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Android Ireland

Sherlock and Smith and copyright images

Remember how Lamar Smith, sponsor of SOPA, used a copyrighted image for his website’s background image without permission? Sean Sherlock, the junior minister preparing Ireland’s SOPA did something similar on his website (which is currently down).

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Android

SSH Socks Proxy for Android Phones

Android has had VPN support for donkey’s years but I could never get it working. I tried pptpd and xl2tpd but pptpd didn’t work (and has security holes) or the configuration is daunting and lengthy when all I want is a simple proxy.

There’s also HTTP proxy support built into Android. It’s exposed in Samsung and other ROMs at Settings->Wireless and Network->Wi-Fi Settings, Advanced. Apparently this app sets things up correctly too. I’m not sure if it’ll do authentication however unless you add the username:password in the hostname. I also don’t want to install Squid on my public internet server!

So, the holy grail of proxying would be doing so through ssh. Nothing else to install on my server and I get an encrypted tunnel through the internet and out of Ireland which might be a good thing to protect my privacy from the prying eyes of the Irish Government. A far more mundane reason is the security of my data from others on a public wifi network. (Aside, on what will the record companies blame the falling numbers of CDs sold when the Irish version of SOPA is passed?)

The good news is that you can now create an ssh tunnel from your Android device. The bad news is that it has to be rooted to make the most of it. Go grab the SSH Tunnel app and you’ll be sending data through your remote host in no time. There’s also a beta version that uses an OpenSSH native binary rather than a Java implementation. I haven’t tried that yet, the stable version worked fine for me.

You can stream Netflix through it, and browse the net, post to your blog or whatever else takes your fancy. All through a secure tunnel to a remote server.

In case you’re interested, it’s simplicity itself to do the same thing on Linux or Mac computers using the installed ssh client. On Windows just use Putty!

Categories
Android

Get your SGS Cyanogenmod 7 Here!

The Cyanogenmod 7 nightly builds for the Samsung Galaxy S stopped quite a while ago but the the builds linked from this thread work just fine and get you the latest CM7 nightly. Not touching CM9 until there’s at least a stable release as it’s my wife’s phone now!

Categories
Android

Kids Place Android Parental Lock

My new favourite app is Kids Place. It’s an application launcher for Android that only allows access to the apps you want. The parental lock is protected by a 4 digit PIN but the launcher can be disabled by rebooting the phone.

A launcher app, with child lock, for Kids to protect your personal data & apps.
Creates a safe area on you device for kids. Child lock protects your personal information when kids are using your phone or tablet by restricting them to apps you approve

My son loves playing games on my phone and I usually put it into Airplane mode so he can’t go online accidentally but once in a while he’ll move the icons around or make new folders. Luckily he never deleted any contacts or messages but with this app I don’t have to worry any more. Parents, go get this app if you have an Android phone!

Categories
Android Games

Your favourite iOS and Android Games in Real Life!

Cut The Rope, Airport Mania, Angry Birds and Plants vs Zombies all feature in a new music video by HeyGeronimoMusic. My favourite part is the dog in the Cut the Rope scenes but the Plants vs Zombies bits come close!

Great fun!

Categories
Android Photography

Oh look! There’s Jupiter!

My wife called me out to the back garden tonight to see the bright object in the sky near the moon. She thought I might know what it was you see. I, uh, didn’t. I thought it might be Mars because of the colour but I knew how to find out! Google Sky Map to the rescue!

I quickly installed the app on my phone, pointed the device at the moon and hey presto! Instant astronomer! Ok, maybe not but it’s still a very cool app. The last time I tried it I found the map was a few degrees off which might have been something to do with the GPS on the original SGS. On the SGS II however it was accurate and a pleasure to use.

Thanks Google!

Categories
Android

Samsung Galaxy S II Blues?

So you just bought Samsung’s new Galaxy S II smart phone. Nice isn’t it?

One of the first things I noticed when I turned it on was the unusual blue colour cast on the screen. It’s impossible to capture in a screenshot but I soon found out how to fix it and promptly forgot about it again. I was only reminded of it by the Ars review of the phone. Oddly they found the phone to have a yellowish colour cast:

But the screen has a very warm cast to it even at the brightest settings, so whites look yellowish-brown, like you’re looking at the phone through sunglasses. Samsung may have tuned it this way to mitigate the AMOLED’s brightness, but we found it off-putting. This isn’t an obstacle that can’t be overcome, and we’d likely get used to it after a while—some people prefer warmer-toned screens. But every surrounding phone’s screen will always look bluish and undersaturated by comparison.

It’s easily fixed by going into Settings->Display->Background effect. In my experience, “standard” looks a bit pale, blue and cold, “movie” looks a bit yellowish and warm. I finally selected “dynamic” and that looked the best. Whites look white. Persil would be proud.

Oh, the phone is fabulous. The default launcher sucks but it’s simple to change that (Go Launcher EX, thank you!). Google had all my settings already recorded so it was only a matter of logging into Google and it sucked down all the apps I had previously from the Android Market. Same with contacts. Definitely the easiest phone upgrade I’ve ever done.

Also check out this lengthy Anandtech review of the phone. Quite a bit of reading!

Categories
Android

Living with CyanogenMod 7 for Samsung Galaxy S

My phone, a Samsung Galaxy S, has been running CyanogenMod 7 for the past week or so. The first week was a bit rocky. The phone ignored vibration settings at first and would vibrate when ringing, and when I hung up. In one call I couldn’t hear the caller at all! It also ignored my ringtone setting and used the first mp3 on the phone (not so bad, it was a Fun Lovin’ Criminals track!)

Anyway, I practically had to upgrade. I was running an earlier version of the Voodoo rom which unfortunately didn’t behave. Wifi kept turning itself off and I used my allowance of 3G bandwidth a couple of times. I did try to update Voodoo but screwed up and had to do a factory reset. Thankfully I had a backup done with Titanium Backup! After restoring my apps I decided to take the plunge to CM7. Why? Gingerbread!

CyanogenMod is an aftermarket firmware for a number of cell phones based on the open-source Android operating system. It offers features not found in the official Android based firmwares of vendors of these cell phones.

Initially I installed the 7.1.0 RC1 but there were problems as I mentioned above. There are nightly builds however and they’re supposed to be fairly easy to install. I screwed that up too but eventually got everything working! I’m now running nightly #67 and things have been fairly smooth.

CyanogenMod 7 is a very good mod. My phone is flying along and while it does offer advantages over the stock kernel (updated more often plus other features) you do miss out on the excellent Samsung Camera app, and battery life is slightly worse. The FM radio doesn’t work either but I haven’t bothered to investigate that as I rarely use it.

Flashing a new rom isn’t for the unadventurous. If the idea of rebooting into recovery mode, possibly changing radio drivers and knowing you might run into a world of pain scares you, don’t do it! Gingerbread, the latest Android firmware for phones, is making its way to the SGS and if you haven’t got it yet run KIES and you may find it waiting for you. The advantage of using CM7 is that they can move to the very latest Gingerbread (2.3.5 at the time of writing, my phone company only offers 2.3.3). Nightly build #70 introduced that version of the OS. You might want to keep an eye on this thread on the XDA forums too. There are problems with the nightlies but of course most of those who have no problem won’t be posting there so you’re bound to see a concentration of negativity. #67 works fine for me. YMMV!

How fast is my Samsung Galaxy S now? I ran Quadrant Standard three times, with progressively better scores.

  1. 1612
  2. 1977
  3. 2015
For comparison, the original Samsung Galaxy S had a score of 750. I would be very interested to hear how the stock Samsung Galaxy S with the Samsung Gingerbread firmware compares.

It’s still not quite as fast as the Galaxy S with the venerable “One Click Lag Fix” I benchmarked a while back. That used EXT2 however, a filesystem lacking journaling features important to maintaining data in the event of a system crash or problem.

Would I recommend CyanogenMod 7? If you’re a techie and can live without the Samsung Camera App then yes. Go for it. If you’re an Open Source fan who hates proprietary software you should definitely go for it. You even have to install Google Apps separately because they are proprietary software!

If you just use your phone to take photos, check Twitter and make phone calls, then don’t go near CyanogenMod 7 (or any firmware TBH!) just yet.

Categories
Android

My Favourite Android Apps

I’ve used a Samsung Galaxy S since August last year and in that time I’ve downloaded and played with lots of apps and games. Here are a few of my favourites.

  1. Tweetdeck
  2. Dolphin Browser HD
  3. Kindle and FBReader
  4. Amazon Appstore and Android Market
  5. Reddit is Fun
  6. GO Contacts/Dialer/Launcher EX/SMS Pro
  7. CardioTrainer
  8. WordPress
  9. aCar
  10. Juice Defender
And some games
  1. Galaxy Domination (not on the market any more, now here!)
  2. Cut the Rope
  3. Guns ‘n’ Glory

Besides those, there are so many apps on my phone now that it’s ridiculous. I recently started using the Google+ app, and the Amazon Appstore gives away a free paid app every day so that’s my first port of call shortly after 8am every morning. There’s also getjar.com who have a free ad-supported version of Cut the Rope, as well as many other apps and games.

I used to play a lot more games, I’d dive into Galaxy Domination any chance I’d get but now I’d rather read a book in the Kindle app or FBReader, or check out the latest Reddit posts on “Reddit is Fun”.

If you have a phone with a fairly big screen (the Galaxy S has a 4 inch screen) then reading on them is a rare pleasure. No more fiddling with bookmarks or holding the spine of a thick volume open. Go on, head over to Amazon now and pick up a cheap ebook. You might just like it!

You might wonder how much has this all cost me? I’ve bought quite a few books on the Kindle store (I still think it’s wonderful that I can visit Amazon from my phone and buy a book), but I’ve only bought 2 apps. Those would be aCar (purchased through the author’s website) and just last night I bought Juice Defender Plus. As I mentioned in a previous post on battery saving tips that app shuts off the various radios in your phone when not in use, switching them on momentarily for syncing on a regular basis. The free version turns off the 3G connection when the screen is locked, but not wifi. The paid for version  does that and it’s well worth it. Battery life sky rockets after using this app!

Categories
Android

Amazon Appstore opens in North America

The Amazon Appstore for Android opened today and apparently Apple are already suing them for confusing consumers with a name similar to their App Store.

I wouldn’t really know because after downloading the Appstore app (beautifully simple procedure: click a link in an email/text to a .apk file) and logging into Amazon it refused to let me download the exclusive Angry Birds Rio game.

The Amazon Appstore for Android is not yet available in your region

Good thing I’m sick of Angry Birds, but it’d be nice if it worked over here too!