Get Office 365 free for a year – but hurry!

14 December 2016, 08:39

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Microsoft is currently giving away FREE developer accounts for Office 365, that come complete with a year’s subscription to the Office 365 apps (that is, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and so on). However, it’s a limited time offer, so get in there quick!

Here are the steps:

  1. In your desktop web browser visit https://dev.office.com/devprogram

  2. Enter your personal details when prompted – including a working email address! If asked for a company name, just type “None” – that’s what I did, and it worked fine.

  3. Click the link in the email you get sent, and then fill-in the other personal details when prompted – which will include creating an account.

  4. You’ll need to confirm you’re not a robot by supplying a working phone number or email address, but once this is done you’ll be logged into the developer centre – and can simply click Install Office 365 at the top right to download the latest Office 365 suite. Your login details required after the Office 365 apps are installed are the same as you created earlier – a something@something.onmicrosoft.com username, and the login password you created. After this, hey presto – you’ve an entirely legitimate Office 365 subscription for 12 months!
  5. Note that you can also download the Office 365 apps individually if you don’t want the full thing.

    Update: As noted by a commenter below, if you subsequently check your subscription status it shows an expiry date of within a month. However, while signing-up you will have noticed (see screenshot below) that there’s definitely a year’s subscription offered. I assume that the month notification is a bug, or that it simply ticks over each month until the 12 months are up.

    Update #2 17 January 2017: Several people have suggested this was only a month’s subscription to the Office desktop apps, but this is simply incorrect. If you signed-up to the deal visit https://portal.office.com/account/#home, login with the account you created following the instructions above, and check your subscription status. You’ll see that you’re subscribed to the Office 365 Desktop Apps amongst other things. Sadly, however, the offer has now closed.

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Need stocking stuffers for the Apple fan in your life?

13 December 2016, 13:40

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Got an fan of Apple stuff in your life and want to buy him/her a gift or two? Below you’ll find a handful of suggestions for clever, inexpensive and innovative gifts that your Apple-lovin’ loved one might actually be pleased to receive. All are based on the fact that they’re things I, as an Apple fan, would genuinely would love to receive under the tree.

BACtrack Vio Smartphone Breathalyzer ($39.99)
Main feature illustrationPeople love a drink at Xmas, more than any other time of the year, and while drinking and driving is simply not cool, having a sip of booze early on with the intention of driving a good time later is reasonable. And to check the safety of doing so, just blow into the BACtrack Vio and it’ll beam the analysis to your iPhone. Frankly there should be one of these available at every Xmas party.

AirBase ($19.97)
Main feature illustrationIf your Apple-loving friend or loved one has a Mac, then they might have a Time Capsule too – and this little clever little device lets you mount it on the wall so it gets maximal air cooling and can also be placed out of the way. Add in the security cap, and you also have a burglar-proof solution to protect the Time Capsule – and the precious data it contains!

LithiumCard Wallet Battery ($20)
Main feature illustrationCarrying around a portable battery to recharge an iPhone is a terrific idea, but while most are “portable” to a certain degree, none are as genuinely portable as the LithiumCard Wallet Battery. As its name suggests this is a battery with a Lightning connector, yet it’s the same shape as a credit card, and the same thickness as five credit cards. So, it can be hidden in a wallet until it’s needed, such as during an emergency. A black version is available too – just select from the dropdown list while ordering.

Iconic ($75)
Main feature illustrationOK, so this is perhaps on the edge of acceptable prices for a stocking stuffer, and it’ll also have trouble fitting into most stockings, but this book is simply delightful for any fan of Apple products. The blurb says it’s a glossy photographic record of “the most visually stunning and important products produced by the world’s most innovative company”, and unlike Apple’s own hyper-expensive similar effort recently, Iconic cherry picks from all Apple’s products rather than just from 1997 onwards.

KlikR Universal Remote Control ($19.99)
Main feature illustrationNow this is very, very clever. Put simply, the KlikR is a small device you attach to your TV or similar. It has an infra-red transmitter built-in, and you can control it via an app on an iPhone. The result? Instant home automation, without the $100s these things usually cost. Anything that can be operated via infra-red can now be operated from your iPhone. It’s not just TVs. Lights, ceiling fans, and more can all be controlled – and the app even understands spoken commands: “Turn on the light!” You can read more about KlikR here.

Cosmos Silicone Skin Protector for Apple Magic Mouse ($5.99 or less)
Main feature illustrationIf Apple lovin’ friend or loved one uses a desktop Mac then they’ll probably use a Magic Mouse of some description, and these silicon skins are an inexpensive and superb way to add a little fun to their lives, as well as turning the mouse surface into something more grippy. Here you can see the blue example but other colors are available too! Touch sensitivity is not only not affected, but some users report the silicone makes the mouse even more pleasant to use!

Bluetooth Earmuffs and iGloves ($24.99)
Main feature illustrationYou might’ve noticed, as I have several times, that it gets cold during winter. This ingenious combination makes freezing weather no bar to using your iPhone. The earmuffs have built-in headphones and microphone, so you can make and receive calls without having to remove them. They include a rechargable battery too, are bluetooth enabled so work with ALL smartphones manufactured over the last few years. The gloves have a special coating that means the touch-sensitivity of the iPhone screen isn’t hampered – so there’s no need to remove your gloves to use your iPhone either! Really very clever!

iBedside ($40)
Main feature illustrationWho doesn’t use their iPad, MacBook or iPhone in bed? It’s almost like Apple products are designed for use in the bedroom, and this clever little bit of hardware lets you safely and quickly store everything when it’s time to enter the land of Nod. It tucks into the space between the mattress and the bed’s base. After all, who wants to slip off to sleep and then have their device fall off the bed, potentially damaging itself on the floor?

Morrivoe Ultra-thin Mini Keyboard and Mouse ($22.99)
Main feature illustrationAt first glance this keyboard and mouse combo look like the Apple “Magic”-branded equivalents, but look closely and you’ll see they’re knock-offs – although in the best possible way. The mouse has the same sculpting as a Magic Mouse but includes an actual scrollwheel, for example. You can also buy the devices is Apple-lookalike rose gold color too, and all conect via 2.4G wireless, which uses a USB dongle for connectivity. It’s all nice. Very nice!

Mad Catz C.T.R.L.i Mobile Gamepad ($47.80)
Main feature illustrationEven casual gamers will appreciate this handheld gaming controller that is Apple Certified so will work with a big number of titles (unlike similar efforts that are merely bluetooth-enabled – an important difference). Complete with a smarphone clip for the iPhone, the C.T.R.L.i comes in a variety of colors too and works not just with the iPhone but also the iPad and Apple TV. It really will transform the iOS gaming experience and should be considered mandatory for any iPhone owner under the age of 16!

Konsait 4 in 1 Multi Device Organizer ($15.99)
Main feature illustrationSometimes the simplest ideas are the best and this is a box, with stiff foam inserts, that you can place on a nightstand and leave your devices in each night to charge. There’s no electronics built-in so the Apple fan in your life will still need to route his/her existing cables into it, but for keeping everything tidy it surely can’t be beat!

iFlask Ultimate Kit ($21.95)
Main feature illustrationImpress your friends with this clever booze flask that’s shaped like an iPhone! Or, you know, you could also use it to smuggle booze into somewhere you’re not supposed to drink if you’re that kind of person. We’re not going to cast aspersions as to your character, though. If you want booze where it’s restricted then that’s your concern. Just save us a sip.

Audio-Technica SonicFuel headphones ($34.95)
Main feature illustrationGive the gift of top-notch audio quality this Xmas with these high-quality yet bargain-priced headphones from renown experts Audio-Technica. Designed for listening on the move, they fold flat for easy storage and come with a carrying bag too. They even come with a good old-fashioned headphone jack, to maintain compatibility with virtually every portable audio device ever made!

FREDI Motion activated mini hidden camera ($25.99)
Main feature illustrationIt’s tiny (the world’s smallest!), it’s sneaky, and it’s perhaps the greatest security tool ever invented since somebody noticed how dogs tend to bark when strangers approach. Just put the FREDI device a secret spot and it’ll beam 720p HD video footage straight to your iPhone, complete with audio. It can take stills too, and there’s even infra-red functionality built-in – so it can even see in the dark. And did we mention that it’s much smaller than even a box of Tic-Tacs?

KOAR Bone Conduction Bluetooth Headset ($76.99)
Main feature illustrationThe future of audio doesn’t, erm, actually involve audio. It’s about bone conduction, which transmits crystal clear sound directly to your inner ears, Why would you want to do that? Well, the KOAR headset is waterproof, for example, because there’s no speaker grilles. Without the need to be held in place by your ear, it stays on better during exercise too. And as you might expect, there’s a built-in rechargeable battery, so it’s also cordless. But above all, it’s just cool. Really, really cool.

Lightning to 3.5mm Audio Adapter ($9.68)
Main feature illustrationIf your significant Apple fan has an iPhone 7 then he/she may well already have discussed the annoying limitation of being able to charge the phone, or listening to music on headphones, but not both at the same time. Well, this clever little device overcomes that – and it does it so well that it’s an Amazon best-seller.

Nut Mini Tracker (from $14.99)
Main feature illustrationWith this tiny little stick-on device you’ll never lose anything again. If you do, all you need do is fire-up your smartphone, open the Nut app, and you’ll be able to track it down! You can even set the app to sound an alarm if you move too far away from the tracker – useful for security-proofing your laptop for example. $14.99 gets you one Nut tracker but bundle deals are available for two ($25) and three ($27.99) – just select from the dropdown list when ordering.

AmazonBasics Certified Lightning Cable ($7.99)
Main feature illustrationRight now your Apple-loving friend is very probably hunting around trying to find a Lightning cable. It’s a fact of life for Apple fans. You simply can never have enough. Although you can buy knock-offs for pennies from eBay, the very best are Apple Certified. This means the user will not see an error message when they try to use them. Amazon’s range of cables are certified and, unusually, receive almost unanimously positive reviews. They’re also about as inexpensive as good-quality, certified cables get. Get your Apple-loving pal a handful. They’ll be your best-friend forever.


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How to record your iPhone/iPad screen WITHOUT a Mac or PC

10 December 2016, 12:50

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You can record the action taking place on an iPhone (or iPad) screen by attaching the phone to a Mac via a USB cable and using QuickTime Player, but there’s a much easier way to do so – no Mac or PC required!

Simply install Full HD Video Recorder – Video screen, which is free from the official App Store. That’s right – this isn’t some jailbreak hack either!

Once the app has started, just tap the Start button and then the app will disappear and you’ll be switched back to the launcher. From now on your screen is being recorded, and you can launch whatever app you want and have it recorded. Initially you’ll be asked if the app can use the microphone (just deny if you don’t want to record audio), but that won’t appear in future. However, this offers an option to record a spoken commentary alongside the video, of course – perfect for tutorials.

When you’ve finished just tap the app’s icon again in the launcher and the recording will stop. Your recording will then be waiting for you in the Video List part of the app.

Alas, the app has a limitation in that it only lets you export the first minute of any video to the Camera Roll, which is the only way of getting the videos out of the app and onto your computer. An in-app dialog box says you can overcome this limitation by paying for the full version but this appears not to exist – I couldn’t find it anyway – and nor is there any in-app purchase.

For what it’s worth we’re pretty sure apps doing what this one does aren’t supposed to be allowed in the app store, so you might want to grab this sooner rather than later.


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How to ensure a call will ALWAYS get through to you

9 December 2016, 11:34

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The iPhone offers a variety of ways to stop incoming calls and texts getting through to you but what if you want to ensure an individual’s incoming call will ALWAYS get through to you, no matter whether you have your phone set to silent, or Do Not Disturb is turned on? Maybe you’re waiting for that callback about a job but are in a meeting, or perhaps you just want to ensure a loved one can always reach you.

Here’s how to set that up.

First, ensure that individual is in your iPhone’s Contacts app. Add them if they aren’t.

Then open their entry in Contacts, and tap Edit. Tap the Ringtone entry in the list. At the top of the screen that appears you’ll find an Emergency Bypass switch. As its name suggests, once turned on this will mean the ringtone for the individual concerned will always sound and the phone will always vibrate – even if you have your phone set to silent and/or even if Do Not Disturb is activated.

Once you’ve set this and tapped Done, you can set an individual Emergency Bypass option for the text tone that sounds for that individual too. Note that setting one does not automatically set the other.

It’s worth mentioning that Do Not Disturb has its own bypass system, configurable under the Do Not Disturb heading in the Settings app, whereby you can allow through repeated attempts to call you, and also allow through calls from those in your favourites list. The Emergency Bypass setting overrides this in any event.

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