Thursday 30 January 2014

Smartphone voor Dummies - Android toestellen - Google Account toevoegen

Het grote voordeel van een Google Account is dat de integratie met een Android toestel super is. Bij het eerste keer opstarten van je toestel vraagt deze of je een Google Account hebt, je hoeft maar de inlog-gegevens in te tikken en hupsakee, alles wordt voor je geregeld. Ook later een Google Account toevoegen, of meerdere Google Accounts (ik heb er 3) samen gebruiken is geen enkel probleem. Aan de hand van enkele screenshots leg ik een en ander even vlug uit.
Het grootste nadeel van Android ten opzichte van Apple's iOS is dat er vele verschillende varianten én versies van Android te vinden zijn. Zo giet elke smartphone-maker een licht (Sony/Motorola) of zwaar (Samsung) sausje over het originele Android (dat door Google wordt ontwikkeld). Mijn screenshots komen van een vrij standaard HTC One Google Play Edition met Android 4.4.2. Heb je een ander toestel dan kan het even zoeken zijn, maar daarna zal het grotendeels hetzelfde zijn. 

  1. Ga naar de Settings van je Android telefoon en zoek naar Accounts en klik dan op + Add account
  2. Klik nu op Google 
  3. Kies voor Existing (bestaande) en doorloop de volgende stappen (login en wachtwoord invoeren)
en eigenlijk ben je nu klaar, je GMail account, inclusief Contacts (adressenboekje), Agenda, e.d. wordt nu automatisch naar je toestel gesynchroniseerd. In de volgende blogs zal ik gaan uitleggen hoe je dit allemaal moet gaan gebruiken en hoe je ervoor zorgt dat je contactpersonen allemaal netjes bij elkaar in die ene Google Account staan.

het is ook wel handig om nu de volgende Apps te installeren op je Android (als ze er nog niet op staan):

  • Google+ Hét sociale platform dat alle Google diensten verbindt
  • Google Hangouts het alternatief voor Skype, Whatsapp, Viber, etc in één App
  • Google Drive een soort Dropbox voor documenten en foto's
  • Quickoffice open en bewerk Office documenten op je Android vanuit Google Drive
1. Android Settings
2. Add account
3. Add a Google Account

Smartphone voor Dummies - de Cloud in

Regelmatig krijg ik via sociale media de vraag of ik mijn telefoonnummer weer even willen doorsturen want hij/zij heeft een nieuwe telefoon en is alle nummers kwijt. De vraag of de nieuwste Nokia 3310 (anno 2000) goed bevalt ligt dan op mijn lippen toetsenbord. Er worden schrikbarende bedragen uitgegeven aan iPhones, HTCs en Samsungs die krachtiger zijn dan je PC uit 2005, die volgestopt zitten met Cloud-diensten en Cloud-Apps. Maar de basis-functionaliteiten, zoals het synchroniseren van het adresboek wordt op de één of andere manier overgeslagen. Dat ding heet smartphone maar wordt zo blijkbaar niet ingezet.

In deze series van blogs zal ik ingaan op de mogelijkheden die de moderne smartphone anno 2014 biedt en die mijns inziens dus onvoldoende benut worden.


De "Cloud" is kort-door-de-bocht dat stukje internet waarin jij jouw data kunt zetten zodat die altijd bereikbaar voor je is, mits je maar online kunt. Dat wil dus zeggen dat de data/informatie niet meer alleen op je computer of telefoon staat maar dus ook ergens op servers van bijvoorbeeld Google of Microsoft. Met als grote voordeel dat al jouw apparaten (pc, laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc) met die centrale kopie in de Cloud in verbinding staan en het bestand dat je zoëven op je PC via Dropbox (ook een Cloud-dienst) hebt opgeslagen binnen een paar tellen ook op je tablet beschikbaar is en je er onderweg in de trein aan verder kunt werken. In diezelfde Cloud kun je ook je contactpersonen, afspraken, muziek, foto's opslaan, en je email!

Monday 27 January 2014

Tweaking Windows 8.1

Since a week or so I am back to Windows 8, Windows 8.1 to be precise, and this time I probably won't switch back. I switched back because Windows 8, and all its fancy features were driving me crazy. They might be nice on a tablet (full screen apps like Skype) and on a laptop with touch-screen (charm bar, hot corners, etc) but on a normal desktop/laptop and especially with a multi-monitor set-up it was fastidious.

The performance on my Asus Zenbook UX31E (with intel i7, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD) is way better under Windows 8.1 x64 than it was before with Windows 7 x64. With three Chrome browsers (different user profiles) opened and in each multiple tabs active the 4GB of RAM were not enough and I couldn't upgrade the Zenbook. It was causing 90% or more memory usage, the processor was constantly over 50%. Now with Windows 8.1 it's down to 70% memory usage and the processor is doing around 20-40%. With the same browsers, sites and apps opened that is!

With some little tweaks I lowered the irritation level to a minimum: with Start8 I brought the Windows7-like start menu back to my Desktop avoiding having to switch to the Metro GUI each time you need another application. I also disabled some of the hot corners with this app and somehow in 8.1 the uncharming Charm-bar is not popping up so much as it was in W8.

The one major feature that keeps missing in Windows are the Virtual Desktops, like OS X and Linux offer you. I just do not get why MS just doesn't implement them natively. There are enough tools to help you, but native support in Windows would just give Windows DESKTOP (not the new Metro GUI) a much better user experience, especially for the experienced and demanding user (like me). I just started evaluating Dexpot and Actual Virtual Desktops, let's see if one of these gives me what I need.

Here are some links to blogs I used for tweaking Windows 8.1 to my needs/preferences

Sunday 22 September 2013

my multimedia server based on Synology

In this blog I explain you how I created the (for me) ideal environment for keeping my important documents save and backed up and at the same time benefit from some extra features the Synology server offers.

first a bit of history: 
My geeky side always wants to try out professional stuff and use it at home. So for years (2002-2009) all my files, consisting of a few gigabyte of business & personal documents and hundreds of gigabytes of music, videos and photographs where hosted on a Windows Small Business Server (SBS) in our basement. But when I realized what the power-consumption of my 24x7 standby Quad-XEON server was I decided to downsize and move everything to a WD MyBook WorldEdition, a small 1 disk NAS. With a 2TB hard-disc in it, the important documents also safely in the cloud with DropBox and/or GoogleDrive, this offered enough space. My unstable Exchange-Outlook environment was migrated to Google Apps with GMail and this turned out much better then I ever hoped. My XBMC-devices around the house could access the media files on the MyBook via LAN or WiFi. 

Until one day the disc in the MyBook started making strange noises, rebooting, taking hours to re-index all media-files and in the end I even lost some pictures I'd rather not had lost. It was finally time for Synology. I already heard a lot of it from friends (via social media) and I quickly opted for the DS213+ model, a pretty fast 2-disc NAS, so possible to mirror the data. I started building it with one 3TB WD RED (specially developed for NAS-purpose) and when everything worked I added a second 3TB WD RED disc so my data would be constantly mirrored (Raid1). Maybe a 4-disc NAS with a Raid5/10 scheme would've been better and more efficient but that also comes with a different price-tag. 

So now I have my Synology DS213+ up and running. It keeps copies of my personal and business documents which I now primarily store in the GoogleDrive and Dropbox clouds so I can access them from wherever I am and from whatever device I am using (PC at home, laptop at work, tablet or smartphone on the road). The Synology Operating System or DiskStation Manager (DSM) as they call it is a very powerful Linux based OS which allows even non-Linux users to benefit from a real server. It is amazing if you see what you can get out of this little box. All my printers are shared and we can directly print from the computers, iPads, iPhones, Android tablets and smartphones. Video and music are streaming to DLNA devices like our smart TV, tablets and phones. We're browsing through all our digital pictures/albums on the TV or tablet. And I even connected an outside IP Security Camera which I can see from wherever I am on my smartphone. You can manage users and groups in case you do not want everyone to have access at everything.

Backup options
Even though my data is stored on 2 different harddrives it is still not safe, what if our cellar floods or the house burns down? My video and music collection is not so important, my documents are stored in various clouds, but the tens of GBs of pictures we shot over the last years is not something I would like to loose. The Synology offers some interesting back-up solutions in different price ranges. For my pictures I choose Amazon Glacier backup. It is a very economic solution, I pay less then 1US$ per month to store around 20GB of pictures on Amazon's servers in Ireland. It is not as easy accessible as other cloud solutions but I will only need it in case of emergency. From my PC I also make a copy to where I got a lot of storage for free by inviting friends (follow this link and start with 15+5GB for free)

Bonus for the MultiMedia freaks
For those who like to download movies and TV shows there's a whole bunch of Apps in a community available for the Synology. After some attempts with various tools/apps I came up with this set-up:

  • SABnzbd for downloading content from Usenet* (a paid usenet provider will be necessary);
  • SickBeard an app that automatically monitors if there are new episodes of my favourite TV Shows (like Dexter, Breaking Bad, the Big Bang Theory) available and if he pushes them to SABnzbd;
  • CouchPotato is to movies what SickBeard is to TV Shows.

read this blog to find out more about how to install and configure them on your Synology. I used this manual too and it fitted me right, especially since also I prefer to watch via XBMC.

*) to be able to use Usenet you will need a paid subscription to one of the Usenet providers. I use NewsDemon which offers a good and fast service (I can download at the maximum bandwidth my provider offers). Warning: downloading copyright protected content from Usenet is not legal everywhere so I strongly recommend you inform yourself before doing anything illegal. Oh, and do not blame me of course ;-)

And finally there is COPS, a Calibre-based App for easily accessing all your eBooks and ePubs from your tablet/e-reader on the server.

...and what does this all cost?
The hardware can be yours around 600€ for a Synology DS213+ w/ 2 mirrored harddrives of 3TB, but I also build a solution around the cheaper 1-disc DS112j (250€ incl. one 2TB disc) which works just fine as long as you do not download and stream at the same time.
In case you need help setting it up, just leave me a comment or contact me via the known social media (see right column)

Wednesday 14 August 2013

meeting with the wanderer

Michael and his lasagna
Yesterday Maddy, the girls and I met with Michael Lee Johnson. Michael is travelling to Beijing  with the help of contacts/friends/followers on Google+. Although he already bought a ticket to Beijing he decided (overnight) to change the flight into a challenge: travel from London to Beijing with only the help of Google+. So his trip is now sponsored by people and companies who follow his journey on that platform. Michael is staying in sponsored hotels or with people at their homes (like with his host in Milan Mara who you see on the photo with us), breakfasts, lunches, dinners, drinks are all sponsored or paid for (or not and than he doesn't have anything to eat or drink). He is not allowed to accept donations by the way. We bought him dinner last night (he choose lasagna) and tomorrow he will travel to Vienna by train. That train-ticket across the border is sponsored by my company Salesupply Italy, after all we at Salesupply help people (read: webshops) going cross-border!

Michael, I, Mara (in white) and Maddy
in front of the Duomo in Milano
Once he arrives in Beijing another, far more interesting, part of his journey starts: he is returning to London ON FOOT! He thinks he needs 3-4 years to walk it, meanwhile we can follow him via Social Media and SKY TV (UK). He walks, meets people, talk with people, stays with people, walks on, etc... He will need to cross desserts (Gobi), walk in wintertime through the north of China (-40 degrees), encounter (wild) animals, etc... and yet this trip is just an exercise for him. To proof to himself a bigger plan: walk from the utmost south of South-America all the way to Alaska, via the frozen Bering street into Siberia and back to London, no km by train, no car, not even a bicycle. That trip should take 12-15 years... is he mad? did he loose his mind? No, I don't think so. He says he always wanted to walk, to hike, to travel. He is inspired by some others that did this (sorry I forgot the names he mentioned), he wants to meet people and really get to know them (although he is a bit timid in the beginning)... and what better way to get to know people by walking through their habitat.

Although I would never (want to) do this myself I admire him for his determination!

Good Luck Michael, we'll follow you!