Dodgy 3G

Nexus One

Earlier this week I was without 3G on my home mobile phone. Trying to use it resulted a “failed to connect to server error”. I certainly had signal and it wasn’t even working in areas where I know it should work.

My initial thought was that the T-Mobile (EE) network had fallen over, but with no one else reporting issues it was only me having the problem.

What I found out later was that I had exceeded my “fair use” limit on my unlimited 3G plan. This has only happened once or twice before and I was, then, able to get a free booster to extend my limit.

This time though the SMS messages I received from EE, the pages I was redirected to on the phone, did not indicate that I had reached my limit. In the end I guessed I must have as it was almost the day my 3G fair use limit resets.

Most of the day I was unable to access the boosters page, but in the evening on the way home, it did (finally) appear on the mobile browser and I was able to get 3G.

I think part of the issue is I have quite an old legacy plan, which isn’t really able to be matched by newer plans, hence my reluctance to upgrade. This probably means that when I run out of 3G, the redirects don’t work as they should, as so few people are using them. I know it has only happened once or twice before for me.

One day I might upgrade, especially when 4G is more prevalent, or even cancel, if FGW get their WiFi act together this year, as I generally use 3G more on the train then anywhere else.

Happy Birthday Mac

Today is the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Apple Mac, so Happy Birthday Mac.

My first Mac was in 2002, and it was a Titanium G4 PowerBook. I was Director of the Western Colleges Consortium in Avon, and one of the partner colleges was not happy about the support they were getting in using the shared VLE and online learning content on their Macs they used. They were using G4 PowerMacs, so in order to support them better I decided to order the “cheapest” G4 Mac I could and that was the Titanium G4 PowerBook.

Titanium G4 PowerBook

I remember thinking that if I was going to really understand the needs of the users of these strange devices I had better use it as my main device for a few weeks.

Within a week, it had become my main computer and I soon upgraded it with an Airport 802.11b wireless card so it was more useful. I remember how much I liked the fact that you shut the lid, and when you opened it, it came back on almost immediately.

It was a dual boot machine running OS 9 and OS X 10.1 Puma. It had a 500MHz G4 chip, a 10GB hard disk drive, 128MB of RAM and a DVD Drive.

It was a very different experience to the Windows 2000 PCs I was use to, and the user interface was in many ways a combination of “easy” and “challenging”. It took me a few months to work out how to drag and drop.

It lasted a few years and was eventually replaced with an Aluminium G4 Powerbook a few years later.

Since then I have had and used many Macs, including the G5 PowerMac which was an amazing computer, very powerful, various incarnations of the iMac, most recently a 27” model. With the move to Intel, I used a range of MacBooks, I really liked the MacBook Pro Retina and I am currently typing this article on an 11” MacBook Air.

Let there be light

iSight

Interesting conversation on MacBreak Weekly about how low light impacts on video quality when using Google Hangouts or Skype. With low light, you need more gain, which means a more grainy video. More grainy video interestingly requires more bandwidth, so as a result services such as Google Hangouts or Skype have problems and downgrade the quality or buffer the video.

So if you use Google Hangouts, you may be at home or in the office, you very likely don’t have any studio lights (why would you) and therefore the environment is probably darker.

So if you are having connection issues using a Google Hangout, laggy video, latency issues, buffering, you might want to turn the lights on.

Way too much time…

…though it does show how powerful the graphic tools are in Word.

Entering a parallel universe….

I was recently at a conference in London and I am sure that a few people thought they had entered a parallel universe, as before at conferences I was often seen with a MacBook, an iPad and an iPhone. At this conference I was carrying a Windows Surface Pro, a Nexus 7 and an Google Nexus One phone. No Apple hardware in sight!

I have recently changed jobs, so my MacBook was given back, as was my work iPhone. I did have a home iPhone 3G, but recently ended the contract on that one, so I cancelled the contract and gave the phone to my wife, as her phone had recently died. In a similar vein, I had gone out and bought the iPad (third generation) when it came out, but after a few months I also gave it to my wife, as I was using one at work and for most home purposes my old original iPad was doing a fine job.

Going to London the main problems I had was missing the Tube Exits app, which tells you where to get on the tube so that when you arrive at your destination station you are both a) on the correct side for getting off, but also b) right next to the way out.

The other problem I had was with maps, of all the map apps I have used, my personal favourite is the original Apple Maps App, which used the data from Google. I had it on my iPhone 3G and was disappointed with the upgrade last year. I was using maps to get from Euston Square Tube Station to Senate House, and though I knew the approximate direction, I wasn’t exactly sure where it was. In the end it was more luck than judgement I found it.

At the event itself my main device was the Windows Surface Pro. The battery lasted for most of the day and I was certainly using it quite hard. I have to admit I wasn’t too impressed with the images it took, I have had much better results with the iPad.

However it was easy to tweet from the device (and when I needed to catch up with e-mail or find URLs). Even with the “touch” keyboard it isn’t really a blogging device, and elsewhere I have found it easier to use a real keyboard (as it happens an Apple one….).

As for the Nexus, well that was a backup device, but I did use it to listen to some podcasts on the train home.