27th March

Thinking of installing a solid state disk (SSD)? Go for it – I doubt you’ll regret the investment.

written by Mark Wheadon

I finally took the plunge and replaced the standard hard drive in my late 2008 MacBook Pro with a solid state disk – a 256GB Crucial M4.

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What a transformation! If you’re trying to decide whether to do something similar then take a look at the video below, which shows the Mac booting up and logging in both before and after the transplant.

The machine is now much, much quicker in daily use, a little quieter, cooler, and has better battery life – what more could you ask for circa £240?


14th June

Photo Enhance video available at YouTube

written by Mark Wheadon

I’ve made a short video showing Photo Enhance Pro in action. Photo Enhance is an app for Android that I’ve been developing for the last year or so — it boosts detail in images and allows you to crop, manipulate brightness, colour balance, etc. before saving or sharing at full resolution (something most apps can’t manage).

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Photo Enhance Pro is available at Google play or if you’re based in the USA then you could give the Amazon Android App Store a go.


2nd May

Ever wished you could pre-focus the camera on your Nexus One, Desire, Droid, Milestone etc? It turns out you can.

written by Mark Wheadon

Focus left-o-centre

Touch to focus?

Ever wished you could pre-focus the camera on your Android phone? It doesn’t seem to be common knowledge, but you can.

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Use the Camera app as usual, but when you take the picture, place the subject in the centre of the image and press and hold the shutter release-button (on-screen on my Nexus One). A couple of seconds later the image will focus. Now recompose your picture with the subject off-centre — the picture is taken when you release the shutter-release button. Simple, once you know.

And no shutter lag

Hold the shutter-release button to focus the subject. Now get people to look your way, smile, etc. When you release the button the picture is taken almost immediately, and taking pictures of moving subjects no longer requires a highly developed sense of precognition 😉

18th January

Sample images from the Nexus One Google Phone.

written by Mark Wheadon

Google Phone photos

I thought it would be useful to post examples of photos from the new Google Phone, the HTC Nexus One. That way you can get a feel for how good the camera is.

For what it’s worth, it’s better than I expected, and in fact it’s better than I hoped for — one of the best camera-phones out there. But don’t take my word for it — take a look at the images.

What’s here

What I’ve done is present two versions for each image. The first is the bottom line so far as I’m concerned — what the image looks like after it’s been polished in Photoshop. The second image is the full, untouched image as it came from the phone.

These photos were taken on a sunny winter’s day in Whitstable, Kent, about 10 minutes from my home. All bar two of them are taken outside, in good light. Inside in poor light, the camera is really only good for the “here’s my mate, pouring beer over his head” kind of images 🙂

The photos

Click on the thumbnails to see a larger version. Each pair of thumbnails is the polished result followed by the original JPEG straight from the phone.

Lens flare (above) is bad when shooting into the sun — I suggest you shade the lens with your hand if possible.

11th March

Apple call it VoiceOver: the new iPod Shuffle talks.

written by Mark Wheadon

The new iPod shuffle makes the old one look bulky (which is an achievement 🙂 ), and this one talks to you. Cute.

Here’s an introductory tour of the new mini-beast. A couple of interesting facts that emerge from the video: the speech is different depending on whether you synchronize using iTunes under Mac OS X or Windows, so speech must be synthesized on the host computer not the iPod, and one gotcha: you can’t use anything other than the supplied headphones without an extra dongle.

26th January

A cheap, effective waterproof case for the Sony PRS-505 / PRS-700.

written by Mark Wheadon

Fancy reading your e-book in the bath? Your long wait is over — I have the answer (cue long drum roll). Hours of selfless testing has proved its worth, and it’ll cost you pennies.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the Sony Reader waterproof case!

Sony Reader waterproof wide

A Sainsbury’s ziplock polythene bag 🙂

I wouldn’t immerse the whole thing in water (so don’t use it if you have a tendency to nod off in the bath), but it’s certainly proof against splashes. It’s so effective because with an electronic book, you don’t need to physically turn the pages, so having it inside a plastic bag is no hassle at all.


Sony Reader waterproof case 2

In my next article, I discover a simple solution to the common cold. Maybe.