Android App: GMote


A free app Android app saved me £59.99 last week!

I’ve got my desktop hooked up to the tv in the living room for the purposes of watching online media such as Lovefilm, 4oD, SKy Player etc and it’s great. One downside though was my lack of wireless keyboard and mouse. “They’re easy to find” you say, and you’re right…but I’m fussy. I didn’t want 2 separate peripherals, oh no, I wanted a wireless keyboard with an inbuilt touchpad; and these it seem are shockingly difficult to find!

It seems, at least to me, like the kind of thing that would be everywhere but that’s not the case. I looked in all the high street stores and a lot of online sellers and came up empty handed. Eventually I found one in PC World/Currys and how much did they want for this Toshiba crafted gem? That’s right – £59.99. In my opinion that is grossly over priced, so I left it on the shelf and continued to rue my lack of combined wireless peripherals.

Then, while looking at something different online, I came across the GMote app for Android…and this thing is AWESOME! Smile

What does it do?

It turns your Android 1.6+ phone into a wireless remote for your pc! Yes it does!

How?

You install Gmote on your mobile device and the Gmote server on the machine/s you wish to control.

Download the desktop server software here:

http://www.gmote.org/

On there, you point it towards your media files (my music etc) and you’re then able to connect to them from your Android device, search through them and play them on your desktop. You can use your mobile to pause, skip, reverse etc just like a regular remote control.

I can tell you’re thinking “that’s pretty good, but does it warrant the capital “awesome” above?”. That’s not all it does, this is the best bit:

It can remotely control your mouse and has keyboard input ability too!

So I can sit on my couch, open up a web browser and navigate to Youtube, maybe 4 on Demand, Lovefilm Online, Wikipedia, whatever…all from my Android device!

It works really well, is very smooth and it FREE!

Anyone who has an Android device and the need to control a machine – get this app NOW!

Microsoft Windows Phone 7: RTM


Microsoft’s new Mobile Operating System – Windows Phone 7 – has been “Released to Manufacturing”. That means it’s done and the work of the “internal engineering team is largely complete” according to Terry Myerson, Corporate Vice President of Windows Phone Engineering.

Terry’s blog post on the Windows Team Blog gives some fascinating examples of how Microsoft have been testing this new release:

“We had nearly ten thousand devices running automated tests daily, over a half million hours of active self-hosting use, over three and a half million hours of stress test passes, and eight and a half million hours of fully automated test passes”

That is a LOT of testing hours!

The full blog post can be read over at:

http://windowsteamblog.com/windows_phone/b/windowsphone/archive/2010/09/01/windows-phone-7-released-to-manufacturing.aspx

Android Apps: Great ones I’ve found


I’ve had my HTC Hero for 9 or 10 months now and one of my favourite things is the app market. Recently I’ve come across a few new (at least to me) apps that are pretty awesome, and they are:

Astrid Tasks

This is a great to-do list application to help you keep track of all the many tasks you need to do. The best thing about it though, is it links to and synchronizes with Remember The Milk, which is, in my opinion, the best task tracker/to-do list out there.

BBC Browsecast

This app enables you to listen to BBC Radio LIVE on your Android device as well as access BBC podcasts.

To listen live, you can choose from:

  • Radio 1
  • 1Xtra
  • Radio 2
  • Radio 3
  • Radio 4
  • 5Live
  • Radio 7
  • Asian Network

Podcasts from 37 stations are available including the above as well as:

and a host of other regional stations.

The app works really well and will definitely come in handy when I’m out and about…especially for catching footy!

Goal.Com

I found this app during the world cup and it’s a brilliant football app, with a wealth of news as well as scores. It really is one of my favourite apps and I look at it numerous times a day to keep up to date with what’s happening in the football world. It covers such a wide range of the football world that it’s hard to know where to start!

Across the top, you have the following menu choices:

Breaking | Live Scores | Club News | More

Breaking: This updates as and when new/breaking news hits the football world, be it injuries, transfers, comments etc.

Live Scores: This is a super handy section of the app which does what it says – it gives you live scores. Watching the Utd v Everton game, the Goal.com app updated with a minute or so of the goals happening on Sky…very swift – which is exactly what you need. The best thing is the scores aren’t limited to the Premier League either, you can get live updates for:

  • Champions League
  • Europa League
  • Premier League
  • Ligue 1 (France)
  • Bundesliga (Germany)
  • Primera Division (Spain aka La Liga)
  • MLS (America)
  • Copa Libertadores (South American club competition)

Club News: This section is sub divided into:

  • Manchester Utd
  • Chelsea
  • Liverpool
  • Arsenal

and gives the latest news on happening with those clubs.

More: This section is again broken down into the different country leagues/international cups. For some, such as the Premier League and Ligue 1, it gives news updates concerning all clubs in that league. This is really useful for keeping abreast of what’s happening in across the Premier League…it can be as important to know what the other teams are up to as it is your own…especially when you’re doing fantasy football! Not all league get the news feature but they do all have a league table which is again very useful. Being able to see who’s at the top of La Liga and Serie A is really nice Smile

If you’re a football fan I’d DEFINITELY recommend that you download this app!

IMDB

: Yes, I know this has been around for a while but my HTC Hero was stuck on Android 1.5 until my recent upgrade to 2.1 so I’m a little behind the curve on some things! If you have Android 1.6 or above, get this…having the power of IMDB at your fingertips is awesome…and can help settle disagreements where ever you are Winking smile

Last.FM

: This free app allows you to listen to Last.FM stations on the move. I’ve only used this on Wi-Fi but it worked a treat, great streaming and a nice quick app.

MixZing

: I use this instead of the built in music app and I’m a big fan of it. The main things for me are that it’s easy to create playlists and has a great shuffle function.

Sky+

: This app is brilliant. It lets you set things to record on your sky+ box…from your Android handset! I’ve used this loads of times and it’s really easy to do…simply put in your sky.com login details and bang, start remote recording Smile It’s even got a feature that the sky box doesn’t and it’s very useful, it gives you “alternative screenings” of films so you can easily if it’s on again when it won’t clash with your current schedule.

Vlingo Voice

: I was most disappointed to discover that the HTC build of Android 2.1 doesn’t include voice to text (V2T) capabilities. I have no idea why they decided to remove it but it was a feature I was really looking forward to so I was a little put out. However, I then discovered Vlingo, a free app that gives you brilliant V2T functionality…I was pretty amazed at what can be done with this app.

There are a number of things you can do with it (some U.S only it seems) but the ones that I use are:

Text Message: If you say “Text Geoff what are you doing” It will open up a new message, add in the text and then all you  need to do is click “send”!

Email: This is similar to text messages, just say “Email Geoff what are you doing” and, as long as their email address is listed in their contact card, it’ll pop up ready to send.

Twitter: Again, nice and easy just say “Twitter” followed by your update.

You can also use it to update Facebook and even check in on FourSquare!

These are all great apps that I’ve found over the last few weeks and I hope you find them useful too…if you’ve got any to add, hit up the comments!

Microsoft Zune Pass available internationally


Microsoft are making the Zune Pass available in countries other than the US. That gets a big:

from me and I’m sure, 1000’s of others across the world too!

The imminent arrival of Windows Phone 7, which has the Zune player built in, means making this available worldwide is high on the list of things Microsoft need to do Smile

The Zune Pass is something I’ve been looking at for a long time as it represents great value for money. In the UK, it will be £8.99 a month which will give you full access to stream the huge library of music available in the Zune Marketplace. That in itself wouldn’t be enough to sway me as I have enough music already (!) but here’s the kicker:

Each month, you can permanently download and keep 10 tracks.

Which works out as 89.9p per track. So the streaming AND the keeping – that’s a winner right there!

Also, it will probably mean I will use Spotify very infrequently…

Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Funeral Parade


Microsoft have announced that Windows Phone 7 has been RTM’d (Released to Manufacturing) and to mark the occasion they held a great parade through their Redmond campus.

There were jugglers, unicyclists, fancy dressers and a funeral parade for Microsoft’s competitors such as the iPhone! Flickr member, and I assume MS employee, “Trioculus” has a great set of pictures on his Flickr account:

imageimageimageimage

Lots of fun with a great turn out of people but the funeral parade has received quite a few negative comments on Twitter from people such as EdBott & MaryJoFoley. I can see both side of the argument to be honest…yes it’s just a bit of fun and done very much tongue in cheek but perhaps it wasn’t the most appropriate thing for Microsoft to do. People are quick to criticise Microsoft for almost anything so this just seems like they’re asking for it! Also, Apple and their other competitors will use this as “proof” that Microsoft are focused simply on beating them, are scared of them etc. That said, let’s have a look at some pictures Smile

imageimage

Head over to http://www.flickr.com/photos/trioculus/ to see more pics of the event,

Your thoughts on this – fun or foul ?!

Microsoft Vine beta to end


Microsoft Vine, their online service aimed at helping people stay in contact during times of emergency, is coming to an end on October 11th 2011.

I signed up to the beta when it was announced and had a cursory look around…and then never logged in again. I suspect this is what the majority of people did and that will be a big factor in it being shut down.

I think the problem comes in that it isn’t really needed on a day-to-day basis; people have Twitter/Facebook etc to stay in contact and then, in times of emergency, logging into Microsoft Vine is almost certainly the last thing anyone will think of. No –one is quite sure what it does, it isn’t ubiquitous at all (in the way Twitter is) and so never gets used.

The full email sent out is:

Thank you for your valuable collaboration and participation in the Microsoft Vine beta program over the past year.
Releasing products and services in beta form gives us a way to learn and adapt our technologies in a real world environment, to gather valuable feedback from our customers and partners and ensure that new models are sustainable. And more specifically, the Microsoft Vine invitation-only beta program was designed to garner participation and subsequent feedback from consumers, communities and governments about the challenges they face today and explore how technology can improve and enhance communications.
Despite positive feedback from customers like you over the course of Vine’s private beta, Microsoft has made the decision to discontinue Microsoft Vine effective October 11, 2010. After this date, you will no longer be able to access Microsoft Vine. We suggest that you record any contact information currently stored in Vine, prior to October 11th.
The decision to discontinue future development of Microsoft Vine was not easily made. Multiple options were thoroughly explored and evaluated with rigor and in the end it was determined that Microsoft Vine is not sustainable as a standalone offering.
Thank you again for your valuable feedback on this product. The key learnings acquired over the past year from the Vine beta will be used to inform and strengthen future product concepts and offerings.  If you have any questions or concerns, please email vinemail@microsoft.com.

“determined that Microsoft Vine is not sustainable as a standalone offering”

This could well mean that parts of this experiment will be integrated into future offerings…perhaps Office Talk (should that ever come about)…maybe even Outlook and Sharepoint?

If you used Vine – let us know!

Bechtle SAP Crystal Webinar


I’m running another webinar at work, this time about SAP Crystal Reports (that’s right, not Microsoft)!

It will be focused on Crystal Reports 2008 and will cover:

 

Overview – what is Crystal Reports?

How to use Crystal Reports

Features and benefits

Product demonstration

Q&A

 

It’s at 15:00 tomorrow (Thursday 2nd September) and you can register here:

http://bechtlesap.eventbrite.com/

 

See you there!

Cheers

Rich