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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