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Showing posts from September 8, 2014

Quick And Dirty SIM Tray Repair

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If you're like me and swap between phones on a regular basis then the introduction of the nano-SIM in the iPhone 5 will have been an especially annoying decision. Having to use an adapter to ensure that the same SIM card works in phones of different sizes is clumsy, unreliable and can damage your phone. You'll know when the latter has occurred, because your phone will stop recognising your SIM card.

You are then faced with two options. If you're reasonably competent you can strip your phone and replace the SIM tray. If you're not then you can take the phone to a repair shop and pay an inflated price for someone to replace it for you. On some phones the SIM tray is soldered to the main board and the cost of replacement is greater than that of replacing the phone.

There is another option, if you can see your SIM tray and it's not buried in the device with a dedicated carrier tray. It's very easy and, with a little care it's a repair that can be effected by j…

iPhone Pre-order Confusion, And I Don't Mean Apple Store Problems

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iPhone 6 pre-orders went live this weekend and it would be fair to say that Twitter was a little busy with customers venting their frustration over the difficulty they had in actually ordering their iPhones.

Without resorting to the first-world problems meme, I'm a little confused as to why you would order a product sight unseen.

Don't get me wrong, when the iPhone 6 lands in New Zealand I'll be straight down to the store to get my hands on one (literally) and if I like what I see then I'll certainly be buying one.

Pre-ordering a product that is mostly new, and very different from its previous iteration is a gamble - a reasonably expensive one in this case - even for a company with a largely excellent track record with new products. A largely excellent track record isn't a perfect one though and that's why I want to see some reviews and get some screen time with the iPhone 6 before I invest in one.

The vainglorious desire to be first with a new toy is trumped …

Formula E: Mostly A Whimper, Ends With A Bang

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The inaugural Formula E race in Beijing today may not have been hugely exciting in itself, but it certainly ended with a bang, after Nico Prost rammed Nick Heidfeld off the road at the last corner of the last lap, flipping the German's car into a barrel roll from which he was lucky to escape with serious injury.

The two had been battling for the lead and down the straight into the final corner Heidfeld executed a text book passing move. As the German moved alongside Prost under braking swerved left across the track causing a wheel to wheel collision which broke the front suspension of both cars, sending Heidfeld across the artificial kerb and flipping the car into a cockpit first impact with the barrier and safety fence. These sorts of collisions are all too frequently fatal and as the Dallara dropped to the track upside down there was some concern for Heidfeld's condition.

Not from Prost however, who, despite rolling to a stop a few metres from Heidfeld's car made no att…

Apple Hubris: The Thing That Pervades Everything It Does

So what's your favourite Apple U-turn? The arrival of 3G? Applications on the iPhone? How about the smaller tablet. Or maybe it's the bigger iPhones that launched this week.

Apple has a long and storied history of pulling a 180 on something previously derided as being completely pointless, unusable or unsellable. Remember Steve Jobs hitting on the Galaxy Tab or the Galaxy Note?

For the whole life of the iPhone Apple has insisted that a device that can be used one-handed was the right choice and bigger phones weren't needed or wanted by its customers. This week it announced a pair of bigger iPhones in large (4.7") and extra-large (5.5") varieties. What it didn't announce was a replacement for the iPhone 5S - a 4" iPhone 6. Why? If Apple has been so convinced that it's customers wanted the ability to use a phone one-handed why then cut them off completely from the new capabilities built in to the iPhone 6?

It makes no sense. And I'm not entirely su…

Why Samsung Needs Ads Like "It Doesn't Take A Genius"

Following on from Tuesday's keynote Samsung released a set of six new ads which poke fun at Apple on everything from screen size to the epic failure of its live stream.

Taken in themselves the ads are funny, but there's a whole subtext behind them which is worth examining.

Apple fans haven't taken well to Samsung's very targeted advertising over the last few years - from the fantastically well planned and presented 'Next Big Thing' through more generic 'Wallhuggers' and now 'It Doesn't Take A Genius' Samsung have punctured Apple's hype bubble.

Best summed up by the exchange 'I could never get a Samsung, I'm creative', 'Dude, you're a barista', it subtly explores how Apple fans see themselves and how the rest of the world sees them. And it's allowed Samsung to position themselves as the anti-Apple of the phone and tablet world.

Realistically this kind of advertising shouldn't work. Samsung ship more phones …

Gmail Account Attack: You Must Enable 2FA

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Yesterday we found out that details of around five million Gmail accounts have been acquired via phishing and social engineering. Whilst this isn't related to any security failure on Google's part (the info was captured after tricking users into entering their Google account details into phishing sites) it does emphasise why you need to do as much as possible to protect your online accounts.

Your email is a gateway to resetting passwords to almost all of your other online services - and there's a real danger that you could lose real money as a result.

Gmail's two factor security is pretty good and there is no reason why you shouldn't be using it. It secures both applications and computers; and prevents someone accessing your account even if they have managed to gain knowledge of your password.

So, if you haven't recently changed your Gmail password go and do it now. Then while you're there enable 2-step verification.

You'll be glad you did.

Samsung Gear S: A Real Smart Watch

I've mentioned before how the Samsung Gear S doesn't appear to be getting a fair crack of the whip, based entirely on reputation rather than capability. This video articulates some of the key advantages of a smart watch that can be used independently of your phone, as well as a companion device to it.

Apple Pay Utilises Visa Tokens, Technology Will Come To Android

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At least some of the technology behind Apple Pay has now been revealed, as the stand out announcement from yesterday's Apple event gets fleshed out.

Apple Pay utilising Visa's Tokens technology, which uses a number of different metrics to create a one time authorisation number which is completely single use. So when Apple says the merchant doesn't get to see your credit card number, it really means it.

For those rocking Android phones, Visa has confirmed that this technology will be coming to that platform too, presumably via Google Wallet.

For Mastercard and AMEX customers, there's no detail on whether Visa's solution is used to secure their payments as well, or whether they will be implementing their own technology

There's also still no confirmation that merchants will be able to continue to use existing RFID based PayWave / PayPass contactless readers, however some of the Apple Pay literature suggests that it can be used wherever you see the current contact…

Swiftkey Launching With iOS 8

One of the things that hasn't been much discussed from yesterday's Apple event was the confirmation that iOS 8 will be available for existing devices from September 17th, bringing a heap of new functionality for those not planning on upgrading to a new iPhone.

Yesterday was a good day to find out the Swiftkey will be launching its wonderful continuous trace input keyboard on the same day, ending the tyranny of Apple's woeful iOS keyboard for good.

To celebrate Swiftkey released this video, narrated by Stephen Fry, who veers between H2G2 narrator cool and California BS within the space of a minute or so.

Irrespective of the content of the video which only briefly trails the Swiftkey keyboard, the prospect of much improved data input is great news for all iOS users.

Apple Pay: Payments Will Be Friction-Free and Secure At Last

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Again as predicted, Apple announced a mobile payments service akin to Google Wallet today. Using NFC it will allow (US-based) iPhone 6 owners to make contactless payments using machines installed at 220,000 merchants, as well as a number of applications that can be installed on the iPhone.

Stepping aside form the obvious concern about trusting credit card information to a company that has just suffered a fairly major and apparently long-term, failure to secure its users cloud accounts, this was probably the biggest announcement of Apple's day.

What I haven't been able to establish as yet is whether these contactless payments utilise an existing payment system (Visa's Payway or Mastercard's PayPass) and if so why Apple haven't been able to roll this out worldwide.

Outside of the US, contactless payment is fairly ubiquitous and being heavily pushed by both Visa and Mastercard. If utilising Apple's payment system is going to require a massive upgrade to merchant&…

Apple Watch: A Me-too Release

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Expectations have been high. Apple has changed and disrupted markets too often now for them to have been anything else. We looked at the Galaxy Gear when it arrived and said "Meh!" Apple will do it so much better when the iWatch arrives.

When Samsung launched the second generation of its Gear range, we said "Ooh!" because there were signs of progress and this was definitely starting to look like something we could consider wearing on our wrists. When the Gear Live launched we got positively enthusiastic. Wait until the iWatch arrives though, it will be a game changer.

Well the iWatch turns out to be a the Apple Watch and far from having the Swiss quaking in their boots it's far more likely to have the Koreans laughing up their sleeves.

The much vaunted design is clumsy. Over a year ago I wrote that Apple had delivered much of what it needed in the iPod Nano. From design terms I really wasn't expecting Apple to take things quite so literally. I know that loo…

The iPhone Catch-up Keynote

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So Apple launched its bid for this buying season's customer dollar in California today and it looks like all of the leaks managed to be pretty much spot on.

There were two new iPhones - in regular and extra-large sizes. There wasn't really a great step forward for either. The smaller of the two is clearly going to appeal to upgrading iPhone users, it isn't that much less pocketable than the current iPhone 5 generation devices, but packs a significant screen upgrade.

I have to question that screen upgrade though, because Apple short-changed it's customers by failing to drop a 1080p screen in here. We know that 4.7" screens are available at 1080p resolutions - the  HTC One was rocking one eighteen months ago. Apple gave the 6 Plus a 1080p screen so it would make sense, from a developer point of view at least, to give the iPhone 6 generation a single screen resolution to work with. Screen elements built for a 5.5" screen are going to be any less usable at 4.7&q…

Is The New iPhone Waterproof?

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This leaked image of an alleged iPhone 6 power button might not seem the most earth shattering of discoveries, however if you look closely you may be seeing evidence that Apple is preparing to match Sony and Samsung and include a degree of water and dust protection in the new iPhone.

If you look beneath the power switch there is what looks suspiciously like a rubber skirt around it - something that doesn't really need to exist on a phone unless it is to keep something in (for example, to stop light leaking from the screen backlight) or, more interestingly, to keep something out.

My guess is definitely with the latter. After all both Sony and Samsung have made advertising campaigns specifically boasting about the ability of their phones to survive an accidental or deliberate soaking. If Apple is going to compete then adding a degree of water ingress protection sounds like a worthy plan.

The only issues I have with this suggestion are that none of the leaked iPhone 6 chassis show a…

Will The iWatch Have The Swiss Quaking In Their Boots?

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If the internet is to be believed Jonny Ive recently made a rather stark prediction for Switzerland post-iWatch launch. Based on Apple's amazing achievements in remaking the music, phone, tablet and laptop industries over the last decade and a half are the Swiss now contemplating ending it all in the fondue?

Personally I believe that there isn't a single watch market for Apple to disrupt and the high end markets, where the money in traditional watch making is to be made, aren't going to suffer one bit from the introduction of the iWatch.

However, there are two sectors of the market where the iWatch will definitely have an impact - should it arrive on Tuesday.

First, the large majority of young people who don't own a watch, instead getting all the time related information they need from their phones. These seem like exactly the sort of customers Apple should be able to easily win over - the iWatch will score in the fashion, capability and brand areas, effectively makin…

Turn Off Facebook Autoplay To Protect Your Data Allowance

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Have you found that you're sailing a bit closer to your mobile data allowance cap recently? You might do if you're a Facebook user as it turns out, because the social network has set it's mobile app to auto play video in your timeline by default.

Money Saving Expert did some experimentation and found that the recent popularity of the Ice Bucket challenge - which pushed an awful lot of videos into people's timelines - has been responsible for a greater number of users busting through their data allowance and having to pay additional fees as a result.

I've discovered that the issue exists on my iPhone - where the default setting is to always auto play, and for my Android running Xperia this is also true. For those not using the Facebook Beta app on Windows Phone the issue is moot. (An example of a missing feature turning out to be a benefit?)

The Money Saving Expert article includes details on how to disable auto play, if you use Facebook on your mobile it's pro…

F1: Conspiracy Theories Abound After Rosberg's Monza Meltdown

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I wonder how Nico Rosberg is enjoying his race at the moment? He's been cast in the bad guy role by all and sundry (but especially the British press, which loves to hammer on a German, especially one battling against a Brit) and had a couple of rocky weekends to boot.

At Monza, having been apparently gifted the race after Lewis Hamilton's botched start from pole position, Rosberg gave the race away after twice making the same mistake into the first chicane, the second time handing the lead to his team-mate and championship rival.

Whilst there were whispers of Mercedes engineering the whole thing to pay Hamilton back for the Spa injustice I'm rather more inclined to think that the problems were a result of Nico having a poor setup and being in a less than ideal place mentally.

It appears that Rosberg's car was carrying rather more downforce than Hamilton's - at least from the comparison between their fastest speeds through the trap at the end of the start - finish …

F1: Three Teams On Death Row

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As if things on track at Monza weren't exciting enough, the sport now has to deal with strong rumours that the failure of three teams to make it to the grid next year will bring into play the three car team rule.

The three teams on the way out are likely to be Caterham (and the resignation of Christijan Albers as team principle has certainly added weight to that rumour following team owner Tony Fernandes bailing out earlier this year), Marussia (given the funding driven debacle at Spa that saw Chilton out of the car and then back in again) and Sauber (whose loss of ninth place in the championship may prove to be the final straw for the team). The future of the Lotus team doesn't look particularly bright either, especially after a deal to buy Mercedes engines for next season fell through, allegedly as a result of a failure to pay the agreed deposit,

The agreement between teams and the sports promoter (AKA Bernie Ecclestone) demands that if the number of entrants drops below tw…