Showing posts from November, 2014

Remote Desktop app for Windows Phone 8.1 Part 2

Continued from Remote Desktop app for Windows Phone 8.1 Part 1 

The Lumia 925 will automatically rotate to landscape mode to accommodate your Windows desktop.

Take note that once you are connected remotely, you will have to tap and drag the mouse pointer like a normal Windows desktop (unless the machine you are accessing has touchscreen functionality also).

Tap the keyboard icon at the top of the Remote desktop app to pull out a touch keyboard for quick access to the Windows button, CTRL, ALT, DEL, TAB and SHIFT. You can toggle the Windows button to execute common Windows key combinations such as Win+X, Win+C and Win+E.

While you're accessing your Windows machine through the app, Windows 8.1 will lock the screen and indicate that the user is accessing the system remotely.

You can add the session item to your Lumia's Start screen by tapping and holding the item from the Desktops screen on the app. You can also pull down Windows Phone 8.1's notification tray anytime if you w…

Remote Desktop app for Windows Phone 8.1 Part 1

The Remote Desktop app for Windows Phone from Microsoft is officially called Microsoft Remote Desktop Preview. The app works very well with Windows 8.1 although I must admit that on the 4.5" screen of my Lumia 925 there wasn't much I coulld do. Still, for power users (or extremely lazy home users) who want to access their Windows machines through a network, even the basic functionality of Remote Desktop may prove to be useful.

I tested Remote Desktop on a basic WLAN with Windows 8.1 on a Lenovo Ideapad Z360 and my updated Lumia 925 running Windows Phone 8.1. Very little additional configuration is needed on a Windows machine to allow the Remote Desktop app to work and the steps are straightforward from both the client and server side of the process.

To set up a Remote Desktop connection from a Lumia 925 to Windows 8.1:

1. Make sure you know your user name, hostname and domain of your Windows 8.1 machine.

Note: By default in Windows 8, your username is your Microsoft or Outloo…

Learning to Love Software Updates Part 2

Continued in Learning to Love Software Updates Part 1 

Mobile OS updates

During an Apple hearing with Steve Jobs, one of the politicians presiding famously asked why iOS was so insistent when it came to updates (the room exploded into an applause). When Apple began to dominate with their iPhone, it briefly became fashionable to complain about the regular app updates. Since then, Apple has become slightly more subtle when informing the user of updates, though the iOS 8.1 debacle was such a glaring misstep from the once-invincible company that it's hard to look at iOS updates negatively.

Compared to Windows Phone and Android 4.2, iOS actually has a pretty good track record. I upgraded my Windows Phone to the much-anticipated Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan update a few months back and although it was a step up from the initial OS my Lumia 925 came with, 8.1 still felt incomplete and did nothing to remove the Windows Phone stigma of being crippled.

Windows Phone needs more updates than what Mi…

Learning to Love Software Updates Part 1

iOS8.1, which I grudgingly installed on my iPad 2 a few weeks ago, prompted for another cumulative update. Although I didn't encounter any major iOS8 issues on my now-archaic iPad 2, it's clear that many iOS users delayed updating to iOS8. Is this a sign of a more sophisticated user base or just more Internet-induced paranoia?

A recent iOS8.1.1 update for the iPad 2 supposedly corrects the previous software bugs.

Although it was occasionally an inconvenience, I diligently updated my Windows 2000 rig to every available Service Pack Microsoft released back in the day. Windows XP and Windows 7 received some pretty important updates during their run. XP memorably received a small patch that corrected the vulnerability that allowed the great Blasterworm virus that threatened Microsoft, anti-virus companies and PC manufacturers such as Dell more than a decade ago.

Windows 8.1 updates are pretty consistent and generally trouble-free.

Linux Rolling Release and Online updates

Any Linux u…

Unsolicited Question: Do Microsoft mice work with USB On-The-Go adapters?

USB On-the-Go cables (or USB host adapters) add USB functionality to your Android device. Although the feature has been around for awhile on Android, using it on devices and accessories is a mixed bag.

Note: For details on using USB OTG adapters with storage devices, read Testing a PowerSync USB OTG adapter.

My PowerSync USB OTG cable works great with an Android 4.4.4-powered Xperia Ultra Z but doesn't work at all on my much-used Android 4.2-powered ASUS MemoPad HD7 (ME173X). With the PowerSync cable connected, the Ultra Z was able to support a Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500.

Once an RF transceiver is connected to an USB OTG cable, Android immediately recognizes the device as a "Physical keyboard" or, to be more precise, an input device. A mouse pointer will then appear on your Android screen which you can use to navigate the notification panel and home screen as well as point and click apps and screen elements. It's clear, however, that Android 4.4 will only …

Quick Review: Logitech Multi-Device Keyboard K480 Part 2

Continued from Quick Review: Logitech Multi-Device Keyboard K480 Part 1

Pairing with iOS8.1, Android 4.2/4.4 and Windows 7/8.1

Pairing the K480 with iOS, Windows 7/8.1 and Android is fast and easy. I've never found Bluetooth or Logitech reliable in the old days but I have no complaints with their multi-device keyboard after two weeks of regular use.

The K480 paired with an Android 4.4-powered Xperia Ultra Z.

For Android 4.2 users, tap the Search for devices option in the Bluetooth settings screen otherwise the Bluetooth keyboard won't be listed for pairing. The ASUS MemoPad HD7, despite its aging hardware and old Android release worked perfectly with the K480. The K480 also complemented the huge screen of the Android 4.4-powered Sony Xperia Ultra Z.

Click Search for Devices in the Bluetooth settings of your Android 4.2 device to detect the Logitech Keyboard.

Once you've used up all three slots for Bluetooth pairing, switching from one device to the other takes less than a mi…

Quick Review: Logitech Multi-Device Keyboard K480 Part 1

The Logitech Multi-Device K480 keyboard is designed to pair via Bluetooth with Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android devices. The plastic Bluetooth keyboard feels like a toy but is larger and more comfortable to use for touch-typing than the older keyboards found in netbooks a few years back.

Reviewers at have commented the K480 is heavy and feels too clunky to be used with tablets and smartphones. The users were probably comparing the K480 with mobile keyboards or keyboards found in casings for tablets. They probably expected an input device similar to the Microsoft Surface Type Cover or one of Belkin's many iOS device casings.

The K480 paired with Windows 8.1 and an iOS8 iPad 2.
Make no mistake, the AAA-powered K480 is a desktop keyboard for serious workers who use multiple devices. The keyboard isn't meant to be forced into a laptop messenger bag and taken out at the local Costa Coffee. Obviously, you can do that but I wouldn't recommend it.

I use the Bluetooth ke…

Quick Fix: Cannot open InDesign CS6 file

When you're dealing with complex .indd files or a shared layout, many things can go wrong that can prevent you from accessing your Adobe file.

In Windows, if you find yourself unable to open an InDesign file using InDesign CS6, try opening the file as a copy instead.

To open an InDesign file as a copy:

1. Click File > Open then navigate to the InDesign file.

2. Select Copy and then click Open.

Unsolicited Question: Does the Logitech Multi-Device K480 keyboard work with Linux?

The excellent Logitech Multi-Device K480 keyboard was designed to support three Bluetooth devices. You can pair the keyboard with Android, iOS, MacOSX, ChromeOS and Windows hardware and switch from one of the three devices to another using a knob on the keyboard.

I was able to successfully pair the Multi-Device keyboard with a Toshiba NB520 running on Ubuntu 14.04 MATE. There were no issues in setting up the Bluetooth connection other than having to skip the passcode step and allow Ubuntu to connect directly to the device.

To set up the Logitech K480 with Ubuntu MATE:

1. Enable Bluetooth from the MATE panel.

2. Select a number from the three listed on the Logitech K480 keyboard.

3. Press and hold the PC connect button on the K380 for three seconds. The light on the keyboard panel will start blinking.

4. Click Keyboard from the Bluetooth notification.

5. On the Bluetooth Assistant, click Forward.
6. Select the Logitech Keyboard K480 from the devices list and click Forward.

7. Select P…

Testing a PowerSync USB OTG adapter

USB On-the-Go adapters, which can simply be called USB host adapters, are like HDMI cables - you really don't have to spend for a premium brand just to get one for your Android device. With more users moving their content online, the lack of popularity of USB OTGs is understandable since no one really needs to connect a USB storage device if you can just use any of the dozen ways to stream and access content over a network. Most Android users aren't even aware that they can connect USB sticks and USB accessories to their smartphones and tablets.

For more traditional users who still use USB drives and external hard drives, investing in a dirt-cheap OTG cable for your premium Android tablet or smartphone isn't a bad decision. The downside is that using a USB OTG cable isn't always a sure thing. There are many factors that affect whether or not your Android device will work on a USB storage device: power requirements, file format (NTFS, FAT, etc.) and even Android versio…

Firefox, Yahoo and Linux

Mozilla Firefox, for many Linux users, is inextricably linked to their favorite Linux distribution. Firefox, in turn, was closely related to Google in the years when Linux users hating on Internet Explorer supported the then-growing search engine. With Google having its own browser for Linux users (Chromium) and for mainstream users (Chrome), it was only a matter of time for Firefox and Google to part. Did Google's Chrome OS and Android play a role? Mozilla has an uphill climb ahead of them with their Firefox OS project and choosing Yahoo as the default search engine seems like a shot in the dark considering Yahoo's sketchy history and odd performance under Marissa Mayer.

Yahoo's software download page lists both Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer. It would be interesting to see how many users actually visit their software download page (which feels so 1990s). I wonder if Yahoo's agreement with Firefox would be as effective as Bing's presence in Apple's Safar…

Quick Fix: Release Anchored Object in InDesign CS6

When you Place a Word 2007-2013 file in Adobe InDesign CS6, InDesign by default will import all inline images and anchor them to the text in one long text frame.

Although you can adjust the position of the inline image within its own frame, you won't be able to adjust the position of the frame itself completely unless you Release the Anchored Object. If the Release option is not available from the Object > Anchored Object menu, change the Anchored Object options to manual.

To change the options to manual and release the Anchored Object:

1. Using the Selection Tool, right-click on the inline image and click Anchored Object > Options.

2. Select Custom from the Position list. Click OK.

3. The Release option should now be available when you click Object > Anchored Object > Release.

Note that releasing an anchored object means you would have to adjust the text frames when positioning your image. If you have too many inline images in your imported Word document, you can pre…

Haircut with a Povos PW230 and Miracast

When a Japanese cosplayer from Shanghai asked me with an incredulous look on her face if I cut my own hair, I wanted to shoot myself - particularly since I had just visited the local barber. However, I had a eureka moment that it would be a good idea to give myself a good haircut with an analog, old-fashioned, battery-powered hair clippers assisted by an Android Miracast tablet and my Sony NEX-3NL for before and after photos.

Admittedly, a review on hair clippers is a huge departure from the normal Linux and mobile app articles posted here at Unsolicited But Offered. I'll get the tech stuff out of the way by saying if you're working in China, I recommend or for electronic products such as affordable MHL adapters, USB On-the-Go cables and hair clippers.

Povos PW230 for 89RMB (US$14.50)

Online shopping is as popular in big cities such as Shanghai and Beijing as it is in the U.S. In fact, online shopping is a way of life in the Middle Kingdom even if they weren&#…

Lumia 925 and MemoPad HD7: One Year Later Part 2

Continued from Lumia 925 and MemoPad HD7: One Year Later Part 1

If I'm careless with my Lumia 925, I'm doubly carefree with the original ASUS MemoPad HD7. I purchased a China SKU Android 4.2 MemoPad HD7 at a rock-bottom price in Shanghai. After slapping a 32GB micro-SD card, rooting and adding Google services to the device, the MemoPad HD7 became my primary entertainment device during the work week (On weekends I use the WDTV Live).

Android tablets are a dime a dozen and I'm currently interested in tinkering with an Atom-powered Windows 8.1 tablet or even upgrading to an equally affordable but upgraded ASUS MemoPad 8. However, it's hard to justify purchasing a new tablet because the MemoPad HD7 has provided everything Android I need in the last year or so. Unless the 7" tablet suddenly dies on me or falls into my toilet (cough), I'll probably be using it for another 2 years.

Here are some notes on the ASUS MemoPad HD7 after a year's use:

1. The processor i…