Categories
Gadgets

Western Digital EX2 Network Attached Storage – A Review

My plan was to pick up the 4 bay option of Western Digital’s (WD) Network Attached Storage (NAS), the EX4. With this option, i would have a storage device that can accomodate 4 hard disk drives. However, budget considerations made me settle for the 2 bay option, the EX2.

What Are Network Attached Storages (NAS)?

NAS are usually compact enclosures that are fitted with multiple hard drives. But unlike your regular hard drives, your NAS has the following additional features;

  1. Generally, such devices can be controlled via a web interface, like your router, giving you a centralized dashboard to monitor your storage (Health, shares, usage, etc).This web interface masks the powerful Linux Operating systems that the NAS rides on.
  2. The NAS is connected to a Wired or Wireless network, making the hard drives accessible to all devices (Computers, Tablets, Smartphones) on the network.
  3. You have an option to limit access to the NAS to your local network or you can access it over the Internet. Think of your own personal dropbox.
  4. You can then access the files using a variety of different applications and even run different bits of software on the NAS itself, such as media-server solutions for streaming media (Music, Video or pictures) to the different devices on your network and BitTorrent clients for downloading directly on the device. Many types of back-up software can back up directly to the network storage.
  5. Most have a bunch of one-click installable apps (WordPress, Joomla, Dropbox, etc) that can transform your NAS to your website host.
  6. For small businesses, it can serve as a central storage for your files and allows for collaboration. You could also set up your company Intranet on it.
  7. They have slots for multiple hard drives; 3.5″, 2.5″ or both.

91APo+MU3yL._SL1500_Why Western Digital EX2?

What differentiates one NAS from the other include the following;

  1. Ease of use. As this device is targetted at the Home and Small Business audience who have limited technology skills, effort is put into making these devices as easy and intuitive as possible to use, particularly the embedded Operating System.
  2. Quality of the Hardware
  3. Cost
  4. Availability of third party apps

The WD EX2 excels in (almost) all these. But i must quickly note that, at the moment, third party apps for this device are very, very few.

I picked up the diskless variant from Amazon for about $160 and it arrived within 3 days. It is a 2-bay NAS and it allows a maximum of 2 drives in its enclosure. As of June 2015, current firmware supports a maximum capacity of 6TB for a single drive for this NAS, making a maximum of 12TB for the 2 bays in its enclosure. However, i picked up a single 4TB drive for about $160, hoping to pick up another as soon as the drive fills up.

Please note that while your regular computer hard drives will work in your NAS, there are drives that are specially built to work with them because of their peculiarities. Western Digital calls theirs WD Red. Hard disks stacked close to each other in a NAS will be subject to more heat and vibration as they chug away than they would in a desktop tower, so the Red series have hardware-based vibration compensation technology to improve long-term reliability when used in arrays of between two and eight drives. They are usually a bit (just a bit) more expensive than your regular drives.

819t3gmzMcL._SL1500_So What Happens To My Old External Drives?

Good News! While you are limited to the number of drives that you can fit into the enclosure of your NAS, whether you choose the 2 or 4 bay option, the WD NAS comes with 2 USB 3.0 ports. You can easily connect your old drives into these ports directly or via a, preferrably, powered hub if you have multiple hard drives or flash drives.

Basically,

  1. You will be extending the capacity of the NAS. You easily add additional GB/TB to the capacity of your NAS
  2. Easily take back ups of the drives in the enclosure.
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
Gadgets Mobile

iOS 7 vs Android Jelly Bean 4.2

How does Apple’s iOS 7 compare to Google’s Android 4.2 Jelly Bean? We take a look at both to check the lay of the land.

Interface

Android’s interface has utilised a similar look and feel since version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (and to an extent 3.0 Honeycomb) which was introduced by Mathias Duarte. This comprises a black notifications bar and black or grey menu backgrounds, but the rest of the interface elements are largely either translucent, white or cyan throughout and use Google’s unique Roboto font. Google’s app icons use a very simplified art style, similar to vector art with bold, flat colours and some selective highlights and shading in some places.

Overall it’s very clean, cohesive and minimalist, which I rather like.

I wouldn’t be the first to suggest that with iOS 7, Apple has taken some ‘inspiration’ from Android for the new look. Admittedly though, in some ways it has gone one better. The top bar is no longer black and is now transparent, rather like Google’s persistent search bar widget. It actually looks nicer than Google’s black bar in my view.

The app bar at the bottom is no longer a reflective ‘pane’ for the apps to sit on and is instead another translucent section and this is distinctly different from Android – which doesn’t have a bar and simply features a grey dividing line.

Apple has revamped folders in iOS 7 which can now be packed full of app shortcuts and scrolled through. However, I don’t find the implementation as compelling as Android’s system. In iOS 7, tapping on a folder zooms you in on it and takes you, effectively, to a whole new homescreen. For me, this isn’t what folders are about and I think Android’s system where the folder expands over part of the screen as a temporary overlay is much better.

Apple’s app icons have been tweaked in a similar fashion to Google’s with that ‘flatter’ aesthetic which was rumoured. They still have gradient colours but there’s less shadowing, less gloss and everything is generally much more simplified. Text is also flatter with no shadowing underneath.

While it’s fair to say that Android has its share of bright and clashing colours I think Apple has taken it to a whole new level and there’s something very retina-searing about iOS 7’s colour scheme which, to me, sits at odds with that theme of soft white text and translucent menu elements. This was calling out for a more nuanced palette, in my opinion.

Multitasking

Multitasking has been completely overhauled on iOS 7 but to say it takes a leaf out of Android’s book is an understatement. It’s pretty much a wholesale copycat affair, complete with a scrollable carousel of active app preview panels of the kind we’ve seen since Honeycomb 3.0 and, importantly, the same ‘swipe-to-close’ gesture Android has been using since version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

It scrolls side-to-side in ‘portrait’ orientation (similar to Windows Phone 8, in fact) and the swipe to close is upwards, as opposed to Android’s up-and-down carousel and swipe to the side to close, but for all intents and purposes it’s the same setup with a slightly different skin (ie: Apple’s new ‘everything is translucent’ approach).

I really love Android’s multitasking so I have mixed feelings on the subject. On the one hand, it’s great to see that I can get that same interaction style elsewhere, but on the other: this isn’t the only way multitasking could’ve been implemented, as BlackBerry 10 proved. In fact, BlackBerry 10 has largely convinced me there are better approaches than Android. There is more than one way to multitask well.

As a result, Apple’s straight-up burglary is pretty shameful on all fronts –it’s blatant copying and is both unimaginative and unoriginal where the firm had a chance to show its creativity.

Notifications

Both iOS 7’s and Android’s notifications centres drop down from the top bar with a swipe gesture.

With Android you have a black background which you can just about see app icons behind. The clock appears bigger than in the closed bar and shifts to the left-hand side while a toggle on the right corner lets you switch back and forth Quick Settings menu. Individual notifications appear in little boxes and can be swiped away to dismiss.

On iOS 7 you have a translucent background, the top bar remains as it is on the homescreen and there are three categories at the top for ‘Today’, ‘All’ and ‘Missed’. Notifications appear as a continuous stream only separated by a small icon and text showing what app they’re relevant to, such as ‘Calendar’, for example.

Quick Settings

Quick Settings on Android can be opened by swiping down from the notifications bar with a two-fingered gesture and presents you with a grid of square button toggles for things like brightness, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth – there’s also a shortcut to the full-fat Settings menu.

Google’s take on the Quick Settings menu, something pioneered by third-party manufacturer UIs and launcher apps on its platform, was a long time coming from when the concept first emerged and still hasn’t quite lived up to what the ‘Android community’ came up with first, in my view. It’s not so instantly accessible.

Conversely, Apple appears to have actually done a really good job here. The ‘Control Centre’, as it’s called, swipes up from the bottom and continues the translucent theme.

You’ve got a standard set of toggle shortcuts for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and the like, but more importantly an actual brightness slider, which is annoying absent from stock Android even now. There’s also a handy music player widget, er, thing, for any current track you’re listening to, a button for AirPlay and AirDrop and a set of shortcuts for calculator, flashlight and camera functions.

Core apps and services

iTunes Radio vs Google Play Music: All Access

One of Apple’s big announcements for WWDC was iTunes Radio, the much-rumoured music streaming service which expands on Apple’s existing iTunes setup to allow ‘featured stations’ of streamed content.

Google Play Music: All Access is pretty much exactly the same setup, as we wrote during Google’s announcement:

‘All Access has a wide-ranging catalogue of music using Google Play’s existing setup, but you can stream tracks instantly. It also features ‘expert curated’ genre lists showing iconic genre tracks and allowing you to discover new music.’

If you tap on a track to play it you can turn it into a radio station – All Access will pull in a ‘never-ending’ playlist of related tracks and stream them to your device. You can swipe to peek at what track is coming next or access the playlist completely – if there’s anything on there you don’t like you can swipe it away or you can re-oder the playlist as you like.’

iTunes Radio does include a few extra perks, such as Siri integration, as Apple’s Eddie Cue outlined at the launch:

‘Let Siri make your listening experience even more fun. Ask Siri ‘Who plays that song?’ or ‘Play more like this’ and Siri will make it happen. Say something like ‘Play Jazz Radio’ or ask for any of your existing favourite stations and genres. Shape your stations by telling Siri what you like and don’t like, or tell Siri to pause, stop or skip. You can also have Siri add songs to your Wish List to download later.’

Both services are coming in later then entrenched competitors such as Spotify and both have massive collections of licensed music to offer.

As usual, it’s simply a case of selecting one ecosystem or another to become entrenched in, and such a decision should probably centre around other software and hardware considerations more than anything else.

Like the iPhone’s design? Go with iTunes Radio. Prefer the Android interface? Pick Google Play Music: All Access. It really makes little difference.

Each is also initially only available in the US, however, and we’ll have to wait a little while before either makes its way across the pond.

Apple Maps vs Google Maps

In terms of updates for Apple Maps we were once again shown all the ‘amazing’ 3D stuff again. As far as more useful stuff is concerned Apple demonstrated how you can now select a location, find points of interest, see reviews for said POIs and share the location via social networking, messaging or to your phone from a computer. So far, so playing catch-up to Google Maps.

Apple didn’t really demonstrate much in the way of improved location data and accuracy though. Sure, there weren’t any gaping voids in the big-screen demonstration, but then, there wouldn’t be. For now, we know from experience that Google Maps is excellent, the standard by which others are measured, because the company has invested a lot of time, money and effort over the years to literally re-map a massive chunk of the planet, on the ground and in the air. Until more extensive use tells us that Apple Maps has caught up in this regard, I’ll continue to trust Google Maps first.

On a related note, Apple did explain how it was working with car manufacturers to integrate both Apple Maps and Siri voice commands into in-car systems. Quite how far-reaching this will be in terms of participating manufacturers and supported car models isn’t clear.

At first I’d guess this will have a US focus, but in any case given Apple Maps’ recent history I’m not exactly champing at the bit to have it guiding me while driving and I’m sure plenty of Australians can say the same.

Lock screen

As this side-by-side screenshot shows, the two lock-screen interfaces are alarmingly similar, right down to the stock wallpaper. Android got here first, of course.

In terms of functionality both offer the same deal. Notifications appear on the screen, you can access the camera from the lockscreen and both feature swiping gestures to unlock (although of course you can replace these with passcodes and the like.) Both also allow you to access their respective quick settings and notifications screens from the lockscreens with the same gestures you’d use on the normal homescreen.

Conclusion

As I’ve hinted at earlier in the comparison, it’s difficult in many ways to see iOS 7 as anything other than Apple playing catch-up to Android, while snagging a few choice morsels from Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 along the way.

In many respects that’s fair enough, but these things are not revolutionary in the broader sense – massive bonuses for people already entrenched in iOS, of course, but Apple and its followers are in no position to be crowing about revolutionising the smartphone space. Though that won’t stop them from doing so anyway.

But this is all politics, what about if you’re sat there wondering which platform to invest in? And to be clear, when I say invest, I really do mean invest – if you’re going to be buying films, music, games and apps on either of these platforms then making a switch later with your collection intact is going to be difficult at best and in some cases impossible at worst.

Such profound wisdom on which is the better long-term bet would require some kind of crystal ball and the clairvoyance to see where both companies and their ecosystems are headed, so I’m afraid I can’t help you there. I left mine at home.

What I can say is that I prefer most of Android’s overall aesthetic, mainly as the colours are less offensive to my delicate eyeballs, however I do also prefer iOS 7’s translucent menu elements and in particular the Control Centre has utterly schooled Google on how it should be done. I’d also reiterate that I don’t trust Apple Maps any further than I can throw it, and I’m rubbish at throwing stuff.

Both platforms have massive, thriving ecosystems packed with app and multimedia content, both also now have streaming services built-in and both have slick, multitasking-friendly interfaces.

You could argue you get more choice in terms of hardware on Android, that’s very true and in many ways is a good thing, but on the flip-side Apple doesn’t get treated to lots of annoying UI overlays sullying the experience and there’s one clear choice of the ‘best’ handset when it comes to the platform.

In short: ‘you pays your money, you takes your choice,’ as they say.

 

This article was first published on knowyourmobile.com by Paul Briden on 11 June, 2013

Categories
Networking

Thinking Of Buying A WiFi Router? Read This First!

Buying the right routers has never been more difficult. Be warned! Wifi routers are not usually just a buy, plug and play affair.

Businesses often spend thousands of dollars to hire wireless networking professionals to perform site surveys to determine the best equipment and means to deploy a wireless network. However, our focus – the home and small businesses – do not have the resources to hire such and can feel frustrated about purchasing, setting up and maintaining a wireless router and their own wireless networks! What probably make it even more frustrating to these class of people are the barrage of technical jargon being bandied about by the manufacturers of these routers, usually more from marketing hypes than necessity.

The question now is, How do you determine the features that matter and those that do not when making your purchase? Bands, Standards, Range, etc – are all these important considerations when shopping for a wireless router? What exactly are the important features to look out for when shopping for a router?

Care to know? Then read on.

Speed

It is a tricky time to be in the market for a new wireless router. However, one key consideration before purchasing a wireless router is to determine how fast it transmits data. The speed of data transfer for any router is normally dependent on the standard.

802.11a An IEEE wireless networking standard that specifies a maximum data transfer rate of 54Mbps and an operating frequency of 5GHz.

802.11b An IEEE wireless networking standard that specifies a maximum data transfer rate of 11Mbps over the harmless 2.4GHz radio frequency.

802.11g An IEEE wireless networking standard that offers transmission at relatively short distances at a maximum data transfer rate of 54Mbps.

The above standards have all been superceeded and are not worth considering.

802.11n An IEEE wireless networking standard that offers transmission at a maximum data transfer rate of up to 450Mbps. Most popular standard at the moment and highly recommended

802.11ac The new kid on the block. Coming five years after the 802.11n, this standard promises data transmission at a maximum rate of 1.3Gbps. Caution here. All the horsepower the 802.11ac routers can offer won’t matter if the clients connecting to the devices do not have support to interface with these blazing fast speeds.

The fastest current 802.11n Wi-Fi connections max out at around 150Mbps with one antenna, 300Mbps with two and 450Mbps with three antennas. 802.11ac connections will be roughly three times faster – so that’s 450Mbps, 900Mbps and 1.3Gbps respectively. Note that these figures are theoretical maximums, the best you may likely get for the 802.11ac would be in the region of 800Mbps.

Range

Signal interference is one of the biggest culprits that might be at work if your Wi-Fi is weak. Walls and physical obstructions block your signal, so do signals emitted by any electromagnetic household object like your microwave oven, cordless phones, bluetooth devices and even fluorescent lights!

The range of your Wi-Fi signals is normally dependent on the Wi-Fi standard. Using a  router with 802.11b and 802.11g can get you as far as 95m while 802.11n can get you twice that. This range is only obtainable outdoors where there are no obstructions. Real life usage indoors will vary greatly.

Single Band or Dual Band?

While researching routers, you will inevitably stumble across the term “bands.” The 2.4 and 5 GHz bands are the frequencies in which wireless communications operate. 802.11 B and G devices use the 2.4 GHz band, while 802.11N can use either the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band. The 5 GHz band is less crowded then the 2.4 GHz band; less equipment runs on 5 GHz. That’s why it’s better equipped for throughput-intensive work within your home network such as gaming and file streaming. You will also get better internal network performance. These routers are ideal for the wireless gadget heavy home because you can connect gadgets that you use primarily for surfing such as a smartphone or tablet to the 2.4 GHz band and reserve the 5 GHz band for more demanding applications like devices that stream video and music or for gaming.

802.11ac will be purely 5GHz. It differs from 802.11n

  • Do you have multiple family members streaming video, or playing games online at the same time?
  • Is streaming high-definition video a must?
  • Do you plan to stream lots of content to an iPad?
  • Are you moving high volumes of data for your home office.

If any of these apply, then you’re a good candidate for a dual-band router. If not, you can probably get away with a cheaper single band router. Well, that’s the genius of dual-band routers; they allow each device to connect simultaneously, using its preferred band. The weakest link doesn’t have to slow the other devices down. The one downside of 5 GHz is that it does not sustain signal at greater distances as well as the 2.4 GHz band. So, if you are looking for a dual-band router to take advantage of the 5 GHz bandwidth—you’ll want to factor in distance when placing the router in your home or office.

Please note that 802.11ac won’t crystallize into a bona fide standard until sometime next year

Security

You’ll definitely want to make sure the router supports the latest WPA2 security rather than just WPA or, even worse, WEP. Most current routers support WPA2, but free routers from an ISP can sometimes be really outdated. If you’re building a wired network with clients that have gigabit ethernet adapters, also look for a router that supports that fast gigabit transfer speed. Also make sure the router supports Wireless-N (802.11n) for fastest transfer speeds; Wireless-N is backwards compatible with Wireless-G (802.11g) and Wireless-B (802.11b) devices, so your older computers and gadgets will still be able to connect to it.

And for The Geeks …

Do You Like to Tinker? Consider Custom Router Firmware If you’d like to hack your router for more features and customization with free, open-source firmware like Tomato or DD-WRT, be sure to check those site’s supported routers before going shopping. Some routers—like Buffalo’s Nfiniti G300NH—actually ship with DD-WRT pre-installed.

USB Ports

If you’d like to create a shared network drive, some routers enable you to plug in a USB hard drive to the router and share that drive. It’s a useful feature, but can be very slow and/or inconvenient (forcing you to use a FTP or HTTP server to access the drive, for example). If you don’t have a network attached storage (NAS) device, however, and don’t mind the performance compromise, look for this feature in your next router.

PS: You must ensure your wireless devices support whatever router you intend to buy. There is absolutely no benefit in switching to a higher grade router when your device can not take advantage of it.

Your Wi-Fi network is only as fast as the standard of the slowest device connected to it. If you connect a 802.11g device to a 802.11n network, the speed of your network will be limited to that of the slower standard, 802.11g.

Categories
Gadgets Mobile

Windows 8 – Copycat Innovations?

Looking at most OS in this modern era, i tend to see more of similarities than differences. When sometimes i stumble on blogs where you have people banging each other out about the superiority of a particular OS over another – Apple haters on one side, Android fans or Microsoft bashers on the other – i smile.

I like to see beautiful concepts in one OS being re-engineered or made better in another OS. For me that shows progress. When i look at Windows 8 and its radical deviation from status quo, I could not help but wonder where Microsoft drew the Inspiration from. Bill Gates aptly described it as ‘an important set of innovations’.

This write-up aims to investigate the origin of the innovations served with the Windows 8.

The Boot speed

Windows 8 boots in less than 10sec to the start menu, No longer do you have to wait for minutes just to log into a typical PC. Compared with windows 7 or earlier iterations of the OS, this is lightning fast. This is a feature that i enjoyed only in mobile devices but has been effectively replicated in this convergence OS. The fact that you can put on your PC and you get to use it within seconds is really worthy of commendation.

Windows Gestures

It starts with the lockscreen, which by default is dragged up with a finger to unlock – that is, if you’re using a “touch” device. Yeah, just like android or iOS. However, you can still swipe and make gestures even if you don’t a have a “touch” device. See details here. Microsoft actually knocked the ball out of the park here as Windows 8 is a gesture rich operating system.with support for up to ten simultaneous touch points, which opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities.

Picture Password

This is just like the pattern lock on android. I remember the first time i unlocked my Samsung S1 pattern lock in front of my friends, acting like i owned a device from Mars. It felt great.

Though the picture password on Windows 8 works for the laptops that do not have “touch” the effect is rather tedious as you have to use the mouse pad to draw patterns. The picture password feature will be enjoyed better on a touch device.

To enable it, press Windows + I to get to the settings charm. Click Change PC settings at the bottom right, and go to the Users tab. Under Sign-in options will be the Create a picture password button. This will give you the option to choose any picture, and then define three gestures anywhere on the image. Your gestures can be circles, swipes and clicks.

The Charms Bar

In Windows 8, Microsoft introduced the Charms bar – an omnipresent autohide sidebar that presents both context sensitive options for the currently active app and system wide options for managing the volume, brightness, internet connections, power options, notifications, devices, and context sensitive search. I like this new feature and to some extent, you can compare it to the Menu Bar in OS X, a functionally similar omnipresent bar that sits at the top of the screen with options that change with the active app while retaining options for accessing basic system settings like System Preferences and power options.

Microsoft Store

Get all your apps from one place, developers can build apps that are useful to a cross section of people, i know i have enjoyed Google’s play and i have gotten wonderful apps that made my life easier and guess what most of them were free.

With the billions of users already using Microsoft windows it will be but a short while before the Microsoft store is populated with apps.The Windows Store is expected to get more than 100,000 apps within three months of its launch.

Developers are already jumping in as the number of apps are increasing daily and with windows users accounting for 70% of the computer world,app builders are going to have a field day with windows 8

Customisation & Personalisation

This is now as prominent as on Android. This, for me, was an android edge – the ability for you to customize your device to suit you. With previous versions of windows you were limited to what you could do on your device. On windows 8 the new “tattoos” feature gives users another way to personalize their desktop or home screen background beyond changing the wallpaper and screensaver.

To add tattoos, users must hover the mouse in the lower right corner to pull up the Charms bar or use the keyboard shortcut Key + C. After this, select Settings and then choose Change PC Settings. Click the Personalization option and then choose Start Screen on the right to customize the color and add tattoos. Users can see a preview of how the tattoo will look before it is added to the Home screen.

3rd party apps

The inclusion of 3rd party Apps on the windwos 8 is a welcome addition just like on android. Windows 8 is all about the apps, so it’s important to find the best ones for your unique needs. Unfortunately, you need to sift through a lot of crap apps in the process, especially if you’re not using a Windows 8 tablet.
Desktop and laptop PC users don’t need to worry about the lion’s share of Windows 8 apps, because they’re usually single-purpose tools designed to replicate the functionality of a full PC on a mobile device. Since you have access to a full Windows desktop you don’t need just another way to look at photos or surf the Web—you need a way to do those things better.

Below is a selected few that I use:

Netflix – The Netflix app for Windows 8 is free to download and easy to use, with an attractive tile-based interface that’s intuitive to navigate on a touchscreen. Streaming movies through the app also seems smoother than streaming them through your browser, which is reason enough to launch Netflix right from your Start screen.

IM+ – Everyone needs a good instant messaging client, and although the Windows 8 Messaging app is functional enough,it supports only the Windows Messenger and Facebook Chat services. That may change in the future, but if you want to chat with all your friends right now across disparate networks (including AIM, Facebook, GChat, ICQ, and Jabber) Shape’s IM+ app has you covered. It’s free, it supports a wide variety of chat networks, and it lets you enable push notifications so that you can stay on top of your social life no matter what app you’re using.

TuneIn Radio – TuneIn does a fantastic job of presenting a huge assortment of AM/FM radio streams and podcasts in one slick app that’s simple to navigate

MovieGuide – Zühlke Engineering’s MovieGuide app, a handy tool for movie nuts, combines the film trivia of IMDb, the variety of trailers on YouTube, and the list-making feature of Flixster into a single app.

StumbleUpon – StumbleUpon is a fantastic way to discover new and interesting things online, and the Windows 8 app makes it even easier to stumble upon your next favorite video or article by updating the live tile with websites tailored to match your tastes

Live Tiles

The infusion of live tiles in Windows 8 shows Microsoft’s drive to transition from traditional desktop usage to a mobile-centric persona, to integrate both the PC world (which by the way is losing market share to mobile computing devices) and the mobile computing platform. It is, however, interesting to note that Microsoft is being sued by SurfCast, an operating system technology designing company over the Live Tiles feature.

Back in October 2000, SurfCast filed for patent # 6,724,403 and was issued in April 2004. SurfCast describes the feature as tiles that “can be thought of as dynamically updating icons. A Tile is different from an icon because it can be both selectable and live — containing refreshed content that provides a real-time or near-real-time view of the underlying information.”

This, more or less, describes what Microsoft’s Live Tiles are.

Categories
Gadgets Mobile

XBMC Beta For Android Now Available

XBMC is undoubtedly the best media center software around. It is open source and free.

Recently, it was announced that the software has been ported to the Android platform. The software will function on any Android smartphone, tablet or set-top box. This new version of XBMC for Android will provide  local network video and audio streaming, with a full-range of desktop equivalent features. Additionally, it will not require your Android device to be rooted or jailbroken in any form.

The xbmc team has released the beta source so far and will aparently be releasing an apk and pushing to google play in a few weeks.

But for those, like me, who can’t wait to test their paws on this software, here is an unofficial link to the compiled apk  http://dl.miniand.com/miniand/xbmc-a…g-20120714.apk

Categories
Gadgets Mobile

Diary of an iPad Addict

I recently told a friend that there are only two kinds of people in the world: those who have an iPad and those who want one. His reply added a third category: those who don’t know what they are for. This prompted me to describe a typical day with my iPad. I am a 66-year old male retiree, and my iPad is a 16GB Wi-Fi model. I have a wireless network in my apartment, and my iPad follows me around faithfully to a variety of spots for reading, writing, watching television and more. Here is my day, along with my favorite apps.

In the Morning:

I use Alarm Clock HD (free, app2.me/3740) to wake me at a particular time. This app also gives me a peek at the current local weather. If I have specific outdoor plans, and I want a little more detail on the weather, WeatherEye HD (free,app2.me/3741) gives me a much more comprehensive look.

I’m out of bed, and it’s time for my first check of e-mail through the built-in Mail app. Sometimes I have some correspondence with people in international locations, and I need to reply before I enjoy my breakfast.

Then I go to the table for a bowl of cereal and my morning news, which comes from several locations. I first check a few overnight sports scores. The ESPN ScoreCentre(free, app2.me/2679) brings me news and results from even obscure sports like tennis (my favorite). I get my international news from a very strong app by The International Herald Tribune (free, app2.me/3742). This app is very well-organized and provides its stories in the customary newspaper sections. My favorite source of news, however, is the Huffington Post (free, app2.me/2998). The app is so visually exciting. I often read it at different times during the day to catch up on current affairs and culture news.

I get sport scores from ESPN ScoreCentre, and my culture news from the Huffington Post app.

During the Day:

Since I’m retired, my days aren’t very well structured. I do have a small business building apps for the iPad, and there is usually some work to be done. I use PhotoShop on my laptop to do some of the work, but the rest involves either communicating via e-mail or web browsing on my iPad using Safari and Mail.

I like to listen to music while I work, and I usually plug my iPad into my amplifier when I have a serious work session ahead. I use my own playlists from iTunes through the iPod app, or those from the CBC Radio app (free, app2.me/3743). My absolute favorite music app is TuneIn Radio ($0.99, app2.me/2996), and it is the best 99 cents you can spend on an app! It has the greatest selection of Internet radio stations in the friendliest format anywhere.

My work often involves writing, and good reference apps are essential. I useDictionary.com (free, app2.me/204), Wikipanion (free, app2.me/2483), andTerminology (2.99, app2.me/3519). Most banks have their own apps to help you handle your finances, and local errands can be accomplished with a combination of Maps and Yellow Pages (free, app2.me/3744).

As the day progresses, I check my e-mail on a regular basis, and the iPad is never far from me. Although I don’t use any of the major social networking apps, I do useTwitter (free, app2.me/102) as a news feed. I don’t tweet, but I follow quite a few tweeters who interest me. I often have a short nap after lunch and there is a super timer app, Giant Timer (free, app2.me/3745) that lets me know when I have had my 20 minutes.

I read quite a lot and I use the local library heavily. Most libraries, including mine, have apps for reserving and renewing books online. The reference apps above are very handy when I come across a new word. There are plenty of apps for purchasing e-books and magazine subscriptions, and they have abundant selections. I used an excellent magazine app, Zinio (free, app2.me/2402), when I was on a four-hour flight last week, and this is how I enjoy my iPhone Life magazine every month.

In the Evening:

At dinner time the iPad is at home in the kitchen. I don’t cook much, but there are plenty of websites that are anxious to help, and there are hundreds of recipe apps.

There are also free special event apps that are superb. They are designed for short-term use around a specific event such as the Academy Awards or a golf tournament. Because they are built for a specific purpose, they give the users everything they need to enjoy the event and often include live, streaming video. You can delete them once the event is over.

I don’t download many videos or movies, but I do like to watch one or two hours of TV in the evenings. There is a TV guide app, What’s On (free, app2.me/3746), that is much more comprehensive and easier to use than anything on the television or in the newspaper. It is easily set for your location and cable provider. It gets two thumbs up from me.

While I’m watching TV, I often see an actor that I recognize from another show or movie. The Internet Movie Database app, IMDb (free, app2.me/2701), is very helpful for identifying characters. I am also not a computer gamer, but all of my grandchildren have loaded up their favorites on my iPad. For the occasional diversion, I like Sudoku (free, app2.me/2485), Word Warp (free, app2.me/3747) and Paper Toss (free,app2.me/2751).

One more app I should mention is Apple’s word processing app, Pages ($9.99,app2.me/2412). I wrote this article with it on my iPad. So there it is. I use 20 to 25 apps in a typical day that suit my lifestyle. With over 400,000 apps in the App Store, chances are good that you’ll find apps to suit your lifestyle as well.

I hope that you are enjoying your iPad as much as I am.

 

Source : iPhone Life

Categories
Articles

Google “Search Within Results”

Some of you may have noticed that the “Search Within Results” link in your Google search engine web page have suddenly disappeared. For those that do not know, this was an ace functionality in Google used in streaming down searches.

Hear what Google has to say for removing the link and the Public’s response. Click Here