How to run your favourite desktop utilities from almost any computer using Portable Applications

photo.JPGIn the course of my day, I use two or three main desktop and laptop com­puters in two or three dif­fer­ent parts of the city.

And yet, work­ing on dif­fer­ent devices, I still have access to a core set of tools and util­it­ies that I find essen­tial to my daily work. Here’s how I do it.

Some of the com­puters are ‘cli­ent’ man­aged, so I don’t have com­plete con­trol over the soft­ware suite I have avail­able to me.

There are two options that I use, though I find myself mov­ing to one more often these days.

But before I get ahead of myself, let me write a little bit about the applic­a­tions. Con­tin­ue read­ing “How to run your favour­ite desktop util­it­ies from almost any com­puter using Port­able Applic­a­tions”

Remote control your computer from your iPad

Some say that the iPad is a magic­al device. I won’t go that far, but it is kinda cool, though it does have its short­com­ings — espe­cially when you com­pare it to a desktop or laptop com­puter. There are just many things done much bet­ter on a com­puter than on an iPad, which is why it’s neat that there’s com­puter remote con­trol soft­ware for the iPad.

One of the easi­est I’ve found to use is Log­MeIn Igni­tion. Part of the Log­MeIn fam­ily, Igni­tion lives on your iPad (or iPhone, or iPod Touch, or Android) and allows you to con­trol any com­puter you’ve registered with the Log­MeIn ser­vice.

Here’s how the pro­cess works:
1. Get a free Log­MeIn account
2. Install Log­MeIn Free cli­ent soft­ware on every PC/Mac you want to con­trol
3. Register those com­puters with your Log­MeIn account inform­a­tion

If you stop here, you now have the abil­ity to con­trol any of your registered com­puters from any oth­er registered com­puter (that’s run­ning the cli­ent soft­ware), or through the Log­MeIn web inter­face (which is very slick!).

4. Install the LogMeIn:Ignition cli­ent on your iPhone/iPod Touch or iPad

And you’re done. You can now con­trol any of your com­puters via your iPad.


Con­tin­ue read­ing “Remote con­trol your com­puter from your iPad”

Tablets will be the story this holiday season

The iPad has been out for a bit now, and it’s the tab­let that all the oth­ers will be com­pared against as they jockey for pos­i­tion going into the hol­i­day sea­son.

But over­all, I think this is the year that tab­lets finally start to make some head­way into the mar­ket­place; a mar­ket­place already crowded with Desktops, Laptops, Net­books and Data Phones.

So, why con­sider a tab­let? Here’s a few things to think about.

Tab­lets won’t replace your main com­puter, nor will they replace your laptop. They’re not power­ful enough to do a lot of the work those com­puters do. But, they will fill in the middleground between your smart­phone and your com­puter, simply because they are smal­ler, yet not too small, and offer a great inter­act­ive exper­i­ence.

Tab­lets are  great to bring to meet­ings, light-weight and yet func­tion­al enough that look­ing up cal­en­dar con­flicts or tak­ing simple notes is a very simple pro­cess — and the tab­let is much less obvi­ous than a laptop when sit­ting around the board­room table.

Oh, and you smart­phone jockey’s out there, yes, you can do all that stuff on your hand­held Android/BlackBerry/iPhone, but the screen size is kinda lim­it­ing when you want/need to share the view.

Using some cloud com­put­ing applic­a­tions such as Drop­Box, any notes you cre­ate on your tab­let are instantly stored in the cloud account and access­ible to your oth­er com­puters.

And, if you’re in that meet­ing and need to ref­er­ence some­thing stored on your desktop, you can use desktop con­trol soft­ware such as Log­MeIn Igni­tion (on the iPad / iPhone / Touch) or a VNC cli­ent writ­ten for your tab­let. A couple of quick touch­pad strokes and you’re work­ing on your desktop com­puter as if you were sit­ting in front of it.

Ok, those are the big reas­ons that a tab­let wins for me. And here’s a few more that are really just icing on the cake:

  • Inher­ently port­able — smal­ler form factor makes it easi­er to take every­where. My iPad is with me daily, where­as my laptop or net­book only came out when I thought I might need it
  • Cas­u­al usage — since it’s with me I use it more to jot down notes, surf, etc dur­ing oth­er­wise dead time
  • Tact­ile, friendly, enga­ging — a tab­let seems less impos­ing than a full-up laptop. People like to share work on a tab­let, it’s easy to hand around a meet­ing and soli­cit feed­back.
  • Port­able media — tab­lets are great for watch­ing movies or videos on the bus or wherever because they’re smal­ler and sleeker — no huge key­board to haul around in addi­tion to the screen.

So, in my humble opin­ion, yes, the tab­let will make some ser­i­ous inroads this hol­i­day sea­son, espe­cially if the price can stay low, the hard­ware deliv­ers, and the soft­ware is developed to live in this new middleground.

So that’s why a tab­let appeals to me, how ‘bout you? Are you in or out when it comes to con­sid­er­ing a tab­let in the near future?

This post of is one of many I pub­lish weekly at the Future Shop Techb­log. Read more of my stuff here.

Lots to think about when diagnosing a slow Internet

Occa­sion­ally I get a tech ques­tion in the inbox that is quite com­mon. So much so that it makes sense for me to put and answer the ques­tion here where more can read and bene­fit from it.  By the way, if you’ve got some­thing you’d like to ask, feel free to drop me a line through my con­tact me page.

So, the ques­tion deals with Inter­net speed, and this one is pretty com­plex because there are quite a num­ber of factors that con­trib­ute to the ‘per­ceived’ speed of the Inter­net on any giv­en com­puter:

Q:Hi, my laptop’s inter­net runs really slow.  I use fire­fox and inter­net explorer (they’re both updated). I have tried my laptop on quite a few dif­fer­ent inter­net con­nec­tions and have run mul­tiple vir­us and defrag tests with no prob­lems I have 24% free space on my hard drive.  My inter­net runs really laggy, and i want to sign up for a mobile / stick plan but if my com­puter can’t run fast there isn’t a point.  is there any­thing I can do to fix this?

Ok, there’s a lot in those few lines but not really enough to dia­gnose the prob­lem com­pletely.  Sadly there are a num­ber of things that could impact inter­net speed, includ­ing;

  • the sites you try to con­nect to,
  • oth­er run­ning applic­a­tions com­pet­ing for net­work or sys­tem resources,
  • vir­us / tro­jan infec­tion (though in this case the com­puter was scanned quite heav­ily),
  • the amount of RAM memory in the sys­tem,
  • the age and ver­sion of the oper­at­ing sys­tem in use and the age of the com­puter — this one is import­ant as a 6 year old com­puter try­ing to run a mod­ern oper­at­ing sys­tem may have issues as drivers are out­dated,
  • hard­ware no longer sup­por­ted, or it’s simply not cap­able of per­form­ing mod­ern multi-media tasks that didn’t exist when the com­puter was ori­gin­ally designed.

As you can see, there are a num­ber of poten­tial issues here, and all of them require more inform­a­tion. So, in this case my recom­mend­a­tion was to con­sult an expert — giv­ing them access to the machine so they can bring all their exper­i­ence to bear on the prob­lem.

Since at this point, we’re  not exper­i­en­cing prop­er inter­net speeds, call your inter­net ser­vice pro­vider, and dis­cuss the speed issue with them.  They’ll likely ask a num­ber of ques­tions and have a few tests and tweaks you can per­form while on the phone.

Then, if there’s noth­ing more they can do, per­haps find a trus­ted ser­vice tech or tech-savvy friend and have them help you out, since there’s so many vari­ables that could cause the prob­lems.

Bot­tom line, good instincts in search­ing out help. Giv­ing your con­sult­ing tech a lot of inform­a­tion or access to the machine will likely gen­er­ate a num­ber of pos­sible improve­ments.

And, since I men­tioned it above but you likely skimmed over it to get to the meat of this post, if you’ve got a tech ques­tion that you think I could help you with,  feel free to drop me a line through my con­tact me page. I’ll give it a shot 🙂

The well-equipped traveller is the ‘Envy’ of others

Trav­el­ing with a laptop is always a bit of a chal­lenge, espe­cially if your flight exceeds 3 hours or so. That’s why I was rather inter­ested when I was offered the chance to check out the 15 inch HP Envy — espe­cially when I was allowed to take it on my recent vaca­tion to Hawaii. …more

This post is an excerpt from one of my weekly posts on the Future Shop Techb­log. Check out the full post here.

eeePC Netbook Ubuntu mod and a bit of fun

As you can see, I’ve man­aged to get Tweet­Deck installed on my lan­guish­ing eeePC 8G Net­book.

Ori­gin­ally we’d picked the eeePC up as a light web browser, but found the nat­ive Xan­dros OS a bit weak.

Time passed and we’d not had time to really explore the poten­tial of this little guy…until now.

First off, the OS needed a rework. I was con­sid­er­ing a TinyXP (stripped down) Win­dows XP install, but decided against it for a num­ber of reas­ons.

Then Easy Peasy was released. It’s a fork of Ubuntu Linux, optim­ized for the require­ments of the netbook’s smal­ler form factor (screen, key­board, wifi, etc).

Cut­ting to the chase, the Easy Peasy install­a­tion went per­fectly, fol­low­ing these instruc­tions.

Then, to make this refreshed net­book work for me…it needed Tweet­Deck (the ulti­mate Twit­ter cli­ent) which runs on Adobe AIR. Ubuntu and Easy Peasy don’t include AIR, but lucky for me there was a simple walk­through which I’ll sum­mar­ize here:

  1. Open the Ter­min­al
  2. Down­load the file from here using the wget com­mand:
  3. The name of the file is AdobeAIRInstaller.bin
  4. Save the file in the Home folder (Places > Home Folder)
  5. Run this com­mand:
    chmod +x AdobeAIRInstaller.bin
  6. Now run this com­mand:
    sudo ./AdobeAIRInstaller.bin

The nor­mal installer will open, install it. From now whenev­er you down­load a .air file, just double click it and it will be installed.

So this means we simply browse to the Tweet­Deck down­load page, click on the Linux Ver­sion, and select ‘install with Ado­beAir­Installer’ when promp­ted by the oper­at­ing sys­tem.

Poof done! Tweet­Deck now installed and the eeePC net­book can now play with Twit­ter like the big boys.