Friday, December 17, 2010

Android IT Apps - Part 5: Disk Space

Android robot logo.Image via WikipediaAlthough not strictly an IT app, I felt this was appropriate to include here. It is generally the IT people who end up using or recommending apps like this. These apps help you look at and manage the space on your Android phone and SDCard.

DiskUsage - I like this first app probably more because it is like WinDirStat than because of its' own benefits. DiskUsage provides a graphical view of your storage on phone or card. Within the app you can zoom in and delete files if you wish. I like being able to keep track of what is taking up space.

ES File Explorer - This is a really nice app. It lets you see the structure of your phone/SDCard. The GUI is very nice. EStrongs puts out components that work with this app - a bookmark app, a task manager, and a security app. They are all free. ES gives you the opportunity to backup your phone to your card - very handy! There is a tab for LANs and one for FTP (also very nice and integrated well). You can customize the app easily with wallpaper, custom folder icons, etc.

All in all, I would recommend using ES File Explorer
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Android IT Apps - Part 4: WiFi

Wi-Fi Alliance logoImage via WikipediaWiFinder - This app is a basic scanner of WiFi networks. It has a New Scan button and you can check the box to show only open APs. You can connect to any of the APs listed by tapping on it, and if need be entering the password. Otherwise you are given the options to Connect, Forget, or Cancel. The app lists the SSID, Channel Signal Level and whether or not it is encrypted (with type of encryption supported). WiFinder offers to turn on WiFi when it starts and prompts you on whether you want it to stay on when you exit.

WiFi Analyzer - This app is ad supported. It has a couple of handy views: Channel Graph, Time Graph, Channel Rating, AP List, and Signal Meter. Channel Graph is good for showing relative strength of signals of the networks nearby. You can change the settings to either display SSIDs with the same name as one or separately. Time graph gives a slightly more confusing look of the same info (you can change the sampling time of any of these in the settings). Channel Rating shows you the strength of the signal on a particular channel. The comparison is a good one and handy if you are trying to determine the best channel to set your AP to. Ap List shows a list of the APs their MAC address, the channel they are broadcasting on, and the signal strength (with a lock over the signal strength icon if it is a locked network). The signal meter is very handy. You can have the sound on or off (like a geiger counter sound), there is a blinking light to as well. The screen shows the SSID with MAC address in parentheses and a signal meter showing the strength of the signal - coded from grey to yellow to green. On any of the screens you can take a snapshot of the screen. You can also send the current scan results. This app also prompts to start wifi, or you can set it to automatically start wifi on start of app and stop it on exit. I liked the setting to stay on while the app was active, otherwise my phone would keep turning the screen off.

WiFi Manager - WiFi Manager is exactly what it says, a manager. There is nothing particularly spectacular about this app. It shows the SSIDs, whether they are open or not, if not what type of encryption, State (connected, favorite, etc), Channel, Signal Level. You can choose to show only the live networks or all known networks. It can sort by Signal, Name, or Open First. There is a button to auto update (the update interval is set in the settings), and a button to update now. Like the others this has a popup that asks you to enable wifi if it isn't active and the exit selection from the menu is "Exit and Disable WiFi".

I like WiFi Analyzer best. It seems to have everything that the others have plus more. What's even better are all the settings it has to make things easier. The export feature is handy as is the screen capture feature.
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Android It Apps - Part 3: Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)

Android robot logo.Image via WikipediaMany times I need to remote into my server or workstation to make changes or check on something (less and less as more and more stuff is either in the cloud or on my phone). I looked around for a preferably free Android app to do this. What I found was mostly junk. There are many apps, but most of them require that you either run something on the computer you are remoting into, or are web interfaces that are somewhat lacking.

I finally settled on Remote RDP Lite 3.0.6. The lite version has some capabilities disabled and allows only one saved connection (with the pay version you can save many RDP connections in the list and just tap on one to connect). But even the lite version is fairly robust. All my computers that allow RDP using port 3389 worked fine with this app.

Any IT professional with an Android device will like this app, and find it very useful.

The other app that is very nice for RDP/VNC is PocketCloud from Wyse. It also will only allow one profile unless you purchase the full version. It has audible feedback and everything is done through the touch screen without a mouse pointer (Remote RDP has a mouse pointer which you move around). I personally found it harder to move around in PocketCloud. A definite pro for the Wyse product is the better GUI and the ability to choose between installing a local client on machines you wish to remote into or not. If you do choose to install the local client the app has the ability to autodiscover.

It is my personal preference, but I find the Remote RDP product easier to use.
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Android IT Apps - Part 2: Dell Service Tag

Image representing Dell as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBaseI found 2 apps in the market that semi-fit my requirements for this type of app.  I needed an application on my phone that could get information about a system by inputing the Dell Service tag (most of my systems are Dell, since we have a contract with them).

Dell Service Requester - This app requires you to enter the service tag and tap the query button in order to retrieve the information from the dell website.  It worked the first time I used it and subsequently, whether because of my phone configuration or some other reason, it quit (force close with a report option) every time I tapped the query button.

Dell Service Tag Scanner - There are 3 buttons available when you open the app: Save, Scan Barcode, and Fetch Warranty Info. This app allows you to enter the Service Tag manually, use your phone to scan the bar code (although I had some trouble with this feature - maybe because my hands are not steady enough), and even save the tag by giving it a name.  If you save the tag you then only have to tap the tag name to automatically enter it again (very nice feature).  I find I use this one much more often than the requester app (especially since that one usually crashes itself).
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Android IT Apps - Part 1: Ping

I have been playing around with a few applications on my android (Froyo on HTC Incredible) for my job.  I was looking for a good ping app.  I looked at a few.  All the one here are free.  But I only found one of them especially useful.

Net Status - does a bunch of things well but I didn't find it extremely useful.  also the typeface is too small on my android

Ping and DNS - Okay but not intuitive or very useful

Network Ping - easy to use, ping count is configurable

Ping - This, IMHO, is the best of the bunch.  It is ad supported.  You easily enter any number of single computers either in IP form or domain name.  Once entered the program can ping them all with a readout of the ping time in milliseconds, or ping any one separately.  There is a color indicator next to each entry which is green - for good connection, darkening shades of orange - as the connection time takes longer, red if the app cannot ping the destination address.  When pinging a single address you can export the results (csv).  One of the things that sets this app apart from the rest is that it keeps your list of computers so you can easily tap "Ping All" to get an instant read of your network.

Computers were a breeze to add and the app is easy to use and helpful.
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