Text message receipts

This is one of those posts which is likely to be old news for most people. However, for the rest, I hope you find it useful. When you send a text message (aka SMS) you can ask for a delivery receipt. Did you know that already? OK then, nothing to see here.

A delivery report is an automatic timestamped message confirming that your text has reached the recipient’s phone. It does not tell you that the message has actually been read.

Depending on your network provider you can either turn this feature on in your phone’s Settings, or you may have to start the body of each message with the three character string *0# (that’s star zero hash). The recipient does not see this string in the message.

You can use delivery reports as an indirect way of learning that someone has arrived safely after a plane journey. Simply send them a message during their flight, and then when they turn on their phone at their destination, you will receive automatic notification.

Apache OpenOffice Calc ‘Find’ behaviour

LIke many people I use OpenOffice 3.4.1 for word processing and spreadsheets. It closely resembles the Leading Brand office software suite, yet is completely free!

Using Calc today, I noticed an unexpected behaviour in its Find and Replace feature. I wanted to search for the value ‘55.80’ which I knew was contained somewhere in my spreadsheet. However, it could not find it.

The reason for this is that although the cell apprears to contain ‘55.80’, when you highlight the cell the input line near the top of the screen shows ‘55.8’. Even if you enter ‘55.80’ in the cell, Calc drops the trailing zero.

Is this normal?

Don’t do what I just did!

If you write a blog using WordPress, be very careful not to accidentally delete the new post you are working on. This is all too easy to do – simply hit the ‘Esc’ key and the entire post vanishes!!

And don’t think that Autosave will help. All it will do is save the blank composing window that you are staring at, neatly erasing all the precious text it autosaved 30 seconds beforehand.

I consider this to be a design flaw. In fact, two flaws; why does the Escape key delete everything anyway?? Grr. From now on I shall hit the ‘Save Draft’ button regularly. I suggest that you do the same.

Bicycle journey planner

I have just discovered a great app for your iPhone or Android smartphone. It’s a full-featured satnav for cyclists and pedestrians. This means it will navigate a route on cycle paths and quiet roads and use bike-friendly cut-throughs and short-cuts where available. It even avoids hills if possible, and will show you A to A leisure routes from and back to a specified location.

It’s free from Bike Hub thanks to a voluntary bike industry levy.

How It’s Made

Factual TV programmes abound. From economics to art, from astronomy to natural history – there is no shortage of documentaries to educate and entertain for the price of a TV licence.

I like learning about science and technology. Tomorrow’s World was a weekly favourite, although thirty five years later tomorrow has truly been and gone and we’re still waiting for most of the products featured in prototype on that programme. Continue reading

’allo ’allo?

When I was growing up, there was only one phone in our household …

Well, I could go on. But who would believe me? If I went on to describe it as weighing two and a half kilos, wired in, and rented to us by the State-owned post and telephone monopoly people would think I was making it up.

So I won’t mention that it didn’t even have a screen, for that would be unimaginable.

Browser wars – caught in the crossfire

I upgraded to Internet Explorer 9 this morning. It looks nice – lean and uncluttered. A really cool feature is that you can easily open two tabs next to each other. So you can for example highlight a piece of text on a website and drag it into an email you are composing.

So far so great! Then I opened up Google Calendar, to receive this message:

Your browser does not support all features of Google Calendar. If you are having problems, try Google Chrome.

Why have Microsoft made something which doesn’t play nicely with Google Calendar? Or have Google made their Calendar deliberately incompatible with IE9?

Whatever the reason, I would like these two internet superpowers to sort it out please.

Anti-bomb codes

The recent discovery of two bombs hidden in computer printers sent from Yemen, and my earlier ramblings about passwords, got me thinking.

How likely was it that a Chicago synagogue would be expecting to receive a printer from Yemen where half the population are illiterate and most people are Muslims employed in agriculture?

I’m not suggesting that parcel companies make that kind of value judgement before accepting consignments. However, what if the sender were required to show in advance that the recipient was expecting the item? Some kind of authorisation barcode could be generated and fixed to the parcel.

Not foolproof of course, but better than the current situation where effectively anyone can send an unsolicited parcel to anyone else.

Press here

I was one of those kids who sends off for free stuff from companies. You know – samples, information packs, promotional material, posters for my bedroom wall.

One such firm was Adana (Printing Machines) Ltd in Twickenham, England. I could not resist the coupon for a free sample of printer’s type. They sent me nine characters which spelled the words ADANA TYPE wrapped in a plain piece of paper, together with brochures for their printing presses and accessories.

I took these curious shiny rods of lead (exactly 0.918 inches or 23.3172 mm high) with the mirror-writing letters on top to primary school with me, where I would carefully unwrap them and show to friends and teachers.

At first that was the extent of my interest in printing, but Continue reading