lg g2 android 5 lollipop

LG G2 will get Android 5.0 Lollipop

LG “officially” confirmed that LG G2 will receive a firmware update for the latest version of Android 5.0 Lollipop sometime during early 2015. The news came in the form of a Facebook post on LG Germany’s page mentioning that LG G2 Android 5.0 ‘is coming’, you can view the post below. The latest LG flagship phone, the LG G3 already received Android 5 in Poland (probably released in one market to test it before going worldwide) and as you can see in the video below it looks quite good. Even though the important changes are under the hood it appears they haven’t changed LG’s own skin a lot (layouts are the same, options are where they used to be), but at least the use of Google’s material design guidelines is apparent throughout. Maybe for G3 it didn’t take that much work since the UI was already  along the lines of Android 5.0 so the interface changes for G2 will be much more visible. So I guess this will keep my 1 year old G2 alive for another year until LG G4 comes out and start considering an upgrade.

 

 

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hubiC1

hubiC cheap 10TB cloud storage and Dropbox new pricing

There have been some updates in the cloud storage industry since my last post

hubiC – new cloud storage provider

First time I heard of hubiC I thought ‘yet another cloud storage provider’ but I was wrong. hubiC is a product of OVH one of the largest Internet Service Providers in Europe which has been around for 15 years. Their headquarters and most of their data-centres are based in France, hosting 170000 servers (and 18 million websites). I used to rent a dedicated server from them for a couple of years and I had absolutely no problems with them. Being this large and old it hopefully also means it won’t disappear along with my data tomorrow and that they have more than basic knowledge of network security to keep my data safe. They give 25GB space for free and 100GB for 1 euro per month (inc vat) undercutting Google Drive by about 50 cent per month – not really worth switching providers for. Where hubiC shines though is their 2nd tier package at 10TB for 10 euro per month. Here’s a quick list of features:

  • Owned by a large company with many years experience in cloud and hosting
  • Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry clients.
  • Based in Europe means faster for us than Dropbox and Google Drive.
  • 10TB for 10 euro (0.1 cent per GB per month)

One concern I have about hubiC is that if its desktop apps work the same way as Dropbox it means it will be really hard to ever utilise the whole 10TB. Dropbox for example mirrors what you have stored on your dropbox folder to the cloud and any other desktop client you have running with the same account which means if you fill up 1TB of space, you need 1TB of space on your Laptop too. Consider the same with 10TBs. I will test their Windows app using the 25GB free package and post about it later.

Check hubiC out at here.

Update 1:
Tested upload speed with a bunch of RAW Image files totalling 300mb on 3mbit upstream. hubiC averaged to 325kb/s upload speed.
On their web interface if you choose more than one file to download, it sends you a ZIP file containing the selected files.

Dropbox “dropped” the price

Dropbox took its time but followed Google Drive’s and Microsoft OneDrive’s example and decreased its prices. They simplified their paid plans; now only one non-business option is available and costs 9.99 euro per month for 1TB if paid monthly (which is about 10 times more expensive than hubiC) or 99.99 per year. If you are US based you get the same for 9.99 USD, which means we are getting ripped off as usual.

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online-shopping

Online Shops that ship to Cyprus

Its extremely frustrating to find a product you want to buy online only to realise they don’t ship to your country (and to do so, sometimes you have to go through the process of filling up 3 pages of sign up forms). Living in Cyprus which happens to be too small to be a viable marker for many its very rare to find online stores that care to send their products all the way to us. So I made the following list of places that I’ve either ordered before or I know that ship to Cyprus. I plan to keep this list updated as I find new Cyprus-friendly shops – and if you know any I missed, please let me know. So here’s my list:

 

Site Ships from Products & Notes
Play.com UK (and more) Video games, Books, BluRay/DVD, Mobile accessories, Limited selection of clothes. Sells other products too but doesn’t ship to Cyprus.

Used to ship to Cyprus for free when it was a single shop but now it became a reseller platform so some sellers will send for free some for a small fee. But in general they do send to Cyprus without a problem.

Game UK UK Video Games, Console accessories.

Good prices, has new games on time. No free shipping but cost with shipping usually comes about the same as Play.com

Zavvi UK Video Games, Movies and limited range of computer products/laptops.

Quotes prices in Euro and has free shipping to Cyprus via Post for most items. Appears a bit more expensive than Game.co.uk on the items I checked but might be compensated by the free shipping.
(Thanks to Dimitris Georgiou for the tip)

Overclockers UK UK Laptops, Desktops, PC Components.

Best shop for hardcore PC gamers. Has custom built gaming machines, and a great selection of high end PC components. If you are building a powerful PC, you should look here first. Prices are OK (you can probably find cheaper if you look elsewhere). They might give you some trouble when ordering from Cyprus, in the past I was asked to send a scan of my passport, but after that they sent my order without any delays.

Computer Universe Germany General Electronics, Laptops, Mobile Phones, Tablets, Cameras, Lenses, PC Components, HiFi.

Only found out about this store recently and haven’t had the chance to order from them yet. But compared to other sources they seem to have the cheapest PC components and a good selection of them. Also their laptop section has almost everything you’ll need. They ship using regular post (DHL in Germany but you’ll receive your product in the Post Office in Cyprus) or UPS which costs considerably more.

B&H Photo USA Everything Photography Related, Laptops, Tablets, Professional Audio & Video, TVs and Projectors.

One of the few US based shops that will ship any of its products to Cyprus. If you are interested in photography this is the site to check. They sell cameras, lenses, tripods, lights, filters accessories and anything a photographer might need, from the cheapest snap cam to the most expensive and rare SLR Lens. The prices are good you will have to pay taxes in Cyprus since they ship from outside EU, so in some cases check amazon.co.uk or ebay.co.uk for the same products before ordering. They ship via UPS or Air Freight for large items such as TVs (which can be costly). They also offer the option to prepay taxes through their site. Personally I never used that option and it turns out you pay a little less tax in Cyprus.

Adorama USA Photography, Laptops, Tablets, Professional Audio & Video, TVs and Projectors.

Similar product range with B&H Photo, ships to Cyprus via UPS.

Clove UK Mobile Phones, Tablets & Related Accessories.

Never used them myself but I know people who did and are quite happy. They have the latest handsets in stock almost immediately after release (usually earlier than Cyprus retailers) and their prices are quite good. In addition to credit cards they also support PayPal which is a plus.

HandTec UK Mobile Phones, Tablets, GPS.

Similar product range to Clove, but appears to be slightly cheaper (at least for Samsung and LG models I checked).
(Thanks to Michael Demetriou for the tip)

Please note I am not including any Chinese stores, since there is literally hundreds (if not thousands) of them that usually sell the same products via drop-shipping and they all super happy to ship to Cyprus (usually for free via regular post). I might write another post about Chinese shops in the future.

I also don’t include Amazon.co.uk because a lot of its sellers won’t send products to Cyprus.

If you know of any other shops that you think should be included in the list above please post about them and your experiences in the comments.
 

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WordPress1900x1068

How to enable WordPress Debug Mode in 60 seconds

If you are a WordPress developer or if you just installed a misbehaving plugin you will need to enable WordPress’s debug mode in order to figure out what made your site get into the dreaded blank white page (unlike Windows WordPress has a White-Screen-Of-Death). So here’s the quick step-by-step guide to get you going:

Step by Step

  1. Connect via FTP to your site (use FileZilla which is free, if you don’t have an FTP client already installed) or just open your text editor if you are running local.  (15 seconds)
  2. Browse to WordPress home directory, and open wp-config.php for editing. (10 seconds)
  3. Hit Ctrl-Endor scroll to the bottom of the document, locate the line that says define(‘WP_DEBUG’, false);  – you can find it a few lines before the end of the file. (15 seconds)
  4. Change false to true and Save. (15 seconds)
  5. Refresh the page and you should be able to see the errors.  (5 seconds)

 

Total: 60 seconds.

 

Its recommended you don’t run this option on a live production site but if you really must, make sure you turn if back off when you are done. Alternatively you can enable the debug log to be sent to a file instead of the browser by also adding the following line in your config file:

define(‘WP_DEBUG_LOG’, true);

This will cause the error messages to be saved in a file called debug.log in the wp-content sub-folder of your installation. Again make sure this file is protected because by default anyone from the web can access it in the particular folder.

 

And if my instructions are not detailed enough you can look at the long version on the WordPress codex.

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PDF Product Catalog for WooCommerce Plugin

WooCommerce PDF Product Catalog Plugin v1.0.8

Has only been one and a half months since I published the PDF Catalog for WooCommerce plugin on CodeCanyon and since then I released 5 versions. Most feature additions came after requests from users who purchased the plugin.

The latest release 1.0.8 which went online this week and includes:

  • Support for high-res JPEG image embedding (the site’s admin can choose the resolution of images used based on a predefined list). Also added a slider to choose the JPEG compression quality coefficient.
  • User role restrictions – a highly requested feature which allows the admin to choose which WordPress User Roles have access to download the store catalog.
  • Enabled PDF Subsetting in TCPDF. The admin can still pick to disable it. Essentially this only embeds the required ligatures from the font in the PDF file. For UTF8 encoded catalogs cuts down the file size by about 300k depending on language and amount of text.
  • Ability to Hide ‘HIDDEN’ products. As weird as this might sound some users wanted to be able to see products in PDF for which they set their visibility to Hidden in the Product editor.

The plugin can still be downloaded from here.

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Typescript

Typescript compiler got a re-write and is now 5 times faster

According to Typescript’s blog on MSDN, they’ve rewritten its compiler from scratch and surprisingly also moved the compiler’s repository to GitHub. The new version which from a feature point of view identical to the previous version, generates Javascript code 5 times faster. For those who don’t know what Typescript is, its an attempt by Microsoft to make Javascript better, especially for large scale projects. Technically you can write pure Javascript and the compiler will just let is pass through but it will enforce variable types and declarations. So if you are already familiar with Javascript, it just ads a safety net layer for data types and some utility syntax for writing human-readable object oriented Javascript.

I still haven’t tested the new version but I can assure you the original one is noticeably slow. Running the compiler automatically through PHPStorm I found myself many times saving the .ts file then switching to the browser to test only to realize that compilation is still not done and had to switch back to confirm its done before re-refreshing the page. Hopefully this is now a thing of the past.

The announcement can be found here.

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Screenshot_1

Recent Good CSS / Javascript Videos (July 2014)

More JSConf 2014 US edition were posted online a few hours ago. I didn’t have the time to watch them all yet but I’ll keep this post updated as I watch them.

 

Mark DiMarco: User Interface Algorithms

 

A very good talk about two algorithms and how they can be used in Web UI (he also makes some pretty funny Game of Thrones jokes). The talk focuses on two cases, one is how to increase the hit-state of elements on the page using Voronoi (quite complicated algorithm, but thankfully its already implemented in Javascript in D3, find out about it here). The other case is about menus with sub-menus, explains how to solve the problem we all faced in the past, having to move the mouse precisely horizontally on the popup sub-menu in order for the sub-menu to remain open. The solution is not that complicated and according to the video is used by Amazon’s mega menu. You can find a good explanation by Ben Kamens here.

Angelina Fabbro: CSS In Your Pocket – Mobile CSS Tips From The Trenches

 

Skip the first 4-5 (mostly introductory) minutes to get to the juicy stuff. Some good points about mobile web performance and compatibility are raised but the most interesting parts are about the cutting edge updates in Firefox DevTools including the CSS Coverage Report (which works for multiple pages showing you what entries in your stylesheets are unused). There is more information about it on https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Tools/CSS_Coverage”>MDN here. Currently only works on Nightly builds of Firefox but hopefully will make it to Aurora soon (the channel I use).

 

G C Marty: Play DVDs in JavaScript for the sake of interoperability

 

G C Marty explains his quest to play his huge collection of DVDs on his mobile phone directly in the browser. His aim was to replicate the full DVD experience including menus, chapters, multiple angles, audio tracks and subtitles. He tried several methods, including using a proxy server to decode the video in real time and send it to the mobile browser via WebRTC which failed with sync issues and high hardware requirements and pre-converting DVDs into WebM using a Raspberry Pi running nginx to do the streaming. He released his project in open source on github.

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VuTalk Uninstall on LG G2

If suddenly your LG G2 phone started un-installing VuTalk don’t panic its not malware. LG decided to discontinue the VuTalk app and with it made sure that no one uses it anymore by automatically removing it from every phone that had it installed. The app that your phone downloaded automatically was used to delete all data that was kept on the phone by VuTalk and then removed itself.

The reasons they did that remain unknown, probably not a lot of users were using it and it turns out it wasn’t worth their trouble updating it. Unfortunately they didn’t warn users or given them the option to keep the app even if no longer supported. So if you were a fan of sending drawings to your contacts, LG just said ‘Tough Luck’ to you. If you know the exact reason, please post a comment to enlighten us too!

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cloud storage

In search for the best Cloud Storage

The past couple of months I started receiving warnings from Dropbox that my ‘gift’ 50GB space that came with the purchase of a Samsung Galaxy S3 2 years ago is coming to an end. I am left with around 20 days so I started looking at the alternatives because Dropbox is pricey. I already have accounts with Google Drive and Microsoft’s OneDrive and I also checked out Box at some point but never really used it. For Google Drive I have an 80GB plan which I signed up for years ago when Picasa Web Albums was still alive (it still is but I have the impression Google will pull the plug soon).

Just today OneDrive announced some big price reductions making it more competitive to Google Drive.
Here’s a table of the current pricing of the storage providers I am considering:

Annual cost for 100GB

Dropbox GoogleDrive Box OneDrive
$99.00 $23.88 $120.00 $23.88

Since Box is more expensive while not offering anything better than Dropbox I am no longer be considering it. Since I am currently using Dropbox I won’t need to do anything other than just buy more space. A great feature of Dropbox which I would miss if I was to move to DropBox is its automatic photo uploads for mobile devices. Any photos taken on mobile are automatically saved on my Dropbox and then automatically downloaded to my PC, keeping them both safe and available without having to do any manual transfers. Google Drive has a similar feature but with a catch; instead of saving photos to Drive it sends them to Google+ which means you don’t have direct file access to photo folders. If you want to download them you have to browse your Google+ profile and download them one by one, a very painful process. There is a third-party Android app which does automatic photo upload to Google Drive but I haven’t tested it yet – the fact that I will need to run another app in the background which could drain more battery worries me. OneDrive is supposed to have an automatic photo upload feature more in the lines of Dropbox than Google but I haven’t tested its Android app yet. It comes built-in Windows 8.1 and all Save Dialog default to OneDrive which is convenient for a Windows user like myself. Microsoft was  wise enough to release apps for all platforms so Android is covered. Another great feature of OneDrive is that unlike Dropbox, files stored in the cloud do not necessarily require to have a local copy. The OneDrive app ties in with Windows and creates place=holder files for large files and only downloads them when they need to be opened. This is especially useful for users on SSD drives which tend to have limited capacity.

Until today I was leaning towards GoogleDrive but I am reconsidering and might give OneDrive a go. I’ll install OneDrive app for Android and see how it goes. In the meantime I believe prices will continue to fall because of competition between Google and Microsoft.

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PDF Product Catalog for WooCommerce Plugin

PDF Product Catalog for WooCommerce – my new plugin

The idea for this plugin came to me after a request from a client for whom I developed a WordPress / WooCommerce based online store. The client wanted to have downloadable price lists in PDF format for each product category. His original plan was to generate the PDFs manually offline and upload them to the site but obviously there was a better way. So after doing some research and tests on some PHP classes for generating PDF files I made a polished WordPress plugin and published to CodeCanyon.

At the time of writing it has the following features:

  • Widget for PDF Download Buttons
  • 5 PDF Catalog Templates included.
  • Create your own PDF templates in HTML.
  • Generate per Category PDF and/or Complete Store catalog.
  • 4 pages of admin options to fine tune your catalog content and design.
  • Tested with stores with more than 1000 products.
  • Pure PHP Solution (no need to install any plugins / does not use external services).
  • Hide / Show catalog elements (e.g. SKU, descriptions, prices).
  • Upload your own logo.
  • Support for UTF8 catalogs (non-latin characters in PDF)
  • Customize catalog text.
  • Include product images in catalog.
  • Support for product variations.
  • Customize colors from Admin Panel.
  • Hyperlinks in PDF for each product
  • Caching for increased performance (catalogs are only generated once)
  • Automatic page numbering.
  • Header / Footer on each page.
  • Send PDF to browser or force download option.
  • Customise which categories appear in catalogs.
  • Full Documentation included.
  • Tested with WordPress 3.8, 3.8, 3.9 and WooCommerce 2.1.x

Thanks to comments I received on CodeCanyon I got ideas for other features, especially integration with other WooCommerce plugins which hopefully I’ll manage to implement soon.

The plugin can be purchased here for 15USD.

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