Tuesday, 22 April 2014

AirDroid - Ultimate device control from your desktop

Some apps of remote control to your phone have sometimes left me a little short changed in features, some only support SMS and make a messy job of that, some just don't seem to hang together well at all.

However AirDroid lets you create a remote desktop of your handset which looks like a scaled down version of Linux (no shock there).

Once installed and creating a profile for your AirDroid to act as a gateway on your network, you are supplied with a URL aa.bb.xx.yy:port style which you can enter into your desktop browser (or tablet for that mater).

What you get is a virtual desktop of your Android. 

I've marked out the kinda obvious things but you also get access to a "Find Your Phone" feature if you don't have access via your LAN and are using a web connection through your Google Account. Very handy indeed. Taking a photo remotely could be useful for many reasons too.

Notifications seem to appear with almost no lag whatsoever, you also have the ability to scrap apks off the handset as well. 

Having access and control over your phone while it sits happily charging on your desk or even in the car is pretty awesome, and AirDroid brings the whole package to the party. 

Great app which does have problems confirming even your Google email seems to take an age, but its worth the wait.

Get it now from Google Play Store AirDroid

Official feature list.

Manage your Android devices on the web, all over the air. 
- No USB cable required.
- No driver installation required.
- Same WiFi network or Internet.
- Pure web app, works on Windows, Mac, Chromebook and Linux.
Simply install AirDroid on your Android and you’ll be able to enjoy the following features on your computer at web.airdroid.com:
- SMS: send and receive individual or group messages.
- Apps: Import and export .apk files.
- Files: Manage files on Android and transferring files between Android and computer.
- Photos: View and manage photos on Android and transferring photos between Android and computer.
- Music & Videos: Play and manage music & videos on Android and transferring them between Android and computer.
- Ringtones: Set music as ringtone and export any ringtone.
- Contacts: View and edit all the contacts.
- Screenshot: View the real time screen of Android devices, take static screenshots. (root required)
- Camera: See through the lens of both front and back camera, also supports flashlight.
- URL: Push url to Android and open automatically open it with Android browser.
- Clipboard: Share clipboard content between Android and computer.
There are also some very useful features on the Android client, including WiFi tethering, file manager, task manager, etc.
AirDroid philosophies:
- One less cable.
You should be able to connect different devices wirelessly, without the hassles of USB cables.
- One less screen.
You should be able to work or play with one screen, without being distracted by other screens.
- One less worry.
You should be able to locate your Android devices any time, any where, and wipe all personal data if it's lost.

Goodbye Windows - Hello Ubuntu

Yes I finally did it, removed Microsoft from my life; replacing Windows 8.1 was no snap decision though. The last time I took a look at Ubuntu early in its life cycle, it was nowhere near replacing a fully functional desktop OS such as Windows - but its come on leaps and bounds since then I'm very pleased to say.

While you do still need some command line skills the dependence can be softened with the use of Google of which there are endless support forums and help easily at hand. Plus the Ubuntu software store which means installing software is much easier than 4-5yrs ago.

I didn't realise the new 14.04 LTS (long term support) release was round the corner when I started the migration from Microsoft so I also went through an upgrade the day after install too, which I'm pleased to say was painless.....

Anyway some of the features I was hoping to have appeared in Ubuntu still haven't made it for home computing just yet. SMB shares for example are a slight ball ache to sort out, needing an app called Gigolo to auto connect and bookmark shares. Its a good work around but does need some set up.

UK keyboard didn't seem to work properly post install, however a fix was at hand from the command line so not all was lost.

Flash Player (which the BBC website still depends on) installation into Chromium needed quite a bit of messing about (instructions are here) and this I guess is typical of various fixes and if you have some experience of Android file system you will get an idea of where everything goes.

I'm also a heavy user of Mozilla's Thunderbird email program which in Windows has a handy utility to back up your settings and email into a handy single file, however there is no Mozbackup that works on Ubuntu...this caused me some concern and something I should have checked before I jumped. Luckily it was just a case of unzipping the file and then placing the contents into the profiles folder of the Thunderbird installation, again Google helped out there !

I could go on, and you are wondering if it was all worth it, well yes it is - its a free OS for a start and very powerful - lots of fantastic apps and programs, many are more functional than the Windows counterparts. Having made the leap into Google Docs and Drive means I don't have to worry what OS I'm running as everything is cloud based of course I can use Libre Office if I'm offline and sync my items later - highly recommend you start to look away from Micosoft's Office if you haven't already.

What I do like with Ubuntu is many of the apps pre-installed are highly usable right out the box, something that cant be said for Windows 8, but the biggest learning point of all here is; you have choice, many think the only PCs to buy are Windows based. Sure you can use the walled garden of Apples Mac OS - again you are tied in more so than Micosoft has with its new Windows 8.1 signin process, something which led me to take a second look at Ubuntu in the first place.

Microsoft have made it very difficult to move away from its OS by using various methods to discourage you from using YOUR hardware with Ubuntu or other Linux distributions, of which causes me to want away even more. If I bought the PC then I want to run what I like on it.

You can try Ubuntu (risk free) by installing the OS onto a USB stick and booting from that - if you are using a newer PC then you will need to disable some "security" features in the BIOS but I must say Ubuntu 14.04 is well worth checking out.

Check out Ubuntu and download, here.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Don't buy a new mobile phone until 2015

Right now we are in the middle of a wave of new handsets hitting the local shops and online retailers, HTC, Sony and Samsung leading the pack with their new monsters - all of which are good in their own rights and have pros n cons blah blah blah.

However there is a deeper issue I urge you to take note of. 

The new bunch of CPUs will be with us next year along with 64bit fancy pants architecture, something that could open up a few doors for mobile computing, especially from a cryptographic perspective. Also if the rumors of the leap in power and consumption are to be taken as red (Snapdragon 8xx), then you really should hold off buying a handset you would be stuck with for the next 2 years. Especially if you love to out spec your friends - you might not give a shit either mind. 

If the temptation of having a digit change at the end of your phones name too much to cope then you might kick yourself in the year ending in 15, your old handset in 2015 might be seen as very last gen, which means a lower resell price too. 

Friday, 11 April 2014

Heartbleed bug: which passwords should you change?

Wondering who has been effected by the heartbleed bug ? Yes, us too. Well the short list looks something like this :-

Facebook, Tumblr, Google, Pintrest, Yahoo, Dropbox, Bitcasa, Boxee

As others have been patched and discovered we will try and keep you posted, until then go and change your password for the services listed above.

Advice from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) to combat the Heartbleed bug:
1. Change your passwords – but only after the affected website operators and ISP, have implemented the patch to fix the bug. Changing your password before the bug is fixed could compromise your new password.
2. Regularly change your passwords. Depending on how sensitive the application/website is, passwords typically ought to be changed monthly or quarterly.
3. Don’t reuse the same passwords on different websites. Try to use a separate password for each website.
4. Use strong passwords, which are at least eight characters long, are not dictionary words or names and include at least one character from the following groups:
- upper case letters
- lower case letters
- numbers
- special characters, such as punctuation and mathematical symbols (although some websites will not accept these).
5. Always make use of all authentication options on offer, e.g. a password and letters from a memorable word, or use of a security token or texting a PIN.

Source : telegraph.co.uk