Archive from January 2015
30. January 2015

Google Chrome has really become my favourite browser after Opera completely abandoned its former self and just became a Chrome clone, but not everything’s great and sometimes Google does some incredibly annoying things, like recently… In the last few days, there have been a smatter of complaints about the overhauled and simplyfied bookmarks, ironically called the Enhanced Bookmarks Experiment, which seem to have been switched on after some users upgraded to version 40.

But don’t panic if you are suddenly confronted with a square-y, colourful mess where your good, old bookmarks manager used to be – there is an easy way to go back to the old system. Just go to chrome://flags and search for “bookmarks” – or copy & paste or click the link below:

» chrome://flags/#enhanced-bookmarks-experiment

Here you can set the switch to disabled and bring the experiment to a swift end – if it doesn’t work right away, close all Chrome instances and restart the browser. The “Enhanced Bookmarks” were also previously available as an extension but now seem to have been merged directly into Chrome – if you had the extension installed sometime previously, this flag also switches back to the old bookmarks manager. Your bookmarks will not be deleted or compromised, even if you chose not to sync them with the cloud.

There’s no guarantee that this will work forever, but there has been a pretty strong backlash against the new bookmarks manager and hopefully Google will listen to the users and throw this sorry attempt at modernization away or at least make it usable.

Science & Astronomy
26. January 2015

I can’t believe I missed this again – Brian Cox and Robin Ince have been back on air since last Monday with their brilliant science-comedy radio show The Infinite Monkey Cage! Two episode have already aired and are available in their much better extended versions on the series’ podcast website in freely downloadable MP3 files. They’re up to 58 episodes including a wonderful Christmas romp from the end of last year and the two new episodes. The show is also going on a live tour in the USA  beginning in March on both the east and west coast and last year, Eric Idle even recorded a brilliantly funny title song for the series!

I can only highly recommend this show – Brian Cox and Robin ince are utterly funny and their guests are always fantastic. Besides, it’s even educational, despite most shows ending up somewhere completely different than they originally started – but that’s just the fun of it. As usual, major English listening skills and a healthy curiosity about science are required, but it’s actually quite easy to listen to. And, of course, if you like Brian Cox and/or Robin Ince, you’re in for a very special treat. (Note: I wrote the last paragraph for the previous posts about the series, but why write something new when there’s something perfectly okay available to recycle?)

AndroidGoogle+Social Media
21. January 2015

I’ve been using Google Hangouts as a text chat communications tool for a while now on both computer and tablet and despite some limitations, it really works great – IF it works, that is. That was unfortunately not the case when Google released an update of the Android Hangouts App – version 2.5.x – in mid-December, which seems to have completely broken the background push notifications and message synchronization of the app. Notifications only arrived when the app was actually in the foreground and messages appeared in the wrong order and often only when scrolling down manually. Notifications from all other apps including the Facebook Messenger worked perfectly, so it was not a general system problem and on my older tablet under Android 4.0.3 the problem did not even occur, so the Jellybean 4.1.1 of my current tablet didn’t seem at fault.

In short, the app became completely unusuable, and from the Play Store reviews it looked like I wasn’t the only one with this problem. There were various approaches to fixing the broken notifications, but from setting the notification sounds back and forth to switching notifications on and off in both the app and the system settings to several complete reinstalls, nothing worked. Then I read somewhere about the unlikely radical approach of removing and re-adding the Google account in the system settings, which surprisingly worked! It seems that something fundamental in the synchronization of the account was broken and only this drastic step fixed it.

The full steps that fixed the problem on my tablet were:
• Uninstall the Hangouts App. If it’s a system app on your device, uninstall all updates.
• Remove the Google account – if there are more than one, remove them all just in case.
• Re-Add all the Google accounts one by one. This might take some time because there will by a lot of synchronization in the background.
• Re-install the Google Hangouts app from the Play Store.
• Test the background notifications and make your preferred settings in the app.
• Rebooting with the Google accounts removed should be avoided, because some apps may not like it and could stop working, making reinstalls necessary. Other Google apps like Google+ did not notice the temporary removal of the Google accounts.

This should work in the more stubborn cases of broken Hangouts notifications – if this doesn’t fix it, only a  What I noticed is that the process was not running when the problem occured, but appeared afterwards – obviously this service is the one handling all the notifications for the Hangouts app and for some reason it breaks on certain systems when the new 2.5.x version is installed.

One other peculiarity I noticed is that you are not getting any sort of notifications anymore on your mobile devices while you have a chat window open on a computer in the browser or in the Chrome hangouts extension. This especially happens when you use the older 2014.1119 version, which pops up the chat window as soon as a message arrives, while the newer 2014.1204 doesn’t open windows automatically and instead shows the messages as notifications on the app icon first, only marking notifications as read when a chat window is actually open.

I hope this article is going to be some help for those who encounter the same problems, as there don’t seem to many solutions out there.

4. January 2015

You have to hand it to Tim Schafer, former LucasArts games developer now gone independent with Double Fine Productions – he really loves his old classics. At the beginning of December, there was the amazing announcement that his company would not only remaster Grim Fandango, but also Day of the Tentacle, the 1993 sequel of Lucasfilm Games’ adventure debut Maniac Mansion. Those news made me all nostalgic because I really love those games and while I completely agree that Day of the Tentacle will really benefit from a remaster especially in the graphics department, I’m not completely convinced about Grim Fandango.

I hate to be the voice of criticism here, but when I pulled out Grim Fandango a couple of days ago for the first time in maybe ten years or more, it still looked impressive to me, especially considering the game is over fifteen years old today and used only a resolution of 640×480 pixels – it might not be enough for a huge television set, but the OpenGL rendering of ResidualVM with an anti-aliasing filter on the 3D models makes the game appear very smooth. Upscaled on a 17″ 1280×1024 monitor (that’s about the same height as a 22″ 16:9 display) it still looks nothing short of amazing and only a little bit pixelated.

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Kategorie: Games
CosmoQuestScience & Astronomy
3. January 2015

For the first post of 2015, here’s a reminder that I’m still regularly updating the Science & Astronomy Hangouts Schedule in collaboration with the WSH Crew Google+ Community. I have now migrated the original blog post from August onto its own page, but all the old adresses still work and just redirect to the newly improved version, which will always be updated like before in tandem with the WSH Crew Google Calendar. The new edition also has more links to Google+ pages, websites, Youtube channels and video playlists to gather all the hangouts together especially for visitors who might be unfamiliar with them and want to have a look around.

You can also join us the WSH Crew Google+ Community (named for the Weekly Space Hangout) which has been growing a lot since we created it earlier last year – if you’re interested what’s new in space and astronomy you might feel right at home there. It’s much smaller than the big Space Community on Google+ and relatively low-noise, but filled with a great group of people who have been following and supporting what CosmoQuest, Universe Today & Co are doing. Some of the journalists and scientists involved in the Weekly Space Hangout have also joined and hangout organizer and host Fraser Cain has asked the community to contribute news stories to the hangout by posting them in the news section. This has been very successful in the last couple of hangouts, making them even more lively than usual in the last half. So you can join in and be a part of it if you want!

Continue to the Science & Astronomy Hangouts Schedule Page »