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Friday, 21 October 2016

On 21:39 by Abhijit Pinjan     1 comment
It seems to me that a week can’t go by without there being some revelation or other connected with privacy, and not only in North America, but in Europe and other parts of the world. The digital age has brought it tremendous benefits, but it has also added some unique and new problems.
You have probably seen them. IPv4 addresses are made up of four numbers less than 256 with a dot between them, say 10.2.18.67 or 34.16.23.198. The IP address is used to route the data to your computer. The problem with IP addresses is that 1) they are visible to every piece of equipment that deals with your network traffic, 2) they are assigned in blocks. The result is that the servers you connect to know you IP address, as does your Internet provider. To test this, visit a site like whatismyipaddress.com or ipfingerprints.com and you will see what I mean. Also your Internet provider probably knows which websites you are visiting and if the website isn’t using HTTPS then there is the potential that your Internet provider can also see what you are posting.
There are lots of VPN providers, however finding a reliable and trustworthy service can be a challenge. To make it easier for you, I have been testing out Express VPN. Before we look at the key features, I just want to point out that this is a neutral review, we aren’t being paid or sponsored by Express VPN in anyway. However if you do buy the service using the links we provide that will help us out a bit! So here are the main features:
  • You can choose VPN servers from 136 cities in 87 countries.
  • Express VPN has a hassle-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • You get access to a full suite of easy-to-use software for all your devices (including Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, Routers, and iOS).
  • Unlimited bandwidth.
  • Zero logging of your network traffic.
  • Simultaneous connections on up to 3 devices.

Look at software

Many VPN services don’t provide any custom software, which isn’t bad per se, however it means to get the VPN up and running you need to dive deep into the network settings of your device and add the VPN server details manually. For Android you tap on More… under the Wireless & Networks section of the Settings, then tap VPN and then add a new VPN. Then you enter the server details along with your username and password. This must be repeated for every server you wish to use. Since the big services will have over 100 VPN locations then that is a lot of tapping!

The speeds

One of the key features of any VPN service is the speed that it is able to provide to its customers. If a VPN service has a thousand endpoints in 50+ countries and the best encryption technology available but when you connect you access the web at a snail’s pace then the service is worth nothing. Express VPN has lots of endpoints plus strong encryption, but it also has the speed.
I tested Express VPN on my Android smartphone (a Samsung Galaxy Note 5), on a Kindle Fire 7 inch and on a Windows 10 PC. I used the broadband testing service speedtest.net via the web browser or using the Android app (depending on which device I was testing).
First of all let’s establish a very simple baseline for the speed of my Internet connection. According to speedtest.net I can download data from a local server in my neighborhood at around 34 Mbps. And I can upload at around 24 Mbps. A VPN connection will be lower than this for two reasons. First the data is being encrypted and decrypted by the client device (e.g. my Android smartphone) and by the VPN server. Second, many times your VPN connection will be to a server in another country. That means that the data has to physically travel further, sometimes even to the other side of the world.
Using my Note 5 I connected to VPN endpoints in New York and in the UK and ran the speed test. Here are the results:
  • UK VPN endpoint: 20.02Mbps download and 18.77 Mbps upload.
  • NY VPN endpoint: 20.73Mbps download and 17.94 Mbps upload.
To put that into some context, running the same tests downloading and uploading data from a server in NY and UK without the VPN gives me:
  • UK server, no VPN: 27.30Mbps download and 25.70 Mbps upload.
  • NY server, no VPN: 32.08Mbps download and 21.26 Mbps upload.
I think you will agree that the VPN numbers are fairly impressive. In real terms the download speeds are about 80% of what is possible without a VPN running. It also shows how dependent the overall VPN speeds are on the speed of the underlying connection via my local Internet provider and the backbone routes across the world.



Friday, 10 June 2016

On 16:01 by Abhijit Pinjan in     1 comment


        You might enjoy the way your smartphone interface looks and feels, but custom ROMs give you the opportunity to explore brand new designs and UIs. They can also offer new and very impressive functionality. If you are yet to explored the hidden pleasures of the Android community, check out our list of the best custom ROMs for Android. 

1) CyanogenMod 12 - stable, stylish, with frequent updates

CyanogenMod is one of the most well-supported ROMs for Android, with a huge community, and frequent updates. It’s no wonder that this popular Android ROM even managed to find a home on last year's OnePlus One.  
Features of CyanogenMod include its unique app launcher entitled Trebuchet, personal themes, video screenshots via its Screencast functionality, and a mode specifically for left-handed landscape viewing. CyanogenMod currently supports more than 50 devices and the team are hard at work on a Marshmallow build.

2) PAC-ROM

PAC-ROM touts itself as the all-in-one ROM solution. The team shamelessly cherry picks features from the other ROMs listed on this page, including OmniSwitch and CyanogenMod's Pie controls, and puts them all together in their own package.
It might seem lacking in personality, or overkill, but if you're looking for the most customizable, option-rich ROM, then this is it. And wait until you see the boot animation — the team deserves some points for that alone.
With nightly builds and well over 50 devices supported, it's a great package. Learn all about it at PAC-ROM.com

3) Paranoid Android - Stock Android with subtle changes

The first appearance of the Paranoid Android Custom ROM dates back to early 2013 and Android Jelly Bean. The Paranoid Android ROM doesn't provide a radical design overhaul, but focuses on a number of simple but effective changes to notifications and navigation. 
Immersive mode allows you to view information on screen while hiding system bars, and 'dynamic system bars' blend your status and navigation bar color with the particular app background. It's purely aesthetic, but provides a nice transition.
Early in 2015, OnePlus hired a number of key members of the Paranoid Android team. The project subsequently went into deep hibernation, with one developer announcing its passing and another refuting it. Whether the project has the energy to be resurrected remains to be seen.
Paranoid Android is available for a whole range of devices including the Nexus line and the OnePlus One. To learn more, visit ParanoidAndroid.co.

4) OmniROM - for the OmniSwitch toolbar

Designed by former CyanogenMod devs (Xplodwild, Chainfire, Dees_Troy, Pulser and Entropy) in late 2013, OmniROM is a no-frills ROM, which basically offers the Stock Android experience with some nice extras. 
OmniROM supports the ability to launch apps by tapping on the time and date in the notifications menu, it can add a notification counter in the status bar to show the number notifications you've received, and has the ability to manage the display brightness just by sliding your finger along the notifications bar.
OmniROM's standout feature, however, is the OmniSwitch shortcut. The OmniSwitch is a quick-menu that you can load with shortcuts and jump from any part of your phone to any app, or vice versa, and it is completely customizable. 
Lollipop nightlies for OmniROM started back in June. Head to OmniROM.org for more.

5) SlimROMs - bloatless but feature-rich

SlimROMs made a name for itself by offering a completely stripped down version of Android and letting you determine exactly how much of the Google Play services you want bundled in. Otherwise, SlimROMs is characterized by the ability to modify the DPI of fonts and icons and make everything as tiny as you need it to be. The Slim family currently supports almost 50 devices.
An alpha Android Lollipop build is out, but things are moving slowly at the SlimROM camp and updates are currently infrequent at best. Find out more at slimroms.net.

6) AOKP - for complete control and tons of customization options

Android Open Kang Project, or AOKP, is aimed at serious Android modders, and those with good level of technical know-how. Released in September 2013, AOKP is now compatible with dozens of Android devices, and houses a number of interesting features, like the ability to customize shortcuts in the Quick settings menu, and manage the color and blink rate of the LED notifications in several applications.
Additionally, this ROM also includes a feature called Navigation ring, which acts an an intuitive shortcut for up to five apps. As if that wasn't enough, there is also application permissions management and the ability to adjust processor performance, making this one of the most interesting Custom ROMs on android.
Stable releases are few and far between. After a break from October last year, a post on the AOKP website in March revealed that work would soon be starting on 'proper' Lollipop builds, but things have remained quiet since then. We'll be keeping an eye on this one. To learn more, visit AOKP.co.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

On 16:49 by Abhijit Pinjan     No comments


    What you may not know is that you don’t have to transfer your images to a PC to start tweaking them. There are many apps in the Play Store that will let you manipulate your pictures directly on your phone or tablet.


1) Bonfire Photo Editor Pro

Bonfire Photo Editor is an increasingly popular photo editor with a few fun features. It has the very basics which include filters along with basic editing tools. What makes Bonfire a lot of fun, though, is the sheer number of filters that it supports. It comes with your usual stuff like black and white, HDR, etc but it also comes with some unique ones such as Fancy, a filter that turns your photos into watercolor. It does have some basic editing tools, like skin smoothing and blemish removal as well.

 



2)Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop Express

Adobe has vastly improved their mobile offerings over the last year with Lightroom and Photoshop Express leading the charge in the photo editing apps department. They’re both more powerful than average and they both also sync to the desktop variants as long as you use the Adobe Creative Cloud. Individually, Lightroom can be used to adjust photos with a slew of one-touch adjustments while Photoshop Express lets you do the basics like add filters, crop, as well as an auto-fix function that helps smooth out the rough edges. They’re both pretty decent and must haves for serious photography. Download Lightroom using the button below.


3) Photo Editor by Aviary

Photo Editor by Aviary is another long time popular photo editor with a good set of features and reliability. Like most, it features a one-touch enhance mode in case you’re feeling lazy today but it also comes with a variety of manual adjustments to let you do things like adjust the color, brightness, temperature, contrast, saturation, and more. This one also comes with stickers, filters, and cosmetic tools such as red eye fixing, blemish remover, and teeth whitener.

    

4) PicsArt Photo Studio

PicsArt has been around for a very long time and has accumulated over 250 million downloads to date. Thankfully, the developers have done a decent job updating the app to keep it modern. You’ll find a lot of the usual stuff including the light editing tools as well as filters, text, stickers, and collages. It boasts over 100 editing tools as well as a community of creative people to share stuff with. You can also use this app to generate animated gifs and even draw stuff on your photos. It’s a strong option with a lot of features.

5) Pixlr


Pixlr by AutoDesk, also known as Pixlr Express, is a powerful photo editor and one that our readers have recommended to us time and time again. It has one of the best one-touch enhance tools that we’ve seen and it also includes a ton of other features and tools that you can use. It does have filters, although it cleverly disguises them as “overlays” and also includes cosmetic editing tools like blemish removers and teeth whiteners. It’s a solid all around option with a little something for everybody.



6) Snapseed

Last and certainly not least is Snapseed. This unique photo editor was scooped up by Google a few years ago and has since turned into one of the premiere photo editing apps for Android. It has support for RAW photos which will please photographers greatly. You can also tune the image using a variety of sliders and one-touch enhance tools. There are also some filters as well if you’re into that. It’s deceptively light and simple for how powerful it is and it’s entirely free with no in-app purchases.

 




                                           


Thursday, 16 October 2014

On 11:06 by Abhijit Pinjan     No comments

The lucky owners of a Google Nexus or a Play Edition device, might be seeing the newest Android Lollipop ship with their gear, or it very soon after the unveiling, but, as usual, those with popular handsets like theGalaxy S4/S5/Note 4, the LG G2/G3, Xperia Z1/Z2/Z3, or the HTC One M8/M7, will have to wait a fair amount more.

We will wait for info and official manufacturer confirmations on their individual Android Lollipop update schedules, and will post any news as soon as we have them. HTC already announced that it will update theOne and One (M8) within 90 days of receiving the source code from Google, which sounds moderately ambitious for a January timeframe. Motorola also chimed in, slating the fall for its update schedule, which jibes with the Q4 rollout of the newest software.

With Android Lollipop, we are getting a thoroughly revamped interface with the fashionable "flat", but colorful demeanor that many Android manufacturers, like Samsung and LG, adopted for their respective TouchWiz and Optimus overlays. In addition, Google finally overhauled its aging notifications system, which looked pale and barren in stock Android, when compared to Samsung, LG, HTC, or third party efforts you can find in the Play Store. The multitasking options also got a boost with a Google Now-style system, and a 64-bit compiler, as well as a battery-saving Project Volta are all a go, so there's plenty to look forward to on your phone or tablet, hopefully sooner rather than later.


Google

  • Nexus 5 - in the next few weeks
  • Nexus 4 - in the next few weeks
  • Nexus 10 - in the next few weeks
  • Nexus 7 - in the next few weeks

Motorola

The whole Motorola stable you see below will be upgraded to Lollipop with various speeds, depending on carrier and other arrangements, but the Moto G and E, with their stock experience, should be first in line, and then the carrier models will follow suit.

HTC

  • HTC One - within 90 days of receiving the Android Lollipop source code (January the latest)
  • HTC One M8 - within 90 days of receiving the Android Lollipop source code
  • HTC One mini/2 - promised for update, no hard schedule
  • HTC One GPE - in a few weeks
  • HTC One M8 GPE - in a few weeks

Samsung

  • Galaxy S4 GPE - in a few weeks

LG

  • LG G Pad 8.3 GPE - in a few weeks

Sony

  • Xperia Z Ultra GPE - in a few weeks