Lima – is this new cloud solution really as good as it sounds?

Lima Cloud

Lima cloud has been touted as the next best thing for those looking at a cloud solution on a budget. So is this new cloud solution really as good as it sounds?

The manufacturers of Lima, Lima Technology Inc., claim that Lima will “will protect your files and make them available to you on all your devices remotely”. The device was produced using a kickstarter campaign

However, after hundreds of reviews on Amazon, it appears Lima isn’t as straight forward to use as the manufacturers would have you believe. In fact, on the day of writing this post, 39% of reviews gave Lima just one star. Common complaints including the device failing to recognise drives, poor customer service from Lima and connection failures.

Advantages of Lima

  • one-off cost with no monthly subscription
  • your data is kept by you, so no chance of data mining
  • easy to upgrade storage capacity
  • Apple Air Play and Google Chromecast compatible
  • it’s small

Disadvantages of Lima

  • there is only one backup of your files (unlike more expensive cloud solutions which offer two hard-disks working as a RAID solution)
  • if the hard drive connected to your Lima is damaged, the files are unlikely to be irretrievable
  • No support for Linux

Suspicious advertising?

When I first looked into Lima cloud, the official website claimed that the waiting list was already 97% full and I needed to enter my email address quickly or risk losing the chance to sign up “due to high demand”. Meretriciously, the next day I received an email telling me I was one of the lucky people that had been selected to buy Lima. Two weeks on, the website still says the same. Mmmm……

I’m also concerned about some of the claims made by the manufacturers on the Amazon page. One selling point of the device claims “both your computer & smartphone can hold up several terabytes!”. Actually, that not true. Whilst your phone may have access to terabytes of data (subject to the size of the hard drive you attach) your phone doesn’t actually store the data; it just retrieves it.

Summary

At $99 Lima seems expensive, especially for the problems that many users have reported. The concept is good, but Lima doesn’t seem ready for prime time just yet.

To truly improve, the company will need to up its game in terms of customer service. An additional USB port to allow RAID would also be an improvement as would wifi capability.

My recommendation

Whilst more expensive, Synology offer some of the best NAS devices with cloud storage available. The hardware is quality, especially when combined with Western Digital Red hard drives. The apps are all very stable and the software provided is top quality.

Expensive, yes. But then when you consider the price of your data, how much is too much?

On a budget? Then check out the WD 3TB personal cloud solution.

Thinking of getting Sky Q? Don’t bother just yet

Sky Q

Sky Q is being pushed heavily by the company as the new way to watch Sky TV, with Ultra HD 4K availability and allowing people in different rooms to watch different TV channels at the same time. But, as this article will explain, Sky Q still has many teething problems.

Sky Engineer advised me not to buy Sky Q for at least 12 months

I recently had a visit from a Sky Engineer to replace some damaged cable in my house. While he was visiting, I asked him what he thought of Sky Q.

“Don’t bother mate” he said.

He then went on to tell me that there were far to many teething problems with the service and that he believed it shouldn’t have been released to the public so soon.

So what are the problems with Sky Q?

The most common issues being reported by Sky customers with the service are:

  • the new menu system (known in the industry and the Electronic Program Guide (EPG) is accused by many traditional Sky users as being clunky and somewhat laggy
  • the blue light on the front of the Sky Q box is too bright and distracting and can’t be permanently switched off
  • problem with software updates
  • a persistent “You can’t watch TV right now as there is a connectivity problem” error

Why are Sky keen to push Sky Q?

Sky Q relies heavily on broadband internet and local area networking to download programs. It is a move towards streaming services and away from the traditional satellite system used by BSkyB for many years.

In addition, the Sky boxes produced by Samsung have been expensive for Sky to buy, whereas the Sky Q and additional Sky Mini boxes are cheaper to manufacture without the need for engineers to run lots of cables from room to room for those who require Sky Multiroom.

The future of Sky Q

There’s no doubt that Sky Q is on it’s way to being an awesome TV service, but right now it just isn’t quite up to scratch. That said, Sky have invested heavily in the technology and the company will only push to make sure it’s improve.

Verdict: definitely a service that traditional Sky customers will eventually want to upgrade to, but perhaps not until the bugs have been ironed out.

Using brake cleaner to save a mobile phone from salt water

Using brake cleaner to save a mobile phone from salt water

First of all, I need to be very clear about this: if you do use brake cleaner to attempt to save a broken mobile phone you do it at your own risk. Whilst it worked for me, it may not work for you. I take absolutely no responsibility if you decide to try this yourself ad it kills your phone forever. It should be done as a last resort.

Now we’ve got the disclaimer out of the way, his my story. My son had a Samsung mobile phone and whilst at the beach with his friends decided to film them all playing at the water’s edge. Not his finest hour. The inevitable happened and his phone got full of salt water. It stopped working, and by the time he got home it was completely dead.

The problem

Salt water and electronic devices are a bad mix. I knew that drying the phone out would only result in salt eventually corroding the electronics and the PCB and the changes of saving this phone were very slim. In short, I had nothing to lose by trying to fix it myself other than the cash for buying a replacement.

Using brake cleaner to save a mobile phone from salt water

I work in a garage, so decided I was going to do two things. The first was to blow the phone over with a compressed airline to remove any excess water. The second was to spray the phone with vehicle brake cleaner (we use this one at our garage) in an attempt to dissolve and remove the salt and hopefully also aid the evaporation of any remaining water.

Brake cleaner is generally made up of quick drying solvents which degrease and clean as they go. It was worth a shot. I had decided on Using brake cleaner to save a mobile phone and it was time to do it.

The initial result

Initially, things weren’t looking good. Although the battery was still out of the handset, the display had become discoloured. I could see that the phone was by no means dry so decided to place it in direct sunlight for a couple of hours (it was a very warm summers day).

I placed the phone on top of a car in the carpark and basically let the sun roast it for a couple of hours. That’s probably against the rulebook for mobile phone care but I didn’t really have much option now.

It worked!

After a couple of hours I replaced the battery and switched on the phone. To my astonishment it worked. The touch screen was fine as were all the buttons.

I don’t know if it was luck, or the air, or what. Nevertheless, the phone has been working for 4 months now without the hint of a problem.

And on that bombshell…

If you decide that using brake cleaner to save a mobile phone is the way to go, you do so at your own risk. Don’t blame me if it goes terribly, terribly wrong!

Lego Mindstorms EV3: your Child’s first route into Robotics

Lego Mindstorms EV3

With our World becoming increasingly autonomous, it’s not a case of if robots will take over many of our day-to-day tasks, but when. Now the people at Lego have come up with a real-life way for children to build, program and control their own robots at home. Lego Mindstorms EV3 is set to be your Child’s first route into Robotics.

How I was introduced to Lego Mindstorms EV3

In 2016 I was invited to Colchester Royal Grammar School for an open day, and would eventually see these strange little robots walking around a large table. I enquired as to what they were and a very enthusiastic design and technology teacher gave me a tour. These little robots were built from Lego and had a completely programmable control ‘brick’ attached.

Sensors included touch, colour, and infra-red, meaning the robots could be programmed to follow colours, avoid obstacles and become ‘aware’ of their surroundings. To be blunt, there were the dogs wotsits. Very cool indeed and my 11 year old son though exactly the same.

Lego Club

We discovered that there was a Lego Club at the school, where students could learn to build and program the robots. This was done using a PC or tablet computer and ultilising the various sensors on the robot. During the Lego Club, the students would need to command the robot to carry out various tasks, such as releasing a model spaceship from a docking station and transporting other items. This would need to be done completely automatically and would eventually result in a national competition against other schools and groups.

The future of engineering

Whether we like it or not, the next generation of engineers are likely to be required to understand and program robots. The world needs more engineers and programmers. Lego Mindstorms is an intuitive ‘toy’ which will provide out young people with the basic skills to allow them to progress into serious robotics in the future.

Lego Mindstorms EV3 really does appeal to all ages from 10 to 100. If you can build with Lego, and understand basic programming, you can build your own robot at home.

The birth of the Terminator is upon us…

Pricing

Lego Mindstorms EV3 has been priced from around £200 to £300, which may sound expensive. However, once you’ve seen how intuitive the system is and the types of robots that can be constructed, you’ll be hooked. I know I was.

Amazon currently have some good deals for this product. Check them out here.

Fiverr error: ‘This file type is not supported. Please try one of the following: MP4, MOV, QUICKTIME’

If you’re trying to upload a video to our Fiverr gallery, but are receiving an error saying ‘This file type is not supported. Please try one of the following: MP4, MOV, QUICKTIME‘, and you know your video is already in the correct format, there’s a quick fix.

Browser problems

I received this error when using the Mozilla Firefox browser. It seems that the browser hasn’t been completely tested by the Fiverr.com team, and even if you use the right file format, you can still get the ‘This file type is not supported. Please try one of the following: MP4, MOV, QUICKTIME‘ error.

The answer is to try a different browser. I downloaded Chrome and found the video uploaded with no problem.

So if you’re getting this error and you’re using Firefox, try Chrome.

Ofcom ruling on Openreach is good news for Consumers and Small Businesses

The Ofcom ruling on Openreach is good news for consumers and small businesses, as the regulator announced that BT has consistent failed to offer competition in the high speed broadband sector.

Openreach, which is currently owned by BT, is responsible for fitting an maintaining the majority of the UK’s high speed broadband infrastructure. The company has been told for over two years to strengthen its independence from BT to provide more competition for other suppliers of broadband product.

 

Praise from BT’s competitors

The news has been praised by BT’s competitors including TalkTalk and Sky, companies which have complained for many years that BT and it’s subsidiaries have been provided preferential treatment over competitors.

In a statement, Ofcom said that is was pushing for a legal seperations between Openreach and BT “after BT failed to offer voluntary proposals that address our competition concerns”

 

Ofcom ruling on Openreach is good news for Consumers and Small Businesses

Consumers and Small businesses across the UK have complained for many years about the poor level of service provided by Openreach, and whilst main cities and towns have benefited from acceptable speeds, many consumers and companies working in more rural areas have been receiving less speeds than 2mb.

The increase in on demand technology is already seeing traditional technologies such as satellite and DAB being put aside for downloadable programs. Amazon Prime and Netflix rely purely on high-speed internet to provide their services, which has left consumers with poor download speeds in the dark when it comes to using these services.

Although very much in it’s infancy, this move is a major step to insuring that Openreach does more to provide a decent high-speed internet service to people who have previously struggled to get the service they deserve, whilst ensuring competition in the sector.

Toshiba CB30 Chromebook screen replacement

Toshiba CB30 Chromebook screen replacement

It’s very easy to carry out a Toshiba CB30 Chromebook screen replacement, and definitely one of the easiest to do. In fact, it’s so simple that even a novice tech can accomplish it.

You only need two tools – a sharp knife and a mini Philips screwdriver. You can buy a replacement screen cheaply here.

Once you’ve gathered together your tools and replacement screen, follow these instructions. There also a Toshiba CM30 Chromebook Screen replacement video at the end of the blog to guide you through the Toshiba CB30 Chromebook screen replacement step-by-step:

  1. Power of the CB30 by holding down the power button for 10 seconds
  2. Carefully remove the grey sticky screw covers on the bottom bezel
  3. Undo the two Phillips screws
  4. Carefully undo the bezel by prizing it off using a sharp knife – it should ‘click’ off
  5. Once the bezel is removed, undo the 4 Phillips screws holding the screen in place
  6. Fold the screen down on the keyboard by pulling the top away from you
  7. Carefully remove the sticky take from the ribbon connection on the base of the screen and unplug it
  8. Reassemble in reverse order.

Here’s the video guide:

 

Build a solar charger system for camping, a caravan, or a shed

A solar charger is now even more cost effective to build as you may think. 6 years ago I looked into adding a solar charger for the 12v side of our old caravan, but the panels were quite expensive at the time, as was the equipment to set the system up. Thankfully, solar has become even more popular now and prices have really come down, meaning that you can buy a 10 watt panel for under £20 and a charge control unit for around a tenner.

What you’ll need:

  • Knowledge in wiring up 12v circuits and understanding of currents
  • A 12v lead acid battery (deep cycling is better for this but a car battery will suffice)
  • Some cable (13 amp will suffice unless you’re pulling high amperage)
  • A solar panel (10w minimum)
  • A charge controller unit (vital)
  • Some fuse connectors (ignore if you already have fitted fuses) and electrical connectors
  • Some battery terminal connectors
  • Some hand tools including a Philips screwdriver, wire cutter, crimpers

Wiring the solar circuit

It’s vital that you use a solar charger controller in this system. If you don’t, you’re going to end up putting well over 14v into your battery at times which will eventually kill it. A charge controller regulates the amount of power going into the battery to prevent overcharging (I set mine at 13.6v). Do not skip this important bit of equipment!

The charge controller will require wiring in a specific way. This is usually (but not always) carried out by connecting the battery first, followed by the solar panel and then finally the accessory output of the controller (if used). Your controller will provided spicific instructions on how to do this. Here’s the basic layout:

schematic-wiring-charge-controller

 

My video below explains how this is done in more detail. Note that I used a controller with 5v USB outputs for easy charging of my phone. This system could be made portable by placing the battery and controller in a waterproof box and then mounting the panel on top of the box. Ideal for wild camping where no source of mains electricity is available and all made for under £27.

How to descale a Nescafe Dolce Gusto coffee machine

How to descale a Nescafe Dolce Gusto

Finding information on how to descale a Nescafe Dolce Gusto machine on the official website is pretty lacking. The Dolce Gusto website only refers to the newer machines (with the water preset on the top) but most people are finding it near on impossible to do the same for the slightly older machines. In addition, the instructions which come with the official descaler kit are less than easy to understand.

To try to make things easier for owners of Nescafe Dolce Gusto coffee machines to descale them, I’ve created a video on how to descale a Nescafe Dolce Gusto which walks you through step-by-step. It covers:

  • using the official Nescafe Dolce Gusto descaling kit
  • using white vinegar as an alternative to chemicals
  • problems which can occur with the machine being blocked
  • unblocking a Nescafe Dolce Gusto machine
  • using the fitted pin to unblock the Nescafe Dolce Gusto machine (where fitted)
  • flushing the machine
  • adding the official Nescafe Dolce Gusto descaling kit

The video also demonstrate a official Nescafe Dolce Gusto descaling kit which you may be interested in purchasing.

Limit your childs screen time if you truly want to help them

limit your child's screen time

There is more and more evidence emerging that you need to limit your childs screen time to help them grow into more rounded, better behaved people. As a parent of two children and someone who has been a keen follower of technology I always been conscious of the benefits and pitfalls that technology can offer to children.

Before I get started I should say that I am an avid supporter of how technology can assist children in their development both at school and at home. On the other side of that coin I’m always aware of how addictive and damaging too much of the wrong technology can be. I have witnessed children develop behavioral and physical problems due technology being used as a babysitter or because parents simply didn’t understand the effect it was having on their children.

 

Social skills

There are some parents who believe that allowing their child to talk for hours to groups of friends via Xbox Live or on messaging services such as WhatsApp is making them more sociable. Now I’m not a parent who thinks that’s totally untrue, after all, there’s no different to letting someone talk on the telephone or write a note. But what seems to become and increasingly pattern is the hours and hours spent communicating in this way, sometimes with children in the same room sending else other SMS messages rather than speaking.

Social skills come from more than just talking. People communicated with facial expression thousands of years before they developed language.

limit your child's screen time

Technology can be negatively addictive

There are countless reports, tests, papers and stories that support the belief that technology is addictive. I’ve seen this in my own children. Take away the tablet computer and the response has sometimes be unreasonable – feet stamping, shouting, etc.

In September 2014, in the first reported case of internet addiction disorder involving the problematic use of Google Glass, it was reported that a 31-year-old worked in the US Navy, who had been checked in to the Navy’s Substance Abuse and Recovery Program (SARP) had began to display negative behaviour when he wasn’t using Glass. He had used the device for up to 18 hours a day in his job and when he wasn’t able to use it he became aggressive in behaviour and irritable. The man would regularly and involuntary tap his temple. When questioned more deeply about why he was tapping his head he said it was to switch on the heads-up display on his Glass.

It should be noted that the gentleman in question also suffered from other psychological problems including substance induced hypomania overlaying a depressive disorder. However, there was no doubt to doctors that the man was suffering from withdrawal from the device.

In January 2015 Google announced that is was suspending Glass, not due to issues surrounding the mental health of wearers but for marketing reasons; perhaps too much of a coincidence for some people.

 

Education can suffer

There is and increasing trend for schools to provide children with tablet computers to use during their lesson and whilst some applications can assist children with learning some mathematical, language and motor skills, most games are really aimed at getting them to click on adverts or buy addons such as extra lives or credits.

 

Limit your child’s screen time to improve Behaviour

When out son got his first tablet computer as a present from his Grandparents, we noticed almost immediately that his mood would become negative when the device was taken away from him, especially if this occurred unexpectedly.

In a 2011 study, researchers asked 1,000 college students around the world to go 24 hours without using their smartphones, other mobile devices or the Internet. Many reported symptoms such as anxiety and depression, and one anonymous student even said he or she was “itching like a crackhead” from the longing to use a phone. They were addicted to their smartphones. There have also been cases reported of children as young as 3 crying and begging for a device when it’s removed from them.

 

Imagination

It’s shocking but it’s true: research shows that students prefer a jolt of pain to being made to sit and think. Just think about that for a minute…in fact one of the men opted for a painful electric jolt 190 times instead of sitting and thinking. If you don’t limit your child’s screen time now, you risk your child turning into one of those adults.

 

Bad language

One of the biggest problems with allowing your children access to websites such as You Tube via an un-monitored tablet computer is that it’s almost impossible to limit their access to inappropriate content. As much as such services claim to offer Safe Searching or online protection, the reality is that such websites struggle to filter content away from impressionable young people.

Basically, you can’t rely on websites to filter explicate language way from your children – it’s your responsibility. The problem is that if you fail to do this it’s likely that your child will quickly start to think that such language is normal or acceptable. If you notice your kid starting to swear and you haven’t taken steps to limit your child’s screen time then you only have yourself to blame.

 

A failure to limit your child’s screen time can affect their Posture

Look at the children in the image for this Hub – bent over, doing nothing to help their spine, back and posture. The same can be said for children bended over computer keyboards.

Sitting like this will affect children in years to come. Do you want to be responsible for that?

 

So how much screen time should my children be allowed to have?

This is an interesting question which has also been studied in some detail. However, after digging around I found the answer generally seems to be 18 hours per week maximum.

 

What software can I use to limit my child’s screen time

If you’re using Microsoft products such as a Windows laptop, an Xbox or tablet, you can use the free Microsoft Family to set time restricts for each day of the week.

Users of Android and IOS might like to consider Kidslox, a service which offers free and paid for features including App Lock, Timer and Contact Blocking.

Android users can take advantage of Norton Family which is available from the Play Store in both a free and advanced (paid for) membership.