Categories
Entertainment

Netflix Arrives Nigeria – Quick Facts

  • netflix-logo3 Subscription plans available US$7.99/US$9.99/$11.99 per month. Details here . GT Bank rate is about N270 for US$1
  • New subscribers get one month free viewing. BUT you are required to provide your card details to sign up. Automatic debit occurs after 30 days – unles you cancel before then.
  • 4 Streaming formats available; LOW, SD, HD and Ultra HD
  • On an 8 inch tablet, LOW format renders quite well, consuming 300MB/hr. Watched Idris Elba’s “Beasts of no nation”. Other options; SD 0.7GB/hr, HD 3GB/hr and ultra HD 7GB/hr
  • Netflix has geographical restrictions.The US market, expectedly, is the most favoured. However, this VPN app worked well for me on my Android tab to bypass this restriction.
  • “House of Cards” and a bunch of popular TV Shows and movies are not available for viewing in Nigeria! Heard DSTV bought the rights from Sony for “House of Cards”. With your VPN app, however, you bypass this restriction.
  • Glo Internet, as terrible as it may seem to many, has the most cost effective plans for Netflix. Especially if you subscribe to the Android BIS Hack.
  • Glo also has a Weekend data plan of N500 for 3GB. However, you need to have an existing subscription to use this. Details here.
  • Though there have been a flurry of activities from the Mobile Networks to provide more generous data plans, unfortunately, Netflix is not going to be a threat to DSTV in Nigeria anytime soon due to high data cost.
Categories
Uncategorized

Still On Gmail’s 2-Step Verification In Nigeria

2-Step VerificationI still do not know why Gmail’s 2-Step Verification is not supported in Nigeria. I published a work around to this in an article last year (see the link here) but it was very short-lived. I would want to believe that it was a mere coincidence but a few weeks after the publication, Google disabled the workaround.

As it is, nothing short of getting a mobile SIM card from one of the supported countries will do.

In this era of SIM card roaming, it is quite possible to use a foreign SIM card in Nigeria. Many of these networks have mutual roaming agreements. However, the key point here is to ensure that you meet the minimum requirement of maintaining such SIM cards to prevent them from running out of their validity period.

I have a Pay-As-You-Go SIM card from T-Mobile (USA). The minimum requirement to keep this line is a $3 monthly fee which lets me keep the number from month to month. With this network’s roaming agreement with Etisalat Nigeria, you can receive text messages for free but pay a token (i think 15 cents) to send messages.

This is a perfect arrangement to receive Gmail’s 2-Step Verification codes on your phone.

Modalities for getting these foreign SIMs vary from country to country. Let us chat about this. You may leave your comments below.

Categories
Hack

Using Gmail’s 2- Factor Authentication In Nigeria

Wikipedia defines Two-step verification (also known as Two-factor authentication, abbreviated to TFA) as a process involving two stages to verify the identity of an entity trying to access services in a computer or in a network.

For Gmail, what this means is that even if your password is compromised, no one can have access to your mails unless they also 2f1have access to your mobile line. Unless you add your laptop as a trusted device, everytime you log into your email account over the web, you will be required to also input a one-time code before gaining access to your mails.

Nice, isn’t it.

For Nigerians, the bad part. Curiously, Gmail does not support Nigerian mobile lines at all.

Fortunately, there is a way around this. Simply put, all you need do is get a valid US number that you can receive SMS on.

And How do you get this?

Heywire is the maker of a free consumer text messaging app available on Android, iOS and Windows Phone, with millions of users. It is also available on your PC using your browser. They give you a real US mobile number for free with which you can text or receive SMS from any mobile messaging service. The person you are texting or receiving SMS from DOES NOT need to have a HeyWire account, you can text them directly to their normal phone.

  • The app allows you to send free texts messages to mobile phones in 45 countries over WiFi or 3G – Excluding Nigeria of course.
  • However, you can receive text messages from any mobile line or bulk messaging services.
  • Text FREE from the Web: Go to app.heywire.com, login with your HeyWire number
  • 1 HeyWire account across all your devices — iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad & Computer
  • Text using Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, or LTE.

With this app, you can configure the 2-Step Verification for your Gmail account using your Heywire US number to receive your code.

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Categories
Mobile Technology

“Like The Prodigal Son, I’ve Returned …”

HoPI borrowed the title of this post from the song “Jump Around”, a 1992 smash hit from the musical group – House of Pain. The phrase aptly describes my porting sojourn from Glo to MTN and back to Glo.

You may read up my post on my initial experience porting from Glo to MTN here. It is a must read.

My experiences has taught me one important fact, that the grass is definitely not greener on the other side. For sure, no single Nigerian mobile network can be said to be overwhelmingly better than the other. It is probably no secret that the services rendered by all these companies can be described as subpar at best and largely inconsistent. Quality of service vary widely across geographic locations.

Really no point jumping around these networks. What works for your friend in Gbagada may be a terrible experience for you in Ajah. Fact.

Perhaps, your choice of a service provider should be dependent only on the Service quality in your neighbourhood. No point having tons of free data for a network that you can only browse on 2G speeds or free voice bonus from a network that you struggle to get a bar of signal.

For now, i am back to Glo, only because it has the best service quality in my neighbourhood and, well, provide cheaper data service than the competition.

Categories
Technology

Factors To Consider Before Purchasing That Inverter For Your Home

large-248155Okay, so you are thinking of getting a Power Inverter for your home? Let these tips guide you in your decision.

  • The capacity of the inverter to buy will, first, be determined by the load you intend to put on it. Sum up the power consumption (Wattage) of the appliances you intend to power with the inverter. You may find these information at the back of the appliance. Make provision for an additional 10% of your final figure.
  • Inverters are best charged by power from the grid (NEPA/PHCN). When charged from the grid, the charge on the battery tends to last longer.
  • Solar Panels are an optional add on to inverter systems. With this, you can (most) effectively charge your batteries, possibly disregarding PHCN. They are very expensive and not very popular in homes in Nigeria.
  • To charge the inverter effectively with your petrol or diesel generators, the capacity of your generator should be about 2.5 times that of your inverter.
  • A 1.5 KVA (approximately 1.2KW) inverter is recommended for most (young) families in Nigeria. Individuals living alone may even make do with 0.85KVA inverters. If money is not a problem and you have the power generator to effectively charge the inverter, sure, you may go for a higher capacity inverter. For me, investment in additional batteries may be a more practical idea.
  • Power consumption of popular appliances are listed below. Please note that it is just a guide.
  1. 42″ Plasma TV – 300W. 42″ LCD & LED TVs consume less than 200W. Smaller screen TVs consume even less.
  2. Standing Fans @ 100W each
  3. 15.4″ Laptops @ 75W each
  4. Energy Bulbs @ 15W each (You must change to Energy Bulbs)
  5. Phones (Charging) – 5W (or less)
  6. Tablets (Charging) – 10W (or less)
  7. DSTV Decoders (GoTV, Satellite) – (18W – 30W)
  8. Linksys E1200 Router – 6W
  9. Internet Modem (Cobranet) – 15W
  10. *** Medium sized Refrigerator / Freezer – 1KW (Not Recommended)
  • Expectedly, how long the inverter lasts before charging depends on how much load you put on it at anytime. Trying not to exceed 50% capacity at all times should be a guide.

Use this formula as a rough guide;

Number of Hours=

12V * Battery Capacity * Number of Batteries
Total Load On Inverter

So for a 1.5 KVA inverter using 2 200AH batteries with 500W load on it;

Number of Hours=

12 * 200 * 2
500

= 9.6 (Expect it to last for 9.6 hours)

**** I am assuming battery is at maximum capacity

  • Indian manufacturers have taken a big chunk of the inverter market in Nigeria and their products are well above average quality. American products are considered the best but the pricing is above the reach of many. Stay away from Chinese products.
  • Preferably, buy directly from the company to ensure you are getting good products – just in case. They also deliver to your home (free) and do the installation (paid).
  • Except you trust the competence of that technician, i will suggest you do not patronize locally made products.
  • Be paranoid about your batteries, they are usually the weakest link.
  • The capacity of your battery bank is as strong as the weakest battery.
  • A 0.85KA Inverter system comprises of an Inverter (about N30,000) and a single battery. Insist on a 200AH battery (N50,000.00). Set an additional N20,000.00 aside for installation and accessories.
  • A 1.5 KVA Inverter system comprises of an Inverter (about N50,000) and 2 batteries (minimum). Again, insist on only 200AH battery (N50,000.00 each). Set an additional N20,000.00 aside for installation and accessories.
  • Charging your inverters with generators only over a period of time may permanently reduce the efficiency of the batteries.
  • You will easily get a warranty of 1 year on your inverter and 6 months on the battery. If well used and protected, you will use them continuosly for at least 2 years before you notice a reduction in its efficiency.
  • Don’t let your batteries beep to death. Once it starts beeping – signifying low battery – switch it off! Your batteries will thank you.
  • American spec inverter systems are expected to last much longer than 2 years.
  • Lastly, and very importantly, consult with the company you are making the purchase from on the right way to use their product. Relying on the advice of friends, technicians or even me (!) is not the best. Chances are that you will get different suggestions from every single person you meet.

Just my 2 cents worth. Experience gathered from 6 years of using Inverters in Nigeria.

Categories
Advertorial

Cobranet Reviews Its Data Plans, More GB For Your Money!

With N6,500 monthly, I now get 9Gb data allocation from Cobranet for my “Home Bronze” subscription, up from 7Gb. Even better deals are available on other monthly and time based plans. Details available on their Facebook page or website.

Extra value added to this offer include;

  • The option to rollover to the next month unused data
  • For the download junkies, free browsing every day from 10pm to 8am.

Other benefits include;

  • Modem/WiFi router combo. No need to buy a separate router to share Internet access in your home/office.
  • Online renewal of your subscription using your ATM card, even when your subscription has run out.

Wish the mobile networks and other ISPs will be less rigid with their pricing and take a cue from this. Would be great, though, if Cobranet could come up with some sort of MiFi so i could ditch the mobile networks finally!

Nice move, Cobranet.

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Categories
Gadgets

Setting Up Raspberry Pi As A Media Centre Device

In my last post, we looked into setting up the Raspberry Pi in general, and what that entails.

This article is gonna focus on setting it up as a Media Centre device.

I have lots of media (Music, Movies, TV Series, etc.) on my laptop and I’ve always wanted a stress free way to have that content available to me on all my devices, be it on my TV, iPad or Phone.

The perfect solution for this came in the form of Plex Media Server.

Plex Media Server

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Plex Media Server is a free (but closed source) Media server application that indexes and organizes all kinds of media from Music to TV shows, Movies, Anime, etc. It also downloads Album art, Show banners and other metadata, even down to TV Show theme music. Plex media server is very easy to setup and is available to install on all major OSes.

I run Ubuntu on my laptop, so naturally, that’s where I installed my Plex Media server instance. After installation, Plex Media server runs as a background service which autostarts on booting the system. It has a web UI (pictured above) for managing your media collection. Its all really straightforward and easy to follow. I did have a little issue where some of my media wasn’t being recognized, but after changing file permissions, I was able to fix that.

The initial indexing of my vast media collection took a while and at the end, about 1gb of data, but it was definitely worth it. Once I had plex setup as a media server on my laptop, I could then move on to setting it up on the Raspberry Pi.

RasPlex

RasPlexPlex doesn’t have an official Home Theatre app for the Raspberry pi (or Linux), even though they have one for iOS, Android, Windows and OSX.

Some fine folks over at RasPlex have fixed this though, by creating RasPlex which is based on OpenELEC, which is in turn based on XBMC, which the original Plex Home Theatre app is based on. So, they are all more or less the same. :D.

Installing RasPlex on the Raspberry Pi has been made quite easy by the RasPlex team. There are installers available for Windows, OSX and Linux. Once the Installers are downloaded, they can be used to download the latest version of RasPlex, and also flash it to a compatible 8gb SD card. Pop that SD card into the Raspberry Pi’s slot and voila!, you have a working install of RasPlex.

As long as your Raspberry Pi is connected to the same network as your Plex media server, RasPlex should detect your media collection and allow you to play media directly on your TV.

Issues

I ran into a major issue after setting up RasPlex on the Raspberry Pi. Although it worked just fine on the big TV in the sitting room while connected via HDMI, it refused to display a thing when connected via composite video to the smaller TV in the room. After a bit of googling, I discovered that RasPlex is configured to use HDMI only by default. I guess the developers assumed nobody would be using TVs without HDMI input in 2013. Thankfully, there’s a workaround and it only involves editing a text file. I did have to do the edit on a windows machine though (something to do with those pesky file ownership and permissions issue), but apart from that hickup, it was a quick fix.

Once that was done, the RasPlex displayed properly on the TV and once I got a “3.5mm audio jack to composite audio converter cable”, I could also get audio into the TV.

OpenELEC

Openelec

OpenELEC is another Media Centre platform available on the Pi. RasPlex is built on OpenELEC, as evidenced by the OpenELEC splash screen that comes up when booting RasPlex.

However, if you want something as close to running generic XBMC on your Raspberry Pi, OpenELEC is the way to go.

Installing OpenELEC, like most installations on the Raspberry Pi is as easy as flashing the image unto a memory card. There are instructions on how to do this for each platform on the OpenELEC wiki. I did this on my trusty Ubuntu laptop and it worked perfectly.

Booting up OpenELEC on the Pi takes you to a generic XBMC UI. Its clean and uncluttered.

My preferred solution, of the two, is RasPlex.

Controlling your Media Centre

Although the Raspberry Pi supports both USB Mouse and Keyboard, these are not ideal when dealing with a Media Centre platform. One would not like to get up to the TV in order to change the media playing.

Thankfully, this is remedied by a host of Remote applications available for both iOS and Android.

For RasPlex, my favourite remote app is simply called “Plex Remote”. Its a free app in the play store, and so long as your android device is connected to the same network as the Raspberry Pi, it detects your RasPlex instance immediately and allows you to control its UI and launch your media.

For OpenELEC, any plain old XBMC remote would work. There are several of them on the Play store, but I haven’t tried out any since I did not decide on using OpenELEC in the long run, so I can’t recommend one.

Miscellaneous

The solution above allowed me to elegantly stream my media collection from my laptop acting as the server the Raspberry Pi connected to my TV. However, at other times, I might want to stream the same content to my phone or tablet instead.

Plex has awesome applications for both iOS and Android that do just that. Both applications cost $4.99 on their individual stores. They automatically connect to the Plex server and allow you to stream your content directly to your device.

The centralized nature of the media ensures that you can do cool things like marking videos as “watched”, filtering videos by genre, and even resuming from your last position across all devices.

So, I can start watching a movie on my phone, and later on, go over to the TV and continue from exactly where I stopped the last time.

Plex Media server uses Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) to stream media across devices. Therefore, if for some reason, you don’t have $4.99 to give the Plex developers, you use one of the free UPnP applications available on android. I can confirm that BubbleUPnP does recognize the Plex server and allows you to play your media, but you do lose some of the cooler features such as the resume feature highlighted above.

Its nice to be able to setup your home media centre using the Raspberry Pi, and stream your content from a central server to multiple devices. However, sometimes, your media might be on your phone or tablet. One might not be inclined to first copy it to your server, index it, and then stream it.

Luckily, there are ways to stream content directly from your phone or tablet to your Raspberry Pi powered TV, and we will explore that in the next post!.

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
Entertainment Gadgets

Xbox Music – Free Unlimited Music Downloads

One of my favourite apps available on Windows 8.1 OS is the Xbox music. This service was introduced with Windows 8 at launch in 2012 but for some reasons, it was not available to Nigerian card holders. However, the gates have now been flung open to just about anyone that cares.

The business model for this music service from Microsoft can be summarized as follows;

  • Unlimited Music Streaming
  • Unlimited Music Downloads
  • Stream with your Android and iOS devices
  • Access to over 30 million songs. Believe me, even very old school Nigerian tracks from Cloud 7, Bongos Ikwue & Sonny Okosuns are available.
  • All for a monthly fee of US$9.99 (N1650), which can be paid for using your regular Naira denominated Visa/Mastercard cards.
  • You even get this service free for a whole month. You get charged only from the second month

Too good to be true? Okay, there are caveats;

  • Unless you make an outright purchase of a track, usually in MP3 format for US$0.99 per track, songs downloaded with your subscription (called Xbox Music Pass) are usually in encrypted (DRM) WMA format. The tracks are not playable elsewhere but only on PCs that you are signed into with your Xbox Music credentials.
  • You can not download music using Xbox Music Android and iOS apps.
  • The Android and iOS apps are still not available in Nigeria but there are workarounds.

Even with these limitations, i believe it is still worth the fees being charged. Moreso, i am actively working on ways to circumvent the restrictions Microsoft has put in place. I have some ideas already…

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Categories
Technology Tips

Upgrading From Windows 8 To Windows 8.1

A couple of weeks ago, i decided to upgrade my Windows OS from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1. Ordinarily, it does not sound like a big deal but it was.

Firstly, you will have to initiate the upgrade from within the Windows store. Perhaps due to the large number of early adopters it was almost an impossible task. It was even worse in regions were Internet speed is very slow.

Windows-8.1Secondly, the upgrade requires at least 3.5GB of download data. That is about half my monthly data allocation. For an incremental upgrade, it is definitely a whole lot of data!

Additional problems i also identified are;

1. I do a lot of Operating Systems installations (and reinstallation). Would i be going through the time and data wasting routine of an online upgrade, the only official route provided by Microsoft?

2. The finacial implication of the Internet data download for the OS download and setup is at least N4000 based on the rates from my ISP. It adds up quickly when you do a lot of installations like i do.

The ideal solution that would work for me would be;

1. Look for a “Once and for all” solution. By this, i would need to find a way to download an ISO image of Windows 8.1 which i can burn on a DVD and use repeatedly without a need for internet access to download a fresh install for every machine i need to install Windows 8.1 OS on. Also, I could easily share the DVD and save others the costly internet access and the stress of slow data downloads.

2. To save myself even the estimated N4000 for the Windows 8.1 OS download, i could wait till 12 midnight. My ISP gives its subscribers free internet access with no download restrictions from 12am – 6am daily. That way i could do a whole lot of post installation downloads. Very nice option that comes at a cost – your sleep!

A quick search on the Internet brought up this link here. With it i was able to generate an ISO image of Windows 8.1. Took me almost 5 hours to download the data for the 3.5GB ISO image but, like they say, all is well that ends well.

Please note that if you follow the process in the link above closely, it will only generate the ISO image and should not install the OS yet. You can easily install the ISO image on a DVD.

For the OS installation proper from the DVD, you may encounter a problem whereby the product key may be rejected. Thing is, your license only qualifies you for an upgrade installation via the Windows Store and not a Clean Install. To get around this, pick up a temporary relevant product key from here for your installation, depending on the Windows OS type you purchased a license for. Note that you will still need to use your Windows 8 key to activate your installation online.

Good luck!