Thursday, 18 June 2015

Easiest Way To Download Facebook Videos

Are you storing videos using the cloud, or to social networks? I do, as it is convenient, accessible everywhere with internet connection. This thinking has made me decide the rather silly thing, deleted the original videos in my local storage. This means I need to go online when I want to access the deleted files. But sometimes internet connection encounters some hiccups which made me decide to bring back those files to my local drive.

Unsuccessful tries


HTML code hack and the right click menu

 It is easy to upload videos to facebook, but I find it difficult to do the opposite. I've tried looking at the source code but there is no clue to where the file name is, which should at least be with an mp4 extension.
Source code hack is not helpful at all. Although there are entries with the characters mp4, they are not the correct filename of the video, so it could not be downloaded.



 The right click menu is also not useful, it only shows the player settings. There is no obvious download  link  at the bottom of the video as well.



Asking google has pointed me to some sites which tell me to download new software or update already installed players, which I find it dodgy.

Accidental discovery.


As I was searching for solution, our internet connection seemed grinding to a halt, so I swithced on to mobile version using the chrome's UserAgent spoofer (1,2,3) (see how to install this for chrome at http://prakticality.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/ways-to-speed-up-internet-connection.html)


and this rendered all sites into the cut away mobile version and solved the snail paced performance.





Surprisingly, the mobile version has  has the download button when right clicked. This was all an accidental discovery which led to the elusive download link!

To get this button, press play then right click the video(4)!

Download button shows when  right clicked


Last words.

If you do not have the User Agent Spoofer or the chrome browser, you can just hack the address bar by replacing www with m(5), Facebook and some other sites still allow the change of user agent with this simple change and let you access the mobile version on a laptop. Click the picture below to see it clearer.

Replace www with m








Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Ways To Speed Up Slow Internet Connection

I've seen an edition of TV patrol about the annoying problem of internet connection in the Phillippines(see similar story from http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/focus/05/20/15/philippine-internet-speed-so-slow-and-so-far-behind) It is not fast enough to deliver a pleasant surfing experience. As the infrastructure is the culprit at the moment, we can not do anything but wait until the operators upgrade their servers. So it is up to the users to find a way on how to maximise up to the last drop of data trickled by the networks. When I am in the country, I usually do the following to get the most from these companies.

Smartphones and tablet users:


Choose amount of data over length of use.

When you buy an internet bundle, the best buy is to choose the biggest amount of data your budget can afford  over the number of days.


Based from the internet tariff above, the best buys for the cheapest megabyte is GoSurf 50(4), GS499(7) and GS2499(10) which is worth 1peso per 6MBs of data.

 If you do not use the internet everyday, the GS50 is for you. If you are a light user but access the internet everyday, GS499 fits and those with up to 500MB a day users could choose between GS1799 and GS2499. If you exceed 166 but do not exceed 333MB perday then GS1799 is for you.

The MB Allowance/Day in the table is just my conservative estimate of data flow from your network which could be not accurate.


GoSurfMB Allowance/CostValidity/daysMB Allowance/Day
1030MB/10php= 3MB/php130mb/day
15=30MB/15php= 2MB/php215mb/day
3070MB/30php= 2.3MB/php170mb/day
50300MB/50php= 6MB/php3100mb/day
99=100MB/99php= 1.01MB/php303.33mb/day
2991500MB/299php= 5.02MB/php 3050mb/day
4993000MB/499php= 6.01MB/php30100MB/day
9995000MB/999php= 5.01MB/php30166MB/day
179910000MB/1799php= 5.56MB/php30333MB/day
249915000MB/2499php= 6.00MB/php30500MB/day


Why knowing the MB Allowance per day important? It is because data network companies can "throttle" your internet connection to distribute your bandwidth until the end of the validity period. For example you have 3000MB to use in 30 days, but you already used up to 2500MB in 10 days, your network will ration the remaining 500 MB to you in 20 days. This means the flow of data will be divided over the period of days that will result in a slow connection.

Turn off automatic updates and avoid using live widgets.


Autoupdates use data to work and so with live widgets. If you can live with checking your email, facebook, new version of you applications manually then turn this off. A phone without live wallpapers or latest news and gossip flashed on the screen could make your phone dull looking, but this also saves your bandwidth to use in more productive activity. Off with this!

Connect to a VPN network.


Instead of the data coming directly from your network provider, a virtual private network intercepts data packets before sending it to your device. So what VPN does to the data?

Android Users.
I have been using Opera Max (download here for android, VPN. Once  downloaded, just follow the easy steps to set up. What it does is it saves me megabytes by trimming unwanted data from a website before sending it to my mobile. Any internet activity will pass the VPN and shed it's extra weight from there. The lighter the package, the faster for the delivery and the faster it is to be rendered by the mobile device. Below is the screenshot of my internet activity using mobile data. Dividing 58.5MB savings from 190MB use revealed 30 percent savings! FB doesn't show any savings here because I only use it whilst on wi-fi! The Geek application has been totally stripped and has given me 69% savings.




If you have iPhone then do not feel left out, you can use the opera mini browser(download it here) to save on browsing the internet.

Desktop and laptop users.


Limit wifi users.


If the wifi share it's bandwidth with several devices, then the data allocation and the speed on the delivery will be divided amongst the users. Even if you have unlimited data, the speed of how it is delivered is also crucial factor for your laptop to render the information in it's screen. As much as possible, limit the number of connected devices specially when you are doing an extensive bandwidth gobbling activity like VOIP and movie streaming.

If  you are using an older laptop, at least 5 years old, and experience intermittent signal, it is better to connect using ethernet cable (wired connection RJ 45).

Do not load images.


Though you can not tweak other devices like play consoles and streaming devices rather than disconnecting them from the internet, you can do something with your laptop. If you are only after information or just doing your emails, you can disable images to load the page quicker. Every browser has this setting, just go to the advance setting and set the browser not to show pictures.


Change your user agent.

Websites are rendered according to the type of viewing port. If the site detects that you are using a mobile device, it will show you the page that is adopted to a mobile device. This means the website is chopped off of elements, making this light and easier to handle for mobiles. What if this "light and easier" package is loaded in a laptop with a more powerful processor? The result will be amazingly faster.

I use chrome browser for this purpose. Add this extension to chrome from

 https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/user-agent-switcher-for-c/djflhoibgkdhkhhcedjiklpkjnoahfmg

Once it is added click the icon(11) from the top and select a user agent, this example I have chosen android(12)

Page with default user agent.
The same page rendered as android kitkat!



Last Words.

Additional trick is cleaning your internet cache. This should improve internet rendering specially when the page becomes stuck. These tweaks may not work for all but I am confident that this will at least get the best of your low bandwidth problem in the Philippines whilst waiting for the improved internet infrastructure.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Transfer Photo Files Using Sound Waves

Chirp
Humans exchange information by talking and listening to each other. The cleverness of humans also made this possible for machines, that instead of relying on radio waves to exchange information, an application made it possible to transfer files using audible sounds! Clever and I am very impressed when I tried it.

The application is called Chirp. This is called as such maybe because it makes a chirping sound when it transforms the file into sound waves. The receiving device hears the "chirp" and transforms it into the sent file magically!

The requirements and steps  in using Chirp!


1. With both devices connected to the internet, better with wi-fi, download the application from google play or from itunes if you have iOS device..

2. Open Chirp from the source device(either of the two can be the source device) and select a photo from your gallery(3) by pressing the + sign(1). You also have the option to take a fresh photo using the camera(2). Prepare your picture to be transformed into a  "chirp" by tapping(3) on it twice until the chirp button turns to yellow(4).This means the application has already converted it into a distinct chirp sound.


3. On your target device(whilst still connected to internet or wii-fi), open the chirp application.

4. On the source device, turn up the volume to make sure the chirp sound can be "heard", then tap the yellow chirp button(4). It will emit a chirping sound and the target device listens to it.

5. Then the magic happens. the file is received!



Watch video.


Last Words.

As the application is depending on sound, background noise might alter the received chirp that could affect the transfer. So it is advisable to use it in a quiet environment. Distance can also have a negative effect, so both devices should be close to each other. Internet connection is also required.

Try this little fun, If you have installed the chirp application, try opening it up and watch the video above from 1.46 timeline where the chirp message is sent. See if your phone can pickup the sound and watch while the same file is received and appear magically from your device! 

Friday, 5 June 2015

Turn Your Smartphone Into A Portable Scanner

Do we really need a scanner? Not everyone needs this but for someone like me who does a trickle of agency work, a scanner is a must. This is to "monetize" receipts that incurred whilst performing a job, for obvious reasons, cashbacks!

The traditional method of scanning with a dedicated machine is not as pleasant as it may look especially that I have an old machine and am not ready to upgrade it to a newer model that has a USB port or the ability to send the scanned image to a cloud storage. But again although it is easy, it still takes me at least 10 minutes from start to finish, connecting the scanner to the computer, scanning image. reducing the size, and emailing to the agency. That is without the hiccups of "scanner not detected",  or "program needs to update before you can use application" errors.

Quicker method is taking a photo with a smartphone, trimming the unnecessary edges then sending it, only to find out the image is not legible and need to send another one. This means the pay is delayed until this is cleared!

Fig 1. Native camera shot with manual editing


The better method is the first one, but still not the easiest. Merging the better and the quicker method may be my dream of yesterday, but today, thank you for the coders of CamScanner that they merge this two features and cut the time of processing in less time.

This is a cross flat form  application and can be downloaded from google's play, apple itunes or windows application page.

How to use it?

Scanning .


After download, open up the application then touch the camera button and take a snap to the document you want to to scan(1), continue with tapping the check button. At stage two(2), the application comes to work and it detects the edges automatically(2),tap check button. The next stage comes the magic, it stretch the image and give straight line at every edge, making it looks like professionally edited. The result is far better than just using the native camera and editing it manually.

Fig.2 Using the native camera with CSscanner
Sharing.

Emailing your scanned image is easy as well and you can do it within the application itself. Just tap the share button at the bottom of the application and you can choose to sent it as a jpg or pdf file(5). You can then email it(6) or send to your dropbox or google cloud storage. It also capable to transfer it with other devices through bluetooth or the faster wi-fi direct!.


Image quality.


I experimented in emailing and I could not fault the image quality. The result is better than the manually edited version. It is quicker to process and it does it all automatically.



Last Words.

This application became one of the useful programs I have downloaded. It also support OCR which means can distiguish text when you scan something. Although you do need to download another additional program. It can scan single images at a time, this means even if you take two photos side by side, it can only scan one of them. So if you have multiple receipts to scan, you need to do it one at a time. It is also best to hold the phone upright and not sideways. This is to avoid manipulating the object later to it's proper orientation, though you can do it within the application if you just did it sideways! Also when emailing, I prefer to use jpg because pdf usually is in a bigger file. You can also use the app to revive old photos easier and more comfortable than using a bigger machine.



Wednesday, 3 June 2015

How To Buy One Take One Cinema Ticket For A Year

UK movie goers could save up to 50% on cinema tickets using a comparison website. In a nutshell, this is a buy one take one promo from "compare the market" when you buy any qualifying products like insurance and even switching service providers. For the full list of products, see

http://www.comparethemarket.com/information/meerkat-movies-terms/#purchase.

How does it work?


You need to set up an account with compare the market, and purchase a qualifying product. The lowest price I found is a two day travel insurance to be used  within the UK which costs £2.05. The £2.05 is worth far more than it's purpose when compared to the offered buy one take one movie ticket.




Once the purchase is verified which could take up to 2 days, you will receive your free voucher the next time  you log in to your compare the market account. You can also download the meerkat movie application to your mobile phone for easier access to your code.



Remember that you are only allowed to have one account at a time, so if you are family of four, you need to set up a different account and purchase another qualifying product for your partner. So if you plan to use travel insurance for this purpose, buy a separate one for you and your partner and not for the whole family. This would allow both of you to buy one ticket and the second ticket free which would cover the rest of the family, giving you a substantial savings of  50%.

How to claim?


Once you have your voucher code which is only valid for 2 specific days, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the next thing to do is to find participating cinemas near you. Just enter your post code at

http://www.comparethemarket.com/meerkat/movies/cinema-locator/.



After deciding which cinema to go, bring your code to the cinema by printing it or by logging to your account on your mobile and show it to the foyer. Or you can book online and just collect your tickets with the credit card you use at any of their ATM movie ticket machines. Although purchasing online has a booking fee of 75 pence each ticket, this is still my preferred method as I do not need to queue up at the foyer.

Last Words.


This promo is still going at the time of this post. One unique account is needed for every voucher, and vouchers can be redeemed once only. This means you can only avail of the promo once every week for every account. This promo provides great savings for movie goers and it  is to good to be missed. Avail now whilst it is still ongoing! 

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Why the iPhone 5 is Discharging Fast and Can Not Connect to Mobile Internet

My wife's iPhone 5 is almost two years old. I could say it is still in top condition and could deliver it's service the way as it was when it was new. But yesterday, it was a different story. My wife found out that she could not use the internet when at work and the battery is almost flat dead after her 12 hours duty despite being fully charged  when she started work.

Knowing her, I suspected  a user's fault rather than a hardware's fault. And here's what I found out.

Can't connect to data mobile whilst at work.


It is not unusual that there are dead spots inside a building. Initially I suspect that this is causing her internet problem.  Or she might over looked that the mobile data button is not activated.

Fortunately her mobile data and 4G network buttons are on, and  the settings are correct. So no issue with non-active data connection. Testing it from home provides positive conclusion that there's no conflict with the configuration and network's availability.  If she can not access internet from  work then  her location when she is accessing it is the culprit.



I was about to believe this but when she insisted that she can't access the internet anywhere from the hospital, I became suspicious to a non-obvious reason why she can not connect, an open wi-fi connection! At work, there are open connections but need to be authenticated  before it gives you internet access. Although the phone says it is connected, it does not log you in without the proper credentials. But even when you are not logged on,  it somehow locks your wi-fi and tricks your phone into being connected to an internet access. This means the data connection is disabled as wi-fi supersedes mobile connections when available.

The solution is simple for this, just disable the wi-fi button!

Battery discharges quickly.


The problem above is also a clue why the battery is not performing very well. The desperation on getting online might made her press buttons and activate functions that does not need to be active.

Turn off wi-fi and personal hotspot when not in use.


Obvious cause is the wi-fi being on, and investigating further, the personal hotspot button(settings>Personal hotspot) is also on! Turning them off when not in use saves battery. The personal hotspot has nothing to do with going online unless you want your device to become a gateway for other devices to access the internet. Using this could rake up mobile data bills specially when tethering is not included with your contract or you have a limited band width.




Turn off background App Refresh


Another culprit which is usually overlooked is the background app refreshing their contents. once they are connected to any internet access, either wi-fi or data.  Specially those applications that tracks the user's location like Facebook, Maps (see screenshot with arrows) and other's identified by the active location logo.  The best way to control this is to just turn the slider to the left(off).


Mind the FB videos.


By default, video feeds playback from facebook is set to automatic. It may appear harmless, but this  really drains the battery specially when your friends has too much videos to share. Automatic playing does not only shortens battery power but also your data bundle. To turn this feature off, open facebook, tap more at the bottom right corner, account settings, videos and photos, then slide smart auto-play to the left. This make the device not to play  video contents automatically.



Last Words.


These are not just the factors in having problems with mobile connectivity and short battery life. This are the problems I discovered in my wife's phone. Screen brightness could be blamed by majority of users, but for me, it is crucial to have enough clarity and I value this more than conserving the battery as it can be saved by other sensible measures.


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