Sony Xperia Z1 Quick Review: Back to the Botnet

After slating Android 2 years ago. I’ve been more than happy switching away from Windows Phone and back to Android when I purchased the Sony Xperia Z1 on launch day almost a year ago.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the Windows metro UI. But apps matter. The perfect scenario would be the metro UI overlayed over android. All the apps I could ever want with the best mobile UI available.

Anyway over to the phone. Awesome phone. Great battery life. Lightly modified android with a sick camera! No 4k video though. But best of all, it’s waterproof!!

Told you this review was quick.

Solid State Drives Are Worth The Expense

I bought my 15″ MacBook Pro (early 2011 model) just over a year ago. I decided against upgrading to an SSD because I thought there was no point. I did get the hi-res anti-glare option. Especially since that part of the machine isn’t user upgradable.

My machine gradually got slower and seemed especially sluggish ever since upgrading to Lion (it can with Snow Leopard). I was advised (by my boss no less) to upgrade to an SSD. So I did, and boy was I glad I did. The speed difference is immense. Forget the price per gig ratio. Especially when compared to traditional hard drives. The performance of SSD’s more then makes up for the lower storage capacity. A worthwhile investment. More so then any RAM or CPU upgrades will ever do since the hard drive will remain the bottleneck.

Now, doing a clean install of Lion instead of upgrading from Snow Leopard might have also helped. But I am more then happy with the end result as it now absolutely flies. Chrome no longer hangs and Photoshop (almost…) opens instantly.


Why I Ditched Android For Windows Phone 8

I really wanted the Nexus 4. Having used the Nexus S for the past 18 months, it seemed the obvious upgrade path. I was tempted by the Galaxy Nexus when it was launched, but the poor camera put me off.

Then the day finally came, November 13th (had it in my calendar), the Nexus 4 launch day. No time for when it would actually go on sale though. Checked the Play store at 8am. “Coming Soon”. Received the email notification on my way to work at 8:45. Loaded up the Play store when I got into work at 9:20. Still says “Coming Soon”. WTF.

It was later I found out that they were actually all sold out. Less than an hour after going on sale. Still have no idea what time that actually was. Google utterly failed in this shambolic joke of a “launch” of their flagship device. Shit communication all round from Google. Losing a customer in the process.

I had to upgrade. My Nexus S was so slow it was almost impossible to do anything on the thing. Chrome would take minutes to start up. I never truly considered any other Android devices. I like pure Android. None of this bastardised Android SenseWiz crap. The device (from a hardware perspective) would have to absolutely blow me away for that to happen. The Samsung Galaxy S3 had the best chance, but failed. They all failed.

Nexus 4 wasn’t going back on sale any time soon. So what did I do, after reading up on numerous reviews, I finally decided to make the jump to Windows Phone 8 with the beautiful HTC 8X. I did initially want the Nokia Lumia 920, but after holding both the 920 and 8X, the Lumia is huge and felt like a brick next to the 8X. I knew about WP8’s flaws. But I can live with them. The only app I miss is Dropbox.

The only Google service I truly couldn’t give up was Gmail. But that’s true for everyone who’s main account is a Gmail one. Google Now is a very nice service. But it’s still something I can instantly give up. Google Music hasn’t evolved at all since it was launched. It was only a one-way upload of my iTunes collection. No syncing at all going on. Because of this I never maintained my Google Music collection. Another service I can instantly give up. Google Maps? Now that Bing Maps is using Nokia’s mapping data, with the ability to truly take a map of any country offline, that beats Google’s mobile offering hands down.

Google has failed to retain me as an Android user. I’ve avoided using (and getting locked in to) many of their services. Making the switch easy. The only Android devices I would buy are the Nexus ones, but Google wouldn’t take my money. I still love my Nexus 7, but since I don’t carry it around with me, I’ll be turning off Google’s ability to stalk me.

This is Jimmy, leaving the botnet.

Nexus S Review: My First Android

Review time.

Since the google playground event, I’m buying the LG Nexus when it drops. Replacing my current mobile, Nexus S.

I bought it in June 2011. The day after Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC). I was waiting for the new iPhone to be announced. Back then the iPhone 4 was the current model. It’s successor was pushed back to the Autumn instead of the Summer for the previous models. Due to this delay, they have lost me for life. And I’m glad I didn’t purchase an iPhone. Hate iTunes. Apple’s arrogant “their way or the highway” attitude. And their walled-garden.

The Nexus S came with Gingerbread (Android 2.3). And had upgrades to Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) and Jelly Bean (4.1). With each upgrade, it got slower and slower. Ridiculously slow.

Since the release of Android 4.0, Google has replaced the 4 button layout with 3 onscreen buttons. Back, Home and Multitask. This makes making the most of the ICS difficult. Since it has physical buttons, the onscreen buttons aren’t displayed. This takes away the quick multitasking feature as it means you have to hold the Home button instead of simply pressing a single key.

Solid phone. Classic Samsung plasticky build quality but a good introduction to Android.

Eurogamer Expo 2012: Review

Review time, less than a day after the event. My quickest blog post write up yet! Not much to say really. Didn’t really play much and the queues to the most popular games were too long.

We absolutely wasted our early bird tickets by queuing up for the Wii U section. We thought it’ll only get longer so might as well when the crowds should be at their lowest. There was over 2 hour queue for the ZombieU game, and that was with just the early birders! When we finally got in (after an hour of queuing in the non ZombieU queue) we wondered around a bit, then promptly left the area. Totally unimpressed by the Wii U. And like I said in my preview, just a gigantic console sized DS.

I was looking forward to trying out Pikmin 3, don’t know why I was so excited about this game. I did like the first one so it’s probably the retro goggles kicking in. But it just looked like a GameCube game (as did most of the games there) and I don’t think the WiiPad was used at all during the game. Just the standard Wiimote and nunchuck combo. It did display a map though…

God of War was impressive though. Even though my friend hyped it up beyond belief. It was my first time playing any of the God of War games and I enjoyed it. Even though it’s more or less a standard hack and slash the controls were tight. Got ganged up on a few times 3-on-1 during multiplayer. I obviously died during those encounters… But nonetheless it was fun.

Dust 514 on the PS3, looked impressive. And after a 20 minute technical hitch, I finally got to actually play it and had no fucking clue what was going on in the game. I then realised how shit the PS3 controller is. What an awful pad. Doom 3 was also underwhelming. A 3D game with shit 3D.

When Vikings Attack for the PS Vita was a nice surprise. A fun game where you throw shit at the other player to knock all their people outside of the circle. As fun as it was though, definitely not worth the price of a normal game. Would make an awesome mobile game though. Very easy to pick up and play.

Played Pro Evo Soccer with my mate a couple times. I’ve been a FIFA guy for the past few years using the 360 pad. My mate has been blindly loyal to Pro Evo even though FIFA has it beat. So, round 1, on a PS3 pad, my mate’s home turf. I beat him 4 nil. Next one, still on the PS3 pad, ended 1-1 and we got kicked off it during extra time due to some tournament. The final round was on the 360 pad, I forgot the score, but I also won that one.

Then we had some fun in the retro section. Multiplayer Mario Kart on the SNES. Which I now suck at since I can’t power slide properly anymore as the recent incarnations have changed the way it works (snaking…). Topped off with a Virtual Tennis thrashing on the Dreamcast. Great fun.

After using the PS3 controller for most of the day, and confirming how much I hate the PS3 controller, it’s still the only console I’ll consider buying. The new 360 controller did feel nicer than the current one. The new D-Pad is weird though and I didn’t like the repositioned select/start buttons.

We’ll probably be back there next year, especially if the rumoured PS4 and Xbox 720 are there and playable. But they’ll probably end up like our Wii U experience this year… Disappointment.

Eurogamer Expo 2012: Preview

Time for my first gaming post! The Eurogamer Expo is this weekend and we’ve got the early bird tickets meaning we get to enter an hour earlier (I think…).

I went last year and it was pretty good. Played some Zelda: Skyward Sword. I am a Zelda fanboy (just the 3D console versions by the way), and it utterly failed to impress me. Graphics were shit, I know graphics aren’t everything but the least they could do is not make my eyes bleed. I could actually see the pixels and they were huge. Zelda has definitely lost it’s magic.

The Shadow of the Colossus HD remake did impress me though. So much that I was tempted to blow money on a PS3 for that game alone. One year later and I’ve still not bought it yet, but the constant HD remakes makes it ever more tempting. Journey did impress graphically but the demo I played made it looked boring.

This year though, the Wii U will be there and playable. I have absolutely no interest in buying it. And much like with the Wii, it’ll sell like hotcakes at launch, have a few Triple A first-party exclusives. Then it’ll die a slow death with most games being mediocre at best.

Saying that, I’m still curious over how it’ll play though. And it’ll probably be the only time I’ll ever play it. In my mind though, it’s just be an overblown console remake of the DS. Bottom touch screen (WiiPad) with the main action on the top screen (HDTV).

My last console was the GameCube and I don’t plan on buying any console in the near future. I don’t need them and most games are shit and a total waste of money. Although if the PS3 hits the sub £100 price point I might finally pull the trigger.

CSS3 Linear Gradients on an Input Submit Element

Time to pad out my blog with useless helpful dev shit I encounter during my day job.

First one out of the hat. CSS3 linear gradients on input submits. Doesn’t work. The work around? Convert that input into a button.


Instead of this:

I’ve tested it in IE8+, recent Chrome, Firefox and Safari versions. They all function exactly as they would if they were still input submits.

Problem solved.

Quick Lenovo IdeaPad A1 Review Before The Google Nexus 7 Drops

Since I’ve pre-ordered the Google Nexus 7 tablet, I figured I might as well do a quick review of my existing tablet, the Lenovo IdeaPad A1, before decommissioning it in a couple weeks time.

Important things first, the specs:

  • 7 inch 1024×600 display
  • 16GB storage
  • MicroUSB and microSD card
  • Android 2.3, Gingerbread
  • GPS, Bluetooth

I bought this last christmas while it was on sale for £150 and at the time, it seemed like a good deal. Decent specs at a good price. 7 months later and the Nexus 7 just blows everything out of the water. Obviously technology improves at a rapid rate, but none of the current crop of tablets compares against the Nexus 7 in both price and specs. The only thing the A1 has over the Nexus 7 is the inclusion of the microSD slot.

The A1 is my first ever tablet and only my second ever Android device. The first being the Nexus S, which I still use. And is still an amazing phone. I might even “review” it when I replace it with the next Nexus phone which is scheduled for release later this year.

It (back to the A1) ships with a slightly modified version of Android 2.3 Gingerbread. It has this gigantic widget in the middle (first image above) which cannot be moved. Annoying as hell as it limits how much you can customise the home screen.

Prior to buying this thing I made sure I could root it and promptly rooted this as soon as I received it. This is a must as the screen density set on this thing is utter crap. Imagine the exact same icons and widgets on a 4 inch screen, stretched to fill 7 inches. No tablet optimization was made at all, just making everything bigger and blurrier.

I bumped up the screen density from the default of 240 to 160. Because I hated the huge, non-removable widget, I installed a custom launcher, ADWLauncher EX. Which I bought during Google’s 10 pence sale. This made things slightly better. But it still had the Lenovo bloat running in the background. Stealing valuable system resources.

Eventually I gave up and decided to play around with custom roms. This would be my first time entering the Android world of modding. My Nexus S remains unrooted as I don’t really see the point as it gets it’s updates straight from Google anyway. Android 4.1 Jelly Bean should be beamed straight to it sometime this month!

So, I flashed ClockWorkMod and CyanogenMod 7 (CM7) onto this thing, and fuck me, I should’ve done this sooner. As this made the A1 infinitely better to use.

Even though flashing it with CM7 greatly improved the experience. I desperately wanted Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). After updating my Nexus S to ICS in December, I couldn’t stand Gingerbread any more. ICS looks so much nicer.

Then last month, what I believe is an official (beta) ICS update direct from Lenovo was leaked. It still has some issues though. Main ones being (infrequent and rare) random restarts, and intermittent issues with the loud speaker. To be fair the random restarts were in the Gingerbread rom that shipped with this device.

Saying that, after experiencing ICS on this thing, even with the above issues, I’ll live with them for just a little while longer. At least until I get my Nexus 7.

If the Nexus 7 never existed I would have recommended this as a cheap tablet to get your teeth into. Not anymore.

How To Install LAMP in Ubuntu

Step-by-step instructions on how to install LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) in Ubuntu.

Before we start, it’s best to do an update:


Install the webserver.


Install PHP5 along with it’s apache module.


Install MySQL along with it’s php and apache modules.

Then restart the server with:

Alternative, you can ignore everything above and just run the following commands:

Presumably, it just installs the same things, only with less typing copy pasting.