Let the music play on….

With Strictly back on our TVs, dancing is firmly on the agenda for autumn. In June I wrote about music streaming services, and I hope you’ve been able to enjoy dancing to some new tunes as a result.  But having decided which service to use to listen to your music, what are you going to listen to it with? (Or should that be, with what are you going to listen to it?  On. With.  Whatever…!)

So, on to the hardware.  As always, there are various options for you to listen to digital music.

1. At its simplest you can use your computer and the sound system built into it. Or even your regular laptop speakers, but these do tend to be a bit ‘tinny’.

2. My son spent around £40 on a set of computer speakers; apparently they’ve got ‘two tweeters and a bass bin’ so he’s happy. They have a mini-jack connector and he simply plugs the speakers directly into his laptop or his phone’s headphone socket.  They sound quite good in his bedroom.

3. Go Bluetooth.  There are a variety of bluetooth speakers ranging from just a few pounds. You ‘pair’ your device with the speaker which means you don’t need cables.  As with most things, you get what you pay for. Our Tipster Mark swears by the Bose Soundlink 3. It’s Bluetooth and has a good bass sound and costs around £240.  It has a range of about 9 metres and will remember the last 6 devices it’s been connected to.  It runs on mains power, but it also has a fantastic 14 hour battery life. Ideal for garden parties, although maybe not this week.

4. Show me the Sonos!  It’s fab and my clear favourite! If you want an easy-to-use music system that covers your whole house and will play all of your music, no matter where it’s stored, Sonos is probably your best option.  You can have speakers in every room, all connected to one music library and one streaming account, and each playing different things if you want. It can handle the highest quality streams and music downloads. It can also cope with televisions, Internet radio, husbands and many children, plus you can even choose whether your speakers are black or white. There are so many options, starting from about £200. Why not take a look at their website, www.sonos.com and build your own system?

And as always, if you need help to sort out your Sonos, or any other home IT support, just get in touch. Meanwhile, keep dancing….

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Tops Tips 6 – Apple’s control centre

So which of you iPad and iPhone owners are using their Control Centre?

We thought so.

So, with a bit of downtime coming up later this month, we thought it would be useful to give you some top tips on how to use it.

The Control Centre is one of iOS7’s best features. It’s like the right click of your computer mouse: one swipe (even from a locked screen) and you are presented with a menu of everything you need most often.

Whatever screen you are in, you get to it the same way: just place your finger at the bottom middle of the screen – directly above the home button if your device is upright – and swipe upwards to reveal a screen that looks like this:photo-5

The Control Centre saves searching through endless menus to find what you need – here are a few of our favourite functions:

Airplane mode – turns off access to the outside world – including wi-fi and Bluetooth. Top tip: if your network is struggling, you can reset it by tapping the airplane mode to off and then on again.

Wi-fi – useful for saving battery life if you’re not in a wi-fi zone.

Bluetooth – connect to your car stereo or Bluetooth speakers. Switch off to save battery life.

Music controls – so you can pause, skip or simply see which track is playing without going to your music app.

iPhone control centre2AirPlay – the AirPlay icon appears when you have access to another AirPlay device – like an Apple TV or an AirPlay accessible speaker – switch it on and you can stream music or send photos or movies to your TV or speakers.

Timer – set it for anything up to 24 hours – use it to remind you to baste the turkey.

Camera – the one we use most often, this opens the camera straight away, so you can grab that action shot before it’s too late.

There are other functions you can access from the Control Centre which you may find useful – why not test the Do Not Disturb switch after your Christmas lunch?

 

Top Tips 1: iPhone Dysfunction

So you’ve had iOS 7 for a fortnight and the honeymoon is over – you’re enjoying the new design, but it’s draining your battery at an alarming rate. Here’s some ways to give your phone a bit more stamina – keeping some battery power for things you really need.
iOS 7
1. Turn off location services for all but those apps that really need it – do you really want  the Angry Bird to know where you are?
Go to Settings – Privacy – Locations Services  then choose the apps that you really need location services for (like Maps and Camera) and switch off the rest.
2. Switch off Parallax – it’s the 3D effect for your app buttons. Cool for 2 minutes – a complete waste of battery.  Settings – General – Accessibility  and turn on  Reduce Motion.
3. Change your email settings so that you emails are ‘pushed’ to your account less often. Settings – Mail, Contacts, Calendar – Fetch New Data You can switch off Push altogether, or, if you have less important email accounts on your phone,  you can choose which of your email accounts to fetch or push.
4. Lower the brightness of your screen – sounds obvious, but this is a big battery drain. Settings – Wallpapers & Brightness; use Auto-Brightness or to be really frugal, manually set it low.
5. Turn off the system diagnostics and usage function – this is a setting for Apple to gather data about how you use your phone – enough said. Settings – General – About  scroll right down to the bottom to Diagnostics & Usage then select Don’t Send.
6. Stop notifications that you don’t need: Settings – Notification Center and then work out which apps you’d like to send you news and which you don’t need to hear from.
7. This isn’t new to iOS 7, but only have Bluetooth and WiFi on when you need them. It’s much easier to switch them on and off with iOS7. Just slide up the  Control Centre menu from the bottom of the home screen and switch them on and off.
Follow these 7 simple rules and your iPhone should last all day.