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Dr Mike J Smith
Kingston University

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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

Carbonite on your smartphone
Some of you may know that I'm a big fan of Carbonite, the online backup facility. Yes it charges, but for unlimited storage and a real no-hassle backup it is a bargain at $59. Which in my book is pretty good for the 85Gb I've got stored there. Whilst it's really billed as online backup, it is a "webdrive" and the web interface to access files is pretty reasonable. Of course, there is also now an Android app to do this which is simple, small and fully functional. Very handy to be able to grab a file whilst out and about.

posted on: Sun, 11 Dec 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Calls on a data contract??
Nice article at The Guardian on using a data contract on your mobile to route all your comms traffic....

posted on: Wed, 07 Dec 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

PDF Printing
Loads of stuff is sent, received and archived as PDF. Its a great format originally derived from postscript (by Adobe) designed for bridging the gap between designing a print job on a PC and delivering it to a printer for output....

posted on: Wed, 07 Dec 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Raspberry Pi
If you haven't seen the fuss over Raspberry Pi then head on over and take a look at their website. And if you don't want to invest too much time then read the excellent summary over at The Register....

posted on: Mon, 28 Nov 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Open Source Roundup
A useful open source roundup with a slight focus upon geo-stuff.

posted on: Fri, 25 Nov 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

NERC Knowledge Exchange Grant
For those interested, I am currently a Co-Investigator on a NERC Knowledge Exchange grant titled "The Physical Landscape of Britain and Northern Ireland."...

posted on: Wed, 16 Nov 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

One Story
One Story is a great subscription for your Kindle. Each month you get one new short story and they never use an author twice....

posted on: Wed, 16 Nov 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Kindle Daily Deal
Amazon UK offering a "daily deal" each day for a heavily discounted book. See the blog post for further details. It'll be interesting to see how these deals develop.... equivalent price in the US at the moment. Will have to see if it goes up tomorrow as well or whether its the usual "Brits can pay more"

posted on: Mon, 14 Nov 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Eject USB
Safely ejecting USB devices is a perennial gotcha for those not in the know, recently brought home to me by a friend who copied some audio books to her Kindle and couldn't find them to play them....

posted on: Wed, 09 Nov 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Kindle loses audio.....
PCPro had a good review of current ebook readers this month. And yes the new Kindle came out on top, but as they say, its all about content!...

posted on: Mon, 07 Nov 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

"Couldn’t install on USB storage or SD card” error on Android
Finally got around to sorting out a niggling bug on my San Fran phone. For *one* application only, I kept getting the following error when I tried to install it: "Couldn’t install on USB storage or SD card" I couldnt be bothered to do anything about it, but when it then occurred for another app I thought I'd better do some digging....

posted on: Thu, 03 Nov 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Mighty Text
I've just been trialling MightyText which allows you to send and receive SMS messages on your PC from your Android phone....

posted on: Tue, 01 Nov 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Android OS Updates
Really interesting article on OS updates comparing iOS and Android phones. This shows the quality user-experience that Apple aims for and keeping users happy with the latest OS version. It also keeps developers happy in the sense that they stick to the "curve" and make sure their products are up-to-date. Compare that to Android where fragmentation of the OS and out-of-date products as they ship leads to a not entirely satisfied end-user. The moral of the story being, if you are on Android you are betting off rooting your phone as soon as possible and putting on the latest ROM developed by the community.

posted on: Fri, 28 Oct 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Kindle 3.3 Firmware
The Kindle 3.3 Firmware has now landed.... not sure what happened to 3.2 unless it was internal and with the release of the new non-keyboard Kindle this has jumped to put them both at the same point I don't know. Also worth noting that the "branding" is now "Kindle" and "Kindle Keyboard": ostensibly the same hardware otherwise. Featurewise there is nothing to write home about..... backing up to the Kindle account of your own documents as well as those from the Kindle store. All part of the cloud based service that the Kindle Fire (aka tablet) is aiming to tap in to. So it makes sense and shifts people in that direction. Not sure if anything else has changed.....

posted on: Thu, 20 Oct 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Font management
Font management seems to be one of those things you never get around to if you aren't a designer (and possibly even if you are)....

posted on: Sat, 15 Oct 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Microsoft Office upgrade.....
I finally took the plunge and upgraded Microsoft Office. Having used Office97 for.... well the best part of 14 years its time to retire it....

posted on: Thu, 06 Oct 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

New Kindles available imminently
Amazon did a BIG product launch today attacking the portable media "appliance" market on all fronts with a swathe of announcements....

posted on: Wed, 28 Sep 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Kindle Maps
The OS blog highlighted that maps are now making their way on to the Kindle. Kindle Map Guides are a nice example and reasonably well put together use OpenSpace data. They are probably the best of the bunch and replicate a paper map on your Kindle. They do the job, but I can't help feel that they missed a trick in maximising the screen space given over to the map. Useful to have in the pocket though. Kindle Maps are using OpenStreetMap data with their first offering a map of Dublin.

posted on: Mon, 26 Sep 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

IT setup for travel.....
I took this picture last week whilst in Belfast. This is (currently) my IT setup whilst travel. On a day-to-day basis I now only take my San Francisco; however this isn't sufficient for a longer trip. I need a Windows PC, reasonable size screen/keyboard, internet access and ALL my documents/software. The photo shows my ageing, but trusty, Sony Vaio, portable harddrive (stuff with all my work and portable apps. The San Francisco is then setup as a portable wifi hotspot to give internet access. Very portable.

posted on: Fri, 23 Sep 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Kindle Library Up and Running
Well the Kindle library lending scheme is now up and running in the US. Based upon a 2 week lending period... bear in mind this means Kindle the "brand" rather than Kindle the "device". So if you want to borrow a book (and you need to be a library member) you can sync it to *any* Kindle application, be that iPhone, Android, Windows or Chrome. Its not a panacea, but it will address those people who don't want to buy Kindle books because they can borrow them. Quite how this would work for student textbooks I'm not sure, although discussions with academic publishers are meant to be ongoing....

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

Kindle Cloud Reader
I was snooping around the Amazon Kindle webpages a few weeks back and came across the Kindle Cloud Reader....

posted on: Sun, 18 Sep 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Send to Kindle
Send to Kindle is a handy app for Android that renders a webpage and automatically sends it to your Kindle email address for syncing at a later date. Useful.

posted on: Mon, 12 Sep 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry

Scheduling an SMS message
SMS Scheduler does what it says on the tin.... schedules the sending of SMS messages. Allows multiple recipients, repeat sending (and different frequencies), as well as types of notification. Useful if you want to send a txt as a 1-off in the future or to schedule regular txts. Its ad-supported.... unless you either pay for it or use AdFree (you need a rooted phone for that though).

posted on: Fri, 09 Sep 2011 | path: /computing | permanent link to this entry