Its once again been a while since my last blog post. Just a quick update on a few recent bits and bobs (in no particular order)
• Canon 450D sold – the whole lot went for £200. That’s a pretty great deal for the guy who bought it. As a result of that…
• Finally got the Sony 55-210mm telephoto lens that I wanted for my NEX-5R. Its a great bit of kit, I’ll get a few sample shots uploaded on Google+ and Flickr when I get the chance. For those interested there’s a nice Flickr group with loads of sample shots here.
• Haven’t been playing much tennis and there’s a bit going on behind the scenes at the club which I can’t be bothered with. Might be time to move on, we will see.
• Went to see Iron Man 3. Meh. It was alright, if loaded with too many over the top extended scenes. Funny in parts though so that was good.
• Gaming – I picked up ‘Dishonored’ for the PC and I’ve been playing through that. Linear but I’m quite enjoying it. Its also been a good month for PlayStation Plus subscribers. Much to my surprise I’ve been absolutely hooked on ‘Catherine’ – a story-based logic plat former type game that’s impossible to describe and explain in a sentence – check out IGN’s review here. Its unexpectedly fantastic. Aside from that I’ve not played the new Hitman game yet. I did try out ‘Sine Mora’ though which is a nice shooter for the Vita.
• Dropped the Nexus 4. It didn’t explode into a million shards of glass as I thought it might. In fact, there’s barely a scratch on it.
• (Re)discovered that the Nexus 7 is thin and light. Having taken it out of the faux-leather case that I’ve been using I had forgotten how small the profile is on this thing. I’m writing this blog entry from it right now and its not anywhere near as fatiguing as when I use it with the case.
• Been using ‘MightyText’ for Android. It syncs your SMS (and other bits and bobs if you want) between your phone, tablet and web browser for an iMessage-like service for Android that works pretty well. Its free, grab it here.
• Had a play with a Galaxy S4. Quick verdict: amazing screen, not as big as I expected, great camera, same touchwiz nonsense that bakes my noodle, still feels like a toy but will probably hold up to general wear and tear quite well. Enough to pull me away from the Nexus 4? No chance. Not unless someone sends me one for free.
• Paranoid Android have been making a lot of noise with their latest ‘Holo’ notifications feature. It takes Facebook’s new Chat Heads feature and builds on the concept for all notifications and allows for greater multitasking capabilities. Haven’t tried it yet but looks interesting.
• Google IO soon. Great time to own Nexus devices. Shall be watching the livestream as long as I have time.
• Google Music’s instant mixes feature is awesome. Start playing a track and it’ll make a playlist based on similar music. Simple and effective. Its what I’m listening to on the N7 while listening to this.
So that’s about it off the top of my head. Time for a breakfast at mother-dearest’s fine establishment.
I always used to think of Android’s face unlock as a bit of a gimmick – mainly because on the phones that I’d used it on previously it was a bit slow to respond and it was just quicker to use a lock screen pattern. Since moving to the Nexus 4 loaded with Android 4.2.2 it actually works rather well. Even in low light scenarios it seems to recognise my ugly mug without issue. Should there not be enough light available it reverts to the regular pattern lock screen. Nice. It’s not the most secure system in the world but for the occasions when I leave my phone on someone else’s desk at work then it should at least provide something of a challenge for the person who wants to write immature comments on my social networks
I’ve got my display set to sleep after 1 minute and my phone to lock another minute after that, this seems to be the most convenient configuration I’ve found so far. Give it a try.
Remember not so long ago how I was raving about Linux Mint’s wonderfulness as a media centre PC? That’s come back to bite me in the ass. A recent power cut had rendered my media PC in a comatose state. First it wouldn’t boot and then after a (very long winded) OS repair it would boot without a working network stack.
My Linux knowledge is a bit limited in that I can get around it and tinker under the hood but as far as terminal illness is concerned I’m no saviour.
I was entertaining the idea of putting Windows 8 on it as the underlying OS but surely there had to be another way. After all, I didn’t need a fully-featured OS as the machine is essentially used as an appliance.
Luckily there is a solution, and a bloody good one at that: OpenELEC.
In a nutshell, this product has been designed from the ground up to provide you with an ultra-slick XBMC experience on modest hardware. My ION-based machine with a regular mechanical HDD actually boots as quickly as my PS3. Its incredible. There are plugins available that allow you to use the usual download managers if you like that sort of thing (who doesn’t). The OS is built to allow auto-updating so there’s no need to get your hands dirty. Updates include xbmc and OS updates so it really does function like a well put together appliance.
Now everything has been configured just how I like it in double quick time, I’ve got just a few to-dos:
• Auto backup XBMC library and download manager configs
• Configure Pseudo TV (I’m told that its awesome)
• Look to replace the Hitachi Deathstar HDD that my Acer Revo came with
If you’re looking to turn a machine into an XBMC box with minimum fuss then OpenELEC should be high up on your list. Trust me, I’ve tried them all.
I’ve used iGoogle as my start page in Chrome since it got released and before that I used an ajax-based site I fail to remember the name of (octo-something comes to mind but I can’t find it). iGoogle used to give me snippets of information that I used to decide what to read on the web, mostly consisting of tech-based news articles, world news, photos and other geeky crap. iGoogle are closing the site this year so it was best that I find an alternative.
Flipboard came along and stirred up the news consumption market on iOS and then Android, I used it for a bit but there’s no web-based version to use. I want something that I can use across all my devices, be that PC, Mac, Linux, Android phone and tablet. Pulse is a half-decent candidate but it’s a bit too slow to use as a start page and the lack of customisation is a bit limiting. The Windows 8 app is much the same so it’s a no-go.
I came across Feedly thanks to an article I was reading concerning the soon-to-be-nuked Google Reader. Turns out it’s exactly what I was looking for. It’s a news aggregation ‘tool’ that works via the browser (dedicated plugins for each) and has native Android and iOS clients. Everything syncs via your Google account and has all the customisation options you might need.
If there’s one complaint I have is that some of the news feeds don’t display a thumbnail so it can occasionally make things look untidy but that’s no fault of the Feedly app itself as that’s down to the content creator.
I highly recommend taking a look at the site and app – I only hope that it keeps working long after Google Reader is axed as it was using the service as it’s backbone. I’m sure they’ve already thought of that one…