Monday, 21 September 2015

Microsoft Surface Pro 3–How to turn a tablet into a Windows lightweight laptop, and accessorise it for less.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3Having travelled thousands of miles over the past few years with a laptop which, although it worked brilliantly, weighed a ton, I decided to look into other options, and of course there are hundreds, from a MacBook to Lenovo, Asus, Toshiba, Dell etc.

I’m very difficult when it comes to tech.  I want something light with a decent speed and memory.  I want a full size keyboard with Print Screen available and keys that are good for fast typing.  And I want a mouse.  No, not a trackpad, a real movable adaptable mouse.  Trackpads and I don’t get along.

I have Apple with my iPad and iPhone and didn’t really want to move completely, as I like to know what’s going on with Windows, so when I spotted the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 in PC World I shimmied over to it and, after some research back home, decided I would give it a go.  And that’s what I’m writing on today.

This was helped by a 25% off offer from a supplier on Amazon, as I definitely wasn’t going to pay the hefty price at most stores for something which didn’t even include a keyboard (!), and that with the suggested attachable keyboard and my minimum requirement of i5 Intel, 4GB ram would be way over my budget.
Teknet lightweight keyboard and mouse

I initially ordered the Type Cover which is supposed to go with the Surface Pro 3 
but which
I rejected as it doesn’t have the Print Screen function, has a track pad (although you can use a nano mouse) and doesn’t protect the back of the Surface Pro which is also a stand.  As I said, I’m fussy.

After too much time to quantify searching for a lightweight keyboard and mouse combo – UK version – with a nano USB I found this Teknet keyboard and mouse which I’m using now, extremely light, very inexpensive and easy to use. 

Be very careful when looking for keyboards that you get the UK or US version you want.  This has a little front stand and fits perfectly in front of the Surface Pro.  Ok so it doesn’t attach?  So what? And it’s about 20% of the price of the made to measure Type Cover which is a huge saving.
Moko Stand Cover for Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Finally I invested in a MoKo stand cover, which I also have for my iPad and which protects front and back, and to carry everything a superbly lightweight Belkin 14” laptop sleeve which had to be a little bigger to take the keyboard as well.
Belkin 14 inch light laptop sleeve and pocket

Notes about the Surface Pro 3 – it has one 3.0 USB port, however it also has another, which can be used for charging your phone, on the charging block.

It also comes with a pen, which I haven’t worked out fully yet – more about that later probably.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

10 Tips and tricks for iOS 9

Apple iOS 9Having updated my iPhone and iPad to iOS9 here are the tips and tricks I’ve discovered in the last day or so.  Some obvious, some not so, some very annoying because they’re not available yet, or not available on any specific device….

Also some of the widely written about features of iOS 9 don’t appear to have made it yet either out of Beta, or to the UK.  So I have only included those where I have accurate information or have tried them out.

1.  The new News icon.
If you live in the UK you won’t have this yet – hopefully in the future.  It’s been announced on all the ‘New in iOS9 posts’ so it’s frustrating to realise you don’t have it.

You can get this right now if you change your region in Settings to the USA and at least see how it functions.  Or you can wait.  Not having analysed properly the effect changing your region would have on everything else I had a quick look and then switched back.  Come along Apple…… we want this too.

2.  Lower case keyboard
You may have noticed that your keyboard is now all lowercase by default.  Personally I didn’t want this change and so changed back by going to Settings<General<Accessibility<Keyboard and toggling off ‘Show Lower Case Keys’.

3.  Apple Maps
Will now give you public transport information provided you’re in a major city such as London or Chicago and note that for the UK this is only for London.

4.  Spotlight Search
The Spotlight Search field is accessible by swiping down from anywhere on your home screen (or any home screen).  Speak to it or type in it and find everything relevant from music to apps and email messages.

You can change the suggestions you get from Spotlight Search by going to Settings<General<Spotlight Search and toggling on or off what you don’t want to be suggested.  Remember that if you do stop Stoplight Search from accessing everything that goes on on your device you won’t get as many ‘intelligent’ responses. 

Read this from MacWorld – iOS 9 makes Siri more proactive.

5.  View a website’s desktop version easily from the mobile site share icon
If you don’t want to use a website’s mobile version but want to see the full desktop site on your iPhone or iPad just click on the Share icon within the mobile site view and click on ‘Request Desktop Version’.

6.  Notes has had a major overhaul
Now you can add photos to Notes, or use your finger to sketch, tick an item, or write a new note.  You can also choose which type of stylus you use, and there’s a ruler to guide you.  On an iPhone this is a little tricky although being able to tick off shopping lists with your finger is a good add-on.

Another way to manage shopping or to-do lists, that you don’t want to delete as you may use them regularly, is to highlight the whole list – hold down your finger over the note until you see ‘Select All’.  You should see a plus sign in the right hand corner.  Click on this and then on the ‘tick-within-a-circle’ on the line of icons which will appear.  A circle will appear beside each of your items which you can tick and un-tick at will using your finger.

7.  The ability to block adsWith iOS 9 you can now install an ad blocker app and block most (but not all) of the pesky and unwanted ads that appear everywhere.  The most popular paid ad blocker ‘Peace’ has been withdrawn from the app store after just launching and thousands of downloads because of ‘conflict of interest’.

I’ve downloaded ‘Crystal’ and time will tell how successful it is but already on most sites I’m seeing fewer ads and general download is quicker.

8.   Low Power Mode
When you get down to 20% or less of your battery life a message will pop up which will offer you Low Power Mode – to eek out as much life from you phone as possible. 

My advice as always is to carry a mini portable charger and a short charging cable around with you so you don’t reach this stage……

9.  Mail Update - Send attachments and store received attachments in iCloud Drive -  Hold your finger down on the screen when replying to an email and scroll across the bar that will appear to add attachments – you can then include any attachment you have stored in iCloud Drive, Dropbox or any other location.

You can also save any attachment into iCloud Drive by holding your finger on it until the option bar appears, and clicking on ‘Save Attachment’.  You will then have the option to move it into iCloud Drive.

To make iCloud Drive instantly accessible you can install it as an icon in your home screen by going to Settings>iCloud Drive and toggling the Show on Home Screen switch to on.

Mail Update 2 - Send as many photos as you want

You’re no longer limited to five photos attached to Mail – you can send as many as you want……..