Category: Mobile (page 1 of 2)

iPad App Store App Update Page Got You Blank?

Over the past few days a significant number of iPad users have been left staring at blank App Store app update screens. It appears Apple is aware of the problem. How people have worked around the issue have been all over the board and no one solution works for everyone.

While some have been able to solve the problem and update their apps through manually updating apps under the Purchased button option. Some have fixed it by changing the language option. For many others, the system just fixes itself over time.

I tried most of the fixes and they did not work for me. However, I came across this suggested fix and it did work on the two iPad’s I tried, so I wanted to share…

  1. Kill the App Store app
  2. In settings, set side switch to rotate lock
  3. Make sure rotate is unlocked
  4. Turn iPad horizontal so side switch side is up
  5. Lock, and when icon fades, unlock
  6. With iPad still horizontal, launch App Store app
  7. Select the App Store app Update button

Again, this may or not work for you, but while it seems strange, it did work for me.

-Eric Schnell

TechTips: BuckeyeBox: New Cloud-based Storage

BuckeyeBox is a cloud-based service provides a simple, secure way to store and share files and folders online that is now available to OSU faculty and staff. It will be available to students  in early 2013.

Similar to Dropbox and other online tools, Buckeye Box consolidates your content in a single location, accessible from anywhere, on any device. You can create files and folders, share them using a direct link, invite colleagues and classmates to collaborate, and continue to revise and review your content. Though similar in appearance to services such as DropBox, BuckeyeBox integrates OSU systems and security. The service will be available to faculty and staff on Saturday and will be opened to students in January.

BuckeyeBox is designed as a collaboration tool appropriate for personal files and institutional information classified as public or internal.  It is not for any institutional data classified as “protected,” “restricted,” or “critical.” As such, Protected Health Information (PHI) should never be stored on BuckeyeBox. See Data Classifications and appropriate data for BuckeyeBox at OSU.

Main features

  • View files of many types, including images and audio/video; for a full list, see Box support’s What file extension types can be viewed by Box’s Content Preview?
  • Access content through all major web browsers (i.e., Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari) and through mobile devices running iOS, Android, and BlackBerry
  • Access through Microsoft Office applications (Windows only)
  • Share files and folders while controlling the level of access others have, with a range of permissions from view-only to full editing and collaboration rights
  • Comment on files
  • Create simple workflows using assigned tasks
  • Sync files between your desktop and other devices, and access them even when offline

Getting Started / How to Find Help


-Eric Schnell

TechTips: Near Field Communication

Anyone that has gone into a retail store recently has likely seen a Mastercard “PayPass” pad at the checkout station. Using a credit card with a special built in chip, the customer makes contact with the pad with the card rather than swiping it. NFCThe technology behind the tap-to-pay devices is call near field communication.

Near field communication (NFC) is a technology allows enabled devices to communicate with other devices by establishing radio communication, by either touching them or bringing them into close proximity of one another. This is done through the use of NFC chips, or tags, which can be custom-encoded or may use the specifications provided by the NFC Forum, an industry association charged with promoting the technology and setting key standards. The tags can securely store personal data such as debit and credit card information, loyalty program data, PINs and networking contacts, among other information. NFC typically tags contain data and are typically read-only but may be rewriteable.

Both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are similar to NFC since all three allow wireless communication and data exchange between digital devices. However,  the significant difference with NFC is that it utilizes electromagnetic radio fields while Bluetooth and Wi-Fi utilize radio waves. NFC builds upon Radio-frequency identification (RFID) systems by allowing two-way communication and works in the same 13.56 MHz radio frequency spectrum. Unlike RFID, both the NFC device and the tag can initiate the communication.

One application of NFC technology already on the market is the Google Wallet, a mobile payment system that allows its users to store debit cards, credit cards, loyalty cards, and gift cards among other things, as well as redeeming sales promotions on their mobile phone. BMW is working to allow car owners to use their key NFC  key FOBs to store downloaded event tickets or check out of a hotel. Hospitals can use NFC to monitor patients at their homes. Students cab use their NFC enabled phones to get into their dorm rooms. A fun application of the technology is the Karotz Bunny.

There are many interesting possibilities for this technology:

– Touch a mobile device over display at a local museum or at an exhibit to access more information and multimedia content
– Touch a device at a display or a poster to create an interactive experience
– Could replace the pairing step of establishing Bluetooth connections or the configuration of Wi-Fi networks

As with other such technologies there are concerns aabout privacy and security. Adopters will want to know that all of their vital information is encrypted and that that viruses can’t be passed by NFC.

TechTips: Discounted Apple Mobile Apps

Departments which have deployed Apple devices should consider taking advantage of Apple’s Volume Purchase Program to license mobile apps that support the work of their staff.  This program allows educational institutions to purchase multiple copies of the same Apple app with many of the developers offering up to 50% off of these multiple purchases.

To find out which apps are available through the discount program search  Each app’s page details the volume pricing.  For example, if you search Pages it states that the cost is $9.99 ea (1-19 units) and $4.99 ea (20+ units).

To utilize this program one must must have a Program Facilitator account. However,  WiredOut also serves this role and has a simplified process and departments can now order activation codes through them with using an eRequest:

  • go to to find an app and figure out the pricing.
  • generate an eRequest to WiredOut ( listed as an internal order / vendor in the eRequest system as WiredOut, The Tech Store @ OSU)
  • once they process the order, whomever is listed on the eRequest will receive an email with a spreadsheet containing download links and activation codes.
  • activation codes work just like a gift card and are entered in the system for each license.

For more information or questions, contact WiredOut.

TechTips: Google Drive

Google has finally released their long awaited competitor to Dropbox, SkyDrive, and iCloud, which they are calling Google Drive. Individuals can get up to 5GB of space for free but a premium service is available for 25GB at $2.49/mo, 100GB for $4.99/mo, and $49.99 a month for 1TB.

Users of Google Docs will find Drive very familiar. In fact, Google Docs is built into Drive.  Just like Docs, one can collaborate with others on documents, can share content with others, and one can add and reply to comments and receive notifications when others have commented on shared items.

Users can attach photos from Drive to posts in Google+ and will soon be able to attach Drive content into Gmail, which can reduced the reliance on the use of file attachments. Work is also underway to allow third-party apps to access the content.

Drive supports a large number of file formats and includes the Google Drive viewer, which allows one to preview documents in 16 formats. Drive also tracks changes made to content so one view the revision history for the past 30 days.

Like other cloud storage services, Drive provides a single location at which to save and store documents and media content that can be automatically synced across multiple devices.  Since Google is also behind Android, it’s mobile version of the service was released first. As of this writing the iPhone/iPad app had not yet been released. Drive also takes advantage of Android’s accessibility features so those with sight impairments can use the mobile app, eyes-free.

The desktop client works just like Dropbox’s.  A folder is created locally which is used to store the content to be synced. One simply has to drag and drop an item in the Drive folder. Also like with Dropbox, the contents of the folder can be managed as any local folder. Since the desktop I first installed the client on is located behind a corporate firewall, Dropbox required the use of a proxy to allow real-time syncing. This was not the case with Drive. After installation, I dragged a file into the desktop folder and it showed up on the web client within 3 seconds.

Those with Google/Gmail accounts should visit to get set up. It may take a day or two for your account to be setup. There is plenty of online support available.

Eric Schnell

TechTips: Optimizing the New iPad

It’s been a  few weeks since  the release of the new iPad and early adopters have uncovered a few “features” which can be optimized to get the most out of the device.

Data Plan Management

Edward Baid at USA Today wrote about how the new iPad’s 4G service can use up a data plan’s allotment very quickly.  In fact, streaming an hour of high-definition video alone on either Verizon or AT&T’s4G data networks can use up an entire monthly allocation. One’s data allocation can also be eaten by using the 4G service to download apps already purchased for another iPad onto the new iPad through Apple’s iCloud. While the new iPad has a 50MB per app download limit on 4G. The data use required to move all the smaller-sized apps to the new iPad collectively using 4G adds up.

Verizon has advised users to use Wi-Fi when it is available to help extend the data plan since the iPad almost always defaults to a Wi-Fi connection when available. To ensure that you don’t use cellular data it would be a good practice to turn off Cellular Data within Settings when you don’t need it. Or, just shut deactivate the LTE service. Since the data plans on both AT&T and Verizon are prepaid one can select only what you think you’ll need and then add on or cancel data plans as often needed under the Cellular Data opinion in Settings.

Battery Life

The retina display on the new iPad is exceptional with great screen resolution and the enhanced color saturation. However, both features also require a lot of battery power. So much so that although the battery on the new iPad has 70 percent higher capacity than the iPad2 it still has the same run time.

Information Week posted several tips for optimizing the battery life:

  • Instead of using the auto-brightness setting, which adjusts the brightness to match the amount of ambient light, use the manual controls. The suggestion is to set the display set to about 25%-30% brightness, which is still plenty bright for indoor use.
  • App notifications use battery power even when the device is not being used since they turn on the display and use battery when they arrive, even for 5 or 10 seconds. In the Notifications setting menu, turn Notifications “off” for as many apps as possible. For apps which you must have notifications, turn the View on Lock Screen setting off so the display is not turned on when notifications arrive.
  • Wireless radios rank second to the display in battery use.  The new iPad defaults to using Wi-Fi when available. If you have access to Wi-Fi turn the cellular radio off completely. Turn off Bluetooth unless you’re actively using a Bluetooth accessory, such as a keyboard.
  • Location services (GPS) also drain battery. Turning location services off completely can extending battery life. If certain apps need location services one can just limit notifications to only those apps that must use them.
  • The iPad uses battery when it wakes itself up to check for email or other synced data (such as calendar/contacts)  To increase battery life turn off push email entirely or sync once every 15, 30, or 60 minutes. Better yet, have it sync manually and it will only check for mail only when the email app is opened. This is also a good strategy for lowering data plan usage.

Test results from DisplayMate Labs conclude that the battery life indicator on the new iPad displays 100% charged when it is really at about 90%. The labs suggest that  if one stops charging the new iPad when the battery indicator says 100% you won’t get the maximum running time. To maximize the battery keep your iPad plugged in for an hour or so more after the display reads 100%.  The lab also discovered that when the new iPad is fully discharged it takes 5.5 hours to charge. That’s only if the new iPad is off or in sleep mode. The labs estimates that recharging while using the new iPad, with the display set to maximum brightness, will take about 20 hours. It would be a good practice to charge the new iPad overnight or when you’re not tempted to pick it up while it is charging.

Portable HotSpot

The Verizon version of the new iPad launched with the ability to use the device as a portable WiFi hotspot, allowing other deives to sdhare the network connection. There is an option of sharing the data connection using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or a USB connection.AT&T has indicated that they are working on this feature.   Setting up the new iPad as a hotspot is fairly simple and requires an active cellular data plan.

Of course, having more devices using the connection will also eat up the data plan allocation.

Eric Schnell

TechTips: RockMelt: The Social Web Browser

rockmelt logoIf you are a heavy Facebook and Twitter user, you might want to hunt for an invite and try the RockMelt web browser. RockMelt works like any other browser with one big difference: it integrates Facebook and Twitter.

In short, one can use the browser to browse web sites AND keep up-to-date with your friends without opening Facebook or Twitter.

When RockMelt is opened it immediately connects to Facebook. Along the sides of the main browser window are two sidebar ribbons with icons; one on the left showing friends, one on the right displaying  favorite social sites.  In addition to social networking sites, the browser can directly access RSS feeds. When RockMelt  is minimized, update notifications persist on the lower right hand side of  the monitor.

The browser also has built-in support for Facebook chat so one can initiate a chat session from within the browser.  Another handy feature is  that all  settings, notes, preferences, and bookmarks aer saved online so that can be synced between devices. This means one can log into the RockMelt browser on any computer and everything saved on another computer is available. One can also share web site links directly to Facebook or Twitter by a simple drag and drop.

The browser has the same look and feel as Google Chrome since it is built on the same platform (Apple’s WebKit). This also means that all Google Chrome extensions are available to RockMelt  users. The browser is available for Mac and Windows.

The RockMelt effort is backed by Netscape developer Marc Andreessen. The browser went “live” on November 8, 2010.

Eric Schnell   

TechTips: Read It Later With Instapaper

How many times a day do you come across articles or interesting items online that you don’t have time to read at that moment?

The most common method of saving such content is to create browser bookmarks. However, over time browser bookmark lists can become very long and unorganized.  Another common approach to saving content is to drag shortcuts to the desktop. Again, over time the desktop can become loaded with shortcuts.  Another challenge is that if you happen make use of several web browsers, or computers, the content saved one one is not available on another. In the end, what was once interesting content eventually gets lost in the clutter.

instapaper logo

One solution to addressing this problem is Instapaper, a “simple tool to save web pages for reading later.” This service allows one to save content accessed on one browser or device for later reading on a different browser or device.

After creating an Instapaper account, the user installs a browser ‘bookmarklet.’  When content is being view, one clicks on the Read Later  bookmarklet button. A “Saved!” message will briefly appear in the corner of the page as a link to the content is save on the users’ account.

All saved content is saved and accessed from the Instapaper site or app. An RSS feed is also available for all the items that have been saved allowing the content to be accessed from any RSS reader.

Some additional features:

  • If you use folders, each folder has a bookmarklet to save pages directly into it under the Folder Tools section in the sidebar.
  • Provides Kindle-compatible files containing the text versions of your saved pages that can be transferred via USB.
  • The bookmarklet also works on Apple mobile devices: just add it to your bookmarks in Safari, and it will be synchronized to the bookmarks folder. Many Apple applications make use of their API to provide support for sending pages directly to Instapaper.
  • Other Instapaper users can subscribe to a folder of your Starred items if they know your username.

As with many cloud-based services, Instapaper has no outside funding or corporate backing. So, although the service is free, it is ad-supported.

Eric Schnell   

TechTips: URL Shortening

URL shortening is the process of taking a long URL and turning it into, well, a shorter one.

For example, instead of using the 168 character URL, one could use the 27 character shortened URL of

The mechanism for resolving a shortened URL is relatively simple. The long URL must first be registered with a URL shortening service. The service either generates a random shortened URL or the user could enter a custom ‘alias.’ The service maintains a database that contains the long URL and the shortened URL. When a web browser is directed to go to the shortened URL, the service performs a redirect of the shortened address and the browser is sent to registered long URL. There are many, many services that create shortened URLs, most notably

Shortened URLs are essential in communication channels where there is a limit to  the number of characters that can be used, such as with Twitter. Shortened URLs can be useful when reading longer URLs aloud to customers over the phone, including URLs in printed materials, or when adding URLs to video displays or embedding them within presentations. Shortened URLs are also much easier to enter into mobile devices.

One concern with URL shortening is that the domain of a URL plays an important role in identifying the authority of a resource. Which URL would you trust: or Simply put, brand/name recognition – the authority of an organization – disappears since the domain is hidden behind the shortened URL. Web users must select the shortened URL and actually visit the redirected site before discovering the site’s authority.

One solution to this authority issue is the growing use of branded URL shortening services. An example is Flickr. Each photo page also get a shortened Flickr URL. The domain is owned and operated by so the shortening service is as reliable as the Flickr service. Therefore, when someone navigates using a link with the domain they know they will get a Flickr photo page, not a redirect to a site containing malware.

Another problem with using cloud-based services is when the services die, as almost did in August ’09,  all the shortened links would break. The person relying upon the service would have to  re-enter each URL into yet another shortening service, which could also die.  This would be a big problem if the shortened links generated by the service were to be included in printed publications.

Work is underway on an OSU branded URL shortening service that not only helps to promote and support the institutional brand by creating authoritive shortened URLs,  but also increases the chances that carefully crafted custom links will live a longer life.

Photo by schill under Creative Commons license

Eric Schnell  

TechTips: Extending Cellphone Battery Life

I recently purchased a new Android-based mobile phone. I spent the first day checking out all the features and options, downloading a bunch of applications, and experimenting with the GPS and location-based services. It didn’t take very long to notice the battery drained relatively quickly.

The problem with the current generation of phones is that all the neat features also eat away at the battery. They have large bright screens.  They have connections for 3G, Wi-Fi, and GPS. They connect to the Internet. They have applications that run in the background to provide alerts.

Simply put, cellphones spend a lot of time connected to their chargers these days.

Here are a few things one can do to extend cellphone battery life:

Check the settings of your background applications and notifications: Having email, Twitter messages, Facebook updates, and calendar appointments delivered minute-by-minute is perhaps the largest battery drain. Resetting the email polling interval from every 5 minutes to an hour will do wonders for battery life. If you keep multiple applications “open” for quicker access or alerts, run them only as needed. There is no need to get storm alerts if it is going to be 80 and sunny.

Turn off roaming/3G/4G when not needed:  If you have good coverage and are mostly usind the phone for talking, or get only occasional email updates, there isn’t a need to keep such a wide wireless connection open.

Use location-based services onlt when needed: Having the phone constantly look for new Bluetooth devices, Wi-Fi hotspots, GPS positions definitely eats up battery. Find out how to turn these things off on your phone, or automate their use. Add shortcuts and widgets to the homescreen to make it easier to control the radios.

Play with screen time-outs, brightness, and backlight: Adjust the setting for how long the screen stays lit after a quick check of the clock. Turn on automatic brightness so the screen auto-adjusts in light and dark environments rather than having brightness turned all the way up. Alternatively, lower the default screen brightness.

Keep it cool: Avoid keeping the battery at full charge and high temperature. This is the case when placing a cell phone or spare battery in a hot car. Keep it out of your pocket and away from your body heat whenever possible.

Turn off live wallpapers and vibrate; lower ringer volume: They do use processing power and eat into the battery life.

Please leave a comment if you have any other tips for extending smartphone battery life.


 iPhone | BlackBerry | Windows Mobile | Palm


LifeHacker | Gizmodo | wikiHow |

Photo by fbar under Creative Commons license 

Eric Schnell  

Older posts