Monday, 27 January 2014

Repair your iTunes 11.1.4 upgrade
It has been reported that a number of Windows 7 64bit users (including me) had a not so pleasant experience when updating to the newest version of iTunes. The installation would fail, iTunes would refuse to start, and a bunch of error messages such as a missing file (MSVCR80.dll) showed and Windows Error 127 pop up window would appear which recommends to reinstall iTunes, resulting in the same error after reinstallation.

A post on one of the support forums offered (this windows user at least) a solution to the botched iTunes 11.1.4 upgrade. Basically it says to remove all Apple software from the Control Panel Programs list with "uninstall" and delete all the following folders:
  • C:\Program Files\Bonjour
  • C:\Program Files\Common Files\Apple
  • C:\Program Files\iTunes
  • C:\Program Files\iPod
  • C:\Program Files\QuickTime
  • C:\Windows\System32\QuickTime
You can leave your media folder alone. After uninstalling all Apple software, deleting the above folders and rebooting the PC, it has been recommended to install Quicktime first before installing the new iTunes version. With a bit of luck your iTunes will install and run succesfully (it did for me). Though somehow with this version of iTunes, there are some issues when playing back mp4 video files. Sometimes the picture would hang even though the audio is still playing. The same video played in VLC plays without any fault.

Update: Apple just released a support document to succesfully install itunes

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Share clipboard between Mac & iPhone with Command-C
Have you ever wished of a quick and easy way to send a text from your Mac to your iPhone or vice versa? A new App called Command-C developed by Danilo Torrisi will let you exchange data from the clipboard of OS X and iOS such as text, pictures and URLs. It is baffling why such a useful feature has been omitted by Apple since it already provides Airdrop for files but no straightforward method of sending some text that has been copied to the clipboard. Perhaps they thought people would simply imessage the text.

For Command-C to work, Mac users may download the free OS X App in the Mac App Store and purchase the iOS client in the iTunes store for 3,59 Euros. Both devices need to be on the same network to function and need to be coupled before used for the first time. After the push notifications have been enabled for the App, any text or pictures copied to the clipboard in the iOS device will be available in the command-c client of the target computer after having confirmed the transfer.

A Windows version unfortunately isn't available. The only method I know of exchanging text between PC and iOS device is to use the notes program in the iCloud, Evernote or use Google Keep.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

PC and Mac iPad control App 'Actions' free,d.aGc
The remote control iPad App Actions is currently for free for a limited time, previously it costs 3.60 Euro. The App can be used to remote control a PC or Mac, with the addition of the corresponding desktop client, over the wireless network. Several predefined sets of actions including common control actions for, iTunes, Chrome and Mail are ready to use, which can be configured as well as new actions based on keyboard short-cuts on various software can also be created by the user. For instance VLC can be controlled by the iPad or navigate through tabs in Safari.

The iPad App is around 30MB in size and required iOS 5.1 to run, which allows even iPad 1 users to use the App. The desktop client is available for download on the company's website. An In-App purchase for 2.70 Euro called 'Flows' allows the user to create and execute macros.

Another App called Power-Grid by a Roccat seems to offer similar functions (that are more targeted at gamers) and is available for the iPhone also.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Access websites not available in your country with WiTopia
If you live in the US you have great online video services like Hulu or NetFlix and you can watch the newest episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. And many of video content is for free even if they include advertising. But try to access these sites from a country outside of the US and you'll probably be greeted by a message saying that this (video) content in not available in your region. Maybe some law makers haven't realised yet that the region of the internet is planet earth.

Another limit some countries think is necessary to implement is the access to websites which may not be of the same opinion as of their own. For example accessing (from Indonesia) a website which is hosted in China, even though the website has nothing to do with the country of China or their government, might not work.

The solution to the above situation is to use a proxy server (that is able to access the website you want). Another is to use a VPN service such as WiTopia. After paying a service fee (monthly or yearly $59), you can download their user friendly software (for Mac & Windows) which let's you choose from a list of VPN servers all over the globe, which one you want to connect to, after you've logged in with your WiTopia credentials.

For example, logging into a VPN server in the US will give you access to every US website that was previously blocked when you accessed it from another country the conventional way (without US proxy or VPN server). This can be very handy for people who travel a lot to different countries but still want to have access to their favorite websites, never matter what sensors are implemented locally.

Another side benefit of using a VPN service that you can setup on your iPhone also by following WiTopia's step by step instructions (Settings-Add VPN Configuration-choos PPTP add WiTopia server name, your WiTopia ID followed by @witopia and add the password) is that next time you are using a public WiFi access point (for example at your favorite immigration office) you can just connect to a WiTopia VPN server and it will make it a lot harder for anyone trying to eavesdrop on your online activities.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Use your notebook PC as a WiFi Hotspot with Connectify
Were you ever in a situation that you had internet access only with your laptop but wanted to connect other devices to the internet also? For example you are in a hotel that only has internet over lan but you also want to give access to your wife's phone or your colleague's notebook over WiFi. There are hardware solutions for this such as the Satechi Smart Travel Router or even Apple's Airport Express router which are pretty nifty devices on their own.

But why carry an additional device that takes space if your notebook PC can do the same thing with help of the Connectify software. It essentially will create a virtual copy of your Laptop's wifi card to act as a virtual wifi hotspot which can use any of your PC's network interface that has internet access, to share the internet with other wireless devices. You can name the SSID as you wish and add a password and monitor which devices are connected. It currently costs $24 instead of the usual $40. A try-out version with limited functionality is also available to download at their website.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Updated Fitbit app uses iPhone 5s M7 chip data
In the newest version of it's iPhone App (version 2.1) FitBit can read the motion tracking data in the M7 coprocessor of the iPhone 5s which continuously collects motion data in the background.

You need to register a free account with FitBit through the app so that it can track the steps you've made, the distance you've gone and the calories you've burned and sync the data with "MobileTrack" to your FitBit accound. First time usera will be asked to answer several questions first such as age, height and weight.

Scanner Pro for iOS currently free
As App of the Week, Readdle's Scanner Pro is being offered for free on the Appstore. Scanner Pro serves to digitalise documents with the help of the iPhone or iPad camera. The app can automatically recognise the edge of a paper document, offers several editing functions such as contrast and lighting adjustments and is able to handle multiple pages and save the photographed documents in PDF format. Documents created with Scanner Pro can be saved to various cloud services such as Dropbox, iCloud and Evernote. The app is about 30MB in size and is currently available for free (usually 6 Euros) download.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Use Airplay on your PC's screen with AirServer
Video Airplay used to be only available with the Apple TV. But what if you wanted to play videos, show photos or mirror your iOS device's screen to your computer? That's exactly what AirServer (available for Mac and Windows) allows you to do, without the need of having an Apple TV.  Mirroring is supported by the iPad 2 or newer and the iPhone 4s or newer.

Whether it is showing off photos that are on your iPhone on to your computer screen or giving a presentation using AirServer on your notebook computer that is connected to a projector, or just playing one of the thousands iOS games on your computer screen, AirSever will enable all of this. On top of that you can connect multiple iOS devices to one display. There is a trial you can download which allows you to try it out for 7 days and if you decide to keep it, it's available for $15.