Operating Systems Archive

The Nickname field is now of use for mobile assistant platforms

Article

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 smartphone

Android and iOS can support contacts’ nicknames with Google Now and Siri

Use Nicknames With Siri And Google Now To Reach Contacts Faster | Gizmodo

My Comments

Most smartphone operating systems have in their contact list a field called “Nickname”. This is typically of use when you have a personal nickname, relative-shortcut name like “Mum” or similar name for a contact. But in most cases, this field isn’t shown up on call logs or contact lists.

Now Siri and Google Now make use of the Nickname field to interpret instructions to call particular people. Google Now does provide inherent support for relationship-shortcut names but you can use the Nickname field for manually determining a contact’s nickname. Both voice assistants can query which person a nickname pertains to which can come in handy if you are calling one of many siblings or someone with an obscure nickname or a nickname that is spelt a certain way but pronounced another way.

How could this be improved upon?

Nicknames appearing in the contact-display context

At the moment, the nickname functionality only works in the contact-search context but I would like to see it also work in the contact-display context especailly when a call or text comes in from the contact or you browse through your contact list or recent / missed call logs. This could be facilitated through the use of a “Display As” field which shows a user-chosen field or combination of concatenated fields for a particular contact.

Support for a phonetic representation of a nickname

These systems could support the ability to store a phonetic representation of a nickname which can come in handy when you say that nickname one way but have it written another way. The phonetic representation would be used for voice-based search and voice-based call announcements.

Security issues with nicknames

Nicknames may expose security issues when they fall in to the wrong hands. It is because people use these nicknames as a “password” or “word of trust” within their community.  But confidence tricksters using familiar nicknames as a way to “get in to someone’s mind” and have them acquiesce to their inappropriate scheme. In some cases, a nickname that is a symbol of endearment may be used as a weapon against one or both of the participants.

Having nicknames as a “secure” field which is only shown to trusted users is important to preserve this kind of security. For example, if a phone shows a list of missed calls or text messages on the notification screen, it could show a standard “first-name last-name” or “company-name” while locked but show the nickname while unlocked. Similarly, voice-level biometrics can be used to authenticate a user who is “searching by nickname” using a voice-based personal assistant.

Further improvements needed for phone contact lists

Handling of common phone numbers

Another area where a lot of contact list programs miss out on is handling phone calls or other communication that comes in from pbone numbers, emails or other contact addresses common to two or more contacts.

The most common example is a landline phone number that serves as a “catch-all” number for a household, workgroup or business. In this case, you may instruct the voice assistant to call a person on that landline by saying “person-name Home” or “person-name Work” or something similar. This will place the call to that landline. The same thing will happen if you contact someone else who lives or works behind that common phone number.

The problem rears its ugly head when a call comes in from that phone number or you review your call logs and you see the first alphabetically-listed contact related to that “catch-all” number even though other contacts in your contact list are behind that number. Here you don’t know whom it was who called you or whom you placed that call to.

This could be facilitated using a dynamically-concatenated display field for phone numbers with something like [<company-name>(caller-name-1. caller-name-2, or caller-name-n] for callers with a populated company-name field; or [caller-name-1, caller-name-2 or caller-name-n] for callers missing a company-name field i.e. households. Or you may create a dedicated contact entry for the “catch-all” phone number such as a distinct “name-address-number” entry for a company or household. Then you add “common fields” like work number, home number or company name to the entries associated with the people with that same “roof” in common. The name associated with the dedicated contact entry shows up in the call log when you call that number or on your phone’s screen when they ring you from that “catch-all” telephone.

Conclusion

At least something is being done to make sure that the contact management software and voice-activated personal assistant software  is tied in to how we view our contacts so we see our contacts our way.

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Rotating videos shot with smartphones

When you shoot video using a smartphone or tablet held in the vertical (portrait) position, it will come out vertical and you may have to rotate your head to watch it comfortably on most display situations. Even if you use a camcorder or high-end digital camera to shoot your video footage, you may find that you have shot some footage at an awkward angle and may want to correct that.

But you can rotate the video footage so it appears right-way-up when you play it. Here, the video will come out in a “pillar-box” form when played full-screen with black borders on each side of the vision.

You can do this with both the main regular-computer operating systems using either an application that comes with the operating system or available as a free download from the vendor.

Apple Macintosh

Current versions of QuickTime Player for OS X have the ability to rotate the video and save a rotated copy.

To do this, open the video in QuickTime Player, then select “Rotate Video” under QuickTime Player’s Edit Menu to get it the “right way up”. Once you are satisfied, press Command-S on the keyboard to save a rotated copy of the clip.

Windows

If you download Windows Movie Maker, which is part of the free Windows Live Essentials package available from Microsoft, you can use this elementary video editor tool to rotate your video clips.

Here, you import your video clip to Windows Movie Maker, then you rotate your video clip using the Rotate buttons on the toolbar. Once you are satisfied, save a copy of the clip in any of the formats that Windows Movie Maker supports.

Conclusion

At least Apple and Windows offer inclusive solutions to correct your video footage that you take with your smartphone so you can make it comfortably watchable.

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System recovery images–how about updatimg them

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix 2 connected to Wi-Fi hotspot at Bean Counter Cafe

The recovery image on these computers could be part of an update program to simplify refreshing them with the latest version of the operating system if they fail

Increasingly a lot of computer systems, especially laptops and tablets, are making use of so-called “recovery” images. This same practice also applies whenever an organisation is using a disk image with the operating system and applications that are the software component of a standard operating environment.

These are a disk image of all of the operating system and supplied applications that are delivered by the system manufacturer or value-added reseller and installed on the system when it is first set up. The computer makes use of these images if the computer has to be taken to “ground zero” due to a virus or corrupt data or before the user hands the computer to someone else. Newer operating systems use these images as part of a system refresh routine in order to remove corrupt data and bring stability to the computer’s configuration.

But what can happen is that as operating system and application developers keep refining their software, what exists on these system recovery images represents software that is way out of date. This reminds me of a support visit where Microsoft Word was continually crashing on a desktop computer and I had discovered that the computer was running an “out-of-the-box” version of Windows Vista which hadn’t had any service packs installed.

Typically, this will lead to reinstalling any and all patches and updates that were rolled out since the recovery image was created. But how can this be resolved?

One way would be for the manufacturer or value-added reseller to create a “recovery image service pack” and deliver that either as a USB stick or through an authenticated download to the computer users. Then the users install this service pack to replace the original recovery image to have an up-to-date reference image. This cond be created at regular intervals such as every six months.

Another way would be to create a dynamic system image that consists of the latest versions of the operating system and application files. The changed files can be added ot that image as part of installing the latest patches. Similarly, an “image update” app could check for newer hardware drivers for the hardware that is integrated with the computer system itself.

These issues may involve determining how installation and recovery disk images are built wiht a view to focus on the images referring ot major versions and editions of the software concerned along with any peripheral drivers. In the latter case, it may be about obtaining hardware-series-specific drivers rather than drivers that focus on that particular piece of hardware.

As well, with operating systems like Windows and OS X being offered with free major-version updates, the recovery image may also be about installing the latest major version of that operating system’s edition.

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Give your Windows 10 Mobile smartphone a unique name

Article

Nokia Lumia 950 press image courtesy of Microsoft

Nokia Lumia 950 – representative of Windows 10 Mobile – you can give it a distinct name

How to rename your Windows 10 Mobile handset | Windows Central

My Comments

Most desktop and mobile operating systems allow you to name your computing device so it is logically identifiable from others of the same platform.

This is important with identifying devices that are or to be connected on a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth network or dealing with applications and games that only identify participants by device name. It is also about managing your devices’ access to cloud services including social networks

This was available on Windows Phone but was so well hidden that most Windows Phone users didn’t know it existed. It is because, unlike other operating systems, Windows Phone didn’t ask you to name your device as part of the setup process.

But there are two ways to go about this.

Using your Windows Phone’s control surface

To change:

  1. Tap Start then All Apps, then tap Settings
  2. Tap on System
  3. Tap About, which brings up details about your device
  4. Tap “Edit Name” which allows you to change your device’s name
  5. Enter your phone’s new name in Device Name field and tap Save

To verify

  1. Tap Start then All Apps then tap Settings
  2. Tap on System
  3. Tap About which brings up details about your device including its new name

Your Windows phone tethered to your Windows computer

Prerequisites: USB data transfer cable that suits your Windows Phone and regular Windows computer

This process is similar to giving removeable storage like a USB memory key, SD card or optical disk a volume name which identifies it.

To change

  1. Connect your Windows Phone to computer using a USB data transfer cable and let Windows detect the phone.
  2. Open File Explorer (Windows Explorer)
  3. Discover your phone under Devices and Drives. This is alongside your computer’s hard disk and other storage devices connected directly to your computer and your phone’s icon should be there.
  4. Right-click your phone’s icon and select Rename
  5. Rename as if you are renaming a USB memory key, then press Enter

To verify

Disconnect and reconnect the Windows phone to verify the change is applied and double check in File Explorer

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The Universal Windows platform gains momentum

Article

Windows 10 Start Menu

Windows 10’s Universal Windows platform now in place and allowing for an app to serve smartphones, tablets and regular computers

Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform might be gaining momentum | SuperSite For Windows

My Comments

With Windows 10 out in the field, Microsoft has been observing that the Windows 10 Universal Windows Platform has been gathering steam.

What has been valued about the Universal Windows Platform is that a single codebase exists for applications destined for the Windows 10 Desktop operating system on regular computers and larger tablets; the Windows 10 Mobile operating system on smartphones, phablets and small tablets; along with the XBox One games console which would be used as a set-top box for online entertainment.

Candy Crush Saga gameplay on Windows 10

Candy Crush Saga – an example of what can be done here

Microsoft has worked on some software-development tools to simplify the process of porting apps from other mobile platforms to the Universal Windows Platform. One of these was the Project Astoria which simplified the process of porting Android apps but this was put aside while the Project Islandwood which facilitates the porting of iOS (iPhone and iPad) apps gained more traction.

This showed up initially with the ability for you to play Candy Crush Saga on your Windows 10 computer or Windows mobile phone. But now Uber, TuneIn Radio and other apps have shown up in the Windows Store. TuneIn Radio would have the same benefit across the board as a way to have Internet radio play on your regular computer like I have done a few times with Windows 8.

The article saw no use for the Uber ride-booking client on a regular computer. But I see Uber and other journey-booking apps that are pitched to smartphone users being relevant also to regular-computer users including those of us using desktop computers. This is because of the ability to book your ride using your Windows-based regular computer rather than finding your smartphone to do the job. User classes that would benefit are business users booking transport for people like lone workers or valued customers; hotel concierges and others in the accommodation industry; people who use 2-in-1 computers; or householders who use the main family computer to organise transport for members of their household or their houseguests.

As well, I would see the likes of Instagram and Pinterest benefit from this treatment because one could upload a photo taken with their good camera and post it there. They can also implement Instagram’s filters to “treat” the picture before having it available for all and sundry to see.

The Windows 10 Universal Windows platform can make the idea of apps being relevant across all computing devices without the need to write versions of the software to target particular device classes.

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You can set your iPhone or iPad to update iOS overnight

Article

Automatically Install iOS Software Update in the Middle of the Night | OS X Daily

My Comments

Those of you who run an Apple mobile device i.e. the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch will end up keeping iOS which is the device’s operating software updated. But you may find that the software update will have your device out of action while it is downloading or installing.

Why can’t this be possible for that iPhone to be updated to the latest iOS version while I am asleep? You can achieve this goal.

What does your iOS device need?

Backing up device data

You need to back up your iOS device’s data, preferably to the iCloud incase something goes awry during an update such as a bad download. Here, you cam manually backup the device to iCloud over-the-air or to iTunes on your regular computer. Or you can set up iCloud to automatically backup your iOS device every night.

The backup will save your device’s app list, local data held by your apps, user credentials associated with online services where you use a native-client app, your email setup details and, most importantly, your Camera Roll.

Setting up your device

Power

Your iOS device needs to be connected to an AC power source as if for charging. You may think that you may get away with an external battery pack but you are never sure if they are in a position to last the distance, so it is a better idea to stick with an AC charger.

Wi-Fi

As well, your would have to connect your iOS device to your Wi-Fi network. If you are dealing with a public-access network that implements Web-based login like the one in your university’s residence hall / dorm or your favourite hotel or B&B, make sure your iOS device is logged in to that network with the “login-confirmed” page kept open in Safari. With these networks, you could enable both the “Auto-Join” and “Auto-Login” functions so that you stay logged in on the networks.

Similarly, if you make a habit of shutting the Wi-Fi or Internet off overnight, either to save money or protect yourself from perceived radiation dangers, you would need to keep the Wi-FI and Internet on to facilitate this update.

Start overnight updating

When you see the “Software Update” reminder screen pop up, select the “Later” option.

This will offer you an option to remind you later or install the update tonight. Select the latter option for overnight installation to commence.

Your iOS device will commence downloading the latest version of the iOS operating software at a time between 2am and 5am and then deploy that software. This will involve the iOS device power-cycling so as to fully “cement” the new operating software.

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Apple AirDrop has a compatibility mode to cater to older Macs

Article Apple MacBook Pro running MacOS X Mavericks - press picture courtesy of Apple

AirDrop Not Working? Use Compatibility Mode for New Mac to Old Mac AirDrop Support | OS X Daily

My Comments

You have two Macintosh computers with one running an older version of MacOS X. Then you want to try that AirDrop file-transfer lark that Apple encourages for its platforms.

Here you may find that your Macs can’t “see” each other on AirDrop. What can you do?

You may have to run AirDrop on the newer Mac in a “compatibility mode” that allows it to behave properly for older interations of Apple’s file-transfer utility.

  1. To do this, you have to open a Finder window on the Macintosh running the latest OS X version.
  2. Then you choose AirDrop on that same Mac and make an attempt to discover older Macs that are enabled and “exposed” for AirDrop. A quicker way in would be to press Shift+Command+R together to start your AirDrop session.
  3. The result will be that AirDrop will show up Macs and iOS devices running suitable versions of their operating systems and open for discovery. If you don’t see the Mac you are looking for – the one which is running an older operating system, click the “Don’t see what you are looking for” text. This will pop up a dialog box with an option to “Search for an older Mac”.
  4. Clicking this will place your Mac in to “compatibility mode” which allows it to discover older iterations of AirDrop. Here, you wait a moment and your newer Mac will show up the Macs running the older operating system as an AirDrop target (destination). Then you begin your file transfer.

If you intend to transfer files between newer Macs or iOS devices, you need to disable compatibility mode. Here, if you are performing a subsequent AirDrop file-transfer and your Mac says that it is looking for older Macs, you just click “Cancel” then look for targets that are based on the new OS X or iOS operating systems.

I would recommend using the Compatibility mode if you are in doubt about the version of OS X the Mac you want to transfer files to or from to is running and you are not sending or receiving files from an iPhone or iPad.

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Moving between Macintosh and Windows

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Use these resources together if you are working both Windows systems and the Apple Macintosh.Working on both Macintosh and Windows

Microsoft

Making The Switch: MacBook to Microsoft Surface Book

Apple

Switching PC Habits

My Comments

Increasingly Windows computers have reached or eclipsed the kind of aesthetic and stability calibre associated with Apple’s Macintosh computers especially the MacBook portable-computer family.

But a person who works on the Apple Macintosh platform will typically find it hard to move their computing life over to a Windows-based computer. This situation may also be of use for anyone who is working a “multi-platform” environment where they maintain a Macintosh and a Windows-based computer.

Microsoft’s article is focused on their new Surface Book but the instructions apply more or less to anyone who is moving from MacOS X to Windows 10 or a Mac user who is wanting to be familiar with the new Windows 10 operating system or know how it works.

Apple does provide similar resources for people who are used to the Windows platform moving towards the Macintosh platform ever since people moved from Windows because of Windows Vista.

Most of the basic keyboard shortcuts are:

Apple Windows
Undo Command-Z Ctrl-Z
Select All Command-A Ctrl-A
Cut Command-X Ctrl-X
Copy Command-C Ctrl-C
Paste Command-V Ctrl-V
Save this document Command-S Ctrl-S
Print this document Command-P Ctrl-P
Refresh Webpage / screen Command-R Ctrl-R or F5
Switch between open programs Command-Tab Alt-Tab
Hide current program Command-H
Command-M (Minimise)
 Windows-(Down Arrow)
Hide all programs  Command-(Mission Control) Windows-M
Stop current program Command-Q Alt-F4
Force a program to stop Command-Option-Esc

Macintosh

The Command key on the Macintosh is the one with a snowflake and / or Apple symbol on it.

The “Mission Control” key will be the F3 key on recent equipment or F11 on older equipment.

Windows

The Windows key on Windows computers has a window icon and / or the Start word on it.

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Could the Android and Windows platforms strengthen each other?

Article

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 smartphone

Android moving closer ti Windows as a platform for one’s personal computing needs

A Mobile Crossroads – Android and Windows 10 Mobile | SuperSite For WIndows

My Comments

The Android and Windows platforms do have some things in common such as the ability to share URLs and contact cards via NFC or Bluetooth. As well, these platforms offer native out-of-the-box support for various industry norms at the hardware and software level like USB Audio device classes, DLNA network media acces, FLAC audio codecs, and MicroUSB connections for power and data.

This is augmented by another facture that people who value open-frame computing setups that are vendor-agnostic are likely to run a Windows-based desktop, laptop or tablet computer alongside an Android-based smartphone.

But there are some questions about whether both these platforms are coming to a crossroads in both the desktop and mobile contexts. Issues that have been raised is the availability of mobile-platform software for the Windows Mobile platform as well as Microsoft developing for the Android platform.

Windows 10 Start Menu

Windows 10 in its desktop and mobile phones will tie in with Android for stronger open-frame computing

This disparity is being addressed by Microsoft releasing the so-called “Project Astoria” software to reduce the effort needed by a software developer to port an Android app to Windows 10 and have it work on both desktop and mobile setups and the XBox One games console.

Another attempt that Microsoft was trying is to include the ability to sideload Android app APK files as part of a leaked preview build of Windows 10 Mobile. Here, these files would run in a sandbox of their own so as to assure system stability and security.

On the hardware side, manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Sony including the VAIO personal-computing spinoff, and Lenovo are increasingly targeting Apple’s customer base by offering 2-in-1 notebooks, tablets and smartphones that have that same luxurious cachet and performance level as the iPhone, iPad and MacBook.

It is also in conjunction with Microsoft porting an increasing amount of their productivity software to the Android platform along with writing Android-specific native clients for their online services. A good question that may be worth answering is whether Google will write native clients for their online services as Windows 10 Universal apps.

I see this ending up where Microsoft and Google could effectively give their mobile operating systems equal functionality for “home” and “work” use and support a tighter integration with Android, ChromeOS and Linux to increase the number of choices for personal computing options. Here, these platforms will end up forming a strong “open-frame” computing beach-head that competes effectively with the vertically-integrated platform that Apple offers.

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Google brings a natural-language personal assistant to ChromeOS

Article

OK Google - Google Now - on your Chromebook at last

OK Google – Google Now – on your Chromebook at last

Turn On “OK Google” In Chrome OS To Start Talking To Your Chromebook | Gizmodo

My Comments

First it was Windows, now it is ChromeOS. This is about integrating a natural-language personal-assistant program in to a desktop operating system so you have the same kind of functionality that the mobile platforms are offering on your regular computer.

With ChromeOS, Google had integrated this functionality as part of the Google Search website once you enable it in the Chrome menu. It can be used in the New Tab page and in the Launcher (magnifying glass icon) in this operating system. Google also baked this functionality in to the latest iteration of the Chrome browser for other operating systems.

The question is whether these natural-language personal assistants will just earn their keep on smartphones or whether people will use them at the desktop and for which applications. Similarly, it will be interesting to know whether an operating-system vendor will use API hooks to extend the functionality of these assistants with other applications.

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