A portal in Blarney

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The first Ingress portal in Blarney appeared this morning.

It’s on the site of the Blarney Castle Hotel and I was the first to hack it and add resonators. Hopefully some of the sites I submitted as portals get picked soon and we’ll get a field over the village. I’m sure I have confused anyone who comes here now looking for a hotel in Blarney, oops.

No sign of the apocalypse but it is very foggy. The four horsemen could be hiding in it!

Chrome 23 and Flash missing sound for you too?

The latest version of Google’s Chrome browser in Windows reintroduced an old bug where Flash videos were missing all sound. It doesn’t happen to everyone but if you set your speaker configuration to Stereo you should hear sound again.

Click on the Windows Start button > Control Panel > Sound > select the speaker/playback device and click the Configure button > in the Speaker Setup dialog that appears, if you have multiple audio channels listed, please test the Stereo configuration, and let us know what happens.

I already had it set to stereo using the on-board Realtek sound chip in my PC but going through the motions of setting it to stereo and restarting the browser seems to have worked.

There’s a lengthy thread here, there’s a bug open about the issue and it has been fixed. The next stable release will include the fix. Yay!

Google I/O 2012 Skydive

I watched some of the Google I/O presentation yesterday. I love the look of the Nexus 7 and if the Nexus Q was cheaper I’d love to buy that too. Unfortunately I switched off just before the most impressive part. The skydive in a Google Plus Hangout. Well, here it is, and in the second video, they do it again but this time Sergey Brin explains how it was done.

Ice cream Sandwich on my Samsung Galaxy S 2

The Samsung Galaxy S 2 is a great phone, the best phone I’ve ever owned (and I presume I’ll say that about each newer phone I buy too, it’s becoming a familiar mantra) but it’s taken a while for Samsung to release the new Android, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) upgrade for it. I’m a Meteor Mobile user and ICS was released by them late last week.

Unfortunately when I tried to upgrade my rooted Gingerbread phone through KIES it simply upgraded to the latest Gingerbread release (2.3.5) and not ICS. It may have been because my phone was rooted but I had read that it was possible to upgrade rooted phones. I was disappointed but then my phone kept half-reseting. The bootup tune would play every 5 minutes or so and the phone would appear to have reset. It happened too fast for a reboot so I didn’t know what was happening. Quite frustrating though.

So, I backed up my sms texts, backed up aCar and my Podkicker subscriptions and with the help of this page I installed a generic European ICS firmware on to my SGS2. It was painful unfortunately. KIES, the Samsung desktop sync software, is fairly rubbish. I had to plug my phone in and out of my computer, using different USB ports, resetting my phone in between, just so the software would recognise my phone. I eventually had to use ODIN and the same switching USB ports trick again. I think the Samsung USB drivers conflict with the generic Windows drivers which causes the problems but this is a long standing problem with Samsung phones.

The instructions on the page above are fairly straight forward. Just keep trying to get your phone recognised if you have problems. It will work eventually. When your phone is in download mode and ODIN is squirting the firmware over it should only take a few minutes to work. I had to stop the download twice before it worked which got me worried that I might have bricked the phone!

Was it worth upgrading? The new Roboto font in ICS is gorgeous. It’s a huge step up from the default in Gingerbread. I immediately replaced the Samsung TwLauncher with ADWLauncher EX. The phone looks much the same as it was in Gingerbread, the settings page is better, the fonts are better and it does feel snappier. Unfortunately Kids Place doesn’t work but I found another kid’s sandbox app, Famigo that does.

I’m happy I upgraded but wish it had been easier. The upgrade works a lot better for most people, don’t worry if you see the upgrade notice. Just make sure your contacts and other data are backed up before you go down this path! If you upgrade through KIES it won’t delete everything on your phone and the upgrade is a lot less painful.

Oh yeah, in ICS the screenshot function is now Volume Down+Power buttons.

Oh look! There’s Jupiter!

My wife called me out to the back garden tonight to see the bright object in the sky near the moon. She thought I might know what it was you see. I, uh, didn’t. I thought it might be Mars because of the colour but I knew how to find out! Google Sky Map to the rescue!

I quickly installed the app on my phone, pointed the device at the moon and hey presto! Instant astronomer! Ok, maybe not but it’s still a very cool app. The last time I tried it I found the map was a few degrees off which might have been something to do with the GPS on the original SGS. On the SGS II however it was accurate and a pleasure to use.

Thanks Google!

A really simple way to archive your Tweets

  1. You have a gmail account don’t you? Visit Google Reader now.
  2. Click on the “Add a Subscription” button.
  3. Type in the web address of your Twitter profile. Mine is http://twitter.com/donncha.
  4. Click Add.
  5. There is no #5.
Since Google Reader doesn’t have the 3,200 post limit that Twitter has you can always get access to your old tweets, even when you go over that limit. On the downside, your Twitter account can’t be private and Google will find out yet more about you (but they probably already indexed your Twitter account anyway so no loss there!)

WP Super Cache and mod_pagespeed

So I finally got a chance to try mod_pagespeed on this server. I particularly wanted to know if it behaved well with WP Super Cache as I’d read reports that it causes problems.

Unfortunately those problems are real but I’ve been told that a new release will be out shortly to address a few bugs so perhaps this will help.

If you’d like to try mod_pagespeed make sure you disable compression in WP Super Cache and clear the cache first. Even though the docs state that the module always generates uncompressed HTML it appears to do the opposite. In fact, it tries to load mod_deflate:

# more pagespeed.load
LoadModule pagespeed_module /usr/lib/apache2/modules/mod_pagespeed.so

# Only attempt to load mod_deflate if it hasn’t been loaded already.
<IfModule !mod_deflate.c>
LoadModule deflate_module /usr/lib/apache2/modules/mod_deflate.so
</IfModule>

When things were working, supercached files were processed by mod_pagespeed correctly, I noticed inline Javascript was modified to remove whitespace and I presume other changes were made too but I already minify things and have static files off on another domain so perhaps the changes made on my pages are less minimal.

The changes made by mod_pagespeed, like minifying inline Javascript, are not cached by WP Super Cache so your server has to make these changes each time a page is served. I know that mod_deflate does not cache the gzipped page content, but zips up the page each time it’s served. Mod_pagespeed does however provide a caching mechanism so there’s a good chance those changes are cached there. I haven’t looked at the code so I don’t know.

I did have problems with dynamic pages. A simple phpinfo() refused to load quite often, and backend requests sometimes became stuck. Load on the server sky rocketed occasionally, usually when the module cache directory was emptied.

For now I’ve turned mod_pagespeed off but that might change as this is a young project and maturing fast! I’ll update this post whenever this happens.

Google for Pacman

So, Pacman turned 30 in the last few days and Google put a Pacman game on it’s front page for the day! If you missed it, you can still play Pacman online.

Apparently it’s written in HTML, Javascript and CSS with Flash only used for sound so it will work almost as well on iPhones and iPads.

The Guardian has a great post on it, as does Dave and many others.

Google does hotel reviews now?

A couple of days ago my wife and I discussed our next holiday and she was quite taken with the idea of going to a particular hotel. I searched for the hotel and when I discovered that Google showed hotel reviews linked right from the search page I had to write about it.
After I had written the post I realised that someone might ring up the hotel and if they were feeling nasty or malicious they might cancel the holiday. Therefore, I’ll use the Radisson SAS in Limerick, an excellent hotel we stayed in a few months ago thanks to SuperValu Breaks.

So, search for the Radisson on Google.

radisson1

Clicking on the reviews link takes you here:

radisson2

I can only echo the good reviews. It’s a 4 star hotel, but book through SuperValu and you’ll get a big discount! (with the appropriate book of stamps of course)

Richard knows more about this sort of thing than I and he blogged about it 2 days ago. Looks like a good change for Irish businesses!

BTW, the break away is booked, the hotel is child friendly, we’re looking forward to it already!

PS. Richard has a post on Google’s local search which is definitely worth a read.