Amazon Drive synced folder

Amazon Drive newest client supports folder syncing

Good news for data hoarders, Amazon Cloud Drive client popped up with an update today and to my surprise after installing what I assumed it was just a bug fix it included a highly requested feature – Folder Synchronization. A feature available in all other similar services such as Dropbox, Microsoft’s Onedrive and Google Drive. Even though Amazon Drive excels in one feature – offering unlimited space – until now it operated more as a backup service where you had to choose when, what and where to upload your files. Note that you could have sync functionality with Amazon Drive even before using third-party clients but it’s always nicer to have it built-in the official one. With the new version it automatically syncs any files you have in Amazon Drive’s online root folder and it allows you to pick any sub folders that are already backed up to be synced with your local Amazon Drive folder. In the meantime any new sub folders you create locally are automatically kept in sync.

Unfortunately syncing doesn’t have a placeholder functionality that OneDrive used to have and newer versions of DropBox implemented but at least they kept the option to back up files without having them synced.

Recent & Worthwhile in Web Development

PHP

  • Remember Me – Safely Secure Long Term Authentication Strategies
    A detailed explanation on how to implement the Sign in ‘Remember Me’ functionality securely in PHP (the concepts are the same for every language). I must admit I never considered timing attacks for the authentication token until I read this.
  • Laravel 5.0 was released
    The 5th installment of one of the most popular PHP MVC and all-around frameworks was released. Wrote a summary of the changes in another post.
  • HHVM 3.5.0 Released
    The Facebook supported alternative PHP VM has a new version.
  • Cockpit
    A plug-n-play CMS for PHP sites. Targeted to developers, who built web apps and don’t want to re-invent the wheel every time for the content parts of their app. Uses SQLlite or MongoDB as data store.
  • Return Types Declarations approved for PHP7
    In PHP7 we’ll be able to declare the return type for functions and will be enforced causing a fatal error if a different type is returned.  Here’s an example of how it will look taken straight from the RFC:
    function foo(): array {
      return [];
    }

JS /HTML / CSS

  • ReactJS for Stupid People
    A good introduction on what Facebook’s ReactJS is about and why you should use it.
  • Animated Bezier Curves
    Demonstration of how parametric Bezier curves are constructed. Uses D3, and the code is straight forward, just View Source.
  • Konva JS
    Object-oriented 2D HTML5 Canvas Framework. Event driven, layer support, drag and drop, shape nesting, animation and all the usual bells and whistles.
  • mProgress.js
    Material Design style animated progress bar. Uses CSS3, has no other library dependencies and has beyond the ordinary features such as indeterminate progress (7.7kb minified JS).
  • RubaXa Sortable
    Minimal & customizable Sortable with touch support and no dependencies.
  • fieldVal
    Programmatic Javascript Field Validation library (runs both on browser and server). Includes an optional UI library for presenting validation errors in forms.
  • TauCharts
    Javascript charting library which aims to be flexible rather than offering pre-packaged chart setups.
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.

 

 

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.

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.
 

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!

x86 Emulator in your Browser

For me, this one-man project is like magic. A fully-blown x86 emulator which runs a real-world BIOS (SeaBIOS). This means it can run regular x86 16bit OS’s as long as the browser allows it enough resources. It goes a long way to show what’s possible in the browser these days (well to be honest, this could have been done 3-4 years ago if Javascript was taken as seriously as it is today). It obviously runs slower than native performance but it is quite usable, especially with command line interface. There is no real practical use at the moment but maybe with further development something similar can be used to emulate x86 on ARM based devices in the future.

Take a look for yourself at http://copy.sh/v24/. There’s 4 OS images you can load directly from the page, including FreeBSD, Linux, FreeDOS and KolibriOS which is GUI based. You can also load your own ISO images to boot in the emulator. KolibriOS works fine so does FreeDOS, which even has some playable DOS games like Tetris and Snake which brought back memories of my MS-DOS days.

For experimental purposes only I also downloaded a Windows 3.1 ISO CD image off piratebay and tried to run it but it didn’t really work (I think the problem was with the image not being properly bootable rather than the emulator – after all Windows prior XP was first booting MS-DOS and then running Windows). I also attempted to load TinyCore Linux but I didn’t get far with that one either. TinyCore’s ISO is just under 15MB with GUI included. It took around 10 minutes to boot on an i7 laptop but never made it into the GUI.

Anyway if you don’t have the time to fiddle around you can view the following 5 min video I made running the emulator in Chrome:

Cyprus Broadband and Mobile Marketshare (Q2 2013)

According to statistics released by the Cyprus Office of Electronic Communications & Postal Regulation (OCECPR) the broadband market share for the 2nd Quarter of 2013 are as follows:

Broadband Marketshare Cyprus 2013 (2nd Quarter)

Cablenet seems to be the winner of that period with a 2.7% increase while Cyta continues to be the loser with a 2.9% decrease. During this period the broadband penetration in Cyprus was 69% (down from 71%, same period last year). This is the first time it decreased since broadband connectivity was first introduced to Cyprus. This can be accounted to the economic situation (a lot of businesses closed down, taking their connectivity with them) and the fact that a lot of people use mobile connectivity for their basic internet fix.

On the mobile battlefield, the percentages are as follows:
Cyprus Mobile Marketshare 2013 (2nd Quarter)

High quality photography from simple cheap lenses using post-processing (Video)

Sample Results
Sample Results

There is a good reason why DSLR camera lenses are so expensive; in order to perfectly focus an image many lens elements are required making the whole system expensive to both to design and manufacture. But with the following research it seems like there is a high quality future for cheap lenses too. The research paper describes a way to post-process images, shot through a cheap single element lens and bring out the lost sharpness of the original image. The process works by calculating the way the image is distorted when passed through the lens and then reversing its effects. To do this they first shoot calibration targets and mathematically extract the distortion pattern for the particular lens. You can view the video below for more details:

I can see this having a good practical application in mobile phone imaging where due to the size of the optics its nearly impossible to include a multi-element lens.

Source: Project Home Page

Google Reader – my favorite website is shutting down – what are the alternatives?

The Facts

In a move that I fail to understand Google announced on the Google Reader blog that they will be shutting down their service for good on 1st July 2013 due to ‘decreasing number of users’. I and many others probably don’t think of course this is the real reason, Google Reader is one of Google’s cheapest to run products but it probably hinders parts of their greater agenda to push their social media platform Google+ (i.e. if you subscribe to an RSS feed you don’t need to follow the page on Google+ to get updated, so removing your RSS reader might push more users to Google+).  (more…)