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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!


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Why your Google account is important

Your gmail address isn't just for email. It's the identifier for your Google account as a whole. Unfortunately, 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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Clean up tools for mods of long neglected communities

I have, in the past, volunteered to help clean up some long-neglected communities. Over time, they degenerate in the spam magnets, and grow, because more spammers join them, making them even larger and more attractive to more spammers, and so on.

There are a number of aspects to getting a community back on track.

Cleaning up the spam queue

The bulk moderation tools help, but it's really not good use of a moderator's time to review 2 year old posts in the spam queue, 10 at a time, to decide whether or not to ban the author.

On the other hand, a moderator's decisions have an impact on what the spam filters learn about the authors of those posts, so it's not fair to users who may have posted innocently but, for some reason, had their post falsely flagged as spam, if a mod confirms the filter's decision by rejecting the post and/or reporting it as spam and/or banning the user.

I would like mods to have the option of a "consequence neutral" option to simply remove, without implication for the author, all posts in the spam queue older than <n> (n= 3 months / 6 months). Without even looking at them. Just clean up in one fell swoop, and move forwards.

It would also be helpful if, when I ban an author who has made multiple posts to the community, that ALL of their other posts that are also in the spam queue were deleted immediately, without any further interaction from me as a mod, so that when I "Load more", I never see any more of their spam. I've already banned them - that should be enough information to go on. That helps to deal with the onslaught of recent spam that is simply there because the community in question has been identified as a "useful target", and allows the mods to work more efficiently.

Keeping new spammers out

As things stand, it's simply not feasible for this sort of community to enable Ask to Join. I tried it in a fairly niche community which currently has about 200,000 members - a large number of whom are almost certainly abandoned spammers' accounts. 6 months ago, when I started, the membership was probably significantly less than half of that. I'd guess there are probably only a few thousand members who are genuinely interested in the community's topic.

I used IFTTT to add details from the email notifications of requests to join to a spreadsheet. I was staggered to find that we got in the order of 200 requests PER DAY. There's just no way to be able to evaluate whether that many profiles are likely to be people who are genuinely interested in the Community's topic.

I would like to see Ask to Join only even accept requests from profiles that have some standing / G+ history to suggest that they're genuine users. Or at least to filter the requests so that mods can choose to only review those requests). And to have some better bulk moderation tools for AtJ too - such as bulk rejecting all requests (again, without consequence for the author, so they could request to join again).

Edit (One I'd forgotten): I'd also like to see proper support for an "entrance exam" - that could be a simple question to determine whether you're actually interested in the content, or at least paying enough attention to it to give a plausible answer and/or a Captcha

We turned on HfR, and bizarrely, only got in the order of 50 or so new posts in a day, which were often multiple posts from the same author, so all those 200 new members per day were really doing was making the Community seem even bigger (and more attractive to other spammers).

Cleaning up the current membership

It would be really useful for mods (ONLY) to be able to filter the membership by things like
* number of posts
* number of interactions on others' posts (+1s, Comments, reshares, etc.)
... and to be able to sort the membership by the total number of posts and interactions in the last 3/6/12 months.

I would then like to be able to remove any member who:
* has never posted or interacted on any post in the community (or has had all of their posts / comments actively removed as spam)
* has not posted or interacted for more than a year

A bonus would be to have the option to be able to send a private message to those people to say
"You have been removed from the XYZ Community. If you are still interested in what the community offers, and would like to re-join, please feel free."

Again, this should be a "without consequence" option, which has no effect on whether the user can rejoin (or Ask to Join).

Edit - another thing I'd forgotten
Clear out the community invitations
In a spam magnet community, the vast majority of these are likely to be spammers broadcasting a good vector to each other.

Being able to mass delete the invitations could help, and MODS being able to sort to date of invitation and remove old invitations would help to keep things on track going forward.

HfR for comments

Unless a moderator comments on every post, they will miss a lot of comment spam, and banning the authors of comment spam is a great way to clean up a community. HfR for comments would require mods to approve every comment before normal members see it.

This is one area where promoting out of Limited Membership would be key, as there are usually far many more commenters than posters in any given community, and HfR for comments would greatly slow down interaction, but it would be a good temporary measure while in cleanup mode. I would anticipate using it for as long as it's not feasible to enable Ask to Join due to overwhelming numbers of join requests.

Edit - one more thing
Prevent abandoned communities from becoming spam cesspits in the first place
Using current tools:
If there has been no moderator activity for <n> months, automatically turn on AtJ and HfR. (Although there has to be a way to mass REFUSE all requests for this to be effective if the mods come back to it.)
Alternative new tool:
If there has been no moderator activity for <n> months, automatically make the community read-only (no new posts, no new comments)

A glimmer of hope

After 6 months of (almost single-handedly) cleaning up one particular niche community - because the owner and other volunteers found it overwhelmingly daunting - I am happy to report that the relentless onslaught of spam has slowed to a rate that I would expect for any public community. We still have HfR and Strong filters enabled, but it's finally reached the point where I can just drop in occasionally, and find sometimes less than 10 new spam posts, rather than the hundreds that it would have previously attracted.

Sadly, in the interim, many people have left and created or joined similar communities which promised to keep the spammers out.

There are many communities out there that people would like to revive, but it's REALLY hard work. Google could make it a lot easier with the right recovery tools for mods.

P.S. The Topsy-like membership growth shows why surfacing "large" communities in Discover is highly likely to be counter-productive. I would speculate that the vast majority of large communities are only large because of the numbers of spammers who are members. Small is likely to mean better moderated, and therefore kept on topic.

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tomtoc 10.5 Inch Tablet Shoulder Bag Sleeve Case

My mobile workhorse solution of choice is still my original Asus Flip 10" Chromebook, paired with my (imported) Huawei P8 Max mega sized phone (for its biggish screen if I'm not getting the Chromebook out, and for its huge battery, which makes it a good Hotspot for the Chromebook).

For a long time, I've been using an Amazon basics neoprene sleeve to carry them around in, but as one its primary uses is on my day when I visit mum, and as part of that I have a my regular stop in a lovely little bakery-come-tea room near mum's care home, where I order food at the counter, and carry my own pot of tea etc. to my table on a tray. There, carrying the bag as well was a bit awkward. And in other situations, there's always the possibility that something hand-carried would get put down and then forgotten and left behind.

So I'd been on the lookout for a suitably slimline bag with a shoulder strap to use instead. (I already have a more roomy laptop bag that I could use if I was carrying more stuff, but I wanted something rather more minimalist - I don't need to carry loads of cables and chargers when I'm just visiting mum for the day, and just need to be able to get a bit of work done occasionally whilst I'm away from the office.)

Eventually I found this one. It's advertised as a tablet bag, but it's a perfect fit for the 10" Flip (so good it could almost have been made to measure), and the P8 fits in the zipped front pocket too.

I've just looked at the Amazon page, and it seems it's now only available in black, but I love the elegant silver grey finish that I have.

The removable strap is very generous - over 1.5m when fully extended (and about 80cm when fully shortened), which even with my long back means that the bottom of the bag can reach almost to my knees even when worn across the body. I wear it across the body, but with the strap rather shorter! The strap is removable, and there's an unobtrusive canvas "flat" handle at the back for hand carrying too.

All in all, I'm very pleased with this elegant bag that fits this particular need perfectly for me.

I paid £19 for it from Amazon

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Is it possible to save the position of a bubble?

Specifically, the bubble for a widget app. Even more specifically, it's a widget app that gets started minimised.

If I have bubbles disabled, I can lock the position of the minimised window, but that option is not available for bubbles.

I've tried positioning the bubble where I want it for this specific widget app, and then using Save Position from the app's floating menu, but that doesn't save the bubble position.

Is there a way to do this that I'm missing?

And if not, can I request one please? I'd really like to have the bubble for an app start up in my preferred position. It's typically used over Google maps when driving, so it's not an appropriate time to be fiddling with its position.


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Theme not honoured for widget app in 4.8-b0
I haven't used my floating widget for a while, so I don't know if this is new, but it's not using the theme that I've set for my widget application.

Theme settings, widget app settings and screenshot of widget app attached.
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Child-proof point and shoot camera recommendations

Hive mind - any recommendations please?

I've left this a bit late, so I'll close comments in a few days, but my dad has asked me to get a camera for my mum for her eighty-somethingth birthday, to replace the one she has broken.

That last bit is key. She somehow damage the iris-style lens cover on the last one, so that it got stuck. To add to the mix, she is left-side paralysed, so can only operate the camera one-handed, which makes her a little ham-fisted and none-too-careful.

She really doesn't need anything fancy. She wouldn't be able to operate any fancy controls. Just a point and shoot is all we're looking for here, and with minimal mechanical moving parts to get broken.

I started out by searching for rugged cameras, but they're way more expensive than this needs to be. Then something made me thing that child-friendly would also be mum-friendly. But it must NOT look like a child's toy.

Of course I can trawl through Amazon reviews, but if anybody here (and particularly anyone with kids) has any suggestions, I'm all ears.


Welcome to the Phones Show Chat community
PSC podcast:

The Phone Photo Technicalities category here is for people to demonstrate (and explain) technical aspects of what they have done with a camera in a phone. Please note that there are separate Communities for posting photos or videos from phones, and for buying and selling tech gear (see below).

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This community is for people to show off their art created by cameras in phones, and where others (who are interested) can enjoy the imagery.
That's also where your photo will get entered into the PSC Photo of the Month draw

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Fairly self-explanatory, but this is where you can buy and sell phone-related stuff.
It replaces the old PSC Forum, and is Ask to Join. Only those who are known from other PSC-related online activity will be approved. Note, however, that this does not imply any guarantee of trustworthiness.

Rules for this community
To keep the community on topic and a pleasant environment for all members, note that you may be banned or removed, or your posts may be removed, if you:
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You have to Ask to join this community. See About for the community for more information on that.

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Google+ will no longer support Internet Explorer 10 after 10 October
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Keyboard issues in comments on version 10.10 of the Android app

For information: Using the Android app, when typing a comment (but not a post), the following two issues occur:

1. The Keyboard now has a "done" tick instead of a carriage return key, so it is not possible to type a new line

2. The text you type doesn't wrap, so you can only see a few words at a time.

This happens both when adding a comment and editing an existing one. It does not affect new posts.

Google are aware of the issue, and a fix should be rolling out soon.

In the meantime, you might like to use the web app at, where the keyboard and wrapping both work normally.
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Planet-friendly loo roll from Who Gives a Crap

Another use for bamboo!

I can't remember how I first found this lot - possibly a Facebook ad. But I decided that I'd look them up again next time I ran out of loo roll in the interests of
* not lugging loo roll home from the supermarket
* saving the planet by
a) not using wood pulp for the paper
b) not having any plastic in the packaging
* contributing to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world

In the meantime, I did some research, found evidence that they genuinely are contributing to said projects, and signed up for more info.

As luck would have it, they emailed me to say they had a limited trial offer pack of 2x recycled loo rolls, 1x bamboo 1x Kitchen roll and 1x box of tissues just at the point where we were starting to run low, so I ordered one. (Normally you have to buy 24/48 rolls at a time.) This was "free" + £3 postage, as long as you signed up for an ongoing delivery, which you can cancel at any time.

My findings:

- The recycled loo roll is OK, but looks and feels rather low quality £36 for 48
- The bamboo loo roll is nice, albeit a bit pricier £40 for 48
- The kitchen roll (which is more expensive than my normal supermarket own brand fare) is rather stiff and cardboardy. I won't be getting more
- The tissues are nice and soft

A word of warning: the price per sheet comparison for loo roll should be taken with a pinch of salt, as their sheets are shorter than normal (most loo roll is slightly "portrait"; theirs is slightly "landscape". A price per roll would be a more accurate comparison, I think. The kitchen roll and tissues are normal sizes.

On the basis of the trial pack, we have now ordered a pack of 48 bamboo loo rolls, which is due to arrive any day now.

They appear to be a company with a decent ethos, and a sense of humour, without charging the earth (with the strange exception of the kitchen roll). Obviously, you pay your money and take your pick.

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