Tuesday, 28 August 2012

5 Tips to prolong your notebook battery life

Notebooks these days have battery's that claim to last for hours and hours. The Macbooks are generally really good with their long life and the latest Windows pc's are also getting better. A colleague recently replaced is default factory fitted battery with a long life battery in his HP notebook. The battery is giving him a couple of hours now. This brought on a Google search for tips to prolong battery life without buying a new battery.

I came across this article from the guys at DailyFive. DailyFive is in their own words "...the simplest way to read and share breaking tech news, reviews and features on your mobile device. Whether it has buttons or batteries, it's in our backyard." You can get their app from here DailyFive.

They suggest five different ways to prolong your battery life.
  1. Dim your screen - most of the notebooks these days have power-efficient LED displays but if you are using a slightly older model, dim your display. This simple step could save you a couple of extra minutes.
  2. Change your drive - conventional hard drives uses more power spinning those platters than a solid state disk, SSD, does. By changing your disk you could see a saving of up to 30 minutes.
  3. Wi-Fi switch - if you not using your wi-fi then switch it off, either with the physical switch or by using the software. It doesn't make sense to have it on if you are not using it. The same goes for Bluetooth. You can switch your Bluetooth off independently of your wi-fi.
  4. Upgrade your software - the newer operating systems are far more power efficient and are getting better with each release so consider upgrading to the latest software.
  5. Modern day circuitry and chargers mean in it is fine to leave the computer connected to the charger. It is recommended to try and prevent the battery from discharging unnecessarily but once every 4 weeks let the battery discharge fully and leave it for a couple of hours and then follow it up with a full recharge.
There are many other ways to prolong the life of your battery and most of them are inexpensive and easy to do. Windows has a power options function that you can customise what the computer does when on battery and this will also go a long way in increasing the life of your battery.

Thanks again to the guys at DailyFive for the short and concise articles. Go get the app for yourself.
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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

What's your Klout?

Image representing Klout as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
Klout.com, the website that claims to measure ones “klout” or influence on the web. They manage to do this through some fancy algorithm or other magic means. There are the critics of the site and the site has often being controversial in some of its Klout weightings. Just recently Justin Bieber – he of teenage pop fame – was recently surpassed by President Barak Obama of the Untied States of America.

It would seem odd that the man behind the most powerful country in the world has only recently been rated the most influential. Why only now? Klout is all about web presence and not your real-life day-to-day influential people.  So this is why people like Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber can be rated influential, because they have a very high web presence.

When I signed up for my Klout account within two days I had a score of 47. This is apparently pretty good. How I got that score I have no idea. I have a number of friends that are professional writers and bloggers, they get paid to be on the web. My score was considerably higher than theirs. Klout.com have just recently changed their algorithm and this seems to be working better now.

I like the concept behind Klout.com and it feels great to brag to people already using Klout if your score is higher but you do feel like an idiot when discussing your Klout score with someone that has no inkling of what you are talking about. You just get a blank stare and can almost hear the persons mind going “Klout score? He needs a clout against his head!”

There are a number of features to Klout such as being able to nominate who influences you and you can earn more influence in different categories as you get more “Klout” but I am not sure how it all benefits someone? I get that it is a nice metric to view a person’s influence on the web but why? Is it going to help a student get a job if he says his “Klout” score is 56, maybe if he is applying for an online product review blogger position but does it make a difference for an engineer?

Some other nice features are the “Perks” you can earn – mainly US based though – but nonetheless maybe one day the perks will be available outside of the US. Another nice display is where you fit in with your influence, your Klout Style, you can be a conversationalist to celebrity to thought leader. My style has changed three times in the last week though.

Overall, I think it is yet another nice website to play around on. Out of curiosity it is fun to build your score for bragging rights but from a business point of view I do not see the value until it starts to measure brand value then it may have some marketing spin-offs. It seems to be another form of social networking that you will need to deal with on your day-to-day social chore list. Check Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Pinterest and now your daily check of the Klout Score.

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Tuesday, 21 August 2012

9 ways to kill time on the web

Sitting at the office, bored? Wish you could do something other than stare at the desk or eagerly await some random e-mail being sent to you? How do you kill the time between 9-5 every day. Well on those boring days here are nine potential boredom relieving things to do.

  1. Lunchtimers - an interactive space where you can try make up words using fridge magnets or just annoy people trying to write their own words by moving the letters around each time they place a letter. When you are bored its the little things that count. Play here.
  2. Fractal fun - this oddly addictive, mind numbing site helps for a couple of minutes. Click on a box and see it divide into four black or red box and repeat and repeat. Check it out.
  3. Kittens - for some unknown reason looking at cute pictures of kittens seems to lighten up most peoples days. Check out the random kitten generator
  4. Probably the most addictive form of boredom relief is falling sand. You can divert four streams of sand and add fire, water, earth to your creation and go wild without getting your hands covered in sand. Play here.
  5. Sticking with games why not try the vintage styled Stackopolis. The aim of the game is to stack, stack and stack some more. Let me stack.
  6. A website I personally enjoying visiting is Kongregate, game designers get to upload the games and you get to play new games just about every day. It's a win win situation. Play now.
  7. You are bound to be Facebook anyway so why not play some Angry Birds. On Facebook you can directly challenge your mates and even brag if you bet their score. Let me hurl some birds.
  8. For those that are not into gaming, how about some mental floss? This site offers a random collection of stories from the around the web. Get lost on the web.
  9. Ever StumbledUpon something? Check out this site for other sites that fellow web surfers have stumbled across.
There are boundless items on the web to starve the boredom beast but the above should get you through a boring day at least.
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Thursday, 16 August 2012

Blackberry Torch 9800 long term review

English: BlackBerry Torch opened
English: BlackBerry Torch opened (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It has been a year of owning a Blackberry torch 9800, so I thought I would do a long term review of my thoughts about it. I have not been overly in awe of Blackberry, I was expecting something more from it but it just hasn’t delivered that knockout punch that would sell me as a brand ambassador for Blackberry.

As much as I am not overly impressed by Blackberry neither am I disappointed. The phone has done its job without any incident or faults in the last year. The much debated battery is actually very good, surprisingly, I can go about three days with lots of use out of it on a single charge. Typical usage for me includes phone calls, e-mails, browsing, Bluetooth wireless car-kit when driving, making occasional use of wi-fi networking in offices, so I use my phone for almost all of its capabilities.

The outage experienced last year by RIM did affect me, Blackberry messenger messages didn’t go through and browsing was painfully slow but for the 2-3 days it affected me, I could still phone people and just used my laptop for everything else, yes laptops still are useful.

Phone wise, I am content to bordering on happy with it. A good friend is still clinging to his Nokia and often his phone gives him some minor issues and freezes up on him, mine I think has frozen on me maybe four times. Where the Nokia is better and far superior is not so much the phone but in the Ovi suite. Blackberry Desktop Manager is dismal at best.

I don’t know why Blackberry even made such a useless piece of software. It looks and feels very much an afterthought almost like “...well Nokia and Apple have desktop software I guess we should do as well.” I wrote a blog post about a couple things to make Blackberry better and from almost a year ago to today and a couple of versions of desktop software later, it is still pathetic.

With Ovi suite you almost have full access to your phone. With Blackberry you can back it up and browse some files. I want to be able to use BBM through my pc, send sms’s, update my contacts and more but this is just not possible. Don’t even get me started on the maps, this also seems to be a case of our competitors have it so let us put a map system on as well.

Where the phone is great and is well beyond the iPhones, Nokia and Androids of this world is its e-mail support and BBM. Yes iPhones, Nokia and Android have good clients and their own chat applications but on this front Blackberry still comes out tops.

The Appworld is not vast and although I have not paid for an app and only downloaded the odd free one it is adequate for your average user. Apart from missing Angry Birds there are similar apps available to Blackberry as there are on other devices. It is also good to note that Blackberry was originally designed for the corporate market and was focused there for a long time before becoming consumer focused.

Another point I have to add is the fact that whilst Blackberry is certainly not indestructible they can endure a fall to the ground and even a kick, unlike certain Apple products that will crack and shatter and leave you with tiny glass shards in your hands if it takes a fall of anything higher than 5cm.

Something that does bother me often and this is not directly a Blackberry fault but more a fault on my service provider. The phone continuously operates on EDGE, there are random spots where I can get 3G signal but these areas feel like they are microscopic as moving the phone a few centimetres away results to reverting back to EDGE again.

In a nutshell, I am happy with the Blackberry a year down the line. I am still not 100% sold on it and will certainly look at other phones when I am due to upgrade but that does not mean I am not get another Blackberry.

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Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The day I almost fell in love with an Apple

The day I almost fell in love with an Apple computer was a strange day. A client had recently purchased a new Macbook Pro from me and I had just delivered the Mac to her. Now to say I am anti-Apple is not correct, I am just neither for it or against it. Given that this Macbook was to be first time setting up a Macbook I was a little apprehensive about what to expect.

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
Opening the boring brown box only to reveal the beautiful packaging of the Mac box immediately got me going into the positive mindset about Apple. Opening the box feels like a sense of occassion, it makes you want to open the box and see the mystery that awaits inside.

Opening the box does not dull the occassion, there it was the brand new shiny silver Macbook Pro glistening in the late winter sun, the Apple sign looking polished and ready to snapped up. Even unwrapping the plastic coating is an experience, effortless, simplicity at best.

Switching the machine on and hearing the familiar 'gong' the screen comes alive, the setup is so easy and then the migration assistant prompt appears. This is an awesome tool, selecting the old Mac and transferring the data to the new could not have been easier. It even moved all the applications, everything! Coming from a strictly Windows background I will admit I was in awe of this machine.

The design, the simplicity of use, the way it basically set itself up, it felt like some real IT voodoo magic was happening before my very eyes. After all the stardust in my eyes had settled and I started to use the MacBook and check the settings the magical effects began to wear off.

Setting up the scanner was not as easy you would think, although the scanner was installed, when trying to scan the documents were being cut-off and other random things were happening. Thankfully it was enough to fix.

Then the confusion over the Thunderbolt adapter, having to have an adaptor to connect to an external screen is stupid. The Macbook easily has the space for this why make something easy into a money making thing and force people to buy an adapter.

Adapter in hand, setting up the projector was ok, it didn't just work. I did have to go into system prefernces and fiddle with the display settings but it now works. While I am going on about adapters, only having two USB ports? Seriously? I would really have thought a company has design and customer focused would realise that two USB ports just doesn't cut it.

I do like the magic touchpad with all its gesture controls, but sometimes you can end up flipping screens and scrolling through the wrong document but that is more user error than anything and not the fault of Apple.

Whilst I am thoroughly impressed with the Macbook's packaging and easy setup making you feel like you have not bought a computer but something more something unique something wonderful, that all starts to fade as you realise it is just a computer. Considering that it still costs more than an equivalent spec Windows computer, I do wonder what the fuss is all about.

Is Safari really better than IE9. Is Mac Mail with its limitations better than Windows mail?  Can a new user take to a Mac quicker than Windows. I do not know, but since I love my right click being on the mouse and not a keyboard and mouse click combo. I will stick to Windows for a little longer.

Maybe when Apple release their next model, I will take a look at again, that won't be to far away either as there constanly seems to be a newer model launched every month, we are already up to the iPhone 4S already, I think the 4T comes out soon. I joke of course, but the day I almost fell in love with an Apple certainly changed my admittedly limited perception of what it is all about.
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Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Santam vs Nando's an unlikely duel

We have all come to expect something from the people behind Nando's advertising. They always seem to be able to produce something that brings a smile to one's face. Sometimes the adverts are deemed a little to risque like their 'Last dictator standing' advert which was ultimately banned from airing.

This time they have responded to an insurance company advert. The insurance company advert is clever in that gets you to start noticing things that you don't normally notice, as in the fine print, of for example your insurance contract. Watch the advert here.

Nando's, the popular fast food chicken chain, created this advert as a bit of a tongue-in-chick (cheek) response. Instead of the fine print of the contract they talk about the menu but in the same style and manner as the Santam advert. See it here.

This is normally where it ends as most companies that get spoofed by an Nando's advert normally object and go the boring legal route and get the advert banned. Thankfully for a company that is 94 years old they too have a sense of humour and responded brilliantly with this advert.

If only companies could be this way more often and avoid the courts and embrace the challenge, unlike some very standard bank.
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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Google Doodle all zipped up

The Google doodles are always interesting and the most recent one for today, 24 April 2012, is one of the many interesting doodles. It is about Gideon Sundback who would be celebrating his 132nd birthday today. He is largely credited with the invention of the modern day zipper. Something we all take for granted everyday.

The Google Doodle that greeted us today
More about the Google Doodle, Doodles are known as the decorative changes that are made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists and scientists. The doodle team has created over 300 doodles for Google.com in the United States and over 700 have been designed internationally. For those wanting to see all the Doodles created head on over to www.google.com/logos

What happens when you pull the zipper down

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Saturday, 17 March 2012

Majority Rules, should it?

"Majority rules" is oftened heard in group discussions on plans of action whether in the business environment or social interactions with friends and family. Unfortunately for the person in the minority they will normally hear something like "sorry for you.." and life goes on.

Now in most cases "majority rules" works simply due to the majority of the group generally wanting the same thing. What if however you are the sole person that knows what you are saying or trying to convince others to do is 100% undeniably correct yet the majority do not see it.

Should the majority really rule in all situations? If you had two experts that had a solution to a unique problem yet the majority want to do something else that may work out in the short term but not for the long term why would people go with the majority and not the sure fix. Surely in some instances it makes more sense to give those in the minority more leverage to change a situation.

Obviously this makes sense if those in the minority are providing sensible solutions and are not in fact part of the problem. If things are also being done properly those in minority should also have had their say in swaying the groups opinion to becoming the majority. But there-in the cycle starts again.

Just something to think about.

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Wednesday, 7 March 2012

How the Media changes a story

In South Africa there has been furious discussion over the roll of media in the country and the Media Tribunal is just one of many aspects being discussed. The media has and always be a powerful force in the world. Especially has more and more media houses embrace the full potential of social media their power will only get more powerful.

People everywhere in the world are able to sway discussion in any direction and unfortunately the court of public opinion is where you need to win and for media houses winning means more money. It must be a difficult task to present accurate factual news but what I want to discuss is the brilliant advert below. It is by The Guardian a UK based media company.

As brilliant as the advert is, it proves how the media can turn a story into something so far removed from the core story. A case in point is the strike that is happening all over South Africa. Cosatu, the largest trade union in the country has called a strike to protest the Gauteng e-Toll project and the use of labour brokers.

Both points, that the union is striking against are hot topics of discussion and the e-Tolling is one that has earned the fury of just about all Gauteng residents. So you would think that the media would be focussing on the strike and what the strike is about. The e-Toll project has been covered extensively and continues to be.

The media are covering the strike and doing their bit, but like in the above advert, the story they are covering most is the fact that teachers are striking which obviously impacts on the education of children. The education system is now getting a lot of focus and teacher unions are getting involved in radio talks yet the point of the strike has nothing to do with education?

Do not get me wrong education is a massive priority in this country and deserves all the attention it gets but the point is media can and do twist the initial news story into something completely different. Right or wrong or I do not know but I guess that is how news rooms continue to produce news every day, even on slow news days.

What do you think about media and their power to manipulate a story?

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Monday, 5 March 2012

Facebook's Timeline

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

Facebook has launched their new timeline visual approach to their user profiles. Initially I was not taken with the new lay-out but I have since begun to like it. It is certainly a big change from the existing profile lay-out. The lay-out of old seems to be so bland and boring now.

A nice feature on the timeline is the cover. This graphic is like the book cover to your profile and is a nice big space to show a picture of whatever you want compared to the small profile picture we have had for so long. It is still good to see the profile picture has remained but does take on a slightly less important role now.

The rest of the page is divided into two main columns by a dividing line, representing the passing of time, hence the timeline look and feel. This allows to include milestones or life events and you can record your life’s history easier than ever before.

All those links you used to have on the left hand side of the page have not disappeared they are just displayed elsewhere. There are now a couple of tabs displayed just under the cover picture. These tabs can be expanded by clicking on the little down arrow on the right hand side. What this means is that only three tabs will be displayed at any given time. This gives a bit more life to your profile as the tabs rotate through.

If you have a post that you wish to make more prominent you can select the post and highlight it. This will make your post appear across the entire page and give it more presence.  Also posts that have more comments / shares get a bigger portion of the page. It is a nice way of seeing at a glance which post got the most action.

The timeline is now available to those who have Facebook pages for their businesses or other reasons. The mandatory cutover date is 30 March 2012 to the timeline for pages. The timeline for pages will affect businesses in a big way.

Business will be able to place more branding images on the page now, think of a big Coca-Cola image on the cover picture and the bottle of Coke as the profile picture. Businesses will be able to make use of the milestones feature by way of promotions, specials, product launches. The will be able to build the brand better and engage with customers.

The ability for a page admin to take a message and turn it into a private messaging session with a customer will allow far deeper communication than ever before. Marketers will need to re-think their strategy on which tabs display above the ‘fold’ as this will be the first thing customers will see when landing on the business page.

It should all make for some interesting changes in the way we see people’s lives and businesses unfold in real time. Let me know what you think of the new Facebook timeline on my facebook page TechNOBLEgyIT.

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Friday, 27 January 2012

Cracks appear in the era of the A380

Having flown in this beautiful mammoth double-decker aeroplane of the sky before it was quite a shock to read about the Airbus A380 developing cracks in its wings. Airbus have blamed a combination of both design and manufacturing flaws.

Airbus A380
Image via Wikipedia

The European aircraft manufacturer have managed to establish a way to repair the cracks found on a small number of parts within the wings. This led to European safety authorities ordering safety inspections. The safety inspections are set to be carried out on almost a third of the A380 fleet.

The one-off inspections have not resulted in the grounding of aircraft pending checks but does involve the aircraft being out of service for 24 hours. The more heavily used aircraft which have already been through at least 1800 flight cycles are to be checked first. A flight cycle is one take-off and landing.

"The A380 is safe to fly," Tom Williams, executive vice president of programmes at Toulouse-based Airbus, said. He said engineers had ruled out metal fatigue on the youthful aircraft which first entered service in 2007.
English: ILA 2008: body of an Airbus A380 whic...
Image via Wikipedia
Airbus has blamed the cracks on three errors - designers' choice of aluminium alloy for some of the 4 000 brackets inside the wings, the use of a type of bolt that strained the metal and a way of closing tiny gaps that put more stress on a handful of parts.
The A380 has had a troubled entry to the market. There were a number of production delays which requires the A380 to be manufactured in various countries across Europe. In fact EADS only managed to achieve its delviery target for the first time in 2011. In November 2010 a Qantas A380 suffered an engine blow-out.

Just about all the operators of the A380 including the likes of Air France, Singapore airlines have declined to comment and have not mentioned grounding the planes. There are 68 A380's in service.

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South Africa tweets the most in Africa

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase
Research released on Thursday into Tweeting found that South Africa tweeted the most on the African continent in the last three months of 2011. The study was performed by Portland Communications and Tweetminster.

According to the study South Africans tweeted over five million messages. Kenya was the next closest with 2 476 800 tweets. The next three countries to round off the top five were Nigeria (1 646 212), Egypt (1 214 062) and Morocco (745 620).

The study analysed over 11.5 million geo-located tweets originating on the continent and a survey of the 500 most active African tweeters. South Africa's result as the number one tweeting nation in Africa is a bit of surprise if you look at the Internet penetration in South Africa compared to other African countries.

South Africa surprisingly has a very low Internet penetration due to a number of reasons from its geographic location all the way to down to poor planning but thankfully it is slowly changing and the African powerhouse is getting back on track. So why is South Africa tops when Internet access is limited?

The answer presumably lies in the fact that 57% of the tweets were sent from mobile devices. South Africa has cellular coverage of something like 99% of the country. This means anyone with a mobile device capable of tweeting is accessible to the almost 43 million cellular enabled market in South Africa.

"One of the more surprising findings of this research is that more public figures have not joined Africa's burgeoning Twittersphere," said Mark Flanagan, Portland's partner for digital communications.

"With some notable exceptions, we found that business and political leaders were largely absent from the debates playing out on Twitter across the continent."

The seemingly large absence of political leaders on Twitter in Africa is interesting as most 60% of the users are aged between 20-29 years old. We have seen the world over how the correct use of Twitter can make a leaders campaign a success or failure.

"We saw the pivotal role of Twitter in the events in North Africa last year, but it is clear that Africa's Twitter revolution is really just beginning," said Beatrice Karanja, associate director and head of Portland Nairobi in Kenya.

"Twitter is helping Africa and Africans to connect in new ways and swap information and views. And for Africa, as for the rest of the world, that can only be good."

Why not have your say about the findings on twitter with hashtag #Africatweets

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