I’m searching for cases for my new Sony Experia Tablet Z

Sony’s new 10.1 inch tablet is beautifully designed. It looks sleek and solid, it’s light and comfortable to hold in your hand, and easy to use. It is blazingly fast, being the first tablet generally available in the UK to make use of the Snapdragon 4 series processor from Qualcomm.

With such nice build quality, and after shelling out £400 to £600 for one, you want to protect it for as long as is possible. Seeing as Sony have YET to supply their UK stores with any case that fits or does a job of protecting it; I’ve had to look at some third-party cases.

These are reviews of the best I’ve found. I’m personally favouring the Krussell, for cost reasons. At around £45, the Zenus is a little too close to the listed £59 for the official Sony case, whenever they decide to make that available. A word of warning. The Krussell comes with a magnetised function for closing the tablet cover, which also puts the tablet into sleep mode. This can interfere with any background tasks you want to do, downloading, uploading or torrenting. I would find this annoying and will find out if it can be disabled before splashing out.

http://www.xperiablog.net/2013/06/28/zenus-masstige-neo-classic-xperia-tablet-z-case-review/

http://www.krusellcases.com/uk/p_krusell_product.aspx?i=242359

Once I buy one, I will review.

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Getting the Realtek RTL8723AE-BT Wi-fi card to work on a Lenovo Yoga 13 on Linux ( Mint 13, Ubuntu 12.10 ) )

I’ve actually been running Linux Mint 13 on my Lenovo Ideapad Yoga for a couple of months. I have pretty much everything working, and thought it was about time I shared. Linux users, at least for now, have to perform a few tweaks to get this system running on Linux. You are likely to have issues with easily:

Installing a second OS ( UEFI/EFI/ Windows 8)
Enabling the Wireless Network Card ( Wi-fi / WIFI )
Calibrating Touchscreen orientation after auto-rotation.
Enabling the Bluetooth device.

This tutorial only deals with the WiFi issue. I hope to write up instructions for setting up dual boot at a later time.

Meanwhile, Ashade of the AskUbuntu Forums has posted an excellent picture tutorial on opening and upgrading internal components here:

http://forum.notebookreview.com/ideapad-essential/700890-lenovo-ideapad-yoga-upgrade-tutorial.html

The Lenovo Yoga 13 ships with a Realtek wireless card that has no open source drivers easily available. Realtek have recently shipped a wifi driver. The driver is available only in source code form and not in a binary that you can use to install to your distributions own machine.

Following the guide will be much easier  if you are familiar with words like: “compile, command line, kernel, header.”  If you are not and need a simpler explanation, please email me here or comment below, and I will do my best to help. If you follow carefully and type exactly as instructed, you should be able to get the driver working even if you are not sure what every step means.

Steps:

1) Check to see what kernel you are using. I used 3.5.0-17-generic and it worked perfectly.

uname -r

2) Install the kernel headers, while which allow you to build software on your machine.

sudo apt-get install build-essential linux-headers-generic linux-headers-`uname -r`

3) Check that the card is identifying itself correctly by typing the following into a terminal.

lsusb

It should return something that looks like:
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 003 Device 002: ID 0b95:7720 ASIX Electronics Corp. AX88772
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 0bda:0129 Realtek Semiconductor Corp.
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 0bda:1724 Realtek Semiconductor Corp.                                        <<<<<  This is the wireless card.
Bus 001 Device 005: ID 04f3:000a Elan Microelectronics Corp.
Bus 002 Device 003: ID 2047:0855 Texas Instruments
Bus 002 Device 004: ID 5986:029c Acer, Inc

3) If you have a line that looks like this, then you are working with the right Wifi card for this fix.

Bus 001 Device 004: ID 0bda:1724 Realtek Semiconductor Corp.”

4) Now download the driver files from here:

http://www.mediafire.com/?sanq19s3vv1d9c9

5) When you have the file on your Lenovo Yoga , move the file to somewhere sensible other than your Downloads folder, like your Home Directory.

mv RTL8723AS-VAU*linux*driver.zip ~

6) The file is compressed, so you need to extract the file by right clicking the icon or using tar -xv

unzip RTL8723AS-VAU*linux*driver.zip

7) I actually renamed the folder that came out of the extraction as ‘RTLDriver’. Do this if you like something more human to use in future and if you have aestetic issues with spaces in filenames, like I do.

mv RTL8723AS-VAU*linux*driver RTLDriver

8) When you look inside this directory, you will see many files, but the directory you need to work in is called “rtl8723A_WiFi_linux_v4.1.3_6044.20121224”. Change Directory into this folder with the cd command:

cd rtl8723A_WiFi_linux_v4.1.3_6044.20121224

9) If  you make a mistake or need to try again for whatever reason, you should clean up any mess left in the driver folder first.

make clean

10) Now prepare the environment to compile with:

./make_drv RTL8723as-vau

11) then:

make

12) and now, just install by typing: < edited to add ‘sudo’ operator >

sudo make install

13 ) Done!  The driver will now be loaded every time you start the computer . If you don’t want to reboot in order to have wifi immediately, then type this:

modprobe 8723au

and voila. You have the interwebs!

With special thanks to chrisdotcode, this page, this page and to Realtek for the driver.

How using iPad to access Gmail could leave you pwned.

Last night, I turned on my girlfriend’s iPad 2 to check my Gmail account. I was surprised to find that the Gmail session I started five days prior was still logged in and active. The power had run out and the iPad had shut down mid-compose. I expected that I’d log into the machine and find that all the previous sessions had died. Considering I never tick the ‘keep me logged in’ option on logging in, particularly on someone else’s device, this really concerned me.

I’m trying to investigate how

Dirty, Dirty Sour.

For those of us who recognise the occasional and usually desperate need to take alcohol medicinally when trying to counteract the aching muscles, prolapsed throat, and chronic gut-collapse brought on by the previous nights misbehaviour, I offer a gift.

If you have ever found yourself considering ending your life with the an empty bottle, after promising never to drink again; you’ll know that in that condition, you’d probably try anything to ease the agony.

There are explanations offered for why drinking alcohol can help deal with the grizzly and regretful consequences of the previous night that are as varied and dubious as the people to tell us about them, and I won’t bother going into that: You can read more on that if you like here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hair_of_the_dog

All I know is that Hair of the Dog really works.

My favourite hangover cure is the Whiskey Sour. Whiskey delivers a blunt and uncompromising shock to the system, likely to perk up even the most hopeless case of Taurus Giblet. In order to take the edge off the Whiskey without diluting it’s potency, many enjoy a sugary, citrous mixture with their whiskey such as in an Old Fashioned or Classic Sour.

The problem is that in the sort of condition where simply making it to the kitchen to drink water feels like an epic saga worthy of wailing, gnashing of teeth and multiple status updates; jumping onto the train or bus to find your favourite Whiskey or cocktail bar is very likely to be the last thing you want to do.

Most pubs don’t stock the key ingredients needed for the real thing, (Why oh why is sugar syrup so rare in pubs ), forcing the patient to drink some inadequate substitute; usually something that is likely to make the situation worse like cider or beer.

When you find yourself hanging over the edge, with inadequate ingredients to mend yourself in style; let me introduce ….

The Dirty Sour:

One large measure of any whisky / whiskey ( it’s called dirty for a reason – in extreme cases, some have even advocated the use of rum or brandy in the absence of a passable whisky brand)

Half a measure of lime cordial ( bog standard stuff )

As much ice and fresh limes as the bar will let you have.

Instructions:

Squeeze the juice of the limes into the whiskey, adding the cordial. Be sure to place the squeezed limes into the glass too, where they can soak up the mixture.

Sip tentatively, paying attention to the involuntary pursing of your lips, balanced by the warmth caress of sugar.

As you work through the drink, you will find that you are compelled to drink more heartily.

By the time the drink is finished, you should now be picking out limes pieces and sucking the last drops of liquid from them.

Once again, alcohol is something to be lusted after.By your second Dirty Sour, you should be feeling the healing effects of the first. The searing muscle pain starts to dull, the belly becomes warm and loosens.By the third, you’ll wondering whether to get more cash out and make an evening of it. I swear by it. Yesterday, I drank four of them and manage to run 4.4 miles this morning.

We also have our selves to blame, not just the News of The World

NOTW masthead

Few involved (including journalists, politicians, the public) seem to be talking about the fact that the stories that this hacking relates to are also the stories that the public were interested in and that generated huge circulation that ended up with the NOTW being the single biggest publication in the the UK? We’ve been willing to accept the facts reported by ‘sources close to’ for years. We joke about the lies that we see tabloids print, we revel in the story and at worst, we dismiss them as lovable rogues who provide us with entertainment. The idea that a gross misuse of trust perpetrated against a celebrity is any less gross when against a normal member of the public is at the heart of the problem. Had the police, the politicians and the media; driven by a strong public demand, investigated this issue properly; the information about the hacking of murder victims families phones surely would have come about earlier. It is five years since this became a public story.

At the end of the day the problem is with us. If our morals and priorities were so well-tuned, there wouldn’t be any need for stories about Ashley Coles love life, Jade Goody’s minute-by minute death-watch, Prince Williams sprained ankle etc etc; then the papers wouldn’t go to that effort to fulfill our need for sensation. If we had the sense to realise that some things really aren’t news and are a waste of time for most of us, there would be no desire by the press to print it.

It is no surprise that the ‘ugliest’ of the Sunday tabs is also the one with the highest circulation. Unless we as consumers accept our own fault in this whole hideousness, there will still be a demand for hot stories and there will still be journalists and organisations who will push the limits to be the one to give it to us first and in more depth.

My prediction: The circulation of the other Sunday tabs will rise in accordance with the drop in sales at the News of the World. At least until a mysterious new Sunday weekly call ‘ The Lay of the Land’ comes out.

The saddest thing is that the message that will go out to all the hacks who have been hacking phones and bribing police on behalf of other tabloids is ” carry on for celebrities, steer clear of anyone that public will be outraged about’

I’ll continue to buy my favourite Sunday paper, the Times; a paper considered by many to be the epitome of journalistic integrity and quality. It is also run by the same ( and by no means morally defensible ) folks at NewsCorp.

Although I have rarely paid for the NOTW while sober, I will admit to enjoying their many scoops and revelations by proxy. They are bybno means without blame, but if we realy want things to change, then everyone involved needs to think about where they really stand and what matters to them, and then act accordingly.

The power of public outrage can be just as destructive as the worst activities of the press, but is never addressed, no matter how hypocritical or misguided that outrage is.

The future is bright, and the future is cloudy. Why the Amazon’s AWS outage will accelerate the increase in cloud usage and cloud quality.

Depending on who you ask, the emergence of utility cloud computing is either the best thing since sliced silicon; a revolution in how we do business that will precipitate a new cycle of innovation and opportunity; or a fad built on hot-air, based on little substance and that is marked out for an inevitable collapse under the weight of the collective expectation heaped upon it.

Given the volume of chatter, prediction and speculation on what the cloud might come to mean, you would have to be trying very hard to remain blissfully ignorant about what cloud is about and what utility computing can mean for your business. Most people who work in a management capacity at an organisation that owns or rents servers has an understanding of some of the ways that the realisation of utility computing will benefit them in their role within their organisation, and benefit their organisation as a whole. These centre around:

– The amount of hardware you need to buy or rent to provide enough computing power for your organisation ( both in number-crunching capability, and the ability to store information )

– The number of people needed to ensure an adequate computing service for all of the things you do with computers

– The financial and operational implications of the above

May, 2011 seems a good time to talk about this in the aftermath of the recent, catastrophic failure of many components and services integral to Amazon’s industry-leading public cloud service. Amazon’s cloud has been available for production use since October 2008 and has run largely without incident since then. This recent failure has provided a new, taller soapbox for those who see greater risks than benefits with either the cloud computing paradigm itself, or with how it has been and is being executed.

Amazon is the most advanced public cloud available, offering more features, more capacity, and a greater economy of scale than any other around at this time. In next week’s article I will talk about how this is changing, and some of the alternative clouds available now and that are on the horizon from Rackspace, Tata Communications and others who are aggressively seeking to gain a foothold in an established and increasingly lucrative business.

For me, there are four points to take away and consider as a result of this event. They all point to cloud computing having reached and passed a critical mass from the point of view of how much cloud is being used and how important it is to its users, from which there is no going back.

1. Cloud is everywhere already, it has already happened.

The April 2011 outage affected a huge slice of the internet, taking out web-sites run by high-profile brands for unprecedented periods of time. It received a huge volume of news coverage outside the normal sphere of sites catering to technologists like me. For example, it was reported on the front page of the New York Times and on BBC News at Ten. Members of the public not involved in using, making or selling cloud technology learnt for the first time that the famous bookshop was also an IT company, and one which has a big impact on the services and content they access online.

2. The cloud jungle is massive, and everywhere.

Many of the sites that are running on AWS are businesses with a critical reliance on their web services, some of the are online retailers, others are media sites who push the majority of their content out through the net ranging from games companies to newspapers. We discovered not only that they were using cloud computing, but had been doing so in such a way that they had become totally reliant on it to continue offering a quality service. Such are the economies of scale offered by public clouds that the failure of the cloud meant that there were no viable alternatives. Companies have used more and more of the cloud to offer faster and better services to consumers to the point that they were running thousands of virtual servers in AWS at commodity prices so low that they could never afford to build out an equivalent physical infrastructure that compares in quality to Amazon’s. Even if they could afford it, they could never do so quickly or efficiently enough to replicate or replace their Amazon-resident infrastructure. Companies who used to run their own large scale datacentres have done away with them, and along with them the cost and complexity of running them. They have created in the cloud and seen that it is good.

3. Cloud encourages competition

Rather than the Amazon outage providing proof of the vulnerability of relying on cloud infrastructure, many companies who are using it are seeing it as proof of the vulnerability brought about by relying on a single source. No organisation who has run their own datacentre in the past believes that there is such a thing as a 100% reliable service, while at the same time, everyone who buys Amazon’s cloud service is well aware that the agreed level of availability they agree with Amazon is just over 99.5%, and not 100%. The outage is not what is making them nervous.

Customers who are pining for a credible competitor to Amazon’s solution are doing so because they know that there is always a chance that one provider can be knocked over for a short time; but that the chances of two providers being knocked over at the same time is magnitudes smaller. The more clouds you are able to run your services over, the less likely it is that the failure of any single cloud will affect you. In fact using this law of averages, making sure that your service and business is able to run on as many clouds as is possible gives you a smaller and smaller likelihood of being affected even by a failure of many clouds at once. High redundancy breeds greater availability.

As the world marvels at the scarcity and lack of depth customer support from Amazon during the outage, other competitors will be looking at this and realising that they can win more new customers if they offer more communication to their customers during events like these than Amazon did, while also being an important redundancy for customers already using Amazon. Amazon will most likely be thinking exactly the same thing, and rethinking whatever strategy lead them to decide not to discuss the outage on their blogs or to offer proper advice to customers during and after the incident, so that they can continue to compete with these other providers. The outcome for the user is great, in that all cloud service providers will be placing greater importance on customer service and support.

4. Variation is a redundancy

Finally, the fact is that the AWS outage occurred because of the way that Amazon has chosen to architect their cloud. Amazon builds its cloud using a cathedral methodology where the insides are kept secret from the public and from users. They provide an interface that allows you to do what you want with it, but not to know how it works.

There are other services which offer the same type of rented storage and compute power but are built in an entirely different way to Amazon, using different underlying technology, and different methodology; and so are even less likely to fail in the same way. Having a multi-cloud strategy will give you a way to insure yourself against any one service failing in a particular way, as well as at a particular time. Some are open source and allow you to see much more of how they operate, allowing users to operate them at a more granular level.

The Problem of the future

A multi-cloud platform presents its own challenge, one which is probably part of the reason so many reputable, establish and technology-savvy organisations failed to have one. Imagine you decided five years ago to deploy on AWS, you trained your staff, tried, tested and refined your Amazon deployments; you have probably become quite good at using Amazon. Good enough to be using it, and its unique topology and infrastructure in a specific way that isn’t easily ported to another cloud. Designing and deploying for a cloud that is designed in a different way to Amazon becomes an additional and significant cost.

Luckily there are services and software that you can use that abstract the differences between these clouds, and deploy on multiple clouds in a consistent way. As I work for a company that does just this, I’ll leave that point there for the sake of purity.

I’ll finish by returning to my original point, which is not only that the cloud is here to stay, but that other clouds are coming. The argument may not be which cloud will reign over the others, but which clouds will be seated at the round table.

Ridiculous customer service sales support from Virgin Media

I have been searching Bethere’s and Virgin’s Broadband packages today. I got one of those virtual agent things pop-up. I decided to engage with it, assuming that it was probably going to be a real person seeing as the provider is Virgin. I explained what I was doing, what I was interested and what preconceptions I already had.

I then asked a non-standard question.

The agent ran away, and still hasnt come back.

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