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Why smartphones aren’t amazing… yet

Many people can’t live without their smartphones as they rely on them for managing their social lives and organising their meetings, etc. but at the moment there are still a few flaws with them that hold us back from saying that they are perfect.

Battery life:

Pretty much every other aspect of smarphones has improved over the years: from the processors, the flash storage, and also the basics like speakers and microphones but one thing has always stood out as an issue for when people buy a phone: the battery. Instead of developing new battery technologies, many companies have opted to use the standard Lithium-Ion batteries (Li-on) which are relatively good but over time (about two to three years) they lose their ability to hold charge.

But hold on for a moment, why has the battery life stayed roughly the same (lasting for one whole day and needing to be charged in the night) if the processors and other components are more demanding? Well, that’s where the software comes in; the operating system, whether that is Android or iOS, is developed so that it is efficient and uses less power. On Android, the system only allows apps to check the internet (for example checking for mail) every so often, instead of whenever they like. The system also goes into a deep sleep mode when the phone is stationary for a while, such as resting on a table. On iOS there are also such mechanisms trying to push the battery to its limits.

In the days when most people had a “brick” phone such as a Nokia, there was no worry of battery life as they lasted weeks. However the battery industry isn’t completely stagnant: a new technology called Lithium-Oxygen batteries is being developed which uses the much abundant oxygen as a part of the battery. The main issue of lithium is that it is very reactive and forms useless compounds with substances in the air which means it loses its capacity, therefore oxygen is there to prevent this.

Using your phone as a computer

Smartphones are great, they allow us to do many things without needing to resort to using a computer, such as writing a quick email, however there is always something like a macro or a large document that our phones tend to struggle with. Programming and other jobs such as video editing just have to be done on a dedicated machine with expensive video cards and high end CPUs. For the rest of us a dock to put our phone in that would transform a screen into a computer is perfectly adequate.

 There are cloud services such as Google Drive which aim to bridge the gap but there’s still a physical difference which means we still have to carry around a phone and a computer. Microsoft already has a solution: Continuum for Windows 10 which allows you to plug your phone to a screen and use full Windows 10. However that requires that you have a Windows 10 Mobile phone, which is relatively rare nowadays due to the lack of apps (it has about 2% market share worldwide). Canonical and Ubuntu also has a solution: Convergence for Ubuntu, which does the same as Continuum for Windows but this is for Ubuntu a distribution of Linux. At a glance, both of these look like viable options.

However, across the world Android and iOS together hold 92% of the market share of mobile phones and both of these operating systems do not have an official alternative to this. For iOS there’s no unofficial alternative while for Android there’s a custom operating system (a ROM) which when a Nexus 5 is connected to a screen turns into Debian, another Linux distribution. (Here’s a link if you’re interested). For most of us though, we’ll just have to wait for an official solution to this.

Camera

It’s an often occasion: we see something and we want to quickly take a picture to remember that occasion. However that usually meant bringing a dedicated camera such as a DSLR. Eventually manufacturers started adding back cameras for taking pictures and a front facing camera for video calls and selfies. But like the battery standards of phones, the improvment rate has just plateaued.

Manufacturers just tend to add more and more pixels which allows them to boast to unknowing consumers. Unfortunately they rarely use good sensors and they often don’t perform very well in low light. Only a few phones such as the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy series have been able to get a good point-and-shoot into their phones.

There has been an improvement though, a few years ago, the cameras were terrible in just about every phone while nowadays most phones can take at least a decent picture in normal lighting conditions, though as I said most phones struggle with low light.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I feel that in areas such as the processor and the flash storage, phone technology development is stagnating – which is a good thing as they are generally pretty good now. However areas such as the battery, camera and a continuum like service still need a great deal of improvement.

Thanks for reading!

tech189

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Is the desktop OS obsolete due to easy-to-use interfaces like in a mobile OS?

I do not think so. There are a lot of things that are still very difficult to do in a mobile or touch based OS. For example image editing is painful to do well on a touch device, especially if you are looking for accuracy. Imagine trying use Photoshop on a smartphone! However, I have seen people use Photoshop on a Surface but they always use another tool such as a stylus or a mouse.

On the other hand touch OSs do a lot of things better such as low power consumption and being fast most of the time but these can never be trade offs for a lot of the things that desktops do a lot better.

Slightly off the topic here, a powerful device which was touchscreen but also had capabilities to connect to a mouse and keyboard would be a great option for many people. Also when you plugged a mouse in, the UI would change to better suit a mouse. Surfaces have a lot in common with this imaginary device but they are still very heavy and do not have much RAM.

tech189

 

Useful apps, programs and websites for bloggers

Here’s guest post I did for Janice Wald at mostlyblogging.com, do take a look at her blog!

tech189 here, giving you a couple of handy tips for you bloggers: here are some apps for your phone/tablet, programs for your computer and websites which I use to help me create great content for my blog!

Google Keep:

If you’re on the go a lot like me, you probably won’t spend all your thinking time for new posts at the computer. For instance, you might have a sudden thought while you’re on the train/bus/plane. Thankfully you brought your phone with you and installed an app called Google Keep.

This is a note taking app made by Google which has a really easy to use interface and comes with handy tags to organise your notes. The best part about it is that you can have reminders and repeating reminders. Also, since it is owned by Google, you’ll never really need to backup your notes as they keep your data very secure and safe!

But I hear you say, “How is this any use for us bloggers?”  Well, it’s cross-platform, which means that if you have an Android phone or an iPhone, you can install this app from your respective app store, and you can use it on your computer! All you need is a Google account!

Here are the links to download the app:

Android: http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.keep

iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-keep-your-thoughts/id1029207872

And to view your list of notes on a computer, go to http://keep.google.com.

 

f.lux:

Most of us bloggers have got work to do during the day and we end up writing at night. Now screens are designed to be used during the day around normal sunlight and are very bright as a result. Not only are they bright, but they contain a lot of artificial “blue light” which affects a hormone called melatonin.

This wavelength of light changes when melatonin is activated and means that getting to sleep after blogging is harder and we may not have such a good night’s sleep as a result. It also affects our circadian rhythms which determine when we automatically get up and other such “built-in human clock” functions.

But no fear, there is a program called f.lux which, when the sun sets, dims your screen and applies a yellowish tint to it which blocks out the wavelengths of blue light. It automatically runs and once you’ve installed it there’s no need to adjust it later. (Unless you are doing some colour-sensitive work such as editing a photo… which you probably shouldn’t be doing at night!)

It is once again cross-platform so you can install it on Windows, Mac and Linux! Just go to http://justgetflux.com.

You can also install this app on your phone, but at the moment it only works with Android without rooting/jailbreaking your phone. Here’s a link to the app: http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=eu.chainfire.lumen. iOS users will just have to use a computer instead, jailbreaking is risky business!

 

Picjumbo

Blogs are not the same without pictures. They look boring when they’re just plain text. When you add pictures and a splash of colour, your blog will come to life and you’ll attract more people as a result.

But it’s not always easy to find pictures unless you’re going to take them yourself. If you are a photographer already, great! But most people aren’t or just don’t have the time to get their own pictures.

That’s where this website comes in: it’s a free service where you can download royalty free pictures which will easily spice up your blog post. Just choose the picture you want and press download, no fees!

Caesium


WordPress is pretty generous with the space it gives you for your pictures and videos for your blog but it is still limited, none the less. As a result people tend to not post pictures and videos which they don’t really feel necessary as they are worried that they will run out of space. This is not something people should do, they shouldn’t limit their creativity!

Caesium is a small program which can compress your photos. Compression makes the photo files much smaller but decreases the quality slightly. I do this currently with all the photos I upload to my blog.

Photos can be very large at up to about 5MB per files which, if you upload often, will quickly eat up your storage. This is an easy operation and can decrease the files to something like 800KB. It saves space and also speeds up loading times on your website.

Here’s a link to the website: http://caesium.sourceforge.net.

 

postimg.org

Although you could compress your files, you could also host the somewhere else. One such image hosting service is postimg.org which gives lots of space for free! This service is very useful because you don’t need to worry about running out of space or compressing your files.

You can upload in different categories and if you click on codes for each photo it will give you a direct link to the uploaded photo which you can then embed into your blog post.

 

500px

This last website isn’t really a tool as such but a place to promote your photography if you are blogging about photography like I am.

500px is a photography sharing site where you can view professional work from professional photographers but also promote your work. You can sort by categories and get inspiration from other photographers. Others can like or favourite your work and also follow if they particularly like your pictures.

If you’re interested, why not visit my profile on 500px? Here is a link: http://500px.com/tech189.

What other useful apps and websites do you know? Why not share in the comments!

Thank you for reading my guest post, come check out my blog if you want more technology/photography related posts: https://tech189.wordpress.com.

 

tech189

 

Finally, Firefox for iOS!

It’s here, you can now get one of the best browsers on your iPhone or iPad!
https://itunes.apple.com/app/apple-store/id989804926?mt=8I

It doesn’t look like they’ve implemented extensions yet, but I’m sure that’ll come soon!

Unfortunately, you’ll need iOS 8.2 or later to run this app, so those sticking with iOS 7 will miss out…

tech189

Productive Chrome Extensions that I use – and so should you!

Here are a list of Chrome Extensions which I feel everyone should use to make their internet browsing a lot more useful and productive! Click on the extension names to go to the Chrome Web Store.

  • Save to Pocket This extension is very simple – it adds the current website to your Pocket list. And if you don’t know what Pocket is, it’s a website which allows you to store and save for later articles as you browse the web.
  • Neater Bookmarks This extension adds a small button which when you press, reveals all of your bookmarks in an ordered list which you can easily search. If you want you can disable the bookmarks bar and replace it with this extension. Then add a keyboard shortcut to quickly open the list.
  • uBlock Origin This ad blocker is very memory efficient and speeds up your browsing by removing adverts which take up time and memory to load and display. Just remember to disable it on websites you would like to support!

Try out these extensions and watch your productivity increase!

tech189

List: Why I could not survive without my smartphone for one day

On the subject of smartphones, I’ve made a list of the reasons why I wouldn’t be able to last a day without my phone:

  1. It’s my daily source of news. Because I don’t have much time every day to get on my computer, I can look at the news while I travel, which is pretty neat.
  2. It takes less time to start it up than my computer. My computer takes about 7 minutes to start up from shut down… About 30 seconds if in sleep mode. On the other hand, my phone takes less than a second to start from sleep, bearing in mind that it is effectively on all the time in your pocket.
  3. It’s much smaller than my computer. I can fit it in my pocket and not worry too much about, for instance, someone stealing my laptop bag.
  4. It’s much more portable. I have a 17-inch laptop, which is huge, and is pretty much impossible to carry around. Also, you are probably going to want to carry around a charger, just in case your laptop dies on you.
  5. It’s a quick source of entertainment. Got 5 minutes to spare? Why not catch up on a TV show or play a game? It’s so easy just to put on a pair of headphones and continue with whatever TV show or film you’ve been watching. Or you could play a casual game if you have enough battery left.
  6. I need it to communicate. I just can’t not be able to call and text others. Not to mention all the other ways of communication, such as Skype and Facebook Messenger.
  7. I need it to listen to music. I don’t have a music player, they are too old fashioned to be honest, especially when you can slot in a 64GB SD card into your phone and soon enough you can fill it up with gigabytes worth of music!

This was fun to write, but have I missed any points? What do you think about not having your phone for one day? How would it affect you?

tech189

(I’ll be posting a list on the same topic soon, so follow if you’re interested!)

Smartphones and tablets – are they actually useful? (Part 1)

Smartphones and tablets have been around for quite a while now, and no doubt they have been useful, but how useful?

Imagine this scenario: you have a word document that you need to do but you are away from the computer. You pick out your phone and get typing. But no it’s not as simple as that; you find out that you can’t access the file because it’s in the cloud and there happens only to be 2G in the area you are in.

Read More…

Janet's Writing Blog

I enjoy doing the research for and writing southern historical fiction. The novel I'm writing is set in the Carolinas in the 1760s. I also wrote a vintage postcard book for Arcadia Publishing titled The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. This blog chronicles my journey as a writer. Come along!

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