Showbox App Revisited

header-uiOne of the beauties of the Android environment is that you don’t have to root your phone to use apps deemed illegal by Google. Try that with Apple too and you’ll be booted out faster than greased lightning. So with that in mind, I will like to dedicate this post to all those who are fans of illegal movie downloads, who probably need a daily fix before bed time.

Showbox Hosted on a burnt Wire

Previously, I could not put a link up because, there was no link to Showbox app. But today, it is gone again. It was originally hosted on a Chinese server, showbox.me, but you can get copies of the app from various places. The Aptoid link is still live so  that is one place you must look. There are updates and I suspect that the whole deal about Showbox is that the media files are hosted on a dedicated server farm.

Each time Showbox goes online with an app download, it gets snuffed out like a burnt wire. Compared to Popcorn time, which is hosted in Europe, it has no server location since the media files are hosted by users as opposed to a centralized location for Showbox. The app has no assets whereas for Showbox, the assets are hosted on a physical server in Russia.

[update April 2015: You can download showbox Android app from here. But please ensure you have a malware protector to check the APK as the source of this app does not have an official source. Previous versions required very little permissions but this ones takes a lot more.]

What’s the Difference Between Popcorn Time and Showbox?

Plenty.Just so you know, I have made the distinction here.

Popcorn Time

Popcorn time is a torrent application. What it does is that it seeks out movie streams on torrent links and downloads them into the app. Popcorntime is available on desktops as well as mobile. But the downside of Popcorn time is very evident from the moment you hit the download to watch button. It just won’t stream instantly. It has to build up a buffer or download the entire movie first. The instant streaming fix you need is impossible. The app does not allow you download the files to your device either. For this, you need a dedicated torrent downloader.

If you see a torrent link, make sure you blast it!

If you see a torrent link, make sure you blast it!

Lastly, the movie selection is limited. You can only find the latest and most popular movies on torrent. Anything older than your dog would be a difficult find. One of the advantages of torrent files is that it can pick out a desire subtitle option.

Showbox

Instant gratification as long as you have a fast internet connection. The system protects itself from leeching by allowing only one download or streaming activity at a time. So the speed is consistent. The download option is fabulous. You can download the entire movie file in low, medium or high quality. High in this case often means up to 1020p. What I love about Showbox is its simple interface. You can have all your files downloaded to watch later.

Showbox link is live? Wow that is cool!

Showbox link is live? Wow that is cool!

The choice of movies grows by the day and yes, it even supports TV series. So if you are looking for the latest season of Anthony Bourdain’s  Parts Unknown, you will find it here. Showbox also has a distinction for having the latest movies as well as favorites from 2 decades ago. They have some older movies from the 50s and 60s as well but these titles are limited.

VK the missing Movie Streaming Link

8807

Vladimir Putin may have something to do with VK social network site but one thing is for sure, you can get plenty of the latest blockbusters for free as Russia does not recognize the DMCA take down. The best kept secret on the Internet is actually Vkontake or VK.com. Once you join, you can stream almost any movie known on the planet. I was asked to find a torrent on “To Kill a Mockingbird” and could not locate one until I searched on VK.com.

VK.com has a mobile app that allows you stream movies online, and yes, there is even porn if you know where to look. Thanks to this, VK has gotten a lot of flak from movie producers and studios but it is the best kept secret in town if you want to watch just about anything. What’s more, music can be streamed for free! Fuck yea! No more Spotify subscriptions to pay! Just add that into a playlist and you’re good to go.

VK.com is a social network and works in a similar way as Facebook except for the free music and movies you get to stream. There are even third party video downloaders which will rip the videos directly to your PC if you want to keep a copy. VK app is available on IOS, so for iPhone and iPad users, this is your only choice to enjoy streaming movies.

VK comes highly recommended for both Android and iOS. Not sure if is available on Blackberry or Windows Mobile but if it is, you better start using it.

Advertisements

Viddy To Shut Down in December

viddy

 

Sad but true, Viddy is shutting down come December as they come to terms with their failure to gain traction.

So how did this happen? Apparently they walked away from a US$100 million offer from Twitter in 2013 and things turned from bad to worst when their CEO was fired because of this.

Since then, the slide in its 30 million users has decimated its popularity.

For us at least, it’s the end of another great app for both iOS and Android. I think Viddy had a lot of promise and since it has been acquired by Fullscreen, a company that in the video advert business, things might turn around.

So What Else is there for Video?

Besides Instagram and Vine, the two heavy weights of the instant video industry, you still have Vimeo and YouTube.

Vine clone, Lightt is still around too, though its similarities to Vine might not get them noticed. What makes an app unique is the UX and the social connection. If you get to break those barriers, then people will use your app in social network post.

Western tech firms don’t innovate enough. They fail to understand that being a clone of something else like Vine or for that matter Instagram isn’t going gain them much followers. There are just too many of the same thing going on.

Innovate or Die

Meipai

One of the video apps that have come out of China that would have easily thrashed the living daylights off the likes of Viddy and Lightt would be MeiPai, a video app from Xiamen Meitu Technology, an Internet Network company in China. They have broke new ground with a different model which makes the app easy to use while creating instant music videos based on templates you choose.

screen568x568-35

It has a nice touch but unfortunately it lacks global appeal. Content is mostly from China and even though there are some from outside of it, it’s predominantly Chinese. Menu and navigation is still in Chinese but an English version might be coming soon from the looks of the screen snapshot seen here.

Monetization is via MV templates where you can buy in-app. This one touch Music Video App is very easy to use. Take a clip of 15 seconds, choose your MV template and music. Everything is  done for you. It has fewer steps in content creation than Kanvas app, another video content creation app that has some cool features but available only on iOS.

http://www.meipai.com/media/168566529

Kanvas App recently had their music feature pulled out from under them. They have for some time been using iTunes’ own music snippets as a way for people to add music to their videos. Naturally the music owners took a swipe at them, taking this feature down along the way.

MeiPai app gets away with this as it has created a list of free and royalty free music for you to use— sort of like what Google has done with Internet Web Fonts. It may not come from a brand name source but it sure feels and looks like it.

This is one app model that I want to see duplicated and it remains to be seen if someone out there has the right eye to see this potential.

 

Apple creeps up on the Galaxy Note

iphone-family

Steve jobs was adamant. Before he died, he had said that no one would buy a bigger screen smart phone. But before he passed on, he was involved in two contradictory products, a bigger iPhone and a smaller iPad. He never lived to see that come to fruition. His padawan underling, Tim Cook, broke ranks and made the iPhone bigger, so much bigger that Steve would be tossing in his grave if he ever found out.

Needless to say, the new iPhone 6 Plus will be a hit for those who were waiting for more. The new iPhones will make billions for Apple and the chief reason is this. The iPhone is no longer a consumer product. It is a fashion statement. Take a look at the prices below for the new iPhones without contract and you’ll get what I mean. All prices are quoted is USD.

  • iPhone 6 (16GB): $649
  • iPhone 6 (64GB): $749
  • iPhone 6 (128GB): $849
  • iPhone 6 Plus (16GB): $749
  • iPhone 6 Plus (64GB): $849
  • iPhone 6 Plus (128GB): $949

Price Factor for Success

Let’s examine what you get from it all. Chief among them is the fingerprint scanner, Health Kit integration, Apple Pay and OIS camera stabilisation either digital or optical for the new iPhones. The camera stays the same, some may be disappointed by this but truth be told, Apple fan boys will buy into this regardless. Mobile photographers will no doubt be disappointed as the flock in droves to Nokia’s 1020 64GB shooter which offers the purest photography experience. Mobile Videographers on the other hand have already defected to Samsung Galaxy Note 4 thanks in part to its 4K video capture. Artist who like to draw in freehand have already doubled down on the Galaxy Note, so that leaves the rest of you out there sitting on the fence, undecided.

camstuff

Chart is from Android Authority

There is no mention of RAM by Apple during the launch, which of course is a good thing for Apple because you won’t know when it fails and run out of memory so you end up blaming the app developers instead for creating something buggy. Apple will be blameless for this, even though they set the highest parameters for apps that go through their store, the onus is on you when you download and run them.

Battery life will vary, and is said to be between 20 to 30 percent for the 6 and 6 Plus models over the older 5S model. This doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be wall hugging from time to time. The main problem as always the display. Bigger screens need more power.

Going Big Against the Galaxy Note 4

Presently, there is no comparison. The IPS displays from Apple cannot match the pixel resolution of the Galaxy Note 4 and it shows. To think that this is going to change the game would be a mistake. Apple’s 5.5 inch screen is rated average and is nothing to shout about.

aad9s-poa

Chart from Android Authority

In terms of display real estate. The Galaxy Note’s 5.7 inch might be a tad too big, while the 5.5 inch screen is more ideal as it is still pocketable for the bigger folks. To be honest, screen density is subjective. If you suffer from any vision problems, no amount of pixel is going save you. The only benefit is of course the large text that appears on screen, which is a boon to the old.

Screen density is most noticeable in movie playback. The details on the screen will be sheer joy to your eyes.

Why the Apple iPhone will be a success

The majority of us are only looking for a device that meets our requirement and sometimes a bigger screen will just do it. Apple lost a huge market to Android because of this and technically speaking, there is no real advantage between both the platforms. You have all your productivity software given to you free to meet all your office requirement. Facebook app works out of the box for both, and so does Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, Foursquares, and Twitter.

Beyond this, it’s just your learning curve. Trusted that Apple’s iPhone is designed to be more fool proof than fool hardy, those who have been dissatisfied with the complexities of the Android platform can now safely move back to the iOS sphere where it is no longer saddled with a smaller display screen.

For the rest of us who have migrated over to Android, there is no real reason to go back. And that’s the way it will always be.

Time to say Goodbye to the 3.5mm Audio Jack

lady-gaga-p-diddy-beats-dr-dre-headphones-2

Recent announcements by both Apple for it’s iOS8 and Google’s Android 5.0 hints clearly at the possible demise of the humble 3.5mm audio jack and that’s troubling

Both operating systems feature a new API that allows for audio to be passed through digitally thereby bypassing the Digital to Analog Converter (DAC)  found on current handsets. The reason? Better sound quality they say.

This might sound like an audiophile’s dream but trust me, it’s not good news for you and me. First let me clarify that I am very fond of the 3.5mm audio jack. Back in the days of the Sony Walkman craze, I have found that the jack delivers and depending on how your file was digitally encoded, it was nothing short of marvelous.

SONY DSC

I had for a brief period flirted with the MiniDisc system from Sony and loved it. The ATRACC encoding was nothing short of excellent and it delivered the quality I expected from the humble 3.5mm audio jack—the quality is far better than the highest MP3 encoding found today.

To say that smartphones can do better by going all digital with a digital output is nothing short of a political travesty.

Android’s USB Audio

Google announced the USB Audio API for handset makers to dabble in and in doing so, has opened up a can of worms. I remember once I had a Sony Ericsson P1i and it didn’t have a dedicated 3.5mm stereo jack. Instead, what they gave you was a proprietary adapter and with it an external cable that housed the 3.5mm jack socket. It was a nuisance to use, fell out when you least expected it and flimsy in construction.

LL

Here, I am reminded of this same possibility, that people from Samsung, HTC to Motorola will start to implement their own proprietary socket to get you to buy into their digital audio accessories.  Digital files, especially those MP3 files aren’t necessarily better in quality. You could have FLAC based files which are excellent for audiophile use but take up a warehouse of storage. Handsets are not made to handle audiophile quality digital files so it will not satisfy the purist.

Audio accessories that plays digital music must have a built-in DAC. The DAC has to convert incoming music data  before you hear anything that remotely sounds like music. This also means that headsets would  need to have their own power source to drive the DAC process. Siphoning power from a cable plugged to your smart device could work but this will affect your battery life, which at best is just enough for a 12 hour day.

And because the audio data is totally digital, your headphone or audio device must provide for the DAC process. So speakers which worked on the traditional analogue audio input will be made obsolete. That Altec Lansing speaker system you got for last Christmas is now a massive door stopper. We have all seen how that happened when audio devices which pandered to the iOS socket of old were beaten out with a new lightning connector. The same is going to happen once the 3.5mm audio jack is tossed out with the bath water.

March with the Beat

Well know you know why Apple bought out BEATS audio for a song. It’s not just for the streaming music service alone but for the hardware technology behind it. Beats headphones (yes those all too popular headgear worn by sports stars) has its own power source in the form of a battery to give you those great sounding bass beats. These headphones can be transformed to carry and process digital signals without relying on the iPhone or iPad for power.

Beats-Apple

Lightning connectors used on Apple’s iOS devices will be the future digital audio source and by saving on the DAC chipset, Apple has effectively made it impossible for you to downgrade to analog earphones or headphones.

Why Digital will be more Expensive

It is an ecosystem that is suppose to bind you in, and not let you out. Analog in this case is an open system, digital however makes more money. Apple can license the lightning connectors to third parties and make a killing from it. You as a user would have to buy only those products that interfaces with your iOS device. Apple hopes to enslave you with their paper thin logic for better sound as long as you ante up to a digital listening apparatus.

Google’s USB Audio API also does the same thing but Google themselves are not in the accessories business. Instead, they have given out a blank cheque to handset manufacturers to create their own audio ecosystem.

I want to be using my favorite headphones for many years to come but with such a possibility looming on the horizon, your headphones could be toss onto a dung heap at your next hardware upgrade.

The only other way to interface your old world analog audio device is to get an external DAC unit that pushes analog signals thru a 3.5mm headphone jack…but why in the world would I do that? This would mean carrying another accessory just to listen to music. Sounds like a bummer doesn’t it?

Handsets will continue to have a DAC but you may not access it

As much as handset manufacturers would want it, it is virtually impossible to remove the use of a DAC in the first place. Games, movie playback and streaming audio data has to be processed and output via a device speakers. The initial fear here is that the DAC will coexist with your device but there is no way to output analog sound via a 3.5mm jack. This rather inconvenient way will mean that you have no other choice but to ante up on a digital accessories or a Bluetooth speaker that works wirelessly. Now that’s a scary thought if I may add.

 

 

 

KitKat Update: Freeing up Storage on Galaxy Note 2 for Noobs

2014-05-25-12-08-37

This is an exasperated post for those thinking of upgrading your Galaxy Note 2 to KitKat with the official Samsung update. As some of you may have been forced to notice, Samsung GN2 on Jelly Bean is a mouthful. There are many bloatware apps from Samsung to get you to buy books, movies, apps while coercing you to use their  ChatON app. I had two choices, that is to kill off the system with a Cyanogen Mod technique while risking some app incompatibility or use the official Samsung KitKat with all their customized nonsense thrown in. I decided on the latter since reselling an old device would be made easier if it had stock a standard operating system.

First, let’s examine the GN2 with KitKat. It was supposed to be spiffy but a warning came up on my device telling me that I have roughly 1.9 GB of internal storage all a sudden after completing the installation process….so I said…WTF??

 

2014-05-25-10-51-36

I have  16GB internal storage of which the new KitKat occupies 5.54GB! Yes, I know. Koreans are not known to be fat but this is seriously super sized. Compare it with Apple’s own iOS7, I think system use is kept at a minimum at 3.1 GB of storage which is a good thing considering the antiquated features it has, iOS 7 keeps humming.

Now Bloatware from Samsung is not new. Samsung has a host of services like Samsung Hub, Samsung Appstore, Samsung Print Services, in-app Services, ChatOn and a host of other stuff which you don’t use like Music and Movies. What I hate about it is that the Samsung Appstore doesn’t quite function as well as it should. Some of the apps point right back to the Google Playstore and though Samsung Appstore does have some gems, like the Moleskine App for GN series that is full featured app not found on the Playstore. However I don’t use that much often. The inbuilt stylus type apps was more than enough for me.

Spring Cleaning is a Chore

Spring cleaning. Think of it as a memory game and you’ll have some fun while doing it. The first thing you should know is that you CANNOT touch the system memory. This stuff is reserved for running KitKat.

2014-05-25-13-08-34

STEP ONE:

Go to your Settings>MORE>Storage and start cleaning out those files! Remove Apps you don’t use!

STEP TWO:

Proceed to USED SPACE. Click and Clean up the Applications list. Take a long hard look at the Apps you don’t need, don’t use or have downloaded but forgotten about.

2014-05-25-12-58-22

STEP THREE:

Go next to INTERNET DOWNLOADS and select OTHER DOWNLOADS. Here are all the APK files you have downloaded but not removed after installing. You can also find files like forgotten PDFs on those “How To” moments, as well as songs and porn images you have downloaded that you have no idea that you were responsible for. Snuff out those you don’t want.

2014-05-25-11-02-07

STEP FOUR:

Go back to Storage settings and now purge Cached Data. Those data which are not needed will be cleaned out while essential data will be kept to a minimum.

2014-05-25-11-01-35

 STEP FIVE:

Under Storage you will find Miscellaneous Files, here you will find a lot of folders for apps you have deleted. Remove the ones not in use.

FlashAnnotate

 STEP SIX

Lastly, go to Settings>More> Application Manager and Uninstall all updates for Samsung type apps like Samsung Apps, Chat On, Chrome, Game Hub and Samsung Link. Once you are done uninstalling, make sure your turn it OFF as the same time! I recommend kicking out all the Samsung related apps as long as you don’t use them. However if you have bought into the Samsung eco-system, well. I can’t help you. 

As much as I like Google’s Chrome as the browser of choice, it is still very buggy. It can’t handle WebGL very well and that was what I needed so I took it out and made it dormant. What’s more, when you have browsers such as Firefox and Opera, it makes very little sense to use Google’s chrome.

Total Space Saved?

I manage to claw back about 1.1 GB of space from so from my cleaning alone, I now have 3.14 GB of free space. It still is very small compared to what I have but the problem of resolving the storage issue has come a long way.

RAM versus Internal Storage versus External Storage

One of the consistent problems with Google is that since its transition to Jelly Bean, apps must reside in Internal Storage with a RAM footprint for it to remain active for alerts and notifications. External storage is only used for storing images, music and video. So for this, you have to take note of the following:-

  • Camera settings should be set to “save to” external storage

  • Video settings on any third-party app should be set to “save to” external storage

  • Move eBook files that may reside on your Internal Storage to External Storage using a File Manager

  • Clean your download folder on your internal storage using a File Manager regularly if you happen to love downloading files such as PDFs, music or images.

Internal Storage is used to store all the important files needed to run apps. As many Android apps are getting bigger (namely games and freemium content) much of these new files have to reside within Internal Storage to work. This leaves your External Storage completely free for you to load up on your music, movies and ebook files. When you run out of Internal Storage, you can’t install any more apps. In Android, Google has enabled a low memory task killer for RAM usage but that doesn’t mean you should not close your apps once you stop using them.

Apple iOS doesn’t have this problem as all storage is taken as one big chuck of real estate. It does however have a RAM problem as apps competing for that miserly RAM space don’t have enough of it to run smoothly— like a real estate boom where too many people move into a building and not having enough space to move around.

Android has its own kinks. That said, I don’t have a problem with it as I know what I can do with the given space and where to store the miscellaneous media files without hogging on the limited internal storage. This is why I would suggest that if you are getting your next device, ensure that your Internal Storage is at least 32GB if you love downloading new apps to test.

Finally, external storage has also been sealed up to make third apps more accountable for its files. This means that any app without the proper permissions cannot download files to be stored on the SD or microSD card. This could be a hassle for some who use cloud storage to download file to their own devices but there should be a work around to this soon. Apps must have  external storage access permissions before doing so and at the same time, creating their own folders within external storage. To bypass this block, at least for now, is to root your device and use the SDfix app found on the Playstore to restore previous privileges.

 

Wireless for Sound: Stream Music to your Device

eddy

Of late, there has been loads of interest in streaming music to both iOS and Android devices. It has suddenly become a hot new area of interest to the point that even Twitter jumped into the bandwagon, fell off it and wants to get back right in with a new music discovery app.

Why is music streaming so hot now? Well you don’t have to look far to realize that people want content and they are not going to pay for it.

Pop songs are a dime a dozen these days. People don’t care much in terms of music copyright as they have taken the liberty to rewrite the definition into something that sounds like “a right to copy”. If the music you hear on radio is hot, what makes you think that you are going to like it after listening to it fifty times? And once you get tired of the song, you’d be wondering why in the world did you pay for it since all you got was a a download and not a physical object that contained the music that you could eBay one day. In short, a music download is vaporware.

How Music Streams Works

Musicians, journalist and photographers who worked on the traditional career model can count themselves as casualties of the Internet age. Album sales and single sales don’t make much sense now. Record companies have traditionally used single sales as a way to promote an album but these days, you may as well give away that single in the hope someone will buy the album.

Musicians in particular have it hard. Gone are the days where music artist could rake in 20 to 50 million album sales globally. They would count themselves to be extremely lucky to get a million album downloads—which you would should be so lucky to cash in that check to pay your gas bill once the Record company takes its cut of the revenue. So for this alone, it’s best for music companies  to strike while it is hot. Get the music out there, carpet bomb the music streaming services, and get the artist to work his or her ass off at Live concerts just to earn the dough.

This is why music streaming is hot. You get to listen to almost ANY up and coming artist on Streaming audio. Music stations, both free to air and Internet based, are a dime a dozen too. Don’t like the voice of the DJ? Flip the switch on the Internet and you can be listening to a station playing live in Iceland.

All you need is a fast Wifi connection in the office to enjoy this. On mobile, you need to have unlimited data (without those artificial fair use policy caps). Streaming music is best at 128kbps, any will affect the music quality. Oh yea, and a paid subscription. That’s the only way to do the offline listening on your mobile device.

Let’s Start with GrooveShark

Available as an app on Android and some say iOS. Grooveshark has been in and out of the iTunes store in many guises to the point that it is officially denied entry by Apple in 2012. It has since been booted out to Cydia, where it thrives today.

Google also booted Grooveshark out of the playstore. Many still skin the HTML5 web login as an app. Just do a search and you’d find many imitations but Grooveshark is cool enough to let that happen.

th-1

Officially, Grooveshark wants you to access its service via your mobile app browser where the HTMC5 version resides. So it’s no big deal here. What I like about this service is that you care able to search for any songs you like and play them on your device. Look under the broadcast list for radio stations to listen to, the list isn’t that long and the choices may be limited. You can broadcast your own list of songs to the world and though you can voice over them like a DJ, you could gain followers who admire your music taste.

Spotify is Not as Groovy

These blokes want your money. Enough said. They give you a few days to test the service then demand a subscription payment. Which is fine if you like their service. After the trial period, they will not allow you to play randomly selected songs from their store house of music. You can select an artist and play the whole album. Add songs to a playlist you create and enjoy that later…which is another way around their restrictions.

rtaImage

Spotify has an offline mode which allows you to listen to songs within a playlist once you become a premium subscriber. This will consume lots of storage so please mindful about your storage capacity. BTW, Spotify is owned by the music companies so in that sense they want your money real quick. It cost US$10 a month for this service should you ever think of going premium.

Rdio sounds Awesome

Operates in the same way as Spotify. Choose your music, set your playlist and play away. The desktop version is lovely. The mobile app? Well, you need to get a paid subscription to listen in offline mode.

rdioI like Rdio better for some reason, maybe because their trial period is far longer than the nonsense Spotify sells you. You also pay less than what Spotify charges, with US$5 a month for the service for mobile and web use.

SoundCloud is for Musicians

Free to play and use, this is an artist haven, at least for those starting out in the music business. You give people a listen to your latest mix and get feedback. It’s not a streaming service as is but there is a large crowd out there who upload (yes, you can upload music directly to your account) copyrighted music. Any playlist you make can be made public, which is great if you want to gain followers of your taste in music.

soundcloud-mobile_616

Since this was made for musicians, only bands and singers (DJs too) are the target audience. Soundcloud PRO charges users US$6 a month to upload 4 hours of music. Free service only allows for 2 hours max.

The amount of copyrighted music uploaded here is unbelievable. I mean, if you don’t care too much for offline listening, this is the place to start. There are unique mixes to all the pop music your hear and hey, you can get started with a DJ mix if you want to.

The Rest of the Pack

Pandora, Beats Music App, Last.fm all do the same thing in varying degrees. The problem is which of these suits you best in terms of your pocket money. In the past, that’s in my time at least, we all budgeted money to enjoy music. Every month, we would spend 15 to 50 dollars on buying albums on CDs or Vinyl. But this is no longer the case with the Internet. The free music you get on the Internet just didn’t make it sound anymore.

Among the services you find online, the  oldest is Pandora, which has been around since 2000.

Beats-Launches-Music-Streaming-Service

Pandora is facing a slew of copyrighted music problems so that said, the playlist is going to be limited. The newest kid on the block is Beats Music, which unfortunately only exist for the US market only for now.

Free music is here to stay. Just like those professionally shot photos being passed around the Internet like a cheap whore, it just doesn’t make sense to buy music anymore. So if you want to make it a fair to the music companies, why not use a streaming service?

To take the best option, get the Mobile Streaming App, buy a monthly subscription for a service and listen offline till you can listen no more. By then, there would be fresh music on the scene to refresh that playlist. At least by doing this, you are making it worthwhile for your fave bands and singers to keep doing what they do.

 

 

 

 

 

Movies on Android: Showbox Option

Hulu-App-Coming-to-iPad-Subscription-Planned-Unconfirmed-2Content is king so they say and for some sinister reason, you can’t get all the content you want unless you do this illegally. This has been the case for fan of TV series and Movies from the US as you can’t buy anything legally unless its on a DVD. The iTunes store and Google Play store is no different. The latest stuff on TV never makes it here. Movies do of course provided you have a Playtstore or Appstore account.

screen480x480

Where I live, I have Google hasn’t yet given me the freedom to buy TV programs or Movies. Bummer. Instead, Google themselves expects you to consume movies by ripping your own DVD, which is a pain of course. I am not going to tackle the question of copyright. That’s a minefield as leasing to own a copy versus owning a copy is two different things. Hollywood prefers the leasing model. You don’t own the movie when you buy it offline.

The question of copyright and a right to copy is as old as prostitution itself. If you have seen a movie, does it mean it is against the law to keep a copy? After all, what is this about the rental and ownership thing? Just coz you bought a legal DVD of the movie, doesn’t mean you can’t rip it and load it onto your device. The question goes on and on.

Chinese Connection

China for some reason, streams movies via the Internet to some of its mobile app like Sohu, LeTV and PPTV. Problem is, some of the streams are blocked but some Hollywood, China, Taiwan and HK movies are available.

HJoA5L_k7vfwplo_DnKR0PmU96TDngygkqKkJKDUrMI_LMW-985uy0SkaeCba-FC-Iuf=h900

The next problem is, it is all in Chinese. The navigation and titles are all in Chinese but that should not stop you from browsing content as there are thumbnails of the moves on display. These apps are totally legit, and I have not heard of anyone trying to take them down.

Getting Hulu or Going for Netflix

I have explored this on a previous post on VPN, and you can of course spoof your IP address just to watch the latest TV shows on Hulu or Netflix. There are apps that do this but with limited bandwidth. I streamed a program called BBC Top Gear and the 45 min took up roughly 400MB of data. You need to download the BBC TV streaming app to do this.  So if you are addicted to the latest Sherlock Holmes series, you are better off with a VPN subscription to spoof you location and watch all the content you want till the cows come home. Or if you wish, you could also install a little known plug-in for Firefox and Chrome browsers called “proxmate”. It helps to spoof your IP and lets you consume all the TV and Movies you want on Hulu, HBO or Netflix (some may need a paid subscription)

UPDATE: 30 April. 2014 Hulu has actively blocked VPS. Viewers from overseas cannot use a VPN to watch movies.

Russian Movie Connection

I am not allowed to tell you where but you can drop by to showbox.me to find out where to get this app. I must say that it rocks. It is the best streaming movie/TV app found on the Internet and it is free. I first discovered this app on the Playstore and since then it was yanked out of the list. I remained faithful so I downloaded it again later whenever it got updated.

Screenshot_2013-11-28-03-09-17

The Russians have no use for Hollywood and they have made this app just to get Hollywood all riled up. I must say they are doing a damn good job because I found the app to be formidable vitriol as several DMCA orders were sent to get them to take it down. So they did. But that doesn’t mean you can install in on your Android.

Within the app, you’ll find a treasure trove of all the latest TV shows from Hollywood. I watched the whole season of Sleepy Hallow while taking a peek at Breaking Bad. The site allows you to stream directly to your device or store the file for watching later. Due to bandwidth limitation, each login is only allowed one slot for either downloading or streaming.

Make Sure you have a Malware Scanner

As with all apps installed via an independent source, make sure you have a malware scanner in place before you do so. The reason is simple. Every APK can be taken apart and reassembled without you ever knowing loaded with malware code.

Aside from this, you should be quite safe. ShowBox is an app that thrives on advertising. So if you happen to like the app, all you have to do is click the link.

Apple iOS users will be the biggest losers as the only way to get illegal apps onto a device is to jailbreak the device. But there is an option, that is to get a proxy server in China and install the Sohu, PPTV Chinese apps from the Appstore.

Morally, what you are doing is wrong as you are depriving the movie and TV moguls from making money from your TV station or movie cineplex however if censorship is your main problem from where you are living, then be prepared to be blown away with this app. It simply rocks.

VPN: Do you really need it?

InternetAccessVPN_thumbVirtual Private Network or VPNs have been around for ages. During the dawn of the Internet, VPNs were the only way to access the Internet for countries that didn’t have such a service. You paid a subscription and dialed in to a local number to get Internet access.

These days, it is much simpler. You can subscribe to a VPN and use the given IP address to log in.

3

Why VPN?

Since the Snowden affair, some parties are getting very anxious that maybe some of their emails have been compromised, these bunch of folks include lawyers, politicians, arms dealers, bankers, stock traders, drug dealers, money launderers, pedophiles  and pretty much everyone else in the world who have something to hide.

If you happen to fall into one of the said categories, please read on. For everyone else, you can skip this post and wait for the next.

Not all VPN will Protect You

A VPN may help you get around unnoticed but I am sure the NSA has a back door to accessing your stuff even if you tried to hide it. That’s because FISA can subpoena an Internet host to surrender any emails or messages as long as the server is located on US soil. VPN services based out of the US need not obey this court order so you’d be better off with a Malaysian VPN.

VPN on Mobile

Of late, there is interest on how secure your communications is with the outside world on a mobile device. 8

Personally, I think that VPNs are good only for corporate use. It is a savvy way to monitor the online presence of staff members to ensure they are using a secure channel to communicate with the world. This is relatively easy to set up, and even if you don’t belong to the shader side of world economy, you could still use a VPN by subscribing to a service.

Hotspot-Shield-iOS-Review

VPNs are available for iOS and Android via the settings tab so be sure to look out for them.

VPNs for other Naughty Things

Yea, I am aware that some of you are browsing location specific content from the US or UK. That said, you need a VPN or Proxy Server to give the impression that you are from the same locality.

There are a few ways of doing this which I will narrow down to two.

  • Use a Proxy Server Setting that Spoofs any location login
  • Use a VPN to spoof a location Login

It works for the Google Playstore but you have to remove your SIM card as that is tracked by Google. You cannot buy apps from the specific country store unless you have authorized payment for that country.

To spoof your IP location just to watch movies, well it’s easier. I have done this successfully with TunnelBear VPN, which is really neat to use.

original

Say you have Hulu or Google Play on your device and you need to spoof the IP from legit location. You can fire up Tunnelbear to give you a fake login location in the US or UK and stream your media to your Android device.

Tunnelbear is free for the first 500MB and gives you a further 500MB if you tweet about them. Beyond that, you need to get a subscription. Hotspot Shield is another service you could try. So far, I have not had the time to test them all but I can assure you they work as I have streamed TV programs from the US through Hulu on desktop. The mobile version shouldn’t be any more complicated. You will need to pay to subscribe to the service after the trial runs out.

How Secure is Secure?

There are four different VPN platforms, the most popular for mobile use is Open Connect, which offers point to point protection of data. You need to connect to a compatible network to secure any communication channel. There are three other VPN platforms to choose from so knock yourself out if you don’t think Open Connect is for you.

openconnect

If you want secure, look for the encryption level. 256-bit is the best foot forward.

Encryption Technology  Summary (Geek Porn)

With the NSA prowling the Net for juicy bits of data, people have been asking how does the NSA beat the encryption technology used today. Well, apparently they know it takes far too much computation power so they decided to use a back door by forcing ISPs to surrender their data instead. For trivia, here’s what I found out.

A 128-bit key cypher would require 3.4 x1038 operations to reliably break.
In 2011 the fastest supercomputer in the word (the Fujitsu K computer located in Kobe, Japan) was capable of an Rmax peak speed of 10.51 petaflops. Based on this figure, it would take Fujitsu K 1.02 x 1018 (around 1 billion) years to crack a 128-bit AES key by force.
In 2013 the most powerful supercomputer in the world is the NUDT Tianhe-2 in Guangzhou, China. Almost 3 times as fast as the Fujitsu K at 33.86 petaflops, it would ‘only’ take it around a third of a billion years to crack a 128-bit AES key. That’s still a long time, and is the figure for breaking just one key.
A 256-bit key would require 2128 times more computational power to break than a 128-bit one as 265-bits is roughly equal to the number of atoms in the universe!

VPN for Facebook in China

This is bound to crop up. Facebook is banned so you want to find out which service to use while in China to post? Unfortunately, Tunnelbear and Hotspot Shield is blocked in China, so no point trying.

The Chinese authorities are constantly looking for new VPNs to block and the free ones are the first on their list. There are two VPN services that offer this service but at no time would there be a guarantee that it won’t be blocked by the time you read this. So I am not giving any links here for good measure.

It would be easier if Facebook sold to China and that would solve the problem for good. Right now subscriptions to VPNs cost between US$10 to US$20 a month. Now if you are willing to pay that much just to access Facebook in China then you have a very serious social media addiction. I’d save that money for some social  therapy instead of having to ante up on a VPN.

Let’s Try Tor!

No, it’s not about summoning an old Norse God with a Sledgehammer to unblock an IP but rather rout your data to secure Tor channels that exist in China. Tor uses a bridging system to connect data to the outside world and for the system to work, you need to root your device. There are several Tor apps on the Playstore but you need to root your Android device for it to work.

tor_in_chinaTor is very slow. It bounces data all over to confuse the ‘enemy’ and if you are ever thinking of streaming TV shows and movies illegally, you better forget it. Edward Snowden uses this all the time to get around data detection by the NSA. So if you happen to wear the same shoes, well this could be an option for you.

iOS versus Android: Christmas Shopping List

themerapp-hud

Truth be told, I have never given up on my past times, some of which can only be found on iOS. For the most part, Android for me is more of a productivity tool. It connects and entertains but it has its weaknesses. In the coming Christmas season, you’d be wondering which platform you should get onto. Eric Schmidt of Google may have penned out this thoughts on how an iPhone user should switch to Android but technically speaking, that’s like ignoring the real issue at hand, that is…you gotta have some pretty good software to cater to different folks. Here’s a run down on what you should be buying this Christmas based on the strength of the apps found on both platforms.

Music Making

Hands down. iOS wins. Garageband in particular is fab, so are those DJ mixing apps and drumming, loop and any music generating apps. Best to get an iPad to do that. The iPhone is far too small to use as a music productivity tool. The iPad be it the mini, or the Air will be the darling of the music industry this Christmas. Android plain suxs on this. There is nothing on the playstore that can even come close to Garageband, let alone exceed it.

Garageband-iOS-iPad

Games

Again, hands down, iOS wins. There are more paying customers on iOS than on Android and that’s the reason why game developers cannot ignore the iOS platform when releasing games. Android may have a larger user base but there are problems in getting games to play on different devices made by a variety of manufacturers. iPads are the best for gaming. iPhone is just too MEH….

InfinityBladeIII2

Mobile Photography

Sorry but Android takes this one. Forget the Nokia 1020 for a moment and think about the apps available on Android only. They kick iOS ass. Apps like Cameringo and native Android apps found on the Sony, HTC and Samsung can double down and win this race without bating an eyelid. A long time ago that Android camera apps were lacking, these days, it shines brighter than the star that Steve Jobs sits on. Cameringo alone puts all the other filter based iOS apps to shame. Forget the Hipstamatic app from iOS. It’s rubbish. And what about Photosphere? You can’t have that for free on iOS while it’s a standard feature on all Android 4.2 devices. The Google app lets you upload 360 pano bubbles to Google Maps, which is free for all to view.

3T2lNBnmm5cqSfu8K1uRE02zKZ1JMV7TumNjFNl3cIlKrHjId47S9iKbqrFsCrT74xJt=h900

Work Productivity

So you want to do some serious work, encode files, upload to cloud and save files on flash drives? You can’t beat Android. iOS may have pioneered the mobile office suite but its iWork modules with new hardware running on iOS 7. Google already gives out its own Quickoffice for this and it’s not restricted by hardware. What’s more Android devices support read and write to flash drives using a OTG cable. Plug and Play. For iOS, you gotta be psychic to beam a file onto a flash drive. Bluetooth? Have you seen an iOS device send a Microsoft file to an Android device? How about NFC and WifiDirect? Does iOS have these under their belt? Both iOS and Android have productivity tools to do your work but it’s iOS that needs a data line to be of any use.

th

Drawing and Art

As much as I love the Galaxy Note series with their pressure sensitive stylus, iOS wins hands down when it comes to drawing and exporting your art in Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). Exporting a drawing in JPEG or any type of rasterized image is plain silly. People should be able to edit a drawing without compromising on the quality or the brush strokes. SVG allows you to do this as the data is vector encoded. Android’s support for these type of file is very poor at the moment. iOS wins hands down.

screen480x480-1

Entertainment and Video

Android is the clear winner and by a mile. There are numerous apps that lets you consume video like never before. For Samsung devices, they have an All Share feature which can beam content to your set top box via Wifi. Third party apps are also available for you to do this. Connecting a DNLA device isn’t a problem on Android but it is a huge problem for iOS. Apple wants you to stream stuff through their Apple TV box. Making iPads or iPhone DLNA compatible for video is ritual suicide. Third party apps on iOS can support streaming of music but not Video. Streaming of music or video on Android is a no brainer. It just rocks.

yXL7cQlrBR8pK63PLNZHMwUKw2R2sIuwrM4tbrvezxAp91g0CfT7ubjveleti4s1r7E=h900

Buying Guide

You get what you pay for. Apple’s tablets and iPhone is on the highest end of the retail chain but price alone should not dictate your choices. Both devices have their strong and weak points when it comes to apps. You have to pay for apps, not expect them to be made free but there are times when the free apps alone will do fine.

For any internet device, there are two schools of users. Those who use their devices to maximize their creativity and productivity, and those who just consume digital media.

Consuming is easy. These are the same folks who use social media, play games with friends, read the news, read books and magazines. For this, any device be it from iOS or Android will do the trick.

Those of you who are more productive —who want to take pictures and have control over their captured parameters, make and create music, draw or take work along with them, will need something more. So choose wisely this Christmas and you’ll be duly rewarded.

How to buy a Future Proof Android device

The guys at Apple magazine recently put a Samsung Galaxy S4 on its cover. For an independent magazine to do such a thing is tantamount to a sellout. Don’t matter if you are going to bash the device, it is never a good idea to put an Android product on an Apple Magazine, and here’s why.

It’s a hard look at future proofing your device, giving you the liberty to do more and have more fun. Apple iOS lost it. The innovation has come to a dead-end and you can safely predict the hardware spec on the next iPad or iPhone without gazing into a crystal ball. Apple has become very predictable in its choice of upgrades and you’d fall asleep once Tim Cook takes the stage. Apple Magazine could well be the next Android magazine if no new devices are coming out of Apple anytime soon.

viewpicture

Tips for Choosing your Next Android

Smart Phones or Tablets? The choices are aplenty, but how do you buy one so that you won’t be out of date within 18 months? We all want a device for doing something we love and Android has it all, but how do you make sure you have a device that will last you the distance? With new models coming out every quarter, it becomes very difficult to choose one that will do the job without being outdated. Here is a list of things to watch out for.

1. Quad Core Processor

Forget the dual core, you need at least four cores to run things smoothly. The Octo-core processors will eventually make its debut within the next 12 months so you need a head start with a quad-core device. By early 2014, Octo-cores will be standard fare.

2. 2GB RAM minimum

This is the actual RAM on board the device. Forget the 1GB RAM devices, those are out of date. You need more RAM because true multi-tasking is just not possible without it. 3GB or more would be ideal if you can afford to get your paws on that one. By end 2o13, 2GB will be outdated. Going into 2014-15, you need to have at least 4GB of RAM to stomach future apps. Coz apps are getting bigger and they need more room to move around. Custom Launchers too like Chameleon need lots of free RAM to look slick. Bane or Bonus, custom launchers are here to stay. Many don’t work well now because of a lack of free RAM space.

3. More Internal Storage Please

Given the size of these apps, you need more internal storage. The 8GB and 16GB devices are passe, you need more coz there are more apps now on Google Play than ever. To future proof your purchase, you need 32GB of internal storage in 2013. Double that to 64GB in 2014-2015. There is also the issue of bloatware, which of course will reside in internal storage when you boot up. Bloatware on carrier branded devices could cost you a few hundred MB of RAM space.

4. Expandable Card Slot is a MUST

Got a cool device but no slot for additional external storage? Then you are screwed! The humble microSD card is getting cheaper and coming in at 64GB, you would be a fool not to have one. The external storage card can be very useful if you happen to consume media like crazy.  Got a load of MP3? Some movie files in MKV? Bring it on. You store all your files here. For some Camera Apps, you can specify a directory within your SD storage where it will save all the files. The card slot is your ticket to mass media consumption. You need this to put your music or your porn regardless of what turns you on.

5. Eight megapixel is Enough

You don’t need a 13 or 12 megapixel camera, just 8 will be enough. The reason is simple. The bigger the megapixel, the larger the file will be. No point shooting something to share when you only need 5 megapixel at most. So 8 megapixel will be just fine for everything else. What’s more, you can’t possibly rely on that tiny BI sensor to deliver pro quality images for print. It is a different beast you need to capture those photos. However for a social media whore, dang….8 megapixel make me look good! Don’t be fooled into thinking about those 16 megapixel shooters— which will be standard fare in 2014. Stay safe, shoot with 8 megapixels my friend.

6. Get a Great Color Display

I was deeply disappointed with the Galaxy Note 10.1 as the display was pretty poor. I am also pretty disappointed with the Galaxy Note 8 display too. You gotta know that a good display makes it all the more pleasing to use and trust me on this one. I find myself using my Galaxy Tab 7.7 more than my Asus TF300 just because the display is so pleasing to look at. There are many to choose from FHD OLED, Super AMOLED, Retina Display, TFT, Super LCD3, etc. Which one suits you best? Well it’s really up to you. A better screen is a joy to behold.

The Last Word

I don’t believe that a gadget you buy will last you forever. Every 12 months or so, a new gadget arrives but there are some which cost more that offers some future proofing. For example, the Galaxy S4, with 32GB internal storage and 2GB RAM can last you into the end of 2015. But a 16GB version will be very restrictive and chances are you’ll ante up to a new device by end 2014.

Apple products fortunately are made to last longer because of its poor hardware upgrades. If you have an iOS device, chances are you can use it for a good 18 months before the hardware becomes restrictive. Today, we see iPads with 128GB of storage. Tomorrow, we can expect to see 32GB iPhones as standard. Rumors of a cheap iPhone does not make sense. If you have poor hardware, people will compare that with Android devices and choose something from HTC  or Asus. A cheaper iPhone already exist in the form of the overpriced iPhone 4s and 4. If you need a second phone, the iPhone 4 fits the bill. If Apple offers an even cheaper iPhone, it’s one that would look more like the 3GS—gutted to fit a new processor and limited 16GB RAM.

The second biggest market for the iPhone is China, but the China Appstore is one that doesn’t make any money for Apple because of the rampant fraud that goes on with Appstore credits used to buy online media and apps. It just doesn’t make sense to make a cheaper iPhone for just that market.