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Archive for January, 2011

Skype Screen sharing – doesn’t work

January 24, 2011 1 comment

Hmm… Interesting little problem here.

My Mum’s running Skype 5.1.0.104 on Windows XP. She told me that she couldn’t share her screen in a call, because it was greyed out.

I logged in using LogMeIn, and set up a Skype call with myself on my Win7 x64 laptop. I went to View->Share your screen, and saw that it wasn’t greyed out. However – clicking it yielded… nothing. No shared screen. No error.

Annoying. Of course, Googling for this problem doesn’t really find anything useful.

 

Categories: Computing

BA Amex card – any good? The answer is No

January 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, not if you’re only a Blue Executive Club member, in any case.

I have 125,000 BA miles. A fistful of miles, thanks to my BA Amex card – enough to fly to Australia and back. If I can find a seat.

The thing is, you can only spend BA Miles on a limited number of seats if you’re a Blue Member. And guess how quickly those go?

Well, let’s put it like this:
– I tried to book a set of companion tickets for me and my wife to go London->Sydney in mid-Feb. I tried booking 3 months before. How many flights were there? None. For mid-Feb. None for any of Feb! In fact… none for January, February or March at all!

So – I’ve now just tried to book a seat for 2012, over the Christmas Period. Forget the companion voucher – it only counts for flights from the UK (we’ll be in Australia). And despite it only being possible to book a year in advance (so a 14th Jan 2012 return has only just become bookable), there are already NO flights at all, for December or January! The only route I can find is one via Sinagpore and Frankfurt, for a date 5 days before my preferred time.

So… I have 125,000 completely useless BA miles, and two even more useless Companion tickets. Hmmm… What to do with them… Maybe I’ll stock up on carriage clocks from their online store.

 

Addendum: To add insult to injury, BA Amex charge a fee of £150 a year to take advantage of the vouchers. So – by the time you’ve subtracted this, the airport taxes, the cost of a hotel if the only routes available require a stopover, plus travel at an inconvenient time, and in not-that-great-an-airline… don’t you wish you’d just taken out the Amex cashback card instead, pocketed the cash, and chosen what you wanted to do with it? I wish I had!

Print a Report of All Trips from Tripit

January 24, 2011 Leave a comment

You can’t.

At least, I couldn’t find a way to print all my trips from Tripit. It would have been handy – I’ve just been asked to list all the countries I’ve visited in the last 10 years for a visa. Although I’ve only used Tripit for two, it’s a start… So being able to print or export a grid of all my trips, countries, and dates, would have been fantastic.

As it was, I was only able to go to the Itinerary list, where I could view 20 trips per page, and then print each set of 20 to PDF, and merge them together. It wasn’t pretty, but it does show each date and country, and that’s a decent start.

And, of course, if you don’t use TripIt, but need to do some kind of analysis of your trips like this, then now would be a perfect time to join 🙂

Categories: Computing

Updating Airspace AWARE directly to SD Card

January 10, 2011 Leave a comment

I recently had to update an Airspace AWARE GPS device in our syndicate’s aircraft. Since the airfield is a long way fromhome, I was interested in a way of being able to update the AWARE at home – without actually having to take it home.

It turns out it’s pretty simple. The AWARE is based on a Windows CE device, with the program and data all being on the removable SD card. The supported method of updating from a Windows machine is to install the Microsoft ActiveSync software on your PC (more bloat, if you don’t use it for anything else), and then run an updater against the .update files downloaded monthly from AWARE here.

However – since everything’s on the SD card, and the update files are actually simple ZIP files of everything to be updated, why not just do it directly to the card using an SD card reader? In fact, that’s the supported method if you use a Mac rather than Windows.

So, what I did was as follows:

  • Buy a spare SD Card on eBay (2GB is more than sufficient – it probably needs to NOT be an SDHC type, since I’m unsure if the AWARE can handle these higher-capacity cards). This’ll set you back at least £6, maybe £7.
  • Remove the existing SD card from the AWARE device, and put it into an SD card reader. Most laptops have one built in, and it just appears as another drive – you’ll see all the files on it
  • Backup all the existing SD card contents to your hard disc – I put mine in a Zip file for safe keeping
  • Remove and replace the AWARE SD card in your AWARE. Check it all still works (no reason it shouldn’t, unless you did something..)
  • Put your new SD card in your PC
  • Copy all the backed up files onto the new card. ie. You’re copying all the program, existing data, onto the new card from your Laptop backup, so you effectively have a duplicate. It also tests whether your backup is OK!
  • Download the updates from AWARE here.
  • Rename the .update files to .zip. If the .update extension is hidden, it’s because your PC is configured to hide them – see AWARE’s help on how to rename it.
  • Open each file – the .update first, then the ns.update, and copy the contents of the zipfiles over the contents of the SD card in your PC. Confirm that you want to overwrite all  files/folders that it wants to (it will).*
  • Eject the SD card
  • Turn off your AWARE – wait until it shuts down, then remove the old SD card, put in your new updated SD card, and power it back up. It should appear exactly the same as the old one did, but with the most recent updates.
  • Walk around and try out your new AWARE. For the first couple of flights, keep your old SD card handy while flying, so that you can swap it out safely in the aircraft if you discover some bug or problem with the new card.

So – in other words, it’s a straight copy of the contents of the SD card, with the updates again copied straight over the top. There’s no copy protection or apparent hidden files (although I have files unhidden by default on my PC). The update files only contain the updates, so you can’t build the SD card from just downloaded update files – you need to have a copy of the original SD card to start from.

Also – you can probably just use one or the other update files (one just updates data; the other updates program, but loses route info). I did both, just for a belt-and-braces approach. The contents seem almost identical, so it could be there are no major program updates yet.

Also, of course, you do this entirely at your own risk; I haven’t fully tested this yet myself, and as this is an aircraft safety device, you may be in breach of the AWARE support/licensing terms, or even in some roundabout way in breach of Air Law! I’ve taken this approach as it permits us to update the AWARE more quickly and often than we might otherwise do, and based on my knowledge and approach it appears to be decent returns for a very low, and then mitigated, risk. Now, whoever has the spare card can update it, and take it in, or post it to whoever’s going to fly next.

Categories: Uncategorized

Geyes Folding Bluetooth Keyboard Review

January 4, 2011 9 comments

I’m a fairly fast typer on my iphone, so debated for a while as to whether I wanted to get a bluetooth keyboard to carry around. However, there are certain times when I don’t want to have to lug my laptop around, but don’t want to try typing a huge long email on the onscreen keyboard… but might still have my rucksack into which I can just leave a small folding bluetooth keyboard sitting handily. Such as now, writing a keyboard review on the train.

For this purpose, I bought the Geyes Folding Bluetooth Keyboard for £50 on eBay. It sits as a small, light block in my rucksack front pocket, and will fit into my jacket pocket if I want to keep it with me.

The keyboard folds up neatly, with sliding clips to keep it closed, and sits happily without its carrying pouch or any attachments in my bag. To open, you slide the clips, unfold, and then push a large slider on either side that locks the four parts into two parts. With sliders locked, the keyboard still folds at the central hinge, so isn’t completely ridge.

The keyboard is actually full-size once unfolded; which is a bit of overkill for me, as I prefer something more compact; I was ideally looking for one like the Psion Series 5mx, which was fantastic, but sadly those don’t exist in this form.

The build quality is… average for Chinese no-name electronics. The keys are light and springy, and the ‘r’ key is already playing up slightly, after my second use. The behaviour is dodgy as well – every third or fourth word has either a missing, or repeated, character, I tried typing 01234567890 several times, as I suspected a problem in the bluetooth connection, but that works OK. I suspect that pressing keys too close together can confuse it – maybe it’s not properly buffered.

Pairing with the iphone was OK: you turn on Bluetooth and the keyboard, press a recessed ‘search’ button on the keyboard, and tap the ‘Geyes’ entry on the iPhone Bluetooth list. It asks you to type a pincode on the keyboard, hit return, and it’s paired. Once connected, aside from the repeating character issue, it seems stable. HOWEVER – I seem to have to re-pair each time. If I turn the keyboard back on, and tap it on the iPhone, then the iPhone is unable to connect to it without re-pairing.

Battery life is untested as yet – I’ve been using it for about an hour. The USB charger is a mini type-B, I think(?) – similar to a miniUSB, but untapered – so your blackberry charger cable won’t work. It also does NOT act as a USB keyboard – power only – which I suspected, but was hopeful it might.

So, would I recommend it? Well – No. Absolutely not. The build quality is poor, the bluetooth connection dodgy, and at £50 is way overpriced. I do sometimes buy dubious-quality no-name electronics such as this, but wouldn’t expect to pay more than £20 to put up with its foibles.