Dr Mike J Smith

Plymouth University

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Transcoding Update
Following on from yesterday's post I hit a few problems with some encoding - whilst MPEGStreamClip worked fine (albeit slowly) with conversion from a DVD, it didnt work properly with a file copied off my Humax....

posted on: Thu, 04 Dec 2014 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Transcoding for the Acer C112
So, following on from the last post, in order to play videos reliably from the Acer C112 you need to transcode them....

posted on: Wed, 03 Dec 2014 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Pico Projectors
Pico projectors (not overly detailed Wikipedia page; a nice "simples" guide here) have been around for a few years now and - as the name suggests - offer projection in a small form factor over relatively short throw distances....

posted on: Wed, 03 Dec 2014 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Android Mindmapping
I'm a big fan of mind mapping for blatting out ideas (using on a piece of paper!) and then structuring them in to an editable document....

posted on: Mon, 02 Jun 2014 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Adding a horizontal bar in Excel
This is one of those things you just think should be easy (one line of code in R!) and turns out to be not quite so simple!...

posted on: Tue, 06 May 2014 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

PDF XChange Viewer
Just saw this come up - PDF-XChange Viewer - which is small, lightweight, fast and portable. Having played with it, it is now quite a bit faster than my old favourite (Foxit) so has replaced it. Sure its funding model is based around getting you to purchase the "pro" version which has a variety of features. But if all you want is fast and, well, fast, getting you viewing quicker and easier, then look no further

posted on: Tue, 18 Mar 2014 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Embedded PDF Viewer
Test post for an embedded PDF viewer using viewer.js.... very impressed and it supports ODF as well as PDF.

posted on: Sun, 19 Jan 2014 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Programming for geographers....
Nice thoughtful piece from Alex Singleton.... Very ,much in the vein of neogeography and touching upon the practical elements espoused in Mapping Hacks. More than ever, making use (aka hacking) of tools and methods to understand, develop and present thoughts, ideas and innovations is vital for those wanting to bring new energy, drive and value to the workplace. Get ahead, make yourself valuable.....

posted on: Mon, 06 Jan 2014 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Smartphone vs DSLR
Very interesting and fairly detailed comparison over at Digital Photography Review. It's not intended to be purely scientific but takes a broad sweep look and compares a range of historic (expensive!) DSLRs, a film camera and an iPhone 5S and Nokia Lumia 1020. The results are quite remarkable - worth the read

posted on: Mon, 06 Jan 2014 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Relive those compouter games!!
For those raised in the 70s and 80s there is a nostalgia for some cracking and quaint old games - forget Elite (although it is cool!). Pacman and Frogger are the name of the game!!!! BBC News carried a nice article on the Internet Archive's emulation of some classic consoles and the games they run all within a web browser. Easy way to fritter away a few hours :)

posted on: Fri, 27 Dec 2013 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Big data.... (some) big problems
Nioce post from Donald Clark on when big data goes wrong. A timely reminder about how messages become distorted, pushed to serve the purposes of their authors...... and up front is a classic map issue which all GIS students should be more than familiar with!

posted on: Thu, 07 Nov 2013 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

iPhone 5s Head-to-head
What a stunning review...... there can be only one.....

posted on: Wed, 16 Oct 2013 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Tablets phablets......
Tablets clearly show no sign of abating and here we have Intel with some offerings..... these are reference designs but clearly schools are seen as a big market

posted on: Tue, 06 Aug 2013 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Nexus 7: re-rooting Android 4.3
So Android 4.3 has landed with a slew of minor updates that create more than the sum of the parts. The headline feature is restricted profiles - aka restrict what user profiles can access....

posted on: Tue, 30 Jul 2013 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

7" Tablet
Interseting summary of pricing over at PCPro on the pricing of 7" tablets - this is a really hot market with great competition from Nook, Amazing, HP, Google and Samsung. And, for me, it is the form factor of choice. OK, its not as lush as reading a magazine on an iPad with a Retina display, but its far more portable and so far more useful. And generic Android allows you to do some remarkable things with an amazing price point. If you havent bought one, buy one as you'll be surprised at how effective it is for consuming media!

posted on: Mon, 08 Jul 2013 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

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..... 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