My weekly smartphone use…

At the Quantified Self conference a few weeks ago there was a very interesting conversation & social experiment about smartphone use. Ever since I’ve been getting more interested in the good and bad uses of smartphones, even gave a summary of ideas collected over the different sessions.

But I’ve been thinking about my low usage at the conference and decided to seek out an app which just counts the usage and nothing more (most have other types of permissions to do all types of other things). Found Timefactory’s Time used did pretty much this (although I’d like a proper data export option), seems low on resources and very simple.

So above is my regular usage of my Nexus 5X over the last week, and this week was a regular go to work everyday and social event most evenings kind of a week.

Its low, agreed but I didn’t go out to not check it or anything. I carry my Nexus with me pretty much everywhere. But having my pebble smartwatch and other devices around me certainly has a massive effect on how many times I actually have to turn on the phone screen.

Look forward to sharing the month summary too.

Dark data experiments?

Untitled - man in the dark
I have a lot of curiosity and one of the things which has consistently got me curious, is the challenges of the hidden. Hidden being the trick, the data, the technique, the place or the knowledge. This is why I’m very interested in Hacker House (it was almost added to my new years resolutions for 2017 even).

Currently data is the hidden which intrugued me the moment, hence my massive interest in data ethics. There’s been 3 experiments which have really got me jumping up and down about this all… thought I’d share while I eat cheese and drink wine on Christmas day

  • Click Click Click
    A perfect and fun demonstration of mouse tracking on websites using just JavaScript. This is the data the likes of Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc use to track users dwell time and implicit actions on the website. Found via some folks on our BBC R&D internal slack.
  • I know what you downloaded (…last summer or even last Christmas)
    This site collects IPs from public torrent swarms by parsing torrent sites and listening to the DHT network. They have more than 500.000 torrents which where classified and have data on peers sharing habits. The slightly twisted feature is the ability to share a link and see what people have been sharing. I promise not to do this but highlights the problem with shortern urls and long query strings you can’t be bother to read or don’t understand how they work (knowledge). Found via Torrentfreak
  • Find my phone
    Man’s smartphone is stolen in Amsterdam, so the same man decides to root another phone and deliberately track the phone. Along with the person who stole it! The results are turned into a video which you can watch on youtube.
    Found via Schneier

Nexus 5 with that X factor

Nexus 5x

My Nexus 5 which I have still but developed a problem a little while ago needed replacing. With that I decided the Nexus 5x makes the most sense and tried to get one over the holiday period. The Google Play Store had a discount, but there was a problem with the store and I missed out on the discount.

However, I was walking along Tottenham Court Road in London last week and saw Google had a special display in Currys. Funny enough the price they were selling it at was the same as the discounted price. I double checked the price on the Play store and it was still higher. So I bought it in store with additional bits thrown in, including a new Google Cardboard, £50 curry gift card and a android badge (yeah I know, not my thing either).

OnePlus 2

It was a reasonable deal but it was frustrating that I couldn’t buy a USB C cable in the Currys store. This was even more painful when I finally got the phone back to the hotel and found it was USB C on both ends, meaning I could only use the wall charger it come with. Could I find another USB C to USB A cable anywhere on Totternham Court Road or Oxford Street? Could I heck. Luckily I ordered cables and USB Micro to USB C from Amazon over the Holidays, so once I got back to Manchester I could use those.

It did remind me of when my HTC One X came with MicroUSB not MiniUSB. I would ask in shops and they would bring out MiniUSB or look at me with a question mark in their heads. I’m just very surprise Currys would sell the Nexus5X and not even supply accessories.

Advice for google, insist there is accessories and cases alongside a place you sell the phones!

Nexus5X_3

Ok so my thoughts about the actual phone.

Its good! But I really miss not having MicroUSB and having to replace a ton of my cables. I also haven’t seen the benefit of USB C (yet!) yes its reversable but without my MicroUSB adapter, I felt like a iPhone user, asking for some insane cable.

The actual phones construct is similar to the Nexus 5 in feel but looks like a Moto G with dual stereo speakers. Its also a tiny bit bigger at 5.2 inches with the headphone jack at the bottom instead of the top. I won’t lie the phone is big but not like the Nexus 6P, so it just about fits in one of man hands. It is a stretch to reach the top but with all the buttons on the side theres less need to do so.

Google Nexus 5X

The finger print sensor is actually in the right place. I heard elsewhere the Moto G’s area on the back was meant to be a finger sensor, and the finger does hover there all the time. You can also train the finger sensor at different angles, positions and fingers. I think you can do up to 10 configurations and the phone will unlock and turn on once its accepted. The nice thing is you can still apply other methods, such as smart lock, pattern and many other method. The time from finger to unlock is in the less than 500ms. Its bloody fast, needs no pressure and is the same quickness as pressing the power button! I keep forgetting its there and going for my lock pattern, its just muscle memory I guess.

The screen resolution has a crazy dots per inch and it really shows. Seeing my old Nexus 5 next to the 5x is quite something. Its like when I bought the new Nexus 7 and put it side by side with the old Nexus 7. There is so much extra space and google has used this space by include another row and column of icons on the home screens. The camera seems pretty good too, but not really played with it much. Surprising detail for low light and a shaky hand in the cold.

London with Nexus 5x
Shot of London from the south bank

On a whole the Nexus 5x is a great phone and I’m glad I waited for it. Now I just need to setup most of the apps again. I’m moving apps like Fitbit, Withings, etc off to my Nexus 7; as I noticed I only really use them when at home.

I’m sure once USB type C is everywhere, I’ll be a lot more happy. Also a shame I’ll have less use for my conductive chargers…

Looks like I may end up getting the Nexus 5X after all

Dead pixels on Nexus 5 screen

I saw the Google Nexus 5x on launch and was interested but decided my old Nexus 5 was still doing fine, so I won’t be considering the upgrade.

However yesterday on the train to Bristol, while my phone lied on the table next to my laptop, I suddenly found my phone screen had experienced a major dead pixel problem. The phone is 2 years old and way out of warranty period so I doubt google will send me a new one, but a discount would be very grateful.

Its not unusable but certainly a pain to use. At least my contract is finished, so I can get the best phone and sell it to make up the price of the new Nexus 5x. Maybe I’ll keep the Nexus 5 as a backup phone.

The smartwatch trap

The Pebble iOS Smartwatch

Ade tweeted this blog and I had a quick read.

I found this interesting and so true in the respects of what I think about smartwatches…

Once watch makers accept that we don’t want/need a tiny smartphone on our wrists, they’ll start making much more compelling watches. The only smartwatch maker that gets this right now is Pebble.

Just as phones serve a fundamentally different use case than tablets, watches serve a fundamentally different use case than phones. Watches are primarily for knowing things, not doing things.

Many of my friends who have the apple watch have given them up as the battery and consistent charging makes it a burden.

Funny enough theres also another older blog which I always think/talk about when people asking me about my pebble watch.

  1. The more you have to charge a watch, the more you have to take it off.

  2. The more you take a watch off, the less useful it is.

  3. The less useful the watch is, the less likely you are to put it back on.

Sleep tracking is a big deal for me and that means the only time my watch gets any charge is every once in a while, as I’m in the shower. Of course this isn’t every day because most of the time I’m in the shower wearing it.

Phone Etiquette for Dyslexics

I kind of hate voicemail (who doesn’t) but mine are for different reasons. Dyslexia Victoria sums it up perfectly

As a Dyslexic I have issues with different aspects of verbal and written language.  One of my pet peeves is people leaving phone messages. Callers have a tendency to start their message by saying their name quickly, launch into their message which can go on and on and then finish by saying their phone number so fast, it’s practically unintelligible.

I believe there are people who can catch these numbers but as a Dyslexic I am challenged trying to write numbers down in the correct order, especially phone numbers. I will usually get the first two and a couple more somewhere in the sequence of numbers and always reverse the two middle numbers in the last set of numbers. So for example:    1-800-346-0925 becomes –    1-8??-3??-?296

This means I now have to go back and play the message several times to get the name and phone number and some of the message. This drives me crazy..

Yes it drives me crazy too, so much that I changed my voicemail message to ask people to slowdown and repeat their number. I certainly concur with the suggestions…

Here are some suggestions for people leaving messages because you never know if the person writing the message down is numbers and word challenged.

  • When you begin say your name slowly and clearly, who you are with if applicable and your phone number.

  • Say the phone number slowly and clearly and then repeat it.

  • Keep your message short and clear

  • End your message with your name and phone number said slowly and clearly

Mobile as a proxy for awkwardness?

Phone Guy

You know the situation when you get into a lift and try not to make eye contact with anybody? The 21 century equivalent has to be, stare at your phone… Check your notifications and see what else is going on with your email or facebook. Because most lifts are mainly mirrored inside, its easy to see someone, looking for something to do. I hate to say it but its shocking how many people don’t have a lock on their phones and the simplicity of the code is crazy (4 ones anybody)

Oh no not you or me! Although to be fair I do when getting the lift down from the carpark at work check google now for what I’m going to be doing today. Not because I feel awkward, but I can’t check when I’m on the scooter driving (even with the pebble watch)

Not you? No of course not!

How about this one then?

Dinner, lunch, tea, coffee, breakfast, $whatever.  with a friend or date, you don’t check the phone as your eating and chatting. No because that would be bloody rude (although I have had a few dates do this and its driven me crazy inside, to the degree that I have had to say something like “oh sorry am I keeping you from somewhere?“)

No… they get up to go to the toilet and the first thing you do is reach for your phone. Either to text, tweet, check your notifications, check you don’t have something out of place in your teeth or just pass the time staring at the screen.

We all have done it! If you haven’t how about the other person. The person in the toilet. You’re all done with what you are doing then after washing and drying our hands (if your one of those flipping filthy people who don’t wash their hands after using the toilet, I have only nasty things to say to you!) After drying your hands looking in the mirror, we tend to reach for the phone. Same reasons text, tweet, check your notifications.

I’m sure you can think of many different other scenarios! Public transport for one. Social anxiety builds and its easier to just stare at the phone and be else where, anywhere? The viewing is different from wanting to retrieve and actively do something.

Our phones have become a proxy for awkwardness not just boredom… Sure Sherry Turkle would have lots to say about this.

HTC one x touch screen problems

Just when i thought i might be out of the woods with my device upgrades. Seems I may needs to get my htc 1x fixed or upgraded.

A while ago i noticed the touch screen had an area it wouldnt registered the touches sometimes. It seemed to happen when i made heavy use of the gps, say on one of my rides in the mountains. In actually fact I couldn’t use the phone screen most of the time when riding along. This seems fine but what in case you want to pause the tracking app? Text or tweet? I’m convinced my lack of pictures in the mountains is due to this problem.

Usually switching off the device rubbing the screen will solve the problem a bit. Which is better than the reboot the device which I use to do. I once did this in the middle of a ride and had to manually edit the kml/xml together with an editor.

However things seem to be getting worst. Trying to unlock my phone using the android pattern can be a nightmare! Usually i’m locked out of my phone for 30 seconds or worst.

Like all things I should have realised this isn’t just my device.

With not long till my phone upgrade and the phone well out of warranty, i’m kinda at a lost what to really do. Just like the sleep of death of the Samsung galaxy tab 7+ there’s no real way I could sell them to someone without mentioning the problems.
I wonder if HTC and even Samsung would take them back in after the warranty is gone? Plus now its rooted will htc ever touch it again?

What would you do?

Phones On Planes Are Inevitable In A Connected World

WiFi on tube

Stowe Boyd makes a good point about the phones on a plane debate which has broken out.

Flying on an airplane is not some weekend escape at a spa where we place hot rocks on our chakras and seek enlightenment. It’s just another mode of transit.

Yes, air travel has gone downhill, like most things in the postnormal. And yes, airlines will exploit this opportunity to gouge another pound of flesh from the meat that waddles on and off their planes. That’s the way things work.

But to hold to some quaint, antiquated notion of peace and quiet in the air is laughable. Airplanes are loud in the first place — 60-90 decibels — so anyone with any sense will bring earplugs, hearing protection earmuffs, or noise cancelling headphones. This is especially true of road warriors, who otherwise can get cumulative hearing loss.

So get over your antiquated, 1970s attitudes about phones on planes. In a connected world, people will naturally use whatever technologies they can to remain connected: their livelihoods and relationships are at stake.

Just like wifi on public transport…

I don’t really like the idea of people yammering away on phones while on public transport but we got use to it and found ways around the noise. Sometimes we put headphones on, sometimes we tell people to stfu. Frankly we will deal with it because being connected for many of us is not just a nicety, but a must. And unfortunately that does mean dealing with idiots who shout down a phone.

HTC One X coming to Orange

HTC One X and S in Orange Store confirmed

Updated, with the new orange store screenshot

I was considering switching network while I wait for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus but yesterday Engadget broke the news about the HTC One X and One S and that it was coming to Orange in the UK.

Not sure how I feel about the 4.7 inch screen of the HTC One X but the HTC One S’s 4.3 inch screen is but much more pocketable. The One S also looks like my old HTC Desire but much nicer and bigger. Quad core running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) coupled with HTC’s final decision to unlock all bootloaders makes these phones very attractive and a long term investment.

Certainly glad I waited and didn’t go for the Samsung Galaxy S2 or one of Sony’s other Gingerbread phones. If the Galaxy S3 does come, I can always still switch network if its a One X beater

A few noticeable recent changes

Islington Wharf

One step closer to moving to Islington Wharf, now I actually have a deposit down on the flat I wanted. I’m just waiting on Plumlife to agree I’m able to join there scheme (which was ok last year, so not expecting any upset) and then I can apply for the mortgage (which shouldn’t be a problem this time due to the highly motivated mortgage advisor I got). After which I should be able to get everything going and maybe move next month or so.

On the computer front, I just upgraded my Dell Laptop from a 120gig to 320gig and then gave it a brand new Ubuntu install. Not only did I upgrade it but I also switched to the i86_64 version as my laptop runs a Intel Core 2 duo 2 chipset. No idea why I’ve never done it before but early indication says so far the resource control over the applications and switching is much better and I’m shocked at how smooth things are. Don’t get me wrong the x86 version was fine but there is certainly something extra about the 64bit version.  What is strange is the amount of memory available to the machine, it still indicates there is about 3gig of memory available (3262meg) not the full 4gig. I also have a couple of problems with getting Dropbox and XBMC working. Plus settings for Firefox, evolution and gnome wifi networking didn’t transfer over so well. Which is a pain. I can still boot into my old 32bit partition using a usb enclosure which means if I knew where the correct files were I could drag them over easily enough.

Finally Orange are being a pain in the ass and I can’t now upgrade my phone till August, which means the HTC Desire isn’t the phone it is now. Even the HTC Incredible will be old news. Maybe the Dell Lightning and Mini5’s will be of interest? Anyway in the meanwhile, it seems Android running on the HTC Touch HD or Blackstone has progressed to a point where the screen does not always stay on and so the battery doesn’t die within a few hours. Actually if you turn off Wifi, it will last a day which isn’t bad. So most of the time I’ll have my phone running Android in the near future. I just need to get the settings for 3G/HSDPA and work out how to divert the sound to the headphones instead to the loudspeaker.

iPad Dj Application?

Been thinking 2 ipads to mix music with could be interesting. However where would you store all those tunes? Would you put the mixer on a third device or even a iphone/ipod touch? Could you run the whole thing on one ipad?

There are a few stories exploring the idea. But generally most of the problems related to the ipad are also related to the iphone too. Things one audio output, no ability to add an external usb soundcard, locked up music subsystem, etc, etc. I did however see that the ipad has already been hacked or jailbroken, so who knows what might change for a serious dj setup.

Would I get a Google Nexus One?

Get your nexus here

I like what Google have done with there own mobile phone. Lots of nice software tweaks to a frankly great phone. There’s no doubt that HTC make the best mobile phones in the world, be them for Microsoft like the HTC HD2 or for Android in the form of the Droid or now the Nexus One.

Would I buy one myself? Well my contract does run out soon but the Nexus One doesn’t come on Orange or Tmobile in the UK which means I won’t get the data package it deserves. I’m still feeling the HD2 which has a even larger screen at 4.3 inches.

Anyway you can now buy the Google Nexus phone online today at Google’s own microsite.

would they let fonejacker on national tv in america?

There is something about fonejacker which is pretty cool. I was thinking would they ever let such a show go out on national tv (non subscription cable or sat) in america? Are we teaching our children how to fonejack? Maybe but better that robbing top boxes off scooters.

If you have no idea what i'm talking about check out these youtube videos ripped from the show.

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