Put Your Sad Down

Flat out on Spotify this evening creating new playlists for the car (the sound system in the S1 plays music over bluetooth beautifully compared to the A1) and I’m discovering loads of new tracks that I like. Here’s one of them.

Xperia devices and the Three network - how to fix data drops

I thought I’d share a quick tweak that applies to most of Sony’s Xperia Android phones. If you’re on the Three network and travel around a fair bit you’ll notice that occasionally you’ll lose the data connection and it won’t always come back until you reboot the phone. Very annoying.

This happens because Three still have some 2G roaming agreements in place for areas they don’t have coverage. That doesn’t include data roaming however and a lot of devices (including the iPhone still) have trouble with this.

The way to fix this is to set the ‘Network Mode’ to ‘4G/WCMA’. Annoyingly you can’t set this in the ‘Mobile Network Settings’ section, you’ll need to go into hidden service menu to get to the setting. From the dialler, type this:

*#*#SERVICE#*#*

'Service' is typed as you would on a T9 predictive text keyboard, so thats one key press per letter.

Once your into the service menu, choose ‘Network Mode’ and then within this menu choose ‘LTE_WCDMA’.

You’ll see the radio stack reboot (so you’ll lose your connection while it does this).

No longer shall you experience the annoying ‘data never comes back’ issue.

It goes without saying that changing this setting is at your own risk.

Xperia Z3 Compact thoughts

So I recently decided to make a conscious effort to sell my various mobile phones that I’d picked up along the way, including the iPhone 5S, Nexus 4 and the HTC One M7. That left me with the OnePlus One. Its sooo close to being the perfect device for the money but with one huge caveat - literally - its size. Its massive. While I do have large hands its just that bit too impractical in my opinion. The battery life was the biggest draw for me though - its superb. And the camera is pretty great too.

What I really wanted was something with these two key attributes while being ‘phone sized’ and not a phablet.

I thought about the new iPhone but its just too expensive and the battery life not particularly stellar. I’m blown away with iOS still either. Sony then came along and changed the game by releasing the Xperia Z3 Compact - a flagship spec phone in a small package with no compromises.

Its brilliant.

Really, it is. I had the Z2 for a very short while and really liked it but it was flawed by buggy software and the overheating issue. That and it was a rather large beast with iffy ergonomics. Sony has been refining the Xperia formula and has really struck a home run with the Z3 Compact.

As per usual I wont bore you with the nerd specifications as there are many sites that’ll give you that. Here are my likes and dislikes:

Likes:
• Form factor. Its the perfect size for a mobile in my opinion. The small bezels mean that it still houses a large screen without making the device enormous. I also find that typing on this screen in landscape mode for long messages or posts such as this is rather nice (using the Google keyboard that is).
• Price. £350 will bag you a sim-free device. That’s a competitive price point considering the iPhone 6 is double the dollar.
• Battery life. It’s superb, especially for such a small device. I’m currently on 17% battery, its been 1 day 17 hours since the last charge and I’ve had over 4 hours screen on time. Witchcraft.
• The camera. There’s a 20mpx Sony Exmor R sensor in this thing and its capable of taking some nice shots. You do have to work it to your advantage a bit more than you would a regular phone with its plethora of modes and settings but it’s a great shooter. Flickr uploads coming soon.
• Sound quality. This is in two forms - the front facing stereo speakers are really nice to have and work well enough (not M8 levels of awesome, granted). If you shell out for Sony’s noise-cancelling earbuds - which I did after they blew me away with the Z2 - then you get a fantastic device for music playback. Well worth the £25.
• Waterprooing. Its a really nice thing to have. No longer do I need to be concerned about using my phone outdoors when its raining. I’ve tested just how waterproof it is by taking it into the shower and sure enough it works a treat.
• Sony’s Android skin. Its pretty close to stock and they haven’t ‘fisherpriced’ it like Samsung with Touchwiz. I’m a fan.
• Answerphone. Sounds like a daft one but its got an on-device answerphone meaning I don’t have to dial Three to pick up voice mails. A nice touch.

Dislikes:
• Its slippery. Because it’s glass both sides of the phone it means that on a table top its a bit of an ice puck.
• 720P display. Very minor gripe this one because the display is actually really good but I can’t help but feel that Sony could have squeezed a 1080p display into this phone.
• 16gb internal storage. Its just not enough - even though you can load a 128gb SD card into the phone you still only get limited internal storage and that’s becoming more of a problem with Android. Saying that it hasn’t become a problem for me just yet.

So there you have it. Those are my initial thoughts on the wonderful Xperia Z3 Compact. I absolutely love the device. I’ll post more thoughts on it as I have them.

This should give you an idea of the battery life you can expect to get from the OnePlus One. Yes the phone is big but that means you do get that big battery. Truly impressive. 

More thoughts on the phone to come soon.
Zoom Info
This should give you an idea of the battery life you can expect to get from the OnePlus One. Yes the phone is big but that means you do get that big battery. Truly impressive. 

More thoughts on the phone to come soon.
Zoom Info

This should give you an idea of the battery life you can expect to get from the OnePlus One. Yes the phone is big but that means you do get that big battery. Truly impressive.

More thoughts on the phone to come soon.

iPhone 6 Plus Camera Review: Iceland

I’ve actually sold my iPhone 5S since getting the OnePlus One (thoughts on that will come in a post soon), it’s the right time to sell now that the iPhone 6 is out and everyone’s trading, etc. 

The camera has always been one of the strong points on the iPhone, ever since the 4S really. Here’s an interesting post that looks into the cameras on the 6 and 6 Plus in more detail. It’s probably the only reason I’d look at getting one at some point.

It’s not often I can honestly say watching a short talk actually changes my view about things, but this really does.

If you’re not happy with yourself in some way or your life, this may help. I put it to you that this will change your outlook on things if you’re not content with yourself.

Gravity

Hadn’t heard this track until I played through the ‘Benjamin’s Flight’ pack for Thomas Was Alone. It’s brilliant and might be my favourite of the lot.

So I treated myself to a Nike+ Fuelband SE today - they are far cheaper in the US than the UK and I’ve been hankering after one for a while now.
First impressions - its a really nice piece of kit. Well made, sturdy and surprisingly comfortable to wear (coming from someone who gets annoyed at watches very easily). I won’t go into the concepts of how it works or what the features are, there are loads of YouTube videos that explain it far better than I can. 
As you can see from the photo, the device charged from a built-in USB connector which is an absolutely killer-feature if you ask me; no need to worry about proprietary chargers and cables. 
If you’re interested in fitness, how active you are or want to a bit of incentive to exercise more I’d recommend looking into getting one, especially if you can pick one up at a discount price. Just make sure you get the ‘SE’ version - which is the newer model with updated Bluetooth and far better battery life.

So I treated myself to a Nike+ Fuelband SE today - they are far cheaper in the US than the UK and I’ve been hankering after one for a while now.

First impressions - its a really nice piece of kit. Well made, sturdy and surprisingly comfortable to wear (coming from someone who gets annoyed at watches very easily). I won’t go into the concepts of how it works or what the features are, there are loads of YouTube videos that explain it far better than I can. 

As you can see from the photo, the device charged from a built-in USB connector which is an absolutely killer-feature if you ask me; no need to worry about proprietary chargers and cables. 

If you’re interested in fitness, how active you are or want to a bit of incentive to exercise more I’d recommend looking into getting one, especially if you can pick one up at a discount price. Just make sure you get the ‘SE’ version - which is the newer model with updated Bluetooth and far better battery life.

Norwegian’s 787 Dreamliner

So my experience of flying from London Gatwick (LGW) to Los Angeles (LAX) via Norwegian’s 787 Dreamliner is as follows.

The good:
  • The flight was on time and managed to depart before the thunderstorms hit Gatwick (causing other flights soon after to be delayed according to the captain)
  • It’s a new aircraft and it’s all very modern as you’d expect - very clean with large windows and comfy(ish) seats. My seat on the very last row at the back of the plane has ok-ish leg room (what you’d expect for economy really) but strangely has a large space between the seat and the window. Useful for storing hand luggage, shoes, etc and doubles up as somewhere to stretch my left leg.
  • The entertainment system - powered by Android - has plenty to watch and listen to that’ll help pass the time. Don’t go expecting the very latest movies as you get on some flights (especially internal US flights) but there’s enough to keep you amused. There’s a selection of TV shows if movies don’t float your boat and a choice of music to listen to. Don’t forget your headphones because they don’t come free with this airline. It’s also got a neat flight tracker system that allows you to view a Google Earth-style map with the aircraft’s position shown in realtime, as well as a cockpit view that shows altitude and some other neat things - airplane nerds will love it. It’s all a bit crash-happy though so expect it to reset itself occasionally (which takes around 30 minutes but at least it does come back to life)
  • Spacious cabin - usually when flying I’m never far from hitting my head on something - no such issues with the Dreamliner so that’s a nice bonus.
The bad:
  • Cabin temperature - it’s absolutely freezing. Stupidly when dressing comfortably I didn’t expect to have to bring a jumper. Big mistake. I imagine that the blankets they have for sale are their best selling item. My fingers are actually freezing typing this right now. I’ll be buying a hoodie for the flight back.
  • The food - horrendous. I can’t stress how bad it actually is. I’ve no idea how they get away with dishing this shit out but I wouldn’t be cruel enough to feed it to an animal. I’ve barely eaten anything now for nearly 10 hours so the first thing I intend to do after arriving at LAX is eat something that resembles food. I’ve survived on an emergency box of crisps ($4) and water. Might as well have been fasting. Never have I been on a long-haul flight that serves food this bad. If you’re going to fly with Norwegian then stock up fully at the airport before you board, trust me - you’ll thank me later.
  • No power socket - I’m pretty sure it’s advertised that there’s a plug socket available for charging devices - but there isn’t. You do get a single USB port which works nicely for charging your mobile but laptop owners will need to ensure that they’ve got sufficient juice before boarding.
All in all, not a terrible experience by any means - they’ve done a lot right (especially for a budget-centric airline) but they’ve really let themselves down with the utter dogshit they pass as food and the sub-zero cabin temperatures. Would I fly with them again? Yes - though I’d dress for winter and bring a lunchbox. Premium economy upgrades might be worth a look if you can get yourself a good deal though the economy seats aren’t terrible. 

Tech and Gadgets update

Its been a while since I’ve posted anything about my miscellaneous devices and gadgets so here’s an update for anyone interested.

• Mobile: Since parting ways with my Galaxy Note 3 in exchange for an iPhone 5S I haven’t really looked back and the iPhone has been my daily driver ever since. I think I’m getting past the point of caring about customising my device and flashing roms every other day. While you don’t have to do this with Android phones there’s something to be said for a mobile that does everything very well - and the 5S does that. Decent battery life, great build quality, good screen with superb resolution, excellent and very consistent camera, great performance, useful features and an unparalleled catalogue of optimised and polished applications. I don’t even mind the size of the screen that much, the device is far more practical than the Note 3 or Z2 ever was. I’m also finding that I quite like the iOS-specific features like iMessage and Facetime. The fact that both my girlfriend and best mate have iPhones goes some way towards influencing this. While you have very similar functionality within Android via Hangouts its nowhere near as well implemented and seamless. I’ve been testing the new iOS 8 betas and really like some of the features Apple are bringing to the iPhone. Do they steal ideas from Android? Yes. Do I care? No.
• PS4: It never gets used, I’m thinking about selling it as it’s just sitting there as a rarely-used expensive Netflix and iPlayer box. Apple TV or any other decent device can do that at a fraction of the price. Any takers?
• Tablet: Need to start using my Nexus 7 (2nd Gen) device otherwise I might as well sell that too. It’s got the Android L developer preview on there but I’m not blown away with it (there’s still a long way for it to go yet). I’d quite like an iPad Air but can’t ever justify one.
• Laptop: I’m using a first-generation Surface Pro for work. It’s alright. The screen resolution is superb but the screen is that little bit too small. The device is too heavy. The hinge is crap. Battery life is hit and miss. All these things are fixed in the Surface Pro 3 and I wouldn’t turn one down but there’s one very big thing that is still a problem - its running Windows. I’d much sooner have a 13in Macbook Pro with a retina display. In fact I’m bloody tempted to pick one up for myself when I’m in LA should I have the cash left over… Which I probably won’t. I’m running Mac OSX on my i7 desktop machine at home and it rarely gets booted into Windows (except to play games). Yosemite is bringing some awesome new iOS integration features too which tempts me even further.
I’m sure there’s more to add but I’m too damn tired to think.