If you have ever been a linux user, and gone back to windows for whatever reason, you will have missed a vital shining gem in the linux arsenal : virtual windows.
In linux you can have as many windows you like – scroll through them easily, assign rules so that certain programs only start up in certain windows, etc etc.
In windows that feature doesn’t naturally exist ( they may have changed that in Windows 8 – but I haven’t tried that yet )
But, and long live shareware, there is an application you can download for free which will give you multiple windows.
Like the linux inbuilt versions of this you can flip from one screen to another by :
- Using a hot key – you redefine the defaults if you wish
- Holding you mouse on one of the edges of the screen and it will shift to a new window
- Right click the system status icon and choose which window you want.
Left clicking the status bar icon brings up three tabs :
- Switch To – which allows you to switch to individual programs and the window they are running in
- Move Here – allows you to move any application to your current window
- Always Show – Allows you to designate applications that will show in every window ( good for messengers etc. )
There is also an advanced section, that I freely admit I haven’t played with much as I am fully comfortable with the way it operates at present.
So, if you miss your multiple windows, or just want to try it out go over to virtuawin and get it – it’s free and easy to install.
( That is a different download location from the 1st one in case that one is slow )Pin It
Being in Italy I have always had a small problem getting my daily English paper.
As I live in the sticks – English newspapers don’t arrive until late evening ( if at all ) and I would always get them a day late.
If I chose to get the daily paper I would have to wait until I got into Rome – make rather a large detour to the center ( Termini ), pick up a very expensive newspaper and then backtrack and try to get to class on time.
As I tend to teach all day that was a little bit self defeating as it meant I didn’t get time to read the paper until I was actually on my way home.
( I like to read the paper on the train on my way to work, for self enjoyment, and possibly to be able to discuss the news when I got to class )
Yes – I know if you have a phone, portable, netbook, or tablet you can access the news on-line – but :
- That costs money (I am a teacher)
- Getting signal out here is not always certain
- I like to keep an off-line version so that I can make notes ( see above discussion in class )
So I had to come up with a better way of doing it.
Initially I used my kindle to download the papers before I set off for work and got to read them on the train – this worked fine.
Until I got a tablet (carrying a kindle and a tablet defeated the point of the tablet – less clutter)
And the news on the kindle was always in black and white.
So I had to come up with yet another way of doing it.
In came Calibre – a freeware piece of software that will go and fetch what free newspapers are out there and send them wherever you want.
( At present only the Guardian, Independent and Economist are the only available – but they are worthy reads )
So – how do you do it ?
- First get the app Aldiko for your phone/tablet.
- (Or a suitable epub reader for your netbook/portable)
- Next download calibre and set it up.
- Set the default output format to ePub – NOT mobi
- Go to the news feed section and add daily feeds from Guardian, Independent (weekly feeds for the economist)
- (Add any other feeds that take your fancy)
Getting them to your tablet can be done in a number of ways ( mostly manual I am afraid )
- You can set up calibre to automatically send all books to your own email
- You can install a little program and app called (Tappin)
- You can manually copy the files.
- (There are other methods – but the theory is the same)
1. Emailing them to yourself.
- Set up calibre to automatically email all downloaded books to your own email account (don’t worry – sending and receiving on the same email account is totally ok)
- Make sure your feeds are set to run at least an hour before you leave home ( unless you are happy leaving your pc switched on all day – I have mine running at 5am )
- When you want to read your paper, make sure you have signal and open your email
- Click on the received files to download them to your device
- Import them to Aldiko
- (After download you do not need to be online anymore, and the files are quite small so it will not cost you a bomb to download them)
- Your newspapers are now available in a nice little e-book reader
2. Installing Tappin
- Tappin allows you to access your pc from your phone from anywhere – as long as you have signal, and it is left switched on.
- See point one about feed times etc
- When you are ready to download your papers access tappin – go to your calibre library – download the latest files
- Import them to aldiko
- You have offline papers now
3. Manually copying – same theory
- Set your feeds, then before you go to work connect your device and download the files to it
- Import – blah – blah – newspapers available offline.
Now I get to read all of my newspapers in full colour, on a really comfortable reader, without having to sit on-line all of the time
( and I do my downloading whilst I am waiting for the train as the station has a free wifi spot )
Free offline newspapers – the easy way.
WhatsApp is a cute little app for your phone that allows you to send and receive messages without paying SMS charges.
(It sends them over the internet)
When you first load it it will look up all of your contacts and find out who is already on WhatsApp and show them.
This is where you have to be careful.
It will add all contacts it finds on your phone (other chat systems allow you to choose which to add)
Another irritation is the grouping feature.
You can create groups in whatsapp like any other chat system, to allow you better organisation of all of your contacts – BUT
and this is a big but
It sends out a request to any person you put in a group – be aware.
If you create a group called “Clients not to be contacted”
send out a request informing all of those clients that you have just added them to the “do not contact” group
(Suggestion to WhatsApp developers – add a warning that this is about to happen – it could be embarassing)Pin It
Oooo I like this.
Do you ever get frustrated that your email can only send a certain amount before failing, saying that the size limit has been exceeded ?
Well this won’t solve all of your problems, but will help.
“Attach Me” is a chrome plugin (probably available for other browsers to) that lets you attach a file
But instead of sending the file it sends a link to the file – saving that precious space.
Go to https://attachments.me/main and check it out.
If someone sends you an attachment it also keeps track of them and lets you sync them with your dropbox, google drive or box account.
Convergence and the cloud – it’s all coming together.Pin It
One of the unfortunate aspects of Android phones is their battery life – some of the models at the upper end of the market can go for ages and ages – but the lower end models are susceptible to running out after a few hours.
There are a number of things you can do to keep your battery going for the whole day without need of a recharge.
- Turn your screen brightness down.
- I keep my screen at about 40% – which is sufficient for indoors and on buses, trains etc.
- Of course you will need it at 100% when out using it in the Roman sun – but you can turn it up quite easily.
- ( I use an app called “Brightness widget backlight” which allows me to alter the screen brightness with a swipe of the screen )
- If you don’t want an app – just go to settings and change the display brightness when you think you are going to be outside for a time )
- Having Facebook, Google+, maps, chat, and twitter running at the same time may be convenient – but they are going to eat your battery.
- Open them when you need them, and close them when you are finished.
- ( Again I have a little app called “Android booster” which allows me to close all non-essential apps with a single touch )
- ( Go to settings, display, screen timeout )
- Leaving your screen on whilst your phone is in your bag is daft – it also eats battery.
- I have my screen timeout set to 30 minutes – but religiously switch off the screen when I have finished using the phone.
- Auto sync is fantastic – you get your emails instantly, Facebook updates, messages etc. etc. when they happen – you don’t have to check for them.
- Unfortunately you pay the price for this in your battery – the update services are running in the background constantly and eating your battery time.
- Switch sync on only for those things that you really need to updated instantly.
- Do you really need to be updated from Facebook, or can it wait until you manually go and look ?
- ( As an observation I find that Google Calendar sync is an absolute battery killer – it seems to try and sync every second – switch it off and sync your calendar when you make a change )
- ( The other Google services do seem to behave themselves – email, talk etc. )
- If you are only using your phone for phone calls – you don’t need to access a 3g network – it takes energy – i.e. battery
- Use 3g when you need it ( you can switch it on or off from settings – networks )
- There is an urban myth that GPS kills battery – it does – but only when it is trying to find your location.
- E.g. your battery will disappear rapidly if you have maps running constantly, but GPS will sit there quite happily doing nothing, is nothing is asking it for your location.
- Wi-Fi also eats battery – switch Wi-Fi on when you know there is a Wi-Fi signal – switch it off when there obviously isn’t.
- Obviously you have a really nice MP3 player, and a video player on your phone.
- Using them is going to eat your battery.
- I’m not saying don’t use them – just be aware that watching “Lord of the Rings” on the train is going to cost you a few hours of battery life later in the day.
- Playing Angry birds, or Dragon’s Lair may be fun – but they are going to consume your battery faster than anything else.
- Try and be plugged in with your charger when you play games.
Those are some of the most common causes for battery failure – keep them in mind and your battery will go from just a few hours, to a whole day.
Other tips you might want to think about :
- Always carry a charger with you.
- Plug it in when available ( in a cafe, office, on the train etc. )
- Chargers are small, cheap and convenient – buy a spare and keep it on your person at all times.
- A bit extreme – but if your phone dies and you don’t have a charger ( or a place to charge ) keeping a spare battery in your bag can be a life saver.
- Ok – maybe excessive – I have a little charger ( half the size of a cigarette packet ) that I keep charged and in my bag. When my phone is getting below a certain level and I can’t find a charging point – I just plug it into the phone and I get a quick ( 2 minutes ) charge that will give me a few more hours.
If you pay attention to your needs and your battery, your little Android will serve you well and stay alive for the whole time you need it.
If you ignore the battery, you will soon find you are getting annoyed with your phone as it is constantly dying.Pin It
Some time ago I bought a Kindle as I love to read and didn’t want all of the weight of carrying books around – to date I have loved it.
But when I bought it, I decided to go for the cheaper Wi-Fi only version, thinking that I could download any books I wanted from home and then read them whilst I was out travelling.
Soon I discovered the comfort of sending and converting pdf files to the kindle that I found interesting, or useful for my job.
Soon I also discovered that downloading everything from home wasn’t as convenient as I thought – getting the daily newspaper, converting it and sending it to my phone in the morning whilst I was trying to get ready for work was becoming a little problematic ( particularly the last stage – the email going to and being received by the kindle – it could sometimes take longer than I wanted)
On those occasions I would have to start the email send going, and hope I would be in range of a Wi-Fi spot during the day so that the kindle could download it (which in the case of newspapers sort of destroyed the idea – I wanted to read the papers on the train so that I could discuss the daily news in class if need be)
I soon started to regret not getting the 3g version.
Err, ‘scuse me – what has this got to do with Android ?
Wait – be patient – I’m getting there.
After a while I also bought myself a nice little android phone, just to keep up, and as I thought quite a lot of the functionality in the Android would come in handy – it did – very handy.
One of the things that I found particularly handy was Mobile AP.
Mobile AP allows you to turn your phone into a mobile Wi-Fi spot – as long as your phone has data single it can then broadcast a Wi-Fi signal and other Wi-Fi enabled devices can access the internet.
Which brings me back to my Kindle – now when I don’t have time to receive the newspaper via email before I have to set off for work, all I have to do is turn on Mobile AP, let my kindle find the Wi-Fi connection and it can then download the newspaper whilst I am waiting for the train ( I can read the paper as required )
Another useful part of Mobile AP, was that when I have my netbook with me, I can get rid of that horrible Internet USB dongle (which I am always worried will snap off) and hook the netbook up to my mobile’s network using Wi-Fi.
(This not only works out cheaper – the usb thing I had was costing me a fortune, but it also means no unsightly, or potentially breakable additions to the netbook whilst I am sitting in a park, on a train, or in a classroom)
Some people never use Mobile AP as the second anyone says network to them they run a mile thinking that it will be mega complicated to set up – in fact it couldn’t be simpler.
Setting up Mobile AP
- Go to Settings
- Go to Wireless And Networks
- Go to Tethering and Hotspots
- Go to Mobile AP settings
- Configure Mobile AP
- In the Network SSID put in any name that means something to you. (AdriansAndroid)
- Change security to WPA2 (PSK)
- Enter a password ( this means only you can access it unless you give someone else the password )
- Turn on Mobile AP by tapping it.
Simple – you now have a mobile Wi-Fi connection. Your other devices should be able to see it, and to access it all you have to do is enter the password.
The phone doesn’t have to be sitting on or near the device ( I leave it in my jacket pocket with a fairly good resultant signal )
You can return to the phone at any time and simply tap Mobile AP again to switch it off (it does eat battery a little if you leave it on)
If you think someone else is accessing your Wi-Fi – simply turn off Mobile AP, change the password and switch it on again.
It is really that simple.
Another benefit of Mobile AP that I hadn’t thought about until recently is that I can now buy a Wi-Fi only tablet (which are considerably cheaper than 3G models and will still be able to use it’s full functionality by running it through my phone )
Last little note :
Remember that you are accessing your phone’s internet connection when surfing the internet from other devices.
In the case of Kindle or non-pc devices this access is going to be fairly light – the device will download what it needs then stop.
In the case of PC’s (netbooks or tablets) the device is probably going to be doing a lot of things in the background that you don’t normally notice when hooked up to a direct line that may impact your data allocation (how much you can access before you start paying by the mega-byte) – eg Syncing a dropbox, a mailbox, preloading pages etc etc.
Don’t let that put you off – just be aware of it and switch off any extraneous services that you don’t actually need whilst mobile on the appropriate device so that you are only accessing what you need whilst mobile.Pin It
Read the article from the BBC above.
What a strange idea – every time you are mentioned on twitter, facebook, google+ etc etc your little gadget gives of a little puff of smell.
I can imagine it to be a cute gadget for about ten seconds flat.
Then it will go one of two ways :
- (a) The Baby listener
- Because you’re not being mentioned you get no smells, so you will be constantly tapping the thing, plugging it in, checking the settings etc to see if it is still working.
- You will come back from dinner one day and discover the area around your pc smells like a Turkish Hareem, and switch the thing off.
It’s a nice idea – don’t get me wrong – but smell has always been a difficult sense to master – just the right amount at the the right time works – too much and people really do get annoyed at it.
Why not change the design to change colour or something :
- a deep red and nobody loves you
- a nice green and you are Mr popularity
(I think mine would remain pure black )Pin It
The article above talks about England preparing for a digital attack by group or groups unknown.
Now whilst, in my opinion, this is a very real and scary prospect. It will happen, and sooner rather than later, the prospect of allowing the digital defence of the realm to be handled by the people who usually handle such things – politicians, committees, and large bureaucracies – is even scarier.
The reason being is that conventional defence, and the decisions behind it take an age – look at how long it took to mobilise a force to Libya.
The digital world does not work in those time frames – it operates in the now, the instant.
The digital world evolves at a pace that most hi-tech companies (who are geared up to handle it) have difficulty keeping up with.
The thought of a committee coming up with a plan then spending 3 (plus ?) years implementing it is farcical, as the thing they have planned against will be ancient history by the time the plan goes into practise. And as it will have been through countless reviews and alterations the details of what is going to be implemented will be free to the people they are defending against (don’t for a second think that any hacker willing to take down an MoD site will balk at hacking a file server to get minutes of the various meetings)
What needs to be put in place is a team of geeks and hackers (sorry – it was the only word that seemed appropriate)
A team that can adapt in a second, who will be on top of the latest techniques (and counter techniques)
Of course they will need to be handled by the conventional people (for funding etc ) – but to put their actions through the treacle mill of normally defence decision making will make them useless.
Unfortunately the politico’s and generals of this world are not ready (or even aware) of the speed with which they will need to react in the digital world, so will balk at employing a bunch of pizza eating teens to defend the country.
Which will mean it won’t happen.
What we will be left with will be an enormously expensive white elephant that will be able to stop nothing, and will face the public with a bright red blush when the first attack comes and goes straight through them.
The world of government and law needs to wake up and get out of it’s dinosaur attitudes and processes if it wants to work in, and defend against the world digital.Pin It
Facebook has been prominent again in the news this week for a number of reasons :
- 1. Floating them on the stock exchange is valuing them at 95billion dollars.
This is apparently a record, but has some brokers worried that as soon as it hits “the shops” the value will fall dramatically.
However this is still an eagerly awaited event….
- 2. Facebook has admitted that smart phones are starting to hit their profits and have created their own appstore to combat it.
Not that the apps will keep people loyal to Facebook, but they will get a cut from all apps sold, and they have a very big audience to sell to – so it should keep the pennies rolling in.
- 3. This was not noticed much – Facebook are testing a pay to post scheme.
Basically the idea is similar to that used by Google and Yahoo in the old days, whereby a user can pay them some money to have their posts become more prominent.
The logical next step to this is, the more you pay the more your posts (and business pages) will be visible in Facebook searches.
The final upshot will be that Facebook ads will be useless to the people who use it – I.e. People and will be governed by how much the corporations are willing to pay to promote their products.
I personally have the feeling that this will not please users, but alienate them as Facebook becomes yet another corporate advertising board.
All from a company that is about to float on the stock market amid worries.
Makes me wonder : “Exactly how financially secure is facebook ?”