Computers or other devices perform better after a reboot–why this?

Article

Why Rebooting Your Computer Fixes Problems | Lifehacker Australia

My Comments

Why is it that your laptop, tablet or smartphone performs so much better when you restart it? Why is it that some devices implement a watchdog circuit to force them to restart by themselves when they are critically underperforming?

This is typically to make sure the computer is working on a clean slate as regards to its primary storage (RAM – random access memory). Most software, especially if it is poorly written, can take up more of this memory as it is used. But when you close that program, it releases the memory it used. But a lot of recent regular-computer and mobile operating systems encourage the ability to run multiple programs at the same time, with the ability for programs to “sink” in to the background when they are not being used.

If this situation is allowed to get out of control, most operating systems undertake “paging” or “virtual-memory” procedures where they use space on the secondary storage as primary storage. At this point, most computer start to underperform and become devilishly slow. The worst-case situations that come about include programs or the computer simply “freezing” or “locking up” thus becoming unresponsive, a situation commonly described as “hanging”.

Even placing that PC or other device in to a “sleep” or “hibernate” mode or allowing the device to fall to sleep wouldn’t really rectify the problem because these modes cause the device to preserve its current operating state either to the RAM or its secondary storage (hard disk or solid-state drive). This is typically to provide a quick start-up for the device.

But when a computer or device is restarted using the operating system’s restart option or having it then shut down properly before you restart it, this causes all the programs it runs to start on a clean slate. For mobile devices, it may require the user to press the hardware Power button for a long time to bring up a “power-option” menu with the shutdown or restart option or pressing two buttons together for a long time to force a full shutdown or restart of an obstinate device.

You know when this restart has occurred when you see a longer boot time and see the startup screens or other startup graphics appear on your device’s display. You typically will then notice that the device is performing with a bit more “pep” in it. This is because the device is working on a clean slate with fresh “known” data.

A good practice to do in order to keep your computer running smoothly is to have it restart at least once a fortnight. This may be something you have to do when you install or update software. I also see this being more important for laptop users who typically close the lid when they have finished with their machine, causing it to go to a sleep or hibernate mode, or desktop users who turn off the monitor or use the sleep or hibernate modes at the end of a computing session.

This is also a good practice with well-used smartphones and tablets, especially if these devices are being used with poor-quality apps from the app store.

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A rush to release software can leave gaping holes for bugs and exploits

Article

iOS 7.0.2 Is Here, And It Fixes The iPhone’s Major Security Hole | Gizmodo

My Comments

The recent release of the iOS 7 operating system, like with the iOS 6 operating system with its Apple Maps product, has shown something that is very real with the way computer software and hardware has been developed.

In the case of the iOS 7 operating system, there was a gap concerning the lockout system which required the user to key in a PIN number in to their iOS device but someone could bypass that requirement easily. Apple had released the iOS 7.0.2 update just lately to fix this bug that was missed through the development process for this operating system. This operating system and the devices it runs on are at an increased risk of this behaviour because Apple keeps the marketing hype high as possible for as long as possible because they see it as the consumer-facing mobile operating system for most people.

Similarly various functions in Windows 8 weren’t as polished as most of us would like them to be so we are expecting great things out of Windows 8.1 with some improved “polish” to these functions.

As well, the Apple Maps program which was to oust Google’s Maps from the iPhone and iPad was rushed and there have been issues where there has been misnavigation going on with this program.

This happens more so with anything that affects popular consumer-facing devices and programs. Here, the software developers are put under pressure by the vendor’s marketing team to get the operating system update, firmware or other programs released as soon as possible so that the product can be marketed and sold while the hype surrounding it is still alive. Then the vendor has to wait for the bug reports to come in, whether via their support channels or the technology press, so that these can be fixed and released as part of a point update.

I often deem a software version number of x.x.x, preferable with a middle number greater than 1, such as 8.1.1 or 7.1.2 as being a “mature” version of the software in question. This is because bugs including security exploits and performance weaknesses have been identified and rectified since the original release of the program.

As for iOS devices, I would recommend that those of you who are running iOS 6 to run iOS 7.0.2 or hold off upgrading until a higher version number, preferable a 7.1 number appears.

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Google Maps has now come back to the iPhone

Article

Google Maps is now available for iPhone | Official Google Blog

App Store location

Google Maps

My Comments

Previously, people who used the iPhone or iPad had the Google Maps provided as an integrated mapping solution for their devices. Then, when iOS 6 was launched, Apple decided to pull the Google Maps from the operating system and substitute it with a poor-quality mapping solution.

This has led to situations like people ending up in the wrong location and nearly dying, and the Victoria Police advising against using Apple Maps because of this poor-quality mapping.

There was so much criticism of this mapping solution that Apple had to bow to public demand and create an app group for third-party mapping apps for their iOS devices. Now, the Google Maps mapping solution has been made available to iOS 6 users through a downloadable app. This has the advantages of the Google Maps such as vector-driven maps, 3D views, turn-by-turn navigation and Street View but ported to the iOS platform.

For those of you who are still working with that trusty old iPhone 3GS, this app can work with that phone. Infact, any of you who are updating an iPhone or iPad to iOS 6 should infact factor in deploying Google Maps along with YouTube on the device as part of the update plans in order to gain the full benefit of these popular services on that iDevice. Similarly, when you buy that new iPhone or iPad, it may be a good idea to make these apps your first downloads from the App Store as part of commissioning that new device.

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App Essentials for your smartphone or tablet

Introduction

You may have just bought your first smartphone or tablet computer and are starting to browse around the iTunes App Store or Google Play app store using your device.

At this point, you may hear from your teenage son, other family members, friends or workplace colleagues about what apps to start off with as you get in to the world of the mobile-computing platform. In some cases, your teenage son who has that ultra-cool iPhone that is full of apps to impress others with, grabs your phone, asks for your platform username and password and starts filling your phone or tablet up with various apps.

It is also worth exploring the app store for those apps that are essential to your profession or hobby so you can make your mobile device earn its keep in your work and leisure life.

Communications

One main app class that suits the mobile computing platform very much are the communications apps. These encompass the social-network apps as well as other chat, VoIP and messaging apps.

They work best with the smartphone but some of the apps can be used with most tablets in a speakerphone form. But if you want privacy or better call quality, you would need to use a wired or Bluetooth headset.

Social Networking

(Smartphones, Tablets)

Facebook Android

Facebook for Android

If you have presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social networks, you can have your experience with these social networks extended to your smartphone or tablet.

This is typically provided for in the form of platform-native mobile apps that you use to interact with the social network. Most of these apps are written by the social-network but some are written by third parties, typically as multi-social-network amalgamation tools.

The ones written by the social network are primarily a mobile user interface for most tasks that you do with this service such as browsing activity, adding posts or uploading photos. Some social networks such as Facebook and Google+ also write “messaging” apps that work primarily on the messaging and presence functions that the social network offers.

Chat, Messaging and VoIP

(Smartphones, Tablets)

Skype Android

Skype for Android

This leads me to apps that work as front-ends for various chat, messaging, presence and VoIP subsystems. Examples of these include Skype, Viber and various SIP user interfaces or softphones; or even gateways to Yahoo Messenger or Windows Live Messenger.

These apps provide a touch-friendly view for writing messages or engaging in VoIP / chat sessions. If the communications subsystem has the ability to know whether one is online or offline, there is the ability to look at a glance to see who is online at a given moment.

Banking and Finance

(Smartphones, Tablets)

If you use Internet banking services regularly, an Internet banking app would be a good idea for your phone. Most of these apps are Web links to the bank’s mobile site but an increasing amount the apps are client-side apps which run on your phone and link to online banking APIs that are used as part of your bank’s Internet-banking setup.

Similarly if you maintain a share (stock) portfolio, you may want to install a stockmarket app so you can see the state of your shares. Some of these apps may allow you to buy or sell the shares or submit orders to your stockbroker.

Entertainment

Internet radio and music

(Smartphones, Tablets)

TuneIn Android

TuneIn Radio for Android

Most subscription Internet-media services like Pandora have a mobile app for them so you can benefit from your media subscription through your smartphone or tablet. As well, the TuneIn Internet radio app allows you to have the same kind of access to Internet radio stations such as your favourite local and overseas radio stations as you can on an Internet radio.

Most smartphones and tablets come with a music player with some platforms like iOS offering a comprehensive take on this form. But you can purchase improved music players for Android devices like the PowerAMP music player which I use. These ones provide better control over your music playback and some of them even have their own “tone controls”.

Video apps

(Smartphones, Tablets)

Similarly, one or more video apps may help you with having access to video content. This could be fulfilled by a video player which would be important if you download or rip video content and sync it to your device. Of course, the platforms would come with a video player app but there may be some better third-party apps available in the app store.

The one that a smartphone or tablet shouldn’t be without is a YouTube front-end. For iOS 6 users, this can be fulfilled by you using the Google-supplied YouTube ap. If you also visit other video-on-demand sites, it may be worth looking for mobile front-ends for these sites.

DLNA network media software

(Smartphones, Tablets)

TwonkyMedia Android

TwonkyMedia for Android

Programs that work with DLNA Home Media Networks typically are either controllers, players or servers. The former function allows you to push content to a DLNA-compliant receiver or smart TV using the phone’s or tablet’s screen as the control surface. Some of these programs also allow you to “throw” Internet-sourced resources like Facebook photos to DLNA-compliant TVs.

A variant on this theme, supported by different media players, is the DLNA media player which allows you to play content held on a DLNA Media Server like your network-attached storage. Some of these programs such as the Android variant of TwonkyMobile, allow you to download the media files to your phone so you can play the media on it without being on the network.

Another class is simply a DLNA Media Server which shares content held on your phone with other DLNA-compliant devices. This may be part of the DLNA Media Controller, like TwonkyMobile, but could be its own app, thus allowing you to play music to DLNA-compliant Wi-Fi speaker docks.

Song Identification Software

(Smartphones, Tablets)

Shazam for Android

Shazam song-identification for Android

You watch a favourite show on TV or you hear that piece of music being played over the speakers in that bar. But you want to know what it is or who performed it.

There are two mobile-platform apps that can help you identify the titles and artists of songs that are played. These are Shazam and SoundHound and they are accurate on most popular music including some jazz. But they don’t work well with classical and opera where you want to know what it is “composer first, work (including movement or aria name) second”.

These apps also provide further information on the music such as lyrics, or a biography or discography for the performer. They also allow you to buy and download the music from an affiliated store like Amazon or, for iOS devices, iTunes. Of course, they keep a history of the songs you used the software to identify so you can use this when buying the music from your favourite outlet and on your favourite media.

Games

(Smartphones, Tablets)

Of course, no smartphone or tablet is complete without a collection of games installed on it. They can range from card, casino and board games through the classic pinball and arcade games to newer game styles such as the unforgettable Angry Birds. There are some games which you can play online across the world and are typically based on a social-network infrastructure but there are others where you simply play against the computer.

These games allow you to fill in the time while travelling on public transport or waiting for that appointment and, in some cases, can be an ice-breaker for conversation with others.

Information on hand

Reading / reference apps and electronic bookstores

(Tablets)

IMDB Android

IMDB movie app for Android

If you want to use your tablet for reading. you won’t go far when finding the reading apps. Some of these work alongside electronic bookstores and newsstands so you can buy and download books, newspapers and magazines to your device, with a few of them like Amazon Kindle available across all platforms.

This extends to dictionary, translation, Bible and other reference apps which have the information at a glance. The apps may work with the information locally stored on the device or may obtain the information online.

Public-transport timetable apps

(Smartphones)

Most public-transport authorities and operators are building apps that work as information sources about their public-

TramHunter Android

TramHunter for Android – Melbourne trams

transport systems. Typically these provide access to the latest timetables and information concerning cancellations or delays affecting the public transport service.

Some of the apps even have a “journey-planner” function which works out the best journey for your needs. If the public-transport provider has the ability to track its vehicles as they are providing the service, their app may also provide real-time information on the public-transport service so you can know how long the wait is for your service.

It is worth having one of these apps for each city you travel in. In some cases, you may need the apps that are specific to a transport mode like the bus or tram services.

Sports scoreboards

(Smartphones, Tablets)

London 2012 Official Results App

London 2012 Official Results App

One app class that can help you enjoy the sports events that you follow better are the scoreboard apps. This is something I have covered previously on this site more as a tool that augments how you follow those fixtures rather than using them as something to follow them on.

One example is using one of these app to keep tabs on the scores while you are watching that football game in that packed-out bar. Another is gaining a quick glance at the cricket or baseball score as you hear that major event like a run or batter-out being called on the radio while you are outside, so you can decide on whether to run inside and see the replay on the TV.

The good apps in this class are typically developed by the sports broadcasters or the leagues and codes themselves. For Australians, including “Aussie expats”, I would recommend the “Footy Now”, “League Now” and “Super Rugby” apps for AFL, NRL and Super Rugby Union leagues respectively.

Calculators and Converters

(Smartphones)

Most smartphones come with a basic four-function calculator as part of the “supplied” apps. But the app stores are full of better calculator apps such as some that may provide an “adding machine tape” view, more functions like scientific, statistic or financial functions or the ability to support different data-entry methods like “Reverse Polish Notation”. These then position your phone as an alternative to the scientific calculator that you would have had for school.

An app class that I would consider important is a unit conversion app. This is where you can enter a quantity that is in one unit so you can find out what it is in another unit. This is important if you are think in Imperial / US units like pounds or inches and you see references to quantities in metric units or vice versa.

Utilities

Mobile-phone torch app

(Smartphones)

One app that I would consider essential for a smartphone owner would be the “mobile phone flashlight”. These work with the phone’s display or flash LED to turn your phone in to a flashlight (torch). Here, they can be useful as an on-hand source of light for many different situations — think of having to check out what’s wrong with the engine when your car plays up at night; checking which circuit breaker had tripped when the power went out or simply letting yourself in to your home at night.

Emergency info app

(Smartphones)

ICE In Case of Emergency Android

ICE In Case Of Emergency for Android

Another Important app that is worth having is the emergency info app. This keeps essential emergency information on your phone like your doctor’s details, medication information and next-of-kin and even has direct access to the contact details so you can contact then directly from your phone.

This is more important if you have a chronic illness like epilepsy or diabetes but can be of benefit for anyone, especially if you travel in to foreign areas.

QR code reader

(Smartphones, Tablets)

One important app class for your smartphone and tablet is the QR-code reader. These apps use your phone’s or tablet’s rear-facing camera to read and interpret QR codes.

But what are QR codes? These are a common form of two-dimensional barcode that is printed on flyers and other artwork, most often as a link to an online resource.

The good QR-code readers like i-Nigma do have a high accuracy rating no matter what the code is printed or shown on. Some of these readers can also read the standard barcodes on merchandise so you can look up further details on the product that the code is on.

Mapping and distance log apps

(Smartphones)

Endomondo Pro Android

Endomondo Pro for Android

Most smartphone and tablet platforms come with a good GPS-driven map but the app store may offer better mapping solutions. This may be important if the platform didn’t come with a really-good map solution or there is a solution that suits your needs better like a “hiking-specific” solution.

A distance-log app that uses the GPS functionality and / or the accelerometer in the phone can be a great boon if you are walking. Programs like Endomondo can work well if you track your outdoor workouts and some of them may work as “breadcrumb tracking” apps.

Client apps for electronic notebook services

(Smartphones, Tablets)

If you use cloud-based services like Dropbox or Evernote, it is worth having a mobile client app for this service. This allows you to review and update the information that you have at these locations from your smartphone or tablet in the same way that you can from your computer.

Conclusion

Once you know of the essential apps to have on your smartphone or tablet, no matter the platform that it runs, you can find that you will end up gaining a lot more mileage out of your device as you use it through the day.

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Wi-Fi login problems with iOS 6 devices

Article

What went wrong with iOS 6 Wi-Fi | ZDNet – loop

My Comments

You may have upgraded your iPhone or iPad to iOS 6. But after your Apple device shuts down and restarts as part of applying the update, you find that you are not on your home or business Wi-Fi network even though you downloaded that update through the same network.

The problem is not necessarily a flawed network configuration, but part of the iOS Wi-Fi automatic troubleshooting routine. Here, the software attempts to load a “Success” stub page from the Apple servers. This logic is intended to cause the iOS device to load a login or “assent” page that is part of a public-access or guest-access Wi-Fi network’s user experience. This stub was deleted by a former Apple employee before he left without realising it was part of iOS 6 troubleshooting logic.

The computer press have realised that this logic is flawed because this can place the servers at risk of denial-of-service attacks thus crippling iOS 6 devices. Similarly, someone could use a “man-in-the-middle” or “evil-twin” attack to point the device to a site that is of a malevolent nature. If a “show particular Webpage” logic is to be implemented in a network troubleshooting logic, it could work with a list of commonly-available Websites like Web portals or Web resource pages which the device chooses from at random.

It could be a chance for software developers to create network-test logic that makes less reliance on loading a particular Web site as proof of function. This could be through use of simplified randomised test routines that work with locations that are randomly chosen from a list of commonly-known highly-available Internet locations. This can be augmented by government standards bodies and similar organisations like NIST or BSI adding basic-HTML “Internet Success” pages to their Websites and making the URLs available to the IT industry.

Sometimes an NTP or similar time-fetch routine that obtains the time from one of many atomic-clock time servers to synchronise a device’s internal clock can work as a simplified Internet-functionality-test routine. If the time-server supports HTTP access where the UTC time is obtained via an HTML or text string, this could be achieved using HTTP so as to test Web-access functionality.

By not relying on one particular server as a proof-of-functionality test for Internet access and integrating a “login-page load” failover routine for public-access networks, we can achieve a safe and sure network setup experience.

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Google-written YouTube client for the iPhone now available from the App Store

Article

YouTube releases standalone app for iOS, tablet-tailored version in the works – Engadget

From the horse’s mouth

Introducing a new YouTube app for your iPhone and iPod Touch | The Official Google Blog

iTuned App Store Download link

My Comments

Apple are intending to remove the integrated YouTube player from iOS 6 as part of “stripping off” all things Google from the iOS platform. But Google have responded by developing a standalone player to be distributed through the iTunes App Store.

The version that is currently being premiered is pitched at iPhones and iPod Touch devices but Google are working on a “large-screen” version that is pitched at the iPad tablet.

There is an Integrated user interface for content discovery, where one can browse or search for videos. This includes access to the YouTube Channel Guide as well as an improved search-as-you-type engine. Even the ability to share YouTube videos through the “usual suspects” (Google+, Facebook, Twitter and email) has been improved.

The repertoire of videos avaliable to users with this YouTube client has increased, with users being able to view the Vevo music-video library like most of the clips that defined music video in the 1980s like this Dire Straits clip.

Of course, those of us who run iOS 5 on our Apple mobile devices could download this if we want the improved YouTube experience on the device. Also, this may provide a “coarse” user experience for the iPad until the iPad version is released.

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App stores moving towards larger downloads – how about dynamic packaging

Lately I have observed Google Play (was Android Market) and the Apple iTunes App Store for iOS moving towards permitting the download of larger deliverable files for their platforms’ apps. What I see of this is a move towards PC-style app packaging where there is an executable image of the program along with separately-packed “library” or “resource” files.

This may yield a limitation with it taking a long time before the app becomes ready to use as well as increased pressure on the bandwidth. The latter issue will affect those of us who use wireless-broadband services because of reduced throughput and increased costs to use these services.

What could be achieved would be to allow the app stores to implement dynamic packaging where the user only downloads what they need rather than the same large package. This would be very handy with game franchises and similar programs which have the same runtime code but users download variants which “expand” the program further. Similarly, there could be developers who build function libraries such as peripheral-interface libraries and share these with other developers. It also appeals to app packages which may be packaged for particular device classes like a “smartphone class” app and a “tablet class” app that exploits the large screen of these tablets.

The app stores should then work towards the dynamic package model when they permit larger deliverable packages for the apps that they provide. This setup can work alongside the other mechanisms like background download or Wi-Fi-only downloading to ease the pressure on the devices and their networks.

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Using your smartphone or tablet with your network-attached storage

Why use your smartphone or tablet with your NAS

There are times when you want to upload or download files from your network-attached storage device using your smartphone or tablet computer. Examples of this include offloading files from a low-capacity device, through making media that you took or acquired through your device available at all times from your DLNA-equipped NAS to simply backing up data held on your device.

Of course, you may simply treat that NAS simply as a network transfer point for your data. Examples of this may include working with documents that you start on an iPad and want to complete on your regular computer or conceptual “rough-shot” pictures that you take you your phone’s camera and want to work with further using Photoshop and other software on your computer.

How is it done

But how am I able to do this with my network-attached storage and my mobile devices? Some network-attached storage devices may use a Web front for the file collections where as others may implement certain extensions to DLNA for uploading and downloading some media files. This latter situation is infact a long-term goal for the DLNA Home Media Network, especially when it comes to shifting or syncing multimedia files like music or images.

These environments don’t necessarily provide a consistent or ideal user experience for the mobile device user. This can typically be due to a Web front that is optimised for desktop use only to DLNA server and client apps not offering the proper sync or file-transfer functionality.

SMB file-manager apps

The preferred method that I would use is SMB/CIFS network file handling which every network-attached storage device supports thanks to Linux’s SAMBA software. Even the USB-linked file servers that are an increasing part of high-end routers like the Freebox units do support SMB as well as the Internet HTTP and FTP file transfer protocols. This has been a standard for regular computing devices with the Microsoft Windows Platform since Windows For Workgroups 3.11, then was exposed to Linux regular computers through SAMBA and has been exposed to the Apple Macintosh platform since MacOS X.

The platform-based mobile devices now can join the SMB party through the use of SMB-enabled file-manager apps. These are typically low-cost or free apps that expose the mobile device’s file system and the SMB file shares (entry points) made available by computers or network-attached storages. Some of them have file-viewer functionality for file types not supported by your device’s file handlers.

iOS

Intuitive Commander (App Store – $0.99)

FileBrowser (App Store – $4.49)

Syncsellence (App Store – $5.49, free limited version App Store)

Android

ES File Explorer – I use this on my phone (Android Market)

File Expert (Android Market)

File Manager (Android Market) / File Manager HD (Android Market) – Rhythm Software

Blackberry

File Expert (Blackberry App World – US$1.99)

File Manager Pro (Blackberry App World – US$4.99) – Terra Mobility

ArrangeIt File Manager (Blackberry App World – US$1.99) – Conceptual Designs

The various app stores for the popular mobile-device platforms will list more of the file manager apps with SMB file transfer and you can find them using the terms “SMB file transfer” in your search query.

It is also worth noting that your NAS’s vendor may offer file-transfer apps for their device on the iOS and/or Android platforms so you can transfer the files to their device. These programs may also work with the remote-access functionality that some of the consumer and SMB NAS units provide, thus keeping login credentials for the devices and streamlining the remote-access experience.

Other issues worth highlighting

iTunes-purchased content

You may have problems copying content that you purchased with iTunes on your iPhone or iPad directly to the NAS due to Apple’s setup for these devices. But they have improved the iTunes and iOS setup to allow a user to download the purchased content to an instance of iTunes run on a regular computer even though they purchased it on the iOS device. This works best if the regular computer’s iTunes library is referencing the NAS in question.

People who use iOS platform devices that aren’t updated to iOS 5 will need to tether the device to their iTunes-enabled regular computer. Then they will need to use the “Transfer Purchased Content” option in iTunes to copy the content they bought on the device to the regular computer or NAS.

It will also be important to make sure that audio content is downloaded as MP3 files rather than protected M4A files.

One way that Apple can work this situation out better is to implement read-write ability to iTunes (DAAP) servers for the iPod media-management app in their iOS platform. Here, the software could then support improved “offload” functionality. This may not come about due to Apple’s investment in and their fanbois’ preference for the iCloud as a large-capacity storage service.  But practically-minded Apple enthusiasts could place more value on a NAS as an extra-capacity data store so they know where their iTunes content is all the time.

File-transfer operating conditions

When you transfer files between your mobile devices and the NAS, make sure that you have a strong Wi-Fi signal at your mobile device and that the device has sufficient battery strength. This could be achieved through having the device connected to its charger while the transfer goes ahead.

NAS setup conditions

If you are transferring media files to the NAS, you would need to transfer them to the media folders that are referenced by the media-server software on that device. This may be made easier by using the file manager software’s “bookmark” or “favourites” options to point to the start of the NAS’s media folder tree.

It is also worth keeping other personal and workgroup shares on the NAS simply for backup or transfer purposes and referencing these with your file-manager app.

Conclusion

Once you are able to know that you can use the SMB file transfer method for moving data between your NAS, tablet and smartphone, you can see more value out of these mobile-computing devices.

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iOS 5 finally released and available for updating your iPhone or iPad with

Article

Apple iOS 5 review: Modest, but definitely worthwhile | iPhone Atlas – CNET Reviews

From the horse’s mouth

Apple – iOS 5

Previous coverage in HomeNetworking01.info

Apple iOS 5 to be updated without the need to tether your device

My Comments

Now the iOS 5 has been released, it will offer some major benefits for your iPhone or iPad. You will have to tether your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad to your computer to update it to the new version but this will be the last time you need to tether the device according to Apple.

Here, you will have the operating-system updates able to be downloaded over the air using the same method as what is used for delivering and updating the apps for your device. Newly-deployed iOS devices will not need a computer to be present as part of their setup process anymore.

As well, if your iDevice is charging and the computer that hosts your device’s parent iTunes collection is on, the device will be synced over the home network. This is something that has been offered by competing mobile platforms with their desktop software.

There are some benefits like improved operation for some of the integrated apps. This also includes a “notifications” screen similar to what Android users have had; as well as an integrated Twitter client. Of course it supports an iP messaging service that works between Apple iOS devices and I am not sure if there are clients for the desktop operating systems.

As well, I detailed on a speech-driven agent app called Siri which interacts with the iOS 5 devices by responding to your spoken requests. This function has been promoted in relation to the iPhone 4S smartphone.

There are a few functions that the competing mobile platforms still have an advantage over the Apple iOS platform. One is the provision of always-displayed screen items that programmatically change or act as a user interface to a program. These are in the form of “widgets” and “live wallpaper” in the Android platform and “tiles” in the Windows Phone 7 platform; and could show running data like time, weather or stock-market data. The Apple platform only allows apps to attach a “bubble” to their screen icon that can show a number or a “traffic-light” colour to show certain events; and this has severe limitations. For example, you can’t control or monitor multiple devices or functions using a single monitor app. This could be something that could be rolled out in a subsequent major update for the iOS platform.

At least this operating system will be a major break for your iOS device by offering it a lot more.

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Sports scoreboard apps–a very useful mobile app class

ScoreMobile scoreboard app

ScoreMobile scoreboard app

If you look in your mobile platform’s app store, there are quite a few sports apps which turn your smartphone or tablet in to a scoreboard or leaderboard for your favourite sporting events. Some of the scoreboard apps allow you to monitor a particular team’s games, view league ladders or see on-demand video of game highlights. Examples of these include the ScoreMobile apps; and the “Footy Now” / “League Now” apps for the AFL and NRL football leagues respectively; all of which are available on most of the main mobile platforms like iOS and Android.

Most of these apps are free or advertiser-funded and are written in conjunction with companies and other interests associated with the particular leagues or codes that these apps work with  As well, they work via whatever Internet connection your device is using at the moment, whether it’s the Wi-Fi home network, the Wi-Fi hotspot at your favourite bar or the wireless broadband service that you device is associated with. But are they a useful download for your phone or tablet?

I would say that they provide a useful role for any sports followers, whether they watch the game on TV at home or their favourite bar or cafe; or go to the stadium to watch the game.

Footy Now AFL scoreboard app

Footy Now AFL scoreboard app

One key use for people who watch the game in a public place such as the stadium, a large outdoor screen in a square or a packed-out bar, is to have a “handheld scoreboard” that they can glance at  Here, they may not see the scoreboard easily due to them being in the wrong seating position or being further back from the venue’s TV screen.

At home, you could be outside listening to the radio commentary yet be able to check the scores at a glance. This may then be useful for knowing whether to head inside to see the action on TV. For Australian readers, this could extend to you having a tablet computer showing the scores for the AFL or NRL Grand Final near the barbecue while you are cooking the meat for the Grand Final lunch.

These apps would also appeal to travellers and expats who like to follow their favourite matches while they are travelling. An example of this was a friend I know who had used one of these apps on his iPhone to follow a baseball game that was taking place in the US while he was over here in Australia. Similarly a Manchester United fan could follow that soccer team’s performance anywhere around the world even if there isn’t a TV broadcast of the games where they are.

League Now NRL scoreboard app

League Now NRL scoreboard app

For these apps to work properly, they need to have proper support for push notification but without placing too much strain on the device’s battery runtime. As well, these apps need to be able to work in a manner that doesn’t take over the processor power of these devices when they are just showing scores. As well, the data backend has to be synchronous to the scoreboard at the actual game in the same manner as what is expected for the TV scoreboard – a football goal appears on the mobile scoreboard app as soon as the pitch umpire declares that goal.

So whether you are an avid sports follower or just casually watch some sporting events like football finals or Grand-Prix car races, the mobile scoreboard apps do have a place on the smartphone and tablet devices.

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