Monthly Archives: May 2017

Sharing Content Wirelessly with Apple AirDrop

Not too long ago, my mother called me in a panic. “Tim, I lost all the contacts on my iPad! Will I have to manually re-create them all again?”

The good news for my mom is that I already knew that (a) she had a copy of her contacts database on another iDevice at her home, and (b) we could use AirDrop to copy those missing contacts back to her iPad with no muss or fuss.

In just a few minutes, you too will understand how easy and convenient AirDrop makes copying content between iDevices without the hassle of wires or complicated setups.

 

What Exactly Is AirDrop?

AirDrop is an Apple-only technology that uses wireless, peer-to-peer networking to support near-range file transfers. Do you remember how we used infrared (IR) to swap data in the “bad old days” of early cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs)? Think of AirDrop as a 21st century counterpart.

Whereas infrared required line-of-sight and very close ranges (I remember my colleagues and I literally bumping our Palm Pilots against each other to catch a signal), AirDrop has a much more reasonable 30-foot range. Because AirDrop uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, we don’t need line-of-sight between the devices, either.

What Can You Share with AirDrop?

To my knowledge, Apple has never released a list of exactly which data types you can transmit between Apple devices by using AirDrop. In my experimentation with the technology, though, I’ve been able to share the following:

  • Photos
  • Movies
  • Contacts
  • Web sites
  • Location
  • Maps
  • Calendar appointments
  • Tasks

As you may or may not know, the key to different iOS applications “playing well with each other” is what’s called the sharing contract. Take a look at Figure 1 and let me know if you’ve seen that icon before.

Perhaps that’s why Apple doesn’t pin itself down to saying AirDrop can be used to transfer such-and-so media types. The idea is likely that if the app and its data work with the sharing contract system, you’ll probably be able to copy it by using AirDrop.

Paper Citations Made Easy with Microsoft Word

If you’ve ever taken an academic course that required a research paper (or several), you have probably agonized over how to format the citations. Citations can be a pain in the neck, even for people who write lots of papers. There are many different different standards, each one popular in a different academic discipline, and each one has complicated rules about how to format entries.

Until the last decade or so, there wasn’t an easy way of applying citation formatting. Your best bet was to look up the formatting for a specific resource type on a reference book or on a web site, and then try to duplicate it was best you could. There were word processor add-on apps that could help, but most of them weren’t very good, were expensive, or both.

All that changed, though, with Microsoft Word 2007. Among the many great new features in that version was a Citations & Bibliography tool that changed the way millions of people handled citations. That same feature, with some improvements, has carried over to Word 2010 and 2013 too.

If you’ve been formatting citations manually for your research papers, you’ll be astounded at how easy Word makes it to get the citations right, no matter what citation format your instructor wants you to use.

  • Step 1: Select the desired citation style.
  • Step 2: Enter the sources you want to cite.
  • Step 3: Insert in-text citations.
  • Step 4: Generate the bibliography.

Let’s look at each of those steps in detail, with some examples.

If you know the citation style that your instructor expects you to use, you should select it upfront. You can change to a different citation style later, but some of the form fields in step 2 change slightly depending on the style chosen.

To choose a citation format, display the References tab. Open the Style drop-down list and select the desired style. See Figure 1.

The Buffer Pool Extension in SQL

With CPU speeds topping out and I/O rates maximized using solid state drives (SSDs), the next available strategy for increasing OLTP performance is through memory optimization. Databases, because of their size, typically reside on disk. Historically, main memory was significantly more expensive than disk, so typically the memory available for caching data was only a fraction of the size of the database. However, with the significantly reduced cost of system memory over the past 20 years, it’s become more financially feasible to install large amounts of memory in the server. It is now possible for most OLTP databases, or at least the most critical tables, to fit entirely into memory which reduces the performance impact of disk-based I/O, which in turn increases transaction speed performance.

To take maximum advantage of the performance improvements that can be achieved from having your critical OLTP tables memory resident, Microsoft developed the In-Memory Optimization feature for SQL Server. In-Memory Optimization, more commonly referred to as In-Memory OLTP, is the primary and most important new feature introduced in SQL Server 2014. This new feature (which you may sometimes hear referred to by its project code name Hekaton) is fully integrated into the SQL Server database engine.

Another feature introduced in SQL Server 2014 to take advantage of the lower costs and increased sizes of SSDs, is the Buffer Pool Extension feature. The Buffer Pool Extension feature provides the ability for SQL Server to use solid-state drives (SSD) as a non-volatile random access memory (NvRAM) to extend the size of the buffer pool. By offloading buffer cache I/Os from mechanical disk to SSDs, the Buffer Pool Extension feature can significantly improve I/O throughput because of the lower latency and better random I/O performance of SSDs.

These exciting new features for SQL Server are discussed in this chapter.

 

Overview of In-Memory OLTP

In-Memory OLTP allows OLTP workloads to achieve significant improvements in performance, and reduction in processing time. The In-Memory OLTP engine is completely integrated with the SQL Server database engine and can be accessed transparently via your SQL Server applications. However, the In-Memory OLTP components’ internal behavior and capabilities are different and distinct from the standard database engine components as shown in Figure 33.1

The New Pebble Time Smart Watch

When the original Pebble smart watch was first announced in 2012, it was introduced as a concept that the inventors needed to raise funds in order to build. They turned to crowd funding via Kickstarter.com, and quickly became the online service’s biggest success story, after raising more than $10 million.

Since then, Pebble has sold more than one million first generation smart watches, but has also been focusing on innovative ways to improve upon the product. In late March 2015, Pebble completed a second crowd funding campaign in preparation for the launch of its second-generation smart watch, called Pebble Time. This time, the company quickly raised in excess of $20.3 million, thanks to almost 79,000 crowd funding backers.

 

Pebble Time Offers Greatly Expanded Features and Functions

Within days after announcing Pebble Time, hundreds of third-party app developers began developing cutting-edge apps for this new smart watch, which boasts a full color e-paper display and a seven day battery life. It also contains a built-in microphone, accelerometer, can communicate wirelessly with a smartphone via Bluetooth 4.0, and it runs using a re-designed operating system (Pebble OS).

Plus, in addition working in conjunction with the iPhone, as does the Apple Watch, the new water resistant Pebble Time smart watch works seamlessly with Android 4.0+ compatible mobile devices, including popular smartphones from Samsung, HTC, Sony, LG, Google, and Motorola.

While Pebble smart watch enthusiast will definitely appreciate the full-color display and the extended battery life, the unit itself is also 20 percent thinner than the original Pebble, and is more ergonomically designed. As a result, it’s more comfortable to wear during a workout, while engaged in high-intensity land or water-based activities, or under the sleeve of a dress shirt.

The display offers a backlight, so it can easily be viewed in bright sunlight, or in the darkest of areas. The Pebble Time’s dimensions are 47mm (long) by 49mm (wide) by 9.5mm (thick), and with the silicone band, the entire watch weights just 42.5 grams.

Pebble Time is vastly superior to its predecessor, and is designed to complete head-on with Apple Watch, but it offers a less expensive smart watch option. It costs just $199.00, and is available in three housing and watchstrap colors (black, white and red).