Saturday, 24 May 2014

Where is your stuff? Is it safe? Is it convenient?

I heard a quote recently that said if your data isn't backed up to three locations; it doesn't exist.

This is clearly nonsense, although it's not a bad philosophy to have. Last week I suffered a catastrophic (albeit self inflicted) Mac failure. This caused me to restore everything from my Time capsule which hadn't done a complete back up for a couple of weeks, due to the fact that I'd moved a huge amount of images out of iPhoto and into normal folders (For Adobe). The restore took an astonishing three days and in the middle we also suffered a blip of a power cut, which caused the Time Capsule to reboot, but fortunately didn't interrupt the restore process.
14000 photos, a few Gigabytes of home movies and 9000 songs all in the balance.

Except that they weren't really, as I had other backups.

All of my music is backed up to a second HDD, in normal folders on an external HDD. It's also on Google Music, which lets me stream it to my iPhone. Although I've never tried downloading it, the option is clear enough, it's probably quite easy?

My photos are also backed up to the same HDD, and also dropbox and were last backed up a month or so back.

My home video's are backed up on the same HDD and also (because of the more generous allowance they gave me).

My contact are synchronised with Gmail, which offers better flexibility across multiple devices.

My Calendar appointments are also synced with Gmail, so that information would have been safe too.

My Apps - I'd have lost if Time Capsule hadn't been able to restore them.

So worse case scenario, in the unlikely event of a total HDD failure, plus a Time capsule failure (which the power cut in the thunderstorm could realistically have caused). I should have had a second, sometimes third option up my sleeve.

Paranoid? Perhaps.
Prepared? Definitely. If you can't say the same, it's perhaps worth reconsidering your backup options and planning ahead. Especially if you have sentimental digital data!

Box vs Dropbox

I've been using both Box and Dropbox for a number of years. Pretty much in the same capacity. Had you asked me two years ago which was best, at the drop of a hat and without doubt I'd have gone with dropbox. I would have understood however if Windows owners would have argued that Box was better, but as a Mac user, the sync function was miles behind Dropbox and riddled with bugs, at least for me it was.
I have persevered though, eventually I got the app running satisfactorily, and have ran the two applications pretty much side by side. I've been rewarded with massive allowances from purchasing HTC handsets by dropbox, but have stuck with my generous allowance that Box gave me from the outset. Unbeknown to me, the dropbox allowances were only temporary though and have recently been taken off me. However logging in with an upgraded handset has restored similar allowances, but, for me, dropbox is currently a temporary cloud world.
Now however, it's a tougher decision to say which is best. Box have caught up and the sync feature has worked without a problem. Up until today.
I'd looked at some of the files I'd recently backed up on through the fine looking and easy to use iPhone App. I'd worried in the past that servers were slow, but today, flicking through pics at a reasonable pace was acceptable. On the Mac however, for no apparent reason, login wasn't possible, even after a re-boot. I was getting the error message that I couldn't log in. I checked the password was correct and re-installed the box. sync software. Just before I'd read messages about users losing all of their files!!

The sync features seemed to be broken, I was at a loss and the pics I'd spent hours uploading were sat in a file that had been renamed as a backup, then, from out of nowhere, a notification box came up to advise me, the clever box sync software had realised, that the files were all in the wrong place. It advised me to do nothing, whilst it moved them to the new sync folder.

This is all very clever, and most impressive, however, I have realised the pain this is going to cause me when I next open Adobe Elements Organizer (It doesn't like users moving files around in the background). Not ideal, but I can't blame the sync software. Box has preserved my files and restored/moved them into the box sync folder.

I think Dropbox still has the edge on dependability, but on the Mac at least is a far better user experience than it's ever been before. For me, it's still down as the most value per GB and as I was one of the first to open a account, I've got a whopping allowance. If I had to put my hand in my pocket though, I'd probably opt for Dropbox still.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Avoid costly iMessage picture fails

iMessage can be great, but it can also prove costly, when an iMessage with a picture attached fails. Send a good few of these in a month and you can find yourself with a few more $$$ on your bill than you expected.

The solution is simple. At your phone up so that text iMessage fails are sent as SMS, but disable MMS.
How... Set your phone up under settings/messages like this below.

NB. This does also mean that you're unable to receive MMS, but it also means that you'll avoid bill shock.
Who sends MMS nowadays anyway? Besides my Mum?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Smart TV's DLNA iPhones and Youtube.

If you have a Smart TV, a newish blu-ray or DVD player, or perhaps a Smart Freesat or Freeview box, which is connected to your home network; and a smartphone, you may be missing a trick or three.

Apple TV users, for the past few years, have been able to blast content from their iPhone or iPad to the Apple TV unit connected to their Television. The upshot is that what they're watching on their smartphone or tablet, will show up on the big screen. Handy if you want to show guests a picture, or a funny video like this one .....
One direction Parody

Furthermore, via the remote app on an iPhone, it's also possible to use your smartphone as a remote control.
These useful functions however are now commonplace to many other smart devices, but several people I have spoken to haven't realised that they own the equipment that can do it.

If your 'smart' AV device is switched on (and is DLNA compliant), when you watch a movie via the Youtube app on your smart phone, if it's connected to the same wifi network, you should be able to see an icon (on your smartphone) which resembles this....

Actually, it will look a lot smarter that this, as I just knocked this up in paintbrush on the Mac, but it will look a bit like this.

This is your key to unlocking your TV's full potential. Tap on this and select your Smart TV or Smart Device from the list that appears. Instantly or almost instantly, your content that you were watching on your device, will transmit, over your home wifi network to your TV, freesat, or smart blu ray or DVD player. Simple, easy and a free enhancement to your existing equipment which you may not have known existed.

Furthermore if you have a TV set which connects to your home network, it's highly likely it has additional functionality via a dedicated App. Recently, a friend bought an LG Smart TV and was struggling to understand the attractions of the web browser. Moving the cursor around on the screen using up/down/left and right buttons on the TV Remote was time consuming and laborious, inputting text even worse. Then, we had a quick play in the app store and found this dedicated LG Remote App.

Not only did this achieve what I thought it would, insomuch as it would allow him to use the iPhone as a trackpad, and a keyboard (when necessary) it also echoed the TV content to his phone, meaning now, he's free to watch what's on his TV, whilst he's sat on the throne! It was relatively easy to find our way around the App and I'd have given it more than the 3 stars it currently has on the App store.

Amazingly a the time of writing this, we have just had a customer ask, about exactly the same thing. He wanted to buy a Mi-fi device to blast content from his Tablet to his Chromecast stick (plugged into the back of a TV whilst on holiday ). Our advice? If the Movie content is on the Tablet, tether the chromecast and tablet to his Galaxy S3 and do away with the Mifi device altogether and steer clear of Netflix (as that would destroy his data allowance). 
That was our professional advice, my personal advice would be, if you're on holiday, find a bar, dance on the tables, get drunk and forget about technology, it could ruin your holiday if it doesn't work or eats your data allowance. 

Google Drive for Desktop.