Posts Tagged Tech

Living in a technological world, and I am a technological boy…

Is there a place for teaching our children how to code?

Is there a place for teaching our children how to code?

I fell into IT. Seriously, I was studying Mechanical Design until my course was abbreviated, removing any accreditation for any additional higher learning that I wanted to pursue. However, I topped both of my CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) classes and so I thought that maybe I should switch to Computer Sciences… and the rest is history.

However, these days, information technology pervades all aspects of our lives! As a father of two young children, I find myself wondering how much should I guide my children towards technology studies without having them glued to a computer screen 24/7? (which would get me killed by their mother!)

I have recently come across the following article which is about why you should be introducing your children to coding from an early age. Just having them learn the concepts of logic and problem solving can help a child understand how to tackle even non-IT problems with a structured approach, hopefully saving them a lot of frustration and angst.

Why your 8-year-old should be coding

One other point made in the article is this: There is very little innovation in the education sector with regards to schools today and what they are teaching our kids. They are teaching the same things that they have taught over the last 50 years, but only in different ways. As a parent, you need to look outside of the education square and find other ways to supplement your children’s learning… not only improve the quality of their education but to also feed the natural curiosity that we all start life with, but what a lot of us seem to lose somewhere along the way.

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Photocopiers – A not so obvious security risk!

We all have used photocopiers at some stage to copy personal documents when applying for loans, rental accommodation, passports, etc.  What a lot of people don’t realise is that most photocopiers use a hard drive to build the image of the document that they are replicating for you, and then don’t necessarily delete that image once you have completed your photocopying.  This also applies for to the multi-function photocopiers that people use in offices to send faxes.

The following CBS investigation (from back in June 2012) details just how easy it is for ANYONE to purchase a second hand machine and gain access to this stored sensitive data.

Whilst there is no a lot that you can do to force the various institutions that we deal with to improve their security policies on these things, you can try and reduce your own risk.

My recommendation would be that if you are planning on copying private documents (eg photocopying your driver’s license or credit cards for any sort of application) either use a scanner (yours or one that belongs to a trusted friend) to scan the documents in, and then print them.  Take note that if you do this you may also have to check that the scanned image is deleted from the computer that you have used to perform the scanning (unless you use one of the simpler home multi-function printers).

I know that all of this may sound a little paranoid to some of you but at the end of the day, you are responsible for how secure your personal details are, so try to do what you can to protect yourself.

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Problems with your new iPhone 5? Then take it to an Apple Store.

If it is an iPhone, and you have a problem with it,
then the people to talk to are at an Apple Store near you.

Tuesday, last week, I dropped by my local Apple Store to check if they had any in stock.  I received the expected response of “No, but we will be getting new stock in any time now.” and was referred to going to the Apple site to check for updates on availability. When I got home, later that day, I checked the site but could find nothing about the availability of the new models for a particular store but did stumble across the Apple – Reserve and Pick Up page. I shrugged my shoulders about this, forgot about it for a few days, and then, on a whim, reserved a new 32GB Black iPhone via the page at about 4pm on the Friday.

Saturday morning I noticed an email from Apple saying that I had an iPhone ready for me to pickup at 11:30am that day. Yippee!

So, after some juggling of other commitments and winning a game of Paper, Scissors, Rock as to who was going to look after the kids, I wandered down to the Apple Store, filled out the paper work, lit a candle in memory of Steve Jobs, chanted mindlessly with the other other drones about the greatness of Apple, and walked out with my not so shiny (because it was the black model, duh!) iPhone 5.

(Can any Android fan (who may be reading this) pick out the two little tid-bits that I included in the last sentence, to provide you with some sense of smugness over your choice of mobile handset ? Yes? :P)

All was good in the collective until I later that night I found that when I was connected to WiFi, I couldn’t access any webpages.  I tried turning WiFi off, then on, and I would get connectivity long enough to do a Google search, but couldn’t access any pages from there.  Not good, especially since my old iPhone 4 (still on iOS 5) was connecting and loading web pages with no issues at all.

So I searched the web and discovered that there were a number of people having problems with their iPhone 5, and also with any iOS device (iPad 2 & 3, 3GS, 4, 4S) that they had upgraded to iOS 6. A number of solutions had been put forward which can be read about further on the iDownloadBlog.  I tried all of these, including performing a factory reset on my iPhone in case it was an issue with my restored iPhone 4 backup, but my wireless issue would not disappear.

So, the next day, I’m back at the Apple Store, with my new iPhone in hand…

Apple Guy: “Hi sir! How can I help you today?”

Me: “My new iPhone 5 is faulty. I can connect to WiFi but cannot access web pages.

Apple Guy: “Let’s have a look, shall we.  Hmmm, yes, I have seen this issue before.  Please wait a minute and we will get you a new iPhone 5.”

And THAT was it!

Apparently, out of all the iPhone 5 stock that has been sold to date, that particular store had had 4 returned with this issue.  This is understandable since you will always have faults in any manufactured electronics product. What I loved about this was the fact that, with an iPhone, if something is wrong with it, the people at the Apple Store will either fix it or replace it.

Do people with Android handsets get that level of support if they have a problem? Not in my experience… and by experience I mean me tech supporting my wife as she suffered numerous issues with a HTC Desire, HTC Legend, and a Samsung Galaxy S.  Needless to say, she has an iPhone 4S now and loves it.

Now, mind you, if it is out of warranty, or the issue appears to be due to damage beyond normal wear and tear (do not hand over your iPhone if it is still dripping water), you aren’t going to get much more than an offer to purchase a subsidised refurbished iPhone. However, if there is a problem with your iPhone take it to an Apple Store.

This also goes for those of you who have purchased/contracted an iPhone from a Telstra/Optus/Vodaphone retailer/agent.  The Apple Store is your “Go To” place for your Apple products, no matter where you have purchased them from.

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Where have I been?

Random photo to prove that yes, I have been busy.

So, anyone who has stumbled upon this little blog AND who has been foolish enough to attempt to follow it would know that it has been a little over a year since I have written anything for it.

I’m pretty sure that I posted a warning somewhere about how infrequent posts could end up being…

Anyway… since my last post I have:

  • posted a number of dining reviews for EatDrinkBrisbane.com and EatDrinkGoldCoast.com
  • helped in the process of bringing another midget into the world
  • gave up on dragonboating as I couldn’t commit the time to training since moving back to the Gold Coast
  • been working on new software (at work) to replace the product that we have been providing professional services for for over 10 years
  • been to the Colorado, USA twice (VERY COOL) for training on the new product
  • working like crazy to gear up the business to “step up to the next level”
  • stopped writing dining reviews because I just have not had the time to do it justice
  • oh, and have completely ignored this blog!

So, as you can see, I have been pretty busy.  Most importantly, now that we are a family of four, I have been very much trying to focus as much time as I can on the upbringing of my two incredible kids, keeping my amazing wife sane, whilst trying to secure our future financially… and it has been bloody exhausting! LOL

So, I am not going to make a commitment to update this blog on a regular basis, but I will be writing of things interesting to myself from time to time. If, by some stretch of the imagination, you find these posts interesting and/or informative, please drop me a comment and let me know.  Everyone loves to know when their rambling interests others… it separates us from that crazy guy that hangs around outside of the local Seven Eleven, with a stuffed Aardvark on his shoulder, mutting about the “End of the World is Nigh”. 😛

Happy Reading!

PS – I have changed the website’s theme as I am no longer trying to impress Telstra to be a part of their Windows Phone 7 Social Review (I feel pretty dirty for even attempting that).

PPS (or is it PSS??) – I had to be honest with myself and remove the “dragon boating” element from the site’s by-line, since I no longer participate in the sport…. actually, I am not participating in ANY sport, which is something that I really need to rectify at some point.

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How dependant are we on GPS technology?

GPS Satellites
I recently discovered, in a Gizmodo Article about GPS Jammers, just how dependant we (as a modern society) are on GPS technology and exactly how simple it is to disrupt it.  The obvious victims of a GPS outage are navigation systems and mobile phones, but other impacted systems would include power grids, air traffic control, and bank ATMs, just to name a few.

For more information, check out the link to the Gizmodo article below:

GPS Chaos: How A $US30 Box Can Jam Your Life

 

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Share links between your browser & your smartphone!

So, I was reading through Lifehacker today (as I normally do most days), and I came across an article on Site to Phone – a service that allows you to share links between your browser and your smartphone.

This is installed on your browser either via an Chrome Extension/Internet Explorer Accelerator add-on or a bookmarklet (any browser).  To install on your smartphone, you need to navigate your phone’s browser to a provided URL and bookmark it. You are identified via an ID number but if you struggle remembering the number or want slightly better security for your shared bookmarks, you can setup a login/password using an email address.

When you are on a page that you wish to share with your smartphone, click on the bookmarklet, or select the “Send page to phone” item in the context menu (provided via the extension/add-on), and a link to the page is stored as a redirect from the page that your smartphone’s bookmark points to.  Simple!

For more information, check out the link to the Lifehacker article below:

Site to Phone Shares Links Between Any Browser and Your Smartphone

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How to change the iPhone backup location on windows?

iPhone Backup

Well, some of us more technically-oriented people out there rarely stick with the standard hard drive configuration of a newly purchased PC/notebook.  This is usually because it is not terribly efficient or safe to have all of your data sharing the same partition as the operating system, amongst other things… so we usually set the OS partition of the HDD down to a more reasonable size (for example, my laptop uses a 40GB partition for it’s primary OS, while the rest of the 300GB drive is a partition for all my documents, development work, etc).

Of course, one can always be a bit too smart for their own good, especially when you are forced to use locked down applications like iTunes to backup/manage your iPhone. In the case of iTunes, it stores all of your iPhone backup data on the drive that it installs to, which for nearly everyone out there is the OS partition.  If you have a 16GB or 32GB iPhone, the backups for these can fill up your OS partition quite rapidly, you run out of disk space, and iTunes will start informing you that it cannot successfully backup your iPhone!

There is no way to change the backup location from with iTunes (thanks Apple!), so I googled my issue and came across a number of articles (for example, link) about changing the location of the backup files… However, they all relied on a little bit of command line knowledge, so I thought that I would clarify a bit more for the rest of you out there.

There is a tool called Junction (link) that creates an NTFS symbolic link between a “pseudo folder” and another folder that can be located on another drive. This means that “pseudo folder” will “fool” iTunes into thinking backup folder on the other drive is actually located where the “pseudo folder” resides.

For example, if your backup folder is located at C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup but you wish to move it to E:\iPhone\Backup, then you will want to do the following:

  1. Close iTunes
  2. Using Windows Explorer, copy the contents of C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup to E:\iPhone\Backup
  3. Create a folder called Temp at C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync.
  4. Move the contents of the ..\MobileSync\Backup folder to the newly created Temp folder (his just provides a backup of your current system which can be easily moved back to the Backup folder if anything goes wrong).
  5. Delete the now empty Backup folder (this is because we will be creating a new Backup “pseudo folder” here).
  6. Download Junction (via the link above) and extract it to the E:\iPhone\Backup folder.
  7. Open a command prompt and enter these commands:

E:
cd E:\iPhone
junction "C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup" E:\iPhone\Backup

Points of Note

  1. Change UserName in the C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup folder detailed above to whatever your user name is.  Also, this location is for Windows 7, so Vista and Windows XP may use different paths for this sort of user data.
  2. I have tested this only to determine whether or not I can get iTunes to backup to the new location (which it does)… However, I am yet to actually attempt a backup restoration using this setup. If anyone does, please drop me a comment here and let me know.
  3. Also, if a newer installation of iTunes (I am using 9.2.1.5) blows away the Backup folder and then recreates it (anything is possible in the world of software), then this new folder will no longer be linked to the E:\iPhone\Backup folder

Special thanks to Am1rr3zA at http://efreedom.com for his original answer to this question, which is where I sourced most of this information.  However, the main reason that I have written this article is primarily due to the fact that I found the syntax for the commands were incorrect, which caused a bit of frustration for myself when I was attempting to sort all of this out.

I hope that this helps the some of you out there.

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