The Electric Wand

Thoughts of a technology enthusiast.

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  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #243 - Parliamo Glasgow?

    The great Stanley Baxter had a famous series of comedy sketches looking to help Sassenachs and Embrafowk understand how to navigate a conversation (at say, a Hogmanay party ) in the city that recently hosted the Commonwealth , and was hitherto known as “ Second City of the British Empire ”, or just Glesga...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #240 – Word Flow on Windows Phone 8.1

    Another week, another Windows Phone 8.1 (aka Nokia Lumia “ Cyan ”) tip. Still no word from HTC about when 8.1 will roll out to 8X and 8S users, though there has been some news regarding the release of the already-in-testing “GDR 1” update for WP8.1 , in relation to HTC handsets. A developer/test build...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #238 – quiet hours on Windows Phone 8.1

    The time of year has rolled around where many of us are travelling – maybe time for a last, late Summer Holiday . Now, if you take your phone on vacation, you’ll know how important it is not to have colleagues phoning you up in the middle of the night to ask where you are. Even if you’re not on holiday...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #236 – Lumia Cyan on the way

    Nokia took to packaging updates for Windows Phone and referring to them by a code name – Lumia “Black” being the last biggie for Windows Phone 8. The packages are a combination of operating system upgrades (that will be made available to all handset manufacturers) along with Nokia-specific upgrades,...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #229 – Cortana, let’s rock!

    (Another slightly out-of sequence tip as this could be more timely now than in a few weeks) One of the most written-about and eagerly-awaited features in the soon-to-appear Windows Phone 8.1, is Cortana – the “digital assistant”, named after the character in the Halo games. If you’re desperate to get...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #220 – Wireless networking, 15 years on

    It’s amazing how quickly technology goes from an expensive frippery to a cost-insignificant near-essential. It’s not so many years ago that WiFi and Bluetooth first arrived (remember the Ericsson T29 or T68 , the latter of which not only had a COLOUR screen but came with Bluetooth support – all you’d...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #213 – London travel with Windows Phone

    There are plenty apps that help travellers to and from the city of London, some of which I’ve mentioned previously in Tips gone by. Apologies somewhat to international readers as many of these will be of little use to you, unless you choose to visit the cradle of parliamentary democracy , in which case...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #211 – Manage your battery on WP8

    The world – at least if you listen to ex-PayPal squillionaire Elon Musk – is destined to move from fossil-fuel-fired transport to electric vehicles that might be charged by the power grid rather than carrying around their own means of energy conversion. Some say that centralised generation (in the form...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #210 – Beam me up!

    In the last few weeks, Nokia has shipped the Lumia Black update and it’s widely available . There are some cool additions that the Finns have made to the Phone platform, some new and synched with Black. Nokia now publishes loads of addons (some available for other phones, many only application on Nokia...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #209 – Shhhhhhhh!

    How many times have you been awoken by your phone , tablet or PC blaring an alert first thing in the morning, telling you it’s someone’s birthday (worse, someone you hardly even know ) ? Or reminding you it’s time to go to an optional conference call in the middle of the night (your time), that was sitting...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #203 – Remote control of Office

    Anyone who regularly presents will have had the occasion when there’s a need to wander around the stage, or instead be marooned behind a lectern on the side, yet if there’s no presentation “clicker” provided, it’s difficult to control the flow. A/V professionals complain that they can never keep hold...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #171 - eWallet on your phone

    One attribute of your phone is that it tends to be with you all the time , so it makes a great place to store information that you want to get access to when you’re out and about – the details of your car insurer, the password for your online banking site, your frequent flyer numbers etc. The long-established...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #57 - Using Microsoft Tag on Windows Phone

    The “ Tag ” initiative has been around for a little while, in beta guise initially, then general release. The idea is that anyone can generate a 2D “barcode” that can could be a link to a website for more information, could be contact information, some plain text or even a “dialer”...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #58 - Find your meeting, or your Windows Phone

    This week, a couple of smart tips concerning Windows Phone 7. Both revolve around finding something – in one case, how to find your phone if you’re not sure where you left it, and the other, how to remind yourself where you’re going. Dude, where’s my phone...? This tip uses the location services built...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #128 - Train Tickets & Times on WP

    This week’s tip aims to shine a light on a selection of Windows Phone Apps dedicated to letting the train take the strain. There have been a slew of newly released apps which let you plan your journey, find information about stations and even buy your ticket in advance, ready to collect at a ticket machine...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #127 - Windows Phone and History

    This week sees a short but sweet Windows Phone tip, courtesy of Kevin Lief . He paints the picture of being in a meeting when someone says “did you get my email about … etc?” Of course you got the email… but getting it and reading it are odds apart sometimes. How many times have you seen an email, maybe...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #94 – Have you been Mango'd?

    This is another out-of-sequence-because-it’s-topical Tip… normal service will resume soon… I’m glad so many people enjoyed last week’s tip on getting Windows Phone “Mango” and making your own ringtones for it. Yes, ringtone creation is something of a palaver, but brings a sense of satisfaction that refreshes...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #153 - Lync 2013 shortcuts

    Happy New Year! On the topic of Year (2013) and New, the Lync 2013 client introduced a whole load of new UI functionality compared to the previous release; for details of what’s new, check out the What’s new in Lync 2013 post on the Lync team blog. One side effect of moving to Windows 8, however, is...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #168 – Loving some Windows Phone 8 tips

    At a recent “Love It” internal event hosted in Microsoft UK’s Reading campus, a whole series of tips and tricks were shared amongst other Microsofties. Did you know, for example, that with an application called ZipApp ( www.zipapp.co.uk – check it out), you can build a Windows 8 app in a few minutes...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #70 - Windows Phone 7 usage abroad

    If you’re planning on taking your Windows Phone to sunnier climes over the autumn/winter, this tip might help. One side-effect of going abroad is that the numbers you may have saved in your contacts, won’t be able to dial – 07802 etc won’t make any sense if you’re in the US…. One elegant solution to...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #126 – Voice dial on Windows Phone

    It may be a little known aspect of Windows Phone 7 and 7.5 that you can issue voice commands to the device. There are essentially two functions – one, searching using Bing by voice, by pressing the magnifying glass button on the front of the phone, then the microphone icon on the Bing page … ( see here...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #95 – the new Windows Phone lock screen

    One of the most immediately user-friendly aspects of Windows Phone 7.5, aka Mango , is also one that is not automatically enabled… Try this out, and I bet you’ll love it. Show to your friends who’ve upgraded: they’ll love it too. Windows Phone supports having a PIN lock policy so that if you haven’t...
  • Blog Post: Tip o’ the Week #124 – The evolution of Windows Phone Marketplace

    Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted that an update a few months ago to the desktop Zune software has removed the Marketplace for buying or downloading Windows Phone apps. This was something of a surprise move to some, since the Zune software has been the primary way of finding and getting hold of phone...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #156 - some Windows Phone 8 fun

    If you’re a recently lucky Windows Phone 8 recipient, you’ll no doubt have followed all of the instructions in how to set up your new phone, so you’ll already know that you can go to My Phone and reinstall all the apps you’d downloaded onto your previous WP7 device (note that the previously recommended...
  • Blog Post: Tip o' the Week #184 - ActiveSync account limits

    Various people have commented on issues they’ve had whilst setting up new PCs, especially after the upgrade to Windows 8.1 Preview. The upgrade process is a lot like a reinstall which happens to remember a bunch of settings, and one of the side effects is that it sets up the Mail (and associated Calendar...