Tethering your computer to your phone – how to avoid unwanted data consumption

Rick Sturch Mobile Hotspot Wifi Tethering

Have you ever wondered why your computer uses so much of your phone’s data when you tether it for internet access? Well, wonder no more.

Something that you probably don’t often think about is all the background apps running when you use your computer. Many of them check for updates, automatically download updates, use data to update information (ie weather apps). All of these processes consume data, which is an issue when you have a limited amount of it.

The heaviest consumer of data, however, is often your operating system’s automatic updates.

If you are using Windows, there are some really easy solutions to this. For one, you can designate the network connection that your phone creates as a “metered connection”. When this setting is enabled, Windows updates will not download until your computer returns to a connection that is not metered. For more detailed instructions, visit here.

Alternatively, you can use Windows Firewall. You are able to restrict which apps are able to access the internet so that the background updating is restricted. If data is really tight, you can restrict all background apps except for the apps you need to use (such as a web browser).

If you own a Mac, or simply want an easier, more comprehensive solution, there is an app for that. It’s called TripMode 2 , and it claims to be the answer. Essentially, it blocks all apps from accessing the internet when connected to designated network connections – except the ones you want accessing the internet.

Full disclosure, I haven’t tried it yet since my laptop is not a Macintosh. However, it seems to have all the functionality so that when you go on a vacation out of the city, you won’t be reeling from expensive data overages.

by Rick Sturch



Aperture: How to blur the background and make your subject stand out

Loon and Canoe by Rick Sturch

In my most recent photography blog post, I summarize what aperture is and how to use it to adjust depth of field. If you have a DLSR camera and you want to take amazing portrait pictures, this will be a great primer.

Conversely, if you want to take landscape pictures where everything is in crystal clear focus, make sure you change your f-stop to a larger number.

For the full article, click here.


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DJI drones

A few weeks ago, my cousin Jeff gave me a demonstration of his DJI Mavic drone. It is pretty incredible how fast prosumer drones have come in such a short period of time.

We decided to take a landscape panorama using a feature that was unlocked by a firmware upgrade. Jeff flew the drone high above the trees, then the drone sat there, motionless, and took about thirty high resolution pictures. The program stitched them together automatically to form a ultra HD image.

This is obviously a pretty cool feature, and it’s one of many. The tracking feature also comes in handy. Essentially you can tell the drone to identify an object, such as a person, then have the drone follow that object. It will shoot 4k high definition video, keeping that object in the centre of the shot. Alternatively, if you are a passenger in a car or boat, you can also control the drone yourself. Here is an example:

First attempt at some #tiltshift video in beautiful #muskoka. Shot with the #djimavic #dji #dronestagram

A post shared by jeffsdrone (@jeffsdrone) on

It is noteworthy to add that after he captured the footage, he imported it into Premiere Pro and added a miniaturization effect. The raw footage also looked really good.

I was reading an article in CNet that the new models of the Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 Pro are going to be 60% quieter (the blades) and last up to 30 minutes in the air. With the price being about US$1099, these drones are a reasonably priced way to add character to any creative project.

by Rick Sturch

Crazy storm

Earlier this year, strong winds blew down a corridor of trees near my parent’s home. Their neighbours said they saw a small twister approach rapidly, followed by intense winds and pouring rain. By the time the storm was gone, a nearby power line had been taken out by a fallen tree and the power was out.

A couple of the trees barely missed hitting my parent’s home, and many branches did. Fortunately, there was only minor damage.

The power had been taken out at several locations in the area, and hydro crews were sent in from all over southern Ontario to fix the problems. My father and I spoke to a crew from Lindsay, who had been working long hours over the long weekend to get the power back on.

The hydro pole that was causing the problems near my parent’s place had snapped as a result of the weight from the massive fallen tree. Some of the power lines had also snapped and were resting on the ground as a result of the top of the pole crashing down.

We saw the crew digging out a wide base for the new pole, after they had removed the broken one. The new pole was going to be flown in due to the inaccessibility of the location. My father and I walked back to see what they were working on, but we actually arrived right in time for the main event. The rumble of the spinning helicopter blades slowly became audible and the crew got themselves into position.

The accuracy of the pilot was impressive. He brought the pole in a very enclosed area and dropped it into the base effortlessly. There were three lines already attached to the pole which the hydro crew untied. They attached to nearby trees in a tripod pattern so that it could be freestanding once tied down.

Only a little more than a minute after the helicopter arrived, it disconnected the tow line from the pole and flew off. The hydro crew started filling in the base with the ground they had originally dug out.

I managed to capture a short video of this process. Check it out!

by Rick Sturch