Tag Archives: tech

APPLE WATCH ANTICIPATION

I am insanely excited to receive my new Apple Watch Sport. Head over to anez.me to find out what the Watch can do for you, and how to get it!

3 IPHONE APPS YOU NEED RIGHT NOW

I’ve been meaning to do a recommendation list for my top iPhone apps since I picked up my 6 Plus last year, but somehow I am only getting to it now! Rather than try to be original in listing obscure apps that people might not have heard of before I’d prefer to highlight the apps I absolutely can’t live without, the ones which I use multiple times on a daily basis. There’s a good chance you’ve heard of or installed these already, but just in case they’ve passed you by, here are three apps you really should consider adding to your iPhone if they’re not there already:

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1. iCab Mobile
If I could only ever add one app to my phone, forever, it would be this one. Here’s why: using the internet on your phone feels a lot like going back to 2005 when the internet was slower and ads were everywhere… Until you install this baby. With built-in ad filters and the option to add custom filters like you can when using a computer, iCab brings the glorious, ad-free browsing to your phone.

It has a host of other great features, too, like customisable shortcuts, a great absolute full-screen mode, a really minimal interface, and the ability to create an account so you can synch content and preferences across devices (you can also run it on your iPad and computer, if you like). If you are a heavy web user on your phone, you will not regret the €2 you might spend on this app.

2. GMaps
Full disclosure: I don’t like Google. I don’t like their policies, their practices, or their ubiquity. I vastly prefer Apple, who are generally more careful with your data and your experience, as you are their customer, and not their product. Despite all of this, Google Maps is just infinitely better than Apple Maps. They have the experience and the data to make a superb mapping product, and that is exactly what they serve up for the low, low price of €0.

Google Maps is accurate, current, and has almost everything you’ll want to find on it. You can even save maps in advance for offline use now, which is possibly the best thing ever. So long as you turn off Google’s creepy and invasive tracking features, which isn’t at all hard to do, this is an app worth having.

3. GMail
As above, I have a lot of problems with GMail. As above, this does not prevent me from using their products when they outclass all other offerings in the field. GMail is one such product. Granted, it’s a little more cumbersome to use it as your primary app for push notification email since they turned that feature off for new devices, but there is a pretty doable workaround for that one.

I have a ton of GMail accounts from before Google’s policies became what they are, so changing to something else would be a pain in the backside. If you’re in the same boat, I do recommend this app when coupled with the workaround above. It’s an improvement over the built-in option that comes with the phone, so it’s worth your time.

The three apps above are the ones I really couldn’t live without, but there are a few others which should get an honourable mention. My Fitness Pal is a great weight/calorie tracker– their database is so exhaustive that most things are already available for selection to add to your daily food diary. Peak is a great Brain Training-style game that’s oodles of fun and annoyingly addictive. I’m also pretty fond of the Astraware Sudoku app, which saves me having to lug the paper version about.

I personally can’t be bothered with additional productivity tools; I find the build-in calendar and notes function handles more or less everything I need in terms of reminders and lists, and I’m not big into too many games (distracting) or social networking apps (data compromising), so these are the ones that get most of my time and attention… And my recommendation, as well.

What apps can you not live without? Are you an iPhone lover like me? Do you have any tech privacy tips you’d like to share? Drop me a line and let me know!

-A-

PRODUCT EXPERIENCE: AT-HOME IPL, PT.1

We’ve all heard the expression “Summer Bodies Are Made In Winter”, and while that definitely does apply to fitness, it also applies hair removal. If you’ve ever considered laser hair removal, the dead of winter is a great time to go for it. I’d tried out salon laser removal a year or two ago, and while it was great, I stopped going back due to a combination of having exposed my skin to sunlight and the fact that it was exquisitely uncomfortable. I mean, we’re talking real pain here– I wanted to kick the nice lady administering the treatment, especially when it came to the bikini region.

Now that it’s winter again and my skin hasn’t seen sunlight for three or four months, I wanted to go back again, but just couldn’t stomach the thought of both the pain and paying over €100 per session– and that was just for underarms and bikini. The solution? At-home IPL.

Great strides have been made in the area of at-home laser treatment in the last few years; while previously you needed expensive replacement heads and sometimes gels, the newer models come with long-life lamps which means you can get years worth of treatments (140,000 flashes, apparently) without having to buy replacement parts. Still, even without having to buy replacement parts, these things are not cheap.

I got a pretty great deal on this Philips Lumea Precision Plus from Boots in the sale, and only had to part with €400 instead of the usual price of €530. That’s still no small chunk of change, but it’s a good deal compared with salon prices, where six treatments for underarms, bikini, and legs works out somewhere in the €750 region, and any subsequent treatments are extra. This way, I’m saving upwards of €350 just on the basic outlay, and any subsequent treatments are a bonus.

I’ve only used mine once, so I can only give an initial report on the experience of using the device at this point, but I will update this in the future with how effective it is in terms of long-term hair removal. For now, though, let’s take a look at what you get and how it works. For your €400 (or €530, now the sale has ended), you get a Manual, a Quick Start Guide, a cleaning cloth, a storage bag, the charging cable, two application heads (one for face and one for body), and the laser device itself.

lumea

The device is hairdryer sized and shaped, and has five intensity settings. The guide explains which one is likely to work best for you based on your hair and skin colour. (Basically, the bigger the difference between the two, the higher the setting that you can use– with my super pale skin, I’m cleared to use Level 5, but if you’re darker, you probably shouldn’t go higher than 3.) There’s a separate head for use on the face which has an extra filtration layer, and a larger, less filtered head for use on the body. Both heads have a pressure-sensitive, multi-segment protection ring, and all parts of the ring must be depressed before the flash will trigger. That helpfully means you can’t accidentally flash it in front of your face, but it also means that you need full-on contact with the skin in order to get it to work…. And that’s not always easy.

The trouble with doing this yourself is that you need to be flexible. Like, properly, ready-for-Ringling-Bros flexible, because you have to be able to put the device where it’s needed, and with the right degree of pressure, while also being able to see where you’re making contact so you can move it to the next spot without too much overlap or skipping any areas in between.

For places like your lip or your ankles, this is not so hard. For the underarms and the back of the thighs, it’s a bit of a different story. I did manage it, but I am flexible, and I also didn’t have a flinch reflex because it wasn’t hurting. If you struggle to bend in half (i.e., if you can’t stand up and put your hands flat on the floor without bending your knees), this may prove difficult for you.

Things might be further complicated if you’re petite, as you’re going to have to press in quite hard when using the body head, because it’s big, and your smaller limbs mean that your shin or ankle may not be much wider than the head itself– and slightly curved, to boot.

So those are the downsides. There are, however, numerous upsides (aside from the price). If you’re wondering if it’s safe, apparently it is; no goggles are supplied with the machine, and there’s nothing in the manual saying you need protective eye gear. (Despite this, however, I took my own precautions, and wore some UV-filtering sunglasses while I was using it just to be on the safe side. Still, it’s nice to know I can go without if need be.)

It’s also nice and quiet. While using the device, it makes a sort of whirring noise, like one of those useless low-power hotel hairdryers, or the fan on your computer when you’re looking at a particularly Flash-heavy website. It’s nowhere near loud enough to cause a problem, but it did surprise me a little bit, so I’ll mention it here. As for battery life, you will need to charge between uses, but it’s still better than expected. One charge was enough for me to do my legs, underarms, and bikini line, which I thought was pretty great.

The surprising big plus is that this hurts a lot less than the salon treatment. I mean, a lot less. At the salon, it hurt quite a bit to have my underarms done, and my bikini-line was basically torture. With this, neither my underarms nor legs hurt at all (I didn’t even bother trying to get my legs done at the salon)– it was exactly as described: a warm sensation. That was using Level 5, too. I am duly impressed, and if this is half as a effective as the salon version, I’ll be delighted.

When I came to the bikini line, though, having remembered how unpleasant it had been at the salon, I turned the intensity down to 3. I was jolly glad I did, because it still hurt, in places. Some rather badly. This was a bit of a disappointment, but I suppose in areas where the skin is thin and there’s little fatty or muscle tissue underneath, it’s just going to hurt no matter what you’re using, and I’m going to have to suck it up.

In the hours after treatment, my legs and underarms were heat- and blemish-free. I wouldn’t have known I’d done anything to them other than shave in the shower that morning. My bikini area was another story. It hurt. And was a little red. It was absolutely no worse than it was from the salon treatment, and it didn’t last too long, but was still irritating. The salon had suggested a warm facecloth and then the application of some aloe gel in the case of redness, which I duly followed, and it helped quite a bit. By the next morning, there was no problem whatsoever.

A few days later, I had hair regrowth, which was an unpleasant surprise. With the salon treatment, my regrowth was diminished instantly, and I didn’t have to even look at a razor for about a fortnight. I’m hoping this isn’t a sign it’s not effective over the long-term and simply means it’s not effective in the short-term– something I can absolutely deal with, so long as it does work in the end. I’ll keep you guys posted on how it works out for me in the long run, but I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Would I recommend this to others? Well, tentatively yes. For me, the convenience of being able to do it in my home, at a time of my choosing, to the level that I’m comfortable with, and to be able to take breaks as desired offsets the drawback of having to contort myself into all kinds of pretzel shapes and get a sore wrist from pressing a light-flashing hairdryer into my skin. What really remains to be seen, though, is how effective this is.

The two or three treatments I had in the salon definitely reduced the amount of hair growth in my underarm and bikini-line area, and I’m hoping this will more or less kill it off completely. If it can manage that, it will absolutely be worth its price… But I can’t say that it has yet. The jury’s out on this one, folks, but I’ll definitely update to let you know how I get on.

Have you tried IPL, either at home or at the salon? Have you tried out this product? Or do you find the whole thing just too scary and potentially painful to bother with? Drop me a line and let me know!

-A-

NEW SITE DESIGN!

It came to my attention that my old blog design didn’t look quite right on tablets and mobile, so I’ve given it a complete overhaul. The functionality should be improved for anyone wanting to browse it on a mobile device, and the overall look on a standard browser is a little sleeker now, too.

If you’d like to give it the once-over, you can check it out here. I’d love it if you’d let me know if you experience any bugs, or spot any errors! I tried to catch everything, but I think we all know how difficult it can be not to break things when you’re dealing with CSS.

Do you do most of your browsing on a mobile device or a laptop/desktop? Do you use the standard layouts available or do you try to customize them? Do you  love or hate the new site design? Drop me a line and let me know!

-A-

IPHONES + GMAIL: PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS

Following up on my previous review of the iPhone 6+, I have noticed one additional thing that seems to be bothering people… But there is a way around it.

If you use Gmail, and you have an iPhone, and you like getting notifications when you get email, you might discover something very irritating when you upgrade your phone: you can’t get Gmail notifications through the phone’s built-in mail app anymore.

The reason for this is that Google, in their infinite wisdom, have killed off Push support for Exchange email. If you have an older device with it already set up, it should still work, but if you get a new device, you’re out of luck.

The advice is to install the Gmail app, but while that will let you get your Push notifications, it doesn’t tie-in with the phone’s centralised system for sharing activities. If you take a photo, you can’t just hit the share icon and mail it to someone via the GMail app, which is a bit of a pain.

The solution? You have to do both. It’s not the tidiest work around, but if you install and set up the Gmail app for your account, you’ll get your push notifications as they happen. If you also set up the same account under the Mail procedure in the Apple settings menu (as a Gmail account, with both Push and Fetch New Data disabled), you’ll be able send emails the way you always have.

iphone-mail

Pretty handy, huh? Now you don’t have to choose between notifications and sending email attachments easily, which sure as hell made my life a lot easier.

Do you have any tech tips you’d like to share? Is there a faster way of doing this I’m overlooking? Do you have any questions or comments? Drop me a line and let me know!

-A-

PRODUCT EXPERIENCE: IPHONE 6+

It probably makes me sound like a complete sad case to say that, while on my unplanned blogging hiatus, one of the most exciting things to happen to me was the purchase of a new phone, but I don’t care. It’s the truth. I upgraded from an iPhone 4S to the iPhone 6+, and it is a thing of wonder and beauty that I’m giving strong consideration to marrying.

iphone6

Here’s a brief overview of my thoughts on its various attributes:

Pricing: ◆◆◇◇◇
Operating System: ◆◆◆◆◆
Size: ◆◆◆◆
Build Quality: ◆◆◆◆◆

Screen: ◆◆◆◆
Speed: ◆◆◆◆
Keyboard: ◆◆◆◆
Battery Life: ◆◆◆◆
Camera: ◆◆◆◆
Fingerprint Reader: ◆◆◆◆
Chance Of Never Encountering Bugs: ◆◆◆◇◇
Apps: ◆◆◆◇◇
Speakers: ◆◆◆◆◆
Call quality: ◆◆◆◆

That works out at an average of 4⅓/5, but for me that’s not representative of my experience with the device, as I would weight some things (like screen and speed) more highly than others (like pricing and being 100% bug-free).

Overall, for me, I would give the iPhone 6+ 4¾ / 5. It’s not perfect, but it’s as close as I’ve found so far.

I would would definitely recommend it to anyone, but in case anyone would like a more complicated breakdown of my thoughts on the topic, I’m putting them under a cut.

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A (NOT SO) TINY TECH RANT

There have been some reports recently raising hysteria over the possibility that Apple build planned obsolescence (the idea that the product will fail after a certain period of time, thus forcing you to purchase a new one) into its offerings. I find this a little irritating, because quite honestly: all manufacturers do this, otherwise they would not be able to keep releasing products and staying in business. Here’s why I think we should ease up on the complaints about this:

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HANDCREAM IN A TOUCHSCREEN WORLD

I have a question for you, folks: how many of you use hand-cream regularly? I go back and forth on hand-cream as a product in general, partly due to laziness, and partly due to one other factor: the increasing rise of touchscreen devices.

I regularly use an iPad Mini, and my iPhone is never far from my grasp. Typing on a regular keyboard after using hand-cream isn’t really an issue, since they’re not transparent and aren’t a display: you don’t have to prod where you look. Touchscreen devices, on the other hand, as they function as both keyboard and screen, look icky, and sticky, and worse: the accuracy of your prodding and swiping is generally reduced as well. I’ll be honest: I’m not really a fan of touchscreen devices. I miss the days when phones had proper keyboards (by which I mean a mini QWERTY keyboard; none of your predictive text multiple-taps for me), but it seems now that it’s almost impossible to purchase even a laptop that doesn’t incorporate some element of touch input.

I was hoping I could avoid buying any tech during this period and skip right to the Minority Report style of touchless input:

minority-report1

image from reuters.com

But I have a feeling I’m not going to be able to wait. Which leaves me with my hand-cream dilemma. To use or not to use: that is the question.

Is there any way of using it without getting it all over my screens, blurring out the images and text I need to see? If I don’t use it, will I end up with crone-like old lady hands before I reach forty? Where do other people stand on this issue? Drop me a line and let me know!
-A-

EARPHONES: MY CONNECTION TO SOUND

Like many people in this modern era, I live in an apartment. Like many people in this modern era, I expect to be able to listen to my music whenever I want and at whatever volume I choose. How to reconcile these two things? Earphones. (I’m a good neighbour!) There are two types of earphones I swear by: Apple Earbuds, and JayBird Freedom wireless earphones.

ears1

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