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Archive for June, 2010

Android – BIG Mistake

Amazing how something comes along and the reviewers are so keen to support something new they don’t bother to test things properly.

When it was time for Maureen to get a new phone, Orange wanted over-the-top up-front money for the iPhone, so based on rave reviews we got her the new Android phone, the HTC DESIRE

And now here we are in America, despite a roaming-enabled SIM it is UTTERLY incapable of handling AT&T or Verizon, SKYPE is not available for Android and TRUPHONE does not support that model. In other words, while we’re here, the phone is absolutely and utterly USELESS.

Orange don’t have a CLUE what’s wrong – we’ve narrowed it down to the phone, not the SIM as we swapped SIMS with my iPhone and the SIM in my phone connected immediately and the text messages came in – swap back – nothing – the Android phone may as well be a BRICK.

I can see a replacement coming along here.


Andrew J Flando Jnr (deceased) – A Sad Day

Andrew J. Flando Jnr (deceased)Andrew J. Flando Jr died on 20th June 2010. The wake took place in the afternoon and evening of Thursday 24th June. Friday 25th of July 2010 saw the funeral which began at 9 a.m. Friday, June 25, at Kelley & Spalding Funeral Home, 1787 Deerfield Road, Highland Park, followed by Mass at St. Mary Church, Buffalo Grove. Many of the guests finally had lunch with us at the Arboretum Club in Buffalo Grove, IL.

Andrew J Flando JnrAndy was my father-in-law, a World War II veteran of the Navy and an attorney-at-law. He was the beloved husband for 59 years of Mary Frances “Mimi” (Heffernan). He was a great person and will be sorely missed.

Arboretum ClubAnyone wishing to leave messages of sympathy on the web, can so so by simply making a suitable entry in our guestbook.

At the lunch, the many guests present were given a short presentation of photos we’d put together from several sources, a few of which are re-presented below…

Andrew J Flando Jnr

Andrew J Flando Jnr

Andrew J Flando Jnr

Andrew J Flando Jnr

Andrew J Flando Jnr

Andrew J Flando Jnr

There are more photos of my family and more in the USA at my Google Web Albums site

USA Today

BPYou would THINK no-one would be buying fuel from BP – but the garage we visited had plenty of business – note that’s $2.85 a gallon! Pretty much business as usual I guess though BP is part of the top of conversation here along with constant references to people’s religious background which just escapes me completely “That’s Mrs xxxx, she’s Jewish” – I’m trying to think how we normally introduce someone…. I’m thinking “That’s Mr xxxx, he’s an engineer” or similar…   anyway, couple of rough days ahead then hopefully at the weekend we’ll get a trip into Chicago itself. I’m currently torn between the less expensive and longer open-topped bus tour, or the more expensive and shorter but startlingly modern SEGWAY tour – and of course I’ll have to look in the Apple store.

AldiWe popped into Aldis this morning, it may be just a small version but I didn’t think it was a patch on the ones I’ve seen in the UK – prices however were admirably cheap, which is more than can be said for most of the stores which I’ve already found to be very expensive – especially food!

That’s about all I have time for now, time to head off into the shower, then into the suit… and off to the wake.  Somehow I don’t think this is going to be the spiritual highlight of the trip…

iPhone 4.0 OS – First Look

iPhone 4.0 OS foldersAfter waiting what seems like years but was probably just weeks for the update for the iPhone to version 4 then after waiting half an hour to grab iTunes on my laptop (not normally used to sync the iPhone so there’s a tip for you – NO you don’t have to use the PC you original setup your phone on) I proceeded to the upgrade button and upgraded my iPhone 3GS to iPhone version 4.0 OS software – another 20 minutes and no problems whatsoever.

That done the first thing I noticed was that my chosen background now appears on all screens – that’s nice!  The second thing that’s immediately obvious is the fact you can now drop one icon onto another and make instant FOLDERS which is nice. Each folder can now hold 12 icons and with a bit of planning you can how hold 12 times as many apps on the phone as before or opt for less pages of icons. That’s a plus though you’re not going to get all your games in one folder – you CAN thankfully make identically named folders if you like!! None of this takes any brainpower or manuals.

iPhone OS 4.0 multitaskingThe iPhone now also handled multi-tasking – of a sort.  By double-clicking on the HOME button you can now see active tasks and switch between them.

The big plus is the ability to play a game or whatever.. and STILL keep SKYPE running in the background – depending on whether or not you’re a SKYPE user that makes a big difference… BUT NOTE: Skype does NOT yet run in the background – despite showing demos and saying that NOW you can run Skype in the background they have not actually YET released the new version. I’m awaiting this with baited breath as I use Skype for all calls and also keep my phone in my pocket all the time so this will be a game changer for me.

Another plus is the unified inbox – now if you have multiple accounts as I do (Exchange and Google mail) you have the option to read the inboxes separately or as one – nice idea – why don’t MS so that in Office 2010?

Other than that it’s largely business as usual though sitting here I’m having immense difficulty getting the newly updated iPhone to download the updated TomTom and it’s telling me to update that particular package via iTunes – granted TomTom is HUGE.

At least on the surface of it, updating is worth the effort but beware if you’re reading this on the publication date, the Apple site is running like a DOG!

For more blogs see www.scargill.net and http://scargill.wordpress.com/


Hackneys fried onion starterA good thing about being in the USA is it makes me feel thin. Not that servings are large here but last night we popped over to Hackneys, one of my favourite places to eat when I’m here – and the picture shows the starter which is their “famous” onion dish…. and very nice with it… there are some large people here – given the choice they have in the supermarkets and the quality of the food, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out why it’s so easy to put on weight.

tmpC862As always, everyone is super nice – granted not the best of circumstances being here this time… and after the horrifying discovery this morning that Vodafone were ripping us at £29.95 for 50 meg which they deem “adequate” for most people and which I polished off in the first hour of handling emails etc, we finally got the WIFI working so at least from that perspective, all’s well.  Interestingly there’s a box with a telephone line attached that produces telephone, TV and WIFI all in one – you cannot tell the difference between the TV which is clearly coming in via the Internet – and normal TV. The usual endless channels etc.. none of which stops the WIFI coming in at up to 20meg and the phone working at the same time.

Weather is fine – it’s hot and sunny though a little humid right now, I can’t remember how to convert back to old-style Fahrenheit but I reckon it’s in the lower 30s centigrade here.  As soon as I have some transport I intend to do looking for an iPad case. Maureen has gone off shopping with her sisters.

telephone boxHere’s a thing – www.bbc.co.uk – the news pages etc.. you’d expect them to be the same everywhere? Wrong – the same pages here in the US are different!!!!

I note the expected response from Labour to the budget. You would THINK that having put the country in the MESS it’s in – they would have the grace to keep quiet for a while as the coalition try to mend the damage – but no- straight in on the defensive with their pals in the unions… what WERE we thinking about keeping those guys in jobs for so long…

Oh! Nearly forgot – as you walk through the door at Hackneys – you come across this – a genuine red British phone-box! Not very often you see those in the UK!!

USB Power Supplies

When I got the iPAD a while ago, it came with a VERY impressive USB power supply. Why impressive? well because it was hardly bigger than a normal mains plug yet puts out a wopping 10watts of power while running freezing cold (which means it is HIGHLY efficient). Most USB supplies put out no-where NEAR that.

The iPAD can’t handle the normal supplies or indeed USB outputs from most hubs and laptops because they simply don’t put out enough power, hence the more powerful unit supplied.

I thought little more of that until today, sitting in the window looking out on suburban Chicago and forced to use a dongle for broadband…. or more specifically the SIM from the dongle inserted into a NOKIA phone running Joikuspot to provide WIFI to both of our laptops. After about half an hour the phone died as the WIFI router uses LOTS of power. So I plugged the phone into it’s charger… no joy, as soon as the Joikuspot program came on the PSU was unable to keep up and the phone went dead again.

Then I remembered the iPAD power supply… having a usb-to-Nokia lead I tried that and BINGO – no problem at all – full use AND charge at the same time  – slightly marred when I found out that theiving Vodafone wanted to charge £29 for 50 meg – making a download of iTunes to the laptop cost £60 what a joke – VODAPHONE IF YOU’RE READING THIS YOU’RE A BUNCH OF THIEVES. The charger ran freezing cold which is more than can be said for the phone.

The moral of the tale?  Make sure as far as possible that all your gadgets charge using USB leads and get a couple of decent USB mains chargers (lead plugs into the charger) – forget the cheap Chinese crap and go for something like the Apple iPAD units which CLEARLY are built to a specification, not a price. A tiny additional benefit being that as they are very efficient, their standby current if left plugged in – is almost non-existent.


Peter Scargill

A cat’s life


It’s a tough life being a cat. In the first photo, I  must’ve sat most of the day working on a document and the only time I moved was to yank young Ollie back off the floor as he slowly slid off the edge of the bench fast asleep and eventually fell off, via me. I think the mouse movement on the screen hypnotises him….

Here then are a few recent pics of my cat in action…

Ollie working hard

Ollie in Action


Ollie in action

Winter January 2010 – a reminder

As I’ve just finished moving my pictures from Flickr to Google Web Albums – mainly due to their association with Getty and Corbis – a timely reminder as we enjoy wonderful sunshine here in the Northeast, what it was like just a few months ago!

Rosie and her Kittens

Having lost Maureen’s favourite cat Rosie – here’s a quick photo tribute – the cute ginger one is Ollie who is sitting draped over my arm as I write this – he’s the only one we kept.

Venter on DNA and the Sea

This is a video of Craig Venter back in 2007 discussing the progress they were making with artificial life – and how this might be adapted to various uses – i.e. ultimately replacing the petrochemical industries and other gob-smackingly outstanding ideas….   towards the end I was amused when he referred to the 18 months they took out for ethical policy studies… in which they delayed their studies in 1999, in which he says…"every major religion participated in this… it was a very strange study because the various religious leaders were using their scriptures as law books and they couldn’t find anything in them prohibiting making life… so it must be ok"….

Weird – on the one hand you have a guy talking matter-of-fact about stuff that anyone who’s NOT watched him most likely thinks is distant future sci-fi… and on the other hand what kind of crazy state is science in where it has (at least in the US, I hope to Betsy not in the UK) to go talking to religious leaders  for their approval – I thought they only did that in the dark ages!!

Anyway, thankfully none of this has stopped progress and they’re now so far advanced, you can’t help thinking that any day soon we’re going to hear something major – like an alternative to oil, cures for major diseases… it might be just Venter’s style but listening to what they’ve already achieved makes one proud to be around in the early 21st century. WELL impressed….. and his latest video wherein they’ve put together the first artificial working life complete with embedded website address in the DNA – well….mind-blowing…

Here are both videos – I suggest if you’re interested watching them in order…. the TED videos are just SO much better than watching pap on TV as they don’t have to cater for the lowest-common denominator – yet still usually manage to keep the talks surprisingly understandable to the lay-person.