Review of the Halo screen protector (HD) for the Nexus 4

I’ve had the Halo screen protector (HD) installed on my Nexus 4 for about 2 weeks so far.

Pros:

  • So far it works will with my TPU case, I’ve heard that other protectors don’t work so well with cases.
  • Dry appliance, so you don’t have spray the device with liquid.
  • Nice feel when touching and swiping.
  • 3 protectors in the pack

Cons:

  • The first protector I applied didn’t stick to the screen at all the 2nd one did.
  • The screen protectors don’t seem to have been packaged in a clean environment as the had some does on hem when I unpacked them.
  • The right hand side of the screen protector has come away slightly in the days after the install, however it doesn’t seem to be pulling away more.

Conclusion:
Overall I’m happy with the protector so far, however I think there may be some quality controls issues in the production, so you might have to use more than one of the protectors to get a good install.

Mauritius

 

It was great to stopover in Mauritius. After camping for 27 days in southern Africa.

However what made it a great experience was being able to hang out with Zca, it was an ideal break. Especially as I was heading to India next.osoa again. It’s been 6 years since we last met and it was great to see him again. Zosoa’s and Ana’s hospitality was amazing and really made me feel at home. 

Photos: http://www.dropbox.com/sh/d5i4fi13u4dq4s9/lGAOw7rsf5

Zambia

IMG_1575

From Botswana, we crossed into Zambia. We didn’t travel much in Zambia and just stopped in Livingstone for 3 nights. There is a lot of stuff to do in Livingstone; I did white water rafting and a micro light flight over Victoria falls.
There aren’t many pictures for Zambia uploaded yet, I need to get the white water rafting pictures from a friend and need to upload the micro lighting ones. But there are few too look at.

Link to Pictures:

http://www.dropbox.com/sh/qygscsmdvo5i973/kWN_z-oVl2

Botswana

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After Namibia, we headed into Botswana. Here we did a 2 night bush camp in the Okavenga delta, a bush camp means we camped in the delta itself, so there was no established camp site with facilities like toilets, or walls to keep the animals out. We were told that if we left our tents in the middle of the night, that we had to shine a torch around to see if we could see if any eyes shining in the dark, if we saw this we had to get back into the tent immediately.

We got into the delta on narrow boats called mokoro’s, which where piloted by the local tribesmen using a pole (hence they were called polers), in a similar way to punting. On the way in, one of the mokoro’s was turned over by an enraged hippo, which the polers thought had just been in a fight with another hippo. Fortunately no one was hurt, but it was a bit of shock when the peaceful journey through the reeds was interrupted but soddenly shouting and all our boats being suddenly pushed into the reeds to avoid the hippo.

After the delta, we went to Chobe, where we did a river cruise. This is an awesome way to see a load of animals, and sitting a boat was far more chilled out than doing a game drive in the truck.

Link to pictures:
http://www.dropbox.com/sh/t1rp7ky0q37ajt2/gzqtJ-7jez

Namibia

2012-10-04-06.03.16

Note: Apologies for the delay in posting updates, I can’t blame everything on the internet as I have been very very lazy. However I have some free time on my hands now and will try to get some more posts up.

We crossed the border from South Africa into Namibia after spending a night at Orange River. You can tell almost immediately that you’re in a different country, as the country side becomes far more arid.

Namibia is a very dry and hot country, at one point it reached over 40 degrees C in Sossusvlei. However, as we were camping it could also get very cold during the night.

We did a lot of interesting things in Namibia, however there are three places I particularly enjoyed: Sossusvlei, Swakopmund and Eytosha.

In Sossusvlei, we climbed dune 45 at sunrise. In order to do this we had to wake up at 4am in the morning, pack up camp and get to the gates to the park before all the other trucks (we wanted to be first to climb the dune). We managed this, but where subsequently overtaken by another overland truck, that was driving a bit too fast. When we got to the foot of the dune the other truck was already parked, however arriving first had made them complacent, they were taking a long time to get ready and get off their truck. So we got ready and bailed out of our truck as soon as it stopped and ran up the first part of dune, I wouldn’t advise running up a sand dune, it’s very hard work. After about 50 minutes of walking we got to the top of the dune, just in time for sunrise. It is one of the most stunning sunrises I have seen.

Swakopmund is a town on the skeleton coast, we stopped here for 2 nights in a hotel, which was a nice break from camping. Swakopmund is the “adrenaline capital” of Namibia . Here you can do things like Sand boarding, sky diving, quad biking etc. I did the last two. Skydiving was insane, I don’t really remember much of the free-fall, apparently because the first time you jump, the adrenaline rush blanks out the memory. I probably found the quad biking more fun, as we spent a whole afternoon speeding up and down sand dunes, I don’t think you would be allowed to do that in Europe.

Last but not least, we stayed 2 nights in Eytosha, which is a national park and game reserve. We did several game drives in the truck, we were quite lucky and saw a lot of animals, including a cheetah, which is apparently quite a rare sight.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time in Namibia, it’s a beautiful country.

Link to Photos:
http://www.dropbox.com/sh/qeik9tnu06l62lv/uywMfnTEXy

It’s a truck, not a f*cking bus

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I traveled through Africa in an overland truck. This is basically a commercial truck/lorry, which has a custom overlanding body put on it instead of the freight body, the overlanding body contains a seating area as well as storage bins for all the required equipment. It is most definitely not a bus, as our driver was sure to remind us (gratuitous swearing in the title is my own, not Kobus’s).

If there is one benefit about being lazy about writing about my experiences, it is that I can write from the benefit of hindsight. An overland tour is hard work, it certainly isn’t for people who want any form of luxury. You will get up at 4am in the morning most days and have your tent packed (oh yes you are camping) by 5am, in time to be on the road by 5.45-6am.

Our driver and guide where called Kobus and Hettie respectively, they are two of the coolest and most hard working people I’ve met. These guys will pull 18 hour days continuously for a whole circuit, which could be over 40 days, there isn’t really anything like a weekend off, as everyday is just another day of the tour. These guys are overlanders, if you ever meet an overlander, buy them a beer.

The first day, we drove 12 hours, from Cape Town to the Orange River, which is the natural border between South Africa and Namibia. We arrived after dark, and learned how to pitch or tents. The showers didn’t work at the camp site, when they did start working, they supplied brown water, which was fun.

Some pictures here:
http://www.dropbox.com/sh/7khktlm5gf50uz9/s5GAZWRAuh

Cape Town

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Apologies for the delay in uploading any photos or communication in general, this is partly because internet connectivity in African campsites is a largely theoretical concept, but also because I’ve been a bit lazy.

However I’ve finally got round to sorting through and uploading some photos (please see note below), and writing a small amount about the destination in question (I’m probably not going to write an essay about each place, I’ll let the photos do the talking). I will upload entries for Namibia and the other African countries I’ve been to later this week.

I really enjoyed Cape Town, it is a great city with many things to do. Unfortunately I only had a few days , so couldn’t do everything. The weather was also quite changeable, largely changing to rain most of the time, which meant Table Mountain was wrapped in a halo of cloud for most of the time I was there. Fortunately, the weather did clear on the last day and I was able to get up to the top, which was amazing.

Table Mountain and chapman’s peak drive (a scenic drive along the eastern part of the cape) where probably my favourite things I did there.

I would also like to thank James, Nike, Thomas and Charlotte, for showing me around and their fantastic hospitality.

You can see some photos from Cape Town here:

http://www.dropbox.com/sh/ayuxkd1yylzf283/w92r3X3IGd

Note regarding photos: The internet connectivity in Africa is not great (my hotel in Mauritius isn’t connected very well either), so a lot of photos are still uploading from my netbook. So it may take a while for all the photos to upload, if you check back a later date you may see more appear. You may also see several photos of the same thing, this is because I haven’t culled the worst photos in the set yet.

ResophNotes Hot-key Toggle

ResophNotes is a great note taking application, which I’ve just started using recently.

One of the cool features is that you can assign a hot-key to the application (for example CTRL+R), so you can open it very quickly. Unfortunately the hot-key doesn’t work for minimising the ResophNotes window again. Instead you have to use ALT+SPACE+N to minimise it.

I found using ALT+SPACE+N a bit cumbersome, so I put together a simple Autohotkey script that allows you to use a single hot-key for both minimising and maximising ResophNotes:

#NoEnv ; Recommended for performance and compatibility with future AutoHotkey releases.
#Warn ; Recommended for catching common errors.
SendMode Input ; Recommended for new scripts due to its superior speed and reliability.
SetWorkingDir %A_ScriptDir% ; Ensures a consistent starting directory.

^r:: Gosub, resophmin ; Sets the Resoph toggle key to CTRL+R

resophmin:
WinGet, windowstatus , MinMax, ResophNotes, , , ; Gets the status of the ResophNotes window

if windowstatus =0
{
WinMinimize , ResophNotes, , , ; If the ResophNotes window is maximised, AHK will minimise it
}
else
{
send ^9 ; If the ResophNotes notes window isn't maximised, AHK will send a key combination (CTRL+9), this should be the same combo as configured in the ResophNotes options.
}
return

However please note that this script still uses the hot-key configured in ResophNotes itself, which can’t be the same as the hot-key used for the Autohotkey script. In the above example I configured the Autohotkey script to use CTR+R and ResophNotes to CTRL+9.

If you don’t have Autohotkey installed, or just want a pre-compiled exe for the script, you can download it from here.

Speed up your DNS with Namebench

Namebench

DNS is used to convert the human readable domain names we use on the internet (such as amazon.co.uk), into machine readable IP addresses (e.g. 87.238.81.129).

Your computer accomplishes this by using a Name Server (NS), the NS your computer uses normally defaults to the one supplied by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). However the NS from your ISP may not be the fasted performing or have as many extra features a 3rd party NS providers. The speed with which the NS converts the Domain Name into an IP is the resolving speed. The resolving speed can be affected by various factors such as the speed of the NS server itself, the latency of your connection to the NS and the physical distance of the NS from you. So in order to maximise the speed of your web browsing etc. its important to have the fastest DNS resolving speed possible.

A good and easy to use tool that allows you to test the resolving speed of your current NS, vs various 3rd party ones is Namebench. This tool will send multiple DNS requests from your computer to your current NS and to the 3rd party NS list that Namebench includes by default. It then outputs a report comparing the resolving speed of your current NS vs the 3rd party NS services. It will also recommend the fastest NS for your internet connection. In my case using the DNS Advantage NS gave around an 80% speed boost.

If you’re not so worried about speed, you can also use your NS as an extra layer of security.

Windows Security

The below list is not meant to be exhaustive or to be a how-to for every suggestion, however I have provided links for most of the suggestion from which you can find more information.

Antivirus

This is a bit of a no-brainer, but many people still don’t use one. A good (and free) option to use is Microsoft Security Essentials, it performs well in AV tests, and in my experience runs lighter than other solutions. If you don’t mind paying you can try Norton Internet Security which has done quite well in tests recently, it also includes a firewall and other features.

Software Firewall

Even if you have hardware firewall, it is worth having a software firewall installed on your pc as well. This allows out-bound traffic to be filtered, which would not necessarily happen with a hardware firewall. Also software firewalls can flag up suspect programs using HIPS. A good free firewall which has HIPS is the Comodo firewall.

Router with NAT Translation and a Stateful Packet Inspection Firewall

This makes it harder for external computers to connect to your network, for more information see here.

Have separate User and Admin accounts

Running in a standard non-admin user account for daily use can substantially reduce security risks, only use the admin account when installing programs etc.

User Account Control (UAC)

UAC is a highly effective tool, especially when combined with running as a standard user as mentioned above. However make it sure it is set up correctly with the slider right at the top.

Windows 7

Windows 7 has features like Address Space Layout Randomization, this was also in vista, but Windows 7 is much nicer to generally and more responsive.

Use a 64 bit version of Windows 7

64 bit windows includes extra protection like Data Execution Protection and Patch Guard.

Use Google chrome as your default browser

Make sure you install Chrome using your standard account, not the Admin account. This will make sure chrome installs into your document and settings folder as opposed to the program files folder. This is necessary as this lets Chrome auto update in a standard user account, which it can’t if installed in the program files folder. There are several security benefits of using chrome:

  • Chrome auto updates itself, this means you will always have the most secure and up-to-date version
  • The Chrome sandbox makes it harder to exploit the browser
  • Chrome has flash built-in which ensures it is always auto-updated to the latest and most secure version, Chrome will eventually sandbox the plugin which will improve security
  • When installed paste “chrome://plugins/” into the address bar (without quotes) and disable any plugins you don’t use
  • Also consider using extensions like Flashblock and Adblock

Don’t install standalone Flash

When you need to use something with flash use Chrome, Flash is one of the main routes that a computer can be exploited via the web browser, so by using chrome’s version you can mitigate this risk. Also, do not install java unless you really need it.

Don’t use Adobe Reader

Adobe Reader generally has a lot of security flaws, try using an alternative like Sumatra or PDF-XChange PDF Viewer, Google Chrome also has a built-in PDF viewer in the Beta version, which i’m sure will soon come to the stable version. This is worth using to avoid various PDF exploits. If you really need to use Adobe Reader follow this advice for securing it.

DNS servers

Normally you use DNS servers that are supplied by your ISP, however there are now DNS services that screen domains for Malware, and prevent you accessing them. Two such services are Norton DNS and Clear Cloud DNS.

Turn on Microsoft Update

Microsoft Update is like windows update, but will update any Microsoft product including Microsoft Office etc.