Tag Archives: mobile

Optus network and EmergencyAus – update

Just thought I’d let everyone know that I can now access EmergencyAus via my browser!

emergencyaus-on-pc

It’s in beta but the most important parts work just fine. You can find it at:

http://emergencyaus.info/map

No download required as it all runs from within the browser.

cheers,

Meeks

 

This morning’s post:

This is a bushfire danger post so if you’re not from Australia, or not interested, look away now.

Okay, my mobile phone carrier is Virgin. Virgin uses the Optusnet network. If the Optusnet network in a given area goes down, the Virgin mobile phones in that area become useless lumps of plastic and circuitry.

My mobile phone became a useless lump of plastic and circuitry this morning. Not just for a minute or two, but for over 2 hours.

What does this have to do with bushfires? EmergencyAus, that’s what.

The EmergencyAus app on my phone sends me notifications of ANY issues within a 5 km radius of my house in Nth Warrandyte. It is my early warning system. It is the one thing that has given me peace of mind since Black Saturday.

If you stayed to defend your house as I did on that horrible day, you’ll know that reliable information was next to impossible to find. I spent all day listening to ABC radio 774 [the emergency broadcaster] and haunting the CFA website. Some horrific reports did come in from people calling in to 774, but the reality was that no one knew what the hell was going on, including me.

It was the not-knowing that terrified me on Black Saturday, and it was the same sense of isolation that made me as nervous as a wet cat this morning. You see, EmergencyAus can’t work if there is no network connection. It relies on my mobile phone to warn me of danger. No phone, no warning. I do have a landline [thank goodness], but EmergencyAus is a mobile app.

According to the Virgin support person I spoke to, an Optus tower was experiencing an unexpected outage, and as it was the only tower I could link to [? how does that work anyway?] I’d just have to wait until it was repaired.

Waiting was not such a huge issue today because although there is a north wind, the temperature is still fairly low after a wintry night. But imagine if this had happened during a heatwave when temperatures reach 40 C plus? That one tower goes down and I’m…f…in trouble.

I suppose I should be grateful to get a wakeup call before we hit a code red day, but I’m not feeling much like Pollyanna today.

Not Happy, Jan 😦

Meeks

 


#WordPress dumbed down for mobile phones

meekathara furiousI tried to show a friend some tips and tricks for her new WordPress.com blog site yesterday.

Imagine my confusion when I realised that her version of WordPress.com does NOT have the WP-Admin button! This is what it looks like on my blog:

wordpress-dashboard-sneaky-approach2

Clicking the WP Admin button takes me to the original WP Dashboard, which looks like this:

 

wordpress-dashboard-sneaky-approach3

I cut a bit of the screenshot out in the middle so you could see it more clearly. Click the image to see it in full size.

This old Dashboard is quite powerful and great for serious bloggers who, like me, have literally hundreds if not thousands of blog posts to manage. I admit that it might be a bit daunting for the casual blogger. I also admit that the new WordPress interface may be easier to learn/use for the casual blogger, but so far, every time I’ve tried to use it, I’ve just been frustrated by how awkward and clunky the whole thing is. And slow, let’s not forget slow. As a fairly seriously blogger, I find the new-ish interface a poor tool. But horses for courses, right?

Wrong. Apparently, I still have WP Admin because I’ve been a blogger on WordPress since 2011. New bloggers are not so lucky, they don’t get a choice at all, and I fear that in time, us old guard bloggers will end up with no choice as well.

But why dumb WordPress down so badly?

In search of answers I went to Papa Google and found this:

wordpress-dashboard-sneaky-approach

Again, click on the image to see it at full size.

The screenshot was taken from a WordPress forum dating back to late [November?] 2015. The thread is about WP users complaining about losing the link to the old Dashboard [via WP Admin]. A couple of European Moderators have chimed in as well, complaining about not being notified of such a serious change by WordPress, and hence not being able to help their forum members.

The thing I found most interesting on this forum was the comment by an actual WordPress staff member – supernovia – who says, and I quote:

If it helps, all of the mobile apps have been like the newer admin area for a while now,
and as we transition WordPress.com to make everything more consistent, having two different interfaces was confusing new users.

And right there – ‘the mobile apps’ – is the nub of the problem. WordPress doesn’t want to maintain two separate interfaces – one for mobile apps and one for pc’s – so the interface for the pc is being dumbed down as much as possible to save development costs.

Lots of large developers have done the same thing – remember Windows 8, the OS that was meant to bridge the gap between mobile phones, tablets and pc’s? All seem to have missed the most basic point about demographics – app users don’t work on their mobile phones. People who work still use pc’s because pc’s are still a million times more powerful and convenient to use than something which can only be used by your bloody thumbs.

The corporate world doesn’t like the dumbed down, mobile version of programmes because they are not cost efficient for the user. Many of us on WordPress run what amounts to a small business via our blogs. Something designed to work efficiently as a mobile phone app will NOT allow us to work more efficiently at home, in front of a nice LARGE screen with a full-sized keyboard.

Don’t believe that the new interface is weaker and less efficient? Here’s proof. Just before starting this post, I ran an experiment using both the old Dashboard search function and the new interface search function.

The result? Dashboard 1, new interface 0. The new interface search function failed. Completely.

What did I search for?

I was searching for a draft post on making scones. This is the original post title:

Lois’ Soda Water #Scones

I typed ‘scone’ into the old Dashboard search function and it found:

scone-found

This is a ‘closest match’ which found the post I was looking for.

Then, I tried to find the new interface search function. This is what it looks like:

wordpress-dashboard-sneaky-approach4

Before you can type in any search words, you have to click the magnifying icon…excuse me? The standard for most programmes is to type the search words into the search box and /then/ click the magnifying glass to carry out the search. I guess the WordPress devs wanted to be…different.

Then, having finally found out how to actually do a search, this is what happened:

scone-not-found

The one nice thing about the new search function is that it searches as you type so it begins displaying possible search results before you even finish typing. Or in my case, not.

Clearly the new interface search function is set for exact matches only – remember the title of my blog post is Lois’ Soda Water #Scones. The hashtag threw the search engine off completely.

Now, in the real world, I have 996 blog posts, including close to 100 drafts. I often link back to previous posts when I write new posts. After 4 years, I very rarely remember the exact title of any of my posts. That means a ‘closest match’ is VITAL. For me, the new search function is next to useless.

So, will WordPress see reason and give serious bloggers back the tools they need to work efficiently? Or are we going to have to live with this dumbed down, mobile phone app?

Sadly, I think we’ll have to live with a poor interface until someone, somewhere, realises that you can’t do real work with just your thumbs.

Unhappy, WordPress.

Meeks


How to fix missing ebooks on your Kindle Fire 6

Last night I went to bed, got cosy, opened my Kindle Fire 6 and discovered that the ebook I’d been reading the night before was nowhere to be found. What the…?

This morning I discovered that missing ebooks are a known problem with a couple of solutions/workarounds. I could:

  1. De-register and re-register my Kindle, or
  2. Reset my Kindle to factory defaults

Not having a Wi-Fi modem* and remembering how hard it had been to register my Kindle Fire when I bought it [I had to go into work and ask to use their Wi-Fi connection], I quickly decided that the first option was not for me. Instead, I chose option 2 – resetting the Kindle to the factory defaults.

<<cue ominous music>>

This is where my geek friends roll around in fits of laughter, and my reputation as a baby geek takes a nose-dive. Let’s just say I should have known better. In my own defence, I have to say I did know that resetting the Kindle would mean losing all the ebooks I’d downloaded from Amazon, but in my wisdom I thought it would not matter because :

a) I’d already read those books anyway, and

b) I could always download them again from my Amazon account if I wanted to re-read them.

It did not even occur to me that there might be an option ‘c’ to consider. 😦

So…I did the deed. I’m not providing pictures because I don’t want to make this too easy in case someone does it by mistake, or in a drunken fit. Anyway, the steps are detailed below:

With the Kindle Fire 6 turned on, swipe to unlock, tap Apps, tap Settings, tap Device Options, and finally, if you’re brave [or foolhardy] tap Reset to Factory Defaults. You’ll be given one chance to change your mind, but once you tap OK you won’t be able to stop the process; everything currently on your Kindle Fire will be erased.

Sadly, it was only when the screen prompted me to register my newly empty Kindle that I realised I’d done the very thing I had not wanted to do – i.e. I’d erased the registration data along with everything else. Ut oh….

I won’t detail the choice words that flew around my office at that point. Suffice to say I was not happy. I did consider asking my neighbour if I could use her Wi-Fi connection to re-register my Kindle Fire, but embarrassment stopped me before I could dial her number. I hate having to explain that I’m not really a complete luddite, just a scrooge. [I built my house with Cat 5 cabling in the walls so my network is hardwired. I don’t need Wi-Fi…except at times like these.]

Anyway, that was when desperation made me remember something I’d read about using a mobile phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Could I do it?

Much research later, I finally found a video clip that detailed how to turn a Samsung Galaxy S2, Android version Jellybean [exactly what I now have] into a mobile hotspot. And this is it:

It’s a great video, but it does go very quickly so I’ve provided a sort of step-by-step transcript below:

  1. Make sure your S2 is fully charged
  2. Turn it on and swipe to unlock
  3. On the home screen tap Apps
  4. Then tap Settings
  5. Then tap …More settings
  6. Then tap Tethering and portable hotspot

The next bit involves a slight change of technique.

When you see an option called Portable Wi-Fi hotspot, don’t tap it. Instead, tap-hold-slide the slider bar from ‘O‘ across to ‘I‘ as shown below:

Wifi hotspot 1

Now tap Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot. You will get a warning message that says turning the portable Wi-Fi hotspot on will turn the phone’s Wi-Fi off. Tap OK.

Next you will get a message saying ‘enabling Wi-Fi Hotspot’. When it’s finished doing what it needs to do, the display changes to show the ‘I’ lit up in green:

Wifi hotspot 2

Tap the Portable Wi-Fi hotspot option to display the configuration options as shown below:

Wifi hotspot 3Your phone will have a default name and password. At this point you have two options, you can either change the default name and password on your phone, or you can leave it as is and simply connect your Kindle to the phone’s default hotspot settings. Either way, your Samsung Galaxy S2, Android version Jellybean is now an active mobile hotspot.

Now to connect your Kindle Fire to the Wi-Fi.

Keep your phone set to portable Wi-Fi hotspot.

Turn the Kindle Fire on.

Swipe to unlock.

At the top of the screen, tap Apps.

Tap the Settings option.

Tap Wireless and VPN.

Tap Wi-Fi.

The next Wi-Fi option is set to ‘Off’. Tap it once to change ‘Off’ to ‘On’.

You should now see the name of your mobile phone in the list of available hotspots. If it’s not there, tap ‘join another network’ to make your Kindle sense the mobile phone’s presence.

Once you see the name of your mobile phone on the list, tap it to select it.

You may now be asked for the phone’s password. This will be the password shown on the configuration screen of your mobile phone!

Tap in the password and the Kindle should show a connection to your mobile hotspot. Yay!

Now, follow the Kindle Fire onscreen prompts to complete the registration of your device.

Note: The email address required to register your Kindle will be the email address you use to login to Amazon. Similarly, the password will be the normal password you use to log in to Amazon.

Once you’re done, your Kindle Fire should sync with your Amazon account and display your most recent purchases. I downloaded my two missing ebooks via the mobile hotspot but doing so does chew up quite a bit of the data allocation – i.e. it’s expensive so be warned.

Finally, when everything is ticketty boo again, close Wi-Fi on your Kindle Fire.

Now to fix up your phone.

If the screen has gone black, just tap the ‘On’ button at the side of the phone to wake it up. It should still be showing the configuration screen for the portable Wi-Fi hotspot.

Turn the portable Wi-Fi hotspot off by moving the slider bar from ‘I’ back to ‘O’.

Your mobile hotspot is now off but you are not finished yet. Go back to Settings/Wireless and networks and turn the [ordinary] Wi-Fi option back to ‘I‘.

[Do not get confused, this is the setting your phone uses. It is not the portable hotspot setting].

And that is that. A lot of work to fix a silly error. The only good thing to come out of this is that I’ve got my new ebooks back and I’ll have something to read tonight. Oh and I’ve learned some new stuff about my phone. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

*Normally when I buy ebooks from Amazon, I download them to my pc and then sideload them onto my Kindle device[s].

 


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