• Welcome to 2016 with Weird Al

    I knew Weird Al Yankovic was touring Australia in January 2016, but when I jumped at the chance to see an NBA game during my visit to Toronto late last year I had resigned myself to the fact that doing so would probably mean passing on Al this time (I had seen him on his Poodle Hat tour back in 2003).

    That was until Narelle spotted cheap tickets to Weird Al’s Adelaide concert appearing on lasttix.com.au. By clicking on the special (and avoiding signing up to lasttix because I didn’t want to if I didn’t have to), I ended up at ticketmaster, but with a cheaper price of just $60 per ticket instead of the usual $90+. Bargain!

    There was a great crowd, a good supporting act in Mickey D (nice to have a comedian that was funny without being crude), and eventually Al and his band came on to give us a performance just like we were hoping.

    Al with piano accordian playing a polka

    Al doing Nirvana

    The tech guy helping hold Al's harmonica

    Word Crimes

    More accordian

    The Star Wars encore

    It was a great mix of old favourites and songs from his latest album Mandatory Fun (which reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts recently)

    All in all a great night out – even better as I went with friends Tom (whom originally introduced me to Al’s albums many years ago) and Derek (who wasn’t a huge Al fan before but I think enjoyed the night anyway).

  • Open Live Writer

    I’ve been a fan of using Microsoft’s Windows Live Writer to compose blog posts for quite a few years now, so when it stopped working earlier this year due to Google changing the authentication requirements for Blogger, I was a bit disappointed. The good news was that Microsoft contacted Google and (for once) they extended Live Writer a lifeline to allow it to continue to use the old API until alternate arrangements could be made.

    All was good just over a week ago, when a) Microsoft released an open source version of Live Writer – named Open Live Writer, and b) Google finally did switch off the old authentication API. Unfortunately the first new release of Open Live Writer didn’t have a working implementation of Google’s new authentication API, so there was a few days of inconvenience whilst that was finished off. Version 0.5.1.2 came out last Friday and I’m pleased to find that it does work again with Blogger!

    The source code is on Github at https://github.com/OpenLiveWriter/OpenLiveWriter, and there’s already an active community contributing bug reports and pull requests.

    It’s great to see such a useful application given a new lease on life (or should that be ‘new lease on live’ Smile )

  • Windows 10 Mobile on Lumia 920

    (I wrote this post on 10th December, but was waiting for Open Live Writer to support Blogger)

    So this happened.. Last week I reset my phone so that Narelle could use it for a day (hers had broken the previous day). Once I replaced hers and got my handset back, I reset it again and started re-installing all my apps. Windows Phone may not be the most popular phones around, but one of the nice things about them is that they do automatic backups, and by default save all your contacts to the cloud, so there isn’t much you can accidentally lose.

    So after reinstalling everything I thought “hmm.. Maybe I should try out the Windows 10 update”. I’d resisted this urge previously as I’d read lots of reports of how unstable it was, but now the new 950/950XL handsets are out which come with Windows 10, and there’s just been an additional update since then too. Worst case I can use the support tool to reset my phone back to Windows Phone 8.1 again.

    Phone Update screen installing Windows Phone 10Phone Update screen, install 10.0.10586.29

    The install took a little while (maybe an hour?).

    I did notice the battery seemed to run down a bit on the first day – admittedly that day included the update which would have used a bit of juice.

    Windows Phone 10, Battery Status showing 23% left

    The trouble is it’s hard to know if that is just Windows 10, or my handset – I’ve seen it occasionally do similar things with 8.1.

    Windows 10 Mobile looks quite nice. The upgrade kept my icons on the start screen, though the layout needed tweaking as the size of the icons seemed to have changed slightly.

    Windows Phone 10 Start Screen

    Some of the apps are updated (eg. News, Mail, Calendar). Actually I think I prefer the 8.1 News app, but the new one is ok. I have two mail accounts on my phone, and they ended up being combined. Not sure if there’s a way to un-combine them.

    Some pluses – they finally have an Australian keyboard option (Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!). The browser is also the latest Edge version.

    Some minuses – possibly due to my older handset – I find the response time for various things quite slow. Even just turning the phone on and unlocking has a noticeable delay. The opposite is true of scrolling. It seems a bit too sensitive, and I often end up scrolling way further than I intended.

    I’m going to stick with it for a little while and see how I go. If the battery does prove to be a problem then reverting back to 8.1 might be the best option.