Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Accessing Internal Memory and the External Memory (SD Card) in WiFi File Explorer

Back in the good ol’ days, Android devices used to have just one area of memory for storing files, typically an SD card (known as external memory).  The sun was shining, children were laughing and we all just got along fine and dandy.  Then device manufacturers started adding internal flash memory as well as the SD card and made things slightly more complicated with regards to accessing the area of memory you want to manage.

By default, WiFi File Explorer starts you off by pointing to the area of memory that the device thinks is its main area of storage.  Most of the time, you’ll find this is correct for you and you continue to use the application as expected.  However, sometimes it may point you towards the external memory (SD card), when actually you want to manage the internal memory, or vice versa.  So what do you do?  Well, go to Settings within the application and you’ll see a setting named ‘Home Directory’.  You can either:
  1. Clear the setting and leave it blank, which allows you to browse the entire device starting from the root memory location of the device;
  2. Or, change the setting to point to the directory that represents the memory location you want to start in.
As stated earlier, by default, the Home Directory points to the area of memory that the device thinks is its main area of storage.  You may know the path for the other area of memory already, but if you don’t, try using Google to find it out (it can be different for each device).

If you do have both internal and external memory locations, I would recommend just leaving the Home Directory setting blank as that way you always start at the root memory location and can easily manage both internal and external memory locations without having to constantly change it.  For everyone else, just leave it as it is, unless you need access to everything on your device for whatever reason.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Camera Shutter Sound In SECuRET

The SECuRET range of applications are camera-based applications that are supposed to operate undetectable to the subjects being filmed.  There are many custom features implemented within SECuRET to ensure this is the case, such as screen dimming, silent mode, disguise mode, password protection, etc.

However, in a very small number of cases, some users find that no matter what they do, the camera shutter sound always makes a click or a beep.  There are a couple of settings in the application that disable the shutter sound; in the ‘Sounds’ category of the ‘General’ settings you can put the device in ‘Silent Mode’ and adjust the ‘Shutter Volume’.  Very occasionally though, these settings will be ignored by the device and there’s not a lot that can be done about it.

Some devices are simply hard-coded by the manufacturer to make a sound whenever the camera is used.  This is related to privacy laws in some countries to stop people being filmed without knowing ... but that’s no good for an application for which that is the desired purpose!

The good news is that as long as you have configured SECuRET to be in ‘Silent Mode’ or set the ‘Shutter Volume’ to zero, then the camera will never make a sound as long as you are taking photos that are NOT in the highest resolution.  This is because it uses a different technique for capturing images at the lower resolutions which does not make use of the actual camera to take the picture (it just uses the preview on the screen and captures it from there instead).

The bad news is that if it is making a sound and ignoring your settings, then there may not be much you can do about it.  You have three main options:
  1. Experiment with the sound settings in the Android system settings to see if that makes a difference.  Reducing all the sound levels may convince the camera not to make the shutter sound, but it’s unlikely.
  2. Go to your native Camera application and explore the settings within.  Many native Camera applications allow you to turn the shutter sound off (depending on the manufacturer), which if you do so, will turn it off in SECuRET also.
  3. If you have a rooted device then you are in luck; you can definitely switch off the sound easily.  Simply rename or delete the following file:
So as I say, it doesn't affect many users, so most of you needn’t worry and you can carry on capturing photos and videos undetected.  And if you do suffer from not being able to convince the shutter sound to pipe down, then at least one of the tips above is guaranteed to work (although it does require a rooted device).

Update: This is part of an email that one user sent me describing how he managed to switch it off for the Droid X (it may be relevant to other devices as well, so try it out):

"After emailing you, I found a forum on xda developers that explained how to fix the shutter sound issue I was having on my Droid X. I had to Uncheck the "Alarm in silent mode" option in my stock alarm app. Works beautifully again!"

If you don’t manage to switch off the shutter sound though, just email me and let me know you want a refund.  I have no problem issuing refunds at any time after purchase for this reason as I can see the application is pretty useless if it’s making a sound every time the camera goes off.  Just make sure you ask for a refund instead of leaving some nasty comment on the Android Market ... there’s nothing I hate more than seeing my applications blamed for something beyond their control :P

A word of advice for would-be developers of Android camera applications: don't!  It's just too painful to support all the different devices out there ... they never behave as you'd expect!