A fix for Wi-Fi Cycling on the Samsung Galaxy S5

My Samsung Galaxy S5 has never been the most robust phone around. The battery never kept a charge too long, and the idea of having the “location” services switched on for more than when they were essential was a luxury I could not afford.

Recently I noticed the battery performance had changed again. My phone was running hot, and the battery life crashing from fully charged to less than 30% in a matter of an hour or two. At home all seemed fine, but if I went out the phone would rapidly fade on me. It turned out that when I switched off the wi-fi because I was away from my home network the wi-fi was cycling itself on and off about once every 4 seconds. This constant activity was causing the heat and drop in battery performance.

Most searches suggested a factory reset, or clearing the cache, which seemed over the top or inappropriate. However, after a dig through Reddit for a few minutes I found the answer in the thread “Is my Samsung Galaxy S5 fried? (Wi-Fi on/off loop)“.

As I’d stated at the start, I keep “Location” switched off, but do have the “Improved Accuracy” setting “Wi-Fi Scanning” checked. Now until recently this would only become a factor if location services were enabled, but for whatever reason (an app update, some background system update, etc.) this service is now activiated even if lcoation is switched off.

So to fix the problem go to: Settings – Location – Improve Accuracy = Wi-Fi Scanning and disable Wi-Fi Scanning. This should stop the wi-fi scanning occurring even when the location services are off.




“Quality over quantity” or “why I like Google+ Circles”

The web is ablaze with Google+ gossip, and everyone is quick to jump aboard the new social media revolution from the world’s leading search engine/portal/mapper/web dev magic shop.  So why should this blog be any different?  I’ll wade right on in there too.

First off, for those wondering “what is Google+?” I suggest y read the following:

  1. What Google wants you to know – Take the tour of the Google+ project
  2. What XKCD and most geeks (including this author) thought – XKCD Google+

So now you know what it is in broad terms.  You’ve also noticed this is the “Google+ project” and not the “Google+ product”, and that seems to be because Google does not intend to replace FaceBook with a different social networking platform.  Instead they want to continue to evolve their products to work closely together and infiltrate your entire browsing experience.  On the one hand this sounds brilliant, a creative light in web technologies striving to make the interwebs better for everyone… however, the realist (or cynical IT worker) in me also sees this as a potential invasion of privacy, and another attempt by Google to not just help you enjoy the web, but actually monitor and control how you interact and communicate with the digital world.

For me though the experience so far has been quietly enjoyable.  The integration with other Google products I use is relatively painless, and worryingly intuitive.  The overall experience is uncluttered, with clean white space, with subtle animations and hints of colour guiding your around the interface.

The big win for me though has been the “circles” concept.  This is a visual way of grouping your friends into multiple circles, allowing you to rapidly and easily communicate with only select groups of people, or with everybody you know, or even the whole world.  FaceBook attempted this with lists, but the interface was rudimentary, and the publish method was neither user friendly or easily maintained.  Circles for now seems easy to understand and the drag and drop interface makes management of groups of friends quick and easy.  Will it continue to grow as more users come online and everybody’s circles grow?  I’m not sure, but for now it is a clear advantage that Google+ has over FB and other social networks.

So why quality over quantity, well aside from the annoying bugs that one expects in early code they haven’t bloated the product with features.  Google hasn’t tried to out-FaceBook FaceBook, they’ve looked at a few key social interactions, and how people could expand those interactions on the internet, and have run with that idea.  I don’t think it is a FaceBook killer, but it has definitely introduced some new ideas both technically and design-wise into the marketplace.

Who reads your posts?

The MOD are aware of the risks of the online world, and made these fabulous adverts to raise awareness.

I’ve never been a fan of “checking in” and location aware apps, and these two films just drive home why.

Ommwriter – First impressions

So this post is written in Ommwriter.  A minimalistic word processor that is meant to free up the writers creativity by removing the distractions that clutter the screen of a regular word processor.  I’m going to use it now to write my first impressions.

I do like how the screen is taken over by the software.  If you leave your mouse alone (and really you should, you’re here to type, not wriggle around the screen)  the menu bar, and options around the text area fade away leaving nothing but a blank canvas for your words.  Even the borders of the sizable text section fade out, giving no visual limits to your typing space.  In addition, the software prevents you from accessing other windows, masking the taskbar and hiding away the minimize and exit options in the fade-awaymenu and sidebar.  I found this kept me focused on the task in hand (writing this piffle) but did mean I had to scout a bit furtehr to find my screen and research quandries like how much the paid version costs.

Screenshot of Ommwriter with options visible

Ommwriter with options visible - Screenshot added in WordPress NOT Ommwriter

The cursor is a blinking subscript underscore ( _ ) rather than the more normal flashing pipe ( | ), and it turns out that the software writers did this to remove the wall formed by the vertical cursor.  Not sure how much I’ve been stymied by a cursor before but we’ll see.

Now I am using the free version of the software, and it isavailable for both Mac OSx and Windows.  There is a paid for version which includes a few more themes and schemes, but functionally the two versions are identical. The paid version costs a non-threatening $4.11 with the potential to add a larger donation if you so wish, and a request that you end your price with a 1 to bring good fortune.

Oddly this is a word processor that makes noises all of its own, and the free version only has three themes for background music, and three typing sounds.  The typing sounds can be best described as:
1. A faint electric chirp.
2. Soft electric water droplets.
3. A hard clack sound, electric maracas?

The background music breaks down to:
1. Ambient chimes and plucks with a galloping coconut shell horse in the distance.
2. Classical chimes, with more than a passing nod to a temple bell.
3. Deeper and almost discordant electronic organ sounds.  This is sometimes a bit menacing, but then lifts itself out again.

With all the music the variations seem random, which some may find pleasant and I can think of a few musical friends it will drive crazy.  The good news is that both can be turned on or off easily, and I found myself rapidly switching off the typing sounds as I use a plastic Dell keyboard which makes plenty of clatter on its own. When using a near silent membrane keyboard I found the sounds were a reassuring confirmation of a keystrike, but since i find typing on a membrane keyboard a slow affair due to the wobbly nature of the keys and unpredictable pressure requirements I settled for turning off key sounds and enjoying the regular plastic chatter muted by my headphones. If you want the typing sound, definitely use headphones, otherwise the music works well through your usual speakers if your work environment is quiet.

All good things come in threes apparently, and the same is true of the background themes,
1. A gentle shade of grey with wintery trees in a snow scene at the footer.
2. Bright white, which is just a tad hard on the eyes (and also makes me sneeze with my current cold.)
3. A middling grey, which is probably ideal for working later in the evening; the type appears like eInk on a Nook or Kindle screen.

Overall I think I can see myself using Ommwriter every once in a while to jot down ideas in an uncluttered fashion.  It doesn’t have the formattingand publishing options of Microsoft Word or the like, but it does offer a simple space to work and a relatively small footprint.  The lack of spell check seems odd in this modern world, but also gives me the freedom to make mistakes, which is nice in its own right.  You can save your text to their OMM format (it’s a plain text file with a pretty extension), or to TXT.  You can also output directly to PDF but there is no “print” option to go directly to a printer

So if you want to write with something that feels a little more like a typewriter than a desktop publishing behmoth then give it a try.  With a price of FREE where can you go wrong?

Ommwriter can be found at http://www.ommwriter.com

Outdoor safety, avalanches and smartphones

Smartphones are everywhere these days, and they’re replacing our cameras, diaries, address books, maps, GPS, and many other things in an easy hand-held unit.  We take them everywhere, and wherever we may be we know communication is but a swipe of the finger away.

Listening to a podcast recently (on my phone) I learned how these devices might not be as helpful in an emergency as they at first seem.  The podcast was January 1sts special edition of the BBC Radio Scotland’s Out of Doors program, in which the show’s presenters went out on an avalanche rescue exercise in the Cairngorms with the Grampian Police Mountain Rescue Team and the Braemar Mountain Rescue Team.  During this fascinating show the rescue teams explained how although smartphones frequently included GPS functionality which could be helpful out on the mountains they also tended to consume battery power far faster than traditional phones, and in emergency situations this rapid loss of power could make maintaining communication with the rescue team extremely difficult if not impossible.

This set me thinking about my friends (both in the UK and the US) who enjoy skiing, hiking in the mountains and generally getting out and about outdoors, and how most of them are quite possibly permanently attached to their iPhones and other smart-devices.  I found myself wondering how many of them had thought about how that rapidly fading battery, which is usually just an annoyance requiring a charging cable at work and at home (and in the car if you’ve got an iPhone), could put them at greater risk in an emergency situation.

With that in mind I encouraged them, and you, to listen to the podcast if you head out off trail, or into the woods and wilderness, and to make sure you plan for the worst even though I hope you’ll never need it.  When global distress beacons (like the McMurdo Fast Find here) and avalanche transmitters (like the Backcountry Access Tracker here) cost less than a new smartphone it seems crazy not to take one with you!

You can download the podcast here, and please note that all title, ownership rights and intellectual property rights in and to the BBC Podcast remain the property of the BBC (alternatively it may still be available from the BBC Podcasts website here).

In addition you may want to check out the following links: