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Showing posts from February, 2015

ASUS WebStorage Review: Linux, Windows Phone, Windows 8.1, Android and iOS Part 2

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Continued from ASUS WebStorage Review: Linux, Windows Phone, Windows 8.1, Android and iOS Part 1


ASUS Sync Agent for Windows 8.1

I had briefly tried both the ASUS Sync Agent and Remote Drive on a Windows 7 machine back in 2012. Very little has changed with ASUS Sync Agent for Windows although I was surprised that ASUS' developers provided only a desktop Windows 8.1 app and skipped a Sync Agent for users running Windows 8.1 on a tablet. Considering that ASUS is one of the few manufacturers who consistently release hybrid Windows 8.1 products, it's somewhat odd they didn't provide an ASUS WebStorage dedicated for the Start Screen and full screen view.





ASUS WebStorage Sync Agent is clearly marked a desktop app in the Microsoft Store.

Sync Agent provides options for Selective Sync during setup and downloads the folder contents directly to your MySyncFolder. I must confess, however, that the old-school installation setup process felt very 1999. After years of working with apps on t…

ASUS WebStorage Review: Linux, Windows Phone, Windows 8.1, Android and iOS Part 1

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Unsurprisingly, major apps from hardware manufacturers and software providers are generally available only for Android and iOS and it's actually rare for web services and companies to provide apps for all platforms. ASUS, a company known more for their affordable tablets and high-end motherboards than software or online services, bucks the trend with their online storage service, ASUS WebStorage. Consumers who purchase ASUS mobile devices and laptops can enjoy not only complementary free online storage but apps for Android, iOS, Windows 8.1 desktop, Mac OSX, the often ignored Windows Phone, as well as Linux.




The ASUS Memo Pad HD7 comes with the ASUS WebStorage app for Android 4.2 but the downloadable app also works with Android 4.4 and Android 5.x.


ASUS WebStorage was initially a value-add to ASUS' affordable MemoPad and VivoTab tablets, both product lines of which already included a micro SD slot unlike the ASUS-branded Google Nexus. When ASUS joined the smartphone market wit…

Stories from a Tech Writer's Studio: CNY and an Apple USB cable from Liangmaqiao Street

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Travel sites tell readers to avoid Beijing or any other city in China during Chinese New Year. However, if you do find yourself in the Middle Kingdom during this Lunar new year celebration you will find out foreigners and expatriates are out in droves in the city precisely because of the holiday. Beijing, typically a densely crowded city, is free from the hustle and bustle for at least five days and it's a great opportunity to just explore and walk around the city. Contrary to popular and inaccurate reports from travel sites, not all restaurants and cafes are closed.




Not everyone leaves Beijing during Chinese New Year. Photo at Beijing Railway Station by author.


I found myself web-swinging my way to the Japanese Embassy during the 5th day of the Chinese New Year celebration. There are actually two addresses for the Japanese Embassy if you search for it online. One takes you to Ri Tan road which is several blocks away from the Russian shopping area.




Ri Tan road is a few blocks away…

Basic Steps for Micro SD Card Not Detected (Android)

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If you never remove the micro SD card from your device's slot, say on a Sony Xperia or a Samsung smartphone, you're unlikely to have much problems with the micro SD card not being detected. Once Android 4.2 or 4.4 gets used to the mounted SD card and as long as your Android release is stable and you don't do huge updates such as upgrading to Android 5.x, powering down or powering off your device should never result in the micro SD card not being detected.





However, any one of the following actions can cause your device not to detect a micro SD card:

1. You remove the micro SD card without unmounting it first.

2. You regularly remove the micro SD card and use a micro SD adapter to connect to a Linux, Windows or Mac OSX machine.





3. You regularly switch to multiple micro SD cards on the same device. 

Some of the basic steps you can try when the micro SD card is not detected on your Android device are the following:

1. Power off the Android device. Reseat the micro SD card an…

Quick App Review: Kuàishuô Dictionary (Windows Phone)

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Anyone with a mobile device can pretend he's studying a language by installing the popular language app Duolingo. However, serious language students need a good dictionary. For students studying Mandarin, they can install the excellent Kuàishuô Dictionary for Windows Phone 8.1. 




You can input Pinyin or English words into Kuàishuô Dictionary's search bar.

The most useful feature, apart from a comprehensive library of Chinese characters, is the ability to save words to a list. Kuàishuô Dictionary comes with two HSK Level lists but you can create your own list as you make your way through your Chinese studies. For example, you can create a customized list after you finish a Pimsleur lesson or two. 








You can create a customized list of recently learned vocabulary.


Kuàishuô Dictionary recognizes text pasted from anywhere on your Windows Phone and complements Bing Translator. Although audio text is disabled when you're offline, with Bing Translator's offline pack for Simplifie…

Quick Fix: USB error for external HDDs (Windows 7/8.1)

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If you routinely connect your external USB hard drives to machines running on Linux or Mac OSX or to an Android device using a USB On-the-Go adapter, Windows 7/8.1 may have problems detecting the external drive when you reconnect it to your Windows workstation. Windows 7/8.1 may report an error message indicating the mass storage device is broken and may need to be repaired or the USB device is not recognized. This error message may appear even if you try connecting the USB hard drive to a different USB port.





To resolve this issue, connect the external USB device to a USB hub. Windows will detect the USB hub and display the contents of the mass storage device.




USB hubs such as the 4-port A4Tech Pocket Hub are affordable and can be handy when your older USB external drives start acting up when you connect to Windows.


Note: Using a USB hub can also resolve USB issues with a faulty USB cable, a loose USB port, Windows USB driver issues and using an old external USB storage device.

Online service tested: Amazon.cn

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As controversial as Amazon is when it comes to its business practices in Europe and North America, there are few people who can argue that buying from their massive online service isn't convenient. The locals I've spoken to about Amazon.cn in Beijing and Shanghai were both ambivalent and enthusiastic about the Chinese version of the global online store. A co-worker gushed about their service, while others I spoke to have never even tried Amazon.cn, much less visited their web page.



You can change the display language to English in Amazon.cn

Having ordered from other China-based online stores, I find Amazon.cn somewhat disappointing in terms of merchandise I was interested in. Depending on what you're looking for, products are also a trifle higher in price compared to other Chinese online shops. Make no mistake, Amazon.cn doesn't have the endless options and items available in its American counterpart. For electronics, computer hardware and accessories, for example, JD.…

"Forcing" Windows Phone 8.1 App updates

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Unless you also use Android and iOS devices, you won't notice that app updates for Windows Phone 8.1 don't come as regularly and are hardly persistent. However, they do come just as often but Windows Phone 8.1 won't necessarily install them even if you set the device to install updates automatically.

To "force" Windows Phone 8.1 to check for app updates and install them:

1. Launch Microsoft Store. Tap Options > Settings.





2. In the Settings screen, scroll to the bottom and tap Check for updates.




3.  Tap OK.





4. The notification center will inform you once apps have been updated.





Skype crashing on Windows Phone 8.1

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Skype works fine on Android and iOS, which is a shame since Skype is somewhat unreliable on the platform where it should count - on Windows Phone 8.1. Even the desktop/tablet Windows 8.1 versions of Skype (tablet and desktop releases) perform better than the Windows Phone 8.1 version.




Skype for Windows 8.1 on a tablet




There are two versions for Skype available for Windows 8.1.

If you've found yourself tapping Skype on your Lumia device and the screen reverting back to your Start screen immediately, you're due for a Skype reinstall, not an update. Microsoft has been releasing Skype updates for Windows Phone 8.1 regularly, although most users won't notice because updates on Windows Phone apps aren't nearly as transparent as with Android and iOS. The good news is that if Skype has been crashing on your Lumia, it takes less than two minutes to uninstall Skype and reinstall it using the latest version through Microsoft Store.




Hopefully, with Windows 10 eventually replacing W…

Checking MHL, ANT+, Mirrorlink and USB OTG support on your Android device

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iOS users can criticize Android all they want but Android can at least claim support for several standards such as Miracast, MHL, ANT+ and accessories such as USB On-the-Go adapters. With Samsung, HTC and other mobile device manufacturers making the inexorably slow upgrade to Android 5.0, some users are still wondering what features are supported on their Android device.





You can easily check if a device can use a specific feature by visiting the manufacturer's support site or (gasp) downloading the User guide. You can also check the home page of the organization behind the standard. ANT+ has a great product directory at http://www.thisisant.com/directory while MHL devices are listed at http://www.meetmhl.com/devices.aspx?tid=1.





However, if searching a web site or opening a PDF manual isn't your idea of a good time,  you can easily check if the associated software for a standard is already on your device. On the Settings page of your Android device, tap Apps. Swipe to the All …