Assault and battery

We’ve all experienced the frustration of watching our battery percentage drop on long journeys. It’s an anxiety obsession as bad as disconnection fever so this week I’m rounding up a couple of battery stories (all gleaned from my recipe sending me blog updates from the iphonedownloadblog and the android authority so all credit to them please).

Make tea, charge phone

I don’t think any gadget lover can deny that any walk in the wild would be useless without BioLite’s CampStove. Basically you collect a few twigs and leaves, spark up the stove and a thermoelectric generator converts heat to energy, powering a fan to give air to the flames that’s boiling your kettle and charge your phone or light your camp at the same time. The website is well worth checking out as their BioLite HomeStove is helping people who cook on open fires around the world by reducing the smoke emissions by up to 95%.

Eat Carat, keep phone charged

20120817-142126.jpgInteresting app for iPhone or Android is Carat – Collaborative Energy Debugging from Berkeley and Helsinki Universities. The app collects stats from your mobile device and shares it in that great big melting pot in the sky with all the other devices round the world that have the app on them (currently 319,959 of them).

It then tells which apps to ‘kill’, restart or adjust your use of. It splits apps into ones that need strong action, (kill, kill, kill), and ones that are energy hogs or bugs. Some apps seem to appear because you use them for long periods of time but others might just need to be stopped from running in the background or restarted to refresh them and stop them from stealing energy in the background. The really interesting thing here is that it’s a research project and this is a great idea to get 100,000’s of subjects easily and at the same time feed everyone’s vivacious appetite for battery data. You only need to have a look on the odd forum to see how bonkers people get over their battery icon.

Couple of things to note – due to large demand it can take over a week before you get your first report. It runs a low energy location feature so you’ll see your location arrow come on permanently. This, of course, is slightly counter intuitive as those location using apps are ones that normally use a lot of battery power. Carat however doesn’t seem to do that.

Credit to:

BioLite story on the iPhonedownload blog.

Carat battery story on Android Authority

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New iPhone costs $10,000

A brand new iPhone has surfaced on eBay selling for a cool $10,000 (that’s ¬£6385.70 to you) on eBay. OK so it’s a 1st generation but it is in it’s box unwrapped and ready to go. Unfortunately you can’t bid for it and have to buy it outright. Otherwise I’d be putting in a bid for 2p. Oh hold on the shipping is $200!

This story was brought to you from the iphonedownloadblog

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If this then that

At the ATANET conference a few people asked me if I had any new apps or cloud based wizardry to share. Somehow this caused my mind to go blank and I couldn’t think of anything. To keep my reputation as provider of the interesting and the not so well known I thought I’d chuck a few blog posts together to share what I’ve been using of late.

If the apocalypse is coming send me a text

The first is the web based app ‘If this then that’ at This is a service that allows custom reactions (an email to be sent, an sms to be sent etc.) to be triggered by events (an RSS/Blog feed gets updated, a new free book is added to Amazon etc.) . So if you want your favourite tweets to be saved in Readability or Evernote then no problem. Or you want to be notified by email or sms when your Apple shares hit $650 that’s no problem either.

Showing 'recipes' on the iftt website e.g. text me the weather every morning, log tweets to a dropbox fileAfter registering you can add your email or mobile phone number. Then decide what you want to trigger your notification. Set up a ‘recipe’ and wait for your triggers to fire.

My ‘recipes’ are:

  1. If I tag a flickr picture with ‘Facebook’ it uploads the picture to my Facebook wall.
  2. When a new post appears on iPhone download blog at send the post to me by email (I’m too lazy to use RSS feed readers!).
  3. For neutrality’s sake if a new post appears on the Android authority blog at send me an email (for all dat rootin’ an’ tootin’. Titter).

If cat does whoopsie email Betty ‘Ohhh’

WeMo switch plugged in to normal plug socketIf you want to control your house remotely¬†(and who doesn’t?) check out Belkin’s WeMo. Basically this is a plug that can be controlled by a phone app so you can turn the kettle on before you get home. It also can be controlled by so that you can get it to turn your hall lights on when the sun goes down.

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New toys

It’s been a few hours now since I’ve got my hands on the iPad and Toshiba AT200. Both very easy to set up by synching the iPad with my old iPad profile and the Toshiba with my Google account.
No real gripes but the iPad basically restored from the cloud which took ages. Perhaps should have just set up as a new one. Typing this up on the iPad using the WordPress app as this was all set up from my old profile already. Using the split keyboard. It’s ok but it does overlap the text in landscape which is a bit annoying.
I still find the Android operating system a little counter intuitive. Maybe it’s because the iOS is much more rigid there is only one way of doing things whereas with Android there’s a few ways to reach the same result but this means that sometimes I hover uncertainly.
With the Android tablet the default keyboard was Swype which’ll come back to but it made a hideous ticking noise when touching the keys. Couldn’t turn it off even when muting the sound. That’s pretty annoying. Also no HTML emails in Touchdown email and calendar app using Exchange ActiveSync.



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JAWS 13 released

That’s not the film of course but refers to the latest release of JAWS the screen reader from Freedom Scientific. It has a brilliant new feature they are calling ‘Convenient OCR’ or Optical Character Recognition. This allows the software to convert an image of text to accessible text to allow JAWS to read this out. This is potentially really big news. One of the examples Freedom Scientific gives on their JAWS 13 new features page is the handling of PDF files. While the text is not persistent and will disappear after the user navigates away from the PDF it does mean that users can instantly access what previously would have been an inaccessible PDF file – like on-line journals for example. Now the user can just chew ’em up and spit ’em out. Just like the real JAWS.

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“We built buttons that find the fingers” – tablet Braille keyboard

“Instead of having fingers that find the buttons, we built buttons that find the fingers,” said Stanford’s Sohan Dharmaraja – a researcher on an intense summer course at the Army High Performance Computing Research Center. A truly fantastic and innovative use of the touch screen of tablet computers. Basically the keyboard moves to where the position of the fingers are on the screen so that users can ‘chord’ in the Braille. It can even handle complex maths and chemical equations.

Video of the app working on a tablet
Article on the BBC website

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Beta Beta Beta – the Geek Fraternity

I think you can actually get shot, burnt at the stake or imprisoned for life for even daring to mention Apple, Beta and iOS in the public domain. So I’ll try and not mention anything that’s not already mentioned here – New features that go further.

OK so basically I installed iOS 5 gold master – the final Beta version. And yes I do have a full paid up developer account. Nothing is easy. Can’t blame Apple for that. Anything that smells even slightly Geek has an air of the Command Line Interface hovering around in the background. Tap tap tap oh look at me and how clever I am. Oooohhh don’t you know how to do that. Tap tap tap I do. But I’m not going to tell you.

So downloaded iTunes 10.5 7 beta for Windows. Downloaded iOS5 DMG file. Whatever that is. Took 2 hours. I wasn’t popular as Vari watched the swirly thing go round on ‘my’ iPad trying to watch iPlayer and the download nicking all the bandwidth. Installed iTunes no problem. Didn’t even bother un-installing the previous version. Live life to the edge why don’t you. Think different huh? Then it’s a case of trying to enter the magic circle. Press and hold the Option key while clicking restore in iTunes and chanting don’t talk about the beta in public. THERE IS NO OPTION KEY ON A WINDOWS KEYBOARD. OK did you hear that. THERE IS NO OPTION KEY. That’s on a Mac keyboard so don’t tell Windows users on the forums to do that. The shift key will do it. But you need to put your right little finger in your left ear while doing it ok?

So start iTunes, plug in the iPhone, hold down the shift key, click restore and then browse to the file. Hold on a minute. It’s not picking up the DMG file. OK how to unpack a DMG file and extract the IPSW file? Just double click it right? THIS ONLY WORKS ON A MAC? OK? ONLY ON A MAC. So don’t tell me in the forums to double click it. Download 7zip and extract it. And then another important step that is often missed is that you have to further extract another file 2 dot something or other, wave magic wand, chant don’t mention the beta. Then do the shift and finger in ear. Then install on iPhone and with a beating heart wait for the reboot and hey presto! It’s only gone and worked. I’m there. I’ve joined the club. I’m in. I’m a frat boy. I’M A GEEK.

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