How I decided on which smartphone to buy (Part 2)

Since I wrote Part 1, I have switched from the iPhone 4s to the 5s, 6 and most recently 6s.

4 5 6

Criteria 1 – Size

4.7-5″ phones are, I believe, the sweet spot for the overall size of the handset. I’ve been tempted by the screen of the “Plus” iPhones but always suspect that the huge size will end up being an annoyance.

I have a friend who switched to the Plus, then to the iPhone SE then finally ended up with the iPhone 7. I suspect I would have a similar journey as him, ie I’d revert back from the 5.5″ screen back to a 4.7-5″ screen.

But all this was before the advent of the bezel-less or thinner bezel phones. Because of course you can fit in a bigger screen into the same sized phone if you remove the bezels.

At least for my hands, a phone that’s roughly the size of an iPhone 6/6s/7/8 would be ideal.

Criteria 2 – Privacy / security

I believe that Apple’s track record when it comes to privacy is better than Google’s.

It also helps that Apple phones get updated to the same, most recent version of iOS at the same time which brings me to the next criteria.

Criteria 3 – Running the latest OS

In addition to security, having the latest OS means that you get the latest software (some software won’t run on older operating systems) and also the latest gestures or UI improvements.

In the case of Apple, OS updates sometimes even makes older phones faster though they have admittedly also slowed them down in the past.

At least, unlike Android phones, there’s no manufacturer to come between your phone and your phone OS update.

If I were to purchase an Android phone I’ll probably go for either Google’s line of Nexus phones or a phone running Android One. That way I’ll ensure I get access to the latest Android.

Criteria 4 – A good camera

I have to say I think that photos taken in good lighting don’t really differ from smartphone to smartphone. It’s in low light or high-speed motion shots that having a better camera makes a visible difference.

What do you think? What are the most important criteria to you?



Assassin’s Creed 3 – Precursor to Horizon Zero Dawn

It struck me as I played Assassin’s Creed 3 (“AC3”) that Horizon Zero Dawn (“HZD”) had very similar mechanics but implemented much better.


Different seasons?


AC3 did this via differing time period whereas HZD did this by having differing weather in different areas of the map, due to (exaggerated) differences in altitude.


Present in both games. Although walking through snow didn’t really slow Aloy down, compared to Connor.


Present in both but much better sign-posted in HZD as to what is actually climbable and what is not. This appeared to be fixed in later Assassin’s Creed games, e.g. Rogue.

Riding a horse?

Again much better in HZD.


Aloy is much more likeable than Connor though both of them are young ‘uns who think they know better…

Killing animals?

Yes you can do this in both games, but in HZD you can actually see where the bodies are…

Also, you get to kill whales and other endangered creatures in AC3. Probably not a good thing…


HZD soundly trumps AC3 in terms of gameplay and probably story as well. But we have to remember that AC3 came out in 2012 vs 2017 for HZD, so that’s probably to be expected.

Python swallows kids in Minecraft

Just wanted to share a bit about my experience in trying to teach my kids programming. Hope it’s helpful to some of you out there!

In order to teach kids programming I found that 3 things were needed.

  1. A device
  2. Teaching resources
  3. Interest from the kids

The last thing is probably the most important. ūüėČ

1. A device

The kids will need a device on which to program. I feel that if they had a dedicated machine for themselves this will make them more motivated because a) they will be doing it on THEIR machine (having a device they would want to make use of it) and b) they don’t have to wait for people to stop using it before they could make use of it and therefore can use it whenever they feel like it (with a shared device, they would only be able to make use of it when it wasn’t being used by others).

Now I know that most people can’t afford another computer for the exclusive use of their kids. So the solution that I found that worked for me was a Raspberry Pi. Currently, the latest version is the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B.

This coupled with a second hand monitor and keyboard / mouse would probably be the cheapest way to provide a computing device to your kids.

You can install various operating systems (OSes) onto the Raspberry Pi. I’d suggest installing the Kano operating system (but not to purchase the Raspberry Pi from Kano as their kits are expensive).

Further information can be found at the links below

2. Teaching resources

Now I don’t know about you but I don’t have the time nor desire to come up with a computing course for my kid(s). But there’s another solution! There’s plenty of videos on YouTube and books at your local library that you can watch/borrow to use as a base to teach your kids.

I watch/read at the same time as my kid so I learn at the same time and if they have any questions, I can help out.

We decided to purchase an on-line video course from StackSocial called The Complete Python Course.

Two books we found useful were Computer Coding for Kids and Python in easy steps.

3. Interest from the kids

This as I mentioned above is the most important ingredient. I can’t help you inculcate the interest in your kids. What I can share is how I tried to do that with mine.

One way was through the use of Minecraft. You can use Python to code/build stuff in Minecraft. So that’s one way that I tried.

The other way was to participate in their learning. So learning Python became something my kid would do with their parent instead of something they had to do alone. It became (hopefully) a fun shared activity!

Hope that helps! Do let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try to help answer them.


Apple’s mistake, Nintendo’s opening

Nintendo may have a hit on their hands with the Switch. It’s still early days but the sales of the new Nintendo Switch have been encouraging with a purported 1.5m units sold in just over a week of sales.

A main driver of the early success is of course the new Legend of Zelda game, the Breath of the Wild. According to SuperData, approximately 89% of Switch owners also purchased the game with their new console.

One of the potential drivers of future sales is the indie and retro market. E.g.

  • The Binding of Isaac
  • Shovel Knight
  • King of Fighters
  • Metal Slug 3
  • Ultra Street Fighter II

Apple could have had access to this market, in fact it does, sorta. Most of these games (e.g. Binding of Isaac, Street Fighter) are available on iOS.

But what Apple has failed to do is to execute on the idea. It boils down to physical controls. Not everyone is a leet gamer able to do amazing things via on-screen controls.

There’s been plenty of controllers for iOS devices but they are flaky. Either they don’t work well with iOS or the games don’t support it.

Apple decided on a heavy handed MFI (made for iPod) certification system which was expensive and not everybody signed up for it.

They should have just supported USB game controllers and made it easy and cheap to be certified.

So they’ve missed the boat as far as I’m concerned. They could have forced all developers to support USB controllers but they didn’t.

Now Nintendo has come up with an alternative platform that has mobile and home gaming applications with support for physical controls which can benefit from the demand for retro games (nostalgia) and indie games (non-mainstream gaming).

Apple could have done it for mobile gaming (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) and home gaming (Apple TV) but have dropped the ball. Too bad Apple. I would have loved to give you (more) money.

Nintendo – time to Switch back?

I believe the first console that I bought with my own money was the Playstation.


But the second console that I purchased was the Nintendo Gamecube!


I loved my Gamecube, mainly because of Zelda. I’ve been a fan of the series ever since I played A Link to the Past whilst house-sitting for a friend back in the 90s.


I got The Legend of Zelda Collector’s Edition for it which came with The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II, Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask and a demo for Wind Waker. That was a great disc! I thoroughly enjoyed playing Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask and quickly bought Wind Waker after playing through the demo.


It helped that I was playing on a vibrant 20″ Sharp Aquos TV. Flat screen TVs were just becoming available then.

So I was extremely excited when the Wii came out. As soon as it became available in the country I was staying in, I picked it up. Had to call around half a dozen stores before I managed to put my name down for one. Hurriedly went to pick it up after work to play the new Zelda – Twilight Princess. Was so overjoyed, had never been so excited before (or since) to pick up a console.

Subsequently to the Wii I purchased the PS3, then the Xbox One. Inbetween the two I actually purchased the Wii U for a bargain price but was forced by the missus to sell it off. ūüė¶

Anyways, the release of the new Nintendo Switch reminded me of my excitement when I got my Wii. But now, being older and wiser, I have decided not to join the Day One crowd.

Especially when the Switch is priced above the PS4!!!

I plan to wait to see the reviews on Breath of the Wild to see if it runs better on the Wii U or the Switch. If the former I’m sure I can pick up a second hand Wii U + the game for less than the price of the Switch!

Given that the Switch is region-free, if the Switch version of the game is better, I can always look to purchasing the console + game in America. Would probably work out cheaper…

Sorry Nintendo, but your pricing strategy in this part of the world means that I won’t be Switching back…not yet anyways!

OpenDNS Email Snafu

I have children so in order to keep them safe from some of the filth that is on the internet I turned to OpenDNS.


In my dashboard, under Web Content Filtering I selected the High filtering level.

That was probably a mistake as my Outlook stopped working properly afterwards. It would complain about the certificates when receiving my corporate emails.

I tried two things and they seemed to have worked for me. I’ll put them below in case they are helpful to someone else.

  1. Change the filtering level

    I changed the filtering level to Moderate.

  2. Manage individual domains

    Under Manage individual domains, I added 3 domains to never block. These were, and also my corporate domain.

After I did those two things, Outlook stopped complaining about receiving my corporate emails.

Some resources that might help others having issues with OpenDNS.

Five Questions: Your Top Support Requests…Answered!

* Certificate errors – Adding Exceptions

Email is being blocked




Apple Bluetooth Keyboard on a Surface Pro 3


I have a Wireless Apple keyboard which I manage to connect to my Surface Pro 3 (running Windows 10).

However the volume function keys didn’t work. This bugged me to no end so I rolled up my sleeves and used my Google-Fu to figure out a solution.

Installing the keyboard driver

I watched the YouTube (above) and being (too) clever I used a more recent version of BootCamp. The version of BootCamp I used was from using the BootCamp Assistant on my MacBook Air.

The files you want are (after you unzip the BootCamp file) under BootCamp, Drivers, Apple. The two files that you want are the AppleKeyboardInstaller64.exe and BootCamp.msi.

Copy the two files into another directory. Then run the Command Prompt as an Administrator. Switch to the directory containing the two files. Then run the command “msiexec /i BootCamp.msi” (without the quotation marks).

Remember I said I was too clever? The latest version of BootCamp failed for me. The Play/Pause, Forward, Backward function keys worked but not the Volume function keys.

So now I had to uninstall them.

Uninstalling the keyboard driver

I uninstalled Windows Driver Package РApple Inc. Apple Keyboard from Control Panel.

But when I tried to uninstall¬†Boot Camp Services I couldn’t! The trick to that is to right-click on the BootCamp.msi file in the directory containing the two files, and select Uninstall. Whew!

After that I followed the instructions on the YouTube video more closely. It appears that the drivers on Apple’s website, though older (2015) works. The BootCamp drivers I used was version 5.1.5722 which worked perfectly with my Apple Wireless Keyboard 2011.

Hope this helps someone out there!

Stranger Things

Stranger Things is a Netflix Original TV show.

Stranger Things

It’s obviously a film targeted at people who grew up in the 80s.

When I look at the poster for the show, it is reminiscent to me of  Star Wars, the font of the LucasFilm logo. From the soundtrack by S U R V I V E, the various nods to Stephen King, to the bikes that the kids ride (so so reminiscent of E.T.) everything screams 80s nostalgia!

Ok, ok, the film is set in 1983…

I have to say, I liked it. Strong performances from Winona Ryder and David Harbour help alot. The boys are very credible too. The teenagers had pretty stereotypical roles so they did the best with what they had.

The storyline is somewhat cliched but serviceable. There’s the big bad G-Men, a slow reveal as various characters cotton on to what’s going on, teenage romance, pre-teen friends bonding, etc.

The ending is pretty cathartic and (some) people get what’s coming to them. Unfortunately some (one?) goes missing and obviously the threat is not completely eliminated – after all they have to have¬†¬†something to go to Season 2 right?

The scares aren’t too scary and the “action” scenes are pretty mild. A throwback to the more innocent times of the 80s.

A good show to while away the time. Recommended.



OnePlus 3 equals four?


OnePlus 31. The screen

AnandTech had a bad review on the screen’s color gamut.¬† Which they subsequently reversed after OnePlus released a new firmware.

But for me, the fact that it’s a¬†PenTile AMOLED display is a huge negative for me. Especially at this screen size (5.5″).

2 The camera

Some people think that it has bad low light performance. But AnandTech’s review gives it a glowing tick. They reckon it’s even better than the iPhone 6s!

For me low light performance is expected, so that’s another strike against the OnePlus.

3. The memory management

I had bad experiences with memory management with the HTC One X.

I would write a SMS, take a note in a text editor or in Evernote, or type an address in Google Chrome, swap to some other app for some reason or other.

When I returned, whatever I had typed in would have disappeared because of aggressive memory management. ūüė¶

I haven’t been able to ascertain whether the memory management suspends the apps or closes them (and hence losing interim data entry) but I’m not going to take that risk.

4. No go

Adding up these 3 negative points, I’m leaning towards taking¬†the chance on OnePlus 3 3 and buying it.


I’ve been playing a lot (too much?) of Fallout 4. I’ve completed the main ¬†quest with 3 factions on friendly terms [you can learn how to do that here].

I’ve also reached level 55, with 7 unspent perk points. Which is why I encountered a behemoth at¬†Corvega Assembly Plant when I went there to plant a Railroad MILA.

I was pretty scared!

Behemoth F4.png

But I managed to kill it without much fuss. It took about 2-3 rounds of AP in VATS.

The Raiders at the plant were a walk over compared to the behemoth. With 3.9x sneak attack bonus, it was pretty much a 1-shot kill for most of them with my silenced rifle.