Monday, August 13, 2012

PGM Nexus is an application which makes you forget of the power button.

PGM Nexus is a great kernel module (or an app, if you prefer it in simple terms), designed for rooted Galaxy Nexus phones which allows you to turn your screen on or off using just swipe gestures. For example, on my Nexus I just swipe from left to right across the screen, and it powers on. If I do the same thing but on the other direction at the bottom of the screen (where the navigation buttons are located), screen just turns of. It takes a bit of time to get used to it, but after you start enjoying it, it'll be the exclusive mode you turn the screen on and off.

If your power button fails and you are afraid of that, this is exactly what you need. I still can't figure out how it actually works (the screen is off, it doesn't use any power but it still recognizes the swipes), but it's a great idea which is well implemented. It's really great, but because of the kernel thing, it will automatically turn off (if set to start on boot) when a kernel is flashed, but selecting that option again seems to stick through reboots afterwards.

Only drawback: it's $3. There's a free version available, but people complain that it completely stops working after a week. So you decide on which way to go. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Jailbreaking Apple's iOS 5.1.1 proves not to be an easy task, you might run into trouble.

I've owned an iPhone 3G when it came out and after my experience with it, I will be never going to buy any iThing again: waiting for new exploits for jailbreak, waiting for new unlock solutions, for every and each iOS version. On Android it is much more simple, and on Nexus particularly, everything is done using Google's own software (and the unlock, if needed, can be realized through a simple PIN code). But I'm not going to compare these aspects, because it's clear who is the winner here.

The idea is that two days ago I've updated my brother's iPod Touch 4G to the latest iOS version (was running an antique one), promising that I'll jailbreak it again (he run into trouble when he was not allowed to install apps that were designed for newer versions of iOS).

So, I simply updated it without any problems, but afterwards I found myself into a stupid situation. No matter what I was doing, I couldn't jailbreak that iPod. I tried several applications of this kind, knowing they are supposed to work properly and to do untethered jailbreak on iPod Touch 4G. None of them finished their job, Absinthe for example started the jailbreak and seemed to do everything needed, but just after rebooting the iPod, it kept returning an error saying something went wrong. After a couple of reboots while trying to run it in different ways, it started to crash even before starting. I wasn't luckier at all with redsn0w, which sometimes seemed to start doing the jailbreak but crashed at the end (iPod still untouched), while other times it even refused to start the jailbreak. And I tried everything, even in Recovery Mode or in DFU, but with no avail.

The solution came with sn0wbreeze (I really recommend you trying with this one), which basically downloads the iOS version and modifies it, adding everything required for jailbreak (including Cyadia and everything else). By using iTunes (Shift + click on Restore, and selecting the modified iOS), I was able to jailbreak that iPod. Of course, this happened after having to apply something else first because I ran into another problem (failed to restore with an error code), but I fixed that easily with a search on Google.

I'm not here to criticize Apple or the guys who take care of jailbreak solutions, but I'm saying that everything is way too complicated and the only loser here is exactly Apple, because the fact that there are so many jailbreak options (4 at a first sight), translates into the following: there is a high demand for this kind of solutions, and iOS is more vulnerable than ever.

I'm not going to post here any links, but you can easily find everything you need with a search on Google. Good luck if you are trying to jailbreak an iDevice patient. :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Whatever you do with your Galaxy Nexus, just make sure you don't crack the screen glass; or you'll have to pay a lot.

Last week I succeeded in cracking the screen (glass) on my GSM Galaxy Nexus but I really didn't care very much about that when it happened because I was sure I would be able to repair it at a quite decent price, as I knew how much this job usually costs for iPhones. However, I got quite fast to the reality, and everything I was able to find on the internet indicated a price of $170 for this repair alone. OK, don't get me wrong, I am not stressed about this, because the screen is fully functional and I can use it like it is without any problems, but paying that money for just a screen isn't worth at all!

The problem is the following: the glass, which is basically what we touch when we use the screen, is simply fused to the LCD, so they can't be separated, resulting in something stupid. If you need to replace the glass, you have to replace the entire screen, including the LCD, for which you must pay that price ($170).

Of course that you can only buy the glass from eBay, but it is very har to detach the two parts because the screen is fused at an extremely high temperature to the LCD. And all the repair shops refuse to do it, so you can only do it yourself... but the chances of succeeding are very reduced. I wouldn't even try if the touch is still functional and cracks don't bother me, because if you break the LCD, you just paid around $20 for the glass and you'll have to pay another $170 for the entire screen to get the phone functional again. (and no, CDMA screens won't fit correctly of GSM and otherwise).

So, the entire screen is at least $170 (cheapest price) on the internet. The phone is currently available at $350 in the US, which means that the screen is almost a half of that. Much overpriced, in my opinion. Not to mention that the phone shops asked for at least $270 just for the screen, here, in Romania. Comparing it to other phones, it is still overpriced. The same thing for the Galaxy S2 is $130 (but the quality is also lower, so it's obvious it is cheaper). But the same thing costs only $30 for the iPhone 4S, which means Samsung is definitely overpricing things (a lot) but I can't tell why. Yes, you heard me right, the screen (glass + touch + LCD + whatever else is related to the screen): iPhone 4S - $30 vs Galaxy Nexus - $170.

You probably think I'm furious now...but I am not at all. It could happen to anyone. And I would definitely buy the next Nexus (I love these phones), even if it will still be manufactured by Samsung. The only difference will be that if I go somewhere (I was at a restaurant and I dropped the phone with the face down on a brick walkway), I would definitely keep it in a case to protect it. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

How to listen to Pandora radio from anywhere outside the US.

I used to listen a lot to Pandora radio when I was in the US and I really enjoyed it, so obviously that I wanted it back home. But unfortunately, Pandora is available only in the US, because of the licensing problems which streaming in other countries could create. So, basically, if you are not in America, you can't listen to Pandora radio. But this is the official version...

There is a VPN service called Hotspot Shield which creates something like a tunnel between your computer and a gateway provided by Hotspot Shield (that's some sort of the definition of the VPN), which exists exactly in the US. The idea is that through this VPN, you should get a much safer browsing experience, because everything you do on the internet is sent, securely through that tunnel, in the US, so there is impossible for one to attack you and to try to track your data or something like that. For me it is not clear how the data is handled when it exits in the US, so I wouldn't trust Hotspot Shield when I buy something on the internet for example, but this remains at your own judgement.

By using Hotspot Shield, you should be able to access Pandora from wherever you are. I've been using it not very often for the last 1,5 years, but it always did its job.

Of course that using this also has some disadvantages, and they are mainly related to slow internet speeds (because everything has to go to the US and back) and sometimes slow DNS response. However, it is definitely worth being used for the possibility it introduces to all the internet customers, no matter where they are.

Note: I am not responsible for everything that happens to you by using this service. You use it on your own responsibility.

You can go on their website to learn more or try the product:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Send free SMS messages all over the world with (July 2012).

I've just discovered, a website which allows you to send free SMS messages to whoever you want, regardless your position or the position of the person you want to text (with two servers to choose from). It's a simple website, of course with lots of ads (it's a free service after all), but the idea is that I've tested it and it works very good, got the messages within 5 seconds (Vodafone Romania).

The website says that you can also make free calls directly from it, but from what I understood, they are available only if calling the US or Canada, regardless your position. More than this, it also allows you to watch local television channels from your own country, but you must have luck to get it working, so it's not really reliable for this (most televisions are streaming on the internet directly from their websites, which are better streams than the ones provided by this website). is working properly at the time of posting this article (the end of July 2012). Give it a try, maybe you'll like it.

mysms SMS application seems to be very promising, brings many useful features over Whatsapp.

A few days ago I've presented you Whatsapp (here), a great messaging app available for a lot of mobile platforms which gives you the possibility to send free messages over the internet to all the users who have Whatsapp installed on their device. One of the disadvantages of Whatsapp is that you must be on your phone to send the messages, so you can't register on your phone and then send the messages from your computer or anything like that.

However, with mysms SMS application, it becomes possible to send messages from your computer to all of your friends from all the other platforms, using the mobile phone number you register with before. Moreover, mysms comes also as a standard SMS client, having the ability to handle all the SMS functionality of your phone's default SMS application. More specifically, you can send and receive standard SMS messages directly through mysms, without having to open the stock application separately (you'll have the option to send messages via mobile carrier or via mysms, in case your friends have it). I don't know whether this works or not on iOS because of Apple's restrictions, but on Android it works quite well.

One problem which I found is that I can't send messages through mysms from the browser (Chrome), maybe this functionality is currently unavailable, but it's still a great product. At 700 messages a month from my carrier contract, I think that it's still worth using it, considering that I don't even need to access my phone in order to view or send messages. And the ICS/JB design is a big plus over Whatsapp.

Visit the official website for more information, or search directly in App Store/ Google Play for "mysms".

Saturday, July 21, 2012

XXLF1 radio for Galaxy Nexus, OK to install (works good).

Yesterday I installed the latest radio available for my GSM Galaxy Nexus, version XXLF1. It works without any problems, didn't occur any signal drops or anything like that. The WiFi signal seems to be the same, while the GSM signal is significantly improved (HSDPA). It's difficult to notice any battery change, but it seem to be slightly improved (30% at the end of the day).

Please note the the beginning "XX" means that this is a radio only for the European networks, so don't try to install it if you live somewhere outside the Europe. It works very good in Romania, didn't have any issues after installing (Vodafone). Tested on Jelly Bean.

Download from XDA: link (flashable zip, flash in CWM recovery). If the link becomes broken, please report in a comment and I will change it. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Chrome 20 might be the most unreliable browser to use on Ubuntu.

I'm a big fan of Google's products, and of course that this includes Chrome, but Google's lightweight browser is not worth being considered as the best one from all the available ones, at least on Linux. Ubuntu (because that's the OS I use most of the time) comes with Firefox for this: even though it is not as fast as Chrome, it is rocket-stable and fully usable (free of bugs). But Chrome has been having bugs since a long time ago and it has some even now. And what's worse, Chrome 20 "features" more bugs than ever.

First of all, there are huge issues with Flash. Most of the content from YouTube still uses Flash (please note that YouTube is also owned by Google), and one of the most used ways make a video start again is to refresh the page. And I have to do this because I simply can't click on anything that's Flash related, for I-don't-know-what reason. Moreover, Samsung's Chromebook computer, which runs on Chrome (there's nothing else to choose) has the same problems with Flash.

Then, there is the Blogger platform. You can write everything you want (just like I do now), but you can't put a title in the article (note: the article is going to have a title put on Firefox, just because Chrome can't do it for a reason or another). And here we are talking about two Google products. Blogger, a Google product, can't be properly used on Chrome, Google's browser. I am sorry, but this is something incredible, and Google should have taken action long time ago on this subject.

And there are other, not so serious, but still annoying bugs. On 9gag, portions of the bar from the top of the screen spread across the entire screen while scrolling. On YouTube, the same thing happens with the bar located just below the videos. And more that this, while watching something, you can't see what you type when you search for something else (on YouTube), it just displays what was searched before (it still searches, if you write something and tap enter you'll see it will return what you wanted, but it's annoying).

Of course that these aren't the only bugs, but with these I have to deal day by day. My girlfriend complains that she can't enter full screen while watching some TV series on the internet (don't know whether it's Flash or not), but there clearly are some issues Google have to take care about.

I can't simply give up using Chrome because, as I've told, I'm a big fan of Google's products, and I have more computers, so I need sync across all of them (bookmarks and stuff). Owning a Galaxy Nexus is also a strong reason for using Google's products. And I don't even want to give up using them, because they make the life a lot easier (Gmail, Picasa, Drive, Contacts, Calendar, Maps etc), I use them a lot and they help me everyday, but the idea is that some of the bugs really have to be fixed sooner or later.

I don't know if they are present only on Linux, because I rarely use Windows, and when I do it, I don't usually have a lot of time to spend on YouTube, 9gag or such websites. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Some reasons for which to use Whatsapp as your default messaging client.

I've been using Whatsapp messaging client on my phone intensively for about half a year now, and I've been really satisfied with it. Or at least, it's been working perfectly for me until now (Galaxy Nexus on Jelly Bean now), even though there are some who report serious issues with it. For those who did not use it until now, the main idea is that it is a lightweight messaging client which works over the internet (WiFi or mobile network).

I really recommend it because it is very popular (so there should be a lot of users to speak to), uses a very small amount of battery, it is very fast, and uses a ridiculously reduced amount of data. I've sent about 3700 messages since I installed Jelly Bean (very recently) and it used only 1.5 MB, which is really negligible, considering that I have a 750MB data plan and I am a lot of time in areas where WiFi is available free of charge.

But here is the most important feature: based on the mobile phone number, it detects whether the contacts from your address book have Whatsapp installed or not, and it will display those who have it. For this purpose, you'll have to give your phone number when you first run the application. And as you had probably figured out already, you are going to be in tho places, with two different accounts, in the case that you have two phones and you want it installed on both of them. For this reason (the necessity of having a mobile phone number), Whatsapp can't run and was not designed to be used on computers. So no, there's no PC/Mac version, and probably, there will never be one.

Whatsapp is available for the following platforms (click the links for download):

Monday, July 16, 2012

Make S3 ProSavageDDR graphics card work properly on Windows 7.

Over the last few days I've been using my old Fujitsu Siemens notebook, which runs on an old hardware (it is not worth mentioning its specifications). It had Windows XP installed and after a few crashes and a lot of lagginess, I decided installing Windows 7 on it, hoping it would run better afterwards. So the installation went smooth, but I got stuck at what I was afraid of, the drivers. Almost anything worked out-of-the-box, but in a limited way. For the video card, which I want to talk about, Windows 7 used some sort of basic graphics driver, instead of using a dedicated one, which meant very sluggish graphics and improper resolution (had to find the right one by myself).

Basically, S3 (the company who manufactured ProSavageDDR) dropped the support for this graphic card, along with many others, leaving on their website only links from where you can theoretically download the drivers. Theoretically, because the download links are broken, and now (at the time of writing this article), even the webpage is down. But the main problem is that many of the other download links (from other websites) for the driver for ProSavageDDR are down, broken or link to nowhere, so it is quite difficult to find the driver for this graphics card. Moreover, the support has been dropped when the driver was designed for Windows XP or earlier, so there was no driver for Windows Vista or 7 created. 

However, I managed to find the driver on a website (link posted below), and I even successfully installed it on my laptop and it works more than decent. The idea is that you can first try installing it normally (double click that file), or, if that fails, you must install it in compatibility mode: right click the file -> Properties -> Compatibility -> Check the box from "Run this program in compatibility mode for:" and select "Windows XP (Service Pack 2)". Then, just reboot and you should see at Screen resolution the name of your graphics card. If that happens, it means that everything is OK.

Download link: ProSavageDDR driver (Windows XP and 7, confirmed to work).