Articles by Simon MacDonald

Which new phone?

I’m toying with the idea of buying a new phone. I currently have a Google Nexus 4 which is still OK, but it won’t pick up a 4G network. The 3G signal around where I live is very patchy, and the 4G is considerably better – so I’m thinking about a 4G phone. Whatever phone I buy will be an unlocked Android based phone – I don’t venture into the dark side (Apple), or want to be tied to a network contract.

So, it’s coming down to a choice between a top range model like the HTC One M8 which costs around £550, or one from the new Chinese interloper on the market, the OnePlus One running the Cynogenmod version of Android and costing in about £250.

Decisions, decsions …

Fiddling with Windows

So before I start fiddling with the preview version of Windows 10, I thought I had better do some long outstanding housekeeping on my Windows 8 install and upgrade it to Windows 8.1.

Should have been straightforward but Windows Update corrupted it’s own database and decided that I had never installed any updates, ever, and it wasn’t really bothered if it never installed updates ever again.

So after having downloaded a standalone updater to fix the updater, I have now managed to install the updates necessary to upgrade to 8.1.  The 3.5Gb upgrade pack is now downloading, so may be sometime tomorrow I might get to install 8.1.

I need a beer …

Samsung Phone Bug


There’s a bug in Samsung Galaxy S111  phones that allows a rogue app access to all memory.  A hacker could copy all of your data, erase all of your data, and basically brick your phone.  There’s no official Samsung response yet, but there is a quick fix.

UX Sketching And Wireframing Templates For Mobile Projects

smashing logoA really useful free resource from those wonderful people at Smashing.
 Outline is a set of 28 printable sketching and wireframing papers (in PDF) for seven mobile platforms: Android, BlackBerry, iOS (iPad and iPhone), Meego, Symbian, webOS, Windows Phone 7. The set consists of a few combinations, such as actual size, 10 devices fit to a page, and landscape layout. Download it here.


LESS and simpLESS

LESS is a  dynamic style-sheet language.

It extends CSS with dynamic behavior such as  variables, mixins,  operations  and  functions. LESS runs on both the client-side (Chrome, Safari, Firefox) and server-side. I prefer to compile it using the  simpLESS compiler for Windows 7. This takes my LESS code and generates the CSS files on the fly.

Find out more about LESS or SimpLESS . What’s even better is that they are both free!

JetBrains: PhpStorm

JetBrains PhpStormI’ve been using Adobe Dreamweaver for years but I really only use it as a glorified editor.

Now that I use PHP5, HTML5 and CSS3 I have found that the syntax checker in my version of Dreamweaver doesn’t cater for the the new syntax. An upgrade to the latest version was eye wateringly expensive! So I hunted around for a replacement tool. I trialled JetBrains PhpStorm for  a month and have now actually paid a full license fee for it. (more…)

Electric Mobile Studio 2012

I need to be able to test responsive web sites on Apple iPhones and iPads.
As I’m an Android user I don’t want to to have to buy these products just to test sites. Electric Mobile Studio 2012 is a first class set of simulation tools that allow me to test Apple iPhones and iPads site rendering on my Windows 7 PC. A fantastic product – I recommend it! For more information go to Electric Plum