Sep 25
Organizing all those Chargers
icon1 techandlife | icon2 Tech tips | icon4 September 25, 2013| icon3No Comments »

device charger organizer

If you’re anything like me, you’re gathering an ever increasing number of device chargers scattered around the house for all your tablets, smartphones, etc. Not just yours but probably all your family’s devices as well. I can count six here and a whole bunch for old tech lying around. I googled for solutions to organize and store these battery chargers and liked the ideas I saw on Pinterest, particularly behind-the-door shoe organizers. These seem to be just the right size for our chargers. I searched ebay for hanging shoe organizers and came up with the 20 pocket one shown above for £5.88. Some people suggest pinning a photo of the gadget to the front of the pocket but I just used my Brother P-touch 1000 labeller to label each pocket.

To store your charger, I found it best to loosely coil the cable, shove that down into the pouch first then the charger itself at the top of the pouch. That way you can pull out the charger hopefully without getting a tangle of cable.

How do you deal with all your chargers? Drop a comment below.


Sep 19

Red Cross First Aid app

I was loading up my new Nexus 4 smartphone with apps last week and trying to figure what I would definitely need when out and about. Quite separately, I was also wondering whether I would know how to treat a stroke victim if I ever came across this in my family, friends or just out on the street. It occurred to me that a First Aid app would be really useful on a smartphone.

I did an evening class in First Aid, let me see, over 30 years ago now. Needless to say, I’ve forgotten just about everything I’ve learned. I do have a few First Aid books, but what use are they if you come across a casualty on the street. With a smartphone app, it’s always there with you.

So I had a look at first aid apps on Google Play Store and chose First Aid by British Red Cross. It has five stars and a 4.8 rating from 1416 reviews.

Red Cross First Aid menu

One thing I liked was that it worked offline. Pretty much essential as you don’t want to be hunting for a signal in that sort of situation. I looked up stroke and learned everything I need to know for a First Aid situation: Think F.A.S.T. Face: is there weakness on one side of their face? Arms: can they raise both arms?  Speech, is their speech easily understood?  Time,  time to call for help.

So hunt down a First Aid smartphone app and get it on your smartphone. I hope you don’t need to use it, but if you do it’s there ready for you.

Which First Aid smartphone app do you use? Have you ever had to use it in an emergency? Drop a comment below.


Sep 12

Three

I work from home and when I go out I’m a light mobile user. Maybe a couple of calls a day, a couple of texts and say 10 to 15 minutes of internet access on my Nexus 4 smartphone – I’m not a big Facebook user, just use my phone for news, search and information and if I’m travelling. So a contract would not really be value for money for me. In fact I’ve been Pay As You Go (PAYG) for years with O2, but I really just find their mobile rates overcomplicated with bolt-ons, etc. What I wanted was a simple to understand, good-value UK mobile network provider, and I think I’ve finally found one in Three.

Quick disclaimer here. I’m not sponsored by Three, there are no affiliate links here, nor do I get any fee from them for this post. I use this blog to pass on great things I come across.

PAYG on Three

PAYG on Three tariffs are very simple. 3p for all calls in the UK (to mobiles and landlines), 2p for texts and 1p per MB of data. Your balance doesn’t expire at the end of the month and you get 150 MB of free data when you top up. The free data does expire in 1 month. You should also note that the PAYG plans don’t allow tethering . You can transfer your own mobile number to Three. You can also manage your account online including checking your balance and remaining free minutes. Of course you need to check Three’s network coverage in your area before you send off for the free SIM.

So if your phone is unlocked, try PAYG on Three if it suits your lifestyle. For the first time in about 10 years, I’m happy with my phone tariff and I’m not watching my balance. For example, I can now get a 4 minute phone call to another mobile for the price it used to cost me to send one text on O2 (12p).  And because I’m a light user, I’m finding my 150 MB of free data is lasting roughly about 3 weeks. After that, it’s 1p per MB until my next top up so that’s not bad.


Sep 5

Catalina

We’ve all done it. A big event comes along like an air display, steam train special through our area, kid’s graduation from college, and what are we doing? Probably missing much of it by staring through our viewfinders or clicking our camera phones trying to get a great shot. And we don’t just take one, we usually take a whole bunch, or even capture the whole event on video. And afterwards, what memories do we have of the actual event? Probably not as many as if we had just left the camera down and took in the atmosphere of the event without it.

Recently, a PBY5A Catalina flying boat made a tour of Britain giving displays at venues around the country as part of the Circuit of Britain 100th Anniversary. I hadn’t seen one before so I decided to go along to the nearest display which happened to be at Cromarty (Ross-shire, Scotland). It was pretty well attended, and when I arrived, many folk were already there parked along the seafront, windbreaks erected all waiting for the event. And we weren’t disappointed. We were all treated to a wonderful 15 minute display across blue skies. I took 10 photos and 3 videos on my trusty old Canon Powershot compact camera. But after the event, I just got the feeling that perhaps I should have taken fewer photos and videos and just watched and listened as the Catalina majestically circled around.

It’s happened to me before on many occasions. Last year at another air display, we were all treated to a low level flypast by a Boeing B-52 bomber. I took three photos as it made its solitary pass. None of the photos are worth showing here, and I don’t have much of a memory of the event.

Of course, on your kid’s graduation, you have to get a shot of the scroll being handed over. I tried on two separate occasions, positioned by the side wall so as not to obstruct anyone’s view and ended up with blurry photos in a dark hall and would have been much better just to have put the camera down and enjoyed the occasion.

Don’t get me wrong, if photography is your hobby and you have all the proper equipment, try to get that great shot, but for most of us, worrying about getting it right with our camera phone or compact camera is probably going to detract from the enjoyment you should be getting from the event. If you must, try taking just one or two shots and then just put the camera down. Anyway, chances are that before you get home, there will be plenty of photos of the event up on Flickr, Twitter and Facebook and videos on YouTube.


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