Category Archives: Technology / Innovation

Protecting yourself from camera hacking

We sometimes hear about camera hacking – how big a problem is it and how do we prevent it?

This infographic on the issue shows some of the shocking examples of hacking going back a number of years and how we can protect ourselves from it. The link to the full article is:


Infographic credit to Kaylee White – thanks for contacting me.

Simon 🙂

Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD – Amazing Value or Exuberant Con?

A little while ago my trusty Lenovo Yoga tablet was destoyed, as was my little LG. I was more than a little gutted. With not much budget to replace them with I bought a 7″ Kindle Fire HD.


When I first turned it on I have to say I was impressed. Great screen with  easy to access functions. There’s all the popular apps available like Facebook, Twitter, Netflix and WordPress in the app store so things started out well. But then when I got to look a little closer, many of the applications I need and in a way would expect from a device like this were unavailable. Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, Google Keep, Google maps, Google Chrome… Spotted a theme? Yup – no Google!

This wasn’t all – Firefox is not available which is a pin as I use this as my default web browser and all of my favourites an history is synced to it. Then I found out that while I can install Netflix – it doesn’t work! Semi popular apps like Pinterest and StumbleUpon are also not available. So within minutes of unwrapping my sleek new Kindle Fire I feeling a tinge of disappointment. At this point I can hear cries of ‘so what? It’s just Amazon’s operating system right?’

No – this is where we really get to the heart of the issue and here’s why:

Amazon’s Kindle is Android based. That’s right, Amazon has taken Google’s own Android OS, hacked and fettled it to make it their own and in the process have kicked Google off it at the same time. I have to ask myself why this is, does Amazon hate Google? Maybe, but it’s a bit hypocritical to take the stack OS from a company you hate and then use it while locking them out. Or have Amazon wanted to make it their own? I’m not sure on this, in a way this makes Amazon worse than Apple for being technically introverted. The only thing that saves it a bit from this is it’s use of standard USB and Bluetooth. This though is marred by the fact that I can’t see a way to use my Google Chromecast with my Fire HD, which is another disappointment.


For me a clue to what’s going on and in some ways eases the confusion is when the power button is pressed and the standby screen comes on. This is annoying, every time you turn on the Kindle there’s adverts for anything Amazon. Books, Films, special offers, every time there’s something different.


What this means though is that whatever else the Fire HD is, primarily it’s a selling platform for good, apps and services. This can also be seem with Amazon’s Fire TV stick where games, token and films come at a pretty heft cost. The touch screen is responsive and it feels like a quality Android 7″ tablet, there doesn’t seem to have been much penny pinching with the build quality over a device that costs twice the price.

When you turn it on for the first time you notice is that Amazon have kindly set up and linked the device to the Amazon account that it was bought from, all of the books, music and films you have bought are instantly available.

The Fire HD works just like any other 7″ tablet and while the different home screens set up by Amazon give it a custom feel you don’t have to dig deep to find the Android roots. The stock web browser that come with it is called Silk – however it’s fooling no one becasue when the user signs into any accounts you the annoying security email comes it clearly thinks that it’s being signed into by Chrome.


The whole thing is still confusing to me, it’s good at what it does, but there’s so much it doesn’t do and does a reduced price tag make up for it? It all depend on how a user looks at it I think – if you’re a cynic that thinks Amazon is trying to get of Google then it’s crap tablet. But if you’re after something to read your books on, browse the internet and get you’re emails, then it’s an incredible e-book reader!

Simon 🙂


Circuit Mechanix – March 2017

Welcome to the first issue of Circuit Mechanix this year! A little later than expected this issue focuses on flexi and flex rigid PCB design and manufacture. This issue also looks at the National Physics Laboratory soldering defects database and we get a new feature – The PCB Mechanic. Every issue will now […]

via Circuit Mechanix – March 2017 — circuitmechanix

What annoys me about Technology

Unless you have the awareness of a hibernating hedgehog as a ready of this blog you will know that I’m an engineer. Engineer’s work with technology and therefore I should love Technology. 

Err… No.

Actually let me clarify that, I like technology up to a point and even then it annoys me. For the most part technology annoys me because marketers and accontants have decided to get involved in the design and messed it up in the way it works or…. The dreaded bug is ever present and I have to work around it.

But even when things work perfectly technology still annoys me and here’s why:

Technology is meant to aid us in our lives by taking away the tasks we find hard or boring to to or even to do things we simply cannot do. Washhing machines, cars and jumbo jets fall into this category. What makes technology work for us is that it is NOT in control, it is meant to do the things we want it to do!

Where this goes wrong is when technology is trying to decide what we want. I’ll give you an example – automatic windscreen wipers. Nothing is more annoying! In light rain or heavy fog it just doesn’t get it, it either doesn’t wipe or wipes like we’re driving through a typhoon! I can handle a control with loads of setting because I decide what speed I want, but this automatic wiping needs to stop! I know this will touch a nerve with American readers, but the same goes with an automatic gearbox. I’m sorry, I just can’t do it! I’ll decide what gear I want and that’s  that!

Now we have smart technology too, based on what we’ve done before it can suggest where we might like to go, or who might be our friend. This means that everyone that has been to my school in the last twenty years must be a friend the same goes for anyone who visited the taj manual in town or the supermarket. I’m sorry, but none of these people are friends and I have no idea who they are!

I understand what these guys are trying to do, they are trying to reduce the need for searching. But is it really that bad? It’s much better than looking through a telephone directory, but I guess we need jobs for data analysts and other such clever clogs to make this kind of stuff happen. But my view is simply that we should be the masters of technology and not the other way around.

Simon 😀

Linux Took Over the Web. Now, It’s Taking Over the World | WIRED

I’ve written a number of posts about how Linux had changed the way i use computers. What not more widely known is that most smartphone use Linux or another OS developed from the Unix code. Most of the internet runs from it and Microsoft has recently been breaking down the old divides and letting Linux run some  programmes in Windows.

But it seems the blogging project is nowhere done yet and it shows now signs of stopping…

Simon 🙂

The nightmare of a corrupted SD card and what do do about it.

How often have we picked up our phone and flicked it on so we can take a picture? This is simple right and it works every time – it has done for me for years without fail. So the other day I’m out and a strange symbol appears in the top corner of this Samsung I carry around as a camera. I look on it and there was a blood curdling scream beyond any that you might hear in a horror movie. fortunately this was only in my head, but still it was loud to me.

I was told that the SD card couldn’t be read and sure enough, no matter what I did the SD card couldn’t be read. Bollocks! This might have something to do with jumping into a pool with the said phone in my pocket, but I digress and we don’t want facts coming into things at this stage.

Looking at the SD card on my notebook, sure enough the damn thing is corrupted. In this situation there’s only one thing to do…




I turned to the great web oracle that is…


And I found out there is free software to download to help recover from this kind of disaster. The one that was the top of the list was a program called ZarX. It’s as simple and downloading and installing the software,  open it up and select the drive in the computer that’s corrupted (i.e. the SD card) and then letting it get on. Once it’s finished doing it’s pretty little thing it’s a matter of selecting the place you want to put the recovered files. A little hint here , don’t put them back where they came from!

The interface is a bit complex, but if you just let ZarX do it’s thing and pick where to recover and where to put the files it works well and the data from my SD card was recovered.

So, the next time you dive into a pool with your SD card – download ZarX!

Simon 🙂