Sunday, July 15, 2018

Delivery Optimization

After my installation of Windows 10 April 2018 Update I went to Settings / Storage just looking for how much space was used by the backup copy of Windows.

But I got distracted...


I clicked on "Free up space now".

As it was scanning the entry for "Delivery Optimization Files" caught my attention with over 2 GB.


What are "Delivery Optimization Files"?

From Microsoft (archive.is)
Windows Update Delivery Optimization works by letting you get Windows updates and Microsoft Store apps from sources in addition to Microsoft, like other PCs on your local network, or PCs on the Internet that are downloading the same files.
So, how well is it working? Go to Settings / Delivery Optimization.

I always set it to "Allow downloads from other PCs" but only check "PCs on my local network".

Then click on "Activity monitor" to see what it's doing.


While I started on this journey on a PC that had just updated to Windows 10 April 2018 Update, I went over to a PC that hadn't updated to get representative numbers.


This PC is the only one Ethernet connected to the Internet. 2/3s of the Windows Update data came from Microsoft and 1/3 came from other PCs on the local network.

But further, this PC provided over 1 GB of Windows Update data to other PCs on the local network.

Interesting.








Sunday, July 08, 2018

Android Messaging, Part 2

I hadn't even gotten my Android Messaging post published before everything changed.

Inexplicably, AT&T Messages had started working again. Pulse was working great.

Then Google changed the world.
Google launches Android Messages on PC so you can text from your computer - as it looks to take on WhatsApp
This has 90+% of the function of Pulse for free and delivered by Google, not a third party.

The web presentation is way more Material Design than Pulse but I thought Pulse was fine.

Messages for Web doesn't have scheduled messages and I've used them a couple of times. I'll miss them but will trade them for an integrated solution.

I had trouble getting the Android Notifications working like I wanted but that may just be my unfamiliarity with Android 8.1 Oreo notifications.

The web presentation is a little more chatty than Pulse in that it asks you if you want to run Messages for Web if you have it open in more than one place.

If you have an active web presentation you don't get the notification on the phone. That's problematic when you have been using the web presentation and then walk away from the PC. It seems to take a couple of minutes (5?) before it will resume sending notifications to the phone. The messages get delivered to the phone just without notification.

The Android Messages client generates battery warning messages now and then that you can turn off and the web presentation reminds you that the phone is not on Wi-Fi. That's easy to turn off as well.
How to set up Android Messages on PC
  1. Go to the Google Play Store and update or install Android Messages to the latest version
  2. Head over to messages.android.com on whichever PC or laptop you want to text from. You'll be greeted with a massive QR code.
  3. Open up the Android Messages app on your phone.
  4. Tap the three vertical dots on the right hand side and find the "Messages for web" option
  5. Tap the "Scan QR code" option and point your phone's camera at the QR code in the browser window.
  6. Your phone will buzz with a vibration and you'll be all set up and ready to go. Your conversations will show up on the left hand side of the browser window.
      https://www.mirror.co.uk/tech/google-launches-android-messages-pc-12757484
There's really lots more in this latest update of Messages. Read it all here.

Now I just wonder when Google will kill this.

PS. I'm not sure about Android Messages for Web. Since I've purchased the lifetime subscription for Pulse ($10.99) I've gone back to Pulse until I can sort out Android Messages for Web.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Android Messaging, Part 1

I have been using AT&T's messages.att.net for months. It worked well.

But then in January 2018 I got the following text message:


I called AT&T and they said to ignore it. That was wrong.

I started getting this response to https://messages.att.net:


After literally months of calls to AT&T their story was that they have discontinued this service except for non-phone devices, e.g. tablets and watches. Another story was that it only ever worked for AT&T branded phones. But we know different, don't we?

So I went off on a quest for alternatives.

I first tried Join. Here's a brief write-up on it.

I thought it was an interesting implementation. It uses your Google Drive as a place to store the text messages. It runs an app on the phone that watches the Google Messages app and sends the data to your Google Drive. Then I used Join's web version to view the text messages. In addition to the web presentation Join offers a Chrome extension and a Windows 10 app (paid).

The web version has a 60 second timer between updates and often paints the messages out of sequence and omits messages. The web version doesn't support displaying MMS pictures yet. The author said he will have to add that in the future. In a group thread you can't tell who the author of an individual message is.

The other presentation methods may address these issues but I wasn't impressed.

The next app I found was Pulse. Pulse is simple and fast. Here's a good write-up on it.

Pulse installs a replacement app on your phone for Google Messages. I wasn't wild about that but it really works nice. By being the default SMS app the Pulse app gets instant visibility of text messages. The Google Messages app still sees all the messages so apps like SMS Backup & Restore still work.

The web version requires you to create an account with Pulse and login to it. For that you get instant visibility to your phone's text messages. All of the issues I had with Join were solved with Pulse.

Both Join and Pulse are paid apps. Both also require that your phone is turned on and connected to data and cellular networks.

Post script: Just for giggles I tried messages.att.net again. It worked fine. My history was empty (it only goes back 90 days) but otherwise it worked.

Nah, not going back.

PS. Don't do anything until you read Part 2 next week.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sweech

When I was using the iPhone 6s I used Air Transfer to move files from the phone to my PC.

That worked as well as anything can with an iOS device.

When I moved to the Essential I resumed using Bluetooth to move files from the phone to the PC. But Bluetooth isn't as fast as Wi-Fi.

I liked the way that Air Transfer set up a web server on the phone that you browsed to from your PC. I searched the Google Play Store for something similar.

I ended up with Sweech. The free version works fine.


It works similar to Air Transfer but transfers in BOTH directions.

When you browse to the Sweech web server you can drag and drop files from your PC onto the web page and Sweech will transfer the files to the phone.



Nice.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Essential Portrait Mode

The Essential PH-1 has gotten a lot of bad press about its camera. Most of it was well deserved, especially early on.

But Essential has been working hard to improve the experience. They updated the camera app 11 times in the first 5 months.

It will take new hardware in the (not going to happen) PH-2 to resolve completely but the current software has smoothed out the rough edges.

The release at the end of November 2017 added a portrait mode.

I noticed the setting recently and have played with it.


I took these photos without playing with any of the adjustments.



Click on either photo to see higher resolution versions.

It worked just as well on an actual portrait photo.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Again, Again, and Again

When I last blogged about my Essential Phone experience I didn't really tell the whole story.

I bought a Sprint version of the Essential on Swappa for $250. I worked some magic and got it carrier unlocked. It worked fine for about 24 hours and then the cellular radio died.

I worked with Essential and they replaced the Sprint version with an refurbished unlocked version. That one worked fine but...

I put it back on Swappa and it sold for $350. Unbelievably I made $100 on my experiment.

Then...

Amazon put them on sale for $399.99. Amazon has an exclusive color of Halo Gray. It has a dark gray ceramic back and polished titanium frame.


So I bought my 3rd Essential Phone.

And I found a spring-clip belt holster by Encased.

I like the look of carbon fiber and the back of an Essential Phone is as slick as ... So I added a carbon fiber skin on the back.

I found a set of various length USB A to USB C cables.

I came across an Android app similar to the iOS app Air Transfer with the unusual name of Sweech. In a later post I'll describe how I use it.

Battery life has been excellent. My battery remaining at 10:00 PM has been 68%. A similar period on the iPhone 6s was 51%, Obviously the iPhone had a smaller, older battery though.

The vibration is still just so so.

My Bluetooth headphones still occasionally (but rarely) seem to switch from ear to ear. I found a reddit post that speculated that this is due to the Wi-Fi radio connecting to a new access point. There seems to be some merit to that as mine exhibits this switching in the same place on my morning walk, perhaps where there is a strong access point.

The Essential Phone's camera has gotten some really bad press but my experience shows that this is mostly resolved. Again a later post will discuss this.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

iOS 11 Keeps on Giving

Apple introduced iOS 11 along with iPhones 8 and X back on September 26, 2017. On October 8, 2017 I posted that iOS 11 had already been updated twice.

I couldn't have imagined that that rate would have been sustained.

iOS 11.4 was released on May 29, 2018, the 15th variant of iOS 11.

  1. 11.0
  2. 11.0.1
  3. 11.0.2
  4. 11.0.3
  5. 11.1
  6. 11.1.1
  7. 11.1.2
  8. 11.2
  9. 11.2.1
  10. 11.2.2
  11. 11.2.5
  12. 11.2.6
  13. 11.3
  14. 11.3.1
  15. 11.4

This is an average of a new version every 2 1/2 weeks.

And you thought Windows 10 was updating too often.