Android Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot

 

android wifi hotspot - Optus Mobile Internet

Why pay for a separate Mobile Internet connection for your laptop, when your phone already includes a Data Allowance ?  A few people answer: Because I don’t know how to setup an Android WiFi Hotspot.

This is a short guide on how to setup a Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot on your Android phone, and connect a Windows laptop to it.

You can then cancel your laptops Mobile Internet connection and save a few dollars.

Android Wifi Hotspot

Step 1: Configure Wi-Fi hotspot on Android phone

In the Android phone settings you will need to find the “Tethering and portable hotspots” menu.  In this example (using a Samsung Galaxy S2 running Android 4.0.3) it is found by tapping the Android Settings button from the main screen, then tapping “Settings”, then “More” and “Tethering and portable hotspots”.

Android wifi hotspot - Configure Hotspot

 

Initially you will need to configure your Wi-Fi Hotspot by selecting the “Configure Wi-Fi Hotspot” option.

 

In the following screen (shown right) you will need to enter a Network Name (SSID) and select what Security you want to use, then enter a Password (if applicable).

 

Remember these details: Later you will locate this network name (SSID) using your laptop and enter the password.

Tap “Save” to return to the “Tethering and portable hotspots” menu.

 

 

Step 2: Activate your Wi-Fi Hotspot when required

Android wifi hotspot Activating Hotspot

It is good practice to only activate your Wi-Fi hotspot when you need it.

Using your Android phone, navigate to the “Tethering and Portable Hotspot” menu, then tick the box next to “Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot”.

This will activate your hotspot using the settings you just configured.

 

The Wi-Fi Hotspot icon will appear in the status bar of your Android phone, as shown below.

Android wifi hotspot -Hotspot Active Icon

 

 

Android wifi hotspot - Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot Logo

If this step seems a little cumbersome to use frequently, there is also a free Android App available, called Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot, that will turn your Wi-Fi Hotspot on/off using a desktop icon, without you having to navigate to the “Tethering and Portable Hotspot” menu.

 

Google Play Store link:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=kr.core.technology.wifi.hotspot

 

Step 3: Connect the Windows Laptop

Using your Windows laptop, click the Wireless networks icon in the system tray (next to the clock) and you will see your Android Wi-Fi Hotspot in the list of available networks.

Android wifi hotspot - Connect PCto Hotspot

 

Select the Wi-Fi Hotspot network name and connect to it, using the network password (if applicable).  If you select the “Connect Automatically” checkbox, Windows will remember these details and connect automatically whenever the Android Wi-Fi Hotspot is active.

 

Tip Icon 2Multiple computers can be connected to the Wi-Fi Hotspot, and can use large amounts of data, quickly.  Make sure you keep an eye on your phones monthly data allowance using your ISPs free App (if available).

 

 

Android – Windows Networking

ES File ExplorerAndroid phones come with a built-in file explorer, called “My Files”, but this app can only browse the phones memory card.

To improve your Android Windows Networking and copy files easily across the network, download and install a free app such as ES File Explorer, available from the Google Play Store.

 

First, lets setup a Network Share folder in Windows, which will be visible on the network, and to the phone.  Once set, Windows will remember this share setting.

On your PC, using Windows Explorer, browse to the folder you want to share.  In the example picture shown below, I am using the ‘New Folder’ on the desktop.  (Click on the image below to zoom in)

 

Windows 8 Network Share Folder

Windows 8 Network Share Folder

 

To setup a folder as a Networked Shared Folder in Windows:

  • Right-click on the folder you want to share.
  • Choose ‘Properties’, and then the ‘Sharing’ Tab.
  • Click on the “Advanced Sharing’ button.
  • Select the “Share this folder” checkbox, and enter a name.
  • Click the ‘Permissions’ button.
  • Select ‘Full Control’.
  • Click ‘Ok’, ‘Ok’ and ‘Close’.

Tip Icon 2

This folder is now visible on the network and you can access (read and write) this folder from other network devices.  You can repeat this process for multiple folders on multiple devices. 

 

Android Logo

Now to the Android phone:  To transfer files wirelessly using ES File Explorer on the Android phone, you will need to be connected to your network Wi-Fi, and download and install ES File Explorer from the Google Play Store.

 

ES File Explorer Screens

Left: Android Phone, Middle: Network Devices, Right: Share Folders

 

ES File Explorer ChangeView Screen

When starting ES File Explorer, the ‘Local’ phone memory card is displayed, and you can swipe to the right to see the devices on your network.

Alternatively you can tap on the ‘Local’ button to bring up this menu (right), where you would select ‘LAN’.

Initially you will need to add your PC.  To do this tap the Android Settings button, then tap “New” and “Server”.  Enter the IP Address of your PC and a friendly name in the “Display As” box.  Depending on your networking you may need to enter Login and Password details for that PC too.

Tapping on the PC (Eg: WIN8-AMD) displays a list of the shared folders within it, and tapping on those shared folders will navigate you to the shared files.

ES File Explorer also uses a handy toolbar featuring buttons for common tasks such as selecting, cutting, copying, pasting, and deleting files.
ES File Explorer Toolbar

 

ES File Explorer can also connect to nearby devices via Bluetooth, and Web / FTP Servers on the internet.  Here’s a short YouTube video demonstrating these and some additional features:

 

 
ES File Explorer lets you copy files to/from your Android phone and your PC.

 

Google Play Store link:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.estrongs.android.pop&hl=en

Raspberry Pi Media Centre

R-Pi Logo

After a long wait for delivery, I finally received my Raspberry Pi just before Christmas.  Although the Raspberry Pi is being used for all sorts of interesting projects, my first project is to set the Raspberry Pi up as a networked media centre pc, with remote control from a smart phone.  This will essentially turn an old, dumb TV into a smart TV.

Raspberry Pi

Existing Media Server 

I already have a Windows 8 Media Centre PC, connected to a 42″ Kogan TV, which handles Live TV and recording, plus storage of movies, TV and music files.  Live TV signals are handled using a Winfast DTV200DS dual digital TV tuner.

XBMC Screen

This Windows 8 PC runs XBMC 11 (Eden) with PVR support, and is called AMD-XBMC.  It has a static IP address of 192.168.1.3

I setup AMD-XBMC to allow remote control using port 9999.

Installed MediaPortal TV Server to stream Live TV to other instances of XBMC.

 

Raspberry Pi

SanDisk Ultra 16GB SD CardThe Raspberry Pi comes with 2x USB ports, which will be populated with a TP-Link WN821N 300M Wireless adapter, a Logitech MK320 Wireless KB/Mouse dongle.

Using the Windows 8 PC, I downloaded and installed Raspbmc on to a 16GB Class 10 SD Card.  Although a little more expensive, a Class 10 SD Card is designed for HD Video use.

 

Raspbmc Logo

After installing Raspbmc, I inserted the SD Card into the Raspberry Pi and booted it.  After the normal Raspbmc setup procedure, XBMC started and I renamed this instance of XBMC to Pi-XBMC.

I assigned a static IP address to the Pi-XBMC of 192.168.1.4 using the Router administration page, and setup network details inside XBMC.

I purchased licence keys for MPG and WMV codecs from Raspberry Pi store, which cost AU$4.85.  I input the codec details into the Raspbmc settings inside XBMC, which updates the Raspberry Pi’s config.txt file.

I setup Pi-XBMC to allow remote control using port 9999.

 

Toshiba L650 Laptop

I also have a Toshiba L650 Laptop running Ubuntu 12.04 which will be used to display media at times.

xbmc logo

I downloaded and installed XBMC (Frodo) and named this instance of XBMC as Toshy-XBMC.

I assigned a static IP address to the Toshy-XBMC of 192.168.1.5 using the Router administration page.

I setup Toshy-XBMC to allow remote control using port 9999.

 

Samsung Galaxy S2XBMC Remote

I am controlling the XBMC using a Samsung Galaxy S2, running the Official XBMC Remote app for Android.

XBMC Remote logo

Within the XBMC Remote app, I setup AMD-XBMC on 192.168.1.3, the Pi-XBMC on 192.168.1.4, and the TOSHY-XBMC on 192.168.1.5 – with all 3 using port 9999.

I note that the XBMC Remote app is still in Beta form and therefore has a few error messages popping up on screen from time to time, but remote control functionality is perfect.

 

Currently streaming media from AMD-XBMC to Pi-XBMC, using the smart phone as a remote control.

[Project in progress – updates to come]

 

Merry Christmas 2012

 Merry Christmas 2012
Tailormade IT Solutions would like to sincerely thank all our customers for their business in 2012, and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2013.

 

Tailormade IT Solutions will close on the following days:
Tuesday 25th December 2012, Wednesday 26th December 2012 and Tuesday 1st Jan 2013.

My New Years Resolution for 2013 is that everyone keeps a backup of their important data !

Reason: It’s likely that Ransomware will continue to spread in 2013, and the only effective solution is to have a backup, that is not normally connected to the PC.

Symantec Whitepaper: Ransomware a growing menace

After infecting your PC, ransomware can encrypt your personal data and then display a message encouraging you to pay for the data to be un-encrypted.  Some messages say your PC has been locked by police due to downloading illegal material, and you must pay a fine before your data will be released, earning the bad guys $5 million a year.

AFP-Ransomware

Click picture to zoom in

 

It’s quick and easy to get a decent backup in place, using online storage, or a USB drive and some automated backup software.  This protects your important data from ransomware and/or Hard Drive failures.

TIS Logo

 

Avoiding Browser toolbars

What are browser toolbars ?

Browser toolbars are add-ons that sit inside popular internet browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.  They are often bundled with downloaded software and installed unknowingly.

Legitimate makers of browser toolbars use them to track users, view their latest activity, or see who’s online at any given moment, what buttons users click on toolbar, what keywords they use, and what they search for. (Source)

Other toolbars are actually spam or even keystroke loggers that offer themselves up as toolbars.  Learn how to avoid Browser toolbars.

 

Toolbar overload

Click on this picture to zoom in

Ridiculous: You can hardly see the webpage for the toolbars!

 

How do I avoid browser toolbars ?

When downloading and installing software, you can no longer just select “Express/Standard/Normal” install. This almost guarantees you will also receive a free, unwanted toolbar.

Using Custom Install

You need to select “Custom install” instead. Ignore statements made about it being un-preferred or for advanced users – the only ‘advanced’ thing you need to do is un-tick a box or two, and click “Next” a few times…

 

As you step through the installation process, look out for check boxes such as “Include useless toolbar” and “Change my Homepage to useless.com” and un-tick them. In this example we need to click “Decline” aswell.

Unticking 'useless toolbar' option

In the above example, downloaded from the popular C-Net Download.com, selecting “Standard Install” would have also installed the Ask toolbar, and changed your internet start & search settings to Ask.com.

 

What happens if you have multiple browser toolbars installed? (as shown above)

1. Your internet browser runs very slowly when first loading all of the toolbars.

2. Your internet surfing habits are being collected, transmitted and stored.

3. The browser toolbars may try to update often, even if the browser itself is at the latest version.

4. Your PC is likely to be infected with a malicious browser toolbar.

 

How do I get rid of browser toolbars?

Browser toolbars can be removed using a number of methods – this is dependant on the type of toolbar.

1. Legitimate toolbars can be disabled within the browsers settings, and are also likely to have an uninstall feature in the Control Panel / Add-Remove Programs list.

2. If you have malicious toolbars that you can’t uninstall with step 1, try a virus scan – this may find and remove it.

 

If these methods fail to remove the browser toolbar, then its time to contact Tailormade IT Solutions for further assistance.

 

For more information visit:

http://www.tailormadeitsolutions.com.au/services/computer-support

Windows 8 Upgrades

Windows 8 is now on sale and Tailormade IT Solutions has already upgraded a number of PCs. Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista, or Windows 7
Here’s the details of Microsoft’s new Windows:

Windows 8 on sale  – $39.99!

Until January 31, 2013, you can upgrade any Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 PC to Windows 8 Professional for $39.99. *

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-AU/windows/buy

 

Windows 8 Upgrade Offer – $14.99 !

If you purchased your Windows 7 PC between 2 June 2012 and 31 January 2013, then you can upgrade to Windows 8 Professional for just $14.99. *

http://www.windowsupgradeoffer.com/en-AU

 

Windows 8 Media Centre Pack for FREE

Until January 31, 2013, you can also add Windows 8 Media Centre for FREE. *

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-AU/windows-8/feature-packs

 

Thinking of upgrading to Windows 8 ?

If you are thinking of upgrading your PC to Windows 8, first download and run the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant, which will produce a compatibility report.

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-AU/windows-8/upgrade-to-windows-8

Tailormade IT Solutions can discuss this compatibility report with you and advise you/conduct the upgrade for you.

 

Windows 8 Metro

 

* The terms and conditions of these promotions are shown on the Microsoft website.

Family Safety

Family

 

The kids are online and you’re busy – Family Safety is there to help. Use this tool to generate activity reports to monitor your kids’ computer activity. Choose the websites, games, and programs they can access. Even set time periods when they can use the computer.

 

Microsoft Family Safety

Click the Weekly Activity report above to see an example

 

Microsoft Family Safety is almost indispensable for families with young children who have already learnt how to use computer.  So go ahead, be busy.  Let Microsoft Family Safety help keep an eye on things.

The program is available for Windows Vista and Windows 7, needs signing in with Windows Live ID, and can also bundled with Mcrosoft Live Essentials suite.  Family Safety is included as standard with Windows 8.

 

 

 

Using ReadyBoost

Need a cheap way to get more PC performance ?

 

ReadyBoost LogoReadyBoost is a feature built-in to Windows Vista and  Windows 7 and Windows 8, that enables you to use a USB drive/Memory card to give your PC a memory boost.

While it’s normally wiser to install additional memory, ReadyBoost is ideal people running older PC’s and laptops that are only capable of holding a small amount of memory – ie: Have a 1-2 GB RAM limit.

How does it work? When PC’s run low on memory (RAM) they can borrow some additional thinking space from the Hard Disk Drive – however most hard disk drives are mechanical and are slow compared to electronic memory, USB drives or Memory cards.  ReadyBoost enables your PC to use electronic media rather than mechanical hard disk space.

To start using ReadyBoost

Simply plug-in a spare (blank) USB drive in to your Computer and follow these prompts:

  • Click on ‘Computer’ and then right-click on your USB drive.
  • Now click ‘Properties’ and select the ReadyBoost tab, as shown below.

ReadyBoost Properties

  • Select ‘Dedicate this device to ReadyBoost’ and click ‘OK’.

 

You’re now making the most of Windows ReadyBoost features, harnessing the extra memory available to you in external USB devices to give your computer’s memory a boost and speed up its performance.

It can now borrow memory from your nominated USB drive rather than your hard drive, which is much faster.

TIS Logo

Notes:

  • Not all USB drives are capable of being used for ReadyBoost.
  • This feature is useful if your computer doesn’t have enough RAM.  If you do have enough RAM, ReadyBoost won’t really help.
  • If your computer has a hard disk that uses solid-state drive (SSD) technology, you might not see an option to speed up your computer with ReadyBoost when you plug-in a USB flash drive or flash memory card. This is because some SSD drives are so fast they’re unlikely to benefit from ReadyBoost.

 

Cheaper Printing

Canon MX410

Canon Pixma MX410

New inkjet printers are very affordable, and include scanners and fax machines – but the cost of replacement ink cartridges soon ads up.

Canon Ink Combo

The Canon Pixma MX410 printer shown above normally uses Canon PG510 (Black) and CL511 (Colour) ink cartridges, available in a combo pack for $51.99 at OfficeWorks.

These cartridges contain just 9ml of precious ink, and have a page yield of 200-250 pages (approx), which is why they run out so often.

 

Looking for a cheaper option ?? 

I purchased a Rihac Constant Ink Supply Solution (CISS) for $115 which includes a 100ml refillable ink tank (pre-filled with High Grade UV Dye ink) which allows for countless refills.

Rihac CISS

Although a little fiddly to install initially, the system is mess free and the tank can be eventually be topped up using 100ml bottles of ink.

The savings speak for themselves.

According to Rihac, this system saves up to 90-95% on your printing costs!  “*Equivalent to approximately 60 standard cartridges. Epson cartridges have approximately 10 mls of usable ink inside. Our CISS allows you to print continuously. Epson cartridges are approximately $23.52 each (officeworks). Our CISS is pre-filled with 100mls of each coloured ink, so in dollar terms that is approximately $1,400.00 worth of cartridges if bought separately.”

 

Rihac CISS - OutsideRihac CISS - Inside

Click on the pictures above to see the Rihac CISS installed.

 

The Rihac CISS works with a range of Brother, Canon, Epson & HP printers.  If you are looking for cheaper printing, I recommend using a Rihac Continuous Ink Supply Solution.

To see if your printer can use a Rihac CISS, visit: http://www.rihac.com.au/inklink8482-ciss-units-c-26.html

Microsoft Surface Tablets

Microsoft Surface

The Microsoft Surface tablet is due for release later this year, and will come in a ‘lite’ ARM processor version that runs Windows RT, and an Intel i5 chip version that will run the full Windows 8 desktop OS.

Microsoft recently previewed Windows 8 (see our post) and the new Surface tablet device.

Surface Specs (PDF)