…but I didn’t go to Austria!

I do use Google timeline, more as an aide memoire more than anything else.

Looking over the timeline in response to a post someone had posted to our work Yammer site there was an anomaly.

It appeared that I had been to Austria.

It’s not that I’ve not been to Austria, I have. I travelled through Austria on my way to Slovenia in 1982 and 1985 and I distinctly remember not having my phone with me, mainly as I didn’t have a mobile phone back then.

I was reminded of the time when I downloaded the location data from my iPhone.

I was loving the fact that my iPhone has been to Darlington and Newcastle and I haven’t… I had downloaded the cell tower tracking data from my iPhone and it was interesting to see where it had connected to different towers.

So had my phone been to Austria? Google timeline said I had…

So delving into the data it would appear that I walked from the Jisc offices in 2017 to Weber & Trings in Austria.

I managed to walk 729 miles in just 13 minutes.

I also managed to walk 1456 miles in seven minutes.

Of course the reality was I had walked to Weber & Trings on the Christmas Steps in Bristol. Then at some point the IP address associated with Weber & Trings in Bristol had been assigned to somewhere in Austria!

Whatever entry in the geo-IP database that Google uses for this kind of thing was not updated so as a result I am one fast walker…

QR Codes at the seaside

QR Codes on the beach

I haven’t done a blog post on my QR Codes experiences for a fair few years now. Partly as I think they are fairly ubiquitous now across most things people do and partly as the problems that I saw in the past about QR Code implementations are much rarer.

In previous blog posts I wrote about QR Codes on bags of chocolate, furniture retailers and on the telly!

You use to need a specific app to read QR Codes, this functionality appears now to be built into the camera app of most phones. Having said that one of the advantages of using a specific app is that it retains the history of the codes you have scanned.

So, the other day we were walking along the beach at Burnham-on-Sea and we saw a wooden lighthouse and we did wonder about the history, so on the promenade there was a QR Code, which we could scan and find out more about the Low Lighthouse.

Across the promenade there were various signs with QR codes that could be scanned. I used my iPhone 8 camera app to scan the code, it picked it up quite easily.

The QR Code provided a short link to a mobile friendly website about the feature on Burnham beachfront.

The QR Code made it quicker and easier to get to the website, rather than typing in an URL.

Slightly disappointed that this wasn’t a secure (https) site. However I thought this was an effective way of using QR codes of providing more insight into the history of Burnham-on-Sea.

Well it might have worked…

Having written about my iPhone 6S Plus connecting to 4G problems.

So the issue I have is I have been at home on the Wi-Fi, I leave the house and then wherever I am I check the phone as find that it says.

Could not activate mobile data network Turn on mobile data or use Wi-Fi to access data.

The only solution was to go into airplane mode and then turn that off. At which point all works fine. Even if you turn off mobile data and turn it back on again, that doesn’t work. It’s airplane mode or nothing!

I said that I was going to upgrade my iPhone to the latest iOS, 13.5.1 which I did and went fine.

Since then has it worked?

Well I have been out a couple of times and I think it’s being fine, but watch this space!

My 4G still keeps getting lost….

Back in January I blogged about issues I was having with my iPhone 6S Plus and the Three network.

The problem is still happening, it’s just that I notice it less as the lock down restrictions meant I was driving a lot less (so didn’t use the phone for music and podcasts, which I use to do for long journeys). Even when walking and cycling as part of our government sanctioned exercise I wasn’t using my phone.

So the issue I have is I have been at home on the Wi-Fi, I leave the house and then wherever I am I check the phone as find that it says.

Could not activate mobile data network Turn on mobile data or use Wi-Fi to access data.

This is even with 4G being in the top of the phone. Clicking OK results in no change. You are still not connected to the internet. As you can see in this screenshot the phone does show 4G at the top.

What’s interesting, was that I thought it might be a handset issue, but family (also with Three) are having similar issues with their iPhone 6S and a newer iPhone XS.

At the moment, the solution is to go to airplane mode and then turn that off. At which point all works fine. Even if you turn off mobile data and turn it back on again, that doesn’t work. It’s airplane mode or nothing!

I am going to update the iOS on my phone, which I haven’t wanted to do, as newer iOS upgrades often result in different problems on older phones. I think it might be an phone operating system issue rather than the network. Having said that, Three are working on the network this week, so I will probably wait until next week, just in case. If I still have the issue, it’s upgrade time!

Unexplained blurry photographs

So there I was on a cycle ride down to Brean, just to note that I am following government advice during this national emergency and cycle ride was for my government sanctioned exercise, when I decided to take some photographs.

As part of my photo of the day I decided to take a photograph of The Great Bird Screen of Brean. I took a few so that I could choose one later to post to Instagram and my personal blog.

I used an iPhone 8 to take the photographs and have not had issues with it before.

I managed this shot fine, which is the one I eventually used.

This wasn’t the one I thought I would be used, as when I got home I found that some of my later images were blurred.

No clear indication why they were blurry, it wasn’t as though I was moving the camera or the such like.

When I took a photograph later that day, it was fine!

So I have no explanation of why these photographs were blurry and earlier ones weren’t and nor were later ones.

Where’s my 4G gone?

Over the last few weeks I have been having an issue with my iPhone 6S Plus and the Three network. Over the last four years I have had very few if any issues with my Three data connection, so it’s weird I am having an issue now.

I have been at home on the Wi-Fi, I leave the house and then wherever I am I check the phone as find that it says.

Could not activate mobile data network Turn on mobile data or use Wi-Fi to access data.

This is even with 4G being in the top of the phone. Clicking OK results in no change.

What’s interesting, was that I thought it might be a handset issue, but family (also with Three) are having similar issues with their iPhone 6S and a newer iPhone XS.

At the moment, the solution is to go to airplane mode and then turn that off. At which point all works fine.

It’s not isolated to a single tower either, as it happens locally and further afield.

I don’t have a real solution and it appears from searching online others are having similar issues as well.

hpE BDay tx msg

Nokia N73

Today the humble text message turns twenty-seven. It was in 1992 that the first text message was sent an engineer from Vodafone, sent the message “Merry Christmas” from a PC to a mobile device using Vodafone’s UK network.

I don’t recall the first text message I sent, but it was one technology that I have never really taken advantage of.

I only really started sending text messages when I got my first iPhone. I think my problem was with predictive text or even understanding texting language. The advantage of the iPhone was a proper keyboard and not needing to try and use a numeric keypad. I could never get my head around the numeric keypad and did like and prefer the qwerty keyboard. Still have that today when people send me SMS texts, sometimes I have no idea what they are trying to say! I know, I know, I am old…

Of course Messages on the iPhone isn’t actually SMS either…

iPhone charged

I still use SMS, in the main for receiving updates from the NHS, my dentist and delivery services. I prefer SMS updates as I find that e-mail updates get lost in the volume of e-mail I get. Also SMS self organises on my iPhone and I get very little if any SMS spam.

Back in 2012, I mentioned in a (similar) blog post over on eLearning Stuff that:

There are signs from Ofcom that the use of texting has peaked and is on a decline.

In 2012 there were 162billion text messages sent in the UK, in 2018 there were just 74billion text messages sent, that’s a 54% drop. Source,

So Ofcom was right and we have seen a decline.

Are we sending less messages?

Well no not really, what’s also happened in that same time period is a huge increase in the use of tools such as iMessage (or is it Messages) on iOS devices, Facebook Messenger and of course WhatsApp. These services are replacing the need for sending SMS messages for many users.

So when was the last time you sent an SMS?

Connectivity issues

iPhone
Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

I was in London today, at a venue on Southwark Street and I was surprised to have connectivity issues, not just with my home iPhone on the Three network, but also with my work phone on Vodafone.

I don’t know why the connections were so poor, certainly both phones had high signal bars. We were on the seventh floor, which I have found isn’t usually an issue, but today, poor bandwidth or sometimes non-existent bandwidth.

It didn’t help matters that the guest wifi wasn’t working either.

All was fine by the time I got to Paddington.

Ten years later, it works….

On this day ten years ago I was trying really hard to read the this QR Code chocolate from that Andy Ramsden, who back then was working at the University of Bath. I think the chocolate was from a QR Codes workshop that Andy was running as part of a JISC programme. Doing a Google search unearthed this paper that he presented at the ALT Conference that same year.

Back then I failed miserably to read the code, despite using lots of different QR Code readers….

So I took a photograph instead and then ate the chocolate.

Chocolate QR Code

I even mentioned this in a blog post a few years ago about QR Codes on Cadbury chocolate bars.

It took a while to scan in the code as the foil packing and colours used on the QR Code made it difficult to capture the code. It reminded me of the chocolate QR Codes that the University of Bath made for the QR Codes project we did a few years back.

I think the issue back then was the contrast between the dark and white chocolate.

Today I wondered a bit….

So I used the in-built QR code reader in my iPhone and checked if it could read the QR code. Years ago you needed a unique app to read QR codes, today the iPhone camera has that feature built in, as do many Android phones.

So could my iPhone read this ten year old QR code, it could…

QR Code reader

Yay!

Alas…. Though the QR Code works the website link it had encoded inside it is now dead and gone….

University of Bath 404

I wonder what it was all about?