Step counters can be fooled!

I recently saw an article that stated that step counters on fitbits and watches could be fooled using certain methods by lazy people. All they had to do was to attach the device to the pet dog or cat but I suppose any animal would do, or even a any child but not a lazy cat!

A few weeks ago I thought that I would try the fitness thingy on my pebble. This worked fine when I was interested in how much I was walking. Mostly to check that I was actually getting enough exercise during the day. The result so far is yes in most cases and that I found that low step counts coincided with days of feeling low energy, the more steps the better I felt. However, here’s the good bit. I found that when I was at work digging with a trowel (archaeology stuff), my watch still counted the trowelling movements and I could generally not move much and still gained alot steps on the counter thus following the health activity sensors.

Also on the pebble is the sleep thingy, I really don’t have much use for this so turned it off. Who actually wears a watch to bed? Seems a bit silly and awkward feeling  to me. The other thing is these step counters aren’t much good during the week if I’m at home because generally I have the phone in one location with the watch sat next to it. Mostly because when I’m home I see no point carrying the phone around while at the same time not really caring what the time is. But then that just me



You Call That a Smart TV?

I have had a bit of fun recently with my mind going on overdrive. Spread over the past couple of months I have had a couple of visits to the ‘toy shop’ (Maplins). Around mid December I decided to go a head and go for the home server but this as seen some side benefits. The first was the much thought ‘that would be nice’ network cable sort out so a multi cable box came home with me.

I spent most of one day a couple of weekends ago getting my cables more organized and finished by setting up a small network or should that be a called something else? What it basically is, is that a I have one ethanet cable coming into the room and I needed more. One for the Roku,  one for the TV and one for the home server. When I tested it all worked fine,  my Samsung TV hadn’t been connected for close to a year so the expected update took place and the Internet interface got updated as well. Close to 30 apps,  most of which were of no use or interest to me so I wasted half an hour uninstalling things. If this so called smart TV was smart it wouldn’t have installed them in the first place. What I was left with wasn’t much different from the Roku and what I essentially got was Samsung sponsored junk. More I think about it the more I want another Raspberry pi  for a home media centre along the lines of Kodi. Let’s look on the bright side,  I can now control my TV with my Pebble watch! I am strongly suspecting that much newer smart TV’s are better than this but at least Kodi would let me have more control what apps are downloaded.


Its Time to Move Forward

A lot has happened in the past few months hence and the biggest attack on my time as been work which as been really busy topped with helping my parents. In that time a new toy has arrived. Remember my pebble? Well, I backed the Kickstarter campaign for the pebble time and a few months back it arrived (have I really had it that long?). No, I didn’t do it just to stick my middle finger up at the apple watch, well sort off, I just wanted to back what I thought was a better product. In the time that I have come to depend on it. I am sure that my phone battery has been lasting longer because an average day I hardly touch it unless an important email comes through. Work breaks mean the phone gets used although thinking about it several recent changes have also improved the battery live but more that later.

With the pebble time improvements and new features come out with each app/system upgrade. The battery life on this thing is great, I have had up to 7 days but has it is used for all sorts of things a little less some weeks. I have come to rely on a handful of apps, compass, music boss, pebble communicator, watchnote just to name the top ones but others are also handy like javaplay (starbucks). I also have a couple of other apps I am trying out to get more out of the thing. The main project at the moment is Tasker which seems to be doing what I want and with pebble tasker a little bit more (another post will deal with this).

In the past couple of weeks pebble has also announced the pebble round which looks really good but I doubt I will go for it has in my opinion, it’s for people with small wrists but mostly because I love what I have. I still have the original pebble, its connected to my nexus 7 for a project which I am hoping to develop…


A Time for Change Brings A Relisation…

I have been extremely busy with work for a couple of months hence my lack of activity. I will say it again, that is about to change. I have realised over the past week that things need to be done and that I am falling behind with the tech in my life. The things I know I want to do include having an encrypted usb drive (I had one but forgot the password), more function for my watch and better use of my phone/tablet.

Lets touch on the subject of USB encryption. I want to get one of drrives re-set up as I forgot the password. I want somewhere to keep important personal files and would like them protected. I have spent sometime this morning researching the subject and guess what? Every website seems some what outdated by at least a year. I suspect this is for two reasons. The first being the Trucrypt situation last year and second, the powers that be are trying to keep this sort of information very low key and out of the general populations eyes so that they can protect their information. I will reserach this further time permiting.

I have settled on a set off app for my pebble and seem to be getting more function out off it as a result. This seems to be since on dropped Awear for it and after searching the pebble app store found a number of app that take the watch to the next level. I am currently checking out pebble tasker to truly make it a smart watch. However, the 8 app slots is a little restrictive at times and I have had to remove a couple of useful apps to make way for others. The good news though is that my pebble-time should arrive soon taking this restriction away.

As for the laptop, I think I have the music player to suit me, Clemetine. I can play my own music AND have spotify instead of the now pain in the backside desktop application which stopped working. Yes, I know I can have it running via wine but I find that unacceptable.

The phone is also under going change. Inbox was updated in the past few days and made open to anyone. Lots of improvement including delete at the top of the email for easier deleting. Just wish that it was available as a swipe action (trying to work this one out as the notes on the playstore said this was possible). The new photos app is also being tested but we will see if this stays. I have to investigate its use on the Linux system which isn’t listed but when you check the web site it lists windows and iOS as through the browser use. OK, yes, you can use it through the desktop on Linux but there is no uploader application available, you have to do it through the browser.

More soon…


Fixing that Stale Tech Feeling

Over the past couple of months I have not been posting much or doing much in general on the tech side of things. I guess this has been due to a number of factors including being busy at work, lack of motivation and being very tired. However, I guess another reason could be that things got somewhat stale and I was getting to lazy in that I wasn’t changing anything. Well, some vacation time as seen a resurgence in my interest and a bit of time to do some thinking. Plus, the announcement of the new pebble-time. I am really looking forward to the new pebble and actually backed it. This is the first time I have actually backed something on kickstarter and now know it will not be the last either.

So what I have I changed?

My first point of call is my pebble, I had been having alot of problems with battery drain after an update, I tried everything before resorting to removing all of the apps and stopping some of the apps on the phone. The battery life was back to what it was. I reinstalled my main apps but setting them up better than before. I checked the user guide for more info and found one or two additions within these with more information these included the default functions of the watch. This meant that Awear was more or less redundant, so I left it off. As it turned out, it is likely that this was the culprit for the battery drain! It kept going wrong, crashing, etc . So I completely removed it. I have a feeling that it hadn’t been updated for quite sometime as well. The only thing that I missed was the SMS function. While the default function on the watch app offers pretty much basic functions it doesn’t offer what I was truly after. My own custom replies which I found useful in Awear and one of the main reasons I tried hanging on to it. Some searching and I found pebble communicator. This app requires a phone app as well but it offers exactly what I was looking for, including being able to reply from the app! The only thing missing now is the ability to delete emails from the watch.

Next I have moved on to my S5, I had thinking for sometime that I had this thing and not using it to its fullest. I was also getting hacked of with Aviate, despite being one of the best launchers/home screens the Yahoo rot was leaking into it. Various things were becoming to integrated with yahoo and seeing as though Yahoo is in bed with Microsoft I was getting closer and closer to ditching it. The final straw was finding constant alerts for cricket and other sporting events which I hadn’t asked for and no way to turn them off, the problem was yahoo! So I did some more searching and messing about and ended up with Buzz, while a fresh experience, I am really getting to enjoy my phone again and its much more customizable with no forced crap from yahoo, etc. The battery seems to last a little more on some occasions depending on usage. Other changes are being tested which seem okay but I want to make sure I am happy with them!

The tablet has also under gone changes, I had been getting reports that the UI was not responding and the device was being slow (an under statement) and not being what it was. So I have installed a new launcher which seems to be faster but is also under going trials (as in, does it work as I expect). A few of the apps have also been removed because I realised there is no point in having ones I don’t use. I am thinking of ways to get more out of this device as well.

The roku 3 is also working nicely and I will write up a separate post for that!

Expect more in the coming few weeks as I go through stuff.


Ello! Pebble Update Makes Inbox Unhappy!

This morning I awoke to find that there was a new update (Beta) for my pebble. When I checked what was new I saw that it allowed for custom responses which is a big improvement. This means that there is some over lap of features between the Pebble app and Awear although I still think that having both working at the same time is the best option. I installed it anyway has I like the latest in anything. At first I didn’t see much difference apart from the custom responses but then I found there was a problem. Notification from Inbox are no longer working (reported), there seems to be one or two other issues looking at G+ so I expect another update in the next day or so to fix these issues.

A little while later I had an email with an Ello invite, I have been waiting for this for a while and really pleased that it has come through. In case you don’t know, Ello is a social network with major difference to Facebook which appears to respect the privacy of the user and no ads. I don’t know how they expect to pay for the service but I have been told that they expect to offer additional features for an annual subscription. We will see but in the mean time I have accepted the invite and will try it out over the next few months. Looks promising!


Pebble Gets Update With New Functions

Most nights sees me checking my phone for updates, largely so that I can do the updates at home on wifi (and no, I am still not doing the gmail update on my phone because I still think it totally sucks!).

When I checked last night I found a new Beta was available so downloaded it to try out the new features. The biggest of these was the ability to reply with simple emoji’s as well as other functions for dealing with emails. Text messages seem to just have reply and no other option which really isn’t much use although I suspect that this will change. Although this functionality is welcome it is somewhat limited compared to Awear with its pre done replies (still a limitation but is still useful). The functions that are bow available are dismiss (as before), and then there are more. Now delete has been added (always be careful with this one!), reply with emoji’s only. These replies are OK but I am really not keen on them. I prefer the written word! I am sure there are other functions and stuff but I haven’t found these yet.

Yet, despite the limitations it is hoped that they can be further developed to allow the user to add there own pre-written replies that they use most often. Yet, despite the features added, the Pebble watch remains remains a watch and not a wrist computer (like all the more expensive ones). To be honest, I don’t see these new functions making it that awear becomes obsolete as awear still as so much more to offer (but only when it is able to reliably connect to google which is the main issue at the moment).

I was also recently pleasantly surprised to see pebbles appear in Currys when I stopped by for something else. It was hinted that accessories where also going to be stocked but we will have to wait and see. There was only one watch and display with all the other suspects as well and it was the one that had the most easily read screen!


Update: after some more use and getting used to the newer functions I have found that there are preset replies but these still are somewhat restrictive and to improve there needs to be some way add more personal ones that are more suited to the user.


This Weeks Updates

Well, I have had a busy week. First a family problem and work means there is little spare time. But I have managed to keep updates done.

First big update was the pebble app to version 2.7. With this you get new features including fitness, basically I tried it and found it pointless for every day use but I do find the compass app from the previous update useful in my day job. Since I started this post over a week ago, the compass app as been my second most used app.

This week saw updates for Awear, really good ones. The feature that I like best is the card showing Music Boss although the weather card seems to have a disappeared. It was after this update that I found I had a problem in the PowerApp setting. I am sure that it happened (a coincidence?) during the last update, possibly when I reinstalled or updated the app on the new phone. The blue tooth connection was not there for controlling the app from the watch. So I did some checking and found that the blue tooth settings were unchecked. These are the ones that allow control from head phones, etc which I don’t remember from before. The only ones I remember were to turn the auto start of the app when the head phones are plugged in ( a very bad idea!)

There has also been updates in Evernote, skype (there seems to be nothing new in skype but there is a new video messaging application based on skype but I really cann’t see the point of it) and a few others but not much more than bug fixes.

With the laptop, there has been new updates for firefox, thunderbird, etc but nothing really special as been noticed so its likely bug and security fixes. Why do they only find them after the app release? Yet again it is noticeable that my favourite music player as no update/new features, is Amorak still being developed? Apparently yes but there is a big bug that is blocking any release. Time for change I think.


App of the Month- Awear (pebble app).

I started this about a month ago but put on hold until now. The previous post may have given hints as to why but it basically boiled down to two things. The first, which affected nearly all my pebble apps, was a communication issue with the pebble/pebble app which mostly those running android 4.2.2. yes, I know its been updated since but now updates have come through for my phone and to be honest I don’t want them because I want the permissions to be available which have gone with recent update (so much for user control, Google we want this back !!! I am currently considering my next phone which I hope to install a custom ROM on.

The second problem lay with Awear itself, as hinted at before, there was a problem with the Gmail side of things but thankfully it is now back and fixed. Now bare in mind that this app is still in Beta so it may not be perfect but it works and is very useful. I regard it as the next step up from Glance which I still use occasionally because it still as features that I like. The app requires a phone companion app which is no problem because it helps with the settings.

The settings are nice and simple but its one of those things that you need to check carefully. I missed the bit in the email settings that said about what email alerts you require. I found on double checking that you can select all or set it to curtain tags. Mine was on tags and nothing was selected! Which was why no email alerts came through when everything else worked. Its now set right and I get to delete boring emails or ones that I can read on my wrist with out taking the phone out.

The app also allows you to reply to texts but only with preset ones. OK if its texts that you can repeat or simple answers but otherwise its out with the phone. This is fine but if you want to send a simple text that is not a reply to a alert text then you are stuck ( one thing that glance did allow). I am currently testing a different app which may cover texting from the watch.

The app has a web site

And forums can be found here

This has become my mainly used pebble app and gives me what I expect out of a smart watch. Personnally I see the pebble competing favourably against the google OS watches for several reasons, cost, battery charge time and most of all, you can see the screen in daylight!




A Week of Frustration

Actually various things have been frustrating me the past couple of weeks. As much as I try and solve the problems, nothing works. The normal check of the forums and any where else has failed, others have tried what I have tried and no solution has been found. I am tempted to go back and restart but will likely get the same results.

Most of it started with an upgrade to the pebble app but the problem emerged in the previous release and nothing seems to be fixed. It appears to be a bluetooth connection issue in android 4.2.2 which the pebble people have admitted to and are working on but its made several of my favourite apps unreliable. On top of this one of my favourite apps which shows one hell of a lot of promise, Awear, has been seriously screwed up since a recent update which included G+ notifications, my understanding is that some rewriting had also been undertaken on the Gmail stuff. Sorry guys but I think you should have sorted the Gmail stuff first and then sorted the G+ stuff out later. I have tried a number of solutions to all this including reinstalling the app, etc and while it worked OK for the about an hour or so it then went back to how it was before. So to try and fix the pebble issue (last ditch), I can see the app on the phone getting the uninstall reinstall treatment and the watch getting factory reset (again) just to try and get the functionality back.

I’ve also had the frustration of updating apps on the phone and they haven’t been right either. Take podomatic for example, every time an update comes through it becomes useless. The last two times it doesn’t show my stuff such as alerts, notices or the shows that I follow. So once again I will have to install and start again. I also have a feeling I’m going to have to redo musicboss, it doesn’t work with Spotify like it did before the latest update. I have a sneaking suspicion that its gone back to default settings ( listen dev people of all apps and other forms of software, this really annoys the users of your releases when they see their settings set back to default).

Right, enough…

I’m going to head over to do my Linux foundation course and then get  try to fix the problems out.