Christian Cawley is a freelance writer from the United Kingdom with seven years' experience in technical support across a range of device platforms and operating systems. Follow his updates on Twitter: @thegadgetmonkey
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Christian's Latest Posts
A few months ago I was playing games on my Nintendo Wii (thanks to the loss of my Xbox 360) and even getting fitter in the process – until I stumbled across the news that not only could I turn my Wii into a media centre, but that I could also install Netflix. Suffice to say, the intervening months have not been kind to my waistline. At times, they haven’t been all that kind to my sanity, either.
My personal desktop setup has changed considerably in the past few months since purchasing the Acer Iconia W7 series tablet, which I use as my primary PC. Gone is the tower of my old self build AMD-powered game station, replaced by far more compact dimensions, a new monitor and an external HDD. This is the main hub of my professional life: a Windows 8 tablet. Yes, you read that right. Let me demonstrate how you can be productive with Windows 8. It is possible, and with the right apps you can get great results.
I recently reviewed Rowi, the Windows Phone Twitter app, for these very pages. Rowi has pretty much decimated the opposition in terms of quality and stability, and has become probably more popular than the official app. So why have I stopped using it? Indeed, you might ask why I have stopped using the official app.
The Raspberry Pi – I just can’t stop tinkering with it. Fresh from setting it up as a media centre and a retro games console, I’ve recently started looking at the possibilities of the device as something more important. You may have seen one of our earlier posts about the unusual uses for a Raspberry Pi. One of these was using it as the computer in a low-budget space program, something that would make the Pi more portable than most computers on earth!
Desktop computer, media center, an integral part of a budget space program – is there no end to the versatility of the Raspberry Pi? Seemingly not – because it also does games.
Perhaps the best way to stay informed of special offers online is to embrace IFTTT, the popular data combination service that allows you to process data from websites and RSS feeds into something useful for you. Did you know that IFTTT can also help you to save money, and even make some extra cash?
Enthusiasm radiates from Eben Upton. He’s the driving force behind the Raspberry Pi, that small computer that has been revolutionising hobbyist computing since its launch in 2012. Tall, and dressed casually, the founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation is explaining to me the background to the amazing minicomputer. But Upton isn’t your usual computer designer. He and his team didn’t build the Raspberry Pi to retire on. What they planned was something audacious, something fantastic.
Facebook Home is the highly-promoted new Android app from Facebook that unifies messaging and socializing with a single view and launcher, a sort of home screen replacement. Meanwhile Windows Phone users have People, the contacts/social networking hub that is integrated into the platform. We thought it would be interesting to see which of these approaches to integrated social networking is most effective.
One of the things I love about a freelance career is being able to up sticks from my home office and go to a local café, bar or library to work in a different environment. It can prove extremely productive and as they say, a change is as good as a rest. I’ve even used the boot of my MPV as a makeshift office! While I generally have my Windows 8 Acer Iconia W7 series tablet with me in such situations, there are of course times when I’ve been caught out.
“Ooh, I’d like that new Facebook Home. Can you put it on my phone?” So began a quest of almost Greek Epic proportions as I first tried to explain to my wife that no, Facebook Home won’t run on her LG Optimus P920 3D. Later, after some research, I found that Facebook Home does indeed work on the LG Optimus P920 3D – and it works on many other older, “unsupported” devices too, just as long as you install a specially adjusted version.
When I became the proud owner of a Nokia Lumia 920, I was delighted to learn that I would be the lucky beneficiary of a free wireless charging pad, apparently worth about £100. Although there were a few hoops to jump through, the pad eventually came a few weeks later, enabling me to simply put my phone down to charge it, rather than struggle working out which way the USB cable connects to my phone.
To tile or not to tile? One of the most divisive elements of Windows 8 is the Start screen’s tiles. These square or rectangle-shaped buttons are effectively shortcuts to launching apps, and are often displaying additional data about the app they represent. This makes them vital, whatever you might think of them, and far superior to shortcut tiles. There are several very easy to use apps and utilities that can be used to create aesthetic and functional Windows 8 Start screen tiles.
A recent trip to a local used goods store brought me into contact with the LG Optimus 3D P920. Following some quick checks online via my usual phone, I bought the device – and soon made an interesting discovery: Beside the usual USB port was an HDMI connector. The world of viewing Android through a HDTV was just minutes away – and it can be for you, too (even if your phone has no such connector!).
Since its initial release in 2010, Windows Phone has generally had a reputation as the “other”. Neither iOS nor Android but something else entirely, its curious and fast user interface has led to it experiencing a slow adoption rate as consumers struggled to work out whether it is a smartphone for leisure or productivity, gaming or business. The truth is, like a desktop PC, it is all of these things and much more.
One of my fondest gaming memories is Wings, a World War I fighter plane arcade simulator released on the Amiga back in 1991. It was the first game in which I was able to create a profile, it offered three different gaming options within the pilot’s career and most of all it was hugely playable and addictive. Sadly over the years I’ve never been able to find a game that comes close. Rise of Glory is a Windows Phone game with a similar premise.