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Julie Wills
Why are they "BOY's Toys"? Girls need tech toys too!
Why are they "BOY's Toys"? Girls need tech toys too!

Julie's posts

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Why your Google account is important

So many people don't realise that the "throwaway" Google/gmail account that they set up to use with their Android phone is the mechanism that Google uses to keep track of every app you've installed, and every purchase and subscription you pay for (whether they're for Android or not) in the Play Store.

Make sure you save your account details somewhere safe, use the same account on every device, AND keep your password recovery details up to date.

For more details about adding recovery options to your account, see 

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Location sharing moves from Google+ to a new (more appropriate) home in Google Maps.

For more information see
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MotD 2017.
Waiting for the fun to start
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Just a little update as we get set for the fun this Saturday.

Things are getting busy and we can let you know that we will be displaying a little bit of the history of android through some iconic devices. There will be a Need for Speed Most Wanted time trial competition to win a prize sponsored by +Three UK​​. +Honor UK​​ will be running fine competitions of their own and once again keeping the masses trendy in their latest haute couture T-shirt range ( just make sure you brush your hair and teeth for the camera first). Tealium will bring a connected Fussball table for everyone to play with. And eventually we have managed to get a Vive along to the event courtesy of +HTC​​ and Graham Wheeler. +ASUS UK​​ will be on hand to show off some of their yet to be released in UK tech including laptops and Chromebooks. And a little rumour is going around that a certain soon to be TV star will have a bag of phones that everyone will be interested in seeing.

Now as if that's not enough we will have a keynote presentation from the great Mr +Paul O'Brien​​, a talk from the engineers at Tealium and a presentation on EMUI by the +Honor UK​​ boys.

Tickets are available up to the event via the link below.

We are still working to add another little gem or two to this fantastic lineup as well.

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Who's going to March of the Droids in Reading next weekend?

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OXO Good Grips Squeeze and Pour Measuring Cup

This is a lovely alternative style jug for the microwave.

In the grim weather, I like to boil boil up a bit of milk to make instant porridge in the morning, but my existing Pyrex jugs and microwave saucepans don't fit particularly conveniently in the dishwasher.

Enter the 250ml Good Grips jug. It's very similar to a mug in size and shape, so fits much better with the other things we usually put in the dishwasher.

I was a bit concerned that it would be too squishy, or too hot to hold comfortably with boiling contents, but I needn't have worried. Neither is the case.

At £7 it doesn't come into the dirt cheap category, but it's not hideously expensive either, and does a particular job very nicely. 
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Vax U85-ACLG-B Air Cordless Lift Upright Vacuum Cleaner

I first came across this vacuum cleaner when I was idly browsing a Motorhome forum thread, where people were asking for suggestions for cleaning their Motorhomes (before, after or during trips away).

I was partly interested in it for that purpose, but mostly bought it for day to day use at home to replace a large, heavy tank of a corded upright vacuum cleaner that was perfectly good at its job. However, as a person somewhat lacking in motivation for cleaning, I found that my old one was unwieldy enough to put me off even getting the wretched thing out of the cupboard, never mind plugging it in and hauling it around the house. And heaven help us if it was downstairs when upstairs needed cleaning, or vice-versa. Luckily for me, the Vax cordless was on offer at £129.99 at exactly the time when I was looking for a replacement for the monster (although it's back up to £160 now), so I snapped it up.

The Vax U85-ACLG-B Air Cordless makes that disincentive a problem of the past. It's light, yet sturdy enough to grab a do a quick whiz round at any time, (even if that means taking it up or down stairs), with all the benefits of an upright for those of us with back problems, and because there's no cord, there's no faffing about plugging it in, avoiding the cord, moving it from one room to another, using it to clean in the car, motorhome, etc. Just grab it, switch it on, and get the job done.

I'm not an intensive houseworker, so I typically tend to do a room or two (or maybe three) when the mood takes me, or it looks like it needs doing. I've only once had the battery run out during a cleaning session, and that was soon after I'd first got it, so I was being considerably more intensive than normal. And even then, as it comes with two batteries, I just switched to the other one and kept going until I'd finished cleaning all of our three bed semi in one session.

I find it very comfortable to use, and easy to get into the spaces it needs to reach. The fact that it's lightweight helps too, of course.

In my house, very fine dog hairs make up far more of the contents that it picks up than dust does, but it does pick it up without a problem (the only time I found it leaving "tide waves" of fur was on one occasion where dust container had totally filled up without me noticing. All I had to do was empty it. I've rarely had to use the Turbo boost. For me, the container fills up long before the battery runs out (no doubt because fur takes up more space than dust). I have not had any issues with it being unable to pick up anything except when the cylinder is full - and no cleaners, bagless or not, can pick anything up when they're full.

As somewhat of a sufferer from dust allergies, I've always avoided bagless vacuum cleaners in the past, as I was concerned that dust would create a cloud and go everywhere when I emptied it. However, this one empties from the bottom by pressing a button to release the catch, and the bottom hinges, so there's no need to "pour" the contents out of the cylinder as you do with the top emtpying ones, and no messing about in the dusty bit, so I haven't had any issues with it. As I've said, it picks up lots of fine fur in my house, so I do find that I need to use a small spatula to coax the matted fur out from the slim space at the top of the cylinder, between the workings of the cleaner and the container, but it's no big deal. I just keep one handy, near the bin in the cupboard under the kitchen sink. If I was emptying into a larger bin or an outdoor dustbin, and not worried about spreading dust around, it may well be that a couple of good thumps on the cylinder would dislodge it all.

The cleaner is very manoeuvrable, and can get under some surprisingly low bits of furniture. The "headlights" on the main machine are rather fun, although I'm not convinced they're genuinely all that useful, except possibly when under furniture. I don't usually do my cleaning in the dark :o). They do help a bit in the gloom of a dark winter's afternoon though.

There is storage space on the cleaner for one of the tools that it's supplied with. I keep the slim nozzle there (which is a clever design with a brush that you can slide into or out of use, depending on what you need to do) as I find that one most useful for corners, tops of skirting boards, narrow spaces, etc. I considered buying the extra tool pack, but decided that I'd see how I got on without them, and so far there's nothing in there that I've missed. The only thing I would quite like is some sort of revolving brush attachment for use with the smaller lift out portable section, e.g. for on the stairs.

The rotating brush is easy enough to clean when it gets clogged up with pet hair, as any brush inevitably will (and it's easier to get at than the removable one in my corded vacuum, which was always rather fiddly to get in and out of the cleaner), and also somehow more fiddly than this one to clean too.

Having two removable batteries is great, because one can be charging while the other one is in use (unlike the style of cordless cleaner where the whole cleaner has to be plugged in to charge). I keep one battery on the charger at all times (the charger switches off when the battery is full), and make a habit of switching batteries as soon as I've finished cleaning, so that I've always got two fully charged and ready to go at any time. As a bonus, hopefully it'll be possible to replace the batteries (or buy extras) when they eventually lose their capacity. If you can outlast the life of two batteries (allegedly an hour - I haven't tested it), the other one's already had half an hour charging since you switched, and it's probably time to take a tea break anyway. Or come back to it another day when both batteries are fully charged again.

All in all, this excellent machine doesn't feel like any sort of compromise in terms of power compared with a corded model, and I can highly recommend it.

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1. complete machine
2. portable section removed
3. cannister and battery removed
4. spare battery on charger
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In Reading this year ...

My ticket's booked.
Out of ideas for something different to do during March? March of the Droids has you covered.

18th of March at the university of Reading.
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I have to disagree with +Ted Salmon​​​ on the subject of power for devices in cars.

If have have a device whose some purpose is to work in the car (such as a DashCam, or a powered car mount), I want it to get its power from the car. It's the ultimate Off Grid device (to take a cue from other items in this episode). I want it to switch on automatically with the ignition, and work without fail, simply because I'm driving the car.

For me, the one-time inconvenience of tidying cables out of sight (ar maybe even just tidily in sight) far outweighs the inconvenience of having to decide/remember whether it needs charging yet, taking it indoors to charge it (because if you haven't run cables to it, I pretty much guarantee that charging it IN the car is going to leave cables trailing, possibly even across the windscreen and therefore be a non-starter), and remembering to take it back out to the car and fiddle about re-mounting it wherever it gets used.

It's pretty easy in most cases to run a cable from the rear view mirror (if that's where the device goes), behind the sun visor, and tuck it behind the trim on the windscreen pillar. From there, it'll usually tuck around the side of the dash where you would only ever see it with the door open, and from there, underneath the dash to wherever your power source is (possibly using the little cable clips recommended by somebody in a previous post).

The only thing I'd say is that I'd rather have a USB plug than a cigarette socket plug on the end of the cable, as that gives me more choices. More and more cars these days include USB sockets that can be used for charging, and often in far more useful places than the centre console, such as the glove box or rear seats. For something on or around the windscreen or rear view mirror, in many cases, you could run the cable down the passenger side and into the glove box to use a USB socket there.

On the subject of DashCams in particular, I haven't done any more than skim Clove's DashCam review yet, but many of them (although not necessarily at the budget end of the market) do also include a battery, so that they can capture information if somebody hits your car while it's parked.
Episode 26 - Geeks OffGrid
Help yourself to another slice of Whatever Works Cake to go with your coffee. Now available via the usual link here or your podcatcher of choice imminently.
This time +Ted Salmon​ and +David Rich​ chat about all sorts of icing on the cake, from Sponges to spiders and most in between! Enjoy 😊

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Free "money"

I'm not sure whether this was a one-off, but Amazon UK offered me £5 extra if I topped up my Amazon account by £100 the earlier this week.

Topping up your account (at is essentially buying yourself an Amazon Gift Card. I've never done it before, but hey, free money, and I buy enough stuff from Amazon that I can live with £100 or less sitting in their account rather than mine in exchange for £5. Especially if you do it when you're just about to buy something anyway. You then use it in the same way as a Gift Card to pay for any purchase from Amazon or Amazon marketplace sellers.

The offer popped up either when I was viewing my basket, or processing payment for my order (I forget which), and I had to click a button to check whether I was eligible. As with most things Amazon, once I bought the topup, the £5 reward was applied instantly. (Well, after I'd done the topup a second time because my bank queried the payment and denied it. Sigh. But that's not Amazon's fault.) As I hadn't bought a topup on that Credit Card before, Amazon also required my to re-enter the full card number for security.

I can't see any way to trigger it manually, so I don't know whether this was a one-off, or whether it would only work a limited number of times in some unspecified time period, or whether it only happens if you get prompted about it, or whether (having confirmed that I qualify) I'd get another extra £5 if I top up by £100+ again. And, of course, it may only have been offered due to something specific to my account.

If you use Amazon a lot, it's worth keeping an eye out for, and I'll try it again next time my balance gets low to see if another £100 topup earns me another £5 reward. 
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