Monday, 28 April 2014

Stop Facebook From Automatically Playing Videos Whilst On Data Tariff

The recent changes in the facebook interface is causing a confusion among users, specially mobile customers. I could not understand why they let the video playback on on default. What this mean is when you log in to your account and you stop on a video post, it will buffer and  play straight away. This also mean that you are spending data tariff unexpectedly, and not just a small portion, videos are the most data wasters among multimedias as they contain images and sounds.

This is not a problem when you are connected to a free public or home wi-fi. But if you use your network's data and just have a limited allowance, expect at least a payment excess on your bill. It is more of a problem when you have the latest data connection 4G. So check your tariff and if you can afford to add additional bundle or to go unlimited. But if not, this is what you need to do.

Disable video auto-play whilst using data tariff?


Another way to avoid unnecessary charges is to disable this from happening.

On android devices, whilst facebook is open, go to the settings by pressing the button left to the home key(1), then settings(2), in the next window tick Auto-play videos on Wi-Fi only(3).

For the iphone, go to the phone's settings(4), scroll down to the applications and tap facebook(5), in the next screen tap settings(6) then touch the button to auto-play on Wi-Fi only(7)

Do More With Samsung Note 3: Multi Window Tool

 The real meaning of multitasking is when you can do more than one task at the same time. But how can you say you are multi tasking when you have only one window opened at one time, specially when you are using a smart phone? It is more proper to say you are sequentially tasking, but if you insist you are, my next question is do your phone supports multi window? If not, then your device maybe capable of multi- task but you as the user is limited to tasking in sequence. With the Note 3, you are properly multi-tasking, and here how you can do most of it.

How to use it ?


The multi window mode on the Note 3 is not turned on on default. Users can access this on by swiping the top screen down(1) then to the left(2), and tapping the icon(3) until it turns green. This will bring on the drawer tab(3) at the middle of the left screen, it's default position. This drawer tab can be moved up(4) and down(5) or to the right side of the screen by keeping your fingers on it until the opposite side of the screen glows faint blue (6). This is a signal that you can place it to other position. The drawer tab does time out or disappear for sometime, and to bring this visible, touch the back button ( glow button at the right of the home button) for at least 2 seconds. Touch it again to hide the tab.


What to use it for ?


It might not be useful to everyone, but for the multitasker, it is. If you do two things at the same time online, like blogging, you can do more with two windows opened, one for the blog and one for resources. Or  searching for a destination online, you can open one window for the browser and another for the map application. You can make task combination to do things easier.

Applications that are compatible for this is already pre configured when you open up the drawer. Productivity applications like browser, note taking, music and video players are included. To open two applications at the same time, you can either tap or drag them out (7)from the tray one at a time. The active window is bordered with thin blue line. To make the other window active, just tap on it.


What you can do with the opened applications?


Between the two applications is a blue button(8) that when tapped, it opens different menus for multi tasking. The most usefuI found  is the drag and drop button(9) that can copy an item and paste it on to the other window. It is useful in emails where you want  to attach a text or a photo file from another website. It does it automatically.  Just stick you fingers for a few seconds and it allows you to drag and drop(10) from the source to the email content.

Create a shortcut button for a frequently used pair


If you usually listen to music whilst reading your email, you can make a paired application button so it will launch the music player and email application at the same time. You can do this whilst the two applications are opened by tapping the triangular icon(11) at the bottom, then create(12), name the pair(13), and it will be added as an icon(14) at the apps drawer. You can access the pair by  tapping on the icon.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Speed Up Windows Boot Time: Built-in Tweak

"Computers run slower as they get older", this is a common observation that proves to be true. This is caused by many reasons like hard drive being filled up with programs, and applications that make themselves run when the computer starts. As new programs are adding more functions after updates, this also mean more memory is needed to run them. All of these, and among others, can make the computer start up at a snail pace.

The good news is there are simple and easy tweaks that you can do to make the start up faster. 

Disable programs not needed at the start up


Access the start up menu by going to the system configuration then do the following: click start(1), type msconfig(2), enter, then click start up tab, then untick(3) the programs that are not needed to boot up the computer, like social networks, VOIP(e.g. skype), messengers(e.g. yahoo), third party updaters(e.g. google, yahoo),  media players(e.g iTunes), browser add ons(toolbars) and so on. You need to make sure not to untick applications that are needed like pointing device, those with intel labels and antivirus. If you are not sure of which application to disable, a list of start up programs can be seen at 


The list includes recommendation on whether to disable it, or leave it as it is.


Delay automatic services




You can access the services at the dreaded part of windows, the registry. Click start then type in services(4) at the search box. You'll be looking at the entries with automatic setting at the long list of windows services. These are the services that start together with the boot up. Delaying these will make the computer to load the OS without much competition, so therefore will make it faster. 

As this is the registry, you might want to do a screenshot of the list before putting them into delayed start, or export a list(8) by clicking action first, so that just in case you will encounter a problem, you'll have a guide to the original value of the start up type. 

In my case I have chosen only those services that I know example like those from adobe, apple, google, nero and other third party apps that I have installed myself.

To delay a service, hover your cursor to the  entry name(5), right click, properties(6), then select delay from the search box(7). Don't forget to click apply to take effect.



Delete or hide fonts


Did you know that Windows loads up fonts you use in word processing applications whilst the computer is starting up? Deleting those you do not use or just by hiding them can also shorten the boot time. Access the fonts folder by clicking start, type fonts at the search box. Highlight the fonts you do not use and select hide from the menu.

You can even uninstall those you do not use to clean up the disk space.


Use full power during boot up


If your computer is running on more than one processing core, then you can use it to speed up the boot process. Initially the computer is not set up to use all cores and RAM for the start up process. To do this, go to the systems configuration(start, msconfig) and click the boot(11) tab. Then click advanced options(12). Tick the number of processors(13) to adjust how many cores to use. In this case the more is better. Tick the memory box (15) and to allocate the amount of RAM (16) by clicking the arrows or typing in a value. 


Use high power option to improve performance


If you are using a laptop, you can improve it's overall performance by adjusting it's power option into high performance rather than the pre-configured power saving feature.  Most laptop makers ship their product on this setting to improve battery life but this compromise performance in return. To change this, hover your cursor to the battery icon (17) and right click on it. Choose power options(18) to get to the advanced power settings(19) where you can select high performance(20) setting.

Choose performance over appearance



Windows has settings that improves the way it's windows look, or the way it closes and open windows like animations, drop shadows on the icons, mouse trails and etcetera. This might improve its appearance but it's computing power will be divided not only to it's performance but to the aesthetic aspect. This also contributes to slow response and boot time. Luckily you can choose to have a faster computer than a better looking one.

To do this, click start and type in  performance and information tools(21), then click advanced tools(23). From the pop up window, click adjust the appearance and performance of windows(22) and tick adjust for best performance(24). This will remove all animations and fancy folder stuff . Your photo folders will not show thumbnails or photos but icon of the default program. Just tick the show icons (25) to bring this function back.




Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Do More With Samsung S5: Tips and Hidden Tricks

Android phones are not only popular because of more built in functions, but because they can be easily customized the way owners want. For the adventurous who like their phones to be unique from everyone else, this type of phone is their first choice. The Samsung S5, being an Android phone is no exception. And here are some tricks that owners might not yet heard about.

Change the User Interface


If you are tired of seeing the same interface, you can easily change it without rooting or jail breaking. The most common problem of rooting a phone is the tendency of making it useless as a brick! There are many beautiful user interfaces available to download, from the plain looking to 3D interfaces. To try one, just go to google play and search for launchers. Once downloaded, you can change the touchwiz interface with the downloaded launcher by going to Settings, General, Default Applications, Home and choose the new application. If you've opted for 3D launchers, Bear in mind that they use more battery, memory and computing power.



Show Hidden Functions


The Kitkat version of Android has disabled the Developer's Option menu. This is suppose to sit above the About Device  when you tap Settings and General. As the name suggests, this is mainly for developers but regular users can use it to limit the background processes to make the phone more responsive.  To enable this, tap Settings, General, About Device, then scroll down to Build Number(1) and tap it continuously until it says Developer Option is enabled. When you go back to the General menu,  the Developer Option(3) will appear.

If you are familiar about Easter Eggs on softwares and applications (some "virtual things" that pops up with a special code), this phone is no exemption. To view this, whilst at About Device, tap the Android Version (2) repeatedly at least 3 times a second until something(4,5) appears in the screen. 

No Need to Take Off  Gloves To Use It 


The problem in winter conditions is you need to take off your gloves to use the touch screen phone. Putting on and off on your gloves could be a hindrance of using the phone. With the Samsung S5, you can increase the sensitivity of the screen to respond to a glove touch. You can also use anything pointed like a pencil to use as a stylus. Go to Settings, Device then Display to change the sensitivity(6).


Disable Built-In Apps


Another way of making the phone run faster is to disable the built in apps that you do not use. Even if you do not use them, they are running in the background. This is the case with the My Magazine application that is by default turned on. Press the key left to the home button and open the home screen settings (7) to get to the on and off checkbox (8) of the My Magazine.

If you want to turn off other built in apps, head to Settings, Application Manager, All, then choose an application and touch the "turn off" button.


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Do More With The Samsung Note 3: The S-Pen

What's the point of a stylus with a touch screen smartphone? It seems like it doesn't make sense when you can use your fingers instead. It sounds redundant. But the S-Pen of the Note 3 makes sense. It solves some of the problems I encountered whilst using a standard smartphones. In my opinion it is useful in many ways.

The Action Memo


Have you ever been in a hurry taking down a phone number that the host of a TV show or radio says on air? Chances are it will be too late before you can even get your phone ready to type in a number. With the note, just take the stylus out and tap the action memo mode(1). You can start jotting down the number(2). Make sure to write down phone numbers in straight and one line for easier recognition. Then tap the third icon(6) from the top to choose on a task. Tap the telephone icon(7) to dial it or save(8) it as a contact.

This is not limited to numbers, you can write down anything and have the option to send it as a text(9), search on the internet(10) or save in as a memo(11) in your calendar.

The Scrap Booker


If you  have many videos recorded in your device, sometimes it is hard to find a specific clip to play straight away. It takes sometime to find what you are looking for depending on the number of contents. One way of keeping your favourite videos separate from the rest is to use the Scrap Booker(2) function of the S-pen. 

What it does is to save  your favourite videos(12)  in the Scrap Book application for easier retrieval. It can also grab a video from the internet like youtube. It saves a screenshot and a link to tap(13) whenever you want to play it. 

To save a favourite video or a video from the internet, just draw around anything on the screen whilst the video is playing. 

The Screen Write


Sometimes it is hard to do a screenshot using the palm gesture or the key combination. The Screen Write (3)does this with ease. The big difference is, it does a bit more not just taking a screenshot. The screengrab can be annotated (14,15) or drawn over after the capture. The screen shot is not automatically saved, so you have the option to save or discard , share(16) via bluetooth, email or social network, to store in the cloud (drop box) or print.

The S Finder


This is the powerful search function(4) of the phone. It has a copy of everything that is happening(17) in chronological order. From emails received(18), activities you've done, calls made to text sent or received and many more. Enter a word in the search area(19) and it shows where the similar word is stored in  your phone or from web(20) activity.


The Pen Window


This lets you have a continuity of whatever  you are doing. For example when you are in a website and have find something you want to share through the telephone with your friend, you can easily do this without moving away from the website or source of information. Just take out the stylus and tap the  Pen Window icon(5), draw a rectangular shape and a small window(21) with compatible applications that can be launched will appear. Now sharing the info with your friend(22) is just a tap away.


Sunday, 20 April 2014

Do More With The Samsung Note 3: IR Blaster

It's been a while that Note 3 is out, and I have not exploited even half of it's practical features. One of these that captured my curiosity is its built in IR blaster. The infrared technology has been around since the birth of remote controlled devices live TV's, DVD's and other electrical appliances. And before bluetooth technology became a standard for mobile phone's data exchange, it was already present to some models. The only thing that makes it awkward to use is it needs line of sight to make a connection. 

Now the aging technology is making a comeback, not only using the ordinary mobile phone as it's vehicle but the top of the range smartphones, Samsung Note 3 included. 

What it does?


Infra Red signals are used to control appliances with built in IR receivers. It could be anything from TV, DVD, Set Top Box, Air Conditioning, toys and many more. The ability for an IR blaster to control something is dependent to the built in application that drives it. In terms of the IR on Note 3, it can control TV's, DVR's or set top box from SKY or other providers, DVD's, Blu-Ray Player, AV Receiver,Streaming Media Player like Apple TV, and even Airconditioning units, with the use of the built in Samsung Apps WatchOn. 

How to set it up?


It is easy, no need to download as it is a native apps in Note 3. Just go to the Samsung Apps folder and tap WatchOn. You can put a shortcut at the Home screen by keeping your fingers on it until it can be dragged out from the folder. You need to be connected into the internet whilst setting up.

1. At launch, you will be required to provide your location (1), the TV service provider(2, I am receiving SKY basic with satellite dish), before you can set up your devices(3). Note that the third picture already have the Sky Shows on it.



2. The first device to set up is the TV(4).  Make sure it is plugged and in standby mode. The popular brands are in the list (5) but if your TV is not included, you can access the complete selection(6). Then press the power button (7) to send the control code to your TV.



If the code is correct, then the TV will turn on and press the code works(10). You can send the previous code to try again(8). If not carry on with the second code(9) and so on until your TV is turned on.


3. Next is the Set-top Box(11) provided by TV company.  There is SKY+ in the selection and I tried this first. The code is not perfect so I researched for the make of my box and I found out that it is Amstrad(12), similar to the picture below.




4. Same steps follow like sending a code (13) and confirming (14). The remote interface(15) is easy to familiarise, at this point you can turn off the set up equipments by the power button(15) which will prompt you a specific equipment to turn off or you can add more devices by swiping upwards with the button at the bottom of the screen(16)



5. Press the remote device(17) and add another device(18). It will again ask you to press a button to turn it on. Be sure the device is on standby. After successful addition, you can change which device to control by again pressing the remote devices button(17,20), then the corresponding name(21). The interface or the remote(22) changes depending on the active component.



Luckily, the TV was set up with the first code, the Set top Box with the first code with the right product, and the DVD with the 5th code. 


Saturday, 19 April 2014

Stretch Your Data Bundle Upto 50% For Free

Here comes 4G, capable of delivering  an unbelievable 100Mbit/s speed data transfer. This is a good news to internet users as this means waiting time is a thing of the past. The information is just a tap away. How I love to try it on VOIP applications to make video calls!

However this is not all good news to all, specially to low data tariff subscribers. The reason is, the speed of the connection can easily eat up the remaining data balance and leaves you with skyrocket excess data charge!

How to avoid being overcharged?


The simplest thing not to have a shocking bill is to avoid using it. Anyway only the newest smartphones like HTC One, Galaxy 4 or 5, iPhone 5 and among others can accommodate this speed. But if you already have a compatible device, the best you can do is to buy additional  data allowance. Or just mind your usage if budget is a problem. Use android's built in data monitoring that can be set to alert you in a usage level before exceeding the allowance. 

The other way is to stretch your data up to 50% more by just downloading a program for free.

The Opera Max


Download Here
The Opera Max is only available on android devices at the moment. What it does is it monitors the apps that you use everyday. And not only
that, it also compresses webpages and multimedia traffic so that videos and photos are shrunk in size saving your data allowance up to 50%. A 10MB video can be watched as a 3MB file, saving you 70% of data. 

Get the application at play store. Just type and search Opera Max. Once installed, it is ready to save you bandwidth traffic. It will be active  by showing a key(1) sign at the top of the screen. When you are out of the wi-fi area and switch to data tariff(2), the application starts compressing the data from any application that uses the internet. The savings can be seen at the right top(3) of the screen and the applications you use that consume data are shown(4). Now you have the idea what application you need to open up only when you are in the Wi-Fi coverage. 



You can also tweak the video resolution to make it clearer  by selecting low, as the video setting is in high(5) default to save the most data. You can do this by tapping the left soft key(key to the left of the phone's home button) to access the preference!

Watch video below!




Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Auto Dial: On An Android

Phone cards are popular in making cheaper international calls, however, the need to dial an access number, long PIN and the destination number is somewhat making it too fiddly to use. Others prefer international sim cards because it can be directly dialed in one touch.

Luckily, there is a way to automate all the dialing if you have a smart phone. If you are using an android phone, you can use the dialer to save a number's contact, with the phonecard's access number and PIN included. This will automate the 3 sequences into one continuous task. When it is set up, all you need to do is to tap it, and the smart phone will dial the access number, enter the PIN number and the destination number in one tap!

How To Program It


For example, if you are using just dial phonecard service, here's how to do it. Whilst on the phone's dialer

1. key in the access number
2. add a 2 second pause by pressing the star button until the "," symbol shows up
3. key in the PIN number
4. a. add a 2 second pause by pressing the star button(1) until the "," symbol shows up
    b. or you can add "wait" (this will prompt you to press a button to dial the programmed destination number) by pressing the left soft key (key with light at the left of the home button) until the dialer menu shows up
    then press W(:) Add Wait(2)
5. key in the phone number complete with international and area codes
6. save and name the contact number


How To Use It


Just tap the contact with the programmed number and it will dial the access number, wait for 2 seconds before it dial's the PIN then wait again for 2 seconds before it dial's the destination number.

If you use Add Wait(;), you need to press Yes (3) before your phone dials the phone number.


Note that when you check the call log, the name of the dialed programmed number will be over ridden by the name of the access number. If you do not save a separate contact name for the access number, the log will just be showing the access number. 

It also works with automated voice operator that tells you which numbers to press to a reach a certain department or services.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Practical Apps

How many apps do we really need for our smartphones? Millions are already there and everyday a new one is being added. The sad news is most of them functions the same or just copycats that has been given a new name that are only wasting up the phone's storage.. So what application should we keep or need to download? As there is no right and wrong answer to this question, the best indicator is what do you do with your smartphone.

I have at least 10 loyalty cards that I use when I purchase shopping. The problem is my wallet could not accommodate them all. And sometimes the card that I need is left behind. So I purchased a wallet type phone cover for my smartphone to accommodate them all. The only downside is the pockets are a bit tight that some of the cards are cracking as they are stashed on top of the other.

CardStar


Then I came across this application for store cards called  card star. The application supports  iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry and Nokia  flat form.  You can check the program from http://www.cardstar.com


Download Cardstar 


What it does is it stores your store card details in your phone and it can be accessed anytime once it is saved. You can add any card by tapping the top right icon(1). You can search the merchant using the search(2) function or by selecting it from the a dropdown menu(4). You can also specify it's name(3) if it's not on the list. You have the option to scan the barcode or enter the card number manually. The application will generate a virtual barcode(6) that you can use in your shopping.




Snap Pea


If you are using Android, here's an interesting application that let's you manage your phone with a windows computer. Once you have logged into google, you can use chrome browser to view the contents like photos, text messages, contacts, and installed apps. If you like texting, you will love this even more using snap pea. You can read(9) or send SMS messages(7) with your computer using the android phone's sim card wirelessly, and also preview or edit photos(8) from your device without necessarily downloading it first. Adding a photo file from your computer to your phone or vice versa is also supported. I find this application easier to use that Kies. Applications(11)can also be uninstalled from the viewing computer however they can not be launched from there. Using the web interface is also better in managing contacts(10).

If you have two android phones under your log in, you can toggle between the two in a click of a button(12).

Download SnapPea 

Whatsapp


This is a cross flatform free messaging application. It is an add free program that automatically sync your contacts with mobile phones. Users can send texts, voice, video and photo messages to a contact or group of contact anywhere. It saves users from expensive overseas SMS messaging or data allowance when sending multimedia messages as long as it is connected to a home wi-fi.  It is free to use for a year and a minimal subscription is charged. Though it is a paid application, the amount of money you can save in sending SMS and other messages using the usual mobile network is much more.

Read more on Whatsapp here!

Download Whatsapp 


Documents Free


If you use your iPad in creating word or spreadsheet documents, then this is a must to iOS users. Not only that it is free but has a cleaner interface than most office suites. Another good point is it is cloud integrated, this means saving your documents on the cloud is more flexible than using a USB key, as you can access your documents anytime and anywhere from any iOS device. 

Download Documents Free


Saturday, 12 April 2014

How To Find Out Your Phone Number Using A Regular Phone and A Smart Phone

Not knowing your mobile phone number could be frustrating specially when you need it in an instant like topping up online. Especially when the one you have is a pay as you go sim card that you do not use often and the sim card is out of credit. You wouldn't be able to add credit on it without knowing your number first. And you can not make a call or text to a different number to do a reverse look up.

Here's how to get hold of the phone number using the mobile network with a normal mobile phone.


ASDA/Vodafone
To check your mobile number, simply dial *#100# and press the call button from your handset.

Orange/TMobile
Text the word number to 150. A text reply will be sent with your phone number. This is a free service.

O2
Text the word number to 2020. A text message will be sent with your phone number. The cost of sending and receiving the message is free.

You can also use a smartphone to show the mobile number of a sim card.


Android

Go to settings, general, about device, status, then check under my phone number

iOS

Go to settings, phone and the  number appears at the top of the screen. Or tap phone, contacts, the number appears at the top of the list. Or see under summary tab when you connect your device in iTunes using a computer.

SOS Heartbleed Bug

We use https sites for financial transactions, or the website automatically go to it's secure version with the padlock sign visible when we sign in our user name and password. For years we've been confident in using this secure connections and believing the entries we make are hidden away from prying eye's because it has been encrypted. Then the discovery of the heartbleed bug changes everything.

What is the Heartbleed bug?


Heartbleed is a flaw in OpenSSL, the open-source encryption that makes sensitive data into unreadable or scrambled state that is used by most websites. Example is when your transaction involves going into your bank account and you type in your user name and password. You might have already noticed that the site will change into https and a padlock sing appears at the top or at the bottom of a page. It is not only financial sites that support https connection, even  email or chatting on IM.

During the secured connection, the website and the server communicates and they check each other if they are still connected by sending a small packet of data(heartbeat) that asks for a response. 

The flaw or programming error on the OpenSSL can let a well-disguised packet of data originating from a hacker that looked very similar to these heartbeats to trick the server into sending data stored in its memory and viceversa. These data include user name and passwords, even credit card numbers. But the worst that can happen is when the encryption key is handed over. This is like the master key of all the encoded messages and data stored in the server and sites .

With the encryption keys handed in the wrong hands, secure or encrypted data will be readily available to read and with the correct credentials, it is possible that any account will be compromised. Adding to the worry is the attack is untraceable. And if these affected websites and servers do not change the encryption keys, even future accounts will still be susceptible to such attacks.

How Do You Know If You're Affected


66% of websites use OpenSSL including major sites include Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Google search, Gmail, Yahoo and Yahoo Mail, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon web services, Dropbox, and LastPass. So if you have accounts to these sites then you might have been affected. Banks and other sites that make financial transactions are most likely targeted by hackers. The widespread presence of the flaw is enough to be alarmed. Patch for the flaw is already available and has been implemented by the affected sites and servers. You can check if a certain site is still vulnerable to the flaw by going into the site below.


How To Protect Your Account


Change Password

The best way to protect your account is to change your password. It is recommended that you will only do this when the website (where you user name and password might be compromised) has already implemented the patch.  You can check this by going into the site above.

Check Your Financial Statements

As store websites are connected to your bank account or credit card company, the best way to know that somebody has been spending your money without your knowledge is to keep a closer look to your invoices and bank statements. Report any suspected transaction however little the amount is. 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Practical Features that iPhone Missed

iPhone 6 Concept Design
Apple's iPhone is a trendsetter in the mobile phone industry but other manufacturers like Samsung and HTC are also setting infront  with their own effects that proved to be attractive to users. I own one iPhone once but disappointed with the shortage of features that rival companies have already added on their products. I couldn't help but feel shortchanged.

No doubt that the make and performance of the unit is superb. But users need not just this. They are also expecting something that can give them an edge in terms of entertainment, practicality, and advanced features. If ever I could customize what's inside an iPhone, I would put these practical features first!

Bigger Screen.


The touch interface is better when you have a larger screen to play with your finger tips. I think the size of the iPhone at the moment needs to grow. The screen is not just enough to give a comfortable view of a webpage. It is a pain to zoom in at small prints and zoom out to see the whole picture. I can not help but to make a mistake in pressing the wrong key when typing at the keyboard, and missing a character to touch when playing a game. You can really feel the difference of using a bigger screen when you start using one.

Beef Up Bluetooth


It is disappointing that the bluetooth capability is limited. It doesn't support data transfer even between two apple devices. Although airdrop feature is available on the latest apple products to share documents, it is limited to certain models and do not support other manufacturers. This is a constraint in the world of data sharing as not all of us are using the same equipment. It is more flexible to be able to send a file from one device to another using the already built in technology. 

Removable Battery


What would you do to an iPhone that can no longer hold a charge? Change the battery by sending the unit to apple or buy a spare battery and an equipment to open it up, watch instructions on how to change it on youtube, and try to change it but unsure if it would be successful? 

I wouldn't be prepared to do any of these. If the phone only has a removable battery cover, then it would be very simple to give the phone another lease of life. 

Removable Memory Storage


Like the battery, an expandable memory bay means a lot in todays mobile generation of users. Equipments are becoming more powerful, cameras have more megapixels, downloadable apps are in millions, and multimedia's can be downloaded anywhere. This means the sources of content is infinite, whilst the device is very limited. And without the option of expanding it's capacity, the user's choice is also limited.


Monday, 7 April 2014

Why You Will Love the Samsung S5

See Samsung S5 Pre Order Deal
Few days from now, the new smartphone flagship of Samsung will be available in the UK. The Samsung S5 will be ready to amuse you with new tricks and features of a high end product starting 11th of April. Here are  interesting, practically useful and new features of the S5.

Water Resistant and Dust Resistant


This is an important feature for those looking for an extra protection. A high percentage of all mobile phone damage is caused by water. With the new model, you can bring it in the open and do not mind the weather. If it happens to fall and soaked under water, do not worry as test has been made and has survived 30 minutes fully soaked without a sign of water leakage or internal harm to electronic parts. This is a feature came true for the adventurous and meticulous as they can just wash it with water when it comes into contact with mud, dust or sticky fingers.

Security Features


The phone is equipped with Finger Scanner that thwarts theft. It also helps in making secure mobile payments and  an integrated part of the Private Mode feature that locks your photos and sensitive data with your fingerprint in case you left your phone lying around.

On the software side, “Find My Mobile” and “Reactivation Lock” are included to enhance anti-theft features that can track down lost or stolen phone and will lock the phone if there’s an unauthorized attempt to reset it. 

If you are splashing an S5 to younger kids, there's a new Kids Mode with applications tailored for young children to protect them whilst using the device. You can customize it in a way that you can limit the time in a day they can use the phone or choose apps that they can access.

Ultra Power Saving Mode


Squeezing the last drop of power could be frustrating specially when you are out from a mains socket or forgot your charger, but with this feature it can stretch the remaining battery further more by turning all features off except for calls and texts. It will also automatically turn the screen into black and white to save even more. Samsung says that a 10% battery life can be stretched into 24hours when this feature is on.

Download Booster and Wi-Fi MIMO


Is it possible to achieve a 1GB of data in 30 seconds or less without increasing the network's bandwitdh speed? The  Wi-Fi Multiple Input and Multiple Ouput feature uses multiple antennas  that is integrated into the device, significantly increases the data throughput and range without additional muscle to transmit data from the network provider. 

With the download booster activated, both the 4G (LTE) connection from the network provider and the Wi-Fi connection are active at the same time, creating a unified and very fast network and so thus your download!

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Sunday, 6 April 2014

Why You Will Love the HTC One M8

HTC One M8
Not all smartphones are created equal. This is what HTC has proven the world of manufacturers that they can be different and can be better than the rest. HTC doesn't simply wants us to buy its phones but to love them and treat them with respect. And here are the reasons why I might be doing that.

Metal body.


Who have thought of designing a phone with one piece of metal then carefully and precisely curved out the necessary ports and compartments to accommodate various parts of a phone? This is clever and would like to believe it has been done with careful planning and painstaking research. And not only the case that needed this but the components so that they will fit perfectly into it.

Most smartphones in the market today are made primarily of plastics. This make them feel flimsy and cheap.Though plastic has it's practical side that it can be easily replaced when it get damaged, but the though of a solid and robust metal casing can give a piece of mind that you will not need to replace any exterior part of the phone during it's lifetime.

Front Facing Speakers.


Why front facing speakers? Are they better that rear facing  ones? The answer is obvious if you would notice audio systems pointing their speakers in the direction of the user. I think the question should be deflected and rephrased "why did they have ever designed a rear facing speaker in the first place"? 

Camera Magic


So you have a shaky hands and focus on the wrong subject before you press the shutter. Now you are not sure to pause for a while, refocus and gamble on the fact that you might miss that one in a lifetime shot. With the M8, you do not need to worry about it, just press the shutter. Even if the subject is not in focus during the shot, the magic(uFocus) inside the HTC one will correct that  whilst previewing the shot.

Night shots can be clearer with the integrated UltraPixels sensor. The more pixels do not mean clearer photos, specially at night but larger sensor does, because the larger the sensor the more light is captured. This is a useful feature specially at a darker environment.

InfraRed Port (SenseTV)


This phone feature has been ditched during the introduction of  bluetooth connectivity.  Little did we know that we will be going back to this feature because of it's useful and practical application like remote control. Most remote controls are served by infrared signals that needs a  line of sight connection. And this what Sense TV on the M8 has to offer.  This is no ordinary remote control as it can be programmed to accommodate different brands and equipments. In theory, with the phone alone, you will not need all those remotes that came with  your devices, leaving you a tidier coffee table and savings on batteries.

MicroSD Card Slot


Not like the first HTC One that does not have an expandable storage, the new model now support a microSD Card of upto 128GB. You can throw in more data now than before!

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Saturday, 5 April 2014

Realistically Speed Up Your Home Internet

Internet could be frustrating when the loading of pages takes ages. Though there are many factors that affect the bandwidth speed the most common cause is actually from the infrastracture, or your ISP provider. So before you hire an IT expert to investigate, you can do this simple tips to establish who or what the culprit is!

Test ISP Speed


There are many testing websites that determine the speed of an internet connection. You can use any of them. I usually use http://www.speedtest.net to check my connection. Just be careful in clicking the links in it as there are links that do something else(2). To be safe, just click the begin test(1)!



What to do?

If the connection shows a very slow speed, you can not do anything but to let your ISP know. You can also email a screenshot of your test.

During the first week of my new internet provider, the speed I am getting is only up to 1.5Mbps. I have contacted my provider and they checked remotely my line and their exchange. They said it will take at least 5 days to get a faster and more stable connection. 

After 5 days, the result improved. Below shows the speed I am getting(4.55Mbps) whilst my ISP's test on my line said it can go from 7Mbps up to 14.3Mbps speed(3). As there is a significant difference of the minimum speed, I have booked an engineer to check the line inside my house. I will update this post once they get down and see what's causing the problem.




Poor Wi-Fi Reception


Radio waves transmission and reception can be affected by physical barriers like solid walls, distance and other devices using the same frequency as the router in transmitting the Wi-Fi signal. The result would be dropping connection, disconnection or can not connect at all. If your internet connection is better with a wire on your laptop rather than wi-fi connection elsewhere around the house(blackspots), then the problem could be the Wi-Fi transmission because of the barriers mentioned.

What To Do?

It is more sensible to use wire on devices that are a meter away from your router to take advantage of the wired and faster data transfer. It could be your apple TV,  games console or a desktop located very near to the router.

Try to identify the blackspots around the house and use a powerline networking adaptor at that spot. Do not forget to buy RJ45 connector(ethernet cable) if it's not included in the package. Or you can also use a wi-fi extender if you will be using a wireless only devices like mobile phones and tablets.


Use Bandwidth Effectively


Most gadgets today are internet connected, but not all of us are aware that when we are using our home wi-fi, we are actually dividing the bandwidth from our ISP equally to the connected  devices. If the bandwidth is low and there are several equipments sharing it, expect that the speed gets slower. So it may not be suitable to do extensive internet activity like downloading a whole length film or streaming movies. VOIP's like skype can also be frustrating to use.

What To Do?

If the streaming movie keeps on buffering, the most provable reason is insufficient bandwidth. If the movie is downloadable, then it is better to download it fully before playing. Of you can choose to play it with a lower resolution, if there is such an option. 

The same when using VOIP applications for video calls. If that's the case, you can try to use a lower resolution, or turn off videocall and just use voicecall instead. OOVOO is one of VOIP's that you can change the video resolution on the go. See how to do it at http://prakticality.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/oovoo-tips-and-tricks.html

You can also limit the devices using the connection by turning off other equipment's wi-fi buttons.  If simultaneous internet use can not be avoided then do not do extensive internet activity at the same time.

And lastly, you can use google's user agent switcher to render all websites into mobile sites when you are using a desktop or laptop. This does not only save bandwidth  but to render the pages appear faster as well. See how to do it at http://prakticality.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/how-to-maximise-low-bandwith.html.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

What's Up With Whatsapp?

Download here!
The rise of mobile phone ownership and the necessity to communicate has brought about the increase of applications coded for message handling. It is no longer enough that mobiles can make calls, but also to take advantage with the existing internet infrastructure to communicate freely. Truly, these apps and software coders are bringing the cost of communicating down in most cases, but can be a source of shocking bills in some cases. Before you get the later, read on!

Whatsapp is one of these apps taking the spotlight as one of the best messaging services for mobiles. It is an alternative for sending SMS, photos, videos and voice messages (not voice calls). The difference is it does not use the usual 2G cellular network to do this, but through 3G, 4G or over wifi. Here's the list of the highlight features, what you can do and tips in using the application.

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Very Easy To Use.


This app is no brainer to use. Once installed, it gets hold of mobile numbers in your phone directory and compares this list to its data base. Once one of your contact is located in it's database, it updates your account of a new contact. 

This means you can not add manually any contact you want to add. They need to install  the application to be your whatsapp contact. Although this is a multiflatform for any mobile operating system, the supported form factor is limited to mobile devices. You can not use this application using a desktop device yet, and do need a mobile phone number that doubles as your user identity. 

Send SMS and Multimedia for Free


If you communicate mostly by text, then using this application could be virtually free. Although you have to pay for the application a tiny amount after a year. The cost is negligible compared to a cellular network's (2G) subscription to send text messages. 

The application can save you more when you use it with contacts worldwide.

Sending of multimedia can also be free. This depends on how much data allowance you are subscribed to. If you are sending and receiving much of this, then remember that you will be using the internet provided by your network when you're out and about. Multimedias, specially videos are huge files and if you ran out of data, excess allowance is expensive. You need to have at least 1GB or even better with unlimited. 

Remember that it can cost you more money when you go beyond your data limits, so home and free wi-fi's are recommended as connection when using or receiving this kinds of messages.

Always on


The application  is always on. This means it is playing in the background and could be using your data allowance whilst it is updating your location, your status, and your contacts. Though the updates could just incur small data allowance, the temptation to hear and answer voice messages or see video messages can use large data. 

Can I Make A Voice Call?


Unfortunately you can not make a voice call, but you can make a voice message instead. A voice message is a recording of sound you can send through whatsapp instead of typing a message. The communication when using voice message is not instantaneous as a voice call, but need to wait until the recipient goes online and hear the message and has the option to answer it or not.

The voice call button when you open up a contact's details is actually the shortcut to your phone directory and has nothing to do with what's up. When you tap(1) a contact from there, whatsapp will transfer the call to your network cellular signal and you will be charged accordingly. The second button(2) is the whatsapp messaging icon.



Could It Be A Permanent Substitute To Cellular Network?


As a substitute to messaging service to contacts with whatsapp installed on their devices, yes. But like any other internet messaging applications, this can not work on it's own. You need to have an internet connection to use it and and also requires a cellular network number to operate. 


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