David Artiss

Author: David (page 63 of 115)

Dropbox lands on Android!

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Finally, Dropbox, my favourite file sharing service, is available on Android!

The app is relatively simply – sign in, initially, to DropBox and you can view and scroll through your shared files and folders. Click on any to download it and launch. Files on your phone can be shared by simply going into DropBox and clicking the “Upload” option from the menu – sadly it doesn’t add any sharing ability to other apps (e.g. photo albums), so you have to go into Dropbox itself to choose the file.

You can even take pictures and videos and have them immediately saved in your Dropbox by opening the app first and using a further upload option from the menu. A nice touch.

You can also send links to files via email, to allow them to be shared with others.

Overall, it works well – quick, looks good and doesn’t appear buggy. It’s not amazingly powerful in its capabilities, but then neither is the desktop version. It just does what it’s supposed to – share files.

Non-Slip Charging Stand

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It appears to go by many names, but most regularly it appears to be known as the Desk Genie or Deskmate. It’s a charging stand for your mobile phone, MP3 player and other devices, which also includes a 2-port USB 2 hub and multi-card reader.

Different versions appear to come packaged differently – mine, marketed as the Kitpower Deskmate, came in a transparent plastic box. A USB cable (which is, bizarrely, white when everything else, including all other cables are black) connects the stand to your PC – a blue light glows at the front and it provides power and connectivity to the card reader and USB ports. An additional cable connects to the back and provides power to your device via a number of interchangeable tips.

The card reader is an 8-in-1 (M2/Micro SD/MS/MS Pro Duo/SD/MMC/RS MMC/Mini SD). In my case this is very handy, because it will accept Micro SD cards without the need for an adapter.

The phone is held on the device via a slightly sticky pad – when I first received it, my phone kept slipping off but a quick wipe with a damp cloth and it appeared better. However, after a few days of not being used over the bank holiday weekend (I have it on my desk at work), it’s gathered a little more dust and the phone is slipping again – it’s holding properties are certainly not as good as some reviews have made out.

My version came from play.com and cost just £12.99 (including P&P).

[review]Cheap and has a very handy multi-card reader. Not sure about it’s holding ability, and that’s key to this being of use. None-the-less, as a generic phone stand it’s good value.[/review]

Samsung Customer Service

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I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about the memory card in my daughters mobile phone failing after 4 months (actually 3.5 months to be more precise).

Phones4u sent me a replacement card – a SanDisk equivalent, but a lowly type 2 instead of the Samsung type 6.

I also took the opportunity to write to Samsung to see if there’s anything they’d be willing to do about recovering the lost photos and videos on the card. I sent that letter on Friday so was pleasantly suprised to find a message on my answering machine yesterday from Samsung. It was a chap named Jim, who asked me to give Samsung a call on a specific number with a customer reference. Great.

So today I rang, quoting my reference. I didn’t get the gentleman’s name but he started off by saying that there was nothing that could be done about recovering the data. Odd, that many other companies can. He said that their memory cards are covered by 5 or 10 year guarantees and that I should ring a different number about this. So I dully rang this other number and got through to… Orange sales department? OK, the phone was from Orange but I’d never mentioned this at any point to Samsung.

I rang Samsung back and spoke to Karen. And after giving all my details again, she dropped a corker on me.

Apparantly, Samsung don’t make mobile phone memory cards. Wow. Just, wow. No, apparantly they make memory cards for cameras but not phones. Which is odd, because this is a MicroSD memory card, and not many cameras use those.

She doesn’t know why I was given the number for Orange and was generally unhelpful. When I mentioned Jims name from yesterday, she suggested he call me.

As soon as I hear from him, I’ll let you know. Needless to say, so far, Samsung customer service has been anything but.

Update:

Minutes after posting this, I had a call back – not from Jim, but Helen again.
My customer service query had ended up at the Mobile Phone customer service, and they don’t support memory cards. I was told that the number they’d quoted me earlier (the one that turned out to be Orange) they’d “got from a website”. As that was wrong they were escalating my case elsewhere (didn’t catch where to), but that a response would be 1-3 days away.

Download ZyXEL NSA210 firmware to fix iTunes

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After speaking with ZyXEL, they are happy for me to make public their firmware fix for media not appearing in iTunes when using their NSA210 NAS drive.

  1. Click here to download the firmware from MediaFire. It’s a little over 26 MB in size.
  2. Unzip the resulting file. You should find a .bin and a .txt file
  3. Sign into the NSA210 administration screen
  4. Click Maintenance > FW Upgrade to open the following screen…
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to upload the .bin file you downloaded and uncompressed previously
  6. Once complete you should find your firmware level to be shown as V3.20(AFD.0)2010Apr06
  7. I’d now recommend turning off and on the media and iTunes server and rebuilding the database.

If you are having further problems and are from the UK then you need to contact ZyXEL customer services via their email or call them on 0845 122 0301. If you are outside the UK, then you’ll need to contact your local ZyXEL support team.

WordPress – Create an instant link to Wikipedia

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I’m often wanting to create quick and useful links to Wikipedia. Obviously, you could add a link manually each time, but wouldn’t an automated system be so much better?

Well, crack open your functions.php file within your theme folder and added the following code…

Then, simply add the shortcode [wikilink] around any word/words that you wish to look up on Wikipedia.

For example….

The [wikilink]HTC Hero[/wikilink] runs the [wikilink]Android operating system[/wikilink].

This would then produce the following output…

The HTC Hero runs the Android operating system.

The links open in new windows (i.e. target=_blank) and I’ve set rel=nofollow – obviously you can change the above code to modify any of this.

ZyXEL NSA210 – Firmware fix to iTunes problem

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About a month ago I blogged about some excellent customer service from ZyXEL where, after a hesitant start, they fell over themselves to help me with a problem with my recently purchased NAS.

It’s taken a month to resolve the problem, but a lot of that was due to me, but it is now fixed!

As mentioned, I was finding that iTunes wasn’t reading any contents from the in-built iTunes server. It was recognising the NAS but not listing any music from it. Over the last few weeks we’ve tried all sorts but, nothing worked. In the end, ZyXEL gathered enough information to be able to recreate the problem themselves and created a firmware update, which they provided exclusively to me.

According to their own readme file it changes the following…

  1. Upgrade itunes firefly mediaserver to 0.2.4.2
  2. Fix: itunes server not able to work when reboot
  3. Fix re-download and re-hash issue of download service

They don’t appear to have assigned a version number to it yet as the firmware level in the admin screen only changes from V3.20(AFD.0) to V3.20(AFD.0)2010Apr06, indicating the build date of 6th April 2010.

It’s a 26MB download, which then requires unzipping. From that I had a firmware .BIN file and the aforementioned “readme” text file. The upgrade process is simple and takes a few minutes.

I rebuilt my media server and iTunes has worked since.

I’ve enquired with ZyXEL as to when the firmware will be publicly available as I’m aware, from their forums, of other users with the same problems. As soon as I hear anything, I’ll update this post.

Update: The firmware I was sent is not a complete version, hence the lack of a firmware version. It should be a few months before the final, and complete, version is made available. In the meantime, I’ll enquire as to whether I can make the version that I was sent available.

Second Update: I have made the firmware available for download – please see my new post.

Google Reader redirect issue – security concern?

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Around 2pm today, I found that attempting to display Google Reader caused a redirect to a Google Docs login page – more specifically, a signin page for Google employees [1]Well, I assume so – it was insisting on an email ending with google.com!.

Looking on Twitter I found only a couple of other people reporting it, although one person mentioned it in relation to a blog from Google SEO expert Matt Cutts. I also follow his blog feed, so I guessed it was related.

Google Reader would briefly display so I clicked on the first unread item title – this caused the feed entry to open seperately and mark the feed item as read. Eventually I got down to the Matt Cutts feed item and, after clicking on that, my Google Reader worked perfectly again. I sent details of the workaround to those on Twitter reporting the same problem.

Matt Cutts has now stated..

Doh! Sorry about the redirect on the most recent blog post. Should be fixed now

The post itself contains a video and, possibly the cause, an embedded Google Docs presentation (did he originally have it pointing to a protected document?).

But this obviously raises a question about security of Google Reader. How is it possible for a news feed to cause Google Reader to, effectively, stop working and divert to another web page. Is this a vulnerability that could be exploited by spammers, for instance?

I’ve sent a Tweet to Matt Cutts and will report back if I get any further details.

References   [ + ]

1. Well, I assume so – it was insisting on an email ending with google.com!

Samsung memory card – failed after 4 months!

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Last Christmas I bought my eldest daughter a Samsung Tocco Lite mobile phone. I bought it from Phones4U, as they were also providing a free Samsung 8GB Micro SD card.

4 months of use later and the card has failed. And I don’t mean the data has gone – it appears the controller has stopped working and, hence, the card is totally inaccessible. Unfortunately, my daughter didn’t backup her myriad of photos, videos and music.

But… seriously? 4 months?

I’ve contacted Phones4u and, with no quibble, said they’d send out a replacement card.

I thought I’d also contact Samsung to see if there’s anything they can do about recovering the data. Or at least query why their card lasted so little amount of time. Unfortunately, Samsung UK only offer support via phone or post – no twitter or email support. I tried the phone option but it appears to be an Indian-based Helpdesk and I gave up.

I’ll try sending a letter and see how that goes – Phones4u haven’t asked for the faulty card back so I can hold onto that in case Samsung are able to do anything about the contents.

There are companies that will remove the memory chip and recover the contents, but it’s an expensive process.

So, top marks to Phones4u and a wooden spoon to Samsung. So far. Can they redeem themselves?

T-Mobile & Poor Reception

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Since getting my HTC Hero (sorry, T-Mobile G2 Touch), I’ve been plagued with poor reception problems at home. T-Mobiles map shows a very good signal strength for my area, but I’m often without ANY reception when indoors (and it’s a 70’s build semi, not a Victorian terrace with thick walls).

It was never bad enough an issue (I don’t get many calls at home!) that it was worth returning the phone, but I contacted T-Mobile.

First of all, there was their description of what the signal map meant…

it looks like the coverage is ‘good’ the description of ‘good’ explains outdoor only guaranteed.

Now, maybe it’s just me, but not being able to get a signal when inside your house does not indicate “good” to me. That’s poor.I’m not talking about the 3G signal either – there isn’t one. This is the basic 2G/able to make a phone call signal.

When pushed a little further, their response was…

ahh, sadly there’s nothing we can do re the network. another phone may have better radio reception, failing that we have to accept it 🙂

Nice.

Maybe the merger of T-Mobile and Orange will mean that they’ll start sharing transmitters – my wife is on Orange and has no such signal problems. Indeed, I never had problems with my previous phone, which was on O2 and my SatNav, which uses Vodafone, is fine. My Three broadband dongle has no signal though, so they’re also best avoided by me.

I love my Hero, but there are lots of good looking Android phones appearing on the market at the moment. Come my contract renewal in 15 months time, I’ll be seriously looking elsewhere.

Signal strength is a big issue when buying mobile phones, as few networks will do anything if you get home with your shiny new phone and find you have no signal.

I was therefore quite intrigued to hear of Vodafone’s solution to this – their Mobile Phone Signal Booster. This connects to your home broadband and provides a Vodafone 3G network in your home.

Their network maps show me as having an excellent 2G signal (so I can at least receive phone calls when at home) and a reasonable 3G signal, possibly only working outside. So a single payment of £50 will get me their Signal Booster, ensuring I get a strong 3G signal, even at home. If they have the phone I’m after next year, it may be a winner for me!

Creating a random number in Excel

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To create a whole random number in Excel, place the following into the equation line :

=INT((RAND()*max)+min)

Where min and max are the minimum and maximum values. For example…

=INT((RAND()*10)+1)

This will generate a number between (and including) 1 and 10.

This will be recalculated every time the spreadsheet is opened. Alternatively, press F9 to update the number.

If you don’t want the numbers to change every time the cell is calculated, you can enter the equation into the formula bar and then press F9 to change the formula to a fixed random number.

All of the above works with OpenOffice, with the exception of using F9 in the formula bar to fix the result.

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