Go on, admit it, you’re really hanging out for an excuse to buy a shiny new iPad — well now you’ve got one: access the PRS on your desktop PC remotely from an iPad (details below).

Latest News

We’ve just released PRS 8.0.5. This release rolls up the 8.0.4 a,b,c,d interim releases and adds a few new features (details at the end of this newsletter). For a full list of the changes since the previous release see the PRS Changelog web page.

To download and upgrade go to the Installing the Latest PRS Client section on our Updates web page and follow the instructions.

Accessing the PRS remotely from an iPad

Let’s face it, lugging a notebook or a netbook around while you’re on the move just on the off chance you may need to access your data doesn’t really cut it.

A few weeks back we were asked if an Apple iPad could be used to remotely access the PRS, we already had an iPad 2 but had not really thought about using it for remote access. I set about evaluating iPad remote access apps and to my surprise found that, with the right app, remote access from an iPad is surprisingly usable (see my blog on the subject).

A couple of PRS screenshots

Browsing personnel notes


Function keys keyboard overlay


OK, I’ve got an iPad so what else do I have to do?

All you need to do is install and configure a remote access app so that you can login to you desktop PC. We evaluated a number of iPad remote desktop apps and ended up selecting Jump Desktop.

Once you’re up and running you’ll be able to login to your office desktop PC from any WiFi Internet access point or over a mobile phone data connection.

As with any new software app there is a learning curve, the Jump Desktop Knowledge Base has a lot of information and you’ll find more tips in my blog.

Q & A

What if I don’t have an iPad?

You don’t need an iPad for remote access, for example the free Jump Desktop Viewer allows you to use a Windows PC in place of an iPad for the remote access client — an option if you’re wanting to dip your toes in the water before deciding.

Isn’t setting up secure remote access through my office firewall tricky?

Normally yes, but if you use a remote access program with an auto-connect feature like Jump Desktop it’s easy (see my blog on the subject).

Don’t I need an iPad with the 3G option to use a mobile data connection?

No, not if you have a mobile phone that supports WiFi tethering. WiFi tethering turns your phone into your own private wireless hotspot, in most new Android phones turning tethering on is a simple one-click option.

How can I keep a lid on mobile data costs?

Remote access typically uses less data than Web browsing but mobile data is expensive in New Zealand, so only use it when you have to and if, for example, you’re at home connect the iPad to the Internet over your home WiFi connection. I blogged about this recently.

Is it true that remote access won’t work on a PC running Windows Home edition?

Microsoft does not bundle an RDP server with Windows Home editions so you need to install an alternative. Jump Desktop will optionally install a VNC server on Windows Home PCs, but a version of Windows with built-in RDP is preferable (I discuss this in my blog).

What happens if my desktop PC is powered off?

Your desktop PC has to be powered on to access it remotely so you do need to leave your PC on and don’t enable the Hibernate or Sleep power options. Most PCs are capable of being turned on by a remote command over the Internet, but getting this configured and working is outside the scope of this newsletter.

Can I use an Android tablet?

We haven’t evaluated an Android tablet yet (we’re waiting for the market to mature a little) so we don’t have any recommendations.

So now I’ve got a tablet I don’t need a desktop PC, right?

Not so fast, tablets are content consumers not content creators. The tablet on-screen keyboard and small screen is OK for casual input and browsing but is not suitable for ongoing data entry or document creation.

What’s New in PRS 8.0.5

Hide retired sites

../images/smallnew.png in version 8.0.5

A Retired field has been added to the Sites form (bottom right), this allows you to hide inactive sites without having to delete them and lose historical information (similar to the Personnel Retired field). More information can be found in the PRS online help.


Markdown mail option

../images/smallnew.png in version 8.0.5

Markdown is a simple set of rules for formatting text to generate nicely formatted HTML. Although the PRS has always had a Markdown option for composing HTML formatted emails, it has not been very accessible because you needed a different HTML mail signature to use it. We’ve lifted this restriction and added a Use Markdown option to the mail composition form.


Hover the mouse cursor over the Use Markdown checkbox to bring up the Markdown Help tooltip (see above screenshot).

Need help?

Our Support web page explains how to get answers to PRS questions and includes links to articles on Maintaining Database Reliability and Performance and PRS Best Practice Deployment.

If you no longer wish to receive this newsletter please email support@methods.co.nz with the word UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line.