Always take some toys to meetings


Today I had a meeting about Connected Humber CIC. We are trying to spread the word about what we are doing. I took some toys along, including the prototype Air Quality sensor and my Air Quality Top Hat.

This turned out to be a real win. Everyone was very impressed (or very polite). I reckon you should always have some toys to show off when you are trying to impress. This doesn’t mean you should push them into everyone’s face as soon as you start, but that if the conversation turns to “What have you made then?”, it is really nice to be able to pull something out of your bag.

Special delivery


Bit of a commotion outside our house today. It started with the sound of helicopters hovering overhead, then motorcycle outriders hurtled down the road, followed by a couple of police squad cars, and finally an armoured truck. And then, with full sniper cover, a helmeted guard brought a package to our front door and rang the doorbell.

Turns out that it was just a printer cartridge delivery, but with the price of these things I’m not surprised by the precautions.

Mobile Phone Navigation is still rubbish

Wrong side of the tracks….

Wrong side of the tracks….

The satnavs that I’ve used in cars are mostly OK. The ones I’ve used in phones are mostly awful. Some observations:

  • The official Apple Maps application for iPhone actually consumes power faster than a normal car USB connector can charge it. So on a long journey your phone can go flat even if it is plugged in. On the plus side, it does make for quite a good hand warmer.

  • The Google Maps application (which you switch to because the Apple Maps one kills the battery) has a navigation display that is obscured by appointments that pop up on the screen and have no obvious way of cancelling. This is great if you are on the way to a scheduled meeting. Not.

  • The Official Apple Maps app (which you decide to use for a short journey) just plain gets things wrong. Exhibit A above. Searched for the West Avenue car park in Filey, asked the phone to navigate me there. Got taken to a residential street across the railway from my destination. Rather than using the geographical location of the thing I’ve searched for (which it seems to know because it draws it in the right place) it instead navigates to the post code which covers an area including lots of wrong destinations)

O2 Apple Watch Data Fix

After all the fun and games getting the Apple Watch on O2 I was hoping for a happy ending. But this didn’t happen because although we could quite happily make phone calls with the device all the network and SMS features were broken. I was thinking for a while that I’d have to ring up and they’d try to sell me another watch. Wah.

But the good news is that the fix was quite simple. I opened the Apple Watch app on the connected iPhone and then went to the Mobile Data tab. This shows you the data used by the watch. Just as the phone was heading to the page it displayed a “Carrier settings update” message and offered me the chance to confirm. After doing this the watch seems to work fine with SMS and mobile data. So, if you’ve bought one (or even several) Apple watches from O2 and can’t get the data to work you might like to try this.

Uninspiring O2 Apple Watch

Drop everything - your order’s ready to pick up.

Turn off the TV. Put down your sandwich. Get off the bus. Whatever you’re doing, it’s time to hotfoot it to your O2 store. If you can’t come right now, that’s okay. We’ll hold it there for seven days. But don’t leave it any longer, otherwise we’ll assume you’ve changed your mind and we’ll have to cancel your order.

I had to work very hard to get the above message. The plan was simple. I thought it would be nice to replace number one wife’s ageing Version 0 Apple watch with a new and cellular version. And O2 were doing a discount offer that looked rather tempting. What could go wrong?


I thought I’d perform the transaction online. Half way through - just after I paid my 20 pound deposit - the web page crashed. No order, no nothing, just a 20 pound transaction on my bank account. So I rang up and asked them to sort it out. Of course they can’t do that. There’s no transaction to find. But they can sell me the watch again. Cue 25 minutes of minutely detailed purchase discussion. The kind of thing I’d been trying to avoid by buying online. At the end of this fun and games I was promised an email containing a link that I could use to complete the transaction.

Guess what? That link crashed too. Another 20 pound transaction on the account. So I rang up again to try and sort if out and, bless my soul if they don’t try to sell me a watch for the third time. I suggested that it was time to get someone along who knew what was going on. Finally I got escalated to the point where someone asked “Are you using a pop-up blocker on your browser” .I’m not, but the merest mention of issues like these sends me scurrying off to try a different browser. And finally, after another 20 pound payment, I get an order completed. I’d carefully used Google Chrome to perform the purchase because I worry about browser issues breaking things but it turned out that this was broken. And the transaction that came through was made using Edge. Go figure.

Apparently the other payments will disappear after a while. They had better. Or I’ll probably have to go online and buy another watch to sort it out….

Anyhoo, a couple of days later I got the breathless email at the start of this page. So today we hurried along to the O2 store to get our hands on the treasured technology. It was a very uninspiring pickup. I wasn’t expecting fireworks, or a red carpet. This was just as well. I’ve had more engagement picking up parcels from the Post Office. In fact it was just like that - even down to the DHL wrapper the watch came in.

Pro tip for O2 shop staff: you can greatly enhance the pickup experience for customers by taking the item out of the postage bag before giving it to the customer, and then showing an interest in what was bought. I guess there’s no commission to be had in handing something over, but that’s not really the point as I see it.

I got the watch installed after three or four hours. Software updates over Bluetooth take an age. And it seems to work fine. But I can’t recommend the customer experience at all.

Shelf collapse chaos


That was scary. We were having a quiet coffee downstairs when we heard a noise rather like the one that a house makes when it falls down. A tsunami of bangs and crashes that must have lasted a minute or so. We hurried upstairs to find out what was left of the top half of the building and expecting not to find much..

It turns out that one of my shelves along the top of my project room had come loose, depositing onto the floor all the boxes and bits and bobs I’ve been stashing up there for the last few years. The good news is that nothing was broken that didn’t deserve it. I’ve put most of the stuff back, given everything a proper tighten and I’m going to keep an eye on it in future. Such excitement.

Soak testing air quality sensors


For the last few weeks I’ve had four air quality sensors sitting on the windowsill in the house that faces the nearest LoRa gateway. I’m soak testing the devices prior to putting them on lamp posts around Hull.The air quality in that room must be one of the most highly measured in the county.

Anyhoo, one of the devices decided to try and spoil Fathers Day today by falling off the LoRa network. It was one of those situations where I really hoped that it was properly broken. There’s nothing worse than something that goes wrong every now and then. Unfortunately the darned thing came back to life at the end of the day, and so we are going to replace the CPU. My number one suspect is the antenna connection, but we’ll have to do some tests to prove this.

And no, it didn’t spoil the day. Had a lovely meal out and got some splendid presents.

Self destructing Apple Pencil

I’ve not used my Apple pencil much. And that turns out to be a problem. Apparently the circuitry is such that if a pencil isn’t charged and used regularly the battery can be irreparably damaged. Not cool.

For a while I’ve been convinced that this has happened to me. The power supply where I leave my pencil plugged failed and I had a pencil that didn’t work, even after charging with a working supply.

However, the good news is that all I needed to do was delete the pencil from the iPad and then re-pair it. The bad news is that anyone could make something which was so easy to break. I’ve turned on Nintendo DS machines after years of none-use and they have fired up without a problem. Sometimes in mid-game.

I think that sometimes Apple need to focus a bit less on making stuff that is awesome and more on making stuff properly.