Tag Archives: iphone

One of the best things I’ve ever bought – a headset with fixed mic for my mobile phone

In the 90s, I used to work at the Independent on Sunday (RIP). This was back in the day when computers were largely for writing on, and phones were for making and receiving calls. My deputy editor had an office next to mine and he would spend a lot of time swiveling his office chair side to side and talking on his headset, which was plugged into to his desk phone. This headset had a fixed band which went over his head and a mic which stuck out in front of his mouth. I’m sure you know the ones.

I spent an inordinate amount of time on the phone, as I researched my pieces and my column (Dear Annie, which was a fashion column and answered readers’ problems), so I asked if I could have a headset and lo, I was able to order one from the stationery department. So I looked like someone from a call centre with this head-set on and a microphone pointed at my mouth. But it was brilliant, as I had both hands free to type or eat a banana or communicate with my colleagues in sign language.

Then mobiles came along and everything changed. We all, largely, started talking on those. Even if you want to, they are impossible to jam betwixt cheek and collar bone, such as you could with a traditional corded phone, and I find the ‘headsets’ that come with that are fine for a brief chat but you have to hold the mic near your mouth and people often say “are you on hands free, I can’t hear you very well?”

And, for long calls, I really hate having my mobile next to my ear for extended periods, as it makes my ear hot.

I still spend a lot of time on the phone interviewing people for my job, so a few months ago I wondered if such a thing as I once had, existed for my mobile (I have an iPhone) and lo, it did. It took a bit of searching but I bought this one which cost me just under £20, and it really is one of the best things I’ve ever bought. I make all my calls using it now (unless I’m out, because I feel like too much of an idiot, but I hardly make calls when I’m out anyway, because I feel like too much of an idiot..) and no-one has ever asked if I’m on hands-free, or underwater, or anything like that. It frees you up to type, essential when interviewing people or when on the phone to friends, you can do your nails, hang out washing or do the ironing, all of which I’ve done.

It plugs directly into your phone, it has a headband which fits over your head, one ear piece, one mic, and a volume button with (I think but have never used it) an on off button for ending calls.

It’s brilliant.

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Stylus pens for iPad and iPhone

Stylus pens for use with iPhone and iPad.  Incredibly, they work.

Years ago, when electronic organisers first started making an appearance, you could get stylus pens to write on said appliances with. I always thought they were a bit wankerish. I mean, if I want to write with a pen, I’ll write with a pen.

I’ve got an iPhone and an iPad. My children regularly use the iPad (I don’t let them near my iPhone). I’m really not one of those people freaked by the thought of children and technology; but then, I’m a total technophile. I know how to control my technology and I’m not afraid of screens, and my children use them as part of a very balanced life.

But then, I got sent some sort of iPad magazine recently and in it were various ads for iPad/iPhone pens (I’m sure they work on other tablets/smart screens, but I don’t know, we’re an Apple household). This piqued my interest, since I thought they’d be really good for some apps on the iPad and  my partner has got really bad tendonitis from using his iPhone. So I reappraised my thoughts on stylus pens.

(Just to really smother myself in smugness, let me tell you that I taught myself to use my left hand – not naturally my dominant hand – to use my mouse ‘n’ stuff some years ago when I got such bad RSI I couldn’t turn the pages of a magazine. As I was a fashion editor at the time, not being able to turn the pages of a magazine was a really Big Bad Thing.)

Anyway I bought one that had good reviews from Amazon and weren’t too expensive: some are really dear. The one I bought is the Universal Capacitive Stylus Pen and it cost £5.99 for two. I wouldn’t really pay more than that: no need as you’re bound to lose it. Plus it may stop working in a few weeks: I’ll report back.

Thus far it’s really good. Great if you suffer from fat finger syndrome on the iPhone, but really comes into its own on the iPad for some of the apps that involve writing and drawing. Much more intuitive than using a finger. I don’t think I’d take it out with me but for around the house/on the iPad it really helps keep your hands in a more natural position that that swipe thing you have to do. Of course I’m NOT A DOCTOR and its use may lead to even worse injuries. But I trust the Daily Mail will keep us informed of those.

There is a lead that you plug into the headphone socket to keep it safe, but you have to unplug it to use it.

iPhone, grouping your apps into folders

I’m sure lots of you know this already but I didn’t so I thought it was worth sharing in case anyone else still has to discover this, too.

Like many people, my iPhone is heavy with apps – I have several pages of them. Because my two year old is the boss of my iPhone, the apps also get routinely moved around. I’ve been meaning to do ‘pages’ of relevant apps, you know the sort of thing – page 2 is full of ‘news apps’, page 3 has ‘travel apps’, page 4 is ‘games’, etc, but I never have.

What I didn’t realise, until last night, was that you can make folders. What you do is hold your finger on an app (any app) until all the apps start moving around in the way that they do, then slide one relevant app into another similar one (eg, the Indy app into the Guardian app). This automatically generates a folder and you then have a chance to name it (iPhone will automatically generate a name, but you can change it). You can fit around 12 apps into each folder (sorry, not counted and my phone is not with me at the moment), but you can have more than one folder with the same name if you want to.

Here’s a bit more about it from Macworld.

How to change the rings on your iPhone so that it doesn’t go to voicemail really fast and then you run up a bill made up largely of just ringing in to your answering service..

…and other stories.

In the old days, before God had made light, I used to have Nokia phone. You could change how many times it rang before it went to the answering service really easily.

You went into Phone Settings and there it was.

Not so the iPhone. It comes pre-programmed to go to voicemail pretty fast. I mean, not so fast that you can’t get to it if you’re just sitting there staring at your iPhone, which I know some people do. But if you are a busy person, like what I am, and have children and a job and a life, then you often don’t get to it just in time.

I think this is a conspiracy between Apple and phone companies, so you have to ring in to your voicemail more than you’d like, which (unless you are lucky enough to have an older plan where it’s part of the package) means you make calls outside of your call plan and pay more etc etc.

Anyway, for those that don’t know*, here is how to change it so that your iPhone rings for as long or as little as you want.

It doesn’t appear as if you can make it go for longer than 30 seconds before it goes to voice mail. Such a conspiracy!

*and if you knew, why didn’t you share?
** this worked great for me on my 3GS/T-mobile. If you’re going to do this then do it at your own risk!