Category: Apps

Romoss Sailing 5 13000mah External Battery Unboxing and Review

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I got myself a Romoss power brick this morning from a Sulit seller. I’ve been hunting for a good deal for an external battery online for the past 2 days and found Anker at Amazon, unfortunately, I have to have something before the weekend as I’m travelling to the province.

It’s the first time I heard of the company, but since the seller offered 6months warranty, compared with 1 month warranty for Yoobao, I took the chance and ordered their 13000mah model.  Here are some unboxing photos. Stay tuned for the review, as I needed time to test the product. This costs Php 2,000.

sailing 5
DC5V 2.1A
1.DC5V 1A  2.DC5V 2.1A
Charging Time
~8 hrs (2.1A adapter)


Box Contents: The power brick, a USB cable and a user manual.



Sorry for the watermark. The input port is micro USB, there’s a button to check the power level and there’s 4 LED to show the battery status.

image_42 Output Ports – 2.1A and 1A.


Here’s the power brick side by side with a Galaxy S3.


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Windows 8.1 and Lenovo Thinkpad T410 Sleep Issues

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I just installed the GM version of Windows 8.1 from my MSDN subscription on my 3 year old Lenovo T410 and decided to revert back to Windows 7(Yes, I skipped 8.0). The most pressing issue I encountered is that the laptop won’t wake up from sleep. When you close the laptop to put it in sleep mode, it won’t wake up after you open the screen. The laptop seems to initiate very few IO, then decide to just sit there idle(no screen display, no disk activity). You have to power cycle the laptop to get it working again.

This is a big flaw for me. I don’t shutdown my computer and basically just put it in sleep when I don’t use it. I am in front of my computer mostly throughout the day and it makes no sense shutting it down as it slows me down. I only reboot/shutdown when i’m on vacation or installing some patches.

I’ve tried everything from updating the BIOS to installing the latest power management driver from Lenovo. I will update this post when I find a solution to this issue. Stay tuned.

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Access your Android phone’s SMS from your Android tablet and PC

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Since the first tablets arrived circa 2010, my daily phone usage(on the aspect of using the none phone features) has gone down. I mostly use it now only for SMS and calls and do the rest of the stuff on my tablet(browsing, movies, music, reading etc). The release of a special class of devices called phablets bridged the gap but in my case, I don’t really like its form factor. I feel it’s too big of a phone and too small of a tablet.

At home, my Nexus 7 is always with me more than my phone. The phone stays in my room, while the the Nexus goes with me in the Living Room, Bedroom, Dining Room, Comfort room, you name it. The problem is, having all my attention on my tablet, I miss SMS and calls from the phone since it’s out of physical reach.

And then I found MightyText. This is a free solution that allows you to send and receive SMS/MMS from your Android tablet and PC/Mac. Just install the Android app and use your google account to register. Install the Chrome plugin and you will be able to do the same from your PC/Mac using the browser. You can also view photos that you took on your phone(optional, and disabled by default).

The app requires Internet access to work, though it would be nice if it could also support bluetooth as a backup. The app communicates to a cloud server using your Google account which in turn notifies all your connected devices when an SMS/call is received. Sending SMS basically works the opposite way, your device send the message to the cloud, then the app in your phone receives it and send it via SMS using your carrier.

It’s a perfect app for me, but one of my concern is privacy. Since your SMS/call information/contacts and even photos is routed to their server, they have access to your private information. I’m still considering if I will use it full time. I just hope they offer a paid service where my data is encrypted using my key on their servers. This will make me use their service more.



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How to use Netflix in the Philippines – VPN service or DNS redirection? Know how to pick which service works best.

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Since PLDT just upgraded my bandwidth, I thought it’ll be fairly decent now to stream movies and TV shows using the upgraded connection. I’m now getting 10Mbps max on my Plan 3000 subscription and streaming HD content works fine on 5Mbps the last time I tried, although occasionally the stream reverts to SD content. I thought the extra 5Mbps of traffic would probably sustain the HD content longer.

Netflix/Hulu are US only services. However, there is a way to access it outside the US. There are several ways to do this, but I’ll only discuss what tricks I’ve tried.

First, by using a VPN service(I tried HideMyAss VPN). A VPN service creates a tunnel between your home connection and a VPN endpoint. The tunnel is created by using a VPN client software, where you configure with the VPN endpoint’s IP address and some authentication parameters. The VPN service provider has a list of servers located in different countries around the world. You pick which country to connect to and all your traffic will be redirected to that server as if coming from that country and not in PH. Location aware application like Netflix will then work, since the IP address from your request will now be coming from the VPN endpoint(which has a US based IP address)

Advantages of VPN:

  • If you want to surf anonymously, VPN will hide your IP address from the website you are trying to access.
  • Some websites restricts access to a specific region/country. If the VPN service has a VPN endpoint in that country, you can use VPN to access that website.
  • Connection between your PC and the VPN endpoint is encrypted.

Disadvantages of VPN:

  • Performance. Although VPN service offers different ways to connect(PPTP, L2TP or OpenVPN), I generally find it slow.  
  • If you want all your home network under VPN, router config is a bit tricky. You need to have a supported router(dd-wrt, openwrt). If you want tunnel for a specific machine, then VPN clients for different OS is available.
  • Once you establish the tunnel, all your Internet based traffic will be rerouted to the VPN endpoint. This is a pretty useful feature of VPN, because this allows it to connect networks together(imagine head office and remote office VPN), however for this application(using Netflix in PH), it would not make sense to route all traffic.

Second way to use Netflix in PH is by using DNS redirection(I tried unblock-us). Instead of using your ISP’s DNS server, you point your PC/router to the service’ DNS servers. Now the trick is, your request to Netflix will not be routed to Netflix directly, because they will redirect it to their server, which will then forward it to Netflix. Since they’re in the US, Netflix will work.

Advantages of DNS redirection:

  • Performance. You can utilize your entire download throughput for the streaming experience.
  • Easy to setup. You can even configure your router so that all device under your home network will have the service. Although I won’t recommend this.

Disadvantages of DNS redirection:

  • Security. Although some of them says they will not log/filter your traffic, who knows? Traffic is unencrypted. So I don’t recommend utilizing this on all your machines – only use this on your media center PC.
  • If your router changes its WAN IP address(fairly common on DHCP connections on DSL), you need to reestablish the connection using a browser.

So, this summarize the services I’ve tried to make Netflix work in Manila. On the next post, I’ll document my experience on using it on an Apple TV. Stay tuned!

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Windows vNext – Not really Windows Blue, nor Windows 9, but Windows 8.1

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A leaked version of the next version of Windows came out and according to rumors, it will just be an upgrade to Windows 8. Windows 8.1 was said to be offered for free.

Scheduled to be released this year(probably Q3, 2013), it seems to be merely a service/feature pack for Windows 8.

So I guess my question is, will this be just an update on Windows Update? Unlike Apple, Windows often break applications when a major SP/version is installed. I agree that Windows 8 is the fastest client Windows ever, but stability is an equally important thing.

I just want my an option to bring back my old Start Menu. If MS gives that feature on 8.1, then i’m a happy camper.

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Windows vNext – Codenamed Windows Blue

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Since last week, news from the rumor mill talks about the next iteration of Windows 8, code named Windows Blue brewing up. Today, a Microsoft job posting kinda confirms this rumor with specific reference to the term: Could someone from MS HR spill the beans for this supposed to be secret project?

We’re looking for an excellent, experienced SDET to join the Core Experience team in Windows Sustained Engineering (WinSE). The Core Experience features are the centerpiece of the new Windows UI, representing most of what customers touch and see in the OS, including: the start screen; application lifecycle; windowing; and personalization. Windows Blue promises to build and improve upon these aspects of the OS, enhancing ease of use and the overall user experience on devices and PCs worldwide.

Windows 8 for me is an an optimized Windows 7 if you only talk about performance. However, it’s not just performance that make sense for most of us. The highly risky decision to combine touch with traditional desktop interface did not give Windows 8 the needed user acceptance for majority of us, but I trust that this will improve over time.  I hope Microsoft release OS updates just like Apple does on OS X, with significant increase in user experience and performance at a very reasonable price. I think Windows 8 price is not justifiable at this moment.

With rumors of the Microsoft VNext less than 3 months after Windows 8 was released, i would think MS is releasing an upgrade within the year. Would they listen to us? Well, your guess is as good as mine. 🙂



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Fix: Evasi0n jailbreak, crashing Weather app

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The long awaited untethered IOS 6.x jailbreak finally arrives. Team Evad3rs released v1.0 of the jailbreaking utility to the public today.

The first time I tried to jailbreak my device, I ran all native iOS apps on my phone and noticed the weather app crashing when executed. The simple fix is to update evas1on installed on your phone! Here’s the simple steps.

  1. Open Cydia
  2. Under the Changes tab, you should see an upgrade to evasi0n 6.x untether. The latest version is 0.1-1.
  3. Try the weather app again and it should run now.

There you go!evasi0n_header_2

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How to Restore Specific Time Machine Volumes

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I have a circa 2011 Macbook Pro with 2 disk drives. If you are not aware, you can replace the DVD drive with a DVD Drive Caddy so you can use it as a disk drive instead. Doing so allowed me to have a 120GB SSD drive for my MacOS drive and the original drive as my data disk.

The other day, my data drive reported an I/O error when copying a rather huge file(around 8GB). At first I thought it was my destination USB flash disk giving up, but upon closer inspection, it was my data drive starting to fail. The drive itself has given me a hint a few weeks back, when it started producing those squeaking motor noises. I guess it started to fail at that time and begin producing bad blocks.

Before I replace the disk, of course I need to backup my data. I used a 500GB external USB drive as a temporary Time Machine backup. It successfully backed up both of my volumes(MacOS and Data).

Now here’s the messy part. Time Machine does not allow you to selectively restore a volume. My SSD drive hosting MacOS is fine, its just the data that I need to restore. So here’s what you need to do:

  1. After you replaced the failed data drive, you will not be able to login to MacOS using your account. Reason is, you’ve moved your User Profile to a different volume, so if its not there, login will fail. However, you can login using the root account(you enabled root, don’t you?).
  2. Insert your Time Machine backup and locate your most recent backup. Restore the specific volume to the new drive.
  3. Make sure the new drive has the same name as your previous volume.
  4. Reboot. You should be able to login again. Some profiles you need to recreate, like in my case, Dropbox asked me to reinstall!


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Cool Reader for Android

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I’m on a hunt for the best eBook reader for the Android. Since I got the S3, I thought of giving my kindle to my wife and just use my phone to read books. One of the first recommendation was use the kindle app, but I would need something that can understand multiple formats since my eBook collection roots from various tablets that I use(iOS, Kindle, Android).

I first tried Aldiko, but noticed that it does not load mobi files, so I looked for alternatives. Someone recommended Cool Reader and after installing it, I kinda liked it. Cool reader supports epub, fb2, txt, doc, rtf, html, chm, tcr, pdb, pml formats and a ton of features that helps you makes reading ebooks easier.  The page renders perfectly on Samsung S3 and if not for the phone’s bigger screen, i would have opted to continue using my Kindle. I highly recommend this app if you have an Android phone/tablet.

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Tasker App for Android Phones

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I recently got a chance to do an Android project and part of it was to do some performance tests on an app. I’ve been testing security products for the past 5 years and this is the first time that I will be testing on a mobile device. Fortunately, Android has a very nifty all around automation utility called Tasker.

I used Tasker to automate phone tasks. I’ve written an android app to monitor the phone’s memory, CPU and disk statistics in the background and use Tasker to automate real world phone activities. The screenshot below shows some actions that you can automate. The latest version has a couple more categories.

Tasker supports conditional logic which allows you to create loops in your scripts. Likewise, you can create variables and manipulate them from within the script. It can also integrate with 3rd party apps(there are more than a dozen)

Scripts can be triggered on various conditions. Triggers could be time, location, state, event or by an application.  The thing that I like is that it supports multiple profiles. This allows you to re-use the same script and bind them to different triggers.

The app is priced $6 and its well worth it.

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