Smartphone 101 – Receiving a Call

There are a couple-three different scenarios here, believe it or not. Some or all of them may present you with different screens and buttons when they occur.

  • Receiving a Call with the Phone in Standby/ Screen Locked
  • Receiving a call while using the Phone/ Screen Unlocked
  • Receiving a call while on Another Call (Did you know your Phone (likely) has Call Waiting, free of charge?)

Receiving a Call with the Phone in Standby/ Screen Locked

This is probably the most common scenario, unless you’re on your phone, literally, all the time.   Let’s assume that your smartphone is charged, and on a desk, or in a bag

    1. From a screen off position, your phone rings.
      RECV-ios-01 RECV-and-01 RECV-WP-01
      iOS Android Windows Phone
    2. Unlock the phone and answer the call. For iOS, slide the bar to the right. For Android, tap the green call button. For Windows Phone, slide the screen up.
      RECV-ios-01 RECV-and-02 RECV-WP-02
      iOS Android Windows Phone
  1. Conduct your call.
    RECV-ios-02 RECV-and-03 RECV-WP-03
    iOS Android Windows Phone
  2. When you’re done, press the End Call button to terminate the call.
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iOS Android Windows Phone

 

Receiving a Call while the Device is in Use

This is probably the next most common scenario.   Let’s assume that your smartphone is charged, on and you’re using an app.

 

    1. While the phone is in use, you receive a phone call.
      USE-ios-01 RECV-and-01 RECV-WP-01
      iOS Android Windows Phone
    2. Answer the call. For iOS, tap the green call button. For Android, tap the green call button. For Windows Phone, tap the blue answer button.
      USE-ios-01 RECV-and-02 USE-WP-02
      iOS Android Windows Phone

 

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Aereo Pushes Pause

After the latest from the SCOTUS, Aereo is taking a step back…

aereo

The SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) has been on a roll lately, and it seems they’ve rolled right over Aereo in a sweeping decision that has all but shut down the little startup that would.  While I’m not an Aereo subscriber, the company has sent out a second update to its users.  The company has decided to “pause.”

In his short update to Aereo’s customers, Aereo CEO and Founder Chet Kanojia let’s everyone know exactly what the company is looking to do in the coming days.  They’re pausing operations as of 11:30am ET Saturday 2014-06-28.

“As a result of that decision, our case has been returned to the lower Court. We have decided to pause our operations temporarily as we consult with the court and map out our next steps… All of our users will be refunded their last paid month. If you have questions about your account, please email support@aereo.com or tweet us @AereoSupport.”

At this point, as I understand things, Aereo has three options:
1. Cease total operations and close down
While this would be the most disappointing of all the options available to Aereo at this point, it seems like this is the most likely outcome. Their case has been returned to the lower Court and the decision that was originally found in their favor has been overturned.  The trial, if it goes forward, is still on, but with the Supreme Court having indicated that Aereo is effectively a cable company (as defined by Congress, in 1976, I think…) Aereo has said that they would close their doors rather than take either action 2 or 3, below.
2. Change their technology so they do not infringe copyright laws
I have no idea exactly WHAT this would entail, but it MAY be possible for Aereo to change what they’re doing so that they don’t infringe on the copyright owner’s performance.  I had heard on TWiT that some experts had explained that there’s NO WAY a dime-sized antenna could be pulling in any kind of OTA TV signal and that what was likely happening was that each antenna was instead part of an array that pulled in the appropriate signal(s) in each broadcast area. As such, this is where you get the 1976 cable company (think: regional, shared or community antenna) comparison.
3. Try to strike a deal with the Networks and Pay a Rebroadcast Fee
All of the hullaballoo could be over tomorrow if Aereo agreed to pay a rebroadcasting fee.   It’s unlikely that that will happen, however, as Aereo went to great pains to construct their product and business model around what they believed to be loopholes in the law.  While not illegal by any means (EVERY corporation does that with the tax laws of EVERY government they do business with, world-wide), they did get shot down.  As they went to such great lengths to avoid having to pay ANY kind of rebroadcasting fee, it’s unlikely that Aereo will agree to pay the fees on behalf of their customers (with them likely passing that fee on to each customer…). However, this would make everything legal, and wouldn’t require Aereo to do anything to their technology or their product(s).

At this point, it’s all on hold as Aereo circles the proverbial airport and tries to figure out how to move forward.  What I think is funny is that Aereo in their current incarnation represents what the consumer wants and how many see the future of television.  Nearly all video is going to go from OTA to OTI (over the internet) in 5 to 15 years.

I think Comcast sees this as fact, as they have been steadily raising the price of their Internet service over the past few years in order to combat lost or declining television package revenue.  Most consumers would love to purchase individual channel broadcasts or services – i.e. an a la cart service – instead of having networks or specific channels bundled with channels and services they will never use.  They’d also rather push it over the internet to a connected TV, computer, mobile device or other set top box so they could watch what they want, where they want, when they want.

The issue is without a doubt, complicated.  I actually think very few people in this country know what the TRUE right and wrong answers are to these legal questions, based on the current state of all relevant US legislation.  In the end, I think it’s all going to boil down to who gets paid and how much they get paid; but that’s just me, I guess.  Greed in America is running amok at this point (and I’m a conservative, too….); and I’m not certain where it will all end.

What do you think of all of this?  Are you an Aereo customer? Are you a cord cutter? If you don’t have an Aereo subscription, were you thinking of getting one if and when the product became available in your home city?  Do me a favor and sound off in the comments area, below and tell me what you think. I’d love to hear a confirming or contrasting decision. As I said, this is a confusing and complicated question, and the results of all of this are going to be felt for quite a long time, I think.

 

 Our other article about Aereo Infringes Copyright

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Smartphone 101 – Making a Phone Call

OK… now that we have everything synching between your phone and your email account, let’s figure out exactly how to use it.

If you remember I started this series a few weeks ago and had one article about setting up your email account and address book and then one about synching that data to your smartphone. At this point, any changes or additions you make to either your email account via your computer or on your smartphone, to any of that data, will appear in both places.  It’s really pretty cool.

Integration, remember..? It’s all about integrating your data into the places where you will make the most use of it. That’s what makes your smartphone smart. It puts your data where you want to use it most – meaning your phone – and even anticipates how you want to use it, sometimes.

Your address book can hold listings for friends, family, businesses and the like. You’re likely going to want to call your parents on the weekends, your children’s pediatrician when they’re sick or need a checkup, and your dry cleaners to make sure that your clothes are read to be picked up, among many, many other things.  You may just want to yack your head off with your best friend.  Who knows…

Here’s the best way to do all that in all three major mobile operating systems. There are a couple-three scenarios here.

  • Making a Call

  • Receiving a Call

  • Retrieving Voice Mail

Let’s run through all of them quickly.

Making a Call

There are a few different ways to make a call – you can dial directly, search for a person in your address book or dial from a Favorites – or frequently called numbers – list.  I’m going to try to make this easy and have screenshots from all three operating systems in each section so we only have to do this once. Please note that the instructions here are going to reflect calling numbers here in the United States. If you live in another country, please sub in your country specifics for direct dialing numbers.

Dialing Directly

  1. Open your device’s Phone app and switch to the dialing pad screen

    DD-ios-01 DD-and-01 DD-WP-01
    iOS Android Windows Phone
  2. Dial the 10 digit phone number:  (area code) phone-number and press the (usually green) Phone button on the dialer to initiate the call.

DD-ios-02 DD-and-02 DD-WP-02
iOS Android Windows Phone

Please note – in the US, you do not NEED to dial a “1″ in front of the phone number as you do on your land line phone.  While your call will still connect if you do, it’s not required on the cellular network like it is on the land line network. In most cases, unless you’re going to do any regular, international travel, you should NOT store your phone numbers as +1 (area code) phone-number.  Leave the “1″ (or “+1″) off unless you DO travel internationally; and then it’s a good idea to have the “+1″ prefix.

    1. Conduct your call.

      DD-ios-04 DD-and-03 DD-WP-03
      iOS Android Windows Phone

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Aereo Infringes Copyright – UPDATED

OK..!   Time for Plan B… What?   There is no Plan B..??

Aereo_logoWell crap!

Without a Plan B, Aereo cofounder Chet Kanojia had previously stated in April 2014 that without support of their business model by the Supreme Court, they would have to shut down.   Unfortunately for cord cutter’s everywhere (me included…) this is a horrible development not only for Aereo, but for American consumers everywhere.

What Aereo did was simple – it provided a small digital antenna for a customer to rent in their home city.   Aereo then transmitted the video received by that antenna over the internet for that consumer. Said consumer was able to view that video over the internet. The consumer could be physically in their home city, or they could be anywhere on the planet (provided they had an internet connection and the means to view the video signal).

Major networks filed suit against Aereo because this violated their business model of broadcasting television content to their viewers. They were also completely cut out of the revenue model; and cable companies and the networks that broadcast over them are desperately hungry for that revenue (so, now you know why the networks and cable companies sued them in court).

The Supreme Court’s split decision (6-3 in favor of the current copyright holders, or the networks) held that “Aereo’s customers constitute ‘the public,’ and that retransmitting television networks’ copyrighted material goes against their exclusive right to perform their works publicly as the holders of the copyright.” Justice Breyer wrote the majority opinion.

According to that opinion, “We must decide whether respondent Aereo, Inc., infringes this exclusive right by selling its subscribers a technologically complex service that allows them to watch television programs over the Internet at about the same time as the programs are broadcast over the air,” the opinion reads. “We conclude that it does.”

In my opinion, the Court got it WAY wrong.   Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito got it right. Justice Scalia wrote the dissenting opinion, indicating that, [The networks failed to prove that Aereo's product constitutes a performance] “at the very outset because Aereo does not “perform” at all.   The Court manages to reach the opposite conclusion only by disregarding widely accepted rules for service-provider liability and adopting in their place an improvised standard (“looks-like-cable-TV”) that will sow confusion for years to come.”

So yeah… those three DO get it. And with a 6-3 split, it’s clear that not everyone misunderstood not only the technology involved, but the business models that both sides employ to conduct business. I’m very disappointed in the results.

What about you?   Will the results of today’s decision effect you? Are you an Aereo customer? How do you feel about the Supreme Court’s decision?   Did they get it right?   Does Aereo’s product constitute a “performance” as legally defined by copyright law?   What do you think should have happened?   Why don’t you join me in the discussion area below and give me your opinion?

UPDATE:
Since writing this column early the morning that the decision was announced (2014-06-25), Aereo has released the following statement.   I’ve read it a couple of times, but I’m not entirely certain HOW the company intends to “fight on” as they state in their posting to the public. Perhaps they will modify the way the system works. Perhaps they will work with the networks to somehow provide them with a percentage of their revenue stream.   (Perhaps I’ll win the lottery tonight and it won’t matter…)

In the end, I do believe this is a huge setback for the American consumer.   I will be monitoring this story and will report on any materially interesting updates that become available.

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Is Surface Pro 3 Microsoft’s Last Chance

…as far as the tablet market is concerned..?  Uh…yeah.

Pro3

I’m a big fan of Windows Weekly on the TWiT NetworkPaul Thurrott is a former co-worker and friend, Mary Jo Foley and I chat every now and again on Twitter.  Leo is also full of awesome-sauce.  He’s done a huge amount of work to advance consumer understanding of the tech world in general… Do they give medals for tech-awesomeness..??  ‘cuz I’m just sayin’…

Anyway, I was listening to episode WW367: Mucho Calibre of Windows Weekly, and about three quarters of the way through the show, the Leo, Mary Jo and Paul begin discussing the immanent, public release of Surface Pro 3, and start talking a little bit about whether or not this is Microsoft’s last real shot at the tablet market (and whether Surface and Windows RT is dead or not…). I have a couple quick things to say about this that I wanted to follow up on before it evaporated.

1. Surface Pro 3′s Last Hurrah?
Um, yeah…  This is the last real chance that the platform has. I love Surface Pro and I’ll be excited to see Surface Pro 3 when it really starts making its way on to local Best Buy, and other retail shelves.  However, no one really knows what Surface Pro wants to be, either. Microsoft has done a lot of work to try to define what that is exactly, but I’m not convinced that the public will connect the dots.

In Microsoft’s eyes, it’s the perfect combo device – tablet and ultrabook.  However, most consumers just think its overpriced and unproven.  While Microsoft may be offering a $650 trade-in for users of MacBook Air’s (making the Surface Pro 3 a $149 dollar device…), a lack of confidence in Windows 8.x and the public’s unfamiliarity with Surface Pro devices, as well as its high price point make the Surface Pro 3 a NEAR non-starter for many.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the hardware is solid. They did a lot to improve the pen and writing experience on the device with Surface Pro 3; but $799 is a lot to pay for a digital notepad (the Surface Pro and Microsoft OneNote are a completely AWESOME combination); but I don’t know many beyond the tech-savvy, executive management type who will actually give Surface Pro 3 a shot…And because Microsoft rebuilt the device from the ground up – different size, form factor, aspect ratio power supply, and pen (just to name a few) – I don’t know how many current Surface Pro/ Surface Pro 2 users you’re going to see upgrading to the latest version of Microsoft’s premier hardware line.  If this one doesn’t generate the kind of following that the MacBook Air enjoys with Mac lovers, I doubt you’re going to see Surface Pro 3 last long (and you won’t see a Surface Pro 4…). I hope Microsoft got it right.

And yes… changes to desktop Windows to make the tablet/ ultrabook even more compelling, while leaving the train wreck that is Windows 8.x behind…will be a must.

2. Is Surface/Windows RT Dead?
Um, yeah…  That ship sailed a while ago.  The fact that its recently been made public that Microsoft killed the Surface Mini just days or weeks before its launch isn’t helping much.  The fact that there’s no real big differentiator between Windows RT and Windows 8.x (aside from where you can buy apps from and which apps will run) isn’t helping matters. RT has a desktop and looks and sorta feels like Windows except when any ModernUI apps run. Microsoft should have killed the desktop entirely on RT, went full ModernUI on RT and really pushed the tablet as a lean-back device.  They didn’t, and the result is a total muddying of the Windows waters. There’s more OS confusion as Microsoft really didn’t draw a line between the two platforms and differentiate them.  No one knows what Surface and WinRT are, and at this point, the public is beyond the point of caring….that and a $900B write-off will not only get ya fired, but it will kill a platform.

Honestly, Microsoft just needs to realize that the only thing left to do is put flowers on the grave.  Windows RT died with Surface RT. They just apparently didn’t know it after the write-off, new CEO and the release of version 2 of the doomed platform.  What were they thinking?? Doesn’t a billion dollar charge kinda say that the public isn’t interested and doesn’t want the platform?

I don’t want to be hard on Microsoft. They need all the cheerleaders they can get right now; but I unfortunately think that Leo, Mary Jo and Paul are wrong on this one.  The Surface Pro 3 will be the last Surface tablet from Microsoft if this one isn’t just something that is “magical,” giving the MacBook Air and/ or an iPad with an awesome keyboard a run for its money.

What do you think?  Do you have a Surface or Surface Pro tablet (of any generation)?  Do you like it?  Do you use it?  Do you think that Microsoft can make a difference with Surface Pro 3..?  or is it all just too late, and everyone is just refusing to see the writing on the wall?  Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area, below, and give me your thoughts on the subject?  I’d love to know what you think…

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Hands on with iOS 8 Beta 2

Oy…

I’ve been in software a LONG time. I’ve been in mobile devices and mobile computing even longer… What I’m about to say may draw a great deal of criticism and some harsh debate (and at least a great deal of, “well what did you expect, Chris..?   iOS 8 IS in beta after all…).   But to tell you the truth, I’ve been a registered Apple developer for a while now, (since just before iOS 6 was in Beta) and as a QA Guy, I’m very good at identifying patterns and trends… it’s what I do. So, here goes…

screen-shot-2014-06-17-at-10-03-05-am

While iOS 8 Beta 2 improves some things over Beta 1, Beta 2 seems a worse train wreck than Beta 1.

In other words, the latest development milestone release (beta) is worse than the last.

In past releases of iOS 6 and iOS 7, by the time Beta 2 was released, the OS was usable.   While the official stance is always to put beta software on non-mission critical devices, as a software tester, if I don’t have it on a primary computer or device, I’m not going to give it a real good burn in test.   There’s a difference between working with a device and living in one; and in my opinion, you’re going to find more bugs, buried deeper in the code by living in a device than by simply using it and running test cases.   Don’t get me wrong.   I know that formal structured testing is a MUST.   However, living with a device and using it outside of a structured test can provide more information on the overall performance, look, feel, etc. of a system than can be found in a formal test setting (though, in all honesty, this ad-hoc information is USELESS without the formal feedback provided by structured testing, so you can’t cut corners…)

This is the major reason why I run new iOS betas when they become available.   Yes, yes… I have the beta software itch. I gotta have the new stuff; but I file bug reports as I find issues.   This week, I think I’ll be filing a boat load of them.   I’ve bumped into the following and have a great deal of feedback to provide Apple on iOS 8 Beta 2.   The following issues are listed in no particular order of severity or priority:

  1. Personal Hotspot  – Personal hotspot fails to provide internet service to devices connected to it for over 15 minutes.   Even though the iPhone indicates that a guest device is connected, and the device itself has internet connectivity, the guest won’t have access to the internet through the host after a 15 or so minute period has elapsed.   I’m not certain why yet.   It’s not a matter of the iPhone going to sleep and cutting internet access off. I’ve got my iPhone set to sleep after a few minutes.   I’m good for the first 15 minutes or so, and then internet access just disappears.   This issue needs more exploration. I will report more on it as I find out more.
  2. Bluetooth and Bluetooth LE  – This is the biggest train wreck of them all, I think.   The BT stack is a hot mess, failing to communicate with any number and types of devices.   BT-LE service is nearly unusable at the moment. My iPhone 5 won’t (officially) pair with any LE device I’ve got, no matter how hard I try, though LE notifications can travel across the link at times. My Pebble Steel is little more than a hockey puck on my wrist right now. I have Casio calculator watches that are smarter than my Pebble right now as a result…Bluetooth connectivity, especially BT audio, is spotty at best and doesn’t always work.   There are times when I try to listen to music while at the office, or watch videos after work. Audio comes across the link inconsistently with both audio and video media. Sometimes it doesn’t come at all.   Sometimes, it drops during brief periods of silence in the audio track and may or may not pick back up after the silence ends.   During music playback, this happens in between songs, and can happen during podcast playback when there’s a brief silence among the show hosts.   The only reason I can attribute to this, is that the signal activity in the audio track (of either media type) drops and the BT device and stack on the iPhone are trying to conserve power by cutting off use of the radio and the device when it senses inactivity.   The problem is, it’s WAY too sensitive.ALL of my Bluetooth devices – from different headsets, keyboards, Pebble, etc. – also drop connections on a random basis.   I have not been able to put any kind of a pattern to the losses of connectivity; and it doesn’t seem to be limited to any one kind of device or during or after any specific kind of activity or with any specific media.   Connectivity just drops, and reestablishing it is VERY difficult. Currently, it may require turning either device on or off, tuning the Bluetooth radio on either device on or off, or forgetting devices on either end of the pairing chain, and then repairing. This often has to be repeated, as it doesn’t always work.   Part of this was a problem with BT-LE in iOS 7.x and it seems to be amplified in iOS 8 Betas 1 and 2. Which brings me to the next big issue…
  3. Battery Life  – Oh, it sucks.   Anything processor or radio intensive – like playing a game or long data downloads – really sucks the life out of my iPhone 5′s battery. I wouldn’t make a point of this if it were the same thing in iOS 7; but it’s not. It is clearly more noticeable in iOS 8. When things are (seemingly) working right, the same battery that may last the entire day with moderate game play in iOS  7 may  only last 1/2 that time in iOS 8.   A fix is needed here for certain.
  4. Performance  – The train derails and comes off the tracks, here too.   There are still a number of issues with core apps.   Most, if not all of them – Mail, Calendar, Podcasts, Music, Clock, Siri, Maps, etc. – just plain don’t work right.   Previously working functionality just doesn’t work (deleting messages is still broken, calendar info doesn’t sync or display right, audio doesn’t play correctly, tracks are often skipped and don’t play, even if they are local to the device, Siri is being belligerent and won’t listen, etc…); and the device clearly seems to try to compensate for it.For example, there are performance stutters throughout the ENTIRE system. Any and ALL apps appear to freeze but then release and catch up to where they need to be based on physical or data input.   Scrolling through posts on Facebook or messages in Mail seems to be a big hic-cough right now.   My phone can freeze at any particular moment and may or may not come back, requiring a hard reset (home button-power button until the screen blacks out and the Apple logo appears, then release both buttons) before it will come back; and then it takes about twice as long for that process to complete as it did in iOS 7.x… I’ve also found that my phone will just spontaneously reboot, usually at an inconvenient time. It’s happened three or four times since I installed Beta 2, just the other day.I’ve also had the screen go completely black out of nowhere with only a white spinner appearing on the screen.   This usually happens during navigation (with Apple Maps, but has also happened with Google Maps). The last time it was right near the end of a route (and of course, I didn’t know where the destination was located at, so I nearly missed it…).   The OS, just simply isn’t reliable by any stretch at this time.
  5. Storage and Logging –  I have a 16GB iPhone 5.   I know exactly what it will hold and what it won’t. I know which apps I can plug and chug off the device when something interesting is released, how much music I can have on the device, etc.   With iOS 8, I’m at a total loss.   The device is CLEARLY in debug mode by default at this point, as it seems to be going through a large amount of event logging.Storage on the device gets eaten up very, very quickly. I’ve had Beta 2 installed for less than a week, and I’ve already had to blow it and restore it twice because I’ve strangely run out of storage space.   When this happens, the battery life tanks, the device gets VERY warm and the device becomes very unreliable.

To say that I am disappointed with the overall stability and performance of iOS 8 Beta 2 is an understatement. I was really looking forward to it after working with Beta 1 for about 15 days.   Historically, the reliability of Apple software goes up as the asset moves through its development lifecycle.   Unfortunately, that’s NOT the case here with iOS 8. Beta 2 clearly feels less finished than Beta 1.

At this point, I have no idea what to expect from Beta 3 and beyond. However, I would HOPE that Apple is aware of the issues with Beta 2 and will push to get a replacement for it – i.e. Beta 3 – out sooner rather than later.   While I will be filing these issues as bugs, I would hope that they all end up being duplicates of bugs found by other developers (meaning, they are already aware of the issues…).

I wish I could comment of some of iOS 8′s newer features at this point.   However, I’m loath to do so, not because of any NDA that comes with my developer’s account (Apple changed their NDA so I can speak freely about any and all items in either Yosemite or iOS 8.   I cannot, however, post screen shots…yet); but because I’m having trouble with regression issues and with legacy functionality, let alone the new and shiny stuff.

Suffice it to say that there are issues throughout the ENTIRE system at this point. Apple has a long row to hoe with iOS 8; and if they wish to make a July/ August iPhone announcement and a September/ October release, then they better get their butts in gear and start pumping out the testable code. With what I’m seeing, it could be quite a long time before iOS 8 is ready for GM or RTM status.   With iPhone 6 highly anticipated to ship with iOS 8 AND with new screen sized and form factors, this is gearing up to be one of – if not the MOST – highly anticipated iPhone releases yet. It could likely surpass that of the original iPhone or the iPhone 3G as well.

What questions do you have about iOS 8?   Is there anything in particular that you’re curious about?   I’d love to have your input and questions on the new iDevice mobile OS.   Do you find it compelling?   Are you an existing or potentially new iDevice user?   Are you someone who left the iPhone behind and went with either an Android device or Windows Phone when iOS 7 was released?   Does the look and feel of iOS 8 interest you?   Are you interested in switching back to iPhone with iPhone 6 when it’s released later this year?   Why don’t you meet with me in the discussion area below, and ask a question or two?   If possible, I will answer your question(s) and/ or address them in a separate column as soon as possible.

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Get a handle of what apps are on your company’s computers with WinAudit

Get a handle of what apps are on your company’s computers with this important Windows app.

WA-01

Networking is the heart of computing today. Most everyone that has a computer has internet access and most everyone with internet access in their home has a home network of some type. Everyone with a home network has computers on it, most likely, a number of computers, depending on the number of people living in the home and what they are doing with those computers. Keeping your PC safe from dodgy programs that are potentially malware ridden is important, and its why I like apps like WinAudit. It’s a security app for Windows networks.

WinAudit identifies the hardware and software installed on Windows based computers. The app identifies every aspect of your computer is examined. After the app examines the computers on your network, it generates an inventory report. The report is displayed as a web page, which can be saved or printed in a number of standard formats.

You can e-mail the inventory report to your technical support staff or even post the report to a database for archiving. When used in conjunction with its command line functionality, you can automate inventory administration at the network level. WinAudit supports the remote desktop and pre-installation environments.

This app is great at what it does, but its not for everyone. Most home networks aren’t going to be as restricted and monitored as a corporate network is. This app would be perfect for small businesses looking to get a handle on what is connected to the network that all of their proprietary data is accessed and stored. The price is certainly right; and if you do decide to use it at home, it will certainly do a good job for you, though at this stage of consumer computing development and use, while EXTREMELY beneficial, its likely overkill.

Download WinAudit

 

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Hands on with early iOS 8 Beta Releases

It shows promise; but it’s REALLY buggy…

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I’ve been using iOS 8 Beta 1 for the past couple of weeks and I have to say that I like what I see, but it’s so buggy that it’s hard to really evaluate. Items that you thought would be solid – core apps like Mail and Music, for example – are just north of a train wreck. While this is to be expected in a beta release – especially in an early beta release – it does provide a bit of insight on what Apple is doing.

Based on every issue that I’ve bumped into so far, it’s clear to me that Apple is refining and optimizing code. iOS 7 introduced a lot of new interface options and changes to iOS; and it was the first real rearchitecting of Apple’s mobile OS since it was introduced in 2007. By that point, the OS was tired, long in the tooth and in need of a facelift, despite what everyone – me included – said about the redesign. Yes. It was difficult to get used to, but now that I’m used to it, it feels better than the old, skewmorphic look and feel of iOS 6 and earlier.

With iOS 8, Apple is following its old mantra – evolution, not revolution (again, they caused a revolution last time with iOS 7). Most of the changes will be under the hood, and users won’t see them. I can see evidence of this in the fact that apps that are core to what the iPhone does – like Mail, Music…Settings (yes, even Settings) – often force quit or hard reset the device.

I’ve encountered the following bugs in these programs throughout Beta 1. While this isn’t a complete or exhaustive list, these are the ones that keep me up at night…:
Mail won’t let you multi-delete more than three emails at a time. The app force quits.
Music won’t track back one song after it has moved to the next song in a playlist (so you can’t play the last song over again. Once is all you get.)
Songs often recycle quickly in large playlists when Shuffle is selected as the play method
Badge icon counts often do not reflect the correct number of alerts
The phone app ends the call if you try to take a screen shot of an active call
Settings often force quits when trying to work with Bluetooth settings (there are also multiple problems with the Bluetooth stack when it comes to pairing, playing Bluetooth audio and transferring data via BT-LE)

Because there are bugs in these core apps, it’s clear to me that Apple is optimizing core services as well as code in these core apps (to work with the optimized, core services), too. It’s the only explanation that makes sense. There are also a number of third party apps that just refuse to run or run correctly in iOS 8 Beta 1; but that’s also to be expected.

While preparing this article, Apple released iOS 8 Beta 2. I’ve downloaded the new OS, but haven’t had a chance to install it yet. While I’m certain that Apple is working on insuring that users can upgrade with settings and apps in place, it’s clear based on what I found in Beta 1 (I upgraded with apps and settings in place), that it might be a better idea to set up early beta releases of iOS 8 as a new iPhone rather than restoring the device from a backup. Bringing older settings and plist files into the device configuration may be the cause for some of the issues I am experiencing at this time. It’s likely a better idea for me to set it up as a new device between now and the release of Beta 4 (provided Apple drops a Beta 4 version before seeding the Gold Master to its developer partners).

The release documents for Beta 2 indicate that it provides some bug fixes as well as providing other small changes and enhancements, including the QuickType keyboard for iPad. This new release also has a major update to Apple’s Podcasts app. It’s now part of the base OS installation; and like iBooks, also can’t be removed. Apple also added a couple nice changes to Safari for iOS that prevents ads from automatically redirecting users to the App Store without any interaction; and users can now quickly add a site to Shared Links, or save a bookmark by tapping and holding on the Bookmarks button in the browser.

Other bug fixes of note include fixes to the screen brightness slider. It actually works now; and adding third party keyboards won’t force quit Settings like it did in Beta 1. As far as my Bluetooth issues… I’m going to have to wait and see how things go. There wasn’t a lot of information in the Beta 2 release notes related to anything specific that I was bumping into related to Bluetooth. However, Apple is still listing a number of known issues with core Bluetooth services, so I’m not holding my breath. Apple will likely tweak and make changes to the Bluetooth stack throughout the Beta Period. As Pebble and other fitness devices – including Apple’s (still) rumored iWatch – (will) make active use of BT-LE, I would expect fixes, improvements and changes to this key piece of core code throughout the development cycle.

iOS 8 Beta 2 also comes with a number of bug fixes. For example, the new beta release ensures that the screen brightness slider in Settings now actually works, and also prevents crashes when adding a third-party keyboard. I have no idea if Apple did anything to address the poor battery life performance that’s been reported with Beta 1.

However, I would expect Apple to address this – at least in part – in the next Beta release. Apple usually has a two week development cycle with its mobile OS Betas (it was 15 days between the releases of Beta 1 and Beta 2), so I would expect another release before the Independence Day Holiday here in the States on July 4th (but that’s based on past performance, so don’t shoot the messenger, if it doesn’t happen).

I’ll have other reports on iOS and Yosemite as Apple takes us through their Beta and development cycles prior to release of both. Look for updated information on these in the weeks to come. I’ll also have a more formal review of each after the GM version of both is released.

Do you have any questions about iOS 8 (or Yosemite)? Let me know in the discussion section, below and I’ll do my best to answer your questions either in-line or in a separate article.

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