Monday, July 17, 2017

Android - unable to send message.

I have an inexpensive Huawei Android mobile and recently replied to a text message from a friend. The text message failed with an unable to send message respond. I tried a few times more on different occasions with the same result.

Sending the same text message to others had no problem. Up until the first time sending a reply failed I had no problem sending or receiving text messages from the person.

To fix this issue I selected the entire conversation for the person and deleted it. This fixed the issue.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Make sure you understand what you've providing when you use voice services.

Voice services are now part of everyday life for many of us. We talk to our mobile phones and other devices have or will have voice capabilities. This would not be a problem if these were stand-alone devices, but they're not, they're connected to the internet. They can literally be listening to and recording everything that you say.

Keep in mind when you say "Hey Siri", the software has to already be listening to pick up the phrase "Hey Siri". In a recent article where police were involved to break up a domestic dispute, the phrase "Did you call the sheriffs" was heard by Google Home. Google Home interpreted this to be, "call the sheriffs" and subsequently called the sheriffs.

In this article we're told Amazon may give developers your private transcripts. This apparently is already being done by Google. Now they do say it is non-identifying information, by it does mention location. If you're at home (the location) that to me pretty well identifies you or your household.

How much information is being handed over to developers is not stated, but to be safe, you probably should assume that anything you say could be recorded.

Isn't it amazing. I'm sure most of us would not wish to have anyone eavesdropping on our conversations, yet with voice services that's potentially what we're giving away.

Remember you always have a choice as to what and how much you give away. You can disable features, although that may not mean the features are fully disabled. You can turn off devices. The choice is yours.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Windows 10 privacy settings for device prompt for Creators update.

Recently I received a call from a customer who was concerned about a prompt which appeared unexpected on Windows 10. The prompt was to Choose privacy settings for your device.

This prompt is legitimate and is in preparation for the Windows 10 Creators Update which was released in April 2017. If you're not sure what these options mean, the easiest approach is to simply turn them all off. If you need a feature such as location, you can later turn that feature on.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT support.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

PayPal - We're sorry, things don't appear to be working at the moment. Please try again later.

This morning when testing a purchase on my website I got the message: PayPal. We're sorry, things don't appear to be working at the moment. Please try again later.
Initially I thought there was a problem with PayPal, but then one of my PayPal Buy Now buttons still worked. Lots of information on the internet pointed to potential problems with people's sites. I decided that perhaps PayPal had changed their service and the older code I was using, which didn't use encryption, was perhaps being discontinued.

For the next four or so hours I wrote new code, reading documentation and ended up with code that worked. At that point I had to leave things, but still one of my sites would not be able to make sales.

Tonight I continued working on the sites. I went to check the old code to convert to the new code. When I clicked on a PayPal Buy Now button that hadn't worked, it was now working.

The problem in the end was with PayPal's service.

Hopefully by sharing this experience, others may benefit from the experience.

Kelvin Eldridge
IT Support

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Outlook versus Gmail app on Android.

For me the built-in email client on the Android 5.1 mobile phone at first appeared to be quite good. However, there was a major problem. It kept crashing. Simply failing for no apparent reason and returning me to the home screen. I decided enough was enough. I went looking for a replacement.

The two obvious email client apps are Google's Gmail app and Microsoft's Outlook app. Both have a much better user interface than the built-in email app. Large, easy to read text and they look quite good. Both however have issues.

For the Gmail app the main issue is after you delete all that spam, the emails appear to stay in the inbox. If you delete emails on another device such as a notebook and open the Gmail app the emails are still there. You have to wait for some time for the list of emails to refresh. You can pull the list down to cause a recheck of emails, but again there's quite a delay.

Microsoft's Outlook app also has some issues. The main ones for me is that if I add a URL (website link) a link isn't automatically created and the receiving person only gets a URL as text. No ability to click on the URL as you'd expect. The second issue is Outlook has no ability to let you know emails have arrived. OK. It does, but the notifications didn't work for me. That meant I had no idea if new emails had arrived.

The Gmail app also isn't great with notifications, but at least in the status area at the top you see a small Gmail icon to indicate email has arrived. That's OK. With Outlook I had to add the Outlook widget to a home screen which showed the latest emails that hadn't been read. I didn't like this approach.

Overall I'm actually not happy with either the Gmail app or the Outlook app. Given I'm also not happy with the built-in email app, it means I have to accept the email client with the least annoying short comings. In this case it is the Gmail app. The reasons are I like to see some visual indicator email has arrive without opening the email. Also I want a visual indicator and not an audible one. Gmail also makes URLs I insert into links when others receive the email.

I'm not a fan of Gmail products as I don't like the idea they've scanning everything I do for marketing purposes. I would prefer Outlook because Microsoft isn't as focused on advertising for revenue. I can't understand why Microsoft couldn't fix these two issues. In the end, until Microsoft fixes the issues, I've gone with the Gmail app.

Kelvin Eldridge

Sunday, May 28, 2017

BigW has a special on a E8372 4G Wi-Fi USB mobile adaptor.

I recently purchased an Optus 4G W-Fi USB mobile dongle from Big W which is currently on special for $20. The normal price is $69.

The reason I purchased this device was I'm planning to move from ADSL to 4G for internet access and this device gives me the ability to have a Wi-Fi hotspot in the home and also take my larger internet plan with me.

A word of warning. BigW had a couple of these units and the SIM card had expired in 2016. That means the 4GB of data which lasts for 14 days wasn't available. They tried to sell me an additional $2 SIM card with no data. I suggested that perhaps they should simply drop $5-$10 off the price. They took $5 off the price. For $15 that was an excellent price for a 4G W-Fi/USB dongle.

The next surprise is I currently have a SIM card with 14GB of data I using for test. It uses the Vodafone network. I decided to see if I could unlock the device since it expired so long ago, but Optus required a mobile number, and since it hadn't been activated I didn't have a number. But that's where I received a very pleasant surprise. The device wasn't locked. It worked immediately. I was planning and still may use it with the Optus network, so being unlocked wasn't necessary, but it was great that it was.

If anyone is looking for a 4G Wi-Fi USB device the E8372 works well and at $20, it's a very good price. If you're lucky enough that the unit is unlocked, even better.

Kelvin Eldridge

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Apple MacBook Air mini displayport to hdmi adaptor.

Most of us with computers need to purchase accessories, such as cables, every now and then. My MacBook Air (now a few years old) is an excellent computer. Very light and portable. The 11.8" screen most of the time isn't an issue. However sometimes I'd like to connect to a larger screen.

I already have an Apple TV (the older model) which works well for entertainment. But this time I wanted to connect to a larger monitor via HDMI. The Apple site has a Belkin 4K mini DisplayPort to HDMI adaptor for $49.95. We all know Apple's prices aren't the cheapest, so I decided to check eBay.

The item I purchased was a mini displayport to HDMI adaptor for $2.95. It works a treat. Does what I need and at $2.95 it's loose change and an easy decision. Of course you're always gambling when it comes to purchasing products on eBay. I've had some devices (not computer related) simply melt, so there is a risk. Most devices are OK, but you need to know your exposure and know your risk.

For example I purchased a SD card reader from the Apple store for $45, for a relatively new iPad Air 2, and for that device I wasn't prepared to take a risk. The Apple MacBook Air is over three years old, paid for itself, so for me there doesn't feel like there's much risk.

What's important is you know you have options.

Kelvin Eldridge