Monday 29 September 2014

A Sort and Battery

One of the most common questions we ask regarding mobile phones is "Why doesn't my battery last very long any more?"

This is particularly the case with smart phones, and when you look at the industry at the moment, we would guess that over 95% of phones sold on the market now fit this category.

So why does the battery seem to fail so quickly? Are you finding that you're having to charge the phone every night, or even partway through the day ?

While there are items on the market to help with this issue (We have stock ourselves of emergency phone batteries that you can carry in your bag to charge your phone up while you're out and about) it doesn't answer the question "WHY?" 

One of the things to remember with smart phones is that they're no longer just a phone.  They contain GPS systems to work as SatNav, they collect emails, connect to your social networks, take pictures, videos, messaging systems, train timetables, internet viewing, music processing systems and that's just the START of some of the apps that people most commonly have on their phone.

People say that they close the apps down after use, but what is commonly forgotten is that a lot of the apps run in the background, as system services.  Some of these services include "location services" a way that the phone can tell the app exactly where it is. This might be to stamp on a photo the location where the picture was taken, or might be so that it can post your location when you update your Facebook status.

Some of these might be important, especially if it's the core reason you have the app installed - like a SatNav. But we certainly need to ask if it's vital for this service to be constantly running if we don't particularly NEED that feature on that app. Do we really need people to know exactly WHERE we were when we posted a comment? Could that be a security risk for example (i.e. comment posted when we are not at home, means our home is empty?)

By going through the settings of the phone and switching off some of these location services, this will greatly increase the life of the battery.

Other tips include switching off PUSH notifications, on emails (particularly if we prefer to check for messages, instead of the phone pinging at us every time we receive an email).

Screen brightness is another feature we can reduce. You might not notice a small drop in screen brightness for most of the time you use the phone, but this will greatly increase the battery life.

The way we charge the phone is equally important. Regular charging a battery when it's not necessary can actually reduce the life of the battery. Installing a battery charging app can be a valuable way to ensure that the battery gets the charge at the correct rate and receives a proper schedule of charging.

Why not go through the apps that you currently have in your phone and ask yourself how many times you've used that app in the past month or so.  By good housekeeping, we can all improve the service life of the device that could be a life saver - if treated with care.

Tuesday 2 September 2014


I hope I'm not the only person that was a little sceptical about "The Cloud" when it arrived.  I'll confess that the thought of all my data being out of my control, possibly open to attack, made my hair stand up on the back of my neck.

I won't say that I'm stuck in the 80's or 90's, but I guess I like to ensure that technology is going to work as it says it will before I jump in with both feet. 
Is that a lack of faith in the tech? Maybe it's just I'm getting tired of spending late nights trying to repair the damage caused by the early leaping.

As an example, we've been using a Dropbox account to synchronise data between two offices.  Two servers have their own accounts and share a folder so that work we create on one server is available moments later on the other. It's not instant, but it's quick enough for the purpose of the documents we're creating, and gives us the confidence we needed to rest our hopes on the backup element too.

Interestingly, we had an email from Dropbox to say that our account had been upgraded free from 50GB storage, to 1TB.  This made me sit up.  Currently, we make backups of our server onto 1TB USB drives which are on rotation. Now, with a little folder re-organisation, we can throw all the slow and static data into the Dropbox folder, which gets synchronised within moments.

Suddenly the need for the backup drives is dying.  The worry that the drives will fail, the concern that the backup software didn't do the job, the risk of a fire, the worry of the drives being stolen off site....

Is my view being clouded? Maybe. Maybe in this case, that's a good thing after all.