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  • Samsung Galaxy S4 arriving soon..

    Posted on by rob

    I’ve finally pulled the trigger and ordered my new Samsung Galaxy S IV from Vodafone today.  My S3 has served me very well over the last year and I can’t complain about, it’s been a crack’n bit of kit!   I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or bad thing, but with the new phone will come the need to replace some of the accessories that go with it .. the S4 won’t fit in my current car holder or the current phone case.

    There are so many options available already for the S4, it boggles the mind.. makes picking one so hard haha

    So far my choice of case would have to be the Samsung View Smart cover or

    Or the Samsung Flip case, however I don’t like that the camera can’t operate with the cover flipped all the way over the phone.

     

    I’ll have to wait until the phone arrives next week to work out which case might be best for me… oooh I can’t wait for it’s arrival.

    Now to look for info about rooting the phone to make the most of it ..


  • Review: Ultimate Nexus 7 Accessory Pack

    Posted on by rob

    Quite some time back I received the Ultimate Nexus 7 Accessory Pack from the very good folks over at GearZap.com.   This is a kit loaded with goodies for your precious Google Nexus 7!  The only difference between what was on the website and what actually arrived was the “Leather Style Case”, it was a minor difference and in all honestly what I received was better.  The case on the website has a flappy thing on the back that when you fold the front over so you can angle the tablet up off the table or stand it vertically in landscape mode, the case I was shipped uses magnets to secure the lid folded into a triangle (Click to see larger images)

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    Keeping reading …

    Continue reading  Post ID 1472


  • Android + bits + DSLR…

    While looking for ways to use my phone with my Nikon D5000 DLSR I came across a very nice bit of software called PhotoIRmote on the Android Market.  This turns your Android phone into DSLR Remote Timer Controller, or an intervalometer. 

    Some Screen shots of the app, from the developer:

    I had a go at making the Basic IR Emitter on the developers website, however that failed.  Thinking I’d done something wrong I went for the other one he made, same result.  I wasn’t getting anything at all out of the IR LED’s .. not sure if it was my IR’s or what I did more Googling, finally found the problem was, sort of, my Samsung Galaxy S2 phone.  I say sort of because the problem is the output from the headphone jack on the phone isn’t enough to drive the IR’s.  Clearly this was a failing from Samsung for not thinking that crazy fools would want to plug IR LED’s into the headphone jack of their phones so they could control their cameras Smile

     

    Anyhow, back to the story.  So, Google turned up that I would need to build an Active IR Emitter box.  So, having read through the page linked just back there, I went and bought the bits to make the box.   Sadly, I didn’t take any photos during the construction, but to be honest there wouldn’t have been much to see.  This is my box, you can see inside as well.

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    Under the perf board is the 2N3904 Transistor, I’ve just fed the legs up through the perf board so I could do all the soldering on the top  I’ve made one modification to the board from the photos above, the 56 ohm resister has been replaced with a 10 ohm.  I didn’t have my head on when I build this and thanks to my mate Gavin (M1BXF) he let me straight on my error.

    So, the parts list used.  This is from Maplin in the UK so you can work this out for yourself, but I’ve linked the parts from their store so you can check the specs.

    2 x IR LED Emitters – YH70M – £1.14 (£2.28)

    1 x 10 Ohm Resistor (I had this), around £0.30

    1 x 2N3904 Transistor – QR40 – £0.29

    1 x ABS Plastic Box (50mm x 35mm x 17mm) – SC78K – £2.29

    1 x 3 AA Battery Case – YR61R – £1.19

    1 x 3.5mm Stereo Plug – HF98G ( I had this already, but it’s £1.79)

    A scape of perf board but to be honest it isn’t really needed

    So, the total cost for the project was around £5.00 for me as I had some bits, but if you had to buy everything add another £2 to that.

     

    In testing it with my Nikon D5000 DSLR I found it to work very well in my living room.  The IR Receiver for this camera is located on the front of the camera and in the handgrip on the right hand side.  Clearly you’ll need a tripod when using this as holding it would block the IR Receiver and, well, rather defeats the purpose for a control timer.  I found this to trigger the camera very nicely from a wide variety of angles both in landscape and portrait mode.  The distances I tested with were only about 3-4 meters, I will do more testing later to see how far I can push it, but I think that’s about all I’m going to be able to expect out of these LED’s.

    I hope you’ve found this helpful, and I’d like to give credit where it’s due.   The software was written by some folks over at www.wegroo.com and the design of the Active IR Emitter was from and his blog page again for this is http://wgrube-electronics.blogspot.com/2011/08/active-ir-remote-for.html

    Please, feel free to leave any comments / questions you might have about this.  I might have another go making another one but with a couple more LED’s to try and increase the range of it, will update if I get around to doing that.

    Happy clicking … and now my phone will click for me Smile


  • My lists of essential Android apps

    I say “lists” because I find I have different needs at different times.  This depends on if I’m using my Android devices for work or play.

     

    Essential apps for “play”

    Social Network / Chat Apps

     

    Facebook

    facebook-appIt goes without saying, Facebook is one of the required apps by “most” people these days.  There are many Facebook apps to pick from in the Android Market, but the one I’ve stuck with is Facebook for Android.  This app has been updated quite a bit since the first version I’d seen 2 years ago when I first got my Samsung Galaxy S (I-9000).  The latest versions of the application include access to pretty much every feature on Facebook now, including Facebook Chat.

    Trillian

    trillian-appThat brings me the next app, Trillian (by Cerulean Studios, LLC).  I’ve been using Trillian off and on pretty much since it came out, must be the best part of 10 years now.  This is a great mutli-IM platform with lots of features (a few drawbacks too, but what “all-in-one” tool doesn’t have it’s drawbacks).  When Trillian came out for Android I jumped on it right away.  Some of the features of Trillian that I find useful are the I can now share my chat history between all my devices (Android, PC, Web).  You can debate with yourself if storing your chat history either locally or in the cloud is a good or bad thing.  I’ve been down that road and have found that in general having my chat history has been a good thing.  Searching for shared URL’s or other info has been a time savings for me.

    Tweetdeck

    tweetdeck-appTwitter (<- click to get to my twitter ID) is another social network I frequently use. For this I choose to use Tweetdeck.  I also use Tweetdeck on the PC so this works very well when I’m also using it on my Android devices.  My preferences are stored and shared with my various devices that use the app, also making things convenient, just sign in and you’re good to go.

     

    Pingchat

    Pingchat-appThe final chat application Pingchat, is a mobile device only application, but it’s cross platform, making it quite useful.  This app should save you loads over using SMS to communicate with your friends, especially International friends.  It works very much like RIM’s BlackBerry Messenger, but it’s not limited to only one platform.  You can send messages, pictures, videos, voice messages, etc.  It’s very similar to another application called WhatsApp Messenger, I also use this, but not as much as Pingchat.

     

    Everyday apps

     

    Kindle

    Kindle-appThe Kindle app from Amazon is a very nicely done application for reading.  However, from my personal experience reading on a phone or even an a tablet isn’t nearly as good as using a real Kindle Device.  The screens are just not as nice to read from as that which is offered by the E-Ink technology used by Kindle.  However, it’s still a very good and simple application to use an easy to browse the Kindle Bookstore and purchase new books for immediate delivery to your device.

    Dropbox

    Dropbox-appThe Dropbox app is another must have if you want easy document access between devices.  I have been a long time user of JungleDisk, and even though they have decided to completely abandon Android users, but they have got a iPhone/iPad version available and I would still recommend it for PC and the Apple devices, it really is worth the small price.  Anyhow, since i don’t have JungleDisk for Android I’ve been forced to use Dropbox (<- click for my affiliate link, it’ll get you some extra space when you sign up).  I have to stay that Dropbox does work very well but the cost of space beyond the free space is more expensive then Amazon S3 Storage, which JungleDisk uses.

    Quickoffice Pro

    QuickofficePro-appQuickoffice Pro is my mobile Office application of choice.  It provides all the usual tools for creating, editing, viewing Microsoft Office documents.  It supports Word, Excel, Powerpoint and PDF’s.  When it comes to documents you can use local documents stored on your device (Android, iPhone/iPad) or stored in various cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Google Docs, Box.net, etc.

     

    Titanium Backup Pro

    TitaniumBackup-appTitanium Backup Pro is a fantastic application but it will only worked on rooted devices, which is something I think most people will do to their Android devices, it makes them more usable (in my Opinion).  This application will also allow you to remove some of the  bloatware that comes on some Android devices.   You can not only back up to your local storage on the device but also to Dropbox for all it’s cloudy goodness.

     

    Tasker

    Tasker-appTasker is a full automation application for your Android device.  Think CRON for unix, but inject Schwarzenegger levels of steroids into it.  Some of the automation I use on my phone include, keeping my GPS turned off at all times but Tasker will turn it on when I start an application that needs it, then switches it off again when I exit the app.  When my phone connects to my home Wifi network it will switch off Bluetooth and force GPS off since I don’t need at home, also, while at home, between 11pm and 7am if the device is plugged in it will silence the phone so I’m not annoyed at night.  The possibilities are just about endless for this app, and it’s worth every penny.

     

    Games

    There are so many games available it’s really hard to list the ones I’ve played and liked, but I suppose a short list would have to be:

    Angry Birds.  There are different versions and personally, I think they should all be downloaded and played  Smile

    Airport Mania (Free) – You get to control the process of incoming and outgoing air planes.  It’s not as simple as landing them and taking them off though, you need to get to them to the terminals, get them fuelled up, cargo loaded, washed if their dirty and repaired if they need maintenance.  I’m considering buying the paid for version as I’ve completed the free version, it really was quite addictive.

    Jewellust is another must have game.  Spring for the paid for version, you won’t be disappointed.  The kids also love playing this game.

     

    Essential apps for “work” (or geeks)

    These are a few apps that I feel are a must off for work or just geeking about on the Internet

    ConnectBot

    ConnectBot-appConnectBot is a must for SSH.  It not only supports SSH Keys but also port tunnelling.  This is very useful to get access to internal destinations on a network that allows you to SSH into.

    LogMeIn Ignition

    LogMeIn-appLogMeIn Ignition isn’t a cheap app, and it’s about the only thing people complain the most about, the price.  But, if you have a load of machines setup to use LogMeIn you will not regret paying the price for the application.  I have 5 or 6 PC’s configured with LogMeIn (Free) and I find this tool simply awesome.  I can access my PC’s with the phone (or tablet) over pretty much any sort of connection and it just works.  GPRS is a bit slow but it does work, which is impressive.

    Wyse PocketCloud (Pro)

    WysePocketCloud-appThis is the best RDP/VNC client I’ve used on Android, it also supports VMWare View if your company uses this.  I’ve not actually tried this function myself, but the VNC and RDP are very good, couple this with ConnectBot and you can tunnel your way into a network and access RDP over the SSH tunnels.

    Wifi Analyzer

    WifiAnalyzer-appThis is a great tool for doing Wifi surveys with, you will need an additional installed app to use it.  Check out the screen shots of it on the Market, it really does a very nice job.

     

    A few others I must also mention are:

    Shark for Root – Wireshark network sniffer (also get Shark Reader to read the output on the Android Device)

    Net Scan – Scan your local network for devices and open ports

    Root Explorer (for rooted devices) – Poke through everything on your Android and mount areas Read/Write so you can modify system files – Danger Will Robinson, Danger

     

    I hope you find this helpful, and I’d love to hear what apps you MUST have on your Android, and tell us why.