ago, but wanted to add on to that post....

posted on: Wed, 21 Mar 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Freemind: great mind mapping software
I'm a big fan of mind mapping and whilst Tony Buzan is a bit over-the-top on the sales pitch (for a far more eloquent and scientifically founded piece on memory training read "Moonwalking with Einstein"), mind mapping is a great way of rapidly getting ideas down on paper and storing information in a condensed, and easily accessible, form....

posted on: Sun, 18 Mar 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Android Dictionary
And by this I mean a dictionary app to look up words.... there are quite a few available in the market place, but I wanted one I could store on the phone, was relatively quick and didn't need a data connection. Dictionary.com do an app for example, that is slow, heavy and needs data. However Freedictionary.org come up trumps with a good app, although ad supported (not so bad if you have AdFree Android installed). Remember you also need to install the offline dictionary as well.

posted on: Thu, 01 Mar 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

PDF to Kindle....
Nice catch from Chris Bullett for converting PDFs to the Kindle native format.... the Kindle does an OK-ish job of rendering PDFs but there are problems. Anyway, over to Chris: Thought this might be of interest – PDF to ePUB - it’s free (for a limited time), downloadable software which converts PDFs to Kindle format, making them considerably easier to navigate on a Kindle device – tried and thoroughly recommended (though doesn’t work so well on PDFs with multiple columns per page).

posted on: Tue, 21 Feb 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

What's in an APN?
APN, or Access Point Name, allows a data connection for your mobile phone or more specifically (and according to Wikipedia): "It is a configurable network identifier used by a mobile device when connecting to a GSM carrier....

posted on: Fri, 17 Feb 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Sending MMS messages
I have had a hit 'n miss affair with sending MMS messages.... sometimes they work sometimes they don't.... or they just take forever. I've more more less given up using them (not least because there are other free alternatives), however they are occasionally useful. The penny finally dropped (or at least I think so) as to why I'd had so many problems..... MMS require a data (3G) connection and as I tend to leave my data connection off, they never send until I am back online. Real newbie mistake.....

posted on: Mon, 13 Feb 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Windows Sort Order
Came across a very strange problem recently..... all files in any Windows Explorer or Open/Save dialog were sorted by reverse order. I could go back in to Explorer, get up the "Details" view and then resort it. However it would default back to reverse order. Very strange and frustrating!!! A quick Google brought up this article. In short, if you hold Ctrl and click the close window "X" it remembers the last sort order.... permanently. So the solution is to re-sort (as you want it) and then Ctrl-"X". Simple solution to a very frustrating problem!

posted on: Fri, 27 Jan 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

SMS Backup
Got lots of SMS on your Android phone? Want to backup or delete some?? SMS to Text is a simple app to do just that.... export to your SD card, filtering by your contact list or simply all of them and press go. Output formats are TXT or CSV. Simple, useful, does the job.

posted on: Sun, 01 Jan 2012 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Kindle Book Prices
I've moaned before about the price of Kindle books and that they are often pennies cheaper than the printed version.... and you can't lend them! Anyway, part of the reason is that VAT is charged on ebooks, but not on paper books. As PCPro explain, a cut in VAT on ebooks in Luxembourg may well see some sort of parity across Europe and we deserved dropped in prices.

posted on: Thu, 22 Dec 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry