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Mac: Use dropbox to sync documents and desktop folders September 23, 2016

Posted by Steven in Apps.
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With regards to yesterday’s post briefly touching on symlinks used to backup an iPhone to an external harddrive – I would like to provide another exciting use case for handy symbilic links on a Mac.

This article caught my eye:

http://www.zdnet.com/article/beyond-icloud-syncing-your-desktop-and-documents-between-macs-using-dropbox/

I really like dropbox. For me it is a quick and reliable way to synchronize  files between a Mac a PC and a smartphone. The general way how dropbox works on computers:

  • you download an app from dropbox.com
  • it sets up a folder “dropbox” and keeps the contents of this folder in sync with other machines and with  the cloud side of dropbox

For more fancy use cases it would be nice if you could pick several important folders outside of the dropbox folder to keep these files backed up or in sync as well.

Well using symbolic links you can do that! As the article neatly describes: The basic way is: create a symbolic link for example for your desktop  or documents folder. Then rename the original folder and go on syncing. However if more than one  Mac should sync the  documents folder for example it is important that in the first round of “Rippling the change across computers” one must  manually take care of the different files from different Macs all ending  up in one dropbox. The article describes all the details.

A simple symlinc command would be:

 

sudo rm -rf ~/Documents

ln -s ~/Dropbox/Documents ~/Documents

And please read the article:

http://www.zdnet.com/article/beyond-icloud-syncing-your-desktop-and-documents-between-macs-using-dropbox/

 

How to Back Up an iPhone or iOS device to an External Hard Drive via iTunes? September 21, 2016

Posted by Steven in Apple.
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The amount of data on my iPhone keeps growing and growing (I regularly use a 128GB model) – while my trusted old MacBook Air from 2011 keeps loosing and loosing free SSD storage space. Also in terms of strategies to backup an iPhone, for the general public there are two strategies:

  • You could either go with Apple’s iCloud service. The name is the game – it is a cloud based service which gives you all kinds of stuff, for example space for syncing your photos across your i-devices. And it also gives you a wireless, cloud based backup service.
    Basically the app user data and phone settings will be backed up to Apple’s servers. Apple gives you 5GB of free storage space and offers additional paid plans. Recently a new pricing was announced – and there is now a new top tier plan which provides 2TB of storage for $19.99 per month ($239,88 per year).
  • Or you could go with the traditional iTunes backup. Meaning you would hook up your iPhone with your PC or Mac (either via lightning cable or via Wi-Fi) and backup using the iTunes software. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when considering this method. Basically the backups will be stored locally on the respective PC or Mac (in kind-of the user library folder of iTunes – more details on folders later on). So you have to make sure there is enough space on the computer and if the computer breaks your backup is gone as well. One thing I regularly ran into: Your computer’s iTunes software has to be fairly up to date. Usually with iOS updates come updated versions of iTunes. So quickly powering up an old PC with lots of TB storage space usually involves downloading and installing iTunes updates.

I personally believe for my use case iCloud is to expensive (and in some scenaries too dependant on my internet speed at home). So my backup method of choice used to be the iTunes variant – until that time that my MacBook is running out of space.

So I was looking for a decent way to back up my iPhone 6s Plus to an external hard drive.

For Macs running iTunes there seems to be an elegant solution (I am not so familiar with symbolic links on Windows – however it seems that a similar solution  could work on Windows: Guide at TechinOurLife.)

My internet search surfaced this very useful guide: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3421834?tstart=0

  1. Pick an external hard drive and make sure there is enough space. Create a folder named “Backup” on your external drive. This can be done via Terminal with this command:
    1. "mkdir /Volumes/<ExternalDriveName>/Backup"
  2. Rename the local / standard iTunes backup folder on your Mac. Again the Terminal command:
    1. "mv ~/Library/Application\ 
      Support/MobileSync/Backup
       ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/Backup2"
    2. (this will keep the old local backups around – so make sure to clean this folder up if you need space / if you no longer need older backups)
  3. Create a symbolic link (these work well on OS X – I use them for a swift dropbox integration). This will look like the local iTunes Backup directory but it will point the computer to the external folder drive (specifically the folder we created in 1.). Again the Terminal command:
    1. "ln -s /Volumes/<EternalDriveName>/Backup 
      ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/"
  4. Launch iTunes and initiate the backup
  5. done

Please note: when the external disk is not connected the iTunes backup process will result in an error.

Playstation Vita Error C2-12828-1 Help April 2, 2016

Posted by Steven in Freetime, gadgets, The-Web.
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Always on the road I really enjoy a casual mobile gaming experience. Of course a tablet and a smartphone is great for gaming. But I do use a Nintendo 3ds and a Playstation Vita every now and then.

Recently though I ran into a strange issue while playing ‘Uncharted Golden Abyss’ on my Playstation Vita.

While using the game and occasionally while booting up the game I received a tough error and the game would crash.

The Error Code: C2-12828-1

Time to find a solution.

Unfortunately the official Playstation Support Site is not of much help. Really misleading it describes a NAT / networking / demilitarised zone issue: http://community.eu.playstation.com/t5/PS-Vita/Fixing-the-Error-c2-12828-1-issue-on-your-Vita/td-p/15328217
But I don’t believe this C2-12828-1 is a networking issue at all.

From my experience with the issue (very random occurrence, usually involving large chunks of data being loaded, game-brraking) I do not believe it is networking related at all.

I would rather side with the other sources I’ve found on gamefaqs and reddit and the like. There you read a lot of warnings that this bug might get worse over time and it might destroy download data and save data. As in my experience game crashes are mentioned and worse: random shutdowns of the whole system. From all these reports this seems to be a nasty memory/file system error. The Vita uses a proprietary file-system plus heavy encryption. Something along side of heavy use, constant Vita-standby-mode and quick switching between big games may case defects in memory which worsen over time due to read/write activity. Ultimately the whole partition gets damaged and a Vita showing this bug should not be used but rather should be ‘fixed’ quickly. So how could this bug be fixed?

Fix

Based on: http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/656455-madden-nfl-13/64026055
In short the only known fix is to backup the data of your Vita and then thoroughly wiping and rebuilding the console’s memory and then restoring.

Prerequisites for the fix:

  • Vita System and Data Cable
  • Sony Content Manager Assistant software for Windows or Mac
  • Free space on your PC/Mac (if you have a 16GB memory card the. At least 16GB free)
  • time and patience

 

Steps to fix C2-12828-1 :

  • Delete all games and apps you no longer need
  • Sync trophies / save-data with PSN server and do a full backup of your Vita using Content Manager Assistant. Basically hook up the Vita with a PC running Content Manager Assistant and copy over everything.
  • Remove any game card from the system.
  • Turn Vita off completely -> turn Vita on in SAFE MODE -> using Power button, PS button + R trigger to start it up.
  • At SAFE MODE screen select option (3) to Format Memory Card
  • Afterwards turn Vita on in SAFE MODE again, and select option (4) to Restore PS Vita System
  • Once again, get your Vita back to SAFE MODE and select option (2) to Rebuild Database
  • Turn your Vita on regularly and it should look fresh again. Icons everywhere. Don’t bother with changing any settings as the backup has it all; though you will have to re-arrange icons. At this point, go into Settings -> Format -> Format Memory Card (one last time).
  • Then get back to Settings and connect the Vita to your usual internet connection and sign in to your PSN so that it is authenticated.
  • Open Content Manager application on the Vita and Restore From Backup – connect to where your backup is stored.
  • After all is done, the icons are shufffled so get them re-arranged, make sure your time is set right using the internet

For some games the data was apparently so corrupted so it could not be restored. This happened for round about 5 out 30 games. I re-downloaded these games and downloaded save-data from PSN.

After all that was done, I was able to use my Playstation Vita as expected. The whole procedure especially re-downloading some larger games was cumbersome but in the end I seem to have a stable system now.

Titanium Backup – enable write access to external SD Card March 6, 2016

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Recently I’ve been trying a couple of Android devices. I used to focus on iOS but I become a little bit bored with it lately. The deep customisation options on (rooted) Android devices began to fascinate me again.

When I played around with a recent and quite good Samsung tablet I ran into a couple of issues with Titanium Backup and an external 128GB SD Card. By the way rooting of said Samsung tablet is easy and straight forward.

Namely when trying to back up a couple of applications to that external SD Card, Titanium Backup showed: “readonly” / “this folder is not writable”. That seemed strange as I had even formatted the SD Card in the freshly set up tablet.

Well after a quick google search here is the solution (you will need root access, a file manager and a text editor – I used http://www.estrongs.com/?lang=en )

  • navigate to : / system /etc/ permissions/platform.xml
  • finde the section “WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE”
  • inside that section add the following line:  <group gid=”media_rw” />

After a reboot of the device read and write SD Card access from within Titanium Backup worked fine.

Three current tips for designing UI February 26, 2016

Posted by Steven in In-Media.
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My general approach to user interface design was simple: Grab a couple of assets and Photoshop and get on with it. A couple of weeks ago I participated in a little Hackathon. I had to realize I was quite slow designing a handful screens for quite a simple App. I occasionally glanced over to the team next to us. I was impressed. They used some fancy software and they were just pushing out fancy screen after screen after screen. So I’ve done a little research and I must say designing screens with Photoshop seems to be very 2001. Now there are different solutions:

 

 

https://www.sketchapp.com

sketchapp0001

 

http://www.invisionapp.com

invisionapp0002

 

http://www.axure.com/

axure0003

ResophNotes simple SimpleNote client for Windows February 1, 2016

Posted by Steven in gadgets, Software.
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ResophNotes Screenshot

I have tried many things to get organized. Tried out many many different to-do-list apps (Things, AnyDo), feature-rich notes-taking apps (Evernote, OneNote). None of these really worked for me. I gather a lot of little things and to-dos during my usual days. Always on the go, I need really fast and simple synchronization between all my devices.

Most of the fancy to-do-list apps offer great features and -at least on iOS- really nice user interfaces. Overall I had some issues with inconsistent user experiences across the various devices. For example I have set up reminders or specific dates or places in an iOS app but on an Android phone the data would look different. Also I regularly use work PCs (etc.) thus a simple web frontend is essential for me. Some of the apps use Dropbox for synchronization but don’t have a specific web frontend for viewing or editing the data.

The big solutions like evernote and OneNote are simply too feature rich for me. There is so much to do and to try out that I easily get distracted. Also among tags and folders and collections and so on it is much harder to set up a simple stack of things to keep me organized.

So once again I realized the solution which works absolutely best for me is: Simplenote. It’s a plain and simple notes solution (by the way from the makers of wordpress). It is fast and intuitive. It gives you a list of text-only notes, a simple search function and a compact system to tag the notes. There some useful advanced features but the true beauty of Simplenote is really its simplicity. It is plain text, it is very quick and synchronization with pretty much all platforms and apps is fast and seamless.

ResophNotes

For ‘old school’ classic Desktop style windows, there is no native Simplenote app. Thus I had a quick look for a nice piece of software which could handle the job. I found a piece of software which is perfect for the job and an absolute joy to use:

ResphNotes

It is a sleek and classy Windows application it synchronizes quickly and seamlessly with Simplenote’s servers and it makes it easy to manage hundreds of notes. I have been using it for almost two years now and it supported my daily chaos really well. It was reliable and fast and never disappointed.

If you are looking for a nice and fast windows application to manage text notes you must give it a try!

OnePlus Two revealed July 29, 2015

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The famed flagship killer from 2014 is back. In the latest incarnation the OnePlus 2 is now the 2016-flagship killer!

That seems to be a bit of a stretch – as no one knows what 2016’s flagship phones will look like and whether the OnePlus 2 can keep up.

Nevertheless the OnePlus 2 has been revealed and it brings a huge bag of interesting features for quite an interesting price.

  • 5.5-inch touchscreen display with 1080p resolution
  • 2.0 GHz (underclocked to 1.8 GHz) octa-core 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1
  • 4GB LPDDR4 RAM
  • 16GB or 64GB of storage
  • 3300 mAh non-removable battery
  • USB Type-C charging port (so it is easy to plug in the included charging cable whichever way you want / no more fiddling with the connector)
  • Fingerprint sensor via physical home button
  • Dual SIM
  • Mute switch

The design is also quite interesting. A brushed metal frame is bordering the huge full HD display. The sandstone backing of the original OnePlus One is also back and gets company in the form of additional StyleSwap back panels. Bamboo and kevlar are joined by wood finishes include ‘black apricot’ and rosewood.

OnePlus 2 Invite System

Same procedure as every year: You cannot simply go and buy a OnePlus 2. You have to be invited to get one. The Chinese company claims it has much more devices ready for sale and there will be more invites around.

But the system essentially works like last year: Sign your name onto a waiting list, keep an eye out on social media channels and get in touch with friends who may already plan on getting a OnePlus 2.

Once you get your hands on a precious invite code then you have 24 hours to buy the phone in the company’s online shop.

OP_s01_c004

Commute Apps Week 28 July 6, 2015

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The App Blender

 

I was using my regular commuter train to get to work today. It is really striking to see that nearly everyone on the train is using a smartphone or tablet. I went back in time in my head. Well the last month and weeks were always similar. Crowded trains with tons of people using smartphones.

It hasn’t been like that forever. Only in the last 5 to 6 years -or so- the smartphone has started to invade my conservative commuter trains.

Nowadays everywhere I look a bright and colorful screen smiles back at me (usually encased in one of the grey or black bars that represent our typical touch screen smartphone these days).

If I have the time I make a mental note of the device and App I see. And I thought why not make a blog post out of these anonymous observations.

Today was quite the usual train ride but still the plethora of Apps in use by my fellow passengers is intriguing. Todays mixed bag of Apps:

 

Candy Crush Saga

Google Play. App Store.

The swap-3-style game is still so popular! Today I have seen a grown business man using a full size 9.8-inch iPad and tapping away on the colorful candy crush screen. Fascinating.

 

Whatsapp

Google Play. App Store.

It’s still amazing how many people are constantly tapping away on their Whatsapp virtual keyboard. Today I witnessed several guys using Android devices and some rather up to date version of Whatsapp (material design).

 

Words with Friends

Google Play. App Store.

A bit of a unicorn today: I have actually not very often spotted someone who uses words with friends. But today a gentleman was eagerly picking the right phrases for his ongoing matches.

 

Firmen die sich unterstützen June 12, 2015

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Die Anwältin Frau Frauke Andresen hat sehr interessante Informationen zusammengestellt, zu einer Darmstädter Firmen-Gruppe, die mit Rechten handelt bzw. Tonträger produziert.

http://von-wegen-abmahnung.de/blog/81-abmahnung-digirights-administration-gmbh

 

Hub mit weiterführenden Informationen…

 

Upgraded to OS X 10.10 Yosemite: Notification settings not being saved April 26, 2015

Posted by Steven in Apple, The-Web.
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Judging from several threads in various forums: quite a few people seem to have this issue.

I use various MacBooks. All of them had several iterations of OS X installed. Now I upgraded all of them to OS X 10.10 Yosemite.

Several people noticed: On the new system you can set preferences for notifications for example (i.e. not seeing banners for every Facebook notification). However these settings are not being retained when the machine is being rebooted.

Here are some reports of the issue:

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/6605975

https://discussions.apple.com/message/26851563#26851563

https://discussions.apple.com/message/26857242#26857242

https://discussions.apple.com/message/26863504#26863504

Fortunately very clever people found a solution for the issue. I am referring the wonderful site:

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1803815

So here is the step by step solution for the issue:

  1. Open the Library folder in your Home folder.
  2. In the Library folder, open the Application Support folder.
  3. Locate the folder named NotificationCenter. Drag this folder to the desktop.
  4. Next, open the Terminal application.

    Copy and paste each line of these commands into the Terminal window, in order. Press return after each line:

    cd `getconf DARWIN_USER_DIR`
    rm -rf com.apple.notificationcenter
    killall usernoted; killall NotificationCenter

  5. Close the Terminal app.
  6. Restart your computer.
  7. The notification preference changes won’t stick until you restart a 2nd time after this.

This should be fixing the issue. Check for yourself if your Mac exhibits the issue and then let me know if the fix helps.

First impressions using a BlackBerry Q10 (Blackberry OS 10.3.1) April 26, 2015

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bb10-q10-i0120

I am an iPhone 6 (Plus) user. However while planning some trips to the U.S. this year I checked ebay for a modern and unlocked phone I could use while traveling.

I found a really good deal on a BlackBerry Q10.

I was reluctant at first but I read some reviews of the new powerful BlackBerry 10 Operating System. Most critics where quite pleased by the power and flexibility of that recent OS. So I decided to give it a try.

The new device arrived on my doorstep early last week. I’ve put in a SIM and I have been using the Q10 for a couple of days now.

I must say I am impressed.

The device is compact and very well made. It feels dense and reliable, the metal frame adds the feel of value and durability while the glass-weave material is really nice to grip. Even in the office some people stopped me and wanted to look at that strange novel device with that amazingly structured back. The keyboard is amazing. Every key feels tight and gives great clicky feedback when you press it. When I look over at my iPhone 6 physical Home-Button where I had lots of issues in the last years, I must say BlackBerry really knows how to make physical keys.

Reading the reviews I knew I had to get used to some new gestures in order to use the device properly. The setup process was very smooth and with the help of just the right amount of unobtrusive on-screen tutorials BlackBerry made it really easy for me to find my way around.

The “Swipe up to go home” gesture is really intuitive. Also I use “Swipe up to – to wake-up the device” all the time. Just after a few days I caught myself wanting to unlock my iPhone with that gesture!

Although the Q10 is by no means a recent release (in the smartphone cosmos) – it was released 2 years ago in April 2013 – it handles the software extremely well! The unlock gestures give instant feedback with slick transparency animations. The casual swipe up brings you home instantaneously, the peek shows the hub quickly. In may days of using the device and with two large Gmail accounts set up plus Instagram and whatsapp and the like – I was not able to see any stutter at all.

Next to the hardware and the overall feel of BlackBerry 10 – I was most eager to try out the “BlackBerry Hub”. I tend to use smartphones more for messaging services than for other apps or even phone calls itself. The concept of having a truly universal inbox feels utterly compelling to me.

A place which summarizes all your notifications and all your email- plus instant-messages. That is really great. And I must say with some tiny caveats it works really well on my BlackBerry Q10 (10.3.1). In detail: notifications in general are not as polished as on iOS or Android. They are usually really simple texts / a blinking LED or in some cases cute overlays are shown similar to iOS’ banner style notifications. But the hub does an amazing job in summarizing and sorting all your basic details. Missed phone calls, text messages, emails from multiple accounts, Facebook and Twitter notifications. The biggest gripe – and I am sure by now you have heard of it – comes down to native BlackBerry 10 App support. There simply aren’t so many Apps and thus the hub cannot really be extended. That is a shame! I would love to see better support of Google+ places in there… But what by now I cannot live without is Instagram support. So you can download an App called “iGrann” (1,99 USD) which does a fine job of integrating Instagram. However browsing Instagram is a clunky experience and not as fluid and quick as on the official iOS App for example.

Again the biggest gripe is the choice of Apps you have. While BlackBerry integrates Twitter and Facebook directly these Apps still don’t seem as snappy and polished as their iOS or Android counterparts. Look for Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr etc. and you simply won’t find anything.

You can use Android Apps (as I understand based on an Android 4.4 JellyBean runtime which BlackBerry has included in their 10.3.1 OS) and they work fine for the most part. But still you can tell these Apps were not designed for the phone. They take time to load, some controls don’t work or you have to fiddle around with screen settings or back-gestures. So to me Android Apps remain more of a workaround solution.

I do like the Q10 and I am very impressed with BlackBerry’s ideas and highly professional concepts included in the offering. From solid hardware to the impressively designed hub to hundreds of accessible but powerful settings which let you tweak the BlackBerry to your needs. It is unfortunate that some things simply aren’t there yet. So BlackBerry remains an interesting option but needs to improve the App selection to become a true daily driver!

Brainstorming: Breakfast in Berlin July 7, 2014

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B Breakfast

I was asked recently – what is a good place in Berlin to have breakfast? Mhh – I thought about it and I concluded that I had so many fabulous breakfasts in our great capitol that it’s hard to give a recommendation.

I browsed through old photos and old memories and here is what I came up with:

Mitte – Barcomis

Prenzlauer Berg – Bar Gagarin

Kreuzberg – Morena Bar

Mitte – Spreegold 

Mitte – Gugelhof

Kreuzberg – Tomasa Villa