Sunday, 29 December 2013

Easily Reclaim Wasted Space in an Android Phone

One problem of having a smartphone is running out of available space, specially with the built in memory. Although the newer Androids are coming with bigger memories nowadays (32GB for the new Note), it never seem to be enough in the long run. With more very tempting application and games to download, the seem like a gigantic capacity memory space is easily filled up with them. And not only with the downloaded applications, which are definite in size, but the additional data that you do not know that are collected and stashed away by these apps inside the built in memory. This decreases the available space, increases the read time of data, and in effect, takes the phone longer to launch an application or becomes less responsive to touch input. 

As much as possible, limit number of apps you download, uninstall the apps you barely use and clear your cache. 


What's the cache?


The cache is just a temporary storage, and the data inside the cache are temporary as well. With this in mind we can say that we can delete them without causing any changes in any program or application. 

Why delete them? 


For the purpose of clearing up some storage area, and for a program that is not responding well, clearing it's "cache" can solve it.

How to clear it?


It is easy to clear the cache, for the Android 4.2 and below users, just go to settings, applications manager, click the application, and you can clear the cache on the next window. For 4.3 and above users, click settings, more, then the applications manager. This step is okey, when you just have a few programs installed. However, if you have, say at least twenty programs installed, it is not practical to do it manually. And also, even the programs you do not use but is opened in the background can accumulate a stash of data. Opening the programs one by one in the application manager is a tedious work!



However, there is a way of clearing all the caches in one click and you can set it also to clear it in a given time. This is by using AVG Cleaner.

Installing and Using the  AVG Cleaner


Click here to download!


Get the cleaner by typing "AVG Cleaner" google play's search(or if you are accessing this post with an android phone, just click the link above), then follow the step by step procedure.  The moment you launch the application, it already asking you if you want to set the frequency of cleaning schedule. The default is every one week. 

Click continue(1) and the cleaner will start calculate how much temporary data are there stored from the history, calls, and program cache. You might notice that the bulk comes from the cache. The remaining free space is shown at the bottom. 

If you want to specify which one will be automatically deleted after a week, tap auto clean(2). You can tick or untick (3)other locations like calls and messages. Do not forget to save the settings to take effect.



Now you are ready regain wasted space occupied by temporary files. You can see that the programs cache(a) is where the bulk of the temporary files is when you compare it's size to the total MB of memory(b) that can be regained.

Touch cache(a) and it will show you the applications that are hoarding data within your memory. In this example, Instagram(c) hides the most. I also noticed that applications I do not use frequently (d) or do not remember using is somehow collecting unnecessary data as well. Now press Clean All Cache(4) to start removal.



The application also saves a record on how much space you reclaimed.



You can also clear the history of your calls and messages from here. But this is not necessary in this example as they just occupy a small amount of space. 

Thursday, 26 December 2013

How to Uninstall Stubborn Android Apps

My android phone was struggling to follow my touches this morning, despite of having a 1GB ram and a quad core processor running at 1.4GHz. I have tried to turn it off and on, but still, it was so slow to respond. Seems like there is a big weight that is making it so hard for any program to run.

I have suspected there are too much installed applications and when I found out that there is only about 750MB of space left with the built in 16GB capacity, I decided to weed up those that I do not use often.  I have uninstalled one by one without any problem, until I came across something unexpected, one of the applications uninstall button is greyed, meaning it is not active, so I can not uninstall it! I do not have a clue why, I've tried deleting the data, the cache and re started the phone hoping the application in question just hanged, but to no avail.



Without a clue, I tried to look for a solution in going to the phone's settings and after sometime, my persistence paid off. The application in question was appointed as a device administrator. I have unticked it. To go to the device administrator(android 4.3), click settings, more, security, device administrators. For androids using previous versions, goto settings, security, device administrators.



When I went back to the uninstall menu (settings, more, application manager), the uninstall button is already clickable and have successfully get rid of it!



So the next time you can not uninstall a program from an android phone, goto the device administrators section and see if the stubborn application is set as one, untick it then uninstall it!

And yes, the phone is more responsive when the space was cleared!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

How To Cash In This Christmas

Here's December, the most expensive month of the year. Season of sales, 50% offs, buy one get one and so on. Companies know when people are prepared to splash their cash out to buy gifts for friends and family or for themselves. So the hard earned money is gone, well , no hard feelings especially it's gone to someone we love or something we really want.  However, there is a way to get some of this cash back. No magic tricks, no hard to follow instructions and no fee, and I can show you how. Trust me, it works!

If you are planning to  buy top of the line smartphones and gadgets this Christmas, there are many sales out there from the highstreet retailers like Carphonewarehouse, dial-a-phone, phones-4-U and many more. This is great, as they all have offers of up to 50% on line rentals,  give you free gifts and cashbacks too. Now the better news is, when you join topcashback and shop online, you can get these offers from them plus another "cash gift" of up to £141 (at the time of this post). All you have to do is less than 5 minutes of your time to join then shop as usual.

See how much you can earn from selected companies below.



It is not only phone company products that you can have something back, in fact almost everything. If you are planning to switch your energy provider, you can have at least £50 in your bank account after the switch, at least £80 for broadband and almost £200 for the combination of TV and broadband products.


To join, all you need is an email address, mailing address, and method of cashback payment, like paypal, or back account.

Join here!

It's not all money out this season, but a cash in as well. An extra something for just joining that can grow into something big when used regularly. Be smart this Christmas on where to spend your money!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Random Smartphone Problems

My friends run into different problems with their smartphones this month. And as usual and being curious, I took a closer look on what's causing the problem. Though I am not really a techie person, I had some suspects on why their phones are behaving that way, and simple solutions that remedied the situations.

1. iPhone 5 on O2 network can not go online using mobile data


My friend told me that it was working fine but can no longer connect to the internet while on the move using mobile data. But it can go online using wi-fi connection. 

Her iPhone is showing 3G connection, and she told me that she has a data plan. In my opinion it should be able to go online, as her tariff has an internet allowance. Going into the iPhones APN settings (tap Settings, General, Cellular or Mobile Data, Cellular Data Network or Mobile Data Network) showed the correct APN for iPhone mobiles which is idata.o2.co.uk . Investigating further, she told me that the original tariff is for an android mobile phone that she just ordered a nano sim and ported the number of her original tariff to it. This made me suspicious that the problem might be the APN setting. We've changed the iPhone setting(idata.o2.co.uk) with the original android phone's apn setting (mobile.o2.co.uk) and it worked!



2. Samsung S3's SMS Problem


2.1. Can't send a text message 


Another friend is annoyed one afternoon when she cannot send a sms message to her son telling to get the house key from me because she will be out. A call might be a better idea but she is concerned that the mobile ring will make a disturbance inside her son's class. 

Every time she sends a message from her android phone, the phone says, "failed". It can receive a test message though. And she told me that she the problem just started a few days after one of her children played with the mobile.

What could be the problem?

 I went into the message settings of her android phone  and found out that the message center number is not properly set. It is only showing +44 and it should be at least 12 numbers. She doesn't know what happened but I suspected that somebody has accidentally deleted some of the numbers.

Going to the O2 website, we've updated the message center to +447802000332 and she was able to send messages again without running into failed message alert.

(go to message center by opening Messages, then touch the bottom left soft key and touch Settings, scroll to Text message settings, then tap Message Centre) 


The message centre for sms should automatically be set but if you run into problems with sending a text then it is best to check if it is set correctly. Below are the sms numbers from popular networks.

  • 3   (three)                   +447782000800
  • ASDA                       +447785014315
  • O2 Pay As You Go  +44 7802 092 035
  • O2 Pay Monthly       +44 7802 000 332
  • Orange                     +44 7973 100 973
  • Talk Mobile              +44 7785 014 318
  • Tesco                        +447802092035
  • T-Mobile                  +44 7958 879 879
  • Virgin                        +44 7958 879 890
  • Vodafone                  +447785016005

2.2 Long text message is converted into MMS


The fact that the Samsung S3 can only handle 160- character SMS at a time is annoying. If you exceed this, it will be converted into MMS(yellow boxed) and sent through the mobile phone network's internet service. The recipient should also have a smartphone with MMS enabled to read it. Or if you do not want to use MMS or your recipient do not have a smartphone, you need to stop and send your message after the 160th character and compose another with the rest of the message after sending the first one.



To solve this problem, you can download a messaging service app from the play store to get round this. One particular application is Go SMS Pro. This app has additional enhancements that can spice up the rather boring native sms application.



3. Battery is draining fast


Here's a classic smartphone problem, that I admit to continue have experience it from time to time with my S3 phone. With the built in settings to save the battery and other free apps that promise to extend battery life, why the smart phone is not smart enough to manage it's energy supply?

Here's what I have found out. You might be thinking of turned on wi-fi, bluetooth etc, although these contribute to the battery drain, but the real culprit is the handset is kept AWAKE at all time! Symptom for this is it loses it's battery power very fast, that you might need to charge it at least 2 to 3 times a day or more. See if you have an insomniac phone by going to settings then tapping the battery (1) then the battery level(3). You can see that the "awake"(4) entry is continuous. I also suspect that the AVG(2) is stalled or taking time to do what it's doing. You can also see a very fast discharge of more than half it's power in 4 hours.


What I did here was to force quit the application in question by going to Settings, Applications, then to the program in question then force quit(5), and restarted the phone at the end. See the difference of the second batch of screen shots taken the day after. It's been on for 15 hours. The awake button is intermittently turning on and off. You can see that when it is not awake(7), the battery level(6) is flat and when it is continuously awake (9) the battery has a very steep plunge(8).




Saturday, 2 November 2013

Why Join Cashback Sites

With Christmas just round the corner, I am sure everyone is busy planning for their activities and making their X'mas lists. How much would you be spending for gifts this year? No matter how much money would be flowing out of your pocket, you could get back some of it by using a cashback site! Joining a cashback site is easy and worth it. Not to mention it is free to join. The clear advantage is some of the money you pay for your purchases will go back to your bank account in the form of a cashback. This could range from a few pence to hundreds of pounds depending on the purchase and percentage of the cashback.

How to Join?


A good example of a company with a good reputation is topcashback.com.  Like most of the cashback company's, it is completely free to join. You just need your postaldetails and email address and you do need a bank account to join. Why? Because this will be needed when you want to withdraw your  cashback. 

Join now and start saving!



If for any reason  you are not comfortable in setting up your bank account to receive your cashback payment, paypal account is accepted. 


How to Earn Cashbacks?


To start earning through your purchases, the next time you buy something online, log on to topcashback.com and search(1)for the site you want to buy from. If the retailer is affiliated to topcashback, the summary of how much you will earn as cashback will be shown(2). Click  cashback(2) and it will show you the latest offers and voucher codes available for the said merchant. At the merchant's topcashback page, click get cashback(3) and a new tab will redirect you to the merchant's site where you can shop. 



You can be sure that the visit you made to the site is recorded by going back to the merchant's cashback page tab.




Popular Cashback Companies


 Most of the things you need when bought online can give you cashbacks, not only from retail companies, but utility companies like power, telecommunication, financial and other services. In fact high paying cashbacks come from telecommunications and financial institutions offering mortgages and insurances. 


Maximise Your Savings


The percentage cashback you receive from the site is independent from the existing promotion of the merchant's site. This means you can maximise your savings. For example you bought a galaxy tab basing from the present offers, buying online would already save you £20 (£99.97 online compared to £119.97 in store), plus another potential saving of £10 voucher for every thing less than £100 tablets, and a cashback of 4.04% which is another £4.03 or a total of £34.03 savings. Not bad by just using the topcashback site.

Checking and Cashing In Your Cashback Earnings


The good thing about this site is, there is no threshold in earnings before you can withdraw your cashback. As long as it is already available in your account, meaning it has been paid by the company to topcashback, and it is already showing in your account, you can cash it out. 


You can check on this by clicking my account(5) then earnings(6). You can see the transactions by merchant, your click visits, and most of all the cashbacks which are payable. The amount of this column represents how much you can withdraw!


To cash in, click the payments (9) tab and you can choose between paypal payment or bank transfer. If you have not arranged for the payment details when you have set up your account, you can set it up by going to my account, then my profile, then payment details.  



Join now and start saving!




Monday, 28 October 2013

How to Maximise Low Bandwidth

Some Pinoy friends back home are complaining how slow their internet connections are. There are some days that  it takes a long time to open a single webpage on their laptops and computers or would not at all. The speed of how quickly a webpage shows depends on many factors. The most crucial is the bandwidth limit and the speed of connection the ISP provider is able to give. Do not be misled by ISP's  saying the "up to something speed" as they can not provide this to everybody. This is like them saying, "we can or can not give you this speed", however they do not state clearly that there are several conditions that can affect this, like distance of their exchange to the user as well as the number or users at a given time. And I think this is the root of their internet problem, low bandwidth, and slow speed. And this can not be solved by a powerful the computer or device.



The best way to deal with this is to upgrade to a better tariff, bigger bandwidth and faster connection speed. However if budget is the problem, doesn't do much of internet surfing and you are just annoyed about the speed of the data delivered, then this methods of tricking the websites can be just what you needed.

Use a Website's Mobile Site


If you are a facebook addict, then this trick is for you. You do not need to download any piece of software or tweak any computer setting to do this. All you need to do is to type in the mobile URL of the site instead of the full site. This will let you access the mobile version even though you are using your laptop or computer. As the mobile site cuts a lot of corners in order to accommodate the size of the screen of a mobile device, this means a lot of cuts in the data being downloaded to your laptop as well. And as your laptop or computer is more powerful than a mobile device, it will easily display the page faster.

Full Facebook Site


Mobile Site



You can see the big difference between the two versions shown with just the addition of letter  "m"(see underlined above) before facebook , the full site has several windows for the advertisements, status updates, chat window, and the timeline, whilst the mobile version only have the timeline to show. 

You can also use "wap" instead of "m" like in ebay uk. The syntax would be http://wap.ebay.co.uk.


Use User Agent Ad On


Unfortunately, the website coders are clever, they can detect whether you are using a laptop or a proper mobile device when accessing their sites. Although you have changed the URL code into a mobile address, the page you will receive will be of the full page. Like Google for example. 

The best way to trick them is to change your user agent. User agent is the name of the device you are using to access the sites. This means, if you are successful in changing this, the site will render a page just like what you would see in a mobile device, like iPAD, iPhone, or Android mobiles. This will also mean that you do not need to tweak the URL address. You can just type in the address as usual and presto, a mobile version of that page is rendered in your laptop.

I use Chrome browser for this, as there is a good add on software to do the job. I am sure that other browsers have this kind of add ons as well.

To get this, go to this link


...download and install the second selection.



Once installed, click on the icon at the top right(1) and choose which mobile device you want to mimic(2), then close the window. You will see the current user agent setting at the top left of the selection(3).




Once you are happy with the user agent, you type as normal but the only difference is the rendered site. You can see from the examples below, that the output just shows the main usable components and adverts and other unnecessary components are stripped off. And this clearly means that you are using a small amount of bandwidth and you do not need a super fast internet to render these pages.



You can get go back to the default agent by closing your browser and restarting again.

 If you ask if there is one for Epic, there is none at the moment, as Epic do not accept third party add ons yet.

Block Adverts 


Not all sites are happy to show you their mobile versions, so to cut the advertisement corners of these sites. Filtering these would reduce the consumption of bandwidth thus reducing the download and rendering time of a site. However, all of the popular browsers have not completely blocked the adverts even though the filtering is on. 

Using an alternative browser called Epic Privacy Browser did the best job. It strips all traces of advertisements and other scripts in a site including those from google, ebay widgets, and many more. Though this browser can threaten revenues for bloggers like me, I can say that when you are worried about privacy, this is actually the best at the moment. 

Epic Rendered


Chrome Rendered
Adverts are not blocked


As it blocks all cookies on all sites, some sites may not respond and would not be shown properly especially when proxy button is on. For more info on how to use it, visit my previous post here.

Till next Post!



Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Best Alternative Browser

Browsers are not created, or coded, equal. But who cares how it is made? As long as it is fast to render webpages and provides users the privacy they need. Lately, google chrome, my favourite browser is misbehaving. It struggles to show pages. My internet connection speed has no problem, and the cache is empty. But I do not know why it is misbehaving. Then I came across an unknown browser called Epic Privacy Browser. Downloaded, installed, and used it. And it is amazingly fast, but not only fast. I think it will be the browser that I will be using for these other reasons:

  • Always On Private Browsing



Other browsers have Private Browsing mode, but Epic is private in default. You can be sure that your browsing activity, is not saved. Not like other browsers that it is stashed somewhere for retrieving later. This means nobody will be able to see where you have been, and you do not need to do task like emptying your cache.

Download Here


  • Allows No Trackers



It blocks actively all kinds of trackers like cookies, trackers embedded in codes and adverts. Even third party, or those trackers from other companies other than the website you are visiting are not allowed whether from well known brand or not. A bad news for publishers (like me) with allowed ads in their site, but a relief for those who want a fast and private browsing. 

Photo 1


You can review the blocked trackers by clicking the umbrella and the " See Trackers Blocked" menu.

Photo.2


  • Hides IP Address


One way of websites to track your browsing activity is by remembering your ip address. You can mask this by using Epic browser's built in proxy server by clicking the red socket icon at the right side of the address bar. When on, this turns into green. To test if this is effective, I tested my IP address at http://whatismyipaddress.com/ whilst the socket is on and off and here are the results.

With the socket on, it detected that I am surfing from the US.

Photo 3


They know where I am when socket is off.


Photo 4


  • Let's You Watch US Region Restricted Sites



As it plays with your IP address when you use their built in proxy server, it tricks websites into believing that you are in the US, and in effect let's you watch movies and videos intended for US audience only.

With Socket (proxy server) off

Photo 5



With socket (proxy server) on

Photo 6





  • Search Protection


The built in Epic Search, does not save your searches. It does not employ auto search and auto fills so that you are sure that only you will ever know what you are searching. In addition, your searches will automatically routed to the browser's proxy servers, and not to your ISP's providers. What happens to your searches at the browser's servers? They are deleted every 5 minutes.

  • Very Fast



It is one of the fastest that I have experienced. This is because of the web components(advertisements, scripts etc) that it blocks that other browsers fetch and show, the Epic Browser is confident that it is at least 25% faster than the fastest browser you have ever used, and I agree!


Just remember that the browser blocks the unnecessary third party elements of the websites you are visiting so they might not be shown properly. Emails and social networks might challenge you as they are tricked that you are accessing your account away from your usual location.  In case you want to lower the browser's restriction, you can do so by clicking the umbrella icon (see Photo 2) and tweaking the settings as you wish.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

5 iOS7's Practical Features

There are plenty of enhancements that came with the newest iOS 7 from apple mobile devices. Among these, I have favourites. They become my favourites because they make the user has more control over the devices, and make the device easier to use. My favourites are not the most sophisticated ones but just basic functions that can be very useful.

Automatic Download Update


Gone are the days that you can not use an application because it needs updating or the device grinds into a halt because it is downloading multiple updates. This time with the iOS 7, the update of all apps can be set to automatic and it will automatically updated in the background, without the usual tapping of download and entering passwords. You can also set it to download theupdate only when you are connected to wi-fi by disabling cellular data if network data is an issue.




Siri Got Cleverer


This was just an accidental discovery, but did you know that you can command Siri to tweak simple phone functions like to turn down the screen brightness, toogle wi-fi and bluetooth on or off? Try activating Siri and say " turn bluetooth on", or " turn brighthness down". Below are the screenshots of the tasks done by Siri.



Block Annoying Callers


You can now block annoying callers permanently or temporarily by going to Phone app then tap the Recent activity tab at the bottom of the screen, then the little “i”  next to the number you want to block. The block button is down the bottom of the page. Tap “Block this Caller" and it's done.



Turn It Into a Flashlight


Here's a handy tool that you can use in times of power failure or when you have dropped something under the bed or sofa. You can bring this function on by activating the control center by swiping your hands from the bottom of the phone upwards.




The Reader Button


In Safari, you can eliminate distractions from a website whilst surfing by clicking on the reader button located at the upper right side of the browser. This will strip the page with it's adverts or other items not originally included in the article. This will give the surfer a cleaner interface and turn the page into something like a text document. This is great when you are surfing with network data rather than wi-fi as it will also lessen the bandwidth you use.






Monday, 7 October 2013

The IOS 7 Experience

It was just a rumor mid this year, that IOS 7 will be coming. I was not suspecting a new hardware to be released with the new operating system, but thought of just to liven up the bored familiar and unchanged interface of the apple mobile products since it's beginning. The rumor is realized this month, plus two new hardwares, the iPhone5S and the iPhone5C. And here's the ups and downs I've experienced during the first month of IOS7 experience.

The Update


I experienced no problems downloading the update OTA (over the air), though I've heard friends having to retry many times to complete the update. I did actually pressed the update button during the night and slept over it. The following day, it is ready to install. Installation is a breeze as well, and in one go.



The First Look


The slide to unlock arrow button doesn't look special, in fact it's like drawn by a child, so simple! The passkey's rounded shape and spacing are good and the transparent look makes the numbers look classy and modern. I am not really gone crazy with the changes within the icons. They look simpler than the previous design and have a retro touch, however the name of the applications underneath are not easy to read. If you have a problem like this then using a darker themed wallpaper will help. Or you can make them appear bigger by choosing bold text by going to Settings, General, Accessibility, Bold Text. 



The Control Center


Swiping the screen from the bottom upwards activates the control centre. This is the most used feature of IOS 7 I use. It shows a summary of functions and the ease of activating and deactivating them.




  • Airdrop


Apple is catching up with connectivity. Whilst the competition can transfer any type of files wirelessly long time ago, apple "prohibits" this even to an another apple device. Apple might have realised that this is a let down to advance users so it decided to include airdrop function. This is the direct wi-fi function apple style. The dismal part of this is only the latest apple products is supported like the  iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S, iPad (4th generation), iPad Mini, iPod Touch (5th generation). This means a let down to earlier devices that upgraded to the IOS7.


  • Airplay


 Pinoys with TFC online subscription who usually stream contents to apple TV will find this very easy and handy to use. It can also mirror what's on the device's screen. This is handy when you want to show off photos and videos or editing easier with bigger screen.


  • Other Shortcuts


Other handy features included in the control center are, flashlight, wi-fi, flight mode, screen brightness, calculator and camera shortcut. But I think apple need to include the mobile data button. As this can save unnecessary internet bill when abroad and it should be easy to access like the other functions in the control center. 

Assistive Touch




This can be turned on by going to Settings, General, Accessibility, Assistive Touch. This feature allows user to turn up or down the volume, mute or unmute the phone without touching the physical button. The feature I use most in this function is the screenshot function. Instead of pressing two buttons, with this function, you just need one to press.

Background App Refresh


This is a new feature that refreshes the contents of an application when internet connection is established using either wifi or cellular connection. This feature can be useful as it can provide up to date information to the user. But if battery and bill is a concern, then it is better to turn this feature off. This can be accessed under Settings, General, Background App Refresh.



Notifications Centre




Swiping the top of the screen downwards brings about the Notifications Center. This is another feature that updates application's content automatically. And just like the Background App Refresh, it uses, wi-fi or cellular data access. It can be helpful or just an annoyance. The good news is you can control which application can get their contents to the notification menu. Just go to Settings, Notification Center, Select an Application from the list and toggle the switch on or off.





The New Safari


The new browser impresses me the most. This now includes easy private(incognito) surfing, easy sharing button and superb visual effect. Though some users say that they feel sea sick with the animation, I see it differently as entertaining. You can tweak it's settings to change the default search engine. You can also save names and passwords as well as credit cards! But if you think this is a rather threat to security, then better not. To increase your privacy, the do not tract button is also handy. These tweaks can be accessed by going to Settings then scroll down to Safari. 







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