Tag Archives: cloud

StoAmigo’s TackApp Gives You a Personal Cloud



StoAmigo Logo

StoAmigo gives people a personal cloud with access to their files at home or back in the office from anywhere there’s an internet connection. Todd sits down on the sofa with Randy Creighton, VP Legal and Business Affairs at StoAmigo and talks through some of the background to the products and the key benefits of StoAmigo and the TackApp.

StoAmigo firmly believes in the benefits of the cloud but unlike many other cloud storage vendors, StoAmigo thinks that control and ownership of the data and files should remain with the individual, using storage that is already available. Wherever the information is held, it should still be possible to get to it from all over the world.

StoAmigo brings together storage from multiple sources into an “access anywhere” cloud and key to the ecosystem is StoAmigo’s TackApp which joins local device storage from PC, Mac or Android into the cloud. All the software is free to download so there’s no risk in trying it out.

As expected from a cloud service, files can be shared securely with other people too. StoAmigo takes this a little further than others, providing information on when files were accessed and whether they were viewed or downloaded. This gives even greater control and ownership over the data.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com, and special thanks to our CES partner, StoAmigo. Download and try out TackApp for free for Windows, Mac and Android from the links here.

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StoAmigo Gives You A Cloud at CES



StoAmigo LogoRegular patrons of Kickstarter and Indiegogo will know that personal cloud devices regularly pop up for crowdfunding. Having said that, there’s no need to take a chance and wait several months as StoAmigo have created a complete ecosystem that unifies network cloud, personal cloud and device storage. Don Baine finds out more from Richard Stiles, VP StoAmigo.

StoAmigo brings together storage into an “access anywhere” cloud from multiple sources and key to the ecosystem is StoAmigo’s TackApp which joins local device storage from PC, Mac or Android smartphone into the cloud. Accessing the StoAmigo cloud from the smartphone client app, Don is impressed by the speed and responsiveness of the system. Video and music can be streamed instantly, and as expected, all the data is encrypted.

All the software is free to download so there’s no risk in trying it out. For those wanting a dedicated storage device, StoAmigo’s CloudLocker provides an initial 278GB of NAS storage which can be expanded by adding additional USB storage. It’s priced at US$349 but there’s currently $150 off if you’re quick.

Don Baine is the Gadget Professor and he holds classes at TheGadgetProfessor.com.

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Philips Hue and IFTTT



Hue Personal Wireless LightingIn my first post on Philips Hue, I referred to “The Internet of things” where normally dumb devices such as fridges and washing machines are connected to the network. Having a washing machine with an IP address may mean that I can check whether the spin cycle has finished without getting out of my chair, but the real value of the internet of things comes when the devices start communicating among themselves. Not in a nefarious SkyNet way, but in a more practical sense: the washing machine counts the number of washes and when the soap is getting low, automatically orders your preferred brand from your preferred grocery service.

Obviously, it’s going to take a little while until this is a reality, but the web site IFTTT is beginning to show what is possible as more and more services are on-line and cloud-based. IFTTT is an abbreviation of “IThis, Then That” and reflects what IFTTT can do. It automates “If something happens, then I want that to happen”. In IFTTT-speak, a trigger on a channel generates an action on another (or the same) channel. A channel is typically an on-line or cloud-based service such as Twitter, Dropbox, Gmail, Evernote or Weather. An example of what could happen is, “If I get a tweet on Twitter, copy it to Evernote” or “Every morning at 7.00 am, text me the weather forecast”. These are recipes, as IFTTT calls them, and there’s a large range of them already cooked up on the IFTTT web site.

It’s at this point in the story that Philips Hue comes in as a channel on IFTTT, which means that the lights in your home can be controlled by external events via the recipes on IFTTT. Here are some examples of recipes already available; at sunset, turn on the lights; when it’s freezing outside, turn the lights blue; when you receive an email from a particular person, blink the links; when the stockmarket closes down, turn the lights red. Some recipes are perhaps more useful than others, but the range of channels means that there’s tremendous flexibility. There are currently 77 channels on IFTTT and you can browse by channel, so it’s easy to see all the recipes that involve Philips Hue.

Setting up your Hue to work with IFTTT is two step process but it only has to be done once. The first step is to register with the Philips Hue website and allow the site to access the bridge unit within your home. Once you’ve done this and have a username and password, you can control your lights from outside your home using the Hue app on your smartphone too, so it’s probably something that most Hue owners have already done.

Back at IFTTT, the second step is then to activate your Hue channel. You’ll need to supply your Hue username and password, and authorise IFTTT to access your account.

Activate Hue

Now I’m going reuse a recipe that someone else has already created. In this instance, I’m going to flash the lights when I receive an email with the latest GNC podcast. I’ve already activated my Gmail channel.

Gmail to Hue

All I have to do is put in the email address – geeknews at gmail.com – and any time I get an email from Todd, the lights flash. This is the basic recipe; there are others that use keywords or other information likely to be in an email. If I want to, I can choose one particular light or all of them. Once the information is typed in and the recipe has been activated, all I have to do is sit back and wait for the latest podcast email to come in. Blink, blink.

That’s it. All pretty straightforward. If you are more adventurous, you can delve deeper into the recipes to customise them to your needs but there are plenty on IFTTT to get you started and provide inspiration. Philips Hue aside, the insight into the possibilities of the “Internet of things” is incredible.

I hope you have enjoyed this short series of articles on Philips Hue. It’s the first time that I’ve done this kind of short serial, so I’d welcome feedback in the comments on whether to actively search out similar opportunities.

Thanks again to Philips for the loan of the Hue Personal Wireless Lighting System.


Gmail Contact Synching Bug



Last fall I got a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone. I love the S3. It’s an awesome piece of technology.

Sometime overnight a couple of evenings ago, it developed a hardware problem and the next day it would no longer boot. It was working perfectly when I went to bed, but when I woke up something had gone wrong.

So, I went by a Sprint store. The technician tried to do a hard reset, but no go. He ended up giving me a new white S3.

I ended up having a bit of a problem getting my Gmail contacts to synch to the new phone from Google’s cloud. After a bit of research, I discovered there is an apparent bug in Google+. If you have Google+ friend synching enabled on your Android phone, it ends up preventing the Gmail contacts from synching to the phone.

The work-around to the problem is to turn off Google+ synching. Once I turned off Google+ data synching  in the the phone settings, the Gmail contacts instantly started synching over. I’ve got quite a large contact list since the list was originally developed in Windows and has been synched over to a number of different phones as well as OS/X, so it took a while to synch over.

I don’t need the Google+ contact list to synch over to the phone anyhow, so I will keep this Google+ app feature turned off. I had noticed even before this happened that contact updates didn’t synch properly to or from the old phone, so it is likely that the bug in the Google+ synching has been around for a while and as of this writing is not resolved.

So, if you get a new Android phone and you are having trouble getting your Gmail contacts to synch over to the new device, make sure that Google+ synching is disabled then cloud synching of your contacts should begin working just like it’s supposed to.


Dropbox makes sharing files a bit easier



Dropbox is perhaps the most widely-known and popular cloud storage service on the market though it is far from the only option. It faces stiff competition from the likes of Box, SkyDrive, Google, Amazon and others. In an effort to stay in front, the company has been releasing regular feature updates, and today brings the latest of those.

The new sharing feature brings — now when you want to share a link to any doc, photo, folder, or any of your stuff in Dropbox, just right-click it, and select “Share Dropbox Link”.

dropbox share option

The new context menu displays an option for “Share Dropbox Link”.  Just Control-v or Command-v to paste your link wherever you want, and you’re good to go.

The update is quick and easy. Nothing complicated here, but it is a big edition in its own way. Is ti enough to keep the service ahead of its closest rivals? That remains to be seen.


Your old Google Buzz data is coming to Google Drive



google buzz logoOut of the blue I received an email from Google Buzz support which, needless to say, was a surprise. In fact, I felt like a time traveler when I saw it land in my inbox — the service began mercifully shutting down back in October 2011. Well, it is not officially dead yet, it seems, but life-support is about to be disconnected.

The email informs former customers that all of their old Buzz data is heading for Google Drive and will be arriving this summer. “On or after July 17th, 2013, Google will take the last step in the shutdown and will save a copy of your Buzz posts to your Google Drive, a service for storing files online”, the  message reads.

It goes on to inform users that two types of files will be stored:

  1. The first type of file will be private, only accessible to you, containing a snapshot of the Google Buzz public and private posts you authored.
  2. The second type of file will contain a copy of only your Google Buzz public posts. By default it will be viewable by anyone with the link, and may appear in search results and on your Google Profile (if you’ve linked to your Buzz posts). Note,any existing links to your Google Buzz content will redirect users to this file.

If you left comments on the posts of other users, then those will only be stored in the files of that customer. Comments that were deleted will not be saved. The files will be treated as all others in your Drive — you can share them, keep them private or simply delete them. For now, you can view the Google Buzz posts you have authored here.


Copy: Cloud Storage for All Your Files



CopyCopy a competitor to Dropbox became available to the public today. It allows you to upload your files to the Barracuda Network cloud, where you can access them from any device that you have installed the Copy application on. It will work on most platforms including Macs, Windows, Linux, iOs and Android. According to their press release Windows Mobile is coming soon. Files can either be shared publicly or privately thru an invite. The person sharing the files controls what the person receiving the shared file can do with them, whether they can just view them or actually edit to the files.

Currently you receive fifteen GB of free storage by signing up and another five GB when you down load a desktop version of the application. You can also get another two GB by sharing on Twitter. For $9.99/month or $14.99 a month you can buy two hundred and fifty GB or five hundred GB of cloud storage. They also have options specifically created for businesses. You can upload any type of file you want, text, audio and even 1080 videos. You simply drag the file or folder into the Copy of Folder or any of it’s subfolders you create. On my iPad and Android phone Copy organizes your recently modified files into different categories, so you can view just image files,  just text files or just video files. If you share a file publicly from Copy and it is in violation of the DCMA, Barracuda Network will respond to any DCMA takedown.

On an Android device I was able to upload any file, however on the iPad I could only upload images . I expect this was because of Apple’s sandboxing policy. I was able to upload a text file from the application Draft by using the open with option. Other applications do not have this option and they will have to allow Copy to have access to them like they do Dropbox. Copy does have API documentation available for developer who want to build applications that integrate with the Copy platform, it is currently in beta. Another problem is the only way to lockdown Copy is to log out of the account. There needs to be a pin to lock it down without having to log out. This addition would be especially important if Copy is to be used to store sensitive information.  Despite these complaints I do recommend trying Copy, especially if you are looking for some more free cloud storage.