Moving to a new domain was not as easy as I thought and I seem to be getting some odd results linking from other blogs. So just testing here. Move on ……………………


It's here !
It’s here !

Windows 8 Second Impressions

Windows 8 is like something that has never been before. To some its 2 oS’s in one, to  others its a mess. To me it needs time to be appreciated for what it is. I’ll admit I have been harsh on it before here exactly one year an a day ago, but I kept an open mind and after using the full release as my main machine I’m starting to see the benefits.

In the market there are two key interfaces. First up is the traditional desktop, all icons, and file manager and full control. To me its nearly always how I work, but I’m a techie. This has been used to drive huge profits for both Microsoft (all version of Windows), and Apple (all the OS’s since day dot).

The other way is also trumpeted by Apple and now Android. The app. There is no OS to speak of for the user, just loads of icons, that fire up applications, and when your done you go back to the beginning. This key change here is the move to touch based control from keyboard and mouse. You have probably seen enough 3 year olds with Ipads to know how easy this is to pick up !

Before I begin, here be a warning. Do not do an in place upgrade from Windows 7. It will not work, unless you are lucky. Took me 1/2 a day to recover from this. Start afresh and save time.

All MS has done is to combine the two, no more no less. This seemed to be a bit weird, but once you get used to it makes sense. If I want a rich outlook experience I fire it up, and work away, and integrate with SharePoint, and all the rest. If I want to quickly check emails, without mucking about with a web client, I just tap mail on the start screen. Simples. If I want a full active x rich web experience with toolbars, etc (not that I do, but some do), then there it is, and if I want a quick browse that’s there as well, with no fuss. So in all, its should be the best of both worlds (should).

The metro interface seems a little superfluous at first, and I spent most of my time in the desktop, pretending it was Windows 7, but then I noticed that more and more I moved across to the metro interface just to check x and y. With the active tiles sometimes I didn’t have to click anything !

My main annoyance last time around was the inability to close metro apps easily. Task manager sort of spoils the experience. Until I found the corners. The corners are everything in metro. Top left brings up the last app you had open. useful for jumping around, and importantly, the app you have just left becomes the “last” app. Bottom left is the best in my opinion. You get the start menu link, but more importantly if you move the mouse straight up along the left edge, you get all the open apps, which you can navigate to,  and you can right click and close as you feel fit. Still not as good as a big X in the corner, but easier than before.

Top and bottom right, do the same thing, they open the “charms menu”, basically settings, search, start, devices and sharing. This can be a bit fiddly but fear not Windows button and C are your friends. Then use the arrow keys and return to select. This is also context sensitive so if you are in an app and do this, you can search within an app. E.G. in IE, you get the internet search box.

Having used this for over a week now, I find that I don’t need to make the move to a touch device. This is opposite to what I originally thought. This OS is spot on for a laptop, and the fact it goes like a train helps.

Another tip is, when in a Metro app, it can be a litte frustrating at the lack of option buttons, and configuration choices. Just find a bit of blank desktop estate and right click. A pound to a penny you get what you need. Some of the apps needs sorting (Evernote – I’m looking at you !), but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

The app listing on the left. Too useful.


So there you go. The second impression. Better than the first.

IOS6 3GS and Maps

After a successful post going through my experiences of upgrading the 3GS, I was presented with an opportunity to give the much maligned maps a real time run as a Sat-Nav.

As most of you may know, the maps facility on the 3GS is slightly downgraded in so much as there is no voice instruction, so you  are left with the maps. This is not an issue as i hardly ever use the voice instructions on the one built into the car either.

My journey was about 30 miles around the M25 and then 5 miles home, so not that tricky. For those of you not in the UK, the M25 runs in a 140mile loop around London.

It located my location quickly and gave me a route just as quick. Instead of getting voice,  you get a signpost with an instruction  eg drive here for 15 miles or turn off at junction 2 and head towards London on M2, etc. So detailed enough, but may not be too much help if you are not familiar with the route. I imagine it would be easy to get a turning wrong.

As you hit your next turning, a dark circle appears on the map, highlighting you have a move to make, which is already detailed on the screen. So far , so good, but if you are making several quick turns is can get out of sync, or just not update. This I imagine will be the biggest issue. Having used the 4S, it seems to be a lot better in this respect.

There appear to be a bug, because if the phone orientation is changed, normally from portrait to landscape, sometimes the map doesn’t appear on the screen. and you just see your little blue dot travelling across a screen.

My next test is to see if this works without recourse to using 3g, eg can it just use GPS? Next week in America will tell me pretty quickly. I assume not, but I will update here. As a warning a 40 minute journey took 20% battery. So the advice is to take a charger on your travels if you intend to use this a lot.

Would I throw away my Sat-Nav? No. But if stuck I would use this. Now Apple just need to work on the accuracy of the data! see here

Left !, No Right !, Do what you want !

IOS6 and Exchange Calendars (now fixed)

Edit of a doc I published back in early Oct 2012. This is now fixed by using IOS 6.0.1.

New edit. Looks like IOS 6.1 and exchange do not play well together!


This happened earlier in the week, when it appeared i had cancelled a meeting , when in fact i had been nowhere near the invite except accepting it, some weeks ago. This was also not my invite, therefore i have no way (usually) of cancelling it !

So with this odd behaviour i thought no more until one of my key suppliers sent me the following today. They are a big firm with many idevices of varying ages, etc. I also have to assume a company of this size will be taken seriously by both Microsoft and Apple. Please read the release below:

IT continues to investigate the Apple iOS 6 calendar issues outlined below, and we are working with Apple and Microsoft to resolve the problem. Because there is no change at this point, you should continue to handle meeting invitations using your PC or Mac instead of your iPhone or iPad. There is no estimated resolution date. IT will continue to update you in the meantime.

We have learned that the new Apple iOS 6 has caused intermittent and inadvertent deletion of Outlook meetings from calendars. This is a global issue not specific to us, but we have received several reports of calendar items being deleted from our calendars. The issue at times occurs intermittently when a meeting is sent to a DL, and a user who has upgraded to Apple’s iOS 6 (either via an iPhone 5 or by upgrading a current iPhone) deletes the meeting. The meeting appears to have been cancelled by the person who deleted the meeting, who now appears to be the meeting’s organizer.  This has also occurred without any user actions.

We have elevated this issue with both Microsoft and Apple but there is currently no resolution. Both software vendors are suggesting that users only handle meeting invitations using their PCs or Mac Outlook clients, versus managing appointments on your iOS device (iPhone and/or iPad) for the time being. We will continue to provide updates every morning until there is a resolution.

So there you go, leave alone your idevice if you want to manage your day. Along with maps, this is rough ride time for Apple.

Update 16/10/2012. This has no fix in sight, and Apple and MS are still saying use outlook and don’t manage your diary using your £500 phone. Amazing !

Stop. Dont go there ! Or you might never know you were supposed to be there.

UPDATE: 06/12/2012. This apparently has been fixed by an update in IOS update 6.0.1 Currently in testing.

UPDATE: 18/02/2013. OS testing obviously not a hot spot for Apple right now. Apparently IOS 6.1 causes Exchange 201 to misbehave and in extreme circumstances stop working. Not mentioned in the link is the fact that apparently 6.1.1 is not the fix, as that just for batteries on the 4S. Madness.  More new here :

Macbook Pro RAM upgrade

I have an early 2011 13″ Macbook Pro Laptop. Great piece of kit, but now i’m getting more into photography, and I like playing with my toys. Therefore I decided the 4GB factory RAM had to go, and £60 to crucial.com/uk got me 16GB of the finest DDR3 1300 Mhz RAM. Fitting it was quite easy, but slightly different from a PC, therefore I thought I’d document it here for anyone whose not sure. Although Apple don’t like you in their mobile kit, this generation is the last one where you can get in, so lets do it. First, make sure it is switched off and not plugged into a power source, then flip it over onto its front, so the base is in the air. Like this:

Base of the Macbook

You need to remove 10 screws with a small phillips screwdriver (I used one from a Jewellers set). WARNING: these fellas are small so be careful. There are 4 at the top, 4 at the bottom ,and one in the middle of the left and right hand side. There are two types of screw. So I could get them all to be in the right place for screwing back in, I put them down about 3 inches  away from the hole perpendicular to the case. This means they end up surrounding the case. Once they are all off, you can just lift of the thin base cover. Once off, you should see the picture below:

Naked Macbook. Note screws below the screw holes.

The small green rectangle in the piccie above is the memory. This has to come out. In order to remove a memory stick, apply light outward pressure to the small grey plastic clip which is holding in the the memory stick. Once the holding clip clears the stick it should pop up to about 30 degrees. You should then be able to gently pull the stick out. It is held in a slot, with a key about 2/3 rds from the left, so some firm pulling but no yanking should get you the first stick.

One out one to go.

This is where the Mac differs from a PC. Normally on a PC, the RAM slots are next to each over, not on top of each other, but as you can see, its not exactly empty in there!. Pop out the next one using the same method. I was concerned that this may need removal of the battery, but it didn’t. Slightly tight to get out, but not too much trouble.

Empty ! All Done

Then get your new RAM. Once you have them to hand, reverse the process. Pop back in the first stick. The key to this is to make sure the stick is fully in the slot, and then push down from 30 degrees back to flat. You should hear the click, as the clips secure the chip.

First one in ! Note the lugs over the edges !

Then pop in the second. Because the slots are off centre, this is impossible to get round the wrong way.

Once they are both in, pop the lid back on (with all the screws !). Tip for putting the screws in. Due to the “industrial design ” of these products (see awkward), the screws go in at a slight angle so they are flush with the case.

Thats it! Switch on, and if all goes well (it may take longer to boot, as it needs to check more memory on startup), login, and click the apple icon on the top left of the screen. Click  About this Mac. You should see something like this:

Well done !

IOS6 on a 3GS !

Over the weekend  I upgraded my IPhone 3GS to IOS 6. So here’s the low down on new features, and what you should and shouldn’t expect if , like i was, you are slightly hesitant in installing this software on the lowest spec possible device Apple now support. Actually on that point, why no original ipad update?  The 3GS is older by nearly 6 months and surely the IPad  must support most of the features. This is a device that has just had its 2nd birthday (April 2010) and now its persona non grata at the Cupertino dinner table. If Microsoft released a piece of hardware and then dropped it 2 years later, the Apple fan boys would of been hollering from the rooftops (actually they did with the Kin phones and the first batch of recent Windows Phones, but we wont go there ……………..).

The install was quite easy via Itunes (well as easy as a 850mb download can be), and then it just got on with it. I had no errors and all apps seen to be working from the get go, no lost passwords for mail, or loss of twitter accounts, etc. So far, so good. As an aside, my wife did hers on a 4S over the air, and with a good wireless connection, this went smoothly as well.

A quick scroll down the settings app flashed up some new features.

Do not disturb. This is useful feature especially if you are on the road in foreign climes and use your calendar frequently. I have been woken up in all sorts of places in the middle of the night to attend a meeting in the UK that is on my calendar. The Do not Disturb feature keeps everything quiet excep the alarm (tested), meaning , you can have the device as a alarm clock, without everything else keeping you awake.

Privacy. This is a new feature that is actually just a tiding up of what went before. Basically any apps that have requested access to other apps are listed in here. For example, under my contacts I have Skype. Any access can be switched on and off, so if you have said OK to something and then find yourself in a heap of misery, once all your contacts for work are spread across Facebook for example you can turn it off.

Reply with message. This lives in the phone settings, and is something that other manufacturers have had for some time. Basically the deal is as follows: You get a call, you cannot answer, so you swipe up the option to send a pre written message e.g, “I’m in a meeting, call you later”, or “Never call me again, thanks xx”, that sort of thing. Anyway it works fine, unless the person you are calling has a specific imessage setup , then it fails miserably by not sending the message, but worse still logs the message as sent and delivered. Now to me its just annoyance, to a person who earns their living on the phone, it could lose them money and business. I’m investigating it further and it seems to be if you have more than one receive address for imessage. I assume this covers anyone who has an ipad and an iphone, and likes to imessage across both.

Reminders. No new functionality as such but you can now switch on badges to display just how many outstanding tasks you have. If you are like me, and use exchange tasks linked to reminders religiously, then this is great (and disturbing at the same time, every time you look at the home screen !).

Twitter came on board in IOS 5. Facebook has now joined the party in 6. I cannot comment on this, as i do not have a Facebook account (not a long story, i just know a bit about IT security, case closed). Twitter works well though, although seems to take about 10 seconds to come on and update. This is a similar time on the 4s as well, so just bad code, but useable.

EDIT 07/10/2012: One really nice feature that has been added is that each mail account (i run 5 currently), can have its own signature. This is really useful, as I’m sure my friends find it a bit weird to get a reply with my full job title, etc, telling them i’ll meet them at the pub !

Maps. So here it is, one more reason that Steve Jobs shouldn’t have died. This crap would not of been allowed out of the gate. I get the anti google thing, and the money they must hand over to the big G, but really ? This app is just so poor, its laughable. Android is killing IOS in the states, and this will just keep that steamroller going. Turn by turn is a good feature (and been with google for some time), but the turns are only as good as you reaching the destination. I have seen shops missing and some a mile away from reality. Today I looked at my local train line (a mainline into London). 2 of the 5 local stations are missing. Did you know the only shop in Bluewater park is the Apple Store ?

Drawing accurate maps is one of the most technical tasks out there (ask Mark Thatcher), but programming the things takes time and money most companies don’t have, hence there is pretty much one player in town. And it ain’t Apple.

There is a reason google maps, the london a-z and OS maps all look similar, because that style has been perfected over many decades in both print and digital formats. Apple’s take on maps, is Fisher Price at best, with a hard to follow style, and with the current inaccuracies, hard to believe and therefore trust.

Played with an Iphone5 today, and it left me a little bit meh. Yeah it’s nice and all, but not £500+ nice.  If i wasn’t so wedded to ITunes I would be on an Samsung 3 like a rash. I remember the last time I had to convert all the music, and if truth be told I cannot be bothered.

Birmingham and surrounding areas, today
Birmingham and surrounding areas, c.1500. No Wolverhampton ?

In finishing, a reasonable update, v.poorly let down by the mapping. An excuse to launch the phone in my opinion. Apologies to the fan boys, but some things are best left alone. I’m also sure there are a million other features that a 3GS cannot harness, and thats fair enough.

2.5 MrBens

Microsoft Surface- The unknown—–

So last night Steve Ballmer launched what he hopes is a new paradigm in the mobile computing market. The Microsoft Surface.

This piece of kit is interesting for all the right reasons:

New technology utilising a brand new OS. Up till now, Windows 8 was getting the sort of press that Vista enjoyed, and we all know how that worked out.

The case that doubles as a keyboard, and in built stand. Not content with going after the ipad market, looks like Redmond want to take a chop at the Macbook air / Ultrabook market.

Timing. One week after the major announcements of the new Macbook lines, they have almost now been made obsolete, if MS lives up to it’s promises.

That last sentence is key, as some of us remember the now dead Zunes and Kin phones that are littering bargain buckets and ebay penny sales.

So onto the unknown. This is the stuff that can really change the game if they happen, so heres my wishlist.

RT to be fully supported. It seems an age since MS released windows CE. This OS looked and felt like windows, but never really cut it as manufacturers and devs didn’t really get behind it. If MS is serious, it will need more than onboard MS office to derive value from this stream. It also needs to be corp ready and not some Windows XP home type effort with limited business use.

Mobile connectivity. Despite some world appearing to exist where all hardware manufacturers seem to think wireless is everywhere, we do need 3G/ 4G to enable our laptops to find homes as door stops and table stays.

The pen. Much is being made of the 600dpi pen, but for the modern user, switching between touch and pen can be a pain. The pen should only be used for freehand, and digital signatures. Everything else should be touch only, ala ipad. For real creation, people will crack out the keyboard. Talking of which….

The keyboard. The fact that an alternative keyboard is available already, and no one has been allowed to touch the one supplied, suggest a possible downer on the supplied cover. Hopefully this isn’t the case.

Display port. This has to extend the desktop and not just replicate if its to be serious in business.

So in short, deliver and you win, fail and you lose a generation to IOS.

I’m hoping to get my hands on one ASAP, and the i;ll do a more in depth review.


Camptune by Paragon Software

Last week i got a second hand Macbook Pro. This is something i have meaning to get for some time, but prices up to now meant that it alluded me completely.

This unit came with bootcamp preinstalled, but the windows partition was only 20Gb, so not big enough for  any serious use.

For a native Mac partition, changing the size is very easy using the disk utility tool within OSX. For the bootcamp drive this is trickier as it wouldn’t allow me to extend my bootcamp partition into the unallocated space i had created. From within Windows, the disk management tool wouldn’t allow me to either, I assume because bootcamp is doing something clever on the Mac partition to allow a NTFS partition, that Windows cannot see natively.

After some digging i bought Camptune from Paragon Software. $20


This does exactly what is says on the tin. It is a very small (3Mb) app that displays all your disk with a slider that you can set to either expand or shrink the Windows or Mac partition. It really is that easy. So, set your sizes, wait about 10 mins for it to so its work and you are good to go. This is all done within OSX, without going near Windows. The only caveat is that it will not work on encrypted partitions, for obvious reasons.

Slide away.

In short a fantastic app for anyone who needs to multiboot Windows and OSX on a Mac.

5/5 mrbens !