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
Gadgets Hack Tips

Broken Beats by Dr. Dre HeadPhones? A Quick Fix

BeatsByDrDre_TGGot a pair of Dr. Dre Beats headphones that got broken after only a few weeks of use. While the quality of the speakers are well above average, the plastic band and particularly the hinges seems quite cheap. Mine snapped right at the hinges.

These headphones are not cheap, so having it breakup can be very be heart breaking. While it is possible to to get a replacement band, this will probably cost you close to US$100, not including shipping costs to Nigeria.

My quick fix was to grab one of my wife’s black Headbands – a plain one – and using black tapes to blend with the colour of the headphones, taped the band to its inside, creating a sort of splint for the broken hinge of the headphone.

Smart ehn?

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Categories
Hack

October – National Cyber Security Awareness Month

ncsam_facebook_cover_photo_2014So much has been said about the Internet and the inherent risks that comes with accessing it. Many have fallen victims to identity thieves, phishing attacks and scams.

Lately, hardly any week goes by without news about hacks or attempted hacks on high profile internet websites. The recent icloud hack and the release of nude pictures of some notable celebrities readily comes to mind. News about a breach into Snapchat is also currently unfolding.

What is probably alarming is the seeming ease at which these hacks occur despite the millions of dollars some of the companies have invested into securing their servers.

But what many will never get to hear about are the routine hacks to online resources of ordinary people like you and I.

The month of October has been designated as the National Cyber Security Awareness Month. The goal is to raise public awareness on cybersecurity and educating individuals and families about staying safer online

SingleHop has been in the fore front of this campaign. SingleHop is an IT hosting company and services provider based in the US and provides bare metal dedicated servers, public and private clouds, as well as managed services to more than 4,000 clients in 114 countries.

Below are some myth busters this company has pushed forward in furtherance of this campaign;

[ws_table id=”24″]

Categories
Gadgets

Nikon D3300 DSLR Camera – A Review

d3300I strongly believe in the need for everyone to have some form of vocational training. Even those on paid employment will agree with me that it is particularly not too healthy to have a single source of income.

With the Nikon D3300 DSLR camera, my intention is to have my weekends and any other spare time, off paid employment, fully engaged, while making a few extra Naira for myself.

DSLR Cameras (Digital Single-Lens Reflex Cameras) are usually those fairly big cameras with protruding lenses that you see at parties with those professional photographers.

One thing you all will probably agree with me is that, even in the face of the rather unfortunate and unfavourable trend of events in Nigeria, there is hardly a dull moment, especially on weekends. Nigerians love parties, particularly among the Yorubas in Western Nigeria.

Listed on Jumia for N118,995.00 (US$700), Nikon D3300 is considered an entry level Professional grade camera but with features that can match some of the high end US$2000+ Cameras.

DSLR Cameras are miles ahead of your regular “Point & Shoot” dedicated cameras or, worst still, your readily available phone cameras. Forget about the Mega Pixel hype manufacturers give their phone cameras, i am sure most would have wondered why the quality of the pictures you take with your phone never seem to come up so good despite the touted high megapixels? Wonder why you never seem to get good pictures taken indoors or in the night? Or why the images of moving objects that you take always turn out blurred? The advantages of the DSLR cameras are almost endless because you have manual control over about every feature of these class of cameras. Basically, your DSLR allows you more creative freedom. You may take time out to research more on this.

Billy's Boot - Copy

Perhaps one major advantage the DSLR cameras have is that you can easily interchange the lens, making your camera even better featured.

The D3300 is not cheap. For its price you could probably pick up about six “Point & Shoot” cameras. In fact, higher grade DSLR cameras can cost upwards of US$10,000.00.

Now, do not be shocked if you spot me in one of the numerous “Owambe” parties around town, with my camera in tow, a man’s got to do what he has to do – earn a living to feed his family!

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
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 Hosting Technology

Surdoc – Free 100GB Online Storage For Everyone!

surdocMany are probably familiar with popular free cloud storage options available; 2GB from Dropbox, 5GB from Box and SugarSync, 7GB from SkyDrive and 15GB from Google Drive but few are aware of the new kid on block, Surdoc.

This company has indeed raised the bar by offering a whooping 100GB cloud storage free to users, giving you the opportunity to back up from multiple devices into a single account. And that is not all, you can get up to 1TB free if you refer a friend (10GB for each friend that signs up), Tweet or Retweet Surdoc (1GB), Post or Share on Facebook (1GB) and answer a Survey (5GB).

To see just how much a 100GB account can hold, visit https://www.surdoc.com/get-100gb/

Both iOS and Android apps are available for you to sync media files from your mobile devices to the same cloud storage. This is in addition to the Windows and Mac applications that keep files on your computers continuously and automatically backed up online.

There is a caveat though. This 100GB offering is only free for a year, a yearly subscription of  US$30 is charged if you decide to continue using this service.

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
Gadgets

Refurbished Devices Are A Good Deal – Buy Them!

Refurbished-ElectronicsWhen some people see the word “refurbished” placed in the title of a device, their immediate reaction is to avoid the item like the plague, not knowing all the differences between a refurbished and new device. People sometimes confuse “refurbished” or “repackaged” devices with used ones. There’s a huge difference between the two.

If you shuffle past something that’s refurbished, you’re missing out on a great deal. Buying refurbished material isn’t the same thing as getting something second-hand. Let’s examine the differences between a refurbished and new device and open our minds to new, concise information about the refurbishing process.

What Is A Refurbished DEVICE?

Anything that’s “refurbished” means that it’s been returned within a certain period of time by the customer to the distributor. The distributor repackages the product and sends it on its way to a special shelf where refurbished materials go. This is not to be confused with a “used” product!!

Anything that’s described as “used” has been in the possession of the customer for a long time. Refurbished products often aren’t even opened and are returned because of an error in the transaction.

Let’s say some guy clicks the order button twice when buying a 400 GB hard drive. He gets two of them at his house and returns one of them because he didn’t need it. That’s usually how the refurbishing process begins. The store has no choice but to sell it as a refurbished product since it was already ordered, therefore reducing the price of the product. The reduction could be a sum just shy of what it cost before or something more significant, depending on how many days this product has stayed in the hands of the customer.

It Gets More Complicated: Manufacturer (Factory) Refurbished vs. Store Refurbished

A store-refurbished device is simply a unit that wasn’t sent back to the manufacturer for repackaging. It means that the store has reason to assume that the product isn’t damaged in any way. The store sells the product at a lower price with a short warranty usually lasting 30 to 90 days.

A manufacturer-refurbished device is one that was sent back to the manufacturer for quality control inspection before repackaging. In this case, the device will be sold with a long warranty, if not a full one. Warranties could even exceed a year if the manufacturer refurbishes the product. This is the safest bet and gives you a significantly better deal than a new device.

So, Why Not Just Buy New?

Well, you can buy a new device. That’s the safest way to make sure that you’re getting your money’s worth on a product that hasn’t been shipped and handled a load of times. Also, you get the fullest warranty and support package you can get. But if you’re strapped for cash and want to save a bit of money, you can buy refurbished models. Just make sure that you get a manufacturer-refurbished product. Store refurbishing is more of a gamble.

Also, new devices still come in the pretty box they originally shipped out of the manufacturer in. Refurbished models rarely give you this privilege.

The Final Run-Down

While manufacturer (factory) refurbished products are not common in Nigeria with only a few online sites like geekstore offering such for resale, it is very popular in the US. So, if you want to buy a refurbished device, remember that while store-refurbished devices might cost less sometimes, they’re more of a gamble. Manufacturer-refurbished devices give you the guarantee that the product has been inspected by an expert in its manufacturing process. New devices still offer you more advantages by giving you a device that hasn’t been shipped back and forth (hard drives are delicate). Another plus is that you will always get the best warranty. The decision between a refurbished and new device is ultimately yours. Refurbished devices are often just as good as new ones. The risk is minimal.

NOTE

A refurbished product may or may not have been installed, repaired, or slightly used. More than likely, it was an item returned to a store for varied reasons.

A reconditioned / Used product was likely used over an extended period (maybe a lease) but then was repaired (not necessarily by the manufacturer) and resold by a retailer.

 

Reference

 

Categories
Gadgets

The “Geek Store” Finally Unveiled

geekstoreThe veil has finally being lifted from the Geek Store (geekstore.com.ng), an online discount electronic store that aims at making available and affordable, modern gadgets and accessories to everyone in Nigeria.

For a country where most residents are reported to live on less that US$1 a dollar, paying for most of these gadgets is almost unthinkable, even though many yearn for them.

At Geek Store, we believe in selling new devices from Big Brands at sensational and very affordable prices. Fairly used, open box items and factory refurbished gadgets, with warranties, are also available.

All the devices listed on the site are stocked in our warehouse and are available for purchase immediately. Delivery is guaranteed within 24 hours.

Geek Store is an affiliate of the Nigerian Technology blog, Diary of a Geek.