Thursday, 27 December 2012

Samsung S3's New Tricks

Just woke up with the OTA (over the air) update of my S3 GT-I9300 model yesterday. The baseband version of the update is I9300XXELL4 and has a build number JZ054K.I9300XXELL4. If you have the same model as mine, you can check if you have the latest firmware by going to settings and tapping about device. If you have not got it, connect to wifi and whilst still at the about device page, tap software update.  Depending on the server's traffic, the download should be straightaway or you might need to try again . I recommend to leave it on auto update and connected to wifi and mains plug over night.

Multi Window 

One of the impressive new changes is the addition of the multi window function. This is a native feature of the Samsung Galaxy Note II that displays two separate applications in it's screen when multitasking. Not all applications are supported though. The applications that can be run on the multitasking window is shown at the left side folder when multi tasking is turned on. The list includes, google maps, chat, talk, email, gallery, chat, internet browsers, video player, and social networks. This means it is now easier to attach a photo by opening both the gallery and email applications together in one window and without going back and forth. 

Paper Artist

This another interesting native application for note 2 is now included with the update on the S3. You can transform any photo into work of art easily in a matter of seconds. There are cool effects to choose like pencil art, for real effect and many more. Put a frame to brighten up a dull photo and share it straight away with email, to social networks,  bluetooth  and even to skype contacts. The application can access the camera function to take photos with these cool effects at real time, making you feel like a pro at no time. There's a button you can tap to save your work, and you can retrieve your saved project at the gallery's paper artist folder.

New Gallery

Tired of viewing your photo in a boring stamp grid  like arrangements? The new gallery has 3 ways of viewing it, either by grid, by two's, where you can make the files move forward or backwards like marching side by side, or like in a carousel where you can turn them around in a sweep of a finger. The later is mesmerizing fun especially when your phone is streamed in a bigger screen monitor. It is a must try feature. To help you easily organise your photos or help you find the picture you want to see, the sort by date or time is quite useful.

Samsung Keyboard Continuous Input

This reminds me of the swiftflow beta application I joined to test 3 weeks ago. The concept of this is, instead of typing the word by tapping each letter key, just glide your fingers across the letters that make up the word you want to write without lifting your fingers up from the screen. This makes you type faster and create messages easier than the traditional tapping.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Streaming Multimedia With the Xbox 360

It's boxing day today in the UK, the second most anticipated day next to Christmas, or maybe the first, especially to children. This day is the unboxing of gifts!

If you are lucky enough to have the latest gizmos, ipad's, iphone's, samsung smart phone's, or gaming consoles as gifts, then this post is something worth reading. Sometimes it is not enough to know how to use and enjoy your device on the things they are obviously intended for, mobiles for calling and surfing the net, games consoles for playing games, but it is also good to know a little bit beyond, like streaming contents from your mobile, like movies, pictures and music, into a TV. Streaming is something easy and free to do when you have compatible devices.

Like when you want to stream the contents of your Samsung S3 into a bigger telly, you can use your xbox 360, together with a wifi connection and a big telly to output music, photos and videos.

Stream Samsung S3 Contents

1. To do this, turn on your Xbox (should be connected to home wifi) then initially set up the S3 (also connected to the same home wifi) by going into the settings, more connections, nearby devices, tick file sharing. Under advanced tab, tap shared contents and tick videos, photos, and music, press OK. The phone will detect the nearby xbox then press. OK and you are ready to share.

To start sharing photos, go to gallery and select which photo to show on TV, then press the streaming icon at the top. The Xbox receives the file and output it into the telly.

Watch Video here!

To stream videos, just go to the videos and play the one you want to stream, then press that magic button! For music, you can do the same.

Watch how to do it here!

Stream iPad Contents

1. For iPad or iPhone users, search and download for Xbox 360 streamer from itunes first. Once downloaded, turn on your Xbox and make sure it is connected to the home wifi.

2. Open up the Xbox 360 streamer application from your ipad and press the on power button at the right side (red when on, gray when off), then press the blue button to ready files for streaming.With this application,only music can be streamed.

3. On the Xbox 360, go to music menu, my music apps, system music player, select the ipad 360 streamer source, then the music you want to play.

On your iPad, this xbox icon turns green and the music playing is shown on at the screen.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

How to Easily Convert YouTube Music Videos into MP3's

You tube is  a rich source of tutorials, and movies, but not only that, of music as well. In fact, I use it as the secondary general search engine next to google, and the first choice when I search for music tracks. Even the weirdest sounding music and composers that I never thought would exists can show in the results when searched for.

I came across a composition called "The Devil's Beauties" on one of my favourite radio stations when sending my wife to work and the first time I heard it, I decided to include it in my "drive time collection." There was no results when I tried to search it using a free android MP3 search, so I decided to use youtube. And there it is at the results at last, although from a different artist, it sounded like the same rendition as the one played on the radio.

The only problem now is to convert it into MP3. I have used freemake video converter with success in the past but at the time of writing, it can not detect any video on the URL's to convert. Given up with freemake, I was tempted to use the built in windows sound recorder. The only problem is the file format would have a windows media audio output which is not compatible with my old MP3 car player which can only support MP3's. I could have used itunes to convert it into suitable AAC version and later into MP3 but this takes more work and this time I got lazy. I want to convert it instantly on the go and without adding more software into my system!

After many tries of the online converters I managed to find, I found a site that convert the youtube video into MP3 without fuss, from To use it is very simple. Just go to the site, copy the URL from youtube, then paste it at, click convert, this might take sometime to load and do it's thing, but when it started, it is amazingly quick. Then click download to get a copy into your computer and your done. You can also select your directory destination if you are using internet explorer!

The good thing about online converters is you do not need to add another software in your system, Free converters have bad points as well. One is , google, that owns youtube,  might prohibit the use of such sites at some point that may render the site unusable. The converted tracks do not sound like the real thing like those in CD's or legitimate MP3 downloads, so for those who has ears for music, buy them legit from shops like Asda Direct,  amazon, play, HMV, and others . Another nasty bit is spywares that might be bundled and open up whilst searching for suitable converters. So be careful.

Note: this is just for everyones info on how to convert music videos into MP3's and I am not encouraging everyone to do it as an alternative to buying the real MP3's!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Interesting Gadget For the iPhone 4/ 4S/ and 5

What do you do with your iPhone aside from making phone calls, internet calls, and surfing the internet? Taking photos and recording video clips of everyday life would be one of the top things on what to do list! With the high spec built in camera hardware , it is tempting to use it. It's portability and accessibility makes it more enticing to use than a proper point and shoot cameras. Film enthusiasts, in fact, has been making movies using iPhone camera. And why not, the built in camera does not only take memories but takes it in high definition as well. Bundled with a stunning screen, it is also perfect for playback, and pleasurable to use to edit pictures and videos. 

Now the big question is, who wants to hold the iPhone when everyone wants to be in the picture? Who wants to press the button then everyone is playing their own role in the film? An improvised stand can help and the self timer function can be useful but this means the subject has no choice but to work around the iPhone's focus to get a decent shot. A dedicated camera man is what's missing, and that's you! Or maybe not.

Meet SWIVL, your  instant camera man. This is made primarily for iPhone 4/ 4S/ and 5. What it does is, it continuously tracks your movement and take your photo or video just like a dedicated camera man. Only that it doesn't get tired of following your every movement. In fact, it can track you at full 360 degrees horizontal rotation, and +10 degrees and -20 degrees vertically. This means you are always in the scene when you move around, as long as you are in it's 10 metre range tracking signal detection. It can be mounted in an ordinary tripod if you need more flexibility. And can be controlled with another iPhone.

See more details where to get SWIVL or click the photo to play the video on how it works.

The Specs

Audio and tracking compatible with iPhone 4 & 4S and iPod Touch (4th Gen)
Also compatible with iPhone 5, Android phones under 11mm deep and cameras using the tripod mount for tracking only
Designed for use without external cases
Swivl will work with most tripod mounted cameras under 175grams, (although you’ll lose some of the functionality)

Product Features:

Motion sensitive tracking - The base automatically follows the marker and you up to 33 feet (10 meters). It swivel’s 360 degrees horizontally and +10 / -20 degrees vertically when commanded from the Marker.
Tripod Compatible - In addition to iOS devices, it works with any tripod mountable pocket video camera, or point and shoot camera
Remote Control via iPhone
Multiple, flexible mounting options
iOS Digital Microphone - Capture high quality digital audio through a lossless wireless connection to the marker.
Sports and Standard Mode
iOS App Controlled - This App provides remote controls of video. Swivl can be customised for telepresence, monitoring, panoramics, time lapse and more.

Tripod accessory
USB cable - for firmware updates

Battery Requirements:
Base requires 2x AA or an AC Adaptor - available as an accessory/li>
Wireless Marker requires 2x AAA batteries

Optional Accessories
The Base operates on 2x AA batteries and provides you with four hours of action capture. It also can be operated with a separate AC Adapter accessory, also available from Firebox.

Base measures approximately 14cm(W) x 3.8cm(D) x 10.5cm(H)
Remote measures approximately 5cm(W) x 2cm(D) x 6.4cm(H)

Smart Way to Choose Mobile Tariff

There are thousands of mobile tariffs available out there which is useful and good. But sometimes they are confusing and not easy to compare and making it hard to decide to choose which one is the best mobile tariff according to one's needs. Tailor fit tariff might not be really attainable but by choosing it simply according to what you do most can trim the thousand choices into a manageable and clearer level.

Just by jotting down what do you do with your mobile, your personality and the way you communicate and other  factors like the number of friends you have which are your regular contacts and the nature of your job also contribute to the decision which contract to have. Considering all of these factors will reduce your monthly out goings and that means savings for your pocket.

If you are a light user who doesn't fancy flashy smartphones and texting is the primary means of communication you make, opting for 500 texts with minimum amount of voice calls, usually 30 minutes in a month, and 100MB of internet will be sufficient. You can get this tariff cheaply for at least £4 a month. See deals here.

If you are a heavy voice call user, say at most 500 min per month usage, then add at least £5 to the £4, around £9 a month, can get you through without surcharges. You still get the unlimited texts and 500MB of internet in a month. See more deals here.

For internet on the go users the least price to pay per month for a 500MB of data, unlimited texts and 100 minutes voice calls is £7.13 cost effective. Cost effective means the total round off price of the total amount of contract less the discounts. The discounts usually are in the form of a cashback where in you need to send by post your monthly bill to a designated address and at a specific date. See more deals here.

If you are a smartphone conscious person and you are always looking for the best deal on smart phones, there are deals that can offer you free for a top of the range products, starting from £25 a month contract. There are also gift giveaways with these like laptops, tablet computing, games console, TV's and many more. Even if the effective costs of these purchases will be the same if you buy these separately, it is still a win situation because, it is like you have paid by credit card, paying on monthly basis but without the interest. Not like when you have paid by a credit card in one go and paying the balance every month plus the interest or by a debit card with no option but to splash the cash in one go.

Practical thoughts

The cheapest tariff may not always be the cheapest deal to everyone, depending on the user's usage. A more expensive deal may still be cheaper in the long run considering what's bundled within the contract. Make sure that the voice call you take and other built in bundles with the contract is sufficient to avoid surcharges. Internet data could be very expensive when you have gone beyond your limits!

Look out and be careful for cheaper tariff on new fancy phones as they are usually bundled with the least voice and data bundles.

When a new device is on sale, it is the best time to grab the former best seller like the phones above. It pays  to wait until the new arrival comes.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Google Secret Fun

Google is no doubt, the number one search engine used by most internet users. I would like to think that it is the synonym of search, as it is the first word that comes to mind, when I want to look for something, to look for directions, or to know the cheapest price of a certain product and where I could buy it. But so much with the formal stuff, google is also fun.

There are people who have been using google too much and might have been bored with the usual search result format. So they make the results visually and functionally exciting for internet users like you and me. To break the monotony of the usual search results, here are some examples of their works! 

Auto Type Backwards

Go to, google typed backwards, and the search engine answers back with results written backwards, a mirror image of the normal result. 

Gravity Effect

Go to the link below and the search engine's elements will drop down to the bottom. Type in any search word and press enter and the results will pile up on top of each other.  This works with google chrome and firefox only.

Guitar Tones

This search effect is one of my favourite. As the name suggests, a guitar note is played whilst you type in the search window. You can also turn your keyboard into a guitar by pressing the keys or running the cursor through the strings. There is an example melody complete with the keys to press to play the tune. Another amazing feature is the ability to record what you play by pressing the record button included at the page. 


If you 've been computing since the late 80's, then you might have missed the early font available during that era, terminal font. Only this time it has colours. The animation is not high tech as you thought but it nostalgic and complete with tones like that with a dial up modem connection. To do a search, press S or L first . Try it here.

Tilt Me

Typing tilt whilst on a search result makes the page slightly tilted to the right. 

Underwater Scene 

Fancy a shark and other fishes swimming as you search? And search elements floating by like a ducky in a bath? Try to ttype in any search word one at a time and the search results will fill in your screen with screenshots of pages, icons and logos based from your searches. Although the results are not functional ( can't get you anywhere when clicked), the floating elements are hypnotic to watch.

Zerg Rush Game

When zerg rush is typed on an existing google search result, a group of o's or zero's rush down where the search words and images are, and they destroy anything that comes into their contact. Your mission is to take down them by clicking on them with your mouse.  

Saturday, 1 December 2012

iPhone 5 Top Essential Accessories

Accessories can make your gadget look more expensive. I am sure iPhone 5 users use their phones with one or two accessories bought separately from the unit, not only to make it looking good, or add more functions to it, but to  protect it from wear and tear, making the depreciation factors into minimum when it's time to resell for a newer variant. It is a must therefore, to pick the best you can afford for this purpose.

The Screen Protector

This is first thing that comes to mind when I think of phone accessories. It is a must and should be available even before using the phone. The screen shield protects the phone from smudges, scratches, and even screen breakages. This should be applied before the first use as dusts and oil from the fingertips can cause improper placement of the screen.

There are many branded and unbranded products of this kind in the market and because of this, sometimes it is  hard to choose which one to buy. I prefer a premium brand myself as they have properties like easy to apply, all equipment for the application is included with the product, like squeegee, wipes, etc, and does what it promises to do. I find these qualities in ZAGG product.

The ZAGG invisible shield is created from a resilient film that was first used to protect U.S. Military helicopter blades from high-speed damage, the invisibleSHIELD is your personal electronics defender. This rugged film wraps around consumer electronics and keeps them functioning and looking great, just like the day they came out of the box. Featuring ZAGG's exclusive Nano-Memory technology, the invisibleSHIELD has unique properties that provide self-healing qualities and unrivaled abrasion resistance.

The Case

The second essentials is the over all protection, the case. Depending on your taste, whether you prefer silicone materials, fabrics or leathers, as long as it is functional and gives your device a new fresh look. Here are some pointers to remember.

 As  you will be carrying along your phone most of the time, it is best to choose something with extra pockets for cards, emergency cash or a space for a piece of paper for jotting down notes. Many times the  emergency cash has saved my day.

The case should also provide access to all buttons and ports. There was one I bought in the past that I needed to take the phone out to use the camera because the hole at the back is not aligned with the camera and flash. Another nightmare I encountered was to remove the unit to charge, because the very slim and good looking case, has no opening at the bottom.

Another important feature to look for is a built in cradle. I had a bad experience with a slip on type folio case without a cradle. It was alright for the first week, but after a while, the case became loose, and the phone would slip out from the case and down the floor!

Lightning Adaptor/Car Adaptor

The lightning cable is new to apple products. If you have been an apple fan before and have bought accessories that takes the older 30 pin cables, then you will need this in order to use with your iPhone 5. This will save you from buying additional sound dock, audio video dock, charging dock and so on. With this connector, the older 30 pin connector devices and cables will not gather dust. You will not just be saving something for your pocket but reducing possible clutters and wastes as well.

The iPhone 5's battery life is impressive, but still you will never know when you'll need a charger when you're away from the mains socket. Chances are, we only realize how important little things are when we need them badly. So, do not get caught with no power when you need to call an emergency number specially when travelling by car. This little car adaptor can be a life saver in an emergency.


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