Saturday, 29 September 2012

The Samsung Note 2 Meet Up

I was invited to see the Samsung Note 2 at the Engine Building at Oxford Circus last Thursday. There was a handful of us, though I've expected many turnouts, but it was not the case.  It might be because of the short notice for the event and the other's work commitments. There were 5 chaps already waiting at the lounge when I arrived. Everyone looks very young, and I felt like the "kuya" among the group.

They sent us up to the 5th floor to wait for the others. And while waiting, there were refreshments available. Four more  young looking lads joined us. After finishing 2 cans of fizzy drinks, the guy from samsung get started with the Samsung Note 2.

 I do not own the Note 1 myself so I did not know what to expect or even what to ask about. The guy from samsung started to talk about the device and the improvements from the earlier design.



The upgrades and downgrades from Note 1

Note 2                                       Note 1
This phablet, a crossover between a phone and a tablet, is almost similar in size with the note 1 at 151.1 mm length x 80.5 mm width  x 9.4 mm thickness. With its bigger but slimmer frame than the original Note, it weighs a little more and tops the scale at around 180 g. It may be a turn off for those who can  not fit the device into their back pockets because of the massive size but those who are fun of crossbreeds between a phone and a tablet would be happy to own this, as it can do all a smartphone and a tablet can do. Creatives will like love this even more,  with the new onboard native apps and hardware.

Battery

One significant upgrade comes to the battery. It is now a 3100mAh capacity which promises a more than sufficient energy to power up the phone and any power hungry applications you can run on it for longer hours. An advantage over to regular smartphones that can be out of breath after playing HD game, surfing the web, watching movies or using productivity applications.

Camera


The Galaxy Note 2’s rear camera comes the same as the Note 1 with 8-megapixel, and surprisingly the front camera is downgraded from 2 to 1.9-megapixel. Nevertheless, the powerful and exiting part on photo processing comes from the software that bundled with it. 

The samsung guy has demonstrated a feature called best face on the device. The idea is to capture a burst shot and choose the best face for the subject. It is like choosing a better looking face from the burst shoots to a specific photo frame take. 




And with the built in photo software, you can virtually flipover the back of a photo and write down or annotate something at it like an ordinary photograph.



Display

This might not be a good news to those upgrading to the device, but samsung decided to dropdown the resolution  from 1,280 x 800 pixels (285ppi), to 1,280 x 720 pixels (267ppi) on the Note 2. However with the slight difference, I could not exactly notice any difference if there's any. The screen is made up from a HD super Amoled screen.

 Processor

Note upgrade begins from the processor. It has quad core processor and 2 GB of ram compared to the dual core and 1 GB original. This specs could measure head to head with a full spec pc or laptop computer.  With the massive computing core, one would guess that the apps and programs embedded into the device are powerful as well. 

Software

The new device is powered by the latest Android OS 4.1, the Jelly Bean, which is said to be the fastest and smoothest version of Android yet. The response of the phone is very fluid, it feels like turning a book's page when swiping from a screen to the next one or launching and switching between applications.

Storage

The external removable memory capacity has doubled up to 64 GB. Another good news to those who download digital media or photo snappers using their smartphones. The internal storage capacity comes on  3 variants from 16, 32, and 64GB. A total storage of 128 GB is possible with this new device.

S-Pen

The mighty S-Pen has a level of 1024 different pressure sensitivities. This is useful in drawing something. It makes your work quicker as you do not go back and forth into the menu to change the colour or thickness of the lines you are using. 

Hovering the S-Pen over folders will activate airview, which can give you a preview of the contents without actually opening it. 

Going to the exact video clip is also easy, just hold the pen over the timeline of the video and you can preview the contents in small popup screen while the same movie is playing. 



My thoughts

One of the features I am personally impressed is the use of the S-Pen and the programs that run with it. As you take out the stylet from the side of the phone, the applications that use the stylet pops up the screen automatically. This saves you from opening up the apps when you want to write something, draw something, etc.

Second is the ability to program a gesture touch within the device to bring up a function or application. Gesture command is a promising help for the visually impaired users to use the device confidently and productively without any help.

Next is the bundle of software that comes with it. Creativity differs from person to person, but the S-Pen and brilliant software within the device will surely motivates the artist in you, no matter what's the level of your imagination. You can always easily experiment and become creative with it's new tools.

Where and when you can buy from?


The Samsung Note 2 will be available August 1, throughout the UK.






Friday, 28 September 2012

Put a Spark in Your Blog

A new friend blogger asked me what's my motivation in publishing my blog.  This question has brought my memory back when the web was still young, and began questioning how a website works, what is HTML then taken aback  viewing the source code of a website. Just looking at the code made me realised that I won't be able to make my own from scratch. But with the existing blogging flatforms like blogger and word press that made a way for the not so technically inclined person to publish and host a site instantly and for free, has given me the passion to express and build my web presence. And not only web presence that you gain when you write a blog, there's more.

Money for your posts.

I have joined Social Spark last year, and initially, I did not really know what Social Spark was or how it works. I first heard it from a fellow blogger, BB, or Bargain Briana at FB, when I followed her post on how to monetize a blog. Did listed  my work and luckily passed the minimum requirements.

What is it?



Social Spark connects advertisers with bloggers to create sponsored blog posts. What it means is  an advertiser tells Social Spark to  contact it's list of approved bloggers to write a post regarding a product. The advertiser's proposal contains the minimum requirement for the post  and how much it is willing to pay. Social Spark then creates a lead (possible paid  post proposal) and distributes it to it's lists of  approved bloggers  with appropriate blog contents related to the product. The selected bloggers will then be contacted by email and from their social spark account and they can accept the lead or negotiate for the payment.  The advertiser then selects from the bloggers who responded to the lead and creates an offer. The blogger will be sent another email whether he is selected to do the post and he is given 3 days to complete the task with specific instructions for the post. Payment follows after 30 days from the post being "live" or published online.



What sorts of products?

I think almost everything, from electrical items like mobile processors, feature of a car, digital product like anti virus, mobile apps, even services like pharmacy subscriptions, cleaning products etc.This means, whatever is the content of your blog, there is a product suitable to your topic.



Getting paid.

Paypal, at the moment, is the only mode of payment. The post's payment is translated into points, where in one point is one US cent. Any payments or points monetized into paypal account below $50 or 5000 points is deducted by $2 or 200 points. 

Limitations

As Social Spark is based in the US,  most of the advertisers and products come  from there as well. And from time to time, posts are exclusive to bloggers from that territory. There are also companies that prefer blogs with good or specific minimum numbers of  stats per day or per month. This means that the leads and offers vary from a blogger to another.

There are also deals that a publisher can post and get paid when a reader buys the item through a click on his codes. These deals are favorable to US bloggers as most of the products are US based.

Why write for Social Spark
Set Your Price. Choose your Advertisers. Sign up for SocialSpark!
Because you  can select the leads based on your content, can negotiate your reward, and you get all what it says as your reward. If you are a blogger or have started blogging, list your blog to social spark, who knows, maybe you will be writing a post for the top brands tomorrow!
You can click on the logo or start to join here. 

Watch Video




My thoughts.

It is not easy to start a blog. Finding a topic is also difficult. But if you write something on what you like to do, you'll never run out of topics to write. 

Maintaining it is a bit difficult. You need to have the time to do it. I usually think something to write when it is  quiet at night, and sometimes after reading an interesting and new article. 

Making money from your blog is not also easy. But do not be frustrated that in the first year you just earn a few cents,  in fact, I am happy with any cent adding up every month. It's not the amount that counts but the fact that they are coming from thin air. Just do not stop to write fresh and original new contents to make a reason for your visitors to come back,



Sunday, 23 September 2012

Kies's Smart

This post is a mobilers mission. Inevitable but true that with gadget collections pilling up, chargers and cables are keeping up as well, making clutters and taking up spaces. But for a gadgeteer, there's nothing wrong with that, or any problems at all. The inconvenience only arrives when the connectors are lost or damaged by wear and tear. Or maybe too many cables that makes it too hard to distinguish which one is for, which one is which.

Why do we need data cables? It may not be significant to ordinary users like me, but to gadget fans who want to interact with their gadgets intimately, from folder to folder, down to the last file, it is a must. Not only to get access with the contents within but to edit and share these contents and also to transfer files from the gadget into a computer or into a removable storage device and vice versa. 

Cables are indeed necessary to do this syncronisation. And most of the smartphones use this way of interactivity, a direct cable connection. Or you can use a limited cloud data storage for free or purchase a bigger capacity and pay monthly. 

KIES Air

Samsung smartphone owners are lucky to have Kies air onboard their devices. What it does is, it can connect any devices running Kies air into a computer with a wire or wirelessly. This means this smart connection doesn't necessarily need cables between the mobile or computer, as long as they are both connected into the same wireless router, and both have Kies running. Once connected wirelessly, the computer, laptop, or mac can browse what is inside the device. It can even edit the files and save it somewhere into the computer. It can also send files from the computer into the device.

How ?

1. Make sure the Kies air application is in your device and computer. If not yet, on your mobile device, go to play store (see image left below) and download Kies air. On your computer or mac, go to


and download the application for your laptop or mac.


2. Start Kies on your computer and do these following steps to set  this up to work in your computer.




  • Click Start, Control Panel, Network and Sharing Center, Change Advanced Sharing Settings.

  • Make sure that the turn on network discovery is ticked then click ok

  • Go back to Network and Sharing Center, click Adaptor Settings, then right click your existing wireless connection name and click properties. At the pop up window, click sharing and make sure that your computer is not sharing internet connection, so disable or untick it.


  • Go back to control panel and click Windows Firewall, then click Allow feature or programs through windows firewall and make sure wireless portable devices is ticked.


  • Click start and type in administrative tools, then click services



  • Then scroll down to SSDP discovery and UPnP device host  and check if these services has started, if not, right click it and click start.


Now you are ready. Restart Kies on your computer.

3. Start Kies on your mobile device, then click start. You need to press allow to enable connection between your devices.




4. In your computer, open a browser window(internet explorer, chrome, etc.) and type in the whole  ip address and port number at the address window. In my case, it was http://192.168.9:8080/. The digital contents of your device will be shown in the browser window including phone book, text messages and call logs.



My Thoughts.

Kies is one of my favourite features of top end samsung mobiles, which I do not find in most devices yet. Although it is also cable compatible, I prefer to connect my devices wirelessly. Thumbs up for this excellent idea from Samsung. 

With the wireless interface to connect and synchronise the mobile device, users will be saving on wired connection costs, or cloud subscriptions. It is also easier to connect, and makes our desktop tidier and clutter free. 

Friday, 21 September 2012

BitDefender Total Security 2013

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bitdefender for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Do you bank or  buy something online? There's a threat for that. This includes phishing attempt and key logging attacks, that can steal your banking account details. Do you Facebook and Tweet? I am sure you do. There's a threat for that as well. Like scam posts, free item scams and innocent looking applications from scheming coders and authors. 

Whatever their purpose is, one thing is for sure. It's not for anyone's advantage, but for everyone's disadvantages. 

These threats  are the enemies of every internet user's security that can affect and discourage the activities they could have been doing online.  The convenience of the internet is without a challenge  from the inconveniences of many online threats.
What's defending you from all of these?
BitDefender is one of the many  excellent internet security suites around. It is an all in one package in providing and defending your computer againsts all kinds of threat. The only distinct difference of this product among others is, according to AVtest review, it is the best in providing internet security and have been  chosen number one in two consecutive years, 2011 and 2012. Not only at AVtest, it bagged the number one spot for AntiVirus Software in CNET Editor's Choice and PCMag Editor's Choice as well. With the improvement of the new  2013 edition, it might get the top award for the next year again. 
Features
Auto Pilot. 
Useful for not so tech savvy like me. This provides security without the user's input. No matter what level  your IT knowledge is, you are assured that you are protected when this is turned on. The software scans data pockets and destination links then decide an action without lifting a finger. It's intelligence to make a decision comes from the data base in the "cloud", which is updated regularly. This means new threats are detected before they can do what they are designed to do. Another plus is, your computer does not suffer from slowdown when it is silently doing it's job.


Safepay.
Another security enhancement especially when banking online. When this is enabled, the software detects when you are logging into a bank website. It will prompt you to open a new browser where you will do your transactions securely. You can even choose to use a virtual keyboard to enter your details, rather than using the physical keys. This is another layer of protection to key loggers.


Anti theft. 
The application is not only limited to virtual thieves but can protect your devices running the application from real thieves, in case you become a victim. You can wipe out the data stored with in, or lock your device remotely by going online or by just by sending a preprogrammed text from another phone, in case you can not go online . 


In case you just misplaced your phone or tablet running BitDefender, it can help you find it faster by  making the device's alarm to play


Social Network Protection.
 Facebook and tweeter are the most popular social networks at the moment, and millions are using it daily to show what they are doing, share what they have seen and vice versa in just a few easy clicks. As it is so easy to share anything, it is also easy to receive such threats  hidden on links or shared apps. Bit defender scans and filters these links, and block them when they pose a threat.


Parental Control Options.
With the popularity of the always on internet and the ability to get access anywhere, BitDefender can be set to restrict internet access at a specific time. This is helpful to control the amount of internet time for the kids. You can remotely see what your kids are seeing online and the possibility  to block the sites or contents you do not want your kids to access. 


My Thoughts
Thousands of threats are being created each day, and the people behind these are also becoming clever in the way they implement their attacks and the way they design these threats. And once your device becomes infected, the possibility of losing something or being robbed virtually becomes even greater. Prevention is always the first and the better way to fight those online threats. Installing an antivirus and a total internet protection is therefore a must.

Bitdefender

Download the newest Bitdefender Total Security 2013 and get it 50% for a limited time until the 30th of September.  You can also have the chance to win a Dell Inspiron laptop just by liking BitDefender on facebook. For your chance to win and more details of this promotion, visit 


Visit Sponsor's Site

Friday, 14 September 2012

The iPhone5


The most anticipated device is here again, ready to amaze the mobile crazed fans around the world. A certified queue maker and undeniably tech-trend setter. It's unveiled and will soon be available to all mobile phone retail outlets. Pre orders starts today! So what's new?

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Form factor

The original iPhone4 and 4S stand at 4.5 inches, have a 2.31 inches width, .37 inch depth and about 140 grams. The new one or the iPhone5 is taller at  4.87 inches, the same width at 2.31 inches, thinner at .30inch and lighter at 112 grams.

Display

The retina display of the new phone is also stretched half inch to 4 inches, which is more suitable in viewing landscape mode or watching movies on a wide screen format. The resolution is also stretched to 1136 x 640. Does this means clearer? The additional pixels is because of the longer screen, what it makes it "clearer" is because apple took off the separate laminated touch screen panel and the screen now has a built-in digitiser, making the new unit slimmer and clearer. The colour saturation is also boosted to 44%, making the images more vibrant.



Processor

The new A6 processor powers the iPhone5. Apple could only mention that the new A6's performance doubles the CPU and GPU speed of that of the A5 from the iPhone4s. This means the apps load faster, browsing will make the pages appear instantly. Faster graphics would make gamers addicted to more fluid rendering of movements and change of scenes. Although Apple has been silent on the real clock speed and the core counts on the new processor.



Camera

The camera is still rated at the same 8 mega pixels but a touch of magic has been added. The lens cover is made from sapphire crystal. This makes the captured image clearer and sharper than before. It is also optimised well during low light situation, to reduce noise signals. The camera is 40% faster than that of the older model, thanks to the built in image signal processor on the A6. Sweep panoramic shot is also enabled.



Sim Card

Here's another first from apple, the use of nano sim. It is 40% than the micro sim used by iPhone4S. Not like the normal sim than can be fashioned and work as a micro sim with a sim cutter, because both sims have the same thickness, the new sim format is 15% thinner. Even though  you manage to cut the micro sim or regular sim into the nano dimention, I doubt if it will fit into the new iPhone5 because of it's thickness. So beware of those products that promise to transform your ordinary or microsim into nano sim.
It is safer to ask your network provider for a nano sim card and transfer your existing number if you will be going to get the new iPhone5 sim free.




Charging Cable, USB Connector, Video Out

The 30-pin connector from the older apple products has been replaced by a Lightning connector which is far more tinier by about 80%. Unlike the older connector, this one can be connected either way, making it more user friendly, durable and safer to use.
This doesn't mean that you can not use your existing audio docks and older connectors, as there are adaptors to convert these. If you are one movie fan and would like to use iPhone5 to output in your TV with wires, the new connector does not support this. You need an additional equipment like apple TV and airplay to do ths.




Battery

Even with the more powerful processor, larger screen and more bits and bobs, the battery of the new one still beats its predecessor. You can expect 8 hours talk time, 10 hours on wi-fi, 10 hours video playback and 225 hours standby time.

Connectivity

The interesting change on the connectivity is the support for the next generation spectrum of wifi protocol running at 5GHz. Most, if not all wi-fi transmitting devices, at the moment, use 2.4GHz, and this reality causes congestion of signals and affecting the quality of connections. This new data highway will not only be faster but less congested as only a few yet is using it.

Bluetooth 4.0 is also available along with the usual, GSM EDGE, HSPA, HSDPA data network connectivity. One surprise is, apple did not include NFC.

Operating System

The new device is equipped with the latest IOS6, the operating system that makes you do more with the device. The operating system comes in with guided access that helps people with disabilities to get more from it, like voice over that reads what is shown in the screen, helpful for blind users.

My Thoughts

Is it a good buy? Considering all the new changes, yes. And as everyone notices, apple products do not depreciate that easily, in fact even the old devices are still worth more than their rival counterparts when bought second hand. And it's value holds for sometime until there's new iPhone in town.

Yes, it is a good buy.


Like it? Please share it!

Monday, 10 September 2012

How to Recover Hacked Email

One of my friends is having a problem with his email. He can not access it. His password does not work for some reasons. He thinks, it has been hacked and the hacker has changed the data associated to the account and it's recovery. He tried resetting it but he couldn't remember the security pass that was set up.


Whether somebody has changed his password for him or he just simply forgot everything, there is still a way to possibly recover that email.

Alternate email reset

Provided he have set up this when registering the first time then it is easy, and as long as the hacker has not changed this as well. The alternate email should be up and working for this to work perfectly. Here we go.

At the log in interface, he needs to click "I can not access my account", then in the next window, instead of ticking the "I have a problem with my password", tick the "I think my account may have been compromised".



This selection will bypass the "secret questions" which is his other problem. There is also a hint on which email did he nominated as an account recovery. He just need to type one of the emails, just in case that he set up two, like my self.


A confirmation of the recovery will be emailed, then just open that email for recovery instructions.

My thoughts

It is easy to set up emails, but to secure it is easily forgotten until things happen. One of the ways to secure it is to setup a recovery email just in case it will be compromised in the future. Emails that was set up long before may not have this option yet when they were created. 

So if you are one of the early email users, better set it up now, and here is how.

Log in to your email click the drop down menu next to your name. Select "profile" then click "update your contact information".


Type in your choice of email recovery, any email address you own, then press save. You can also add more email recoveries by clicking the "+ add email". This will give you more options when you need to recover in the future.

Do not forget to click verify every email recoveries by clicking "verify now" and going into that account and clicking the verify link.



Sunday, 9 September 2012

Hacked Email



One of the most annoying thing that could happen to an online user is hacked email.

Why is it? Hacked email account is used by hackers to flood the web with scam, phishing, virus riddled  e mails, that are designed to further hack contacts that are connected to the hacked account. It is like a virus that resides in a single cell that infects the other neighboring cells as far and as fast as it could.  This happened to me just yesterday, and I am annoyed.

How did I find out?

This email account is not really my primary email, I use this for general fun. This means I do not regularly access it, maybe twice a month at least. Upon opening the inbox messages, there were about 10 sending message failures (mailer daemon) in it, meaning I have sent something that has not reached the recipients. Knowing that I did not sent anything from this email has made me suspicious of my account being hacked.

The sent letter is coming from my email address going to my brother's address and dozens more, with content of a link URL. I did not bothered opening up the link, because I need to figure out if the hacker managed to log in with my account to send the emails. I need to make sure of this because sometimes hackers can use a spoof email that can mimic your email addres or any address making it look like the  real email from your account.



How to know if the hacker "really" had access to your account  to send the emails?

There is a built in feature of yahoo mail to find out when you have recently  accessed your account and from where. To see this feature, just click  the drop down menu after the hi, "your account name", and click account info. This will make you log in again with your password. Then under sign in security, click "view your recent sign in activity".


The device used, the time and place when  your account is accessed are shown in the list.  You can also toggle between location or  ip number just in case it is accessed in the same location but different ip numbers. Different  ip numbers would be suspicious, unless you are using your networks data tariff.


The above result has confirmed no doubt my account is hacked and been used to send spam messages to my contacts somewhere in Russia.

What to do now?

I am still lucky that I can still access my account and the hacker has not changed the password yet. It is advisable to change the password straight away when you find out somebody has access to your email. The longer and more random the password, the harder for a hacker to crack it. And that's what I did.

My thoughts

I really do not know how the hacker managed to log into my account. I have been very careful in my online activities. I suspect that this account has been hacked longtime before and it is just now that the hacker decided to use it. My password has been my password for years, and that was my mistake.

With this happened , I realised how important it is to change our passwords regularly. Another important thing is not to save sensitive informations, like passwords or any log in details, bank accounts and etc., in your email. Because when you do this and somebody managed to look into your folders, the worst happens.

Be sensible on what you click, specially those links and messages that you think that does not make sense. It maybe just be your gut feelings but if you are in doubt, DO NOT click it.



Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Advance IP Scanner



Have you secured your wifi network yet?

I am still surprised that some friends have not  secured their wifi settings. Their reason is they do not know how to get into their router settings. Others are afraid to fiddle with their wi-fi settings that they thought they  might mess up and cause interruption to their internet service. Others do not know their default router address and default router log in and password. They even say that using the existing default gateway when typing ipconfig on a command prompt does not bring up the router's log in page. I find this comment rather weird as I have not experienced before.  I always arrive at my router's log in page using my default gateway address. So it might be a technical problem with their device, or my friend's lacking in technical ability.

Not getting into the router's innards means not knowing which devices are attached to it wirelessly. And if an unknown device is attached without you knowing, then that device is stealing some of your traffic and causing slowdown on your connection. This is the reason why you need to get into your router's wireless settings and secure it as much as possible.

But if you can not really get into your router's wireless setting for some reasons and want to know whose or what devices are connected into your wireless router without logging into your router's setting, then this application is recommendable.

Advance IP Scanner

This application can help determine, which devices are connected into your wi-fi without logging into the router's home page. Download the application from

http://www.advancedipscanner.com

The interface is very simple and easy to follow.

Once launched, you can just start scanning by pressing the green arrow. The IP addresses to be scanned are already pre configured.


What does it do?

1. Shows the connected devices.

The program scans your network and shows all the connected devices, whether it is yours or your neighbours.

2. Determines the default gateway address

 It even identifies the router's gateway ip address and translate in into a readable address instead of numbers. This means you can type in www.routerlogin.com instead of the usual http://192.168.0.1.  This time the scanner has seen six active devices connected into the wi-fi.

3. Shows the MAC addresses of each the connected devices

You can identify the devices that are not yours by simply checking their names and if the name looks suspicious, by their Mac Addresses. To know how to get your MAC address of your devices please see previous post at


If you recognise them all, then there is no device leeching on your wifi.





4. File sharing medium

The shared folders on a connected computer can also be shown and browsed using the application.


5. Shutdown connected devices.

On connected computers, you can also remotely shut them down, wake them up or do a file transfer as long as you have radmin running on both of the computers. Video on how to do this at the end of this post.


This application is very useful indeed, and can be a great help to the faint heart to determine if they are sharing their wifi connection without their knowledge.



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