Archive for January, 2009

Installing Windows XP With Flash Drive (Acer Aspire One)

I have recently installed XP on my Aspire One. I followed the tutorial below which worked perfectly. The only thing I had a problem with was creating the bootable Flash Drive using Vista, but I had no issues when I tried again using my XP machine. The The flash drive size has to be at least 1 GB and the whole process should not take you more than an hour.

This tutorial uses an Acer Aspire One as an example but this method is fine to use for any other computer. I will also say that I am not too sure about using this method for different operating systems, so look elsewhere for installing Vista or anything else.

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Why SMS Should Die

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I have rather a large dislike for SMS messaging, stemming mainly from my hatred of numeric keypads. But not only is it annoying to write SMS it is more annoying to pay for sending them. So here is a little bit of mathematics for you.

The maximum SMS message size is 160 characters. One character equals 8 bits, one byte. And there are 1,048,576 bytes in 1MB. So 6553.6 SMS = 1MB of data (1,048,576 / 160) Now to say an SMS costs 5p you end up with a cost of 32,768p, £327.68 to send 1MB of data. Now of course I am not saying that this is a situation that the average SMS user will be in.

The point I am making is that if email replaced SMS we would have an infinitely cheaper and richer messaging experience.

On my network (O2) I have an unlimited data plan for £10 a month, so putting that into messaging terms you are getting unlimited messages (containing text, pictures or whatever you want) for £10 a month (compared to 200 text messages). Also if you compare my free broadband service provided by talk talk (FREE with the landline) I can transfer 40GB of data a month, which in SMS cost would cost me around £1.308×10^10 (£13,080,000,000) So what I am really asking is how can they overcharge so much?  I know not everybody has an email capable phone, and everybody has an SMS capable phone, but this is where the change needs to be made.

It is not only a matter of everybody having email capable phones (which most people do, even if they do not realize), the main hurdle is getting people to use email instead of SMS. I see the only way forward is just getting rid of SMS so people are forced to have a much more pleasant experience.

One thing holding us back, is the absence of a cheap, easy to use phone with only the main features you need. Maybe Android (Google’s open source phone operating system) can provide us with something along these lines. Having a few simple features such as Phone, Address Book, Camera and Mail I could see this phone being far from unpopular. Although in this case people may not like paying £10 a month for unlimited data use, so I would say if orange can give us free Facebook they can give us at least 1000 free emails a month.

Update: I just stumbled upon a short article on Gizmodo confirming my point I left out of this post. In Japan SMS is non existant and everyone uses email, so it IS possible. http://i.gizmodo.com/5145203/for-japan-email-is-a-cellphone-phenomenon

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Changes to iTunes

As some of you may know, 80% of iTunes’ 10,000,000 strong music library is now DRM free, and by the end if this quarter they hope to have a 100% DRM free library.

In addition to removing DRM they have also altered the pricing of their music. Previously there was little escape from the $0.99 price point for a single song. But now music labels can choose to sell their songs for $0.69, $0.99 or $1.29, when these new prices were announced it was also said that many many more songs will be sold at $0.69 than songs sold at $1.29, so most users will either make a saving or at least break even, so you cannot really complain.

Not only is the DRM removed, but the audio is higher quality at 256kbps and you can download music with your iPhone over 3G as well as wifi.

For those of you who have large iTunes-purchased music libraries  you can upgrade previously purchased songs for $0.30, music videos for $0.60 and whole albums for 30% of their price. I imagine this cost would surely mount up to a silly amount if you wanted to upgrade your entire library.

In a battle of digital music sites Amazon used to win by a mile with it’s lack of DRM, higher quality, mp3 format and variable prices. But now iTunes has matched Amazon in DRM and bit rate, so the winner is now decided with your preference. Either you settle for acc and a larger selection, or mp3 and a smaller selection.

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iPhone Evernote

Evernote is truly the most useful iPhone application I have come across. Long story short it is a note taking device. But it is of course much more than that.

It allows you to make a Text, Photo or Voice note. but again that is not all. It can read text within pictures which is then made searchable, and on top of that it geo-tags all the notes you take on your iPhone so you know where the note was taken.

So, for example here is a perfect situation to use it:

  1. You park your car at the Trafford Centre, you often forget where you parked and spend ages in the cold looking for your car.
  2. Take out your iPhone and open Evernote.
  3. Take a picture of your car or better yet a sign detailing the parking section.
  4. Do your shopping.
  5. Open Evernote.
  6. Open the picture note you created earlier, tap “Details” and “View on Map”
  7. Maps opens and places a pin where your car is.
  8. From there you can make your own way there or even ask Maps for the directions.
  9. You are at your car, happy and warm.

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iPhone 3G

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Well finally I have ownership over an iPhone, so my new years resolution of “blog more” will be a whole lot easier. I’m sure anybody reading this article will be sick to death of reading about the iPhone, so i will go through its bad parts for you.

  • The main annoyance is its embarrassingly low ringer volume which I had never heard anybody complain about, even from friends who own iPhones(so I may have had a rather loud ringer on my previous phone).
  • Hand in hand with the low ringer volume is the relatively low speaker volume, it is not as embarrassing as the ringer volume but it definitely leaves something to be desired.#
  • The GPS within Maps is pseudo-real time (i assume to save batter), but I put that down to the maps application because the GPS performs much better within other location applications. Also Tom Tom have said they are developing a full featured GPS app, which they would not do if they had inferior GPS hardware to deal with.
  • I cannot really knock the camera because it is what it says on the box, 2 megapixels with no flash. but it is certainly a handy tool to have in applications such as WordPress, allowing me to take and upload pictures to my blog on the move.

So those are my problems with the iPhone, but of course they are overshadowed by the device’s immense greatness, I did not buy it as a phone, I bought it as an iPod Touch with mobile internet, GPS capabilities and a speaker, and overall I am FAR from disappointed.

So with the applications now available to me which would be obsolete on the iPod Touch I now have a new list of favorite Applications (All Free):

  • Facebook – A few months ago I was opposed to Social networks for reasons I cannot remember (probably due to my horrible experiences with MySpace) But now I enjoy few things more than uploading my photos to Facebook. The iPhone application is very useful which lacks only the ability to look at and join groups.

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  • Tris – No longer in the App Store, this is a simple Tetris game which is a real boredom slayer.

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  • WritingPad – This is an alternative note taking application where instead of taping each letter individually you press your finger on the first letter, then keeping your finger on the screen move it to the letters in the word, drawing a line from letter to letter (its hard to explain). Its strange to get used to but it is definitely a lot quicker. you can even email notes to people, so it also speeds up emailing.

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  • EasyWrier – Very simple application which allows you to compose email messages with a landscape keyboard.
  • Evernote – This is truly the most useful application I have come across. Long story short it is an advanced note taking device which I shall write a separate post on.

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  • Shazam – Another greatly useful application. When you hear a song which you would like to know the name of, just open it and tap “Tag Now” and in a few seconds it will tell you the name of the song and give you links to iTunes, YouTube, Reviews, Discography and Biography for the band and artist.

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