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A quick slideshow tour of Google Android apps that make a geek's life easier
How many times have you wanted to SSH from the road? There are a number of terminal emulators appearing that just pop up a telnet window so that you can open up a shell on your own machine, but if you want to connect remotely it's easier to use a dedicated SSH tool like ConnectBot. It will juggle multiple connections and color code the text just like a real shell. Just read the instructions about control keys and the Escape key before trying to use a tool like vi. Price: Free.
These eight apps allow you to open a shell, run a shell script, tap the Linux command line, or otherwise put your Android-based smartphone to productive use. Most are available in free editions, and none will set you back more than a few dollars.
You asked for power, and GScript gives you the power to run shell scripts with a push of a button. Whatever you do, though, remember that GScript explicitly reminds you that the authors are "in no way responsible for the damage caused by running scripts with this app." It comes in an ad-supported Lite edition or a professional version. Price: €2.20 or free with ads.
Do you worry that your server is down when you're out of the office? bMonitor can test a server with a variety of protocols, such as ping, FTP, and HTTP. If the connection fails, the phone starts ringing. The tool offers a variety of customization options, including the ability to set how often the phone burns up battery power by testing a server. Too many tests can really wipe out a charge. It's not perfect -- I've found that bMonitor can get mixed up if the network connection is unstable or hogged by another app, leading to a false alarm. But a false alarm is often better than none at all. Price: Free.
WiFi Buddy was probably written for people searching for a good coffee shop or open Wi-Fi connection, but it can be great for diagnosing the wireless access points around the office. The screen shows all nearby Wi-Fi stations, the quality of their signal, and their chosen broadcast channel. It's easier than walking around with a laptop. Price: Free
Now you can FTP to your phone from any machine on the Internet, just as if it were a real Linux box (because it is). Once you start SwiFTP, its servers link up with your phone and provide a URL that anyone in the world can use to deliver information -- if they know the password you set. Price: Free.
Better Terminal Emulator
The outside world may call it a phone, but it's really a Linux box that fits in your pocket. And that means there must be a command line somewhere. Better Terminal Emulator is the simplest way to open a window into the guts of the machine. Price: $3.99 for Pro, free with ads and fewer features.
When meetings get rough, program Fake-A-Call to fake a lifesaving call. After the screen pops up, you can trigger one of several half-conversations that play just loud enough for the others to hear. Mr. Williams, for instance, can be ticked off that you never finished that IUW report. Or a woman can ask whether you're really coming to the event. The actors don't pause enough to make this truly believable, but you can always record your own script. Price: 99 cents or free with ads
O'Reilly's Pocket Companion Guides
There are now hundreds of O'Reilly books available as Android applications, so you can answer that burning tech question or settle that bet from the bar without opening up the laptop. All are dramatically cheaper than the books themselves, thus making them a very good buy. Price: $2.99 and up
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