You get what you pay for

Needing a second iPhone charging dock, I bought this particular product from eBay.

It was cheap. £2.19 shipped to my door.  Well, it seems you get what you pay for.

From the outset this dock felt much cheaper than the Apple original I have on my desk at home.  Ok, it was 10 times cheaper, so it was never going to be of similar quality.

Comparing this cheap dock with the original it felt much lighter, I noted that the charge cable socket was “upside down” and when placing the iPhone onto the connector it felt tight and required a little persuasion.

Nothing particularly wrong, just cheap. For £2.19 I was more than happy to live with that.  It worked after all.

However, with cheap often comes poor build quality and dubious assembly ‘precision’. ¬†It was, therefore, no great surprise that this was the case with this dock.

I shall get to the point…..

After connecting the iPhone today I noticed that it wasn’t charging. ¬†Being a geek and engineer I immediately opened up the dock. ¬†As you can see from the picture below, it didn’t take long to figure out why it wasn’t charging any more! ¬†“Dry Joint” would be a huge understatement!

No big deal, my wife runs an electronics assembly company so it will be soldered up in no time. ¬†What concerns me more is the very poor workmanship that has gone in to soldering up the connectors at manufacture. ¬†A couple of bridged (shorted out) pins here or there may cause damage to the phone. ¬†Knowing how phones are designed and tested, it is highly unlikely that serious failure would occur (by that I mean it won’t get excessively hot)¬†but it is conceivable that something may stop working.

Of course, it is highly possible that I have been unlucky and received a defective unit, a manufacturing error. ¬†My experience in the field of electronics design and manufacture coupled with my wife’s expert knowledge of electronics assembly suggest that is not the case.

So, my advice is to accept that cheap (especially as cheap as this dock) may mean poor build quality.  Just be weary.

Have you had similar experiences with cheap alternatives to the expensive original? ¬†I’d love to hear them. ¬†Please drop a comment below.

Update (29-Jan-2011): Unfortunately the dock was beyond repair. ¬†After taking a look under an inspection microscope, several pads were lifted and broken away from the corresponding tracks. ¬†The tracks themselves had also become detached from the PCB making a repair too time consuming to warrant an attempt (it’s BER). ¬†What has clearly happened is that the connector was allowed too much room to move around which, after a few weeks of use, resulted in the tracks and pads connected to the pins of the connector coming away from the PCB. ¬†Cheap, badly designed rubbish.

I am @craigt44 on Twitter.

Memolane: consolidate & share

On Friday last week (21st Jan) I received a letter through the post from Memolane.  Inside I was thrilled to find some Memolane stickers!  I have promptly affixed one to the lid of my netbook.

Memolane is an excellent service that lets you capture photos, music, tweets, posts (and more) and allows you to share them via a timeline based user interface.  In fact the presentation of the information is what really makes Memolane so interesting.  It offers horizontal scrolling through time (days) and vertical scrolling through your various feeds.

Take a look at my ‘lane‘ to see how it works.

There are a couple of other key points to this service that I find incredibly useful.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, Memolane have introduced the ability to mark individual streams/feeds as either private or public.  This means I can share my personal moments with friends and family whilst maintaining a public presentation of my other feeds.

For example, I like to share out more personal photos with family and friends but may not want to share them out publicly. ¬†At the same time, I want somewhere that I can consolidate and share my public ramblings. What I don’t want to do is maintain another two separate services. ¬†This is where Memolane wins for me. ¬†I can combine all my usual feeds but mark individual ones as private. ¬†The result is a single source (lane) of my consolidated feeds that shows content tailored to the specific audience.

The other key feature for me is the ability to search the lane.  I find this very useful for locating old tweets (for example).  There are two ways I look for older posts.  If I know the date I posted it I can simply scroll horizontally to that date and then vertically to peruse posts from that day or I can use the in-built search function and search by keyword.

Memolane currently supports a number of feeds/services, covering the most popular but I am sure there are more in the pipeline.

I really like this service. ¬†I’m sure the team are busily adding features all the time. ¬†Check out their blog for more details.

As always, I’d love to hear what you think if you already use Memolane or if you try it out for the first time. ¬†Please drop a comment below and share your thoughts.

I am @craigt44 on Twitter.

QuietWrite

QuietWrite… an online writing tool that, once you start typing, clears all toolbars, icons and unwanted menus and text out of the way leaving you to concentrate on just your writing. It’s great!

If you write blog posts or just need somewhere to write without the distractions and clutter of all those adverts and menus then I highly recommend trying QuietWrite. Here’s a screen grab of me typing this post. As you can see, nothing but the writing! It’s pure genius. It’s pure simplicity.

I’ve written a number of posts on here which I then transfer to my blog. Ok, there’s no text formatting or hyperlink tools (you could obviously hand code the HTML tags) but it’s clean, simple, uncluttered writing bliss. It transfers (copy/paste) to your blog authoring screen/page without any formatting (plain text) so all you have to do is add the links and off you go (but read further… you can export).

Yes, there are menus, just move your mouse and they magically appear (yes, it uses real magic).

QuietWrite allows you to preview your writing, review revisions (yes, it has revision control), publish (currently within QuietWrite) and, most importantly (at least it is to me) export to your WordPress blog directly from the QuietWrite site.

There’s nothing to dislike. As the QuietWrite team say, it’s “A peaceful place to write, for anywhere”.

Have a read of the QuietWrite team blog for more information.

Drop a comment if you try it out, I’d love to hear what you think of it.

I am @craigt44 on Twitter.

TweetSaver Public Profiles

On Friday of last week (7th Jan) I received the email below from TweetSaver (@tweetsaver on Twitter).  My bandwidth has been a little squeezed of late so I’ve only just been able to catch up and read it properly.

TweetSaver, for those that don’t know of the service, is a fantastic way to backup your tweets.  Quite simply, all you have to do is sign up (which you can now do for free by the way) and all your tweets are backed up, and searchable.  You can even tag tweets to make them easier to find.

Sounds simple doesn’t it?  Well, it is, which is why it works so well.  It’s a really good service and I have used it many times when looking for something I know I sent out (but couldn’t remember when) or something I’ve marked as a favourite, for example.

The updates listed below now allow you to make your profile public.  Makes sense, after all, your tweets are already in the public domain so why not make them easier to search?  Of course, private (DMs) messages remain private.  I really like the idea of making my tweets easier to search for my followers.

If you haven’t checked out TweetSaver before, head on over to the website and have a look.  If you want to see or search my tweets head on over here.

I really like this service and it’s bailed me out a couple of times when I’ve not been able to find a tweet elsewhere.  It’s also peace of mind to know your tweets are permanently archived (just in case).

If you sign up or are already using TweetSaver, please drop a comment and let me know how you find it.

I am @craigt44 on Twitter.  

 

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Introducing Public Profiles, Free Accounts and more!

It’s finally here…

I’ve been working on this update for quite some time and am happy to announce that it’s finally arrived! Here’s a quick overview of what’s new in TweetSaver as of today!

Public Profiles

I’m super excited about this. Now, should you choose to, you can make your TweetSaver profile public. This allows other users to browse all of your public tweets, search them, filter by tags and share them with others. Check out my profile as an example: http://tweetsaver.com/bradleyjoyce

Of course, direct messages are still 100% private and, if you are a paying subscriber, you can elect to keep your profile private. All new accounts are public by default. Current subscriber accounts have been automatically privatized.

To change your privacy settings, visit your account settings page.

Free Accounts

Before TweetSaver was initially launched, I was staunchly against providing free accounts. However, after revisiting the idea I think it will be better for the service in the log run. To that end, I’ve introduced a new Free subscription.

Free accounts are ad-supported (by Featured Users and 140proof), are limited to only saving 3200 tweets and cannot be made private.

Tweet Buttons

I’ve added native Twitter tweet buttons throughout the site where it makes sense. Now, it’s much easier to share your public profile page or an individual tweet on Twitter.

I plan on adding Facebook like buttons as well as soon as their developer site isn’t down and I can take a peak at the documentation.

All this makes it easier to share those older tweets that you rediscover.

So what are you waiting for? Head on over to TweetSaver.com and check out the new stuff

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Memolane updates

Meghan Krane (@meghan_krane), the Community Manager over at Memolane, today dropped an email with some much anticipated updates to the excellent Memolane service. ¬†The changes highlighted in the email (see below) are all around privacy settings. ¬†I particularly like the idea of being able to set the privacy settings for individual feeds (services). ¬†One of the things I wanted to do was set up both a personal (family and friends) Memolane and a public Memolane. ¬†With these changes there’s no longer a need to maintain separate Memolanes (I should point out that the service only allows / supports one Memolane, so this is a hypothetical rambling). ¬†I highlight that as it was something I suggested as a potential future feature (support of multiple Memolanes). ¬†However, I like this implementation much better. ¬†I only have to maintain one Memolane and control the content via privacy settings.. nice.

Here’s an extract from the email:

Here’s a preview of some of the changes you will see on Memolane today:

  • Instead of selecting a privacy setting for your entire Memolane,¬†you can now choose a privacy setting for each of your online¬†services,¬†to set their privacy.
  • We offer a new level of privacy, now you can set your online¬†services to be completely private, shared only with your¬†Memolane friends, or public.
  • The ‚ÄúOnline Services Settings‚ÄĚ page has been renamed¬†‚ÄúPrivacy and Services‚ÄĚ and redesigned.
  • Your existing privacy setting for your Memolane will initially¬†be applied to all of your added services, so the privacy of¬†your lane will be exactly the same as before this change.

We have been working very hard on the new privacy settings and we hope that they give you more flexibility to share your online history with your friends and re-live great memories!

The site will be down from 5 a.m. PST to 7 a.m. PST (2 p.m. CET to 4 p.m. CET) today in order to add these new features. ¬†I can’t wait to start updating my Memolane!

I am @craigt44 on Twitter.

Why Follow Friday?

I was asked today if I embrace the tradition that is Follow Friday ( #FF or #followfriday if you will) in order to pick up new followers.
After immediately responding “no”, I explained that Follow Friday is about tipping the hat to people, organisations and services that are helpful, interesting, useful or just plain fun. Why? Because it’s good to share. I find some incredibly useful information via Twitter and enjoy sharing the sources with others.
Simple.
I am @craigt44 on Twitter.