Android

(WMB4X) QuizUp

Something new for these fair pages an App Review. Or more likely as it turns out me saying “Look at this cool App” So look at this cool App.

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QuizUp is a pretty damn sweet quiz (clues in the name people) game from Plain Vanilla. It’s a very simple premise, download the App from the App Store (Android version on the way) create an Account, you can use Facebook, Twitter or email address for this then you are off and running. Choose from over 250 different topics anything from Family Guy to Myths and Legends or Logos to Harry Potter, you then get to answer 5 questions multiple choice questions for a maximum of 20 points followed by a sixth question for a maximum of 40 points.

The longer you take to answer the lower your score will be, getting the answer wrong will mean you get nothing. It may also mean you want to launch your iPhone or iPad across the room. Oh of course you are not playing against your phone. You are playing against your friends, if you link your Facebook, Twitter or Game Center, or if you are a loner like me random strangers from across the globe, so it does require an active internet connection. However if you want to challenge one of your friends who happens to be lets say hard at work or busy contemplating their navel you can set a score for them to try and beat later on. In addition you can also find players nearby to play.

I did think initially that it was going to be too Americanized (note the “z” in homage) for me. And yes some of the TV rounds will have people without the “right to bear arms” perplexed, as will some of the Logos. However I have noticed the very English (now owned by GM) Vauxhall (known as Opel elsewhere) pop up. This game will only get better as time passes because they allow the community to apply to submit their own questions. The key word here is “apply” implying that there is a vetting process so, “Whats the largest landmark in Sweden?” Answer “Yo Mamma.” quite disappointingly won’t occur.

My advice. It’s free, give it a bash. Then when you have finished that play QuizUp. You might even end up playing me. Be warned its addictive. (They aren’t paying me)

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Visit the Resident Weeble’s blog. He’s the reason I look like I know about Game of Thrones. I thought it was a regal version of musical chairs

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(28DW) Getting Ones Back Up

I’m gonna take a wild stab in the dark and say you are reading these words on some type of screen. OK you could have printed it out but I’m sure the “Please consider the environment before printing…” nazis would have got to you. (On a side note, do those people ever consider that putting that message at the end of emails actually wastes print toner when the document is printed, and therefore is bad for the environment)

So, your MacBook retina display / PC / iPhone / iPad / Android etc is now quite happily displaying my blog. Now think for a minute, what would you do if suddenly and for no reason your device of choice died. Just like that. OK now you have tried holding the power button down, crying, prayer (to a God who before you never thought existed) you ring a geek friend, who in no uncertain terms tells you “It’s fucked mate”

Now, you take your wounded tech to the local Apple Store / PC World. They are able to fix it, but it was your hard drive that was the problem. Maybe copying Gaga’s dress made out of only magnets was a bad idea. “It’s ok, we’ll swap the hard drive and restore from a back up”

A back up…. you are sweating now. The guy in front of you in the store, with the lanyard, only left school yesterday, but you feel so inferior to him. Back up? Why did no-one say anything. Well they did. BACKUP YOUR STUFF.

Luckily it’s very easy to do and there are a number of free (aside from the cost of a backup drive) or cheap ways to do it.

Mac:

On the Mac (I start here and move to lesser devices… haha, and they say Apple people are pretentious) Backup is very easy.

  1. Buy a suitably sized external hard-drive, the larger the better, has to be at least the same size as the drive inside your Mac.
  2. Plug drive into Mac
  3. If drive is PC formatted, open up Disk Utility, format to Mac OS (Extended Journaled)
  4. When drive is mounted, a box will appear asking do you wish to use “your hard drive” as Time Machine.
  5. Click Yes.

Your Mac will then perform a time machine backup, copying all your stuff. The first time you run this it will take longer than the subsequent times.

One downside to time machine is that you can’t boot from it. (Your Mac will not start from it) If you want this, Carbon Copy Cloner is the best around. It used to be free, but it’s not anymore. £25.95 for use on your Mac or any Mac’s you look after. Time Machine is a place to start for any Mac owner.. for free.

Carbon Copy Cloner in Action

Carbon Copy Cloner in Action

PC:

OK, surprise surprise I don’t have a PC. So I can only go on the recommendation of Alternative to.. and a PC Alternative to Carbon Copy Cloner is Clonezilla. It’s free, give it a go. Alternatively use Macrium Reflect.

Cloud Services:

iPhone / iPad:

Most of you will now be using devices that are compatible with iCloud. Just make sure you have iCloud backup turned on and you should be ok. For additional piece of mind, occasionally backup your iDevices to your computer too.

Android:

Android has no equivalent to iCloud in terms of full device backup. However Google do sync all your contacts, bookmarks and photos. If you sell them your soul to do so. If you don’t like Google, or do not trust them not to be evil. Consider Indefend Mobile.. and why you brought an Android.

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There is now a plethora of cloud based backup services. From Dropbox (use this link to get a free 2GB storage) to Box.net. Both of these services start out free and have mobile apps, both are useful for storing single files that you need to access or update on the go, both have sharing functions.

In the states there have been services like SugarSync for a long time. This is an offsite backup, always useful to have. Bitcasa is a UK alternative and something I am considering.

In conclusion, there are now so many documents, photos and save game files we hold dear to us. So many ways of keeping them safe. Don’t wait until you are burned by hardware failure. It’s not a question of if it goes wrong.. it will. Make sure you are ready. And don’t get caught..

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Please check out the work of my 28DW reprobates  at The Resident Weeble and A Piece of Pandemonium  or kittens will die.

Tech vs Viruses

Ok as I stated before I am a Mac Guy. It hasn’t always been this way, my first proper windows PC was a mighty powerful 166mhz Pentium, with I think 16 Mb RAM. On this I ran Norton Anti virus and no firewall whatsoever! When no-one wanted to use the phone (oh dial up how I don’t miss thee) I used this humble machine as a portal to another world. (Mirc and Porn then!) Until one day a virus.

This was back in the day when I wasn’t too tech savvy, having recently transferred to the PC from an Acorn Archimedes, so down to the local tech guys, who formatted my drive and charged me through the nose. Virus removed. Fast forward  15 or so years. Malware hits the Mac in the form of Mac Defender/Guard, not a virus but pretty close, a week later Apple release a security patch, killing the threat. Oh look how far we’ve come, vendors of the operating system now provide patches for viruses and computing is now hassle free, Apple and Microsoft must be commended by for their swift action.. no wait sorry.. apparently the PC variant of Mac Defender and millions of other security threats remain un-patched. Oops.

Microsoft famously in fact have taken 7 years to patch a known vulnerability in their software. 7 years! Now because Microsoft do not make computer hardware, it is unreasonable of anyone to expect them to patch for viruses, because each PC on which it’s software runs is different, but to not patch their own software for 7 years! That is a middle finger to all their customers surely.

People have said the reason why the mac has no in the wild viruses is directly linked to it’s market share. 90% of world use a Microsoft OS. 10% Macs. This is true, partly. Mac OS is built upon UNIX and according to folks more geeky than I, that means it’s more difficult to produce a successful virus. If this recent malware scare has taught virus developers anything it’s surely don’t dick with Apple. You make it, we’ll patch it. There is sure to be a little backlash, with the malware developers changing things, but as Apple announce Mac OS 10.7 Lion I’m backing cupertino.

With smartphones, there is debate about Googles openness in the form of Android Market vs Apples walled garden App Store. Obviously I’m going to favour the garden. All Apps validated by Apple, controlling yes, money making yes, consistent  you bet ya, screw up your phone no freaking way!

Android Market is riddled with Malware Google are removing apps but the open way in which everything has been done means they are always a few steps behind, so on Android your data could be half way round the world before Google have even had a chance to not be evil.

The Mac Geek Gabs Dave Hamilton put this best, when describing internet security.

“It is easier for me to leave my car unlocked with the keys in the ignition ready to go. I don’t because it is insecure.” So if in the future all apps are brought via Apples App store or a Microsoft equivalent and all these apps are validated, we sacrifice a the ease of free choice safe in the knowledge that all the personal stuff we have on our machines is safe. The debate goes on..