Sunday, July 30, 2017

System Image Backup

In a couple of my previous posts (SSD Migration and Backup, Restore, Test) I mentioned Windows System Image Backup tool. These posts were written when the Windows system was running Windows 7.

Now all my systems are running Windows 10. And a couple of my systems have updated to Windows Version 1703 Creators Update.

Microsoft is step by step migrating from the legacy Control Panel to the new Settings app. Even when the function isn't available in Settings.

For example in Windows 1607 Anniversary Update you could type "Backup and Restore..." and the legacy Control Panel dialog would be presented.



Now in Windows Version 1703 Creators Update the legacy Control Panel dialog is not presented.


Notice that "Reset this PC" is presented. There's a message in that result. That's where Microsoft is steering you, to reset rather than restore.

Here's how to get to Windows' System Image Backup tool.

Press the Windows key and type "control panel".


Click on "Control Panel".


Click on "Backup and Restore (Windows 7)".


Click on "Create a system image".


Select your backup target and click on "Next".


Confirm your backup settings and click on "Start backup". This make take a while, up to a couple of hours for a big drive.

I fully expect that Microsoft will completely remove this System Image Backup capability in future versions.

You HAVE to read my previous posts (SSD Migration and Backup, Restore, Test) before you strike out using this technique.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

iPhone Task Switching

Maybe this is because of my long time use of Windows but my device usage often requires me to switch back and forth between 2 apps or windows.

Neither Android or iOS have readily supported this. Recent Android releases require you to tap the task list key and then tap the app you want to switch to. Nougat improves this letting you double tap the task list key to simply switch to the previous app. iOS has required you to double tap the home key and then swipe back to the previous app and tap on it.

Finally 3D Touch addresses this in iOS for the devices that support 3D Touch.

To do this just press firmly on the left side of the screen. Then swipe all the way to the right to go back to the previous app.

Source: iMore

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Windows 10 System Restore

From Windows 10 Forums:
System Restore is a way to undo system changes by using restore points to return your system files and settings to an earlier point in time without affecting personal files of users. System Restore uses a feature called system protection that regularly creates and saves information about your PC's drivers, programs, registry, system files, and settings as restore points.

If you are having recent problems with Windows 10, then you could do a System Restore to restore Windows back to an earlier point in time, called a restore point. 
But it's hard to use System Restore if it's turned off.

And Windows 10 tends to turn off System Restore every time you do an upgrade, e.g. Creators Update.

So....

After you upgrade Windows 10 press the Windows key and type "Create a restore point".


Click on it and you'll see this dialog.


Yep. System Restore is turned off. Click on "Configure".


Click on "Turn on system protection" and drag the "Max Usage" over to something 5% or greater.

Click on "OK" and you're done. And safer.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Android Auto / Car Play

My 2017 Honda Pilot supports Android Auto and Apple's Car Play on its "infotainment" system with a 9" touch screen.

Overall the infotainment system is confusing and the smartphone support doesn't mitigate that.

The Pilot has a specially designated USB port for smartphones. When you plug the smartphone into this port the car app automatically launches. I bought a USB cord that supports both microUSB and Lightning connectors.

I've played with both Android Auto and Car Play. While generally similar in function, as expected, they differ greatly in execution.

For example, when Car Play launches the iPhone screen is still usable. You can still interact with the screen. On an Android when Android Auto launches the screen goes blank and the only way to interact is with the Pilot's touch screen.

On the iPhone apps have to be specifically designated as enabled for Car Play. This results in that you can only use Apple Maps for navigation and not Google Maps.

On an Android phone there is much more flexibility. There is a list of apps available in each category. In the audio section on my phone you can choose from Google Music, Pocket Cast or Tune In.

But most of the time I want to just listen to the radio. It took a little exploring but you can do that and the setting persists over turning the car off and on. What I did is after the car app launched, press "Home" on the Infotainment system then choose "Audio". Press "FM" and the radio will begin playing. The car app will still override with navigation prompts.

I played with both Apple Maps and Google Maps for navigation. Apple Maps is, well, Apple Maps. To my surprise the first time I used Apple Maps it cautioned me about traffic congestion ahead of me without my giving it a destination. Google Maps does that all the time but I wasn't expecting Apple Maps to do that.

That is about the only surprise I got from Apple Maps.

Comparing to Google Maps, Apple Maps doesn't give lane directions on upcoming turns, doesn't do pinch to zoom, and doesn't use the Pilot's dashboard display (more later). I probably don't need to tell you that Apple's directions still aren't as good as Google's. My daughter lives in a neighborhood with a street that has been closed for a decade or more. Apple Maps insists on routing visitors to that closed street.

Android Auto

As you approach a turn Apple Maps presents a redundant representation of the upcoming turn. I couldn't figure out why until I used Google Maps. When that same event occurs Google Maps sends that mini representation to the Pilot's dashboard where the mileage or tire pressure is displayed! How awesome.

Android Auto

When using navigation on Android Auto you can mute the navigation prompts. But even better you can mute the navigation prompts EXCEPT if there's a traffic alert.

Android Auto

Android Auto

And just as a bonus Google Maps will show you gas stations and prices.

Android Auto

I've liked using Android Auto so much that I've added a line to my cell phone plan and left my old Moto X in the Pilot all the time.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

iPhone Field Test Mode

I was investigating AT&T's signal strength in a specific location recently. On an Android phone getting a numerical reading for cellular signal strength was easy - Settings / About phone / Network.


But nothing is that easy on an iPhone.

But on an iPhone there's a really neat trick that is actually better.

Here is how the signal strength is normally displayed.


Dots.

Now go into the Phone app and switch to the Keypad like you were going to dial a phone number. Dial *3001#12345#* and press the Call button.


This will launch the Field Test Mode app and where the bars/dots were in the top left corner of the screen, you'll now see a negative number. The negative number is the decibel signal strength reading and should be followed by the carrier name and then the network type.


Bigger absolute numbers are bad. Remember these are negative numbers. -100dBm and lower down to -115 is sometimes iffy but mostly usable.  -90s OK,  -80s good, -70s excellent, and -60s off the chart fantastic

To exit and return your iPhone to normal status, all you need to do is hit the Home button.

But here comes the trick.

If you want your iPhone to always display numerical signal strength instead of signal bars, you can perform the following process.

Once in Field-test mode (accessed by entering and dialing the code above), hold down the power button until you see “Slide to Power Off”, then release it.

Then hold the Home button until you’re returned to your main app screen. Now you’ll see your numerical signal strength while you use your phone, and you’ll be able to tap the signal numbers to switch to signal bars, and vice versa.

To exit this persistent field-test mode, simply re-load Field Test Mode and exit it via the Home button.

Source: UberSignal