Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Size Matters: iPhone 5 vs. Samsung Galaxy Note II

Three hot new phones this season are the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3, and Samsung Galaxy Note II. I personally have a Galaxy S3 and love it. The screen is 4.8" and is a nice improvement over my Galaxy S/Captivate. However, the S3 is just the middle road... the real players in the size-off are the relatively tiny iPhone 5 and the monstrous Samsung Galaxy Note II. If you want a cutting edge phone, the size alone may help you decide.

The iPhone 5 has few selling points over the previous model other than the increased size. However, it is still very small. It looks about the size of a Wal-Mart brand ice cream sandwich at a flat 4". The Samsung Galaxy Note II has a number of selling points such as a quad core CPU, the s-pen, and multi-window operation, but the real stand-out here is size at a whopping 5.5". It is no ice cream sandwich in size, it is more like a sub sandwich. Just check out the difference. It is more than 25% larger than the iPhone 5. Is it too big to be usable? While the iPhone 5 is still 'phone-size,' the Galaxy Note II is 'phablet-size' for sure.

Maybe we have reached the point that it makes sense to be fitted for a phone prior to purchase? Can you palm a basketball? If not, you should probably avoid the Galaxy Note II and go for the iPhone 5. However, if you find knock-off ice cream sandwiches annoyingly small, you should probably skip the iPhone 5 and go for the Galaxy S3.

Just check out the iPhone 4s compared to the Galaxy Note II!



Monday, December 17, 2012

2 New Social Media Management Tools You Don't Know About

This is a service for setting up Twitter contests/surveys/interactions in many different forms and also makes for easy generation of microsites synced up with those promotions. It costs money, but seems reasonable. It looks preferable compared to any of the similar Facebook solutions I have seen (Facebook requires contests to be run off of approved 3rd party app providers who all charge too much in my opinion).

I have been looking for something like Buffer or Hootsuite that also manages Google+ and this is it! It manages multiple Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ accounts all from one login. This also has insanely cool tools for tracking social activity. Note that is the main aspect where you will start getting limited if you don't want to pay at least $50/month. However, the free plan is much more generous than Hootsuite as-is. It allows up to 15 accounts to be managed including multiple Facebook and Google+ pages from multiple different accounts.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How to Hide the Ruler in Chrome Developer Tools

A few weeks ago I posted about Google Chrome v.23's New Ruler Feature however I have had some feedback that many users don't like it and want to disable it. Unfortunately, Google didn't include a toggle/disable option for the rules in this release but it is coming in a future release.

In a future Google Chrome release, the developer tools options menu General tab "Elements" section will have a "Show Rulers" checkbox which will allow you to hide the rulers. Check out the preview below.

The future Chrome developer tool options will include "Show Rulers"

The current Chrome developer tool options exclude "Show Rulers"

If you want to stay on the cutting edge of Chrome, you should download and use Google Chrome Canary which includes the newest features. By the nature of Chrome Canary, it is not production ready so it will have issues and may completely fail from time to time. It is a good way to see what sort of features Google has in the pipeline for Chrome however.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Top 10 Apps for Samsung Galaxy S3 (Jelly Bean CyanogenMod 10)

If you've rooted your Samsung Galaxy S3 and installed CyanogenMod 10, here are my top 10 must-have apps! These are in no particular order...
How to Root Your Samsung Galaxy S3... and Why? Top 3 Root-Required Apps
How to Upgrade Your AT&T Samsung Galaxy S3 to Jelly Bean 4.1 (CyanogenMod10)... and Why?

  1. GooManager - This makes keeping up with gapps updates super easy. With the specific configuration on my phone (ClockworkMod Recovery) the automated install/update functions don't work. However, searching for the latest version of gapps, downloading it, and rebooting into recovery to install it couldn't be easier. This is a great app to keep on hand and it is official, so it stays up to date unlike some other ROM management apps that check for updates of gapps.
  2. Triangle Away - This is good to keep handy since the Samsung Galaxy S3 has a flash counter. This app allows you to reset the flash counter so that it appears your device has never been flashed. I suggest doing this ONLY if necessary. There are risks involved with running this tool. I keep it handy just in case I decide to flash back to stock and un-root my phone.
  3. Titanium Backup (Pro) - This is a must-have for any rooted Android. This app is a life-saver when it comes to maintaining app data. You can backup and restore any app, even system apps. Same with data. You can even backup and restore bluetooth settings and accounts. Set an automated schedule for backing up apps and store a few versions at a time. You can also sync to Google Drive or Dropbox.
  4. ROM Toolbox Lite (Pro) - This is a 'monster app' according to the developer. That is not an exaggeration as it basically includes the functions of 20+ individual apps. While I like the convenience, I still prefer to use the individual apps intended for these various functions. This app still makes the list though due to its epic feature list.
    • ROM Management is like ROM Manager: a tool for checking for ROM/gapps updates.
    • App Manager is a mix between Titanium Backup and the built-in Android App Manager: allows you to perform a number of operations against any installed app.
    • Root Browser is like ES File Explorer: allows you to browse the root directory and open/edit files.
    • Scripter and Terminal Emulator: allows you to create, save, and run command line scripts and Linux utilities.
    • Ad Blocker: directly edits your hosts file with the proper entries for blocking ads, porn, casino, and risky sites. Also includes a DNS changer tool and app level ad detection settings.
    • Auto Start Manager: like startup management for a PC, this lets you enable or disable broadcast receivers for any app on startup.
    • Configure Apps2SD: allows you to force all apps to install to SD Card or internal storage. Default setting is auto.
    • Rebooter: gives quick access to special reboot options such as reboot, reboot recovery, power down, or reboot the status bar only.
    • CPU Control and Kernel Tweaks: allows you to overclock or underclock the CPU to save battery or boost performance.
    • build.prop Editor: makes editing the build.prop file easy so you can alter the lcd density, decrease call ring delay, increase wifi scan interval, and more.
    • Memory Manager and Task Manager: this is an improvement on the built-in task manager to improve performance and save battery life.
    • SD Booster: makes read/write on the external SD faster by increasing cache size.
    • Font Installer: allows selection from over 150 fonts that can be applied for a custom look.
    • Boot Animations: allows selection from over 300 boot animations that can be applied for a custom look on bootup. You can also use your own custom GIF.
    • Theme Manager and Statusbar Icons: lets you customize your selected theme and install new ones
    • Theme Chooser: allows you to browse 100's of themes available for download (this doesn't work on the current version of CyanogenMod 10 for the AT&T SGS3)
  5. ROM Manager (Premium) - With a ClockWorkMod Recovery rooted Android, this app is obligatory. It offers shortcuts and utilities for functions that can be performed through the actual recovery. You don't really need this, but it can come in handy to keep tabs on updates and to process backups/restores.
  6. BusyBox (Pro) - This is a must-have for any rooted Android. Just install it, run the install process, and you're done.
  7. ES File Explorer - This should be standard for any rooted Android. Install this to gain full read/write access to your internal storage, internal SD card, and external SD card. This (along with DroidEdit) makes tasks like updating the hosts file super easy.
  8. Adobe Flash Player (apk) - Unfortunately, Adobe Flash is no longer supported in Android 4.1+. This means you'll have to download and install Flash from a source other than the Play Store. Luckily, it is super easy to do. The link goes to an XDA forum thread which has more details. It mentions installing Dolphin Browser, but simply installing the Flash apk worked to enable Flash in the default browser in my case.
  9. Headseticon - After installing CyanogenMod 10, I no longer received a headset icon in the notification bar when plugging in an aux cable. This app fixes that and goes the extra step of letting you pick a an icon from an extensive list of options. You can also define a default volume level and even set an app to open when you connect an aux cable.
  10. avast! Mobile Security - This is a must have app for any rooted Android. It combines top-of-the-line virus protection, firewall, phone locator, remote phone management, and more to give you the ultimate in security and control of your data's integrity.

Friday, December 7, 2012

How to Upgrade Your AT&T Samsung Galaxy S3 to Jelly Bean 4.1 (CyanogenMod10)... and Why?

I recently put up a short blog post on How to Root Your Samsung Galaxy S3... and Why?

Since then, I have installed Jelly Bean 4.1 (CyanogenMod 10) on my rooted Samsung Galaxy S3. The process went surprisingly quickly compared to installing Jelly Bean on the Samsung Captivate which I did a few months back. Here I will share the steps to get this done on your SGH-i747 AT&T Samsung Galaxy S3 as well.

Before I go through the steps though, I want to share the "why" on this upgrade.
The SGS3 is a new phone and retails for a hefty sum of dollars. Even with a 2-year contract it goes for up to $200 or so. Modifying it better be worth it, right? To me... it is. I already took the plunge by rooting the Samsung Galaxy S3 so I could use many of my favorite apps without limitation. In the end, I could only take the AT&T bloatware and Android 4.0 for so long. This is because I had been running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on my Samsung Captive for months and had gotten spoiled by it. The ROM was CyanogenMod 10 which is one of the most reliable, supported, and tested ROMs available. There were some features I found myself missing while using the stock AT&T Android 4.0 on my new Samsung Galaxy S3. I missed these features enough to upgrade to a CyanogenMod 10 after owning the SGS3 for just over a week.

Some of the features/improvements from CyanogenMod10/Jelly Bean 4.1 that are must-haves for me include:
  1. Google Now and voice search
  2. Reboot into Recovery/Download mode and screenshot option from power menu
  3. Detailed notifications for emails/texts which show extended previews, even for multiple email/text notifications
  4. Shortcut icon 'groups' for the launcher
  5. Improved interface for selecting which app to execute a specified action with
  6. Improved interface for copying/pasting
  7. Improved web browser with built-in ability to set the user agent
  8. Ability to customize the notification LED
  9. Battery/signal icons for the notification bar can include actual values, not just icons
So on to it... how to install Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (CyanogenMod 10) on your AT&T SGH-i747 Samsung Galaxy S3:
Keep in mind that you alone are responsible for the results here. I am only sharing my experiences, methods, and results for your information and curiosity. Once you root and/or flash a new ROM to your phone, you are risking 'bricking' your phone and at the least you will no longer be covered by warranty. This method is specific to the AT&T SGH-i747 model. Other carrier models will need to follow different steps.
Guide to revert your AT&T SGH-i747 Samsung Galaxy S3 back to stock
Official forum thread for the CyanogenMod 10 ROM for the SGH-i747 AT&T Samsung Galaxy S3
  1. Follow the steps in my previous post: How to Root Your Samsung Galaxy S3... and Why? to root your SGS3 and install ClockWorkMod Recovery. Ensure you can boot into CWM recovery successfully and perform a backup.
  2. Download the most recent 'stable' CyanogenMod 10 ROM (currently from 11/13/2012) to your computer.
  3. Download the most recent Google Apps package (currently from 11/30/2012) to your computer.
  4. Connect your Galaxy S3 to your computer and transfer the 2 files above to your phone's internal memory. Backup your phone's files to your computer at this time if you prefer.
  5. Boot into recovery (you can do this via ROM Manager, ROM Toolbox, or just by shutting down the phone and holding down the Volume Up, Home, and Power buttons together until it boots into recovery mode.
  6. Use the volume keys to highlight 'Wipe data/factory reset' and press the power button to select that option. Select 'yes' to confirm.
  7. Now go back to the main menu and select Install ZIP from SD card, then Choose ZIP from SD card
  8. Find the CyanogenMod 10 zip file and select it, then 'yes' to confirm.
  9. Once complete, go back to the main menu and select Install ZIP from SD card, then Choose ZIP from SD card again.
  10. This time, find the Google Apps zip file and select it, then 'yes' to confirm.
  11. Finally, go back to the main menu and select reboot to boot up your phone newly CyanogenMod 10 equipped Samsung Galaxy S3.
  12. Setup your Google account(s), configure all the options/settings, and enjoy!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Google Now Updates for 12/5/2012 with Updated Card List

Google Search aka Google Now has just been updated for Android 4.1+

I am loving this service and it just keeps getting better! Check out some of the features that have just been added:

For Android 4.1+ (Jelly Bean), Google Search keeps getting faster, plus:

New cards:
- Events nearby
- Suggestions to help with your research
- Boarding passes from Gmail (United only, more to come)
- Search by camera when at museums or shops
- Weather at upcoming travel destinations
- Approximate monthly summary of walking and biking activity
- Birthdays

New voice actions:
- Post to Google+
- Say "What's this song?" to find the song you hear
- Say "Scan a barcode" to find product info

This builds on to an already huge list of 'cards' provided by Google Now when you need them:

Activity summary

Shows a rough approximation of how far you walked or cycled during the past month.


Displays an interesting fact about your birthdate on your birthday.


Shown before your favorite artists give concerts near you, or before other popular events are scheduled near you.


Shown before flights that you've searched for.

Gmail: Event bookings

Shown before an event booking confirmed by Gmail.

Gmail: Flights

Shown before flights confirmed by Gmail.

Gmail: Hotels

Shown when you receive a confirmation email and before your scheduled checkout.

Gmail: Packages

Displayed when you receive a shipping notification for an online purchase.

Gmail: Restaurants

Shown before a restaurant reservation confirmed by Gmail.


Shows movies playing in your vicinity, and tells you when a movie you're interested in is playing nearby.

News update

Shows updates related to news items you've read recently.

Next appointment

Shown before scheduled meetings.

Photo spot nearby

Shown when you're near a popular spot for taking photos.


Shows nearby businesses and other places of potential interest. If you're at a museum or shop, you can use your camera to look up artwork or get product information.

Public alerts

Gives public advisories for your location from the National Weather Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and similar services.

Public transit

Shown with relevant schedules when you're near a bus station, train station, or other public transit stop.

Research topics

Shown when you've recently used Google Search to research a topic, such as a trip you're planning.


Shown for teams that interest you before, during, or after a game.


Shown periodically for stocks you're tracking. For more details, see About stocks card.


Shown before your usual commute times

Travel: Currency

Shows the latest currency conversion information for your location.

Travel: Nearby attractions

Shown when you're near well-known attractions, such as restaurants, museums, and cafes.

Travel: Time back home

Shown periodically when you're in a different time zone than usual.

Travel: Translate

Shown when you'retraveling in a foreign country, to help you translate words and phrases.


Periodically displays weather for home, work, or your current location.