Categories
Reviews Technology

How To Block Ads In Android Without Rooting

One common excuse people give for rooting their android devices is to block annoying ads from popping up on their devices.

This indeed is a compelling reason as mobile ads, at best, can be;

  1. intrusive and distractive
  2. ruinously expensive as it burdens device hardware resources and also drain internet data.

Popular ad blocking apps like adaway and Netspector are only available for rooted devices.

For non-rooted apps, there are a few apps available on Google Play. They work, basically, by creating a mock virtual private network (VPN) for you and you alone and then connects your device to it. What this means is that all traffic you have coming in is through the app, and it protects all your data on its way out.

Notable among these apps is Lostnet NoRoot Firewall. WIth LostNet NoRoot Firewall you will be able

  • to block Internet access for any app. Let LostNet Firewall provide full Internet access to an app or access only in Wi-Fi networks or no access at all.
  • to block access to any country/region for all your apps. Use LostNet Firewall to prevent your apps from connecting to the countries you don’t trust or don’t want to deal with.
  • to block background activities of your apps. Surprisingly a lot of apps generate traffic while they are in background mode. LostNet Firewall may decrease your data consumption by blocking these apps.
  • to capture packets (sniffer!) sent to and from your device with the sniffer tool and to analyze them using CloudShark.org. The sniffer tool of LostNet NoRoot Firewall allows you to learn details about the data your apps are sending. Use the sniffer tool to check whether your personal info is sent out. Also use the sniffer to debug applications.
  • to monitor amount of data consumed by apps. This information is extremely useful if you don’t have unlimited data plan. For example, use LostNet NoRoot Firewall to compare background data consumption by Skype, Viber and Whatsapp to choose which one is better for your data plan.
  • to track the countries your apps are connecting to. This way LostNet Firewall Helps to detect suspicious apps and spyware.
  • to receive instant notifications. Get notified when a blocked app tries to connect to Internet or when some app tries to connect to a blocked country.
  • to block ad networks. As LostNet NoRoot Firewall intercepts traffic from all apps, it is capable of removing traffic to certain ad networks.
  • to create multiple profiles in order to switch between specific rules for different situations. Profiles can be very useful when you want to set different rules while you are in roaming or for example when your children use your Android device.
  • to save your battery life. Most of your apps perform periodic activities which bring your wireless connection on and, thus, drain your battery really fast. LostNet NoRoot Firewall can block these activities.
Categories
Tips

How To Uninstall An App From An Android Phone

I am sure some geeks will be laughing their heads off, rolling on the floor by now. Pick yourself up!

This write up is dedicated to my wife, she who can not uninstall an app from an android phone. We all have to start from somewhere, you know.

The video below shows two ways of uninstalling an app;

  • the traditional method via the settings menu.
  • and my preferred method, using my favourite launcher, Nova Launcher.

Aha! bet some of you wise guys didn’t know this.

Watch the video below and learn!

Categories
Tips

Get Your Own US Mobile Number Here In Nigeria

nextplusFancy having your own US mobile number to receive and make calls with, even here within Nigeria? Or to send and receive SMS with?

NextPlus is a mobile phone service that provides unique virtual 10-digit mobile phone numbers with every android (and iOS) app install, thanks to its partnership with Level 3. Calls and texts to any U.S. number is free, while it charges discount rates for international calls and messages.

Perhaps what sealed the deal for me on this app is that it allows you to subscribe to Gmail’s 2 step verification, a service not available in Nigeria.

You do not pay any amount to acquire the number, though you are required to play a call or send a SMS with the app at least once a month.

Nextplus also assigns local mobile numbers for two other countries; the UK and Canada.

Not yet uhuru about the app though. Services like Whatsapp and a string of others do not permit virtual numbers on their platform.

Categories
Gadgets

Tecno Droipad 8H – A Hands On Review

TECNO DROIDPAD 8HINTRODUCTION

Reviews of this tablet is not very much available on the Internet. Worst still, the website of the manufacturer also do not have information on this device. Something akin to a mystery surrounds this tab.

It has been wrongly referred to as DROIDPAD and H8 in many online references, coupled with incorrect product specifications.

While its product specifications can be considered decent, there is no surprises here. Product differentiation among recent android devices, especially those manufactured by Chinese companies, can be considered trivial and almost non existent.
However, the Droipad 8H manages to differentiate itself in 2 key departments. More on this later.

TECNO 8H KEY FEATURES

Detailed device specifications, images and video reviews can be viewed here.

FIRST THOUGHTS

A few things have changed since i penned my first thoughts on this product (read here);

  1. OTA updates now works, but not with a 64GB memory card. I was able to achieve the update with a 2GB card. The 64 GB card, however, works well for regularly usage.
  2. Though this tablet charges somewhat slowly, power inverters and generator effectively charges it. Not sure if this good fortune was a result of a bug fix from the systems update.
  3. Side loading apps is a tad faster but still generally slow.
  4. And I still do not know where Tecno hid the game data of the games that came bundled with the tablet. Gigabytes of space remains tied up.

DESIGN AND BUILD

The trend is for manufacturers to have their products encased in very beautiful and attractive retail packages. Unfortunately, It is also a fact that some of these packages are probably worth more than the device itself.

That is not the case with Tecno.

The black variant of the Tecno Droipad 8H that I chose came in an all black beautiful retail packaging, with gold lettering.

Unboxing the package, the Droipad is the first thing that stares you in the face.

Carefully thought out and put together, the mature and premium feel that the retail packaging exuded continues with the device itself. Predominantly black with gold trimmings at the top and bottom edges, the gold colour choice was also extended to the volume and power buttons.

Digging deeper into the packaging, you can not help but wonder why such a premium designed product would come with such austere accessories; Flip case, decent earpiece and the mandatory charger. That is all! Not even a memory card!

The flip case that comes with it fits snugly onto the tablet giving it a protective feel. For those familiar with Tecno products, their flip case design has become somewhat boring as it does not seem to have changed at all over the years.

OUTSTANDING FEATURES

  • Audio

The speakers on this device would blow your mind. Audio quality is rich, mature and loud enough. Playback via the 3.5mm jack is also very good. For the audiophiles out there, i recommend this. Do not look any further.

The stereo speakers are located on the face of the tablet on its top and lower edges.

  • Battery

After 12 hours of moderate mixed use; WiFi on all through, light video watching, music playback, a game of scrabble, etc, the battery stood at 49%. Shocking, but true. To think Tecno quoted only 9 hours battery life for this device.

  • E-Reader

With about 2,000 epub ebooks, a sprinkle of Pdf files and my choice ebook app, Mantano, reading has been a joy. Scrolling through my ebook collections is a breeze, with almost unnoticeable lag.

OVERALL

It is a highly saturated market for Android devices. The tablets, especially, have never fared as well as the phones. Moreso, manufacturers have intentional crippled the features of tablets for reasons best known to them.

I will definitely chose the Droipad over any other tablet in the market, mainly because it managed to find the sweet spot between quality and price.

Definitely not the best in the market, but the audio quality and battery life is definitely too hard to ignore.

Categories
Gadgets Hack

Oh My God! It Works!

chuwi-vx3A while back, I was on a search for the perfect phone. A search that took me to the Far East where i finally settled for the Chuwi VX3, a premium grade Octa Core, 2GB RAM Chinese 7 Inch tablet.

Some may wonder how possible it is to mention “Premium Grade” and “Chinese” in the same breath. But surprisingly, believe me when i say this Phablet will trounce many of the popular brands you know.

This is not a review of this “Phablet”. However, you may read about its specs here and a good video review can be found at the end of this post.

Now to the gist of this story.

Most phone brands from Asia, China especially, are powered by chips made by a company called Mediatek (MTK). Think of Tecno, Infinix, Innjoo, Gionee, etc brands. You catch my drift? My Chuwi VX3 falls smack in the middle of these brands. They are all powered by Mediatek chips.

What makes this brand of chips unique is that they are a hacker’s delight. Depending on who you ask, this might be a good thing or a not so good one.

Perhaps the most useful hack i have stumbled on is the Blackberry IMEI hack. What this hack does is to change the IMEI of your android phone to that reserved for pre OS10 Blackberry devices. What that means is that your phone is registered on your mobile network as a Blackberry phone allowing you to enjoy cheap Blackberry Internet Services data rates on your android phones.

In Nigeria, the hack works best on the Globacom network where you only have to pay N1,000 for a 3GB data allowance. I read up the post from this dude on Geek.ng, applied the Blackberry IMEI hack on my Chuwi VX3 and guess what?! It works! It works!! It really works!!!

Globacom now recognizes my Phablet as a Blackberry 8300 Curve 🙂

 

Categories
Gadgets

The Search For The Perfect 7 Inch Phone

I decided a while back to try out a 7 inch tab as my main phone. My reasons were simple;

  1. My quest for a functional and productive mobile device informed my decison to a stick to a Windows OS powered tablet. However, the allure of an android tab remains.
  2. In a bid to save myself from gadget overload, it did make sense to me to converge my desire for an android tab with my existing smartphone into a single form factor that could pass for both.
  3. Of course, I will also be avoiding the cost of shelling out money for two devices when I could just pick up one.

So far, the easiest part of it all has been actually deciding to tow the 7 incher smartphone line. Deciding on a shortlist of phones to choose from has been nothing short of a nightmare.

Problem is, not a single tab made the cut.

The 4 key specs I desired in my ideal tab are;

  1. 7 inch screen size
  2. Dual SIM
  3. 16GB internal memory
  4. 2GB RAM

Funny thing is, while these specs seem common place with sub 7 inch smartphones, I am yet to find a 7 inch tab sporting 16GB internal memory and 2GB RAM with Dual SIM. Funny, isn’t it? The surprising thing is that the nameless or little known Chinese brands have these features packed into their 7 inch offerings almost by default. Why is that?

I admit that there is a lot I am yet to understand about the smartphone manufacturers, especially those that have affiliations with the Western world and their reasons for some of the decisions they make.

As it is, I just might take a second look at these Chinese brands to make my pick.

image

Categories
Hack

How To Capture Streaming Music From Your PC

I subscribed to the music service Deezer a few weeks back. With a monthly subscription of US$4.99 (NGN800), Deezer gives you unrestricted access to about 30 million+ music files for your listening pleasure. You are able to stream any music track or if you prefer, you can even save the tracks to your device (PC or mobile device) for you to listen to when are not connected to internet.

The snag with this arrangement is that;

  • the music files are not in your regular mp3 or wma format but some unidentifiable encrypted format.
  • access to your music files are cut off any month you fail to pay your subscription. You lose access to all your music files until you renew your subscription.
  • you are restricted to the music player app provided by the music service both on your PC (Chrome Browser app) or mobile device.

In a bid to avoid the restrictions listed above, I started looking around for a way to capture streaming audio from either my PC or mobile device. I met a brick wall with android, there was no app available for what i wanted to do. At least, i did not find any.

For the PC, however, the story was different.

I revisited this Windows application called Audacity. For those that know, this application has been around for quite a while – but not with the features in its latest iteration. From Audacity version 2.0.4 onwards, Audacity can record computer playback even on budget laptops with sound devices lacking that ability.

dj

On other operating systems (Linux and Apple OSX platform application), Audacity does not provide its own ability to record computer playback but can do so if the computer sound device offers this ability.

The process of capturing streaming audio using your Windows PC is realtime. You have to play all the tracks from start to finish in realtime to capture the songs. If the total playtime of the songs in your playlist is, say, 6 hours, it will take that many hours to capture your songs into mp3 format. Good thing is, you can lower the volume of your PC speakers to the minimum or even insert an ear phone piece into the earphone jack to listen to the songs while playing without interrupting the recording process.

Methodology

1. You will need a PC with at least 2GB RAM, 2Ghz Processor with OS Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8. However, Audacity recommends a minimum of 4GB RAM to prevent any hiccup.

I will be using a Core i3 2.3Ghz processor, 8GB RAM, Windows 8.1 HP Pavilion G6 laptop for this test.

2. Visit Audacity download page and grab the latest version of the software http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/

3. Install and configure as follows;

  • Launch the software, select Edit –> Preferences

Screenshot (2)

  • Select the options as shown below. The Host entry must be Windows WASAPI. Under Recording, search for any entry with “(loopback)”

Screenshot (3)

  • Save your settings and you are ready to roll.

The software looks a bit intimidating but you do not need all the available features. The control buttons are top left (as shown in the image below). When you are through, click on File –> Export to save the music file in any format of your choice. Note that to save in MP3 format, you need to install the Lame Encoder on your PC

Screenshot (5)

Categories
Advertorial Mobile

The Long Trek

Taking my car to work the last few days have been kind of hectic. While the roads have become freer, getting a good parking space have been a bit of a problem.

My office is located within the grounds of a very expansive and very high traffic shopping complex. If you are early to work – which you should be – you have the privilege of parking in the company reserved spots.

The trouble, however, starts at the end of the day’s business. You are tired and hungry, in a hurry to go home, only to find your car blocked off by some late Christmas shopper who is no where in sight.

This week i decided to commute to work. The stress involved in going by public transportation is nothing compared to the pent up fury I work myself into every night. Looking at the brighter side, the stress might even be a good opportunity to part with some of the pounds of weight i have acquired over the years which i would not mind letting go of.

It was also an opportunity to try out the new android workout app that i just discovered in the Google Play store, Noom Walk. Called a “Pedometer“, the app counts the number of steps you make on a daily basis and tries to rank you with your friends on Facebook and Google+ that uses the same app.

By the time i got home yesterday, i had taken well over 5000+ steps, though most of it was within CMS – Marina axis (Lagos Island) where i got lost while trying to locate a branch office.

What the app does and does well is to encourage you to outdo your previous records, with you keeping fit in the process. It also throws you into competition with your online friends.

What it does not do well is that the app tends to go to sleep when your phone goes to sleep, with you losing valuable step counts in the process. Also, the counts does not seem very accurate, with the inefficiencies never in favour of the user.

image

Categories
Advertorial Entertainment

Deezer Music Service – Unlimited Music Downloads

A few weeks back, i wrote about Xbox Music, a Windows 8 app that gives you access to an estimated 30 million+ of songs to stream for free on your PC (Online or Offline mode), on the web and on your android & iOS tablets or phones .

This music service, however, has at least 2 major flaws;

deezer

  • The mobile apps does not have an offline mode. You can only stream music online – Data services required!
  • At US$9.99 monthly subscription fee, it is not competitive.

For those of us living in Africa – except, perhaps, South Africa – we have very limited music service options. Popular services like Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody, Google Play Music and Amazon are just not available.

It was only by chance that i stumbled on this less known music service called Deezer. It boasts of a presence in a whooping 182 countries, including Nigeria. The first thing that struck me was the similarity in its song database and that of Xbox Music.

The following are what i will consider as the strengths of this service;

  • Seemingly similar song database to Microsoft’s Xbox.
  • A more affordable US$4.99 (NGN850) subscription fee per month, giving you access to 30 million+ music tracks including Nigerian hit tracks .
  • Offers mobile apps for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry platforms.
  • Offline music playback both on the desktop PC and on your mobile devices.

Fortunately, Deezer offers a 15 day trial. You have nothing to lose, why not give it a try?

Categories
Gadgets Technology

I Sold My Samsung S3 Phone Today

Sold off my Samsung S3 [US Version] phone today. I had used it for about a year.

It was a tough decision to make as i had grown attached to the device and it did serve me well. But the fact is, i needed to move on. It had become a case of functionality and convenience over emotional attachments.

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I use two SIMs/Phones on a regular day, a work line and a personal one. Coupled with an android tablet, my usual day see me lugging all these devices around with me. Not much fun at all, trust me. I had decided a while back that dual SIM was the future for me and thankfully, the market for this class of phone is increasingly becoming vibrant. No better time than now to make a change.

Released in June 2012, the Samsung S3 is still a hugely popular phone and its listing is among the most viewed on gsmarena.com. Those that own the S3 do not see its successor, the Samsung S4, as being a worthy upgrade due to its minor incremental and largely unneeded additional features.

If it is any consolation, I did sell the S3 good, all N45,000 (US$280) that i asked for it.

Question now is, which phone do i use in the stead of the S3? Of course i know no dual SIM can touch the specifications of the S3 by a mile, but any dual SIM phone with decent specs will suffice for me for now, while hoping Samsung (or other manufacturers) will come out with better offers come 2014.

Below are the phones i am considering;

1. Tecno Phantom A+ vs Samsung Galaxy Grand

The Tecno brand has tried to redefine the perception the African market has about Chinese mobile phones. I got the Tecno Phantom A+ phone for my wife a couple of weeks ago. Only one word can summarize my experience with the device; Un-freaking-believable! (hope that qualifies as a word?). Sharp screen, very responsive and generous accessories (8GB card, memory bank, flip pouch). All for less than N35,000 – even at jumia.com.ng!

My major grouse with the phone is its limited internal memory, only 4GB.

The Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos shares almost similar specs with the Phantom A+ (love that name), even losing out in some specs but selling for much more, about N46,000! How much of this amount are we paying for the Samsung brand name?!

‘Nuff said, Tecno comes tops here!

Below is a comparison of some of the key specs;

[ws_table id=”6″]

2. Tecno Phantom A2 vs Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8

The Phantom A2 is not necessarily a direct upgrade to the Phantom A+, i will probably liken it to comparing the Samsung S4 with the Samsung Note 3. My personal opinion.

Compared to the A+, the Phantom A2 substitutes its screen with a 5.7 incher, the front camera with 1.9MP and the price with about N43000.

Definitely, the Tecno loses out on this one. Notwithstanding that the Galaxy Mega costs about N56000, no way i am going to shell out N43k for such miserly specs. Tecno needs to be careful, the brand is still not strong enough to command such prices. I suggest they stick to sub N40000 prices.

Check out the spec comparison;

[ws_table id=”7″]

The results are in, definitely it is a Tecno on my mind. I have used and still own Samsung devices. Would be a nice idea to see if the other side is indeed greener.

My eyes are definitely on the Phantom A+, value for my money.

Phantom A Plus big