How to Speed up an Android Phone

Is it just me or do smart phones these days get very slow very quickly after purchase!? The conspiracy theorist in me reckons it’s a cunning ploy by manufacturers to get you to abandon older phones and buy their newest one. For example my old iPhone 3Gs is almost unusable these days despite completely clearing it out, resetting and only ever using to take business calls!?

There’s a few things you can do to counteract the slowness or at least reduce it a little bit. The procedures and screenshots I used below were done on a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 with Android 5.1.1 installed.

Remove unwanted Apps and Data:

These are the most effective and obvious things you can do. If you go into settings and Application Manager and uninstall any apps you never use or don’t need anymore that should help. Be sure to sort them by Size to see the biggest space hoggers at the top and also remember to view apps both on the device memory and SD card if you have one.

You should also remove images, video and music you no longer use. These files can be massive due to the high resolution cameras on most phones these days. You can either copy them off onto a PC or if they are automatically backed up to somewhere like DropBox, Google Photos or similar cloud storage then you don’t really need the device copy anymore.


Technically upgrading your phones operating system will actually add a ton more data but hopefully it may also speed up some tasks and processes so it’s worth doing I think. You can check for updates in Settings – About Device – Software Updates.

Clear Cache:

If you go into Settings – Storage you will see how your device’s space is currently being used up and how much space you have left on both the device and SD card. Not a lot of people know that if you click on the “Cached Data” entry here you will get an option to clear the cache which could free up a lot of space.

Clear Android Cache

End Running Apps & Processes:

Most modern phones can multitask, that is they can keep multiple apps open and running so you can easily switch between them. However, the more you have open and running the more RAM or memory is required so that could slow a phone down drastically. I like to get into the habit of ending all running apps. You can do this via the “Active Applications” app/widget or via the multi window button bottom left of the Note 4.

End Active Apps

Speedup Apps:

There are some good apps that continuously monitor and adjust your phones speed and give you options to clear cache etc. One decent one I’ve used is “Clean Master”.

Reset Phone:

If all else fails and your phone is getting pretty old you could try a total reset which will return the phone to it’s factory settings but make sure everything is backed up properly first. You can do this via Settings – Backup and Reset.

“Paul Lennon” – Lennon McCartney Face Mashup in Photoshop

I googled for some cool Photoshop face mashups of John Lennon & Paul McCartney just for the crack but there didn’t seem to be any. Maybe there’s some unwritten law against doing it or something!? So basically I done my own for practice..


I found the best, hi-res facial portraits from roughly the same angle I could find in Google. There were many more of Lennon than McCartney!?

Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney


John Lennon
John Lennon


The Lennon one was much better quality so when I brought them both into photoshop I actually added some noise/grain to the Lennon photo to make it match McCartney better after which I added a couple of master Hue/Saturation adjustment layers to bring everything down to grayscale and control tones.

Step 1: 

The first step was to rotate and align McCartney on top of Lennon precisely, matching eye, nose and mouth positions and using the layer opacity slider for guidance. Once that was done I added a layer mask to McCartney and fairly roughly masked out all but his eyes, nose and mouth using  a very soft brush.

Step 2:

I very carefully cut out Lennon’s glasses and pasted them on a new layer on top of McCartney’s face, masking out the glass part and adding a light grey color to the glass area which I made very transparent.

Step 3:

I manually added some shadow using a soft black brush behind the glasses on the bridge of the nose and top of the cheeks, matching the shadow type of the original Lennon photo.

Step 4: 

I duplicated the McCartney layer and masked out everything but the eye sockets and eyes and then applied a Liquify – Pucker filter to make the eyes look a little distorted through the glass as in the Lennon photo.

Step 5: 

I added some glare on the left eye glass and tidied up the merge by adding some shadows and darkening/brightening some facial areas as well as messing with levels on both photos to match up better.


I added master Levels and Photo Filter adjustment layers to unify the tone as well as a retro font with the title of the work.

Here’s the final result:

Paul Lenon
Paul Lenon


How to Check if your Mobile Hits are Down after Google’s “MobileGeddon”

So yesterday April 21st was “MobileGeddon” as it’s become known. The day Google  decided to change it’s algorithm to rank higher those websites which have Mobile Friendly or Responsive versions available to viewers on mobile devices including phones and tablets etc..

Mobile Friendly

I’ve been doing some comparative searches (make sure to sign out of your Google account as results might be skewed if you don’t)  on both desktop and mobile to see if I can see any difference in results but havn’t spotted anything obvious yet. I guess it might take a while to kick in?

Perhaps the best way to check if your site has been affected though is to login to your Google Analytics or similar account and check the stats for mobile hits. Wait a few days or weeks before doing this to give the stats a chance to build up. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Login to your Google Analytics account and click Audience – Mobile – Overview to see some quick stats.
  2. The overview data above is kinda hard to read so lets make it a bit clearer by selecting a date range. I suggest picking custom dates top right from about the 13th April to the 27th April to give one week of data before the change on the 21st and one week after.
  3. Next, tick the boxes beside Desktop, Mobile & Tablet bottom left and choose “Plot Rows” just above. This will give a nice tidy comparison chart for the period in question. See below:

Google Analytics

What you’re hoping NOT to see is a big obvious fall in mobile and tablet hits from the 21st onward. If you do and your site fails the Google mobile friendly test then you might need to consider making it mobile friendly?


Redirect Old WordPress URLs to New When Moving or Rebuilding a Website

I’ve just moved my self hosted WordPress blog which was also my main business site with some static pages, to a WordPress hosted blog and replaced the self-hosted one with a static, hand made PHP/HTML website, with all new urls!

It’s proven to be a bit of a bigger job than I expected to redirect old urls that people and google might have indexed in such a way that any SEO merit I’ve gained over the years would not be lost.

Here’s what I done following some research online and while it’s not perfect and some urls are going to slip through the net or at least make people work harder to try find, I’m pretty happy with the outcome:

Step 1 – Transfer the content:

Transferring the content was easy enough. I simply done an export from my self-hosted WordPress admin and re-imported on It usually works fine but some images might get lost. This will bring in Posts, Pages, Images, Categories, Tags, Comments…pretty much everything you need.

Step 2 – Replace old content:

I deleted all self-hosted WordPress files then built a new static site to replace the self-hosted WordPress site. The only thing to note here is that you should try match new url’s to old ones if possible, at least for the static pages that might have been on the old WordPress site. This will most likely involve using some code to create “pretty urls” though. More of that later.

Step 3 – Identify URLs to be redirected:

This is the hard bit! For me, all static page urls on my old site had to be redirected to the new url. I had to setup manual redirects for this even though the only difference in url might have been the addition of a .php or .html extension at the end. That was the easy bit but what about categories and single blog posts that might have been indexed quite well in google? My category list was fairly static so I could manually redirect each one similar to pages but unfortunately my permalink structure for single blog posts was a bit weird, ie – each url had a random number followed by the post title. If I’d have included the word “blog” in the url it might have made things easier!I basically had a good look through my post history on the new blog and identified the “most important” blog posts, ie – ones with affiliate links of just the most popular ones and even googled to see which posts came up highest. I also looked at my Google Analytics account to see which were the top bog posts viewed. Once I had a list of posts I was able to add redirect code for each post. See below:

Step 4 – Add the Redirect Code:

I added all my redirect codes to a .htaccess file in my website root. Here’s an extract below that should show and explain each redirect type:

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /

#Redirect Old WordPress Pages
Redirect 301 /web-design/ /web-design.php

#Redirect Old WordPress Categories
Redirect 301 /category/wordpress-tips/

#Redirect Old WordPress Posts
Redirect 301 /67/web-design-leitrim/

Step 5 – All Other URLs:

For anything else that might be in google but you haven’t redirected, it will end up on a 404 – not found page on your site/server. To get around this I simply created a new error 404 page with the same design as the rest of the new static site and put a line in the .htaccess file to redirect all missing pages or posts to that. Here’s the line:

ErrorDocument 404

Step 6 – Submit New Sitemaps:

Finally, I went into my various webmaster tools sites, ie – Google, Bing, Yahoo etc.. and deleted the old sitemap and added another new one.

As I said, this seems to work quite well for me but might not be an exhaustive list of things to do so please feel free to add anything I might have left out in the comments below.


How To Add WiFi & Online Sharing Functionality to older DSLRs

I got my first pro level Digital Camera/DSLR a little while ago, a Canon EOS 500D and one of the first things I noticed was that when I took a photo, I couldn’t do anything more with it until I got it on a PC! I’m too used to taking pictures with the phone camera and instantly sharing them to Facebook, Twitter etc..

Newer DSLRs will probably have WiFi functionality built in but mine is an older model with none so I googled around for some kind of Canon WiFi attachment that would allow me to transfer or share photos wirelessly. What I came across was something I’d never heard of, an “EyeFi WiFi SD card“! It works just like a regular SD memory card and comes in different capacities like 8MB, 16MB & 32MB but it has a WiFi chip on it too that communicates with other WiFi devices like your PC, Laptop, Smartphone or Tablet.


I got the 8MB EyeFi Mobi card. All I should need really. It costs about €40 including postage from the Apple Ireland online store which was the cheapest source online according to Simply install the EyeFi phone or Desktop app then insert the EyeFi SD card in your DSLR and turn on. The pairing process happens automatically via the phone/desktop app and you’ll be asked for the activation number that comes with the card during the process. When the SD card and app are paired just start taking pics! In a matter of minutes the photos appear in the phone or desktop app.

Sharing & Online Backup:

I noticed on my Samsung Galaxy 4 Android phone that when the photos transferred to the EyeFi app, they also when into my Google Photos and I have them set to automatically back up, full size to the Google cloud so that was damn handy! However, you can also sign up for EyeFi cloud which is around €40 per year for unlimited storage with the first few months free. Photos are then backed up to the cloud as well as your device. Once the photos are on the phone in the EyeFi app or cloud you can obviously share them via your preferred service.

Also, using you can set up many scenarios such as every time a photo is uploaded to EyeFi cloud it goes to Dropbox too which is cool.


The EyeFi app and cloud only automatically transfers JPEG images not RAW.

How to take a Screenshot on a PC, Laptop or Phone

I seen on Google Trends recently that one of the top search terms in Ireland for 2014 was “How to Screenshot” so here’s a blog post in case those people couldn’t find what they were looking for 😉 I’ll try to stick to default/native solutions that don’t involve third party apps or programs.


Simply press the “Print Screen” or “PrtScn” button. This snaps a copy of the screen to the clipboard and you can then paste it wherever, ie – into Microsoft Word, Paint etc.. To copy only the currently active window then press “ALT + PrtScn”. More recent versions of Windows might have a dedicated tool installed that can capture more precise sections of the screen and do annotations etc. Go to the start menu and search for “Snipping Tool”.


Hold down CMD + Shift + 4 then release and you’ll see a crosshairs you can use to specify an area of the screen to shoot.


Smart phones all work in roughly the same way usually involving holding 2 buttons at the same time. It can be pretty tricky getting the timing right though!

Samsung Galaxy Phone:

Press and hold both the Home + Power/Standby buttons until the screen flashes and a camera sound is heard. A screenshot is generated and saved in your gallery.


Press and hold both the Home + Wake/Sleep buttons. The screen flashes when the screenshot is taken. The screenshot is generated and saved to your camera roll.


See iPhone!

Third Party Software:

You can also use more fully featured solutions. Here are some of my favourite ones:




How to Fix the SSL 3.0 Poodle Vulnerability

I got an email from Stripe payments to let me know that a recent credit card transaction on my site had used the SSL 3.0 protocol on my server and that this was possibly insecure due to the recent “Poodle” vulnerability. They said that they would be removing support for SSL 3.0 in Stripe soon and that my existing credit card forms would no longer work.

The fix for this is server based and essentially you need to remove support for the SSL 3.0 protocol on your server in favour of TLS. All modern servers should support TLS but you might need to tell them to or tell them to disable SSL 3.0. Contact your host if you are on a shared server. If you’re on a VPS like me you can do this yourself in WHM/Cpanel as below:

  1. Go to WHM => Service Configuration => Apache Configuration => Include Editor => Pre Main Include.
  2. Select a version or All Versions.
  3. Add the following in the text box that appears:SSLHonorCipherOrder On
    SSLProtocol ALL -SSLv2 -SSLv3
  4. Press the Update button and then “Restart Apache”.
SSL 3.0 Poodle
SSL 3.0 Poodle

3 MiFi Connection Authentication Error

We’d been having weird, intermittent WiFi problems in the house for months and I kinda stumbled on the solution over the weekend. Basically, the various devices on WiFi in the house were struggling to connect to the network, particularly our smart phones. While the home network could be seen, it wouldn’t connect automatically as set and manual connections just failed with the error “Connection Authentication Error”. It was annoying not least because my MiFi router is located in the attic for best house coverage and I had to keep climbing up there to restart it in the hope of it sorting itself out. I also had a booster in the attic to help spread the signal to the furthest reaches of the house so I was sure the MiFi unit itself or this booster were at fault and was ready to replace them until I realised that multiple devices where having the same error, including my wife’s brand new phone and in various different rooms all over the house.

So what else could it be? Something I read online started me wondering if there was a limit to the number of devices you can normally have connected to a typical broadband router and because the MiFi router wasn’t a typical one, maybe it had an extra low limit or something? I wondered if the limit could be raised so I logged into my MiFi control panel and seen a screen that showed the max number of connected clients allowed, which was 5 so I tried changing it to 10 and saving but it returned an error stating that 5 was the max! So the standard MiFi router that 3 Ireland use is the Huawei E5220 seen below and it’s only capable of handling a max of 5 connected devices at once! Not much use with a laptop, 3/4 smart phones, a Sky box, a Chromecast, a Nest Thermostat, WiFi light bulb and regular visitors with smart phones! Basically all our devices were vying for a coveted spot on the network and sometimes one got it over another etc which explained the intermittent part of it all perfectly.


So what’s the solution?

I googled around looking for a way of raising the limit but it seems you have to mess around with the devices firmware etc. Not into that! I also thought about reverting to my old 3G Broadband UMR router but couldn’t find my old 3 dongle. Then I realised that just like your phone account/contract, your mobile broadband account is also upgradable, ie – you can qualify for an upgrade to a new device after your contract runs out. So I went on the 3 site and logged in than hit the “Am I eligible for an upgrade” link and I was luckily. Also, 3 currently have a couple of new devices that have a connection limit of 10 devices, double the MiFi’s so I went for the smaller one which was completely covered by the upgrade for free. It’s the NetGear AC762S seen below. It’s also 4G which is handy if that ever comes to Leitrim but I’m not holding my breath. 10 devices should sort us out for a little while longer at least!


How To Change Currency Format in Gravity Forms

As great as the number one WordPress forms plugin is, Gravity Forms has one glaring omission – no front end settings for currency formatting. The default you’re stuck with it this:

100,00 € which is supposed to denote one hundred euros or €100. This can confuse some people who mistake it for one hundred thousand!

The only way to change it is by adding the following code to your themes “functions.php” file. This example is what you need to show currency in Euros with the € symbol on the left, a comma thousand separator and 2 decimal places:

add_filter( 'gform_currencies', 'update_currency' );
function update_currency( $currencies ) {
    $currencies['EUR'] = array(
        'name'               => __( 'Euro', 'gravityforms' ),
        'symbol_left'        => '€',
        'symbol_right'       => '',
        'symbol_padding'     => ' ',
        'thousand_separator' => ',',
        'decimal_separator'  => '.',
        'decimals'           => 2
    return $currencies;

NB: making this change may change any existing prices you have on your form to thousands so you’ll need to go into each price and fix.

Add a Newsletter System to Your WordPress Website

Online marketing is getting a bit harder these days as traditional and even newer methods of selling yourself online are becoming saturated and over used. It’s getting more and more unpredictable whether people will find your blog posts or see your Facebook & Twitter stuff as more and more businesses and competitors clamor to be heard online among a pile of junk and ads..

I’ve always liked Newsletters. They have been around for longer than social media marketing but may have taken a back seat in recent times but they remain an effective marketing tool. For example, top companies with massive mailing lists know they’ll make millions just by sending out a Newsletter with latest products etc..

Here are some of the advantages of using a Newsletter system that we shouldn’t forget:

  • Users can sign up to your list automatically,
  • Marketing material is sent directly to a persons inbox,
  • People can chose to read at a time that suits without having to bookmark,
  • People can unsubscribe (requirement),
  • Minimum marketing effort, maximum reach,
  • Full control over design and action links,
  • Open/Read analytics.

I’ve been using an excellent WordPress Newsletter plugin on this website for a few years now with some success. It can take subscribers automatically from the front end and I can write a nicely formatted and designed newsletter with all the required “view in browser” and “unsubscribe” links to send out to them all from within the WordPress admin. I can also generate offsite code to show the subscription form across the rest of my personal websites and places like my Facebook Page.

Get in touch if you’d like help setting up a Newsletter on your website.

Here’s an example of how a typical Newsletter looks. NB – don’t make them too long!:

Reverb Newsletter