Tech Stuff – Top Ten Blog Posts of 2015

Not too many posts on the tech blog this year,  surprised though that the post  Google Glass is Dead, or is it… didn’t make the top ten!

Looking at fonts especially those designed for comic strips was the tenth most popular posting in 2015. Written in 2010 it was about the excellent Comic Book Fonts available. Read the post Comic Book Fonts.

Thinking about the Apple TV back in 2012 was the ninth most popular post on the blog. Apple TV Thoughts was quite a long post on my reflection on the Apple device.

apple_tv-q410-angled-lg

The eighth post is from 2008 when Apple added free episodes to the iTunes Store. The high ranking for this post is probably down the blog post title: Free iTunes TV Shows (on UK iTunes Store).

A few years ago my HP printer died when I replaced the inks. The seventh most read post is about my dead printer. My printer is dead!.

HP PhotoSmart B110a

I haven’t done a podcast choice for a while now, but the sixth most popular post on the blog was the second in the series, Podcast Choice #02 – Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4. Quite a popular post as people seem to keep wanting to have my copies of the shows I have downloaded over the years through iTunes.

Comic Life is one of my favourite apps on the Mac, but once I lost my styles and that is at number five. Where are my Comic Life Styles?

Wifi makes an appearance at number four, with my experiences at a Haven Holiday Camp. Haven no wifi.

More Wifi this time with my experiences with BT Wifi networks resulted in the third most read post, called I don’t like BT FON.

In November 2014, we finally got free wifi on First Great Western trains, and my post about this, Finally, free FGW wifi on the train was the second most popular blog post in 2015.

Cadbury Twirl Bites QR Code

I use to post a lot of posts on QR Codes and the most popular post the year was this one from January 2015 about the ones you found on Cadbury chocolate bars. Cadbury QR Coding and Twirling.

Happy New Year and all the best for 2016.

How to sell a Windows 8 laptop, or not…

Back in August 2011 I wrote a blog article about how awful the customer experience was at Staples when you wanted to try out anything in the store.

Well Staples could learn a lot from Apple about how best to present the kit they sell they have on display. I was in there the other day and they had a really nice range of tablets on display, most were Android, but there was also the HP TouchPad.

Most had power, but not all. None had anything on them except the default install, so no apps to try, no content to view or look at. Though all had wifi, none could be used to access the internet as none of them were connected to the internet! Really what was the point of having them on display, when the average consumer is going to have no idea about how they work and how they could fit into their lifestyle.

I was in their last week buying some sticky labels and noticed that they had a Windows 8 display.

How to sell a Windows 8 laptop, or not...

Well I thought to myself, though I had “played” with the WIndows 8 Beta, here’s an opportunity to try out, not only the release version, but a piece of dedicated Windows 8 hardware.

So looking at the piece of HP kit, I looked at the screen…

Automatic Repair and that it couldn’t repair the PC.

Automatic Repair and that it couldn’t repair the PC.So not only was it unusable, it was also broken. Hardly a good advert for Windows 8.

I have no idea if this was a Windows 8 problem, an HP hardware problem, however it was a problem for Staples.

Again I ask the simple question, as a customer why on earth would I buy anything from Staples if not only can I not try out a piece of hardware (as I can at the Apple Store) but why on earth would you have on display a piece of broken hardware?

There are very good reasons why Apple can make so much money from every square foot of retail space they have, other companies need to send not only their staff there, but also the managers of such companies like Staples need to go to the Apple store and then go to their own stores to see what a vastly different experience it is.

Also companies like Microsoft and HP need to do so much more to ensure that companies like Staples don’t scupper their efforts in selling laptops and software.

My printer is dead!

My HP Photosmart had run out of ink, so after spending £20 on new cartridges I was disappointed to find out that adding the new ink cartridges killed my printer. Leaving me with a repair bill which is a lot more than the printer cost to buy!

Last year I bought the HP PhotoSmart B110a in the main so I could print direct from my iPad using AirPrint.

I was impressed with, what was a very cheap printer, both in terms of print quality and scan quality. I particualrly liked how I could scan from my iPad as well as print. My older Canon multifunction required me to install drivers and software, the HP PhotoSmart had an embedded web server in it so all the functionality was available through a browser.

The printer was running out of ink, so I placed an order with Amazon for some new cartridges, cheaper than going to Staples. I did order proper HP cartridges too. Before they arrived I know some members of the family tried to print, but apart from an incomplete print out I wasn’t too worried.

The new cartridges arrived and I went through the process of installing them into the printer, something I had done a few times before.

After installing them I shut the lid and expected to be able to print… but no there was an error message on the screen of the printer.

Ink System Failure
 0xc19a0023
 Please turn printer Off and then On

Well I did that… no change.

I searched the web, and after a little difficulty found this HP page. Went through all the processes with no luck, still getting the error message. The printer hasn’t responded to any of my attempts to fix the problem. The printer is reporting that the printhead is “damaged”. I am not sure how installing new ink cartridges would have caused the printhead to fail…

I actually can’t remember when I bought the printer, didn’t blog about it, like I should have, and as a result I have a feeling that it is out of warranty. The HP site says it is… but that is based on when the retailer bought the printer, not me!

The “solution” appears to be to replace the printhead. Now having done some searching, it will cost about £40 to replace the printhead. My dilemma is that a replacement HP PhotoSmart printer (the 5510) is £70 and I have no guarantee that a replacement printhead will actually be a solution.

I have a horrible feeling that if did spend £40 on the printhead and it didn’t work, I would have wasted a fair bit of cash and would still need to buy a replacement printer!

The scanner part still works so it’s a bit of a quandary on how to move forward. I can still print using my old Canon printer (but not from the iPad), hmmm, not sure what to do.

It’s alive!


A few days ago I published a blog post on the death of WebOS.

HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones.

One of the consequences of the HP announcement was that initially in the US many resellers immediately dropped the price of the HP TouchPad 16GB model to $99

I noted on the Twitter that if this happened in the UK then I would probably get one. Well as it happens that is what happened, well it happened to the price. The Dixon’s Store Group cut the prices of the TouchPad to £89 for the 16GB model and £115 for the 32GB one.

Within what felt like minutes had sold out on the PCWorld, Currys’ and Dixons’ websites. According to the various websites the stores locally to me had no stock either. Other resellers still were charging £300+ though.

The TouchPad itself, running WebOS has its problems and is probably the reason why HP have dropped it. There are various reports that WebOS could run twice as fast on the iPad as it could on the TouchPad. The conclusion from that was it wasn’t WebOS that was the problem, it was the hardware. The reviews of the TouchPad indicated that the main problem was one of sluggishness, lack of responsiveness and a lack of apps. If all you are going to use a tablet for is web, e-mail and social networking then the lack of apps is less of an issue. The recent Kindle web app also shows that a lack of proprietary apps may not be so problematic either. So what about the speed? Well if I was paying £400 for the TouchPad then yes I would be disappointed, but paying £89 then I would be a lot less fussy and I am sure that this is the reason why it is selling out here in the UK and in the US.

There is also a lot of stuff on the web about converting the TouchPad to run Android. If this can be done and works well then investing £89 in a discontinued piece of technology might in the end be a worthwhile investment.

Though the TouchPad is not perfect, it certainly is now the best sub £100 tablet you can buy and if you can find one, and don’t have an iPad, then you might want to get your wallet out and buy one.

WebOS is Dead!

After all the bad press that the HP TouchPad can I say I am not surprised when HP announces the following:

HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones.

They do say…

HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.

I think that this is basically the death of WebOS. It doesn’t surprise me one little bit.

WebOS was initially developed by Palm before it was acquired by HP. Though the Palm Pre received very positive reviews, the HP TouchPad did not. There was complaints about how slow it was as well as the lack of apps for the device. Probably the big story that killed the TouchPad was the report that Best Buy who had 270,000 TouchPads had in fact only sold 25,000 and wanted HP to take the remainder back…

So though it was cheaper than the iPad, people were still buying the iPad, you couldn’t blame the economy for the poor TouchPad sales.

When I managed a very limited try of the TouchPad in my local Staples though I did find it slightly sluggish, I did quite like the interface and user experience. Certainly better than some of the Android 2.x tablets that were alongside the TouchPad. Probably didn’t help that it wasn’t connected to the internet and had no example apps on it.

However talking to others who used it there thoughts were that it was nice, but it was no iPad. I have heard similar things about Android tablets too, including those that run Honeycomb.

Personally I have had similar experiences with touchscreen phones. The LG Viewty for example was a horrible phone compared to the first iPhone from a user experience perspective, even if it did have a much better camera and other features.

It would appear that HP was losing a lot of money with WebOS and decided that killing, sorry discontinuing the devices they were making was the only option open to them.

It is a pity in one respect, good competitive devices keep Apple on their toes and gets Apple to innovate and improve their devices. Or maybe that’s what Apple does anyway, regardless of what the competition does…

I haven’t yet seen a serious competitor to the iPad at this time, have you?