My new ‘learn to code’ masterclass in APC magazine


One of my most favourite roles at PC User magazine was developing the in-house apps for the monthly cover disc. Not the stuff that was often unflatteringly called ‘shovelware’, but the PC User-branded apps – everything from the PerfectPC system builder app to various RockPod and TVRip video conversion tools, UserBench benchmarks and the UserOS operating systems.
It was all fun and incredibly interesting because you never did the same thing twice – it also helped me perfect my time… Read more

Should I upgrade to iOS 8?


The one thing I’ve applauded Apple for that Android device makers have done rather poorly on is the whole continuous stream of OS updates. Whereas Android devices are often abandoned by their makers after two years and rarely see updates after one, Apple is still churning out versions of its latest releases of iOS for quite old devices.
The new iOS 8 is a case in point – you can now install this update onto an ageing iPad 2.
But… Read more

Run KitKat on your PC


One of the problems with running newer operating systems on older PCs is they just tend to struggle under the weight. Sure, they’re designed to run in the same amount of RAM as their predecessors (at least in the case of Windows), but that doesn’t always help much.
One of the quieter and more interesting OS efforts in recent times has been the Android-x86 project. You might be having trouble getting a KitKat/Android 4.4 update for your phone or tablet, but… Read more

My new Arduino project – Big-Screen Sports Timekeeper


A few months ago, I turned one of the Dot-Matrix Display (DMD) boards from Australian makers Freetronics into an Audio Spectrum Analyser in my APC magazine Arduino Masterclass*, but in the new October 2014 issue of APC, I’ve used it for something more traditional – a big-screen sports timekeeper.
Most local sporting clubs end up relying on a guy with a stopwatch and a whistle, but this 32×16-LED panel can be combined with a simple Arduino Uno microcontroller to create… Read more

USB charging secrets


Everyone wants their mobile device to charge faster – but some of the things you’ll read (and sometimes even buy) do more to slow down charge speeds than anything else. There’s quite a bit of guff about the place when it comes to mobile device charging – and the best way to get informed is to understand just how USB charging works.
My story on USB Charging Secrets over at looks at the USB charging standards and helps you… Read more

Five zero-cost ways to boost MySQL performance


The internet runs on databases – without them, the way we live today just wouldn’t be possible. So, it’s not surprising there’s significant demand for greater database transaction speed to cope.
You can get that speed by throwing faster hardware at your database – but that should come only after significant database performance management. It seems everyone has their own idea of how to maximise database transaction speed, but the only way to find that out quantitatively is to benchmark… Read more