Sunday, 26 April 2015

How To Save Mobile Data

Mobile internet could be expensive, specially when you buy it on the go. It is more sensible to use it bundled with a contract or with a prepaid data to avoid going over the limit and be charged with skyrocket bill, see photo below.



This bill tells us that the mobile internet charges by the amount of data being used and not by the amount of time spent surfing the internet. Websites are also not the same in the sense of how much information or data is used just for the pages to show. Elements of a site like colour, type of fonts, font decorations, scripts and many more contribute to the data usage. The same with mobile apps. Free apps usually use more data than paid apps because of the presence of dynamic advertisements. All of these contributes to data usage!

How to reduce mobile data usage without modifying the way you surf?



The best way to beat excessive usage charges therefore without compromising your freedom to use the internet to any site you want is to have a data contract that is tailored to your need, if you are a heavy mobile internet addict. 

But if you are in an existing contract right now and experienced being overcharged with your internet activity, here are some measures to lessen the amount of data without modifying your surfing habit.

1. Reduce data whilst surfing the web.


 Usually when you click or search for anything, the data traffic goes to your internet provider before it is sent to you in a raw form. The amount of data being used is also in its original form as intended by the web developers.

The latest chrome browser has data saver that can help in reducing this amount by compressing it first before it is sent to you, resulting in substantial reduction of the amount of package that is being sent. As a result, you'll use less data and also as an effect the lighter package will load faster.

On chrome, the data saver fucntion is not turned on on default so you need to go to the tool button(1), settings(2), data saver(3), and slide it to on(3).You can save up 10 to 50%  of data or more depending on the sites that you visit.

If you have not downloaded it to your mobile, it is available for both Android and  iOS.




2. Use opera Max to save data from applications.


The chrome data saver extension is only available when you are using chrome and not when you are using downloaded apps. This is where Opera Max comes in. The same as chrome's data saver extension, Opera Max creates a virtual private network(5) to capture internet traffic whilst you are using mobile internet(6) and compresses this to it's servers before delivering it to your device. This results in reduction of data packets that is being delivered to your browser, downloaded apps, native apps and anything that uses the internet and spend data (7) . You can also manually configure video compression delivery to make it load lighter and faster(8).

Get Opera Max from play store. Unluckily, iOS is not supported.



3. Use Opera Mini for iOS


iOS fans should not feel left out, as they can also use chrome, and also there is Opera Mini browser that is also a good try to save data. It has 2 levels of data compression, the Opera Mini(9) mode, which compresses webpages to their lightest package, and Opera turbo(10) which balances between the compression and the way the website looks like as web masters intended to.The data savings(11) meter shows how much you save by it's compression algorithms.

 It is available on both android and iOS!




Thursday, 23 April 2015

Tune Up Your Browsing With Vivaldi

Brewed with the coders of Opera, the fast and powerful browser  using limited computing resources and power (this is why lower specs devices can go neck-to-neck with super-sized and behemoth computing specs), they come up with another browser, the Vivaldi. Shifting from a general name to a more specific genre, this music sounding browser could be a 'music to the ears' of internet users anytime soon! I've been using it, and  I really like it. Here's why!

Clean interface.


Tidy desktop is easier to work with, and the same with a clean browser window. Without the usual addition of  irrelevant and annoying toolbars that easily clutters the screen and distracts the view by literally occupying precious space, this is as fresh as the improved versions of the "minimalistic themed" popular browsers like chrome and firefox. The interface might look unattractive to users who are used to flashy themes and customised toolbars.


Easy access settings.


Vivaldi is capable of relocating the toolbar from the top to either to the left or  right or to the bottom of the screen. This might not be necessary to users but Vivaldi can do that among other browsers. An option for the address bar is available to put it at the bottom. All of these settings are all in an easy access button(4) at the left lower part of the browser.


Useful tools like the navigation menu gives the user the power to decide how he navigates. If you are tired of using your mouse, you can use keyboard shortcuts instead, Using this is faster and accurate specially in opening and closing windows. And good news to tweakers, keyboard shortcuts can be configured. Resetting to default keys is also just a click away.

Easy access to accidentally closed pages.


We sometimes make an accident in closing a web page or navigate away from the main page we are looking into. Pressing the back button should bring us back. But when a tab is accidentally closed and forgot the page we are looking at, then things get a little messy. To bring this back from view is easy, we just need to dig a little deeper into the browser's settings.

With vivaldi, it is easier. When you hit the trash(1) icon at the top right of the browser, the previously opened pages and activity like file download is shown. Just click the tab(2) you want to revisit(3). This tool is more helpful than history file of other browsers. The decision to separate this from other tweak buttons is also brilliant and it's location is hard to miss. And when you exit vivaldi, all items here are deleted as well.


Though this doesn't mean the browsing history is already deleted. You can still see this at the speed dial page when you hit the  + button(A) at the right most tab.




Perfect for taking notes.


Internet is for information gathering, and we need to take note when we are doing that. Instead of pen and paper, why not use the built-in notepad(5) on it? This also mean you do not need another note program opened to do this. And the fact that your note will be saved within your browser(6), the next time you open vivaldi and so with your saved note.



If you can take note, you can also take a screenshot.Whilst at the note side tab(5), hit the camera(7) button to grab a picture of the whole screen. The webpage where you took the screenshot is also captured. The good thing about this is you can go to the site in one mouse click. The only downside is you can only do one screen shot per note entry and can not edit it.



Last Words.


This is still a new browser but already shows impressive performance, not only because of it's easy access to relevant tools, but also it's quickness in rendering webpages. However, there are still some missing tools like incognito mode and although there is a developer tool already included(you could access the usual browser tools when you click the vivaldi logo at the top left(9) , it is not as intuitive like the other browsers.



For practical reasons, there should be more tweaks on the existing tools, like the ability to take multiple screen shots and the ability to edit or open it into a second party application. With these early hiccups however, this is a must try. Download it from here!


Thursday, 16 April 2015

Hacking Windows Function: The SendTo Button

There are many windows functions that are hidden under the hood. I just do not understand why the ones that are enabled are just the basic functions(1). It is tedious sometimes to keep repeating every task that you do when working with documents or photos.



Like the 'send to' function, it can be configured to send your files to a location of your choice or to a bluetooth recipient as long your laptop has the hardware for it. This saves you time in copying files to a certain location without navigating to it. The same with a bluetooth recipient, you can do this without going  to the bluetooth connectivity first.

How to do it?


I thought making a change like this involves playing with the registry, but I was wrong. It just involves a basic operation of going to the correct file path, you just need the correct incantation. 

1. Open up windows explorer. 



2. Highlight the path(2) and delete the entry, then type 'shell:sendto'(3). 'Sendto' should be spelt as one word without space in between. Do not forget the colon between shell and sendto.


3. Then press enter. The following window will reveal the path and the destinations(4) that are included when you right click a file and click send to.



4. Now you can specify a directory or a file to include in the send to shortcut button. If you can see the directory or folder you want to send your work to just right click it(5)  from the left window pane, select copy(6)then paste(7) it at the 'sendto' window. If not, you can navigate to the folder first and select copy before you do step 2.



5. The additional destinations added to the 'sendto' window (8) will become available when you right click (9) a file.


Now you can easily transfer any file or even a folder easier and with fewer clicks.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Make Chrome Work Faster

It is quite disappointing sometimes when you experience a slowdown in using chrome on some websites specially those that contain HD photos,  other web components like GIF animations and automatically playing background videos all at once.

Some sites are not so well designed or  the webmaster of that particular site neglected to consider the fact that not all internet users have the much needed bandwidth to accommodate enormous data to be shown in their browsers. In other instances, the adverts being hosted cause the same bandwidth consuming items which the webmasters do not have control of.

What to do


As this is more of a bandwidth issue (internet connection amount and speed), there's nothing much for internet users to play with. It is either to choose between showing the image but with delay or to not to show it at all.


  • Disabling images in chrome is easy. Just head to customize and control button(top rightmost icon)>settings>scroll down and hit show advance settings>under Privacy hit content settings>under  images tick 'do not show any images'.(1)








  • This solution may not besuitable for all and could only be for those rushing to load the text contents quickly. If you require to see the graphical contents then head to chrome's experimental browser tools (flags), and scroll down to GPU rasterization menu. This is a fast processing usually for 3D image to output into 2D such as computer monitors and usually used by developers. But with chrome's experimental lab, regular users like us can test this easily.


To make things easier, type in your browser the exact path chrome://flags/#enable-gpu-rasterization. Click the drop down menu and choose enabled.



Now try loading graphics and image rich sites like http://www.theverge.com/ or http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/index.html

Last Words :


As the items from chrome flags are all experimental, they might disappear at anytime, rendering the function disabled. If GPU-rasterization does not improve the way you browse with rich graphics contents, disabling is easy by doing the reverse!

Monday, 13 April 2015

3 Must Have Apps For A Rooted Android

Installing apps is easy, and sometimes because it is free, we tend to install every app that catches our curiosity. It might not kill a cat but certainly can affect the phone's performance especially when there's a shortage of storage which in the long run will inevitably come when we do not scrutinize if we really need the app or not. This is more an issue when you do not have a restriction like in a rooted phone.

As the phone can do more that when it is not rooted, there are powerful programs that can be downloaded to unleash the power of the android which I've been dreaming to try, like revealing the saved wi-fi pass code, snooping on online activity of your kids in real time, and to disconnect their internet access without them knowing when they are in an inappropriate site . So here's a few list of tools for the rooted phone that I consider very useful.

1. Wi-Fi Connection Manager:  Reveals Wi-Fi Passcode

I wanted to have an app that tells me the wi-fi pass code. You just do not know when you need it. Although the best alternative is to write it down in a piece of paper or type it in the phone's note application, sometimes you just need to access it quick specially when a house guest is asking for it. Or when you yourself becomes the guest and your host types the passcode for you, you just want to know the asterisk value! In this case, wi-fi connection manager is very helpful. Non rooted devices can install this but the reveal passcode function(1) will not work.




2. IntercepterNG: Spy on your kids

The internet is a great place for information specially for school works. But not all information are suitable for everybody. They can be a threat to kids and influence their way of thinking and social upbringing. The only thing that we as parents can do is to block these sites manually using browser's preference using keyword filtering or through our ISP's. As kids are curious, we can not prevent them from their venture to sites that usually not well known that pose similar threat or could be worse. In this way, we do not know what sites they are accessing. Kids are well versed of cleaning their surfing footsteps by just cleaning internet caches and histories.

This is where InterceperNG is useful. Any device that uses the same Wi-Fi access(2) can be a target. 





It records every traffic that passes through the Wi-Fi connection in the form of numeric ip address(3). You can just type the ip address in your browser or go to the cookie icon(yellow) and tap the cookie entry to view the viewed website(4).


3. Wi-Fi Kill: Disconnect discreetly internet connection.

Sometimes it is hard to directly say stop what you are doing, specially when you find out(using IntercepterNG) that they are accessing inappropriate sites. This is where Wi-Fi Kill comes in handy. It displays all connected devices to your router(5). From there you can choose to select a device(6) by tapping it or you can select all. Once selected, you have the choice of grabbing it's traffic(7) where you can see what sites he's been or to kill it's connection(9).The target device will not lose connection but will not get data traffic because your rooted android tricks the grabbed device into thinking that your phone is the router. As your phone is not sharing internet connection the grabbed device can not access the internet.




Saturday, 11 April 2015

How To Root An Android

I have not rooted any smartphone before until today. The reason I had no guts in doing this is, smartphones are expensive that I can not afford to turn into a paper weight, just in case I make a mistake. And the fact that I am happy with the device's restrictions as I do not have further idea of what to make use of it when in case I am successful in breaking it free from the walls of android.

Why do I decided to root my phone then? Honestly, the unit is old, an S3 which I have handed over to my daugther that she managed to crack the screen that also rendered a fault in it's microphone. That's where the gut came from and also the desire to use restricted applications like pocket snoopers, those programs that can steal passwords in a non secured free wi-fi or those who browse with http instead of https.

Kingo Android Root


This is the software that I used for this post. Why? this is the first one on the list when I asked google how to do it. In fact at the start I do not know what I was doing. As rooting the phone will require sometime for the transformation here are the things needed which should be available handy.


  • USB cable. If possible, use the original usb cable supplied with your device.
Advert:
Buy S3 USB cable

  • Power. The phone is recommended to have at least 50% battery power. Just plug it in to the mains before rooting it or your laptop and begin when it reaces 50%.
  • USB debugging on. This should be turned on to facilitate read and write operation of files. To turn this on, go to settings>more>developer options>tick USB debugging.




  • Launch Kingo Root application and connect your phone with the USB cable. If at this point the program does not recognize your phone, it is either you have a loose connection or broken USB cable, but most possibly USB debugging is not enabled. 





  • If the connection is established, you can proceed and click the root button. Your phone screen will show the applications interface (5) and the ongoing events (6).






  • Be patient as the process will take sometime. The phone would turn blank then turn on and may say downloading items many times that it seems like just doing the process in a loop. Once finished, your computer will say the rooting is successful(7) and so with the phone's screen(8). You may now restart your mobile phone!




Last Words:


Now that my old phone is rooted, there are more things that I can do. I can install softwares that are only for rooted devices. Some examples are apps for intercepting data, "discreetly unsharing your home wi-fi connection"(9), overclocking your phone, deleting bloatwares and many more.

Remember that this is just for instructional purpose and not an encouragement to root your device. As when you do, your warranty becomes void and could not update (10)your device normally!



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