David Artiss

Author: David (page 46 of 125)

How to change the Samsung Galaxy S2's volume settings

Please note: The following only works on handsets before the Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich, or ICS) update. After that the audio menu option is disabled and cannot be accessed.

Are you finding the Samsung Galaxy S2 handset volume, even at maximum, too low? Or the same when connecting via the headset? Well, there’s a secret ServiceMod menu where you can set it.

On the phone keypad, type…


This enters the hidden ServiceMode screen. Be careful to not change anything in here unless you know what you’re doing. However, if you need to do a complete factory reset of the SG2, there is an option for that within here, so it’s worth knowing.

Anyway, once in ServiceMode select…

  • [5] AUDIO
  • [1] NB (VOICE CALL)
  • Choose Handset, headset, Speaker (which ever you want higher volume)
  • [1] VOLUME
  • [1] SRC Speech RX Volume

You will now be presented with the current volumes for each of the 6 volume settings. To edit any of these select it and then press the menu key (to the left of the home button) and select “Key Input”. Type in the new settings and press Enter – it will save automatically. Don’t press your back key at any point or it will exit out of ServiceMode. Instead click the menu button and you will find a “back” option within that.

To give you an example, I’ve modified my headset volumes to the following…

[0]0_lvl : 72
[1]1_lvl : 76
[2]2_lvl : 80
[3]3_lvl : 84
[4]4_lvl : 87
[5]5_lvl : 92

Creative EP-830 Headphones

The Creative EP-830 is a mid-range price set of in-ear headphones. I’ve previously reviewed their Aurvana In-Ear2 which is at the high end so this will provide a useful comparison.

Unfortunately, between both reviews I have been spoilt by, what I believe, are the best headphones I’ve owned – the free set that came with my Samsung Galaxy S2. They lack higher end detail but have plenty of base and are ideal for music listening.

The EP-830 comes in a plastic box along with a very nice soft draw-string pouch, 3 sets of silicon ear-tips and a small booklet.

The cable on the headphones are rubber coated, giving a nice grippy feel. Unfortunately, the cables are flat, rather than round, meaning they are more easily tangled. The jack on the end is gold plated.

The earpieces themselves look very nice – certainly more professional that my Samsung’s, with a combination of black matte plastic and dulled chromed sections. The “down” section of them is long than I’d ideally like and offset the centre of gravity somewhat. They tips fit snuggling in the ear – in fact better than any other headphones I’ve tried. These are noise reduction headphones and sit somewhere between my Samsung headphones and the Aurvana’s – a lot of noise is blocked with just the occasional leakage. There is certainly little leakage of sound outwards, though, so they won’t bother fellow passengers on public transport!

In use, however, they are a little disappointing. I played my current fav album – the soundtrack to Tron Legacy (yes, yes, I am a geek). The high end is good and I could pick out extra detail quite easily. Not as brilliant as the Aurvana’s, but better than the Samsung’s.

Where is was let down, though, is the bass. Or lack of it. They, at least, have this in common with the Aurvana, but to a greater degree. The opening overture of Tron Legacy has an amazing last third but with the EP-830 it sounded lifeless and flat. Reviews on Amazon would suggest that everybody is experiencing the lack of bass but different people have their own thoughts on this – many quite happy with this with the improvement in detail. As with all things audio, it’s an individual preference.

The EP-830 has an RRP of £39.99 but can be bought from Amazon at the moment for just £11.47.

[review]A very good pair of headphones let down by a few minor details but, in particular, the lack of bass. In quieter sections, the EP-830 sounds excellent but as soon as the volume cranks up they give in. A shame.[/review]

The PlayStation Vita and WiFi

I mentioned in my original review that WiFi connectivity doesn’t appear to work as you’d expect when it comes to the various power options. Having now had a chance to read the manual it appears that it isn’t functioning as it should. The manual states

You can put your system into standby mode by pressing the power button.

When your system is in standby mode, Wi-Fi and mobile networking remain enabled.

I noticed that when downloading large files from the PlayStation store that if I put the device into standby via a quick touch of the top power button then WiFi would disconnect. However, if you simply leave the device on and let it naturally go into standby (depending on your power settings this timeout will be different – I have mine set to the minimum of 1 minute) then the WiFi appears to remain on.

And it’s not just me that’s noticed it

If you have wifi running and want it to keep running, let the vita go to sleep on its own.

I should also add that, in what I think is actually a nice touch, when the WiFi isn’t being used it does disconnect itself, reconnecting when needed again. This has meant that, left on the main menu in standby, the battery on my Vita has lasted a good long while.

On the day that I received my Vita I also had an issue where although WiFi was active I couldn’t get an internet connectivity – all other devices in the house were fine and a reboot of the Vita resolved the problem. I mention it because I’ve heard of people having the same problem. I’ve not had any such problems since, though.

Hopefully a future firmware upgrade will resolve the WiFi issues.

Bytepac – Green Hard Drive Caddy

Having tinkered and replaced PCs over the years I’ve been left with a number of hard drives. In my case I have 3 SATA and 1 PATA. For years they’ve been sat in a corner inside anti-static bags. I could buy a multi-bay NAS or caddy to put the SATA ones to use, but these are expensive (often £200+). However, having them as spares that I can make the occasional backup and drive clone to would be useful. Normally, people would buy a cheap external caddy, which would involving swapping the drives in and out of this each time they want to use one.

A German company named Convar have come up with a novel alternative.


It’s cheap, environmentally friendly and, no matter what you may be thinking, won’t burst into flames when it gets hot.

The Convar product, known as BytePac, consists of 3 cardboard boxes – specially designed to snugly hold a hard drive (2.5″ or 3.5″) – and a set of cables and power adapter to allow you to easily connect the drive to your PC. With the hard drive in the box, you can close it all up and, when not in use, stick it on a shelf (it even comes with some stickers for labelling). When in use, there’s a flap on the side to improve air circulation and another on the bottom for cable connection. The cable plugs into the SATA port and goes to a special thumb sized adapter. Also plugged into this adapter is a cable that connects to your PC via USB 2 and a power supply 1. It’s a bit of a mess with 3 cables heading off in different directions and not the neatest solution.

None-the-less, it just works. I plugged it all together and my drives each burst into life as I connected them up in turn 2. When finished with them, I simply unplug them and put them in the shelf above.

I mentioned previously that I have a PATA drive. The BytePac, by default, doesn’t work with these but there is an additional connection kit available – you will need one for each PATA drive. This kit consists of an additional box (slightly modified to take into account the modified drive) and an adapter that you screw onto the bottom of the drive – this converts the drive to SATA so that you can then connect it up using the cables that came with the standard BytePac . This does mean that if you only have a PATA drive you can just buy this kit – you must have the standard BytePac as well for the connection cables. For some odd reason Western Digital PATA drives are slightly different and need a modified adapter – this is also included.

As well as all of the above you can buy additional boxes for a reasonable price.

For my setup it cost me about £30 for the standard BytePac kit and then £15 for the PATA connection kit. Additional boxes cost £12 for 3.

[review]A good quality solution to ad-hoc hard drive storage. The box works well but the cables are a bit messy and the price is a little high, particularly the PATA converter. However, if keeping them stored away is not a concern and you don’t have many drives, you could probably find metal hard drive caddies on eBay for the equivalent of each of these.[/review]
  1. which has an EU connector on it, but they provide a converter socket for this[]
  2. with the exception of one, which I believe is dud![]

Instant America – how the Internet has brought instant gratification but has made Americans impatient

Here’s something I can across recently based upon some recent research. It shows how the instant gratification of the internet is making us impatient.

The study was US based, hence it’s American reference – however, there’s nothing to suggest that’s not as bad in the UK or anywhere else in the first world.

What do you think? Has the internet made you a less patient person?

I am a less patient person, although maybe not to some of the extents highlighted in this. However, is it the internet or just the world generally that we live in now where everything is quicker, smaller, better than it was just months previous (yes, I’m looking at you mobile phone manufacturers!)? Is this evidence of a damaging effect by the Internet or society in general – the Internet is a product, after all, of that.

Instant America
Created by: Online Graduate Programs

ReTrak Kindle 4-in-1 Charger Adapter

ReTrak, popular in the US, are now selling their range of products in the UK at retailers such as PC World, Dixons and Amazon.

You may have come across retractable cables before – often found on portable mice for laptops, they wind excess cable into real which is suspended half way along the cable length. What ReTrak have done is improved upon this, added other new technologies and then created a huge range of products. Basically, what you get are a range of electrical accessories that take up as little space as possible.

Their range includes computer, visual and audio cables along with power supplies, headphones, iPhone and eBook products, mice and even a retractable mouse mat with built-in USB hub!

Up until now my ReTrak reviews have mainly been of basic retractable cables. However, this is different – a Kindle charger that works via USB, mains or car power outlet. It’s a meaty box with lots of options for the Kindle owner.

In the box you get a retractable a Micro USB cable that you can use to connect your Kindle to a USB device to charge. The cable is up to the usual high standard of ReTrak devices – it works smoothly and is well manufactured.

However, you also get a power connector. This is made of black, glossy plastic and has a number of functions. On one end are 2 USB sockets – you can not only connect your Kindle to this but something else as well. The output of these is 1.2A, which I assume is each, not across the two. This would make this over twice the power of a “standard” USB charger, so you will find your device charges quicker than usual. Pull the pointed cap off the end and there’s a plug for a car power outlet so you can charge your Kindle (and other devices) whilst “out and about”. Lastly, fold down the red pin on another side and you have a mains plug. As with other ReTrak products this uses the ThinPlug technology to reduce the plug’s footprint to a minimum.

All of this will work with Kindle 2, Kindle 3, Kindle 3G, Kindle DX and Kindle Fire.

Once again I passed this onto my daughter to try out and she immediately came across the one and only issue – because of the horizontal design of the adapter when plugged into the left hand side of a double mains socket it will obscure the right socket. Plug into the right socket and, although it doesn’t obscure the left socket, it’s very difficult to access the USB connector on the left of the adapter if something is plugged in next to it.

My only point of note is that with this device I can’t see the advantage of the ThinPlug design – normally it allows the earth pin to be folded down allowing the resulting device to be shortner, much better for mobility. However, for this adapter the physical charger unit limits the height and the folding pin doesn’t make the unit much smaller. Indeed, because of the other pins sticking out at right angles to the main unit the device isn’t as practical as other ReTrak products for packing away in a bag.

For a limited time PC World are selling the Kindle 4-in-1 Charger for £9.99, instead of the usual £24.99, representing a 60% saving.

[review]A brilliant all-in-one charging solution for the Kindle. As it works with other Micro USB devices as well (and, in fact, you can plug any USB charger into the actual charging device) you can also use this for all sorts of other devices too. Well made, only the the fact it tends to block other mains sockets being a weak point.[/review]


RJM Accessories TouchScreen Gloves

This review is part of the 1 Pound Challenge - can you find a decent gadget in a pound shop?

Made by RJM Accessories, Poundland sell a one-size children’s glove that works with capacitive touch-screen devices. The gloves I bought were a nice blue with silvery grey finger ends on the thumb and index finger. And they work really well. I gave them to my 13 year old daughter – they’re a bit of a tight fit but they work wonderfully well on her iPod Touch.
They’re reasonably well made, not brilliantly thick so won’t keep your hands too warm but they do their job well.

The only issue here is the size. Intended for kids the “one size” is actually quite small – as I said above my 13 year old daughter struggled with them. So I can only assume that these are intended for the under 10’s with touch screen devices. At least they can be washed as normal, though, in the washing machine.

[review]Reasonably well made, these actually work well. You’ll need small hands, though![/review]

Samsung Galaxy S2, O2 and Ice Cream Sandwich

Yesterday, Samsung made available Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich, or ICS) available to the UK networks for the Galaxy S2 (my phone of choice).

The idea is that the individual networks can now make any changes to it that they need to, test them and then release the final package.

My SG2, on O2, came with no such network branding. So, I contacted O2 yesterday to ask them when ICS would be made available.

Hi David, we’re just making sure it will provide the best possible customer experience. Watch this space!

What does that mean? Well, the delay suggests they are branding it. Is this “the best possible customer experience”? If this is the case it shows that O2 (and I’m sure the other networks are no different) are completely out of touch with people actually want. I could be wrong – I hope I’m wrong. But if they’re not, why the delay?

I’ll await the results with interest.

Meantime, Samsung have released some documents for UK SG2 owners covering the changes…

Update: 3 have released ICS for GS2 today. Meanwhile, O2 have started giving more away to queries on Twitter…

it will be rolling out early April time

That’s right… April.

Update: For those who missed it, O2 made ICS available last week. However, I didn’t receive it. After some digging, it turns out the lack of existing branding on my phone is because it’s unlocked (which I confirmed by putting a Vodafone SIM into it and finding it worked!) At this point it become more complex. For reasons not understood, Samsung are not release ICS for un-locked phones until late April. Yes, that’s the version that was provided to the networks the other week and requires no further changes. Why it’s not yet available is a good question.

  1. This is a PDF converted from the original PowerPoint format.[]

Are the iPad 3 cracks already appearing?

Not literally mind you.

Users of the iPad 3 (sorry, New iPad) are reporting a much reduced battery life than expected and problems with over-heating.

The latter doesn’t cause any problems other than a very warm or hot section of the back case.

As you know, the battery life on the New iPad is supposed to be the same as that on the iPad 2. However, users are complaining that it drains quicker, particularly when using them intensively – such as playing games. Of course this is probably due to these drawing more use from the new chipset.

With regard to the heating problem some users are reporting that proper draining and recharging seems to resolve this. It would appear that many new owners, keen to try it out, didn’t perform the requested initial charge and the battery is not working efficiently.

In all cases it’s too early to tell exactly what the problem (or cure) is and there’s no official word from Apple.

Oh, and to the person complaining that it takes longer to charge the New iPad – it’s a bigger battery, what did you expect?

How Technology Has Helped Online Bingo Sites

One of the many advancements that online bingo sites monitor very closely in order to incorporate it to their sites in order to benefit their customers is that of technology. In recent times, webcams have become extremely popular as some online bingo rooms use them so their customers can share that winning feeling with the rest of their bingo buddies from around the world. The use of webcams has become somewhat of the theme at Bingo Cams, which rewards their customers that share their progressive jackpot wins with extra cash prizes. The site has used technology in order to reach a niche market that no other bingo site has tried to reach before, giving them the chance to not only offer a no deposit bingo bonus as a great way to attract new customers, but use technology as an added incentive to lure computer savvy customers.

Most bingo sites nowadays also use the likes of Facebook, Twitter and other social engines to tap into a market that previously had nothing to do with the online bingo scene. By employing the likes of Facebook and Twitter, new bingo sites have managed to inform customers of what they can gain when they join their sites, whether that is a form of free bingo bonus offers, promotions or other attractive competitions and tournaments. Online bingo websites have also started to offer unique cash giveaways to their customers that ‘Like’ them on Facebook or ‘Follow’ them on Twitter.

With so many technological advancements coming thick and fast, it’s only a matter of time before playing bingo online is taken to the next level.

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