Category Archives: Technology

Stories about technology, science, technology advances, technology hits and misses, technology impacts, the future

Windows Phone To Android Phone – Part 1

Do androids dream of electric sheep? I don’t know, but I’m sure Microsoft has Android nightmares. As anyone who is into mobile phone technology knows, Microsoft’s Windows phone has been on life support for some time and it looks like it’s getting closer to the time when the plug will be finally pulled. The Windows phone has seen many iterations since it was first conceived around 2002 as the Pocket PC 2002 Smartphone and followed by a number of not so successful versions until Windows Mobile 5 arrived in 2005 and finally Windows Mobile 6.5 in 2009. But it wasn’t until Windows Phone 7 arrived in 2010 (followed by versions 8,8.1 and 10) that Microsoft had a platform that could potentially compete with the iPhone and the newly arrived Android phone. However, despite initially receiving a lot of praise for the operating system (OS) and user interface, it failed to capture more than a small part of the market and rapidly began to slide into obscurity.

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Renewable Energy – Friend Or Fraud?

Living where we do and having only electricity connected, the price of which keeps rising insatiably, I get very frustrated when reading about all the supposed benefits of renewable energy, which never seem to eventuate. Once upon a time Australia had the cheapest energy in the world, but then things changed. For several decades now, we have heard how renewable energy is (or will shortly be) competitive with or even cheaper than traditional energy sources such as coal, gas or hydro, but we never see any tangible evidence of this happening. But what we do see are ever increasing power bills as cost effective sources of power disappear. Every year more wind and solar installations are approved, sustainable only due to taxpayer subsidies, yet no one seems willing to say enough is enough and that it’s time to exist without subsidies or admit that it’s not cost-effective and simply a boondoggle.

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The Blunders Of Technology

Nearly every day I come across another story about some new contraption that will allow you to ‘connect’ to the digital world, thereby making your life easier and so much more fun and productive. Being ‘connected’ means that you can organise your life 24/7 and rely on your devices, usually managed through your mobile phone, to become part of a world where you and everyone else can also be ‘connected’. But is life actually better, easier, safer and more fun with all of this new ‘connected‘ technology? Now don’t don’t take this question as coming from a Luddite, as I love technology in all of its forms, even down to its base levels, but I often cast a questioning eye on developments and ponder the value of many, especially when older and reliable is replaced by supposedly newer and better.

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Suffering The Internet

Yes, suffering, not surfing. One of the ever present dangers for those running a blog, or any website for that matter, is that it can become compromised due to a hack or a Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) or other attacks. A hack is usually a direct attack on your PC or the server where your website is hosted and an MITM basically involves someone ‘listening’ in to your web traffic, notably when you’re logging on to your site and intercepting your username and password (amongst other things), taking over your connections, and using that to their advantage. A hack can occur at any time, but can be avoided (to a large extent) using appropriate procedures, security software (depending on your website) and ensuring that all of your software is up to date, amongst other things. To that end, this story is about my trials and tribulations of setting up security for my blog (avoiding the gory – highly technical – bits), as getting clear help for someone that’s not experienced in coding was like the Labours of Hercules and most of the time it felt like I was working in the Augean Stables with a brush and dust pan.

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The NBN

We’ve now had the National Broadband Network (NBN) through fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) installed since October 2016; however, I wasn’t particularly fussed about getting the NBN, as we’ve had a reasonable ADSL 2+ connection that’s worked reliably enough for the last five years since moving to Mirboo North. We were perhaps one of the lucky ones, as I’ve met many for whom the opposite was true and there was often a run of complaints in the local paper prior to the NBN arriving. So when the NBN became available, I transferred almost immediately, as there was no point in holding off and waiting for the final rush. And, being an early adopter, it meant that we’d hopefully be connected fairly quickly, which is exactly what happened. From putting in our order and being up and running took no more than a week (it may have been less). Others are only now trying to connect and experiencing all manner of issues, given what’s in local reports.

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Video Killed…Everything

Way back in 1980, The Buggles released a song called Video Killed the Radio Star (this is the original – amazing how both new and old sound) and so many decades later I still love it, perhaps even more, and it certainly had some relevance being the first music video shown on the newly arrived MTV. I think this was a somewhat seminal moment in history, heralding a major change in not only how we listen to music, but also how we would consume entertainment, news and many other things to come. While my title ‘Video Killed…Everything’ is somewhat provocative, bear with me as I explain what I mean and why I think it’s relevant and maybe even important to consider in the wider scheme of things. Whichever way you look at it, video assails us in every possible way in our ‘connected’ lives and very often when you don’t need it whatsoever. I am just so over video appearing everywhere.

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E-Drive Advance 4 Electronic Throttle Controller

Other than mostly amongst motoring enthusiasts, long gone are the days of carburettors, mechanical fuel pumps, mechanical distributors, cable driven speedometers and the like. Pretty much everything nowadays is electronic or solid state when it comes to controlling a modern engine. About all that is common with yesteryear’s engines and today’s, is that they all share the same combustion processes. As I’ve mentioned previously, I enjoy working on all manner of things and cars have been a bit of a passion since I got my license and my first car, an ex-racing Mini Cooper S that was utter junk (but boy did it go). Since then, I’ve always been keen on finding ways to improve things with my cars as I’ve never found a car that didn’t need some improvement one way or the other and, given the plethora of aftermarket car accessories available, I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one who feels this way.

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Hammertime

Those old enough to remember, the term hammertime came from a song by MC Hammer in 1990, ‘U Can’t Touch This‘. Hammertime was also a reality TV show featuring MC Hammer and his family. Anyway, this story has nothing to do with MC Hammer and, if you haven’t already guessed it, it’s about hammers. Where would the world be without the hammer? Even the wheel probably wouldn’t have eventuated without a hammer to form, shape and put together the first wheel. Over time, hammers evolved into a myriad of shapes, sizes, materials and forms to suit the task at hand, from delicate nailing of shoes, to breaking rocks (and some nasty things in between). They also became somewhat more hand friendly over time.

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Crystal Balling

Predicting what may happen in the world is always an interesting and often fun thing. Every year predictions are presented at some time or another, be they in technology, politics, economics or whatever. Usually the start of a New Year is the perfect platform for many to make predictions. Normally, most predictions go awry, as often they are predicated on what the predictor ‘hopes will happen’, not on any factual or substantive evidence of how things are evolving or might evolve. Over the years, I’ve presented some of my own predictions to my learned colleagues and despite some oft-times vehement push-back, I have been proven to be right, even if it has taken many years to be vindicated.

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More Power!

No, not Tim the Toolman type of more power (thought that’s never a bad thing), but something more mundane. As a photographer in today’s digital camera world, knowing the state of charge of your batteries is essential and while most cameras provide a fairly good indication of the state of charge of your battery, it’s never all that accurate. Additionally, spare batteries that you carry with you can be hit or miss as far as charge goes, if you haven’t had them on a charger for a while. Sadly, the majority of chargers don’t provide an actual voltage readout, merely showing a light when the battery is charging/charged. This isn’t always a good thing.

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