Thursday, November 26, 2015

Kaleidoscope Flowers in Perth - farm to you

My daughter has started a flower delivery business in Perth.  It is based on selling only a limited set of arrangements using the best flowers at any time.  The site features on line shopping and is updated every week.  The business is small and bespoke, with personal service and great products and good prices.  Check it out.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Microsoft and Apple should really get together (Where is Steve Jobs when they need him)

It's May 2013.  Apple is becoming a follower rather than leader in the innovation stakes.  Microsoft is still puzzled and wandering where past glories have gone.  Unless either can change the game - change the rules - they will go the way of countless other tech companies.

Where is there hope?  Well, it's in the ability for someone to make 1 + 1 = 7.  Steve Jobs had it.  He saw a mouse driven computer and could see the possibilities.  He was the most enthusiastic guy in the room.  Others saw problems - he saw possibilities.

I'm not a game console type of guy - but have a look at Microsoft's Kinect technology in this Youtube video.   The technology is great, and brings us closer to HAL9001 computer interactions.  It's really wasted on a game console.

So what's the best way to really use Microsoft's Kinect - to build the technology into everyday devices and lifestyle?  I don't know.  But Steve Jobs would have.

If Apple have anyone with real innovative, risk taking, wide vision thinking, then they should get together with Microsoft to make something as remarkable as the iPhone was in 2007.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Kogan Agora 8" Tablet - Day 2 and 3 - Review

So far so good.  The tablet has held up ok and seems to do everything asked of it so far.  I've been finishing up with setting up the applications I wanted, bluetooth connections etc. I did try the "firefox / flash" hack to get ABC iView going with no luck, but in reality I can wait until ABC get around to finishing a proper iView client for Android.

I also played around with some other launchers (as I described before the stock Jellybean is a bit "frugal").  However I have no compelling reason yet to change.

Comments so far are:

  • The wifi signal seems a bit lower than my phone/s.  Perhaps it's a little less sensitive on the Agora?
  • Charging on USB is hell slow.
  • I'm wondering how I can upgrade it to a later version of Android.  The Agota is running 4.1.1, and I know that 4.2 is out.

More comments later.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Kogan Agora Tablet - Experiences and Review - Day One

Of course the world is going iPad crazy, and some Android tablets (such as the Nexus 7) are starting to make some impression.  I couldn't really justify the $300+ for a tablet.  But when Kogan announced an 8" tablet for $129 it was hard to resist.  Kogan's first efforts with tablets was not so great according to reviews.  Being the second round, and having the latest Android Jellybean software made it worth taking a chance.


Kogan prices are cheap - but there is a sting. Although Kogan is aiming to be a big name in electronics supply, a short tour of it's Facebook page and other forums shows a lot of dissatisfaction with the level of service provided - especially with regard to warranty and technical assistance.  In my case, I recently purchased a Samsung Galaxy S3 and some Kogan branded microSD cards.  The phone is ok, but the 64GB microSD cards have both failed - most likely because they were posted in a plain envelope with no packing whatsoever.  I'm still waiting for a response from the warranty people at Kogan.

So if you're worried about technical support and waiting a long, long time for warranty resolution, then I don't think I'd be recommending Kogan as a supplier.

Anyway, thinking I can afford to lose $129 if things go badly, I ordered the 16GB 8" tablet online on 18 Jan 2013. It arrived today - 30 Jan 2013.  Not too bad.  The tracking info provided by Kogan and DHL was pretty good.  I signed up for the DHL alerts - both email and SMS.  Great job from DHL.  I got pre-warning about when the package was going to be delivered.

DHL Tracking Site gets updated as the package travels to you

So - let's see what we've got.  The packaging is good.  A sturdy box which protects the tablet during shipment.  No hint of the actual manufacturer.  Inside you get the tablet, a 5V power supply / charger with 2mm barrel plug (Australian power pin configuration), a USB/microUSB cable, and an OTG USB connection cable.  There is no manual, just a slip of paper saying that the manual is available on line at the Kogan website.  It isn't.

Spec wise, the tablet is 1024 x 768 resolution (which is lower res than my phone), and has 16GB of internal memory - of which about 12GB is usable.  A microSD slot is available.  RAM is 1GB.  WiFi and bluetooth are available but not GPS.  A low res (0.3MP) front camera is provided.  There is no rear camera.  For the price, the specs are good.  A GPS and rear camera aren't really important on a tablet for me.

Day One

A quick look shows a reasonably sized tablet - the thickness and weight is what you would expect.  The build quality seems below average, with the front bevel no entirely flat.

There are plenty of connectors including power, microUSB, miniHDMI, microSD slot, and earphones.  Buttons include a volume rocker, power and return key.  There is a small reset pinhole as well.

After charging the tablet for a couple of hours it's time to turn it on!  A Kogan logo and then Android logo appear, and then we're in the setup screen.  So far so good.  Setup the wireless connection.  Ok.  Then blank .......


Power off and restart shows the Kogan logo, followed by the Android logo and then blank.  Tried all the buttons, button combinations, long presses and even the reset pinhole.  Same result.  The Kogan website only gives an option for email support, so I sent off a request not expected to hear anything back for several days.

A few more random fiddling then suddenly gives me this little android robot critter.  To the Google search engine!

Sick Android

Eventually I found a site on How To Geek : There was the little robot in trouble with instructions on getting the safe boot mode - which involved pressing both volume buttons and the power button.  I got the recovery menu and used it to clear the cache contents and perform a wipe data/factory reset.  After two tries it eventually started loading android and installing the standard software modules.  It all took about 15 minutes until the standard start pages re-appeared.

Ok, start setting up again.  WiFi first.  Ok.  Google account. Ok. Re-arrange home page icons. Ok.  So far everything is ok.

Start loading some apps.  Now the lovely thing about Android / Google is that everything is connected and synced.  I downloaded the apps already installed on my Samsung phone.  The ones I had previously purchased on my other Android devices are available with extra to pay.  Just hit install.

So things are starting to go ok.  It time to play and explore.

  • Screen. The screen resolution of 1024 x 768 is quite a bit down on similar sized (but more expensive) tablets, but is not too bad.  The display is bright enough and the viewing angles are adequate for personal use.  No complaints.

  • Responsiveness.  Most functions worked quickly with only some slow down being evident while substantial background tasks (e.g. initial Dropsync file download) were running.  Reasonable. 

  • Android / User Interface.  The user interface is (as far as I can tell) stock standard Jellybean.  It's pretty frugal compared to the HTC Sense and Samsung Touchwiz overlays.  But a few apps and extra widgets soon brought it up to the user friendliness I expect.  Reasonable.

  • Battery Charging.  The tablet can be charged with the dedicated barrel plug charger, or through the microUSB port.  The charging rate through the microUSB port is very slow, and in fact doesn't gain any charge while the tablet is in use (e.g. playing music through bluetooth with the screen off gave me about 1% charge rate per hour).  The external barrel plug charger is much faster - about 15% per hour.

  • Battery Life.  It's too early to say much about battery life. I'm not expecting performance to match more expensive tablets.  But given I was hammering away for 6 hours straight it held up ok.

So, the only thing left for Day 1 is to go to bed.  Bluetooth connection to my bedside bluetooth speakers - Ok. Player Pro (my favourite Android mp3 player because it has a sleep timer) - all good.  Good night.  Maybe more tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Goodbye OPSM - Hello Zenni Optical for Prescription Glasses

I don't think I've ever been very satisfied with prescription glasses purchased from OPSM or the advice they've given me. I haven't tried the other stores - but I imagine they are similar. It's all marketing hype and the sad reality is expensive products with no real technical advantage over glasses offered by online stores.

My most recent OPSM purchase was a pair of occupational glasses (for computer use). Cost $159 for the frame, and $289 for the lenses (Invisibles Ultra - Plastic 1.49 progressives smudge resistant and anti-reflection coatings). The frame they suggested for me is huge and heavy. The lenses are thick and are already showing scratches despite care in handling and cleaning. Other OPSM glasses have cost $500 or more and I haven't been impressed. Typically it's taken 14 to 21 days to get the glasses once ordered.

In frustration I thought I'd buy a couple of cheap pair of glasses on the web to try different styles and configurations (bi-focal, progressive, occupational, etc.). I bought a pair of bifocal glasses from for $70. They arrived in a week and were great. Then I bought a pair of progressives with bendable frame from for $47. They were also good and arrived by courier to my home within 14 days of the order being placed on the web. Now I've just received a pair of featherweight no-rim glasses with lightweight progressive photochromatic lenses for less than $80.

Now progressive lenses are "evil" (distorted on the sides and very poor for intermediate distances). So I tend to use the bi-focals for reading and computer work (at my desk) and the progressives everywhere else. The point is that the OPSM progressives are no better or any higher quality that those from Zenni Optical. For the same price as one pair of OPSM glasses, I can experiment with half a dozen Zenni glasses to get the frame and lense combination that suits me the best. All with home delivery. I'm a satisfied customer.

So ignore the best efforts of the scare-mongering shop owners. Do your homework. There is plenty of information online about lenses, frames, online retailers, etc. Be happy to buy a few pairs on line to get the best results. It's still a hell of a lot cheaper and maybe you end up with a few spare pairs.