November 8, 2013
Posted in Android, Mobile
How to restrict data usage and stay under your limit
With an Android smartphone, you can be online anywhere as long as there is coverage. This access to information and communication comes with a price tag however if you’re on a limited plan for 3G with your carriers or using ready to go style payments. However, with a little tweaking and careful selection of some of your settings on your device, you can make sure that you’re not eating your data without your knowledge.
Watching 15 minutes of streaming video a day on your phone—a couple funny YouTube videos or just half an episode of a sitcom on Hulu or Netflix—is enough to add 1.25GB of data to your monthly usage. Stream some music while working out at the gym? Listening to Pandora for a daily 30 minute workout will add 800MB of data to your bill. Snap a lot of photos and sync them to your Dropbox account or Facebook? Uploading a dozen high resolution photos a day can easily add 300-400MB to your usage.
I’m including below a selection of ways to reduce the amount of data that you need to pay for on your phone package. It’s cobbled together form a few various lists I’ve come across over the last few months.
Google Play: Update only over WiFi
A big one with Android devices would be enabling to allow updates to your apps only when you’re connected to WiFi. If you head over to your Google Play App and click on the settings, you can specify yourself when you want Google Play to download updates (OR TURN THEM OFF EVEN). I have set this to update over WiFi so that all this can be done while my device is plugged in at home and connected to my home network.In-app settingsIn addition to limiting Google Play from updating itself when you’re out and about, you can usually also customize individual apps to do the same thing. For example, apps such as Facebook, Google+ or Dropbox might be defaulting to sync photos and files that you have on your device in the background. If you’re uploading your entire photo collection on your device, this can quickly add up and get you to your data limit in no time if it goes unchecked. (After the last update my phone was defaulting to uploading photos both to Dropbox AND Google+) As such, much like with Google Play, it is often advised to have these set to either not auto-backup photos at all or to have it set to only do it when your device is connected to a WiFi network.
Download and Streaming: WiFi onlyAs above, the same can be applied to services that stream or download data on the go: streaming movies via Netflix, listening to music via online radio, and whatnot can also be super data intensive. And while the ability to watch a movie no matter where you are is pretty awesome, maybe it might be for the best to connect to that WiFi network before starting on your How I Met Your Mother binge watching session. Save most streaming for when you’re on Wi-Fi, or check out for a service which lets you cache music stations.Caching and offline use:
Many apps also offer you the option to download data beforehand and cache it on your system. With Spotify, you can download playlists, songs, and full albums to listen later “offline”. Google Maps allows you to save maps in advance so that you can look at them later. To do this, search for an area that you’re interested in having the map for and then type in “Okay Maps” in the search bar. Google Maps will automatically download the map for offline use later.
Restrict Background Data:
In the settings menu, you can find out which apps you have consume the most data both in foreground (as in, when you’re using the app) and background (as in, when it not being used actively). When you click on each app, it’ll break this down in a handy pie chart and you’ll be able to customize the time period in which you want to view data consumption. You can limit background data by checking off “Limit Background Data” at the bottom of the screen when you click on a particular app.
Increase email checking intervals:
Use the settings in the email app to leave it longer between logins. It may not be much if there’s no emails to download but checking in every five minutes may not be essential. Make sure you can also set it not to download attachments automatically therefore ensuring that you only download the attachments that you need to actually read.
Google Account: Check synchronization settings
One of the great things about your having a Google account is being able to synchronize your many Google accounts across many devices and PCs. While this is a gift for many, this may also suck extra data that you’re saving on your mobile device if gone unchecked. In the settings menu of your smartphone, you can specify what exactly you want to be synced with your Google account. For example, you can pick and choose that you want your contacts to be automatically updated across devices, but perhaps, not all the movies in your Google Play Movies or the music in Play Music.
Browser: restrict data usage
Mobile surfing is a great way to pass time on the go, whether you’re waiting for a meeting or on public transit. However, a media intensive site or something not customized for mobile browsing may be pretty data intensive. Browsers such as Google Chrome and Opera offer options to compress data before transmitting it to your device, helping you reduce the amount of data you’re consuming with these browsers.
Data Use Checking:
Check your past usage: The easiest way to check past data usage is to log into the web portal of your cellular provider (or check your paper bills) and look at what your data usage is. If you’re routinely coming in way under your data cap you may wish to contact your provider and see if you can switch to a less expensive data plan. If you’re coming close to the data cap or exceeding it, you will definitely want to keep reading.
Check your recent usage: Checking your old bills is a great way to see your data usage over the previous months/years but it will always lag by a billing cycle. In order to check your current usage you want to monitor consumption from within Android.
If your phone has Android 4.0 or above you can check your usage via the OS. If your phone is not currently running Android 4.0 or above you’ll want to skip down to the next section where we talk about third-party monitoring tools.
Navigate to Settings –> Wireless & Networks –> Data Usage. You’ll see a screen that looks something like the first screen:
Here you can set warnings and limits on mobile data use even for individual apps.
So, these are a few tips and tricks to limit the data consumption on your mobile device but by no means is it an exhaustive list. It is worth checking using the App settings what exactly each app is connecting for and how much data it uses in the background which is costing you money each month unnecessarily.
Third Party Tools:
You could also Check out MyDataManager (free). The app tracks your data usage in real time and offers you a detailed breakdown of how much data each app is hogging. This way, you can identify which apps use the most data. The best feature? Data threshold alerts. MyDataManager lets you set thresholds (like 200MB, 1GB, 2GB, and so on) and get notified whenever you pass a threshold.
Onavo Count is another : Not only is it an improvement over the built-in monitoring provided by Android 4.0+ phones it works on phones with Android versions as low as Android 2.2.
You could also install an ad-blocker, modern ads take up a surprising amount of data. Alternatively a lot of the free apps out there have a facility where you can pay a small fee (0.99) to get the upgrade which reoves the ads altogether.
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November 6, 2013
Posted in Human Factor
Re-discovered Anterolateral Ligament.
Absolutely nothing to do with technology except in a sideways fashion but I had to say a few words on this.
The announcement earlier on of the (Re)-discovery by two Surgeons in Belgium of another ligament in the knee slightly astounded me. For a couple of reasons.
Firstly: This was found in an area of the body where most work is now done using scopes and keyhole surgery. HOW has no-one find it before now, it’s connected directly to the LCL right at its connection to the bone. In all of the years of examination of the human body noone has seen this?
It’s not like it’s a small item, microscopically small. this thing is as big f not bigger than the LCL and towards the front of the knee. I’m astounded that something as important as this could have gone unnoticed especially with the advances in medicine created by worldwide industry that Sports have become. And it is a multi billion dollar industry.
Secondly: The truism that we never stop learning!
No matter what advances we make, nature and science can still knock us for six with it’s discoveries. There we were having come so far thinking that we knew all about the human shape and form, research now heading into the microscopic state, into DNA, the very molecules that make us what we are and also make us so different and something on a macro scale just comes up and slaps us. It is humbling how little we know about ourselves.
The old statement of not seeing the wood for the trees was never more apt. Congrats to the guy who twigged it in 1879!
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November 6, 2013
Posted in Android, Mobile
24 hours later, I’m really starting to like the Jellybean 4.3 update to Android on the Galaxy S3.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it has been a bit of a tough ride for me with this since Vodafone Ireland were the first country in the world to roll out this official update for last years “Magic Bullet” which created the beginning of the world domination of the Smart-phone market by Samsung. I was a little disgruntled (And I’m not alone in that) at the lack of upgrades already provided as Samsung had skipped over the 4.2 update and went straight to 4.3. It took a little while to get it on the phone out here in the sticks as I don’t have superfast broadband and the download took a little over 40 mins, the installation routine took another 10-15 to complete and then the phone had to update the apps and download all of my offline available saved downloads and Google drive documents.
Overall 24 hours on I think it was worth it. As usual it has taken this long for the software to “Bed in” a bit onto the phone. and for me to get used to it.
I like the new look email software, the new camera apps (Android and Samsung) both bring new things to the table including the new Photosphere ability.
I look the new lock-screen widgets, the new method of dealing with the drop-down icon list, the new settings tabs breakdown seems logical.
One or two upgraded things I haven’t figured out a use for quite yet, however the home and lock screens seem responsive.
I did however have to turn off a multitude of settings including some of the motion settings and automatic “eye Following/viewing” stuff as I don’t like them, they sometimes get in the way of the way I use the phone, but then again that is the gift of android, the unending ability to customise the experience just how you wish to use the phone that the Apple systems just don’t have. I am getting used to some of the quirks and the phone has been almost constantly updating Apps to cater for the new OS ever since. I am loooving the new version of Google cards and the widget that shows up the stuff on the lock-screen with the same layout.
One odd little quirk that it sometimes seems to take a long time for the phone to come back when locked and the screen blanked. But maybe that’s a clash with some setting or other that I just haven’t figured out how to tweak yet.
There are wagon-loads of online copies of the release statement which outlines all of the available and new features but in my opinion whether you need them or not, I think the upgrade is a must have. If you’re using a vodafone model I9300 then the upgrade is as simple as going into “settings, about phone” and checking for the update there and giving it the time to download it. (Don’t do it on phone data, wait until you are connected using wifi for your own sanity) and wait until you have an hour or so to let it run. You may be waiting a while for some of the other models of the galaxy.
It has given a “new Phone” feeling to my one year old galaxy and will very likely keep my going until upgrade time next year. I’ll do a much fuller overall review after a fortnight or so of using it, but so far so good.
Previous Post on Galaxy S3
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October 30, 2013
Posted in Mobile, Technology
If you are boggled by the multitude of extra bits that manufacturers are putting into every new phone that is made and long for the option of just taking the pieces that you want in a phone, then it looks like Google backed Motorola are going to have something that suits you.
Phonebloks Concept for modular Phones
Phonebloks Concept Video Link
A month ago I tweeted about a new modular Phone concept called PHONEBLOKS.
Put simply, it’s a modular phone concept, somewhat like a Lego format which will allow the end user to pick n mix from all the bits that they would like in their own phone.
Hopefully it will allow you to pick’n'mix from various manufacturers to allow you to create the ultimate in a custom phone.
It has moved on quite a step in the last month. LATEST PHONEBLOKS VID
Want a Nice Camera? snap on a high grade camera section. If battery life is more important then drop something you don’t want and increase the battery life with a higher rated one. Touted as being more “Green” or environmentally friendly it has the option of you being able to replace only the bits of a phone that You need to, thereby extending the life of a smartphone far beyond the usual “dump it and move on” model that we are currently in the middle of.
While at the time it was a nice concept only, it appears that Motorola have had a similar system in the works for quite a while now (Over 12 months) and have announced it to the world under the Project ARA label. it is to be released to module developers over the coming months to facilitate manufacture of modules to be placed or added to it.
While it may be difficult to get open ended radio through the regulatory bodies, Motorola do have the backing and full weight of new owners Google behind them so watch this space. (I do hope that Samsung get involved with some crazy bendy screens ) Phones look like getting a lot more interesting.
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