The Cloud, bye bye hard drive !

24 08 2012

Ok so, for quite some time now there has been a lot of chat about “The Cloud”.

By “The Cloud” we mean Cloud based computing and storage, but this can take many forms, some of which shown below in the image i exquisitely stole from Wikipedia.

Some people practically live on the Cloud, whilst others are sceptical, prefering storage on USB sticks, hard drives etc.

The new Google Chromebook is a great example of Cloud computing. This sits on the border between being a pure cloud client and a laptop. The Chromebook only has a 16GB hard drive. This, still could function as a computer but considering the standard iPhone is 16 GB, it doesnt give much room to play with presuming that some of this internal storage is also used for the Chrome OS data. There are limited offline capabilities but when connected to the internet , you essentially have unlimited storage and capabilities with access to the web store to purchase web apps to use programs such as Word and Excel and taking 8 seconds according to Google to boot up with a pretty instantaneous set up from the box.

There are a lot of Cloud applications floating about now (excuse the pun), with services such as Google Drive and Dropbox aswell as Apple’s iCloud service. I am registered for all of these and each have their own great features. My iPad is backed up to iCloud meaning that if the preverbial hits the fan on my laptop or the iPad, I can simply restore my settings from the cloud. Being an Android geek I also have Titanium Backup linked to my Dropbox and Google Drive account, this means all of my phone backups are stored on the cloud and even if my phone is completely wiped I can restore these apps from thin air!

Cloud applications are incredibly useful and are basically the future of University. The amount of times a student will walk into College or University only to be met with the fear after discovering their USB Stick with all of their work is still at home will be uncountable. Using Dropbox for example, files are uploading to this service at home using a mobile, laptop, iPad etc.. and when you are using any other computer,laptop etc you simply access Dropbox and then have access to your previously uploaded files, meaning files you uploaded at home are on the computer you are using in University with a simple log in to each of the Servers.

Now, getting to the sceptics.
A lot of folk will be sceptical purely due to their lack of control of their files. Of course files can be uploaded, downloaded and deleted at your request, but in the meantime.. What is happening with your files and where abouts are they? The answer to this question is fairly simple.. instead of using your own small DVD Sized Hard-Drive, you are probably using a Corridor filled with massive servers and hard drives in an industrial estate.

Now, although you may think your data may be easily compromised. These establishments are pretty well secured (most of them anyway) and have complete sevurity teams with access documented to the rooms and some of them are even pretty green and environmentally friendly in comparison with these types of centres of old.

Another reason most people seem to be sceptical is the reliability of these sort of services. Facebook rarely goes down, Twitter rarely goes down but it does happen and when it does the whole world knows about it. Although this wouldnt happen much, If it happens on an occasion where your stored data is integral to what you do, you would be pretty much screwed if you don’t have it there and then or when the service resumes crucial files may have became corrupt or deleted.

I sit very uncomfortably on the fence on this matter. I use Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive and probably other services that aren’t at the forefront of my mind. I use these in addition to Solid Storage. I still have many USB sticks, a portable Hard Drive and a laptop with a substantial Hard Drive. These services, as far as I can see compliment each other. Having a plan B is never a bad thing so if you have the time or the resources to implement both I still see this is as the way forward in the near future.





Windows 8 Phone, Next big thing ?

11 08 2012

Apple and Android are completely dominating the Mobile market at the minute with a pretty large proportion of phones running each of their OS.

Their next challenger, with the pretty imminent downfall of Blackberry is Windows in my opinion. This is backed up by figures in most parts of the world. The Nokia Lumia range run the most recent Windows operating system pretty successfully and this has been the most success the range has had in quite some time with most people not considering Windows an option up until now.

Windows 8 is said to be being released around the end of the year with October and November being heard in amongst the whispers. This, you would assume to be after the launch of the IPhone 5 with most sources saying this will be released before October. A disadvantage in my eyes but I suppose it could be an advantage depending on the success of the new flagship Apple device.

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/release-preview

The above shows the new Windows 8 interface. A complete overhaul in comparison with the current Windows 7, and previous Windows OS. This, is more closely related to the most recent Windows 7 phone and operates in a smart-tile UI. This changes as new information is received, with each block acting as a resizable, movable widget, bringing you the most up to date texts, facebook updates and things of this sort.

The above video gives an idea about how this works.

Samsung, Huawei, HTC and Nokia are all confirmed to be making a phone to run Windows 8.

Windows 8 will be NFC compatible and have its own version of Google Wallet and Passbook named Microsoft Wallet ( how creative !?)  and will also run Internet Explorer 10 with the capacity to run numerous core processors and HD quality graphics. The phones will also have expandable storage and a great Maps system, something Nokia as a company have had some considerable success in before now.

Above, again are some images that give an idea of how the UI will look, with some different variations.

Windows 8 Phones are also going to be far more integrated into the Windows 8 OS which will be available for PC’s and Laptops. This will make sharing files and settings far easier and should hopefully make the whole experience far better than previous and rival the current set up of Apple and I tunes.

Phones are also going to be supported for a minimum of 18  months after launch, this will be useful to some Tech geeks who get the phones at their release with the phone being supported for Updates for the vast majority of their contract with this not necessarily being the case with some devices!

Not being an expert on the subject, far more information can be obtained at

http://www.techradar.com/news/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/windows-phone-8-release-date-and-latest-details-1065086

http://windowsteamblog.com/windows_phone/b/windowsphone/archive/2012/06/20/announcing-windows-phone-8.aspx

If you are interested, or just want to learn a little more on what else is out there !!





Chirp iOS App Review

8 08 2012

Chirp is a free app on the iOS store, specifically for iPhone but can also be downloaded for iPod Touch and iPad with no real effect on the user experience.

Its classed as a ‘social networking’ app by iTunes, but isn’t your usual Twitter or Facebook, although it does include integration with both of these services.

This app uses sound to send data from Phone to Phone. I had this set up with 2 iPad’s in my house and used it to send notes, links, pictures etc. When you open up the interface you can choose what your looking to send, the app then changes this information to a sound wave and plays the ‘chirp’ through the devices speaker, the other device picks this noise up via the microphone and translates it back into what it should be, i.e a picture or a note. For the devices to register and translate the chirp, the app its self must be open, so it will not translate chirps if the app is open in the background.

Of course there are numerous advantages as well as disadvantages with this,

This could be used on a large scale e.g played through the speakers at a local supermarket giving shoppers voucher codes or special offers, or it could be used in a room full of people to quickly send and share photos or links with everyone.

On the downside, playing chirps as a way of sending messages in a public place means anyone with the app open can intercept the message and have a nosey into your conversation or steal your images !

This, I see more of an innovative creative kind of new tech. This shouldn’t have holes poked in it due to its lack of security in public places, it should be praised as somebody thinking outside the box and not making another repetitive ‘freemium’ game. This app may be the first of this sort of technology but could become mainstream with numerous applications outside the app world being possible..





Dead Trigger Review IOS Android , Is Piracy killing the industry ?

5 08 2012

Dead Trigger is a first-person shooter for Android and iOS and has recently became Free to download! This is a free to play app, and does not require In-App-Purchases to provide you with a high quality of gaming!

The game follows a character as they try to work their way through a Zombie infested city, shooting as many as possible on the way !

The graphics on this game are massively impressive for a mobile game, both versions on iOS and Android look equally as good, my preference being for iOS on this instance due to seeing it on the larger screen of the I-Pad in comparison with my G-Nex.

The game-play of the game is good, and the main mode doesn’t suffer from as much lag as I would have expected, especially due to the enormity of the maps and the details that are put into each and every aspect of the game, from characters to weapons to scenery.

This game used to be $0.99, not a massive cost, but changed to being free due to the massive amount of piracy mainly on the Android platform, but more recently too on I Tunes. The game is quite lengthy, and even at its older price of $0.99 You would be making a wise purchase as it gives a pretty lengthy campaign and very high quality gaming.

One of the gripes I have is the controls, I don’t see how these can be improved but there are definately some issues. Your left finger controls looking around whilst your right does the walking, coupling this with the shoot button being right above the right analog stick and you have some issues. This same fault also effects games such as Grand Theft Auto, and with the lack of physical buttons on most devices recently, it seems a difficult problem to work around.

The piracy issue may seem great for gamers at first, games becoming free because the developers would rather you play them legally than steal them, but this in fact carries a lot of major issues and worries along with it. Games may become filled with a ridiculous volume of ads or developers may move away from the Android or iOS market completely. This game along was thought to have a 90% piracy rate before the price drop.

Mad Finger boss Marek Rabas explained in a post on Gamezebo”Our main goal is not to make lots of money, we do not want to be the second Disney or sell out the company for millions of dollars. Also, we do not have to please investors each financial quarter with better results on their profit. We just simply enjoy making games.”

Although this supports the view of “oh great we will get more free games”, this statement will not reflect the views of all app-developers and gaming companies.

Since the game is now Free! I’d urge you to atleast give it a go and show a bit of respect for the work of Developers.





Netflix , How to get USA when not in USA !! PC XBox PS3 PS Vita IOS Android

26 07 2012

Having been a member of LoveFilm as opposed to Netflix for a while, this hasn’t been an issue I’ve really came across, but on checking UK Netflix compared to the US, the differences are vast !
The US has a lot more choice, as well as a lot newer programmes than most other services making it an easy choice for such a simple fix. This will also work for other countires such as Canada, as long as the user has a valid Netflix account.

When you register for a Netflix account, you don’t register for a UK account, a US account or any other account.. You register for a universal account, this is why the fix is so easy.
The Netflix website uses your IP address to locate you, then with this information the correct website is displayed for you.

PC
Using a VPN ( virtual private network ) you can easily get access to whatever service you like.
While you are connected to this VPN you take advantage of its IP so if its based in New York, Netflix thinks you are in New York, hence displaying the US Site as opposed to where you really are. The service I use is Spotflux, there are numerous different services you can use to take advantage of different VPN’s but I found this one was pretty simple and is free to use and download at
http://launch.spotflux.com/

Once this is downloaded, you merely open it up and click enable. This will then make your browser connect to the VPN ( this may slow your connection considerably ) Once this is complete go to the Netflix site, sign in and search for your film/show, you will notice there are now more options on many TV Series as well as lots more films.. Taking Breaking Bad for instance, the UK site has up to, and including Season 3 whilst the US has the entirity of Season 4 included on top of this.

From my experience a tip I would give is that once you had chosen what you wanted to watch, once the streaming starts disable Spotflux, this means that your browser will revert back to your normal internet connection and will help the speed and quality of the streaming. Spotflux is a free service, a lot of VPN’s require monthly subscriptions or joining fees. This, may put a lot of sceptics off, thinking it must be free for a reason but it has a lot of positive write ups. As well as giving this benefit for Netflix, it also blocks pop-ups and ads, as well as constantly scanning for Viruses and malware, whilst keeping your IP address secure.

Consoles, XBox, PS3, etc.
For Xbox, PS3 etc ,  if you change your network settings so that your Primary DNS is set to 208.122.23.22 and the Secondary DNS is set to 208.122.23.23 you can access all of Netflix USA’s content. You don’t have to change any router settings, the changes should be made on the console itself. This is useful when using it to watch Netflix, but for gaming id recommend reverting your settings back as this will put you into US servers for games like COD, FIFA, Battlefield etc.

Apple IOS & Android Devices
There are a lot of Apps on these devices that make this really easy, as well as a manual option to input details of a VPN. If you have signed up to a VPN service you can input the details at this point to join your VPN, or as I said, use an App. A lot of the VPN’s are constantly changing at this point so its probably best to google a currently working VPN for the US for IOS and Android devices as these are prone to shutting down with them working great some days and not others.

I hope I’ve helped get a little more for your money if your outside the US !! Feel free to comment on any current Usable US VPN’s as you find them!





Apple iOS 6 Preview ! Nemesis of Jelly Bean

23 07 2012

http://www.apple.com/ios/ios6/

A lot of tech geeks have already had a sneaky peak at iOS 6 with Beta’s making the rounds already!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sqy1doZ8L1M – this video gives a good look at how to get iOS 6 Beta without an Apple Dev account.

With iOS being updated to full new builds less frequently than Android, the list of new features and modifications is pretty substantial and impressive !

If I was to summarise this in one line, It would be, think of part of the current iOS .. Its now better.

As well as obviously being the OS that will run on the new IPhone, due to Apples better handle on the update process, the IPad 2/3 and IPhone 3GS/4/4S  and the 4th Gen IPod Touch will all benefit too.

Siri

Taking this into account first and foremost, the IPad HD/3 is getting Siri !
Siri has also had some major upgrade work, understanding more questions, giving more information and also being incorporated into some cars steering wheels within the next 12 months with Jaguars, Land Rovers, BMWs, Mercedes, Toyotas, Chryslers, Hondas, Audis and GM cars all advising this would be supported.

Facebook Integration

With Twitter already Integrated pretty well into the iOS now its time for Facebook with pretty much the same features being used. This will increase your ability to share different aspects of your phone and also introduces the ability to recommend different apps in the App Store to your friends.

Phone

The most important part of a phone you would think ! This has had an update allowing you to reject calls with set messages, as well as introducing a ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature basically preventing all notifications and phone calls during a set time with the ability to exclude certain people or numbers from this service also.

Maps

A lot has been said recently about the new Maps software with Google also bringing out their own equivalent new version. The new iOS Maps has integrated Sat-Nav as well as traffic information and an incredible looking fly-over map showing a lot of the big cities in stunning fashion.

Passbook

Passbook is an entirely new App/Service entirely for iOS but may remind some of Google Wallet. This essentially is as the name suggests, an app that keeps all of your passes in one place e.g Plane Tickets, Gift Cards, Coupons, Cinema Tickets etc. This, like many features may be location specific originally and may only be featured by specific retailers but it looks like a step in the right direction!

Conclusion

I had to put in a conclusion section so you dont think im still blabbing about Passbook! The list of changes is substantial, and to cover all of these in one blog post would make some pretty lengthy reading. If your looking for any more info I’d recommend checking out the Apple link at the top of the page or http://www.techradar.com/news/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/ios-6-everything-you-need-to-know-1083928 These are both incredible resources with a huge amount of info on the new OS.

With Android now claiming a larger proportion of the mobile market in many countries now, this update could be a major player ! Only time will tell..





Dinosaur War IOS Android Free App Review !

23 07 2012

Dinosaur War is free on Android and IOS

This game involves building up a Village, a Dinosaur army, and using each of these for domination!

I play a lot of these kind of games ! Usually I get a lot of game play out of them before getting the gaps between levels getting too lengthy, becoming bored and losing interest.

Usually the basis of all these games are the same, build a village and troops, whilst using up resources and having to wait a set amount of time for troops and builds to be completed (unless using premium paid for items such as crystals to eliminate the wait)

There are a few differences in this game that have kept me involved for a lot longer than the usual ones. Usually during the wait for resources to recupperate, or to be able to battle again there is little to do in these sorts of games.. effectively most close them down and re-open in 30mins/ an hour/ etc. In Dinosaur War there are a few additional options such as Card games and ‘wheel of fortune’ type activities that can keep you amused during this wait to make it pass a little quicker, which although are fairly small things, they make a massive difference and keep you coming back.

All of these games, as mentioned usually involve premium add ons, either removing the wait for buildings to complete or to buy special items usable in the game. This is the reason a lot of these games are free, with rumoured that the Ouya will probably adopt the same approach with a lot of its games, its obvious to see why this is popular with these premium crystals starting at $1.99 and ranging up to $29.99 . This isn’t as steep as some games with these sorts of items reaching over $100 in some instances.

There are a lot of games similar to this one, possibly not having Dinosaurs as there focal point, but using something else ! This is one of the better ones i’ve played and its been keeping me going for over a week now, definately give it a go if this is your thing, after all.. its free !








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