Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cambridge Audio One and an old Smartphone

To begin with, there’s nothing wrong with old smartphones. If you want them to make calls, texts, and some browsing, they will continue to serve you for years to come. The biggest problem with smartphones is that they are like little computers in your hands, and the temptation is to fill them with apps. Some apps need RAM to run smoothly (or at all), and older phones have 1GB and often less. They also need internal storage ROM (the SD card storage won’t do for many things, particularly with older versions of Android), and this might be restricted to, say, 8Gb. You end up with a phone that struggles with the basics, and doesn’t even have space to install updates. Continue reading →

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Cambridge Audio One — I got lucky!

When I changed address, of course I brought my stereo system with me. The problem I had was that when I reconnected it all up was that the amplifier developed a hum. Maybe it got knocked on the way. A short while later, the old DVD player I had, gave up the ghost. I replaced it with a DVD/Bluray player which, as it turned out, only had a single output, HDMI. So I couldn’t play CDs direct into the amplifier without putting the TV on! Continue reading →

A bit of IKEA hacking — slide out shelf for record deck

I recently built an IKEA “Bestå” unit as an entertainment centre in the living room. A source of frustration was that IKEA UK do not make a slide-out shelf for their Bestå systems, and I wanted to put a record deck on one, so I had to improvise.

The standard shelf that fits into the unit is 56cm wide and 36cm deep. I needed something a little smaller. I got lucky, I had a table that was going to be scrapped, about 8 years old, and when I dismantled it, I found the width of the table top was about 2mm short of 56cm! I’d planned on maybe 55cm, but figured that if I could get it into the unit, and it could move easily, it would do. I cut it to about 34cm deep. If you are attempting this on a different cabinet, you would need a similar or greater depth than the Bestå in order to accommodate the drawer runner.

besta-runner

Bestå drawer runner pair.

Continue reading →

XFCE4 — Using the General Monitor (Genmon)

[Note that in the examples that follow, all quotes, single and double should be straight. It is wordpress that makes them look like left and right quotes!!]

The XFCE4 desktop is known as a lightweight, fast, functional desktop, yet it has many features. It has a Desktop Settings Manager which calls a number of applets, not as complex or as many the KDE Settings Manager, but all that most people will ever need. There are a nuScreenshot_2016-07-23_13-59-12mber of Panel apps that can be added. The Launcher is the most flexible I have seen, it can appear as a single icon to launch one program, or as an icon with a small arrow, which can have a drop-down menu, and this is done simply by adding more than one program to the Launcher. The top launcher will be the main icon, and if you want the program to re-appear in the drop down, just add it again.

As you can see from the screenshot here, I have put all parts of LibreOffice onto a single launcher.

Continue reading →

British Airways and Legalised Robbery

Imagine this scenario. I’m flogging an old mobile phone. I want £5 for the memory card in it, plus £50 for the phone itself. I draw up a contract, and you send me £50 only, because you don’t want the memory card. I then keep both the phone and the card, because under the terms and conditions of the agreed contract, you have to buy both items in the order stated, and if you fail to buy the memory card, I cancel your order for the phone, and keep your money. Ridiculous, isn’t it?

Well, similar Terms and Conditions exist in the world of Airline flights. And, despite a number of courts condemning them as unfair across Europe, most EU countries, including the UK, have not made changes in the law. Continue reading →

Using a dual-SIM phone in Malta

See previous article: Cubot X12 — Dual SIM Use (Bulgaria)

Compared to Bulgaria, getting a SIM for a mobile phone is more expensive in Malta, and for me was far more confusing. One of the companies, Melita, offers a deal which only includes 100Mb data per week, but also includes free Melita wifi wherever you can find it, and they have a good signal in many places, so you might find that you don’t use that much data. But all options seemed different, with selling points designed to draw you in, whilst other things you needed were either not there, expensive or confusing. My choice was VodafoneMT, because they have a shop in the airport. Continue reading →

Electrical Safety in an International Market

Something has been bugging me for quite a while, about Electrical Safety. Do you ever see stories about how a charger, or a phone on charge, caught fire and caused damage, injury or even death? In the UK given the additional safety of the 3-pin plug system, this shouldn’t happen, should it? Well, consider the following picture:
adaptorsOn the left, you can see a USB phone charger, which uses a 2-pin Euro plug, in the middle the British 3-pin type, and on the right, the 2-pin American type. What would you think is safest of the three? The British 3-pin type? I used to think so, too. Continue reading →

Cubot X12 — Dual SIM Use

I have written before about this great value phone:

A Cheap Android Phone
Practical Stuff on the Cubot X12

Its selling points are 4G/LTE operation, and Dual SIM capability. I’ve already found that 4G works and works well on GiffGaff. I am currently in Bulgaria and I have had a chance to put Dual SIM operation to the test.

Continue reading →

I rooted a phone! And it works!

Everything described here is risky. You can render your phone useless by rooting it or installing a third-party operating system, and you do this entirely at your own risk.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve read about “rooting” an Android mobile phone, but was scared of being left with a brick. However, my Samsung Galaxy S3 was hardly worth saving, once I’d got my new phone. The USB port was buggered, and everything on it took place at snail’s pace.

I did a factory reset, but there was still no way of removing all the bloatware. So although I now had a phone that would work, there were few apps on it that I would want to use. Continue reading →

Practical Stuff on the Cubot X12

See previous article: A Cheap Android Phone

Update 21 Jan 2018: Apps keep getting bigger, and after a while, the 1Gb RAM and 8Gb ROM can no longer cope. So I found a new use for the phone, as a Bluetooth Jukebox. The InfraRed feature on the phone made it even better.

On my old Samsung Galaxy S3 phone, I used to use a program launcher called Solo, rather than the one built in. It’s a great way to build your Home screen on an Android phone. Since switching to the X12, with a lot of problems resolved regarding speed and lock-ups, I started getting more picky about the “little things”. One of which was the tendency for the Weather Clock and Calendar Applets to freeze from time to time, necessitating a reboot.

One of the reasons I found, on the internet, for this was that they are being crashed by over-enthusiastic “memory cleaners”, of which Solo has one built in. I tried a number of other Launchers, and generally they had the same problem. And they could not do what Solo did, to vary the screen grid (I think it looks better with 5 rows and 4 columns, than the standard 4×4). Continue reading →