Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mobile Device Dojo

I feel like I've been getting a black belt in mobile devices this week.

Case #1: The iPhone Home button

Someone brought me an iPhone that for some reason didn't allow use of the Home button.  Apple, in their infinite wisdom, narrowed all external operations not touch screen related to a single button on the face.
Like you really needed an image to find it.
Turns out they didn't realize the folly of this decision until much later in the design process.  Something made obvious when it was discovered how often the Home button goes south.  Do a Google search; you'll see.  Anyway, it screwed up so much so that they had to build in a virtual home button into later versions of the iPhone OS.  For those of you who'd like to try it out the procedure for activating it is go to:
  1. Settings
  2. General
  3. Accessibility
  4. Assistive Touch "On"
Did you find it?  If you didn't you're using the older OS and need to run the update using iTunes.  That's where this case went cold.  An iPhone OS update takes at least as long as it takes to download the entire freakin' OS image from apple.  That's about half a gigabyte right there and on the connection I was working with it would have taken about two hours.  This was rendered moot because this particular iPhone was covered so all that needed to happen was a phone call to replace it (good thing we have a landline).

Case #2:  Backing Up and Restoring a New iPhone

You didn't really think my woes would end there did you?  You don't know the trouble I've seen.  Turns out this was rendered super easy because I did something everyone should do just before they attempt to monkey around with an entire operating system: I made a backup.

Turns out it's wicked easy to do.  In iTunes all you have to do is right click on the device (make sure it's plugged into your computer first btw) and click on Backup.  Then switch it out with the new iPhone, cancel all that setup stuff (unless you really want to mess with that right now), right click on the new device and choose Restore from backup.

Case #3:  Office Documents on Android

This one took a little digging.  You see, I was under the impression that all Androids are made equal.  Not so.  Turns out every device that has Android might not come with the same goodies.  Case in point was this bad boy:

My Android phone comes with a handy Office reader called Quickoffice.  Turns out that normally that software isn't freely available (who knew).  So initially I was looking for something to just read Office files and for reasons unknown I kept coming up with OfficeSuite.  Honestly, I think I could have done better but I was pressed for time.

Case #4:  The External Hard Drive

Once again, you probably thought I was done with that tablet.  Well I'm Jack Ryder and YOU ARE WRONG! (You'd only get that joke if you play DC Universe Online; just keep reading).  So here's the dilemma.  There are a ton of AVI movies on this external hard drive and while the tablet does have USB ports, it shows nothing when the drive it attached.  As part of my trial and error process I plugged in my USB thumb drive and sure enough it read that fine.  Turns out the external hard drive is formatted in the NTFS format and it seems like the tablet can only read FAT or FAT32.  For the non-tech people, NTFS stands for New Technology File System.  It was the file system introduced for Windows NT and on.  FAT stands for File Allocation Table.  It's a dated system that is used these days mostly on flash media.

The only solution to this problem would be to move all the data off the drive, reformat it in the FAT or FAT32 format and then move all the files back.  A while back I found a great tool for doing that (try it with just Windows and you'll see why I needed a tool): CompuApps SwissKnife.  The problem here is 1) I didn't have a drive available to temporarily hold all that data and 2) even if I did the transfers would take HOURS (we're talking about over 400 GB here).

The best solution here was purchasing an flash drive and transferring movies as needed.  The bigger the drive the more movies can be copied.

Then I realized another problem when I copied a movie over to test.  The tablet doesn't natively support the avi movie file format.  Fortunately I happened to know of a movie player that plays ANYTHING: VLC!  Worked like a charm.

I wonder what other mobile challenges wait for me this week.

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