Friday, 22 June 2018

Look what has arrived: my Gemini - by Planet Computers!

I ordered my unit from Indiegogo 15th March and it arrived while we were away on our road tripI had high hopes that this device would be as good as the Psion 3 & 5 organisers that I used to use "back in the day".

The good news is: it's great - I'm really happy (so far). 
Think of it as a micro-laptop - running Android.

(Closed) dimensions are: 17cm wide x 8cm deep x 14mm tall. Tiny!
It is fast & powerful, excellent battery life, high quality proper keyboard, voice activated.
I've gone for the WiFi only version, as I thought using this as a phone would be cumbersome - I was right. Hopefully they will work out how to seamlessly integrate phone functionality, perhaps in a way similar to the Nokia 9000 Communicator?

When I'm out and about & don't want to (cant be asked to!) take my laptop - this will be my go to device.

You will soon be able to send texts from your PC with Android Messages

Google has announced that the latest update to its Android Messages app lets you send and receive texts from your computer.

The new feature is being rolled out over the next week(...), and it works in much the same as WhatsApp Web. To get started, go to in your web browser where a QR code will appear. Using the Android Messages app on your phone, tap the three-dot menu and select “Messages for web” before scanning the QR code.

Before signing into the Android Messages website, you’ll also notice an option you can enable to “Remember this computer”, which is handy if you don’t want to have to sign in every time you use it.

At the time of writing, we didn’t have the option in the Android Messages app to select “Messages for Web”, so we haven’t been able to try it out for ourselves yet, but it is expected to roll out more widely over the coming weeks.

Back from our fantastic MC road trip: 736 miles across Devon & Cornwall

Kim & I have had a brilliant four days touring South West England. I planned the journey based on routes from the great book: Bikers' Britain (make sure you get the spiral bound version - handy!).

Day 1: Denmead, Winchester, Salisbury, Blandford Forum, Yeovil, Dorchester, Honiton, Exeter (Lunch @ The New Inn Alphington), Totnes, Dartmouth (Best Western Golf & Spa).

Day 2: Dartmouth, (Ferry) Kingswear,  Paignton, Torquay, Totnes, Plymouth, Polperro, Polruan > Fowey (Ferry), Par, Charlestown (Lunch @ Pier House Hotel), St Austell, Truro, Falmouth, Lizard, St Just (Bosavern Guest House). The sea mist was coming in by the end of the day!

Day 3: Lands End, Penzance, St Ives, Hale, Portreath, Newquay, Padstow (Rick Stein's Pasties!), St Issey (The Pickwick Inn), Port Issac, Delabole, Bideford, Ilfracombe (Marine Court Guest House). Half of this day was affected by heavy sea mist & made making progress really hard, so we ended up dropping a few of our planned stops.

Day 4: Lynton, Lynmouth (25% incline to the harbour - mad!!!), Simonsbath, Taunton, Leigh Common (Hunters Inn Lodge), A303, Amesbury, Stonehenge, Andover, Winchester, Bishops Waltham, Denmead.

736 miles in a car sounds easy, doesn't it? 10 hours (ish) at motorway speeds... So why do it on the bike & take four days to do it? This is why

Route guidance was via my Garmin Zumo 390LM, which again was glitching on power. Fortunately I discovered that some lip salve helps settle the electrical connection!

All overnight stops were arranged during our trip, on the fly, using on my smartphone - which works brilliantly! Fancy trying & saving on your 1st booking? Get 10% of your booking back after your trip using this link - enjoy!

Monday, 18 June 2018

Christ has no body now on Earth but yours

Christ has no body now but yours. 
No hands, no feet on earth but yours. 
Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. 
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. 
Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. 
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. 
Christ has no body now on Earth but yours.

(Attributed to) Saint Teresa of Ávila

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Another smart device fail: a padlock - would you believe it?!?

It's never easy to crack into a market with an innovative new product but makers of the "world's first smart fingerprint padlock" have made one critical error: they forgot about the existence of screwdrivers.

Tapplock raised $320,000 in 2016 for their product that would allow you to use just your finger to open the "unbreakable" lock. Amazing. Things took a turn for the worse when the ship date of September came and went, and backers complained that the upstart has stopped posting any updates and wasn't responding to emails nor social media posts.

But after months of silence, the startup assured El Reg that everything was still moving forward and the delays were due to "issues with manufacturing in China."

Fast forward 18 months and finally – finally – the $100 Tapplock is out on the market and it is… well, how do we put this kindly? Somewhat flawed.

No less than three major problems with the lock have been discovered that make it less than useless because presumably people intend to use the lock to secure valuable things.

Smart devices are often horribly dumb. Have a look at this video - spoiler: the scary stuff starts at 3mins 30secs - dismantled with a sticky pad & screwdriver! Pathetic for a $100 security device! Donline tip: If you can achieve what you need to using a quality "traditional" device - just do it!

Saturday, 16 June 2018

"Season of the Bike" by Dave Karlotski

There is cold, and there is cold on a motorcycle. Cold on a motorcycle is like being beaten with cold hammers while being kicked with cold boots, a bone bruising cold. The wind's big hands squeeze the heat out of my body and whisk it away; caught in a cold October rain, the drops don't even feel like water. They feel like shards of bone fallen from the skies of Hell to pock my face. I expect to arrive with my cheeks and forehead streaked with blood, but that's just an illusion, just the misery of nerves not designed for highway speeds.

Despite this, it's hard to give up my motorcycle in the fall and I rush to get it on the road again in the spring; lapses of sanity like this are common among motorcyclists. When you let a motorcycle into your life you're changed forever. The letters "MC" are stamped on your driver's license right next to your sex and height as if "motorcycle" was just another of your physical characteristics, or maybe a mental condition.

But when warm weather finally does come around all those cold snaps and rainstorms are paid in full because a motorcycle summer is worth any price. A motorcycle is not just a two-wheeled car; the difference between driving a car and climbing onto a motorcycle is the difference between watching TV and actually living your life. We spend all our time sealed in boxes and cars are just the rolling boxes that shuffle us languidly from home-box to work-box to store-box and back, the whole time entombed in stale air, temperature regulated, sound insulated, and smelling of carpets.

On a motorcycle I know I'm alive. When I ride, even the familiar seems strange and glorious. The air has weight and substance as I push through it and its touch is as intimate as water to a swimmer. I feel the cool wells of air that pool under trees and the warm spokes of sunlight that fall through them. I can see everything in a sweeping 360 degrees, up, down and around, wider than PanaVision and higher than IMAX and unrestricted by ceiling or dashboard.

Sometimes I even hear music. It's like hearing phantom telephones in the shower or false doorbells when vacuuming; the pattern-loving brain, seeking signals in the noise, raises acoustic ghosts out of the wind's roar. But on a motorcycle I hear whole songs: rock 'n roll, dark orchestras, women's voices, all hidden in the air and released by speed.

At 30 miles an hour and up, smells become uncannily vivid. All the individual tree-smells and flower-smells and grass-smells flit by like chemical notes in a great plant symphony. Sometimes the smells evoke memories so strongly that it's as though the past hangs invisible in the air around me, wanting only the most casual of rumbling time machines to unlock it.

A ride on a summer afternoon can border on the rapturous. The sheer volume and variety of stimuli is like a bath for my nervous system, an electrical massage for my brain, a systems check for my soul. It tears smiles out of me: a minute ago I was dour, depressed, apathetic, numb, but now, on two wheels, big, ragged, windy smiles flap against the side of my face, billowing out of me like air from a decompressing plane. Transportation is only a secondary function. A motorcycle is a joy machine. It's a machine of wonders, a metal bird, a motorized prosthetic. It's light and dark and shiny and dirty and warm and cold lapping over each other; it's a conduit of grace, it's a catalyst for bonding the gritty and the holy.

I still think of myself as a motorcycle amateur, but by now I've had a handful of bikes over a half dozen years and slept under my share of bridges. I wouldn't trade one second of either the good times or the misery. Learning to ride was one of the best things I've done.

Cars lie to us and tell us we're safe, powerful, and in control. The air-conditioning fans murmur empty assurances and whisper, "Sleep, sleep." Motorcycles tell us a more useful truth: we are small and exposed, and probably moving too fast for our own good, but that's no reason not to enjoy every minute of the ride.

NIV Audio Bible in One Year Read by David Suchet

The NIV Audio Bible read by David Suchet has been arranged into daily readings to help you listen to the complete Bible in one year. In this digital download version, there is a portion from the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Psalms or Proverbs each day - each on a separate track, to make it easy to navigate.

Ever since he became a Christian at the age of 40, it was Poirot actor David Suchet's dream to make an audio recording of the whole Bible. In between filming the final episodes of Poirot, David Suchet spent over 200 hours in the recording studio to create the very first full-length audio version of the NIV Bible spoken by a single British actor. It is now available in the popular Bible in One Year format, both on MP3 CD and as a digital download.

I have recently bought this wonderful bible study resource from Audible. David Suchet's clear voice & diction, along with his considerable acting skills, makes listening to this daily: a pleasure. I find this particularly helps me with the "bits" that I've always struggled with - lists of difficult names & places in the Old Testament. David has the remarkable ability to read these with no problem at all, while keeping the bible story flowing - impressive! I hope that you too can find this wonderful audio recording a blessing too.