Category Archives: Mobiles

PSA: Google Maps Navigation with Satellite Layer uses tons of data

Screenshot_20151021-084814This weekend we did a lot of driving around areas where we’ve never been before. I use Google Map for my navigation including the OK Google voice search from the lock screen for ease of use.
As I tend to view Google Maps with the satellite layer it comes on when using navigation.
Yesterday I got my bill from Vodafone, and whilst logged in I took a look at my current usage and it said:
Data 1.16 of 4GB used
You’ll get a new allowance on 16 Nov 2015

This meant in four days I used over a gig of data, checking my data usage within the phone it showed that 0.96GB of that was from Google Maps.
Fortunately I tend to use less than 2GB a month, so the exta gig on top is still below my allowance, but a note to self for the future, make sure tha satellite layer is turned off before navigating.

o2 and the over zealous family filter?

So if you’ve been on social media this weekend you will have seen a number of tweets like this with people astounded that their site is being blocked by o2.

Did they discover this because they couldn’t access the site on their mobile? No because they followed a link someone else tweeted, entered their URL and saw the word BLOCKED.
So what exactly is “Parental Control”, this page on the o2 website explains:

Parental Control is a service we offer to help parents to protect their children while they’re online. It enables us to restrict children’s web access via their mobile to a limited number of sites which are suitable for children.

It’s opt-in, and mainly aimed for children under the age of 12 who for some reason have their own mobile. As such it’s a whitelist of sites known to be ok. Search for lego and you get this:
Parent control isn’t part of the government “think of the children”, nor “urgh nasty pictures on the internet, that grown adults might get pleasure from”, it’s a service that o2 have been offering for years, but have had very little take up.

The setting which stops naughty websites from appearing on your phone is “Default Safety“. If it’s anything like Vodafone’s “Content Control” this is the default every phone number is set to. You need to opt out of this if you want to view sites such as the one below:
o2 Pornography.
Proof of age in a store, or payment taken on a credit card was what we used to have to deal with and again it’s been like that for years. Mobile networks have had a list of pervy customers before David Cameron started his latest crusade.

Of course your site may be child friendly and even educational, but until you tell o2 that you believe it’s suitable, you’re not going to magically appear on a whitelist.


  • I notice that o2 have added the line (opt in u12 service) to the results page to attempt to clear things up since yesterday.
  • Of course mobile data blocking won’t do much help when most phones have access to WiFi and most public WiFi only restrict adult sites.

In praise of Three

Working in mobiles for over 8 years I’ve seen the rise in coverage of 3G networks. I know how they work, unless you are in a major city you are going to have limited coverage. Trying to read Facebook in Toys-r-us in Lincoln? Better make sure your near the window. Going out in to the country? Tough.

So when I got myself a Samba SIM to use with my tablet for a laugh I though I would check the coverage of Three (who Samba use) around me. Samba Coverage I was surprised to see them claim that for almost my whole commute they would provide at least “outdoor” 3G coverage.

So I put it through a test. Continue reading In praise of Three

Samsung Galaxy S II Tricks

The following tricks/hacks are a list of things which I’ve either discovered or found elsewhere on the internet.

Screen Brightness
If you prefer to set the screen brightness down to zero, you’ll find that outside you can’t see the screen. Instead of hunting through the menus you can do this quick trick to whack the brightness up to full.
Press on the Status Bar at the top around the middle, hold for about a second, now drag to the right. As you reach the right hand side of the screen it should get brighter. You can do the same dragging to the left to decrease the brightness.
This can be tricky to start with, however once mastered can be done without much effort.

Screen Shots
Want to capture a winning score in Angry Birds, or show how great your desktop is? Trying to find a way to get an image of the screen? On other Android models your options were to root your phone and install ShootMe or to connect your phone to your computer via USB, install ADB and run some software. However Samsung have stolen taken inspiration from Apple, and allow you to hold the Home button and press the Power button to capture the screen. Images can be found in the Gallery in the Screenshot folder.

Stop the Home Button Waking the phone Root only
I liked the fact that on my Nexus to access the phone you had to use the Power Button, whilst others wanted Trackball Wake, I wanted the screen to stay off unless I really wanted it on. However the Galaxy, like the iPhone wakes just by pressing Home, and my daughter already knows this trick.
To stop the phone waking, you will need to be rooted, have something like Root Explorer. Here navigate to /system/usr/keylayout, mount the phone for R/W and edit sec_key.kl.
You are looking for the line
key 102    HOME     WAKE
just delete the word WAKE, save the file and reboot the phone.

Any more I come across will be added to this post.

Samsung Galaxy S II

Galaxy S II Vodafone Box Back in May I got my upgrade, in the end I opted for the Samsung Galaxy S II. It’s on Vodafone, 12 month contract, £49 up front, £50 a month (minus a nice staff discount). The phone came with the first three Pirates of the Caribean DVDs (no idea why), and amazingly my phone was unbranded out of the box (all others appear to have light Vodafone branding).

So what to say about this phone.
Continue reading Samsung Galaxy S II

HTC Sensation or the Samsung Galaxy S II

It’s that time of the year where I can now upgrade my mobile, and I’m stuck with the dilemma between picking the HTC Sensation or the Samsung Galaxy S II.

Both appear to be great phones and spec wise not much between them.


1.2GHz Dual Core Processor
Screen 4.3″
Gorilla Glass
Gingerbread (with the promise of 18 months worth of firmware upgrades)
8mp Camera with 1080p video capture
TV Out via MHL cable
Play the TV shows I’ve “recorded”
Both available for the same price on the same contract
Continue reading HTC Sensation or the Samsung Galaxy S II