I never knew this! #Hearingaids and dementia, depression, short term memory loss.

I have had my hearing tested and am waiting to be fitted with my first set of hearing aids.

I like gadgets so I am rather looking forward to them. As they are free on the NHS, as are all the batteries, check-ups, fittings, etc I decided to go that route rather than pay and go private. The audiologist said that even if I want to spend money on something more advanced later I would be well advised to start with NHS ones so that I would then know exactly what else I needed. Locally they provide good Phonak ones.

Once I discovered I needed hearing devices I started reading up them and came across this quote:

“Hearing loss, if not treated, can affect the brain. If the brain doesn’t receive the signal for a particular sound due to hearing loss it starts losing the ability to decode that sound. This has been linked to dementia, depression and short term memory loss.”

Wow, I hope I get mine soon!

Roads made of recycled plastic blocks. Is this the future?

plastic-roads

The recycled plastic roads require less maintenance than asphalt because they can withstand temperatures ranging between -40C and 80C.

Conventional asphalt roads are prone to cracking and potholes in winter when water penetrates the surface before freezing. Living in York I see evidence of that!

VolkerWessels, the company behind these plastic roads, claims asphalt is responsible for 1.6m tons of CO2 emissions a year globally – 2% of all road transport emissions.

I wonder why is has taken so long for people to come up with this idea?

See the ETA for more.

I have switched from typing on a Qwerty keyboard layout to a #Colemak one

Today marks the completion of my first week in Colemak!

I needed a new keyboard and it was when I looked at what was available that I also ended up reading about alternative layouts such as Dvorak and Colemak. The advantages for speed and ergonomics were clear.

As it is such a simple matter on Ubuntu Linux to switch layouts, I had a few minutes play with Colemak thinking I might try it some day. I considered, before deciding definitely to switch, doing a speed test to see how fast I was (after over 30 years of touch typing). I forgot! Now I will never know.

Colemak_fingers

After three days at a conference and not typing, I returned to the office. I printed the layout of Colemak and propped it against the monitor and slowly started to type. I intended doing it for about 15 minutes but ended up staying in Colemak all day. It was not fast but still faster than handwriting speed. And I am not a typist so did not have loads to type, just some documents and a few emails.

On day two I did some of the exercises from the Colemak in 9 Days site. I concentrated on getting a grasp of the home row layout. An advantage with Colemak is that the most used keys are on the home row. Cracking the home row moved me forward quicker than I had expected. It was then that I realised that I had done it, I had switched. There was no going back.

How to do the £ sign in Colemak? Hold down Alt Gr and Shift with the right hand and click the number 4 key.

First few minutes felt like things were sparking in my brain it was so weird. Then it was great. Next day it was like a sigh of satisfaction.

This was me describing to a friend that, because it was going at a reduced price, on a whim, I bought an ergonomic keyboard.

His reply was that my description almost sounded like I was describing my first experience of LSD or Ecstasy something!

I it just a computer keyboard. It is good though. I now wonder, after about 35 years of typing daily, why I never invested on one before. Mine is about the cheapest one currently on the market (£29) and is the Microsoft Natural Keyboard 4000.

ms_ergo_4000

 

Big and ugly it may be, but it is a dream to type on. I had expected comfort but it is even more comfortable than I had anticipated. What I had not expected was that my touch typing would be so much more accurate, and therefore quicker.

Now of course I am trying not to covet the other even more appealing ones out there such as the TEK  Kinesis or the ErgoDox. All of which are considerable more expensive.

The TEK “Truly Ergonomic Keyboard”

truly_ergonomic_computer_keyboard_209_large

 

The Kinesis

kinesiskeyboard

 

I know the Kinesis looks weird but having watched people using one on YouTube it looks very comfortable. I particularly like the idea of the keys that are worked by the thumbs.

Which brings me to the ErgoDox with is only available in kit form and consists of two separate keyboards, one for each hand.

ErgoDox_001

 

Perhaps I should set my sights on something not as expensive as one of these exotic variants. The updated Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard looks nice but I have not had an opportunity to try one to see how it feels.

Microsoft-Sculpt-Ergonomic-Keyboard

 

Living with my new phone. The Sony Xperia Z Ultra the biggest HD screen phone in the world #xperiazultra #xperiaz

xperiaultrastanding_

This is supposed to be the largest HD phone if the world. I did wonder if it would be too big. My previous phone was a Samsung Galaxy Note, and before that I used a Dell Steak with the 5.5inch screen. So I like using large screen phones.

Before buying my Z Ultra I had to know if it would be too big for carrying in my pocket. I knew that as I usually wear a jacket I could probably cope, but I was still not sure so…

I cut out two bits of cardboard from a cereal packet, the exact size of the Z Ultra, and taped them together. You think that is mad? I also filled the cavity with pound coins so the package was the exact weight of an Ultra. I sealed it up then carried it about in various pockets to see if this would be a phablet too far. I came to the conclusion the Z Ultra is about the size of an old fashioned tall man’s wallet. And I decided I could cope.

xperiaultramono

Don’t I feel embarrassed taking calls with that huge sleek sheet of black glass? No! I don’t care what others think because I know it is a great phablet. I don’t use my phone as a phone very much. I use my phones much more as a reader, emailer, diary, bible, word processor, internet browser, satnav, map, list and note taker, scanner, etc. Although I do use my old Bluetooth earpiece more now. What with that and the Sony Smartwatch I find I am doing a lot of stuff without even taking it out of my pocket or bag.

Having been using it for almost two weeks now I can say that this is a fabulous bit of kit. The screen is gorgeous for viewing anything. It was just right for watching a rented movie on a train journey. The battery life is incredible compared to my Galaxy Note 1 that I was using previously, and that is without putting it into ‘stamina mode’ which extends battery life to last more than a week on a single charge.

With a 2.2 Ghz quad core, Snapdragon processor it is more powerful than many desktop and laptop computers.

I liked the SPen on the Samsung Galaxy Note but with the Z Ultra I can use almost any pen or pencil to do pretty much the same things.

I love the magnetic charger bit on the side. No more fiddling with a micro USB getting it into the slot, just touch to the magnetic port and it gets going. As well as a spare magnetic charging lead, I got the magnetic charging stand, both of the cheap on Ebay.

I have my Ultra in a flip/book style case as I found the thing so slippery that I feared I would drop it. Now it looks very like an old fashioned black notebook in my hand.

I got mine from eGlobal. they were far cheaper than buying it in the UK and would use them again.

Any.do. An elegant task list manager for phone, tablet, etc but I dumped it as a security risk

anydo

Astrid used to be my list manager of choice but then, when it closed down, I moved over to Any.do. I had some irritations with it but it all came to a head when I tried to change my password.

After the security breach at Adobe I decided to see if any of my passwords could do with being updated using the LastPass password creator. I changed passwords on a few sites and then came to Any.do to change it there.

Try as I might I could not find any way to change the password. I Googled, I searched the app settings – nothing. There is no “change password” option in the app’s settings. So there is no obvious way to change your password.

I emailed Any.do and got a swift reply telling me I could change my password through the app in settings. I could not! I emailed again with the full list of the options in ‘settings’ showing that a password change was not one of them.

Another reply came telling me to click on the “Forgot Password” feature on the log in page and follow through the prompts as if you forgot your password. Ah, I thought, you mean on a desktop, in a browser? To do it that way you have to have the Any.do Chrome extension installed. I had been trying to do all this my phone where most of my Any.do usage takes place. I followed those instructions by going on to the desktop, logging out of the Chrome extension, then instead of logging in again I entered my email address and clicked the ‘forgot password button’. Any.do sent me a ‘rest password’ link and I finally succeeded.

It was when I was searching for that information that I can across the mention that Any.Do transmits Passwords in plaintext. Link to the site here.

YIKES!

The site went on to say: Some of you may be interested to know that the Task Management and TODO-list Application, Any.Do, happily transmits your password and just about everything else in plaintext.

Why is that a problem? Any.do can be linked to contacts in Gmail. It can also have access to browser tabs, etc. A security weakness like that compromises the whole machine.

Wlist_icon

Wunderlist

I have moved over to Wunderlist.

Some day I may be tempted to go minimalist and retro with plain text. Now there are apps to manage a plain text todo such as Todo.txt for Android and iPhone, or for my Ubuntu desktop there is Day Tasks.