Friday 22 June 2018

Oreo just landed on my Motorola Moto Z Play

Well I have been waiting quite a while but now I've finally got the official Oreo update on my Moto Z Play, which is better late than never! It was around an 1150MB update and I did a wipe and set it up again, since the launcher would not start after the update. Sometimes it's best to do a fresh start anyway.

I am also now using this version of Google Camera which is a bit more up to date than the one I was using. It's a bit annoying that you cannot just install Google Camera from the Play store, since I like using it for Photospheres. The updated Moto lockscreen and Moto widget looks nicer than it did on Nougat.

I also love the way the music Notification blends with the album cover, I've missed all the little things from Oreo since that brief time I had a Nexus 6P in October last year.  Another little change I like is the new incoming call screen, looks much neater. Notice from the screenshot above that Ampere now sits in the dropdown to remain open, it never used to be there in Nougat. I think I'd probably notice even more changes if I was using the Moto or Google Launchers but I prefer Nova Launcher Prime. once I had all my apps back i restored Nova from a backup on my SD card so i had it back to how I had it before. As you can see, i prefer the old style Google search box on my Home screen and I'm currently using "Pixel Icon Pack" from the Google Play.

My favourite feature introduced in Oreo is Autofill API, a system wide store of form data, which is like the way Chrome remembers your email and password for sites, this remembers them for apps and all around Android. It made setting up my phone again a lot quicker and easier. I'm sure I'll continue to find other new little things here and there, there's lots of things introduced in Oreo I haven't tried such as Picture in Picture in apps, Instant Apps etc. Overall my Z Play feels just as smooth as it did under Nougat and hopefully battery life will be just as good too, I'll see it how it goes over the next few days and weeks. 

Thursday 14 June 2018

Goodbye Linux Mint... Back to macOS

I have spent the last 6 weeks in the world of Linux, by running Linux Mint 17.3 Cinnamon on my MacBook Air. I have had an interest in Linux for a long time, but for me macOS is where it is at.

I gave it a good shot, but gone are my days of tinkering. I am more a user now. I just want something that is going to get what I need done in the shortest and easiest time.

After 20+ years of using a Mac at home, it has become second nature to me. I know MacOS/OSX/macOS inside out. I know the software, I know the hardware and I like the 'it just works' approach they have.

I feel a little disappointed that I have pushed Linux aside, but why learn a new OS, new way of operating and a bunch of new software - when I have 'old faithful' that I know.

So today I took the task of removing Linux Mint from my MacBook Air and giving the partitions back to macOS. On a Mac that is not an easy task. While creating partitions was easy, removing them was not. I had to clone my Mac partition to an external drive, boot from it, wipe the internal and then clone back.

I will keep my finger in the Linux pie and if I ever found myself without Apple hardware, it would be my first choice over Windows, but whilst I have a Mac - and one that is more than capable of running the latest offering from Apple - I might as well carry on using it as the Cupertino giants intended.

Goodbye Mint, its been a fun ride, but I am now back in the Apple camp.

Written by Simon Royal. Follow me at

Tuesday 5 June 2018

A Month With Linux Mint… On A 2012 MacBook Air

This is a follow up article to my ‘7 Days With Mint’. A month in and I am still running Linux Mint 17.3 ‘Cinnamon’ on my MacBook Air 2012. It is dual booted with macOS Sierra, but in a month I haven’t used macOS.

I had a few teething troubles which seemed specific to Apple hardware, some of which I have ironed out.

The heat issue seemed to calm down shortly after writing the previous article. I am not sure if it was settling in or drive indexing but I now have a quiet cool MacBook Air again.

The poor battery life has been improved, by installing PowerTop and turning everything labelled ‘bad’ to ‘good’. Battery is still not as good as under macOS, but it has drastically improved.

I discovered a problem watching online videos - from various sites - with the video flickering constantly. This was resolved by installing the Intel video drivers, which were in the Driver Manager tool rather than the default ones.

Two issues I still haven’t resolved and may never is the very sensitive mouse tap, which still causes me to accidentally send my mouse pointer to places I don’t want and it still doesn’t always wake from sleep with I lift of the lid, although this has also improved since tweaking PowerTop.

I am getting used to the feel of Mint, slowly the new keyboard shortcuts are becoming more natural rather than having to think for a second before remembering I am not in macOS. The same with general navigation, I now look to the bottom right automatically for the clock rather than top right.

I have ventured a little further in to apps, slowly installing items that I would use everyday in macOS. I have installed software so I can edit the websites I maintain (gedit, gFTP and GIMP) which I managed to do and upload successfully.

I need to dig deeper into tools for music management and video conversion for me to feel totally happy.

I am pleased how the journey is going. Day by day I am learning more and feeling more comfortable, but there is still so much to learn - especially if something goes wrong.

However it has certainly opened my eyes to the possibility of leaving the Apple world behind and when it comes to the end of life for my MacBook Air, it would be a non-Apple laptop I look for next.

Written by Simon Royal. Follow me at