Twilight for Android: stop your mobile device keeping you awake at night!

Twilight reduces your display's blue light emission.
Twilight reduces your display’s blue light emission.

When I blogged about f.lux the other day, which is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and iOS, I meant to mention an equivalent application for Android. But I forgot, so here’s a post all to itself.

This week I’ve started using Twilight by Urbandroid Team after a recommendation from someone on Twitter. So far I’m really impressed.

In the past I’ve used two other applications, first Night Filter by Digipom before I moved to F-lux Screen Dim for Android, but I was never entirely satisfied with either, to be honest. I had to manually run each in the evening and because I could never quite get the colours quite right for me I ended up hardly using them at all as I found them distracting.

Like f.lux for the PC, Twilight runs in the background, automatically dimming the screen around sunset. The colour is subtle: peachy like f.lux, rather than burgundy like Screen Dim, for example.

If you’re looking for a screen dimmer to enable you to read more comfortably in the dark, then I thoroughly recommend Twilight.

Twilight is available on Google Play.

Problem connecting my Google Nexus 4 to Windows 8.1

My Google Nexus 4 has been playing up lately: taking ages to connect to WiFi and burning up battery extra quickly. Time for another factory reset, I thought, so plugged it into my PC to backup my ebooks, music files and photographs only to discover that it no longer showed up in Windows Explorer.

It turns out that a recent Windows 8.1 update has prevented many Android users from connecting their devices.

I found the solution on this post on Stack Overflow: Windows 8.1 Device Manager now showing ACER Device rather than Android Device for Google Nexus 7.

As far as I recall, this is roughly what I did:

  1. In Windows Device Manager click on View > Show hidden devices.
  2. Locate the ACER Composite ADB Interface uninstall all instances of it.
  3. Reboot PC.
  4. Plug in Android phone.
  5. Return to Device Manager and open ‘ACER Composite ADB Interface and select ‘Update Driver…‘.
  6. Select ‘Browse my computer for driver software‘.
  7. Select ‘Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer‘.
  8. From the list select ‘MTP USB Device‘.
  9. Click Next.
  10. Unplug Android phone.
  11. Reboot PC.
  12. Plug in Android phone.
  13. Windows 8.1 showed the phone in Windows Explorer.
Nexus 4 listed as a device in Windows Explorer.
Nexus 4 listed as a device in Windows Explorer.

For some reason I had to do this twice. It may have been because I had ‘USB Debugging’ activated in Settings > Developer Options, and I unticked it the second time.

Anyway, I can now connect my Nexus 4 to my PC. Panic over.

 

Chord! guitar app for Android and iOS

Chord! The definitive guitar app.
Any chord, all the fingerings!

I don’t get to play my guitar as much as I did before I had children, or at least I haven’t yet made it a priority. I have a couple of acoustic guitars (a four-string bass and a six-string electro-acoustic) sitting in my study behind me which I pick up now and then and play along to a song on my PC, or I sit in my chair with my guitar and play whatever comes into my head.

The reality of having children is that I have less time to dedicate to my own projects (which I’m not complaining about, I love spending time with my three boys) so I have to choose which I want to focus on. Right now I’m working on a couple of websites: one for me, the other for the lovely Jane. But somewhere on my backlog there is mention of my guitars. One day…

When that day comes I have a shelf-load of guitar books; some books on theory and technique, more, however, note-for-note tablatures of some of my favourite albums and artists. I also have this application on my phone: Chord!

Chord! is the closest thing I’ve been able to get for my beloved Chord Magic by Andy Gryc, which was a 16-bit MS-DOS application from the mid-1990s. What I loved about that was I could dial in absolutely any chord, at any point on my fretboard and it would show me the fingerings. Or if I found a cool-sounding chord while jamming, I could indicate on the virtual fretboard which notes were being played and Chord Magic would tell me the name (or variant names) of the chord.

You can do much the same on Chord! Unlike many applications it’s not just a dictionary of chord positions, it knows music theory so it calculates everything on the fly. It’s been such a useful tool already, and it looks great on a tablet too.

You can buy Chord! on the Android store (£2.99) or on the iTunes app store (US $4.99) or visit getchord.com.

Android KitKat easter egg

Have a break... have an Android 4.4.2!
Have a break… have an Android 4.4.2!

I’ve only just discovered this ‘easter egg’ (a joke or message intentionally hidden inside a computer program, movie, book, etc.) in Android 4.4.2 (KitKat).

  1. Open ‘Settings‘.
  2. Scroll to the bottom and tap ‘About phone‘ or ‘About tablet‘.
  3. Repeatedly tap the ‘Android version‘ option.
  4. A white ‘K’ will spin into view filling the black screen.
  5. Repeatedly tap the ‘K’, it will spin again until the screen turns red and the word ‘Android’ appears in the style of the KitKat logo.

I believe that this works for other versions of Android too:

  • 2.3 (Gingerbread) shows an Android robot in a crowd of zombies.
  • 3.x (Honeycomb) shows an Android bee.
  • 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) shows a parody of Nyan cat.
  • 4.1 (Jelly Bean) shows jelly beans which can be flicked around the screen.
  • 4.3 (Jelly Bean) shows a red jelly bean, which when tapped again causes a smiling face to appear on the bean. Repeatedly tapping that shows the same beans as 4.1 plus sometimes a candy cane.
  • 4.4 (KitKat) see above.

What fun!