Friday, 15 March 2013

The Ping Test

A number of my applications (WiFi File Explorer, SECuRET LiveStream and BabyCam Monitor) are all web server based applications (i.e. your Android device acts as a mini web server).  They start up and then prompt you to enter a web address into a web browser on a device on the same network to access the web interface.  Simple enough, but a common problem users email be about is not being able to connect to the application when they actually go to enter the address they have been given.

There are a number of reasons this can happen, and I have already listed out most of those at an article I wrote here at this link.  It's a very useful article and I'd urge you to read it, especially since there are many useful comments from users that have solved the problem in different ways.  However, it's over two years old now, and since writing it I have become better at recognising the cause of problem and finding a much quicker way for you to diagnose it.  So before reading the article linked to above, please read the following...

By far and away, the most common cause of not being able to contact the app when entering the address is simply that your network/router is not configured correctly.  The easy way to determine this is to perform a ping test and the results of this will confirm that or not.  If you don't now how to ping, then read this article.  So just ping the IP address of your Android device from your PC (search Google for how to find out your particular Android device's IP address) and if you don't get a reply, then we can say for certain that your network is not allowing communications between your PC and Android device.  And because these apps all use your local network, this will prevent them from being accessed... so not the apps fault at all!!  If you do get a reply, then your network appears to be OK, and so go back to reading the original article I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

More than likely though, you didn't get a reply in your ping test and the devices can't communicate on your particular network.  In that case, I am afraid it is up to you to figure out what is up with your router/network.  I can't really support you in this case because I have no idea what your network is set up for or what your particular use case for it is, not to mention the many different types of routers on the market than I am not familiar with (I usually forget how to use even my own router!), so I am in no position to offer expert support.  I can however say that a lot of users (more than you probably think) "fix" the issue simply by switching the router off and back on again (I know, right!).  Another common cause can be that you have "Wireless Isolation" (or something named similarly - basically, preventing wireless devices from communicating) enabled on your router, so check that option on your router settings.  Beyond that, I am sure a quick search on Google ("can't ping ip address") will yield enough results to help solve your network configuration problem (that's what I would do anyway).

Hopefully I have provided enough information between this article and the article here for you to be able to support yourself on this one, but if you are still stuck after that or your just need help understanding anything I have already written about, then please feel free to contact me again and I'll try to give you some personal support as soon as I am available.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

There Are Just Some Things I Can't Help You With

If you are reading this, then more than likely I have just sent you here after you have emailed me for some support.  Now, I hope you don't think I am being rude or lazy, but sometimes I am just not in a position to help with your request - it's not that I don't want to help you, it's just that in this situation, I can't.

More often than not, the reason I can't help you is because you have asked about something to do with the actual purchasing and downloading of one of my applications from one of the various app stores they are available from.  So you could be having trouble completing the order, or maybe you are getting an error from the app store when you try and download, or perhaps you are being told the app store can't verify your purchase.  The fact is that I am an independent developer and so can only support my own applications; I don't work for any of the app stores and so I don't know how any of those systems work from a users point of view.  Therefore, I can't offer support for them and can only suggest to you to contact the support team for that particular app store.

There is one small exception in that for the Google Play Store, if you provide me with an order number, I can actually see the status of your order (and refund it if necessary).  So if you'd like me to do that then I am more than happy to; just email me with the order number and I'll see if I can help you out.  But also remember that you can see the information you need yourself simply by logging into your Google Wallet account online and looking at your transaction history.  I am afraid I can't offer the same service for any of the other app stores because I just don't have access to that information on an individual order basis.

Another typical reason you may have ended up here is that you are asking questions relating to the general operation of a particular device.  I only have a handful of Android devices myself, so although I may be able to answer a few questions, you are far better off contacting the manufacturer's support team for that particular device.

So sorry I can't be of more help to you in this situation, but hopefully this has prompted you to contact the support team that can resolve your issue in the quickest way possible.  Of course, you may still think I can help you, so please don't hesitate to contact me again and I'll see what I can do.  But just remember, I can only support my own applications... I may occasionally be able to help beyond that in some situations where my applications are a factor, but you are most likely reading this blog post because I already think I am not best person to contact for your issue.

The Dreaded "Server (IO) Error"

Occasionally, there are times when trying to upload a file using WiFi File Explorer PRO that the file won't upload.  If your eyes are in the right place of the screen (the upload section, on the box representing the file to be uploaded) and you are quick enough (before the page refreshes) you may just see the words "Server (IO) Error" and wonder just what on earth that means.

Well, it's a bit of a generic error and as you can see, not very descriptive on its own.  But luckily it only actually occurs in a handful of situations, and after reading descriptions of those below, you should be able to quickly work out which one refers to what you are doing.

So here are the ways in which you can cause the "Server (IO) Error":

1. You are attempting to upload to a read-only area of storage.  Remember that not everywhere you can view on your Android device's storage can be written to (even if you are rooted, as WiFi File Explorer does not support root operations).  If you are unsure of what areas are read-only or not, then I suggest searching the internet for information relating to your device as it can vary greatly.  Also, remember some SD cards have a read-only physical slider on the actual SD card itself and this may have been accidentally (or purposefully) switched on.

2. Your storage is full, or, you would fill it if you upload that particular file.  Not much to explain here other than to check how much storage you are using and delete as necessary if that is the issue.

3. You are uploading a file bigger than 4GB.  I am afraid that is the limit that the Flash plugin used to upload the files is able to handle (perhaps linked to the limit of a FAT32 based file system).

4. Your storage is not correctly mounted.  This doesn't just mean physically mounted correctly into the device, but also logically by the Android OS.  Switching the device off and back on again should ensure it is logically mounted again correctly, but it could also be another app doing something strange to it.

The only other time someone has reported this error, but unrelated to the scenarios above, was to do with his particular Flash installation.  He could get it working on one PC, but not the other.  However, this is purely anecdotal and I can't confirm the validity of his claim that it was to do with the Flash install.  It may be worth bearing in mind though if you can't link the error to any of the descriptions above, so perhaps try updating to the latest version of Flash.

And as always, if you still have trouble after reading this, then please feel free to email me for personal support.

Update: After updating your device to Android 4.4 (KitKat), you may find that you are no longer able to perform some functionality on the external SD card that you were previously.  This is because some device manufacturers have not changed the default behavior of Android 4.4 which is to not allow write operations to the external SD card (see point 1 above).  This "bug" is particularly evident on Samsung devices and I have no information on whether Samsung plan to address it in future Android updates or not.