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APPLICATIONS

MAC GEMS

NEW SOFTWARE FROM THE MAC APP STORE

TRIPMODE UTILITY TripMode US$7.99

Ever since it became possible to tether a computer to a cell modem, it’s also been possible to blow through one’s monthly or service-plan limit and either run out of mobile data, be throttled to a trickle or face expensive overuse fees. TripMode is the first easyto-use OS X utility to help with that problem. When installed, TripMode (tripmode.ch) appears in your system menu bar and monitors for network changes in Yosemite. Whenever you join a new Wi-Fi network or connect to a Personal Hotspot, TripMode activates and blocks all system-level and application network usage. The utility was built as an access whitelist, so all network usage is blocked until you allow it. You can check boxes next to any activity you want to approve from TripMode’s drop-down menu. As new services or software tries to access the network or the internet, more entries appear in the list. You may be surprised by what appears, as many apps regularly poll servers in the background to check for software updates or event updates. TripMode can’t populate the list fully initially, because it only ‘knows’ that an app or service requires the internet when that occurs. The utility’s icon turns red whenever an app that’s blocked tries to access the network. Individual software products have limited awareness of the network to which they’re connected when you’re on a Mac. The iOS operating system and iOS apps typically are more careful

TOP PICK about letting you pick and choose what’s sent over mobile and what’s not. In OS X, Dropbox has a Pause button and CrashPlan lets you blacklist Wi-Fi networks by name. But OS X assumes it can always let apps use 100 percent of available throughput. Photos for OS X is an example of that. TripMode turns on automatically for every new network or new Personal Hotspot mode (such as a USB connection), but you can override the setting and it remembers that override. For instance, connect via USB to your iPhone or iPad to use its Personal Hotspot, and TripMode activates. If you click its switch from On to Off, the next time you connect via USB, TripMode will remain off. It retains this information for every network you connect with, restoring whatever state you left it in when you last connected. TripMode keeps track of data transferred while it’s active, though not by network, just cumulatively. You can view data in the last session, the current day or the current month. The software could do more. Allowing blacklisting rather than whitelisting, as well as creating groups and sets for different circumstances or for easier organisation, would be nice. I may want a ‘polite Wi-Fi network user’ set when I’m at a local café, ‘mobile throttled’ for typical Personal Hotspot use and ‘Starbucks Trenta usage’ for those mega-coffee outlets equipped with gigabit internet. Throttling apps could also be useful, though technically more difficult. These are quibbles and ideas for improvement in future upgrades or as paid in-app additions. What TripMode does is nice at the price. TripMode can be used for seven days with its full functionality, after which point it throttles to allow only 15 minutes of use per day if a licence isn’t purchased. – BY GLENN FLEISHMAN

Macworld australia october 2015[glodls]  
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