How to Fix Ford Bluetooth Connection Issues with a Firmware Update

We just got a Ford Grand C-Max 2012 and I was quite excited (as only a man can be with the prospect of a new car gadget) by the Bluetooth functionality promised by the ton of Bluetooth buttons and controls built into the car’s dashboard. Unlike our last car which had just a Bluetooth kit that could only handle calls but not stream music from phones etc through the speakers, this car could do that and more. There’s even a phone keypad on the dashboard!

So imagine my disappointment when I just couldn’t get my Galaxy Note 4 (Or my wife’s S4) bonded with the car. The phone found the car’s Bluetooth no problem but kept saying it couldn’t connect because there were no available phone slots left. But when I tried to view current slots and debond the previous owner’s phones the car system threw a wobbly and timed out, sometimes turning itself off and only turning the engine on could start it up again. The cars Bluetooth function had obviously become corrupt in some way.

So I went off Googling, presuming to find a ton of easy fixes. Surely this was a common issue!? Not so. Any fixes I came across just suggested debonding the existing phones but my system wouldn’t let me do that. I then went looking for firmware updates for the audio system to see if that would help reset things but couldn’t find any on any Ford site. It seems they don’t want you doing this, perhaps preferring instead that you fork out for a fix with a local Ford dealer!?

Eventually I found some old firmware from 2012 on a website. It is supposed to be for all Ford Bluetooth with Voice Control car systems from 2008 to 2012 but only supported the C-Max up to Jan 2012 and my car was July 2012. Nevertheless, I downloaded it and ran the update procedure and everything works perfect now!

Make sure your phone is actually compatible with the car system before you do this obviously – http://www.ford.ie/Technology/MobileCompatibility

* Here’s the firmware I used – Download.

And here’s a simple procedure for updating:

  1. Download and extract the zip folder above.
  2. Copy the extracted files (not folder) to an empty USB drive formatted in FAT32.
  3. Turn on your car audio system via the button, ie – not ignition switch.
  4. Insert the USB drive and select AUX – USB input.
  5. Turn ignition key to position 1.
  6. The update process should start automatically and take about 20 mins.

Your audio system might turn itself off when the process is complete. Mine did. Just turn it back on with the USB drive still inserted and the system should say already up to date. That’s it done.

* Compatible with the following cars with a USB connection

C-Max/Grand C-Max – February 2008 to July 2012
Fiesta – July 2008 to December 2011
Focus – February 2008 to January 2012
Galaxy – September 2008 to January 2012
Kuga – February 2008 to January 2012
Mondeo – September 2008 to January 2012
Ranger – From April 2009
Transit – From June 2009

Disclaimer: This is not my firmware and no responsibility will be taken by me for damage done to your car audio system if it doesn’t work or there are compatibility issues.

 

What’s the Cost of Owning a Car?

We’ve been buying and selling cars a lot (no choice!) the last few years and have mostly had bad luck with what we’ve bought. All we ever seem to be able to afford are bangers that cause us endless headache and costs. But if nothing else, it’s led me to do a lot of research on how much a car can actually cost day to day. We’ve just invested in a newish car for once and I decided to make a spreadsheet that would calculate the difference in running costs between the old one and this new one just to see if we were going to save any money and if so how much exactly. It’s early days because we havn’t had the new car long but it turns out that the new car might potentially save us around €100 per week!

I’ve decided to modify my spreadsheet slightly for public consumption so you can input your own figures for things like Miles Per Gallon (MPG), Tax, CO2, Servicing/Repair and Insurance and see just how much exactly your car is costing you per year, per month and per week. Hopefully it might help you decide if it’s best to keep your car or invest in a cheaper to run one like it has for us.

Here are some resources you may need to use to get information on your car:

Irish Motor Tax Rates (Private Car Standard Engine size pre 2008 or Private Car CO2 Emissions post 2008) – Motortax.ie

SEAI CO2 Emissions band – Seai.ie

Car Specification & Reviews – Parkers.co.uk

Car Reliability Reviews – Honestjohn.co.uk

Here’s the spreadsheet (.XLSX)

Fix: SSL Not Trusted or Invalid Security Error on Mobile

My own site has been fully SSL for a while now but I noticed a security error while viewing it on my Android phone using the Chrome browser recently. It’s fine on a desktop. I googled around a bit and contacted my SSL issuer NameCheap.com for advice and they suggested that I hadn’t installed the Certificate Authority (CA) bundle while installing the main SSL cert initially. The CA bundle is optional when installing an SSL cert but it exists to improve compatibility with web browsers and clients so is worthwhile putting in too.

NameCheap provided the CA bundle code via email and it was a fairly straightforward process to go in to my hosts Cpanel and add the CA to the existing cert via the SSL/TLS Manager.

The process is outlined here:

Namecheap.com/support/knowledgebase/article.aspx/9418/0/cpanel

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.

Update:

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..

Assets:

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

And..

John Lennon
John Lennon

Process:

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.

Finally:

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

Leon

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 WordPress.com. 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/ https://reverbstudios.wordpress.com/category/wordpress-tips/

#Redirect Old WordPress Posts
Redirect 301 /67/web-design-leitrim/ https://reverbstudios.wordpress.com/2008/03/27/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 https://www.reverbstudios.ie/404.php

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.

Leon