Category: Configurations Informatiques

Using Bluetooth audio devices with your laptop computer

Braven BRV-X outdoor Bluetooth speaker

Braven BRV-X outdoor Bluetooth speaker – another of many Bluetooth speakers with speakerphone functionality

There is an increasing number of Bluetooth-connected wireless audio devices available for  use with smartphones and similar devices. But you may want to use these headsets, audio adaptors, Bluetooth speakers or Bluetooth-integrated audio devices with your laptop instead of those tiny speakers that are the norm for these computers. The best example for the speakers would be the Bose SoundDock speakers, especially the SoundDock 10, due to its good bass response, when used with the Bluetooth adaptor. As well, I ran a test setup with the Motorola DC800 Bluetooth adaptor connected to an older Sony boombox and had the review-sample Fujitsu LH772 laptop being fed through this Bluetooth adaptor.

Similarly, there are those of us who may want to use a Bluetooth headset like the Plantronics BackBeat Pro with a laptop computer so you can roam around the office or home listening to your favourite tunes or podcast or as a contingency measure to avoid missing that important VoIP call.

How a Bluetooth audio setup would function for a laptop

You can achieve these setups with Bluetooth-equipped laptops that run Windows 7, MacOS X Snow Leopard and Linux and newer versions of these operating systems. This is due to the supply of a class driver for the Bluetooth A2DP audio profile  and Hands Free Profile as part of the operating system distributions.

Initial setup

First, you have to set up the Bluetooth A2DP-capable audio device to become discoverable. The method for this is explained in the instructions that come with the device but you typically may have to hold down a setup button to achieve this goal.

Plantronics BackBeat Pro Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones

Headphones you can treat your laptop to

Then you have to put the computer in to a “Bluetooth setup” mode in order to annex the device to the operating system. In WIndows 7, you would have to click on “Devices and Printers”, then click “Add Device”.

After you complete these procedures, both the device and the computer start to pair up and identify themselves to each other. The computer would then find and install the A2DP audio-device class drivers that are part of the operating system. In some cases, the class driver may be fetched from Microsoft’s or Apple’s Website. The same thing will also happen with the Bluetooth Hands-Free Profile or Bluetooth Headset Profile when you initially connect a Bluetooth headset, headphone audio adaptor or other device equipped for communications functionality.

Now the Bluetooth audio device is defined as a sound device and some Windows setups may have it run as the default audio device for all of the laptop’s sound output.

Which sound device

Bluetooth device listed alongside default audio device

List of audio playback devices including the Bluetooth audio device

But you may want to have a split setup so that music and video sound go to the Bluetooth speakers and all of the notification sounds come via the laptop speakers. Here, you would have to set the integrated sound subsystem as the default audio device. Then you would have to set iTunes, Windows Media Player or other media-management software to use the Bluetooth A2DP audio device.

This latter setup may not work well with software like games, the Spotify desktop program or Web browsers where there isn’t an option to specify the sound output device for that application. Here, you would have to specify the Bluetooth audio device as your default audio device to have the soundtrack from video on demand including YouTube videos, or your Spotify playlist coming through that device.

Bluetooth headsets and speakers with speakerphone functionality will cause Windows to purpose the Bluetooth Hands-Free Profile or Headset Profile as a Communications Device and may cause Windows 7 to determine it as a Default Communications Device.

The controls on these Bluetooth devices should map through to the applications’ controls courtesy of operating system support for Bluetooth AVRCP control profile for media navigation and the call-control functionality of the Hands-Free and Headset Profiles. This will apply to applications that currently have the focus for media playback or communications.

Multipoint Operation

The Sony SBH-52 Bluetooth Headphone Adaptor - supports multipoint operation for two devices

The Sony SBH-52 Bluetooth Headphone Adaptor – supports multipoint operation for two devices

An increasing number of communications-capable Bluetooth devices have support for “multipoint” operation where they can work with two different source devices. This function is typically to support people who use two mobile phones such as a “personal” one and a “work” one.

As I discovered when reviewing the Sony SBH-52 Bluetooth headphone adaptor, I fund that this function can also work with a computer. This can be of use if you are maintaining a playlist or listening to Web content on your laptop.

Here, you have to determine which device is your “priority” device which allows the headset to primarily control that device. This is something you would do either through the device’s setup menu, a desktop or mobile control program or a certain keypress sequence depending on the device. You may be able to at least use the call-control button to answer and end calls when you are using your secondary device. It is a good idea to set the laptop as the priority device when you are playing content from it or are wanting to use a VoIP app that may come across as being rickety.

Conclusion

Once you know what your Bluetooth-capable laptop can do with those Bluetooth audio accessories, you can then let it perform at its best with these devices and they don’t need juhst to be considered for mobile phones anymore.

Updates

This is to reflect newer Bluetooth hardware that I have reviewed along with highlighting the Bluetooth Hands-Free Profile used for communications purposes and multipoint operation offered by an increasing number of Bluetooth devices.

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Don’t forget that the Browser Choice Screen is your one-stop Web browser port-of-call

Previous Coverage – HomeNetworking01.info

Understanding The Browser Choice Screen (EN, FR)

Web site

Browser Choice Screen – http://browserchoice.eu

My Comments

Previously, I have covered the Browser Choice Screen, which was par of Microsoft’s anti-trust settlement with the European Commission concerning Internet Explorer. This was to be for consumer and small-business Windows setups in the European Union where people were to be offered a choice of Web browser for their operating environment.

But I still see this menu Web page as a “one-stop” port-of-call for people anywhere in the world who want to install new Web browsers or repair a damaged Web-browser installation. This resource came in handy when I was repairing a houseguest’s computer that was damaged by a “system-repair” Trojan Horse. Here, I could know where to go to collect the installation files for the Firefox Web browser that I was to repair so I can restore their Web environment.

If you are creating a system-repair toolkit on a USB memory key, you may visit this resource to download installation packages for the Web browsers to that memory key. Or you can create a shortcut file to this site and store it on the memory key b

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What is the “new computing environment” and how to go about it?

When I talk of laptops, wireless routers and network-capable printers, I make frequent references to a “new computing environment” that these devices can enable.

What is the “New Computing Environment”

Sony VAIO E-Series laptopThe “New Computing Environment” is a home computing environment that is based around portability and flexibility. The seed for this environment has been sown with the widely-publicised Intel Centrino campaign and is becoming stronger in a lot of households.

It consists of most of the computers in the house being laptop or notebook computers.It may also include the use of “all-in-one” desktop computers similar to the newer Apple iMacs or HP TouchSmart desktops. The goal is that these computers are able to be moved easily around the house at a whim.

This environment will also encompass the use of smartphones and tablet computers for secondary computing activities like casual Web browsing, email and use of social networks.

There is a Wi-Fi home network in place that is served by at least a wireless router that is the network’s Internet “edge”. The computers may connect to that router via Ethernet if they are close to it but are typically connected to that router using the Wi-Fi network segment.

What does this lead to

Increased flexibility

The key benefit is to increase flexibility when it comes to computer use. The major benefit is that you can relocate the computer as you need it. An example that was portrayed in an Intel Centrino radio ad that was played in the UK was someone who was writing out an email on a laptop being being interrupted by another household member who had come in to do the vacuuming. Then they are able to move somewhere quieter to do the rest of their work.

Netgear DG834G ADSL2 wireless router

Netgear DG834G ADSL2 wireless router

As well, the “New Computing Environment” also leads to increased “casual computing” setups like viewing sites like YouTube or Facebook while lounging around on the sofa; going through one’s email while relaxing in bed or flicking through online news sites while in the kitchen. I even wrote a short article on this site about the trend of young people visiting Websites while watching TV.

Catering to temporary workspaces

Another very common scenario is a household without a dedicated workspace. This is where the kitchen bench or the dining table becomes a temporary office. Some households may have a collapsible table like a card table or trestle table along with one or more folding chairs, set up in a lounge area or landing for use as a temporary workspace; or may have such furniture on hand to set up a temporary workspace as required. The “New Computing Environment” allows the user to shift the computer along with the rest of their work whenever they need to do something like set the table for a meal.

Even if a household has a dedicated workspace, there will always be the need to create another temporary workspace to suit another person’s work or study needs or to suit a different type of work.

Storage flexibility

Similarly, laptop computers are much easier to store when not in use. For example, they can be put in a drawer when not needed, as I have mentioned in an older article regarding use of a laptop as a kitchen PC. This allows the machine to be well out of harm’s way which can be of concern in a busy household or with some children and pets.

As well, the laptop is also more suited to households who have older “davenport” or “roll-top” desks which are capable of being closed up when not in use. Here, these computers can be used at and stored easily in these desks. It also allows these desks to become the elegant piece of furniture that they are known for.

Suitability with “downsized living”

This computing environment is becoming increasingly relevant with people who live in smaller houses and apartments; especially city apartments.

This class of user includes “empty-nest” parents who are moving to smaller premises because their children have left the family home, but still need to be able to look after their grandchildren when they come around.  Here, their computing equipment doesn’t need to cause much space to be taken up in these smaller living quarters.

The “home-business” laptop

This kind of computing environment also suits the use of a “home-business” computer that is used at home but taken to the workplace while you are working. For some small-business operators, a large laptop like the Dell Inspiron 15R or the HP Probook 4520s may be the only computing device that they need to use for all their computing needs and you just pack this machine in the boot (trunk) of your car before you head to or from your workplace.

Implementation notes

Starting out

You will need to use a laptop computer that is commensurate to your computing needs. But it will have to be equipped with an integrated Wi-Fi wireless network interface of at least 802.11g WPA standard. This covers most laptops made over the past five years. I have reviewed plenty of laptops and notebooks on this site and will be reviewing more of them as they come along from different manufacturers. You can have a look at the list of equipment reviewed here on this page.

Compaq Presario CQ42

Compaq Presario CQ42 entry-level laptop

If you are intending to buy a new laptop computer, I would suggest that you look at the buyer’s guides that I have written – “Buying a Laptop or Notebook Computer”. Here, I have suggested the use of the 15” laptop computers as a sole or main computing device for this environment. If you have very basic needs like emailing and basic Web surfing, a unit equipped with a low-end processor and around 2Gb memory, like the Compaq Presario CQ42 that I have reviewed here, can suit your needs here. It is still worth it to spend as much as you can afford on the hard disk capacity because as you use the computer more regularly, you will end up filling the hard disk more quickly.

On the other hand, you may want to use an “all-in-one” desktop computer like one of the Apple iMac, HP TouchSmart Desktop or Sony VAIO J or L Series computers. These have the computing power, secondary storage and the screen integrated in one slim lightweight housing, with a separate keyboard and mouse. They may be useful as a “common” or “family” computer and can be stored or moved easily as long as you know how to reconnect the keyboard and mouse.

Printers

A lot of people who set up for the “new computing environment” typically use a direct-connected printer and bring the laptop closer to it in order to plug it in when they want to print or scan something.

Canon PIXMA MX-350 network multifunction printer

What you need to do for proper implementation is to use a network-enabled printer. Here, these printers connect directly to the network either via Ethernet or Wi-Fi wireless and accept their print jobs through this connection. Multi-function printers can also expose their other functions like the scanner, fax or memory-card slots to the network.

This avoids the need to connect the laptop to the printer every time you want to print something out. With a network printer, you just select that printer from the list of printers when you specify a print job from your laptop and, moments later. you will find your print job in the printer’s output tray. Here, the job is sent via the network to the printer rather than via a cable that you always connect to the printer.

“Easing the gap” towards flexibility

Some users who are used to a regular laptop computer connected by Ethernet to a single-port broadband modem at a regular workspace may still get in to the habit of connecting the laptop to the wireless router using the “old way”. This is more so if they see their computer’s home location as being on the desktop near the router and while at that location they plug it in to the Ethernet socket on the router.

Some operating systems may react in a strange way if the user plugs in the Ethernet connection while the wireless connection is still active. This may be not of concern with newer operating systems that can automatically deactivate the Wi-Fi wireless network interface if the computer is connected to the network via an Ethernet cable.  Here, the user needs to know how to manually enable and disable the Wi-Fi wireless network interface in the laptop.

Some of the computers will use a separate “Wi-Fi” button to turn the Wi-Fi modem on an off whereas more recent examples will require you to press the “Fn” key and a function key with a transmitter symbol to turn the wireless network on and off. This function may also be known as a “flight mode” and in some cases, will turn the Bluetooth function on and off at the same time.

Then what you might end up doing is to forget using the Ethernet cord and just use the laptop wirelessly as you realise you can use the Internet at home without wires.

Network-attached storage devices

If you are considering expanded or secondary data storage space for the “New Computing Environment”, you will be interested in buying a network-attached storage device. This is a dedicated external hard disk that is accessible from computers connected to your network. It is different to the idea of repurposing an old desktop computer as a shared storage server because the device is designed specifically to be a storage device and will end up being quieter, more efficient and more reliable to run than the old desktop computer.

They are relevant as a backup device; to offload rarely-touched data from your computer and/or to works as a standards-compliant media server for your music, digital pictures and videos. I have touched on this latter application in the DLNA Home Media Network series article: “Setting up for PC-free operation”.

An increasing number of wireless routers are offering NAS functionality when a USB hard disk is plugged in to them. This may be good for starting out or a temporary network-storage solution but a dedicated network-attached storage device can do the job much better for long-term use. As well, most of the routers that offer this function are very under-powered when it comes to handling USB hard disks and you would then have to use a self-powered USB hard disk or connect the “power” USB connection on small USB-powered hard disks to a powered USB hub.

Is wired technology relevant to the New Computing Environment

There are some cases where wired-networking technology is relevant to the New Computing Environment. One main case would be to support network printers or networked AV devices that don’t have integrated Wi-Fi functionality. This would be more so as you consider purchasing an Internet-enabled TV or Blu-ray player for your home and a lot of these devices may just have an Ethernet socket rather than Wi-Fi connectivity.

Another case would be to use a secondary access point to extend wireless-network coverage, such as with buildings that use thick walls made of brick, stone or similar materials; large buildings or outbuildings on a property.

Here, you may think that you have to lay Ethernet wiring through the premises and this may be expensive and of poor value if you aren’t renovating, extending or rewiring your building. In most cases, you could use HomePlug AV technology as your wired “no-new-wires” technology because this uses regular AC wiring as a data carrier.

Conclusion

What I am hoping to do with this is to explain the “New Computing Environment” that is becoming a major trend as far as home and small-business computing is concerned. This is where the computing environment is centred around the use of portable computers that connect to a wireless network.

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Another major change for the Intel-based PC platform will shorten the boot-up cycle

News articles

Getting a Windows PC to boot in under 10 seconds | Nanotech – The Circuits Blog (CNET News)

BBC News – Change to ‘Bios’ will make for PCs that boot in seconds

My comments

The PC BIOS legacy

The PC BIOS which was the functional bridge between the time you turn a personal computer on and when the operating system can be booted was defined in 1979 when personal computers of reasonable sophistication came on the scene. At that time the best peripheral mix for a personal computer was a “green-screen” text display,  two to four floppy disk drives, a dot-matrix printer and a keyboard. Rudimentary computers at that time used a cassette recorder rather than the floppy-disk drives as their secondary storage.

Through the 1980s, there was Improved BIOS support for integrated colour graphics chipsets and the ability to address hard disks. In the 1990s, there were some newer changes such as support for networks, mice, higher graphics and alternate storage types but the BIOS wasn’t improved for these newer needs. In some cases, the computer had to have extra “sidecar” ROM chips installed on VGA cards or network cards to permit support for VGA graphics or booting from the network. Similarly, interface cards like SCSI cards or add-on IDE cards couldn’t support “boot disks” unless they had specific “sidecar” ROM chips to tell the BIOS that there were “boot disks” on these cards.

These BIOS setups were only able to boot to one operating environment or, in some cases, could boot to an alternative operating environment such as a BASIC interpreter that used a cassette recorder as secondary storage. If a user wanted to work with a choice of operating environments, the computer had to boot to a multi-choice “bootloader” program which was a miniature operating system in itself and presented a menu of operating environments to boot into. This was extended to lightweight Web browsers, email clients and media players that are used in some of the newer laptops for “there-and-then” computing tasks.

The needs of a current computer, with its newer peripheral types and connection methods, were too demanding on this old code and typically required that the computer take a significant amount of time from switch-on to when the operating system could start. In some cases, there were reliability problems as the BIOS had to get used to existing peripheral types being connected to newer connection methods, such as use of Bluetooth wireless keyboards or keyboards that connect via the USB bus.

The Universal Extensible Firmware Interface improvement

This is a new improvement that will replace the BIOS as the bootstrap software that runs just after you turn on the computer in order to start the operating system. The way this aspect of a computer’s operation is designed has been radically improved with the software being programmed in C rather than machine language.

Optimised for today’s computers rather than yesterday’s computers

All of the computer’s peripherals are identified by function rather than by where they are connected. This will allow for console devices such as the keyboard and the mouse to work properly if they are connected via a link like the USB bus or wireless connectivity. It also allows for different scenarios like “headless” boxes which are managed by a Web front, Remote Desktop Protocol session or similar network-driven remote-management setup. That ability has appealed to businesses who have large racks of servers in a “data room” or wiring closet and the IT staff want to manage these servers from their desk or their home network.

Another, yet more obvious benefit is for computer devices to have a quicker boot time because the new functions that UEFI allows for and that the UEFI code is optimised for today’s computer device rather than the 1979-81-era computer devices. It is also designed to work with future connection methods and peripheral types which means that there won’t be a need for “sidecar” BIOS or bootstrap chips on interface cards.

Other operational advantages

There is support in the UEFI standard for the bootstrap firmware to provide a multi-boot setup for systems that have multiple operating environments thus avoiding the need to provide a “bootloader” menu program on the boot disk to allow the user to select the operating environment. It will also yield the same improvements for those computers that allow the user to boot to a lightweight task-specific operating environment.

When will this be available

This technology has been implemented in some newer laptops and a lot of business-class servers but from 2011 onwards, it will become available in most desktop and laptop computers that appeal to home users and small-business operators. People who have their computers built by an independent reseller or build their own PCs will be likely to have this function integrated in motherboards released from this model year onwards.

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Comprendre l’écrans «Choix de Navigateur» – Mis à jour

Articles du Presse

Microsoft offre un choix navigateur Web pour les utilisateurs d’IE | BBC Technology (Royanne-Uni – Anglais)

Microsoft s’apprête à offrir aux utilisateurs de Windows un écran de choix du navigateur | The Guardian Technology Blog (Royanne-Uni – Anglais)

La concurrence entre navigateurs web relancée en Europe | DegroupNews (France)

De la bouche du cheval

Le navigateur de choix d’écrans pour l’Europe: à quoi s’attendre, quand l’attendre | Microsoft sur les enjeux (Microsoft – Anglais)

MIS À JOUR: Le navigateur de choix d’écrans pour l’Europe – Les enjeux de Microsoft (Microsoft – Anglais)

Union européenne communiqué de presse sur l’écran Choix du navigateur

Le raccourci d’écran de choix des navigateurs (disponible partout dans le monde)

 http://browserchoice.eu

 Site de plaidoyer

OpenToChoice.org (Mozilla)

Mes commentaires et informations complémentaires

Si vous exécutez une version de Windows XP, Vista ou 7 que vous avez achetés en Europe et votre navigateur par défaut est Internet Explorer 8, vous mai être tenus de remplir un navigateur “sélection” écran scrutin, connu sous l’écran “Choix du navigateur”, afin de déterminer dont le navigateur de votre ordinateur doit exécuter comme navigateur par défaut. Mai il ne se produira pas si vous avez exécuté un autre navigateur comme navigateur par défaut, puis revient à Internet Explorer 8. Il a également qu’il adviendra de migrants européens qui ont apporté leurs ordinateurs de Windows avec eux.

Vous aurez à travailler à travers un “assistant” qui a un écran d’introduction, puis la liste des navigateurs présentés dans un ordre aléatoire.  Donc quand vous choisissez ce navigateur, il sera déterminé comme votre par défaut l’outil de navigation Web chaque fois que vous passez à une page Web. Si le navigateur n’est pas installé sur votre ordinateur, le logiciel va être téléchargé depuis le site du développeur et installés sur votre système.

Si vous exécutez Windows 7, Internet Explorer «e» logo disparaît de la barre des tâches, mais vous pouvez toujours le trouver dans votre menu Démarrer. Ensuite, vous serez en mesure de le rattacher à votre barre des tâches en cliquant droit sur le programme dans le menu Démarrer et en sélectionnant “Pin à la barre des tâches”.

L’écran “Choix du navigateur” deviendra par la suite disponible comme une autre méthode pour changer les navigateurs par défaut, à côté des options disponibles lorsque vous installez, mettez à jour ou de lancer un navigateur Web.

Il ya certaines questions que vous exécutez en mai si vous passez de Internet Explorer 8 à un autre navigateur.L’une est que vous n’aurez pas vos flux RSS qui s’est tenue à la liste de flux commun qui fonctionne en tant que partie de Windows Vista et 7.  Cette mai affecter l’ajout d’aliments nouveaux destinés à des logiciels qui font usage de la liste de flux commun que leur magasin de données RSS.  De même, Windows 7 utilisateurs ne bénéficieront pas d’avoir les onglets visibles dans plusieurs fenêtre d’aperçu «Aero Peek». Cette question mai être résolu avec les versions des navigateurs alternatifs en cours de construction à travailler étroitement avec des caractéristiques de l’hôte système d’exploitation, qui peut être réalisé avec la programmation d’application Windows informations sur les interfaces mises à disposition par Microsoft.

À l’heure actuelle, il n’est pas un programme qui ajoute des navigateurs installés dans le menu contextuel lorsque vous cliquez-droit sur un lien Web.  Un tel programme pourrait bénéficier les développeurs Web et des blogueurs qui veulent tester une page sous différents navigateurs ou les personnes qui veulent «répandre la Web-charge de la visualization» parmi les différents clients.

Recommandations d’Auteur (sans ordre particulier)

Je recommande aucun de ces navigateurs car les utilisateurs n’ont pas besoin de réapprendre l’interface utilisateur si elles basculer entre aucun d’eux.

Mozilla Firefox

Internet Explorer

Opera

Safari

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