Tuesday, 29 July 2014

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY REVIEW


Some would have you believe that Guardians of the Galaxy was a risky venture for Marvel Studios. Based on relatively unknown characters and tasked with ushering in the Cosmic era, it has a lot to contend with and even more riding on it. If it was a risk, it’s paid off… big time. Guardians is right up there with the very best Marvel has made – bold, brash, fast-paced and action-packed, not to mention the funniest blockbuster in ages.

Everything revolves around Peter Quill, an Earthling who was abducted as a child and raised amongst the stars. Quill grows up to become something of a self-styled outlaw – the legendary Star-Lord, no less – who spends his days raiding tombs and hawking valuable trinkets around the galaxy, and his nights romancing the indigenous lifeforms. The film opens with Quill retrieving one such treasure – a small silver orb that suddenly everyone wants. He soon meets Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot – a bunch of intergalactic waifs and strays, thrown together by circumstance and misfortune. But there are more darker forces at play, who want the orb for sinister reasons than simply making a quick buck.
Guardians feels at once both epic and intimate. While the plot may be stuffed with galactic peril – worlds are threatened with annihilation, species face extinction, and dog fights play out against breathtaking vistas – it’s really more of a backdrop, in front of which the universe’s unlikeliest heroes meet, fight, and ultimately forge bonds of real friendship. It’s not that the events aren’t interesting, it’s just the characters themselves are way more compelling and the film’s real focus.
And each hero, if you can even call them that, enjoys their moment in the spotlight, but more importantly (and impressively) director James Gunn somehow finds the time to create bonds between individual members. They all share moments. So when they inevitably embrace their identity as a team – in one of the film’s sharpest scenes – it makes total sense and feels right. Of course, these character would fight for each other. This was impressive in The Avengers, capitalising on the foundations laid by several movies over many years, but Gunn pulls it off in little over two hours. Bravo.
That’s partly down to some truly standout performances. Where to begin?
Chris Pratt is perfectly cast as Star-Lord. Cocky and heroic in equal measure, he’s just as comfortable delivering the hero’s speech as he is dishing out crass one-liners. He’s anti-establishment but hopelessly sentimental, a womaniser and a romantic. It’s a brilliantly assured performance, and it’s a role that has the potential to become iconic. Zoe Saldana’s Gamora is a great foil, meanwhile – steely and determined, she reliably cuts through Quill’s bravado and kicks ass in her own right.
And it’s impossible to not fall a little bit in love Rocket and Groot. Bradley Cooper taps into a bottomless reservoir of sarcasm for Rocket, and while Groot might not be the most demanding role Vin Diesel has ever played (actually that might not be true) with just three words of endlessly repeated dialogue and some great CGI, the simple and sentient tree provides the team with some much needed warmth.
The film also has something of a secret weapon in Dave Bautista’s Drax. Barely glimpsed in the trailers, he has some of the film’s funniest lines, which Batuista delivers with deadpan wit and great timing. Elsewhere, John C. Reilly and Glenn Close make the most of their supporting roles, again largely thanks to some great writing. So much of Guardians is instantly quotable.
Leaving them to last almost implies the villains are somehow the weak link, but Ronan the Accuser and Nebula are cool enough antagonists – Lee Pace is sinister, Karen Gillen ruthless, and the character designs for both are superb – it’s just the film isn’t really focussing on the relationship between hero and villain. It’s about the Guardians themselves, and for a first outing, it’s the right call.
It’s one of many smart decisions taken by Gunn. For a film that’s quite out there, it’s extremely flattering that it doesn’t spend half of its running time explaining itself. It assumes you’re paying attention. You’ll figure out what the Nova core is. And even smarter is the way it handles the potentially onerous task of introducing the cosmic to the Marvel Universe and setting up future films – in true Guardians fashion, it doesn’t worry too much about it. Much of the plot turns on that little silver orb, which for the purposes of Guardians acts as little more than a good old-fashioned MacGuffin, setting events in motion while remaining largely unimportant to the overall plot – early on, Star-Lord even slyly refers to its as the film's Maltese Falcon. But when taken in the wider context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's anything but meaningless, perfectly laying the groundwork for some really big events to come.
And for anyone concerned that Marvel is somehow afraid of taking chances in light of recents events, there could be no better riposte than watching Guardians of the Galaxy on a continuous loop. It embraces Gunn’s eccentricities and puts them front and centre. Whether its troll dolls, dance-offs or 80s power ballads, for such a big and crucial movie in the Marvel Universe, Guardians is delightfully irreverent.
Being allowed such freedom has obviously let Gunn hit upon its unique tone. Sardonic yet sweet, knowing but also deeply sincere, Guardians taps into something special. For instance, it eagerly embraces the heroic – Star-Lord will blast off into space against all odds, risking his life to save another – but it also wants to mock and downplay such moments. Or take the pop culture references made by Star-Lord, who is, lest we forget, a child of the ‘80s. It’s a device that could’ve so easily been overused, or done with a smug, self-satisfied wink to camera, but Gunn once again pitches it just right.
THE VERDICT
Maybe Guardians of the Galaxy would’ve been a huge risk in lesser hands, but from the opening credits to the final reel, there’s a genuine swagger about the whole film. It exudes charm and confidence throughout, and is flippant in all the best possible ways. From the moment Star-Lord dances into view, it’s almost as if James Gunn and his entire company can be heard saying, ‘What are you worrying about? We got this.” Yeah, you really have.

MapmyIndia offline navigation app launched for iOS


The NaviMaps offline navigation app developed by MapmyIndia has been available for Android devicesthrough the Google Play Store since a long time, and it has now finally been launched for iOS gadgets via iTunes. This useful piece of GPS-based software comes with a freemium download model, which basically asks you to pay for its services if you wish to continue using after three days of free access.
MapmyIndia NaviMaps
We don’t quite think Google Maps should be wary of this release, however, it’s always good to see competition in the market since it keeps companies from getting complacent. NaviMaps app has a 3.9/5 rating on the Play Store right now, and its user reviews are mostly dissatisfied. But then it’s human nature to be slow to appreciate and quick to complain, so we won’t slam it till we’ve tried it for some time.
MapmyIndia NaviMaps
This MapmyIndia app is compatible with Apple devices running iOS 5 or higher, and works even better with iPhone 5 series of handsets. One of its key highlights is offline navigation which enables users to store maps for later referral in case they’re traveling around in an area with dodgy internet coverage. Live traffic data is available for areas like Delhi, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Noida, Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Kalyan, Thane, Pune and Bengaluru.
MapmyIndia App
The free version of NaviMaps offers three alternate routes along with one pedestrian route, live traffic information, location and route sharing, single line predictive destination search and much more. If you decide to spend some bucks on the premium application, you’ll also get voice guidance in English and 10 regional languages, offline 3D maps, real-time turn-by-turn navigation with house level addresses, maps for countries other than India and more.
MapmyIndia’s NaviMaps app has been priced at Rs 160 and is available for download for iOS as well as Android devices.

Samsung Galaxy Star 2 Plus and Galaxy Ace NXT to retail for Rs 7335 in India at launch


The Android KitKat smartphone market in India is about to be invaded by the Samsung Galaxy Star 2 Plus and Galaxy Ace NXT, both falling in the entry-level category. The new Samsung handsets are currently listed on the official eStore at Rs 7335 and while the share the same price tag, their specs vary.

Galaxy Ace NXT

The Samsung Galaxy Star 2 Plus is essentially an upgraded version of the original phone that went official at the start of this month. While it continues to offer Android 4.4 KitKat with a toned-down version of TouchWiz out of the box, the display size and resolution (previously 3.5-inch HVGA) have been increased to 4.3 inches and WVGA, respectively.

The processor here is the same single core Cortex A7, but the clock speed is 1.2GHz. Additionally, the battery capacity is now 1800mAh, while the rear camera is of 3MP and is accompanied by an LED flash. Memory provisions remain the same at 512MB RAM, 4GB storage and 32GB microSD expandability.

The Galaxy Ace NXT has also been spotted on the company’s website, but some local retailers have already put it up for grabs in the country. The phone is quite similar to the Star 2 Plus where design and specs are concerned, but it does have a few different components.

Overview of the key Samsung Galaxy Ace NXT specifications:

- Android 4.4 KitKat w/ TouchWiz Essence UI
- 4-inch WVGA display
- 512MB RAM, 4GB storage
- 1.2GHz singe core processor
- 3MP rear camera
- Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, HSPA+, GPS
- 1500mAh battery

Be sure to check out the eStore listing for more information on the Samsung Galaxy Star 2 Plus and Galaxy Ace NXT. There’s no word on when the two smartphones will be released.

Ninja Up app review: Jump for your life




Ninja Up
Jump for your life
Test your reflexes and channel your inner acrobat with Ninja Up, the latest title from Gameloft. This simple game makes you the steward of a tiny ninja who wants to jump to the stars, but needs you to secure his path by drawing ropes to act as launching pads. The smaller the rope, the higher he jumps. The ninja can also bound off the walls to avoid the obstacles that crop up on your path, such as construction cranes. If you miscalculate his trajectory by even a little bit and crash him into a building or send him back to the ground . . . well, it’s “bye-bye, ninja.” Death — or at least something like it — is a constant companion throughout the game, a fact that the designers have tried to soften with euphemisms like “the ground wanted to say hello.” Ninja Up is maddeningly addictive.
The game is free — and has no in-app purchases — but users do have to be willing to sit through advertisements. Most of the ads are small; every few times you die, though, you will get served a full-screen ad that can break up the flow of the game. Free, for iOS devices. Android version is in development.

Google wants to know how the human body works


A "smart" contact lens developed by Google to monitor glucose levels in tears. Photo courtesy of Google.

Google is exploring the human body, hoping to develop a definition for a “healthy” person by cells and molecules.
This ambitious project, which the company claims “has never been done before” and known as the Baseline Study, is being led by the Google X secret laboratory, Google said in a statement Thursday.
The study is now in its pilot phase as researchers enroll 175 anonymous healthy individuals over the course of the summer. Study participants will go through exams similar to what they would receive from a primary care physician, including the collection of body fluids like urine, blood and saliva.
“It may sound counter-intuitive, but by studying health, we might someday be better able to understand disease,” said Andrew Conrad, molecular biologist who is leading the study at Google X. “This research could give us clues about how the human body stays healthy or becomes sick, which could in turn unlock insights into how diseases could be better detected or treated.”
This is not the first time Google has stepped into the health market. The company has also been developing a smart contact lens that can help monitor glucose levels in tears and automatically adjust their focus for diabetic patients.
But the Baseline Study is is more extensive and potentially intrusive, particularly since it includes collecting participants’ genetic and molecular information. The company says it will use its enormous computing power to find patterns, or “biomarkers” buried in the information, potentially pushing medicine more toward prevention rather than treatment.
For example, if researchers find a generic “biomarker” in people who break down fatty foods efficiently, researchers could check if other people lack such biomarker and help them modify their lifestyle to reduce the risk of having high cholesterol and heart disease, Conrad told the WSJ.
Google said Baseline is intended as a contribution to science and is “ not intended to generate a new product at Google,” unlike other Google X products including the Glass wearable and driver-less cars. The company plans to make the study and research data available to qualified researchers in health-care fields, which is a fast-growing industry estimated to create 5.6 million new jobs by 202, according to a study from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and Workforce.
There are also privacy concerns regarding how Google will use the data, including the entire genomes of the study participants and even their parents’ genetic history, which could be invaluable to insurance company who are always trying to reduce their business risks. Conrad told the Wall Street Journal that Baseline will be monitored by institutional review boards through the entire process. Medical schools at Duke University and Stanford University will control the use of information once the study is fully launched.

ANDROID RACING GAMES WORTH CHECKING OUT


Racing might be one of the most popular gaming genres out there, so it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to imagine that there would be some great racing games on Android too. Here are some that are definitely worth your time.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted - Rs. 300

Need for Speed: Most Wanted is one of the most enjoyable arcade racing titles you can find on mobiles. It has tight accelerometer controls, great tracks, and for some cross-platform fun, it even integrates with EA’s Origin service to compare your standing on the “Blacklist” with that of your friends, regardless of what platform they play Most Wanted on. It features some of the most famous cars out there, including the SRT Viper GTS, the Porsche 911 Carrera S and the Hummer H1 Alpha. Whether you like tuners, muscle cars or SUVs, Most Wanted's got you covered.

Asphalt 8: Airborne – Free

Asphalt 8: Airborne Review
While the previous Asphalt games had some daredevil stunts you could pull off, Gameloft’s latest offering, Airborne, has a much greater emphasis on it. As the name would imply, while racing through streets all over the world with some of the world’s most recognisable cars out there, you’ll have a hard time avoiding the death-defying jumps and barrel rolls as you race to the finish line. Airborne also has some great online multiplayer.

Riptide GT 2 – Rs 119.41

Roads aren’t the only venues for races. Riptide GT2 has you racing hydro jets across waterways in some of the most visually breath taking worlds you'll see this side of a gaming console. It has everything you would expect in a racing game - upgradeable vehicles, awesome race tracks and insane stunts. Don’t feel like going at it alone? Riptide GT2 also has online multiplayer so you could challenge your friends and destroy friendships forever.

Blur Overdrive – Free

If everything I’ve listed so far sounds too plain and boring for you, you might want to give Blur Overdrive a shot. It adds some much needed violence to an otherwise straightforward genre. Eschewing quite a few genre traditions, Blur Overdrive opts for an overhead view rather than the third-person or cockpit views we’re used to. Like the Mario Kart series, Blur Overdrive also has power-ups and weapons strewn across its race courses for you to use and abuse against your opponents.

GT Racing 2 – Free

If you're looking for some simulation racing on your mobile, GT Racing 2 might be what you’re looking for. The game boasts of 71 licensed cars and 13 tracks, including the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Cars from a number of manufacturers are available, including Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Dodge and Audi, among others. It also has online multiplayer. All in all, with GT Racing 2, you're basically looking at the Forza of mobile games, with microtransactions.

MOBILE GAME SPINOFFS WORTH CHECKING OUT


With Hitman GO getting its own DLC, let’s have a look at some of the other handheld spin-offs that are great games all on their own and deserve our attention.

Call of Duty: Strike Team

Set in the Black Ops series, this handheld title blends together the first and third-person perspectives to make the most of the touchscreen controls. The two-man team you control can be moved around the map from an overhead camera, only to switch to the familiar first-person view when bullets fly and grenades need throwing. The loadout for each soldier is customisable and both, the overhead planning and navigation stages, as well as the FPS sections show a surprising amount of polish, along with a few tweaks that make touchscreen aiming less frustrating.

Deus Ex: The Fall

deus-ex-the-fall-android
Nobody ever asked for a Deus Ex mobile spin-off, but Eidos Montreal delivered a superbly polished experience anyway. Condensing the series’ twisting plot, augmentation-based upgrade system, and polished cover-based shooting mechanics into a small touchscreen based package, The Fall stays true to its roots and continues the story of the novel Icarus Effect. Running parallel to Human Revolution’s plot, this handheld gem follows SAS member Ben Saxon as he goes in search of answers and winds up revealing some secrets behind HR’s bosses. While the game could’ve been longer and the shooting better, it’s startling how much The Fall resembles its console cousins.

Dead Space

Dead Space on mobile was so much more than a lazy port. A genuine part of the story canon and set between the first two games, this portable package of horror handily captures the chilling atmosphere of the original Dead Space. And while some concessions are made for touchscreen devices, such as swiping to simulate dual analog controls, the necromorph dismembering gameplay is still as fun and terrifying as in its big budget predecessor. Complete with rock solid production values that one doesn’t usually associate with mobile spin-offs, Dead Space is perfect for those who want a bit of gory horror on the go.

Mass Effect: Infiltrator

Most tend to disregard Infiltrator as a “companion app” to Mass Effect 3, but this well-polished third-person shooter is an excellent game in its own right. Infiltrator’s gameplay features the same cover-based shooting from the main trilogy, but optimised and simplified for touchscreen devices. While the return of biotic powers is welcome, the lack of commandable squad mates may put some off. But anyone who’s a fan of the series will enjoy the storyline and high production values. The fact that it helps your Galactic Readiness in Mass Effect 3 is just icing on the cake.

Rayman: Fiesta Run

rayman-fiesta-run-iphone
Fiesta Run captures the colour and festive spirit that permeates all games starring the armless French wonder. Set in the Rayman Origins universe, Rayman sprints across 72 beautifully colourful and challenging levels, leaving the player to guide him by jumping, ducking and punching obstacles. Fiesta Run expands on its predecessor - Jungle Run, in every way, including the ability to shrink, slide and swim across water as well as bounce between the foregrounds and backgrounds of levels and face down bosses. The game is tough but fair, and will appeal to fans of the Rayman series and cartoony platformers in general.

Unrest Game Review


Unrest is an interesting take on the role-playing genre, since it eschews many genre conventions and opts instead to give us a role-playing game in the purest sense of the phrase. From the outset, Unrest plays much more like a point-and-click adventure game than an RPG.

It features the stories of six “protagonists”, each with their own backstory, goals, abilities and traits. When it comes to writing, Unrest oozes quality. Almost every character I talked to was a well-defined person with his or her own goals, ambitions and traits, rather than a quest-dispensing NPC. Dialogue seems to have been written with accuracy in mind rather than flavour, and some of it comes off as a bit awkward, but it’s forgivable owing to the setting.
Speaking of the setting, Unrest’s various stories take place in Bhimra - a city loosely based on the mythology and fantasy of ancient India. As such, there’s a thick layer of ancient India’s caste system, traditions and beliefs throughout the game. This can be noticed when talking to any character in the game, be it a lowly guard standing outside temple gates or even one of the protagonists’ antagonistic parents.
To understand the entirety of what’s happening in the story, each playable character has a journal filled with information about characters, locations and even concepts that are integral. While some may groan thinking about the excess amounts of reading in Unrest (and there’s a lot of reading), I’d say that this cuts down on the fluff that you’d often have to get through when meeting a new character. Sticking to walls of texts rather than getting voice actors also allowed developer Pyrodactyl to get more verbose with Unrest’s dialogue and descriptions.
The entirety of the game can be played with nothing more than the left-click of your mouse. However, if you so desire, there are keybindings for keyboards and even support for an Xbox 360 controller and Steam’s Big Picture mode.
Sound and visuals are my biggest gripes with Unrest. The art style betrays the relatively low budget of Unrest (it managed to get $36,251 during its Kickstarter run). Most of the environments look great, but individual character sprites end up looking quite bland, with little to differentiate one character from another apart from conveniently-placed name tags. The music is pretty atmospheric for most part, but seeing as how much of the game is exploration-centric, listening to the same music over and over on loop can get a bit grating.
THE VERDICT
Unrest lives up to its tagline of being an unconventional RPG. Its heavy focus on the story does wonders thanks to some great writing, and almost every character you meet or play will have understandable backstories, motivations and traits. Its graphical style and music, however, are its weakest points. That said, if graphics don’t bother you one bit, Unrest is definitely a great game, and it’s accessible enough for almost anyone to start playing.

It’s like Amazon and YouTube combined: free videos with links to buy related items


Amazon.com Inc. logos are displayed on laptop computers in Washington, D.C. in this 2013 file photo. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Amazon now has the same “How to use chopsticks” video that gained more than 60,000 views on YouTube. But what’s different about watching this tutorial video on Amazon is that, next to the video, you can browse 55 items related to the video you just watched, including chopsticks and sushi-making tools, which are available to purchase on Amazon.com.
That’s the general idea behind Amazon’s Video Shorts site, quietly launched as a new part to its existing Instant Video Web site. According to a Amazon spokesperson, the Video Shorts destination within Amazon’s Instant Video was added within the past couple weeks. The content previously surfaced only within relevant search results. The site features free short video clips including movie and game trailers, music videos, concert clips, author interviews, how-to tutorial videos for beauty, food and technology, all framed by relevant products available to buy on Amazon.
So it’s like Amazon meets YouTube. Like YouTube, the Video Shorts content has run-time, a short description and a comments and review section. Unlike YouTube, most videos on Amazon’s site seem to be produced by companies rather than individuals. The Amazon spokesperson said the company is working with a variety of content partners on video licensing, but refused to provide any specific details.
Although Amazon’s new video section looks like a rival to many free-video Web sites, the company seems more interested in promoting the platform itself than any specific brand or company. Currently the site features videos from Howcast, Vox Media, Universal, Sony, Disney and others. But as Mashable pointed out, users can’t click on the name of the channel to see all the videos uploaded by that company, which is “an odd choice that could be a mere oversight or indicate that Amazon is more interested in promoting the platform over any one brand.”
Amazon didn’t respond to the request for more details except to say that “our focus has been (and remains) focused on growing our content selection for customers.”

Facebook urges users to install Messenger


Facebook is once again reminding users everywhere about the pending change and urging them to download Messenger.
Users who haven't installed the app yet will likely see a notice resembling the one below over the coming days, The Verge reported.
Facebook isn't yet forcing anyone to make the switch; it says there will be several notices before messages are finally unbundled for good. But that step is fast approaching. Desktop users don't need to worry about this, since chat will remain there in the same place as always, report said.
And while managing two apps may seem like a hassle, Facebook says the split will allow it to better improve the performance of both apps over time.
The company also insists Messenger offers a faster experience with more ways of keeping in touch with friends, the report added. 

The top music add-ons for your favourite browsers


Browse. Rock. Repeat.

Gone are the days when the browser was used only for browsing. With hordes of such software clambering over each other to get the netizen's attention, it's only natural that various add-ons should start sprouting by the dozen to make browsing an inclusive experience.

Today, there are multitudes of add-ons of various kinds - especially for browsers like Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome - that deal with utilities as diverse as gaming, news and entertainment. Once you get the hang of these utilities, you will find little reason to ever exit your browser to change the playlist on your music player, or download that mp3 file.

GOOGLE CHROME


>>Buddy FM

Creating a customised playlist can be quite a pain, and here's where Buddy FM comes into play. Buddy FM automatically creates a personalised radio station out of your favourite musicians - expanding your collection of niche artistes by finding those similar to the ones you like and scouring the Internet for album art.

>>ZazooM
Zazoo takes you beyond just listening to music, enabling you to make some of your own. It even lets you turn YouTube into a karaoke machine. Zazoo adds scrolling lyrics to thousands of official music videos on the site, allowing you to partner with Rob Halford in letting out that ear-splitting refrain as he sings 'Painkiller'.

>>PartyCloud

Want to try your hand at DJing? PartyCloud, which gives access to over 20 million house and trance tracks from Sound Cloud, allows you to mix music right from the convenience of your browser. Providing all the DJ tools you may need to remix music, it enables you to scratch, beatsync and mix tracks before recording and sharing them.

>>Flutter

Hate having to grope around for the mouse each time you want to pause a YouTube video? A browser add-on that acts as Kinect for your computer, Flutter uses your computer's built-in camera to identify gestures aimed at playing, pausing or skipping songs and videos on websites such as YouTube, Pandora and Grooveshark.

FIREFOX


>>FindThatBand


With the FindThatBand add-on installed on your Firefox browser, all you have to do to research a band or artiste is select the name and right-click to have tonnes of information from websites like Grooveshark at your disposal. So, who was the lead singer of Rainbow? You would know if you got FindThatBand.

>>Grooveshredder


This Firefox add-on enables you to download mp3 files directly from online radio station Grooveshark. Once installed, it adds a download button to Grooveshark's 'Now Playing' section and a link to the preferences at the top of the page. However, the developers also mention that downloading music from the radio station is against its terms of use.

7 Tech Problems Solved by yourselves.


7 Tech Problems Solved

There are technological problems that have become a part of our lives and we have adjusted to live with these, but some of it can be solved in a few minutes if we apply ourselves -

1. FREE ALTERNATIVES TO PAID SOFTWARE
Microsoft Office might be the best companion for work, but not everyone can afford it. The best free alternative to MS Office is the Apache OpenOffice, an open source office software. OpenOffice comes with replacements for most of Office's components and has a word processor in Writer, spreadsheet in Calc and presentation maker in Impress. http://www.openoffice.org/

Another software that we lust to own legitimately is Adobe Photoshop. We found a good replacement for Photoshop in Photoscape, an easy software that lets you do even advanced editing. This software is especially good if you are trying to edit or convert RAW images, which most other free software cannot handle.

There is an active open source community out there. You can join them and save a lot of money on a lot of software, including even your Windows operating system.

2. HOW TO REDUCE DATA CONSUMPTION

They are an integral part of our digital lives, but push email accounts, Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp/ BBM all consume huge amounts of data to refresh themselves. You can schedule data fetches to every hour or so, or even do it manually. But that would defeat the point of using a smart device. There are other ways too. For instance, the Opera Mini browser can compress a webpage by 90% before opening it. UC Browser claims to reduce data transfers by 60%. Also, try using Google maps offline as it can pre-cache maps. On an Android device, you can set a data limit in the settings. An alert will appear as you approach the limit. On iOS, you can track mobile data consumption.


3. HOW TO MANAGE WIRES

As the number of devices in your house goes up, there is also a marked increase in the tangle of wires. While you can use various cable management solutions-ranging from hiding cables in neat looking boxes to tying them up with loops-it is better to think of wireless solutions whenever possible. For the home entertainment system, you could look at solutions like the ScreenCast AV 4 Wireless AV-to-HDTV Adapter from Belkin. This little gadget lets you keep all the gadgets that connect to your HDTV stowed away somewhere else in the room. All you see near the TV is the small box that is being fed wirelessly by the other devices. In case you have a smart TV, or one of those new smart PC monitors, they can connect to your wireless network and play files directly from shared devices. Alternatively, you could try the Warpia SWP100A or the Altona AT-AiR3 to beam content from a PC to a monitor or TV.


4. HOW TO SAVE A WET GADGET

It is common for gadgets to end up in a watery grave. But, take the right steps in the first few minutes and you save the device. First, never turn it on when it is still wet. Let it dry. In case of phones, remove the back panel, battery, SIM card and memory card and dry it with a towel. Then, place your phone in an air-tight bag with uncooked rice, which will absorb the moisture. Leave it overnight. Avoid using a hair dryer or vacuum cleaner. In case of laptops, unplug from the main and shut down. Also, remove battery if possible. Turn it upside down to prevent water from damaging the innards and then tap the machine dry. Keep it under a strong light, such as a table lamp, that will ensure the water evaporates. Turn on the machine and click the auto-backup option (if available) to backup the data. Next, visit a service centre to ascertain the extent of the damage to the machine.


5. HOW TO GET MORE OUT OF YOUR BATTERY

Even with a humongous battery, smartphones struggle to last a day. While you can't expect a miracle, there are ways to conserve charge. Keep your phone on automatic brightness as the screen hogs power. Android smartphones often have haptic feedback turned on by default. Turn it off. Turn off connectivity options, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS when not in use. Also, close apps running in the background.

While using the camera, switching off the flash will help the battery last longer. If you manage 100 clicks with the flash on, you could do at least five times more with it switched off.

6. HOW TO GET PREMIUM APPS FOR FREE


The best smartphone apps are seldom free. But you can download these for free using discovery apps. For instance, Apps Gone Free by App Advice gives a pick of five to ten best free iOS apps. Getjar Inc's Free Apps Every Day Android app discovers and delivers a deal of the day, claiming to save up to 75% on paid apps. S4BB Limited's App Stalker for Black-Berry integrates with the OS and notifies you about new free apps. It also lets you share app discounts with BBM contacts. On Windows, App Discounts by Remiak Studio divides deals into games and applications. You can share it with your online friends as well.

7. HOW TO SPEED UP YOUR COMPUTER


PICs slow down as temp files from pages visited accumulate. There can be over 1GB of such files. Windows comes with tools to remove these. Go to Accessories>Sytem Tools>Disk Cleanup to find and delete. It is recommended you do this at regularly. Alternatively, install programmes like CCleaner that does the cleaning for you. Also, make sure unnecessary programmes do not use resources during startup. CCleaner can fix this as well. Then, defragment disk (also found in system tools) every three months.

HP Pavilion 11x360 Review


Machine for Beginners

HP Pavilion 11x360
Price: Rs 39,990

Specs: 2.16Ghz quad core Intel Pentium, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD , Intel HD graphics, 11.6-inch (1366 x 768 pixels) touchscreen, Windows 8.1, HDMI out, 1 x USB 3.0 + 2 x USB 2.0, 1.4 kg.
Taking on the Lenovo's popular Yoga series and other convertible laptops, the HP Pavillion 11x360 is a hybrid. It has got dual hinge that makes it flexible enough to convert it into a tablet as well. It has got an eye catchy design and a smooth finish. Our review unit was in red that attracted a lot of appreciation. It features an 11.6inch touch display with 1366 x 768 pixel resolution and weights 1.4 grams.
The keyboard was smooth to type. Running on Windows 8.1 operating system, it is equipped with the new Pentium N3250 quad core processor clocked at 2.16 GHz. It has got 4GB of RAM and 500GB HDD and Intel HD graphics. Setting up this machine for the first time took a very long time.
Designed to be an entry-level laptop, the performance is just about average and it feels slow overall as well. As this is hybrid, it can be used as a tablet too.
But for a tablet, it is too heavy to hold. A detachable keyboard could have been better, When the screen is tilted beyond the laptop mode, the keys and the trackpad get disabled. It even switches orientation in whichever direction the Pavilion is help in the portrait mode. The viewing angles aren't very good.
Ratings: 4.5/ 5 
Bag it or junk it: A basic machine, don't expect superfast performance. 

Apple Cuts Price on MacBook Pro by $100




Apple Inc. lowered the starting prices for its 13-inch MacBook Pro and its larger, high-end version with retina display by $100, while also unveiling upgrades to the notebooks with retina display.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro with retina display, whose price was cut to $2,499, has a faster processor and double the memory of the entry-level configuration.

The price on the non-retina 13-inch version, which the company said is popular with users switching from Windows, is now $1,099.

Consumers have migrated away from personal computers and toward smartphones and tablets, such as Apple's iPhone and iPad.

Yet, Apple posted a gain in its Mac category in its fiscal third quarter, with sales rising 13%. Apple said it shipped 4.4 million Macs in the period, which was a new June quarter record, and the Mac has gained market share for 32 of the past 33 quarters.

Apple earlier this year cut the starting price for its MacBook Air laptops by $100.

Mi 3 second batch gets sold-out in 5 seconds on Flipkart




Thanks to some weird sales methodology used by Flipkart during the second round of the Mi 3 sales, the Xiaomi phone was sold out in a matter of just five seconds.
While the e-retailer is yet to officially state how the phone was sold out so fast, some user reports suggest that Flipkart automatically added the phone to the shopping cart of the registered (for the sale) Flipkart consumers, who had the Mi 3 product page open at 2PM, thus immediately empting the majority of the available stock.
Flipkart and Xiaomi have stated the next Mi 3 sale will be happening on August 5 and the interested consumers can register for the sale at Flipkart beginning 6PM today.
To remind you, amid the site errors, the first batch of Mi 3 was sold out in around 38 minutes last week.
There is still no word on the availability of Mi 3 accessories, which were expected to go on sale after a week of Mi 3 launch but the accessories are still being shown as coming soon at e-retailer.

Coming, Lighter Batteries with More Life


You may soon be able to have a cell phone with double or triple the battery life as researchers have taken a big step towards accomplishing what battery designers have been trying to do for decades - design a pure lithium anode.



All batteries have three basic components: an electrolyte to provide electrons, an anode to discharge those electrons, and a cathode to receive them.

What we call lithium batteries today do not have lithium in the anode. An anode of pure lithium would be a huge boost to battery efficiency.

"Of all the materials that one might use in an anode, lithium has the greatest potential. Some call it the Holy Grail," said Yi Cui, a professor of material science and engineering at Stanford University in the U.S..

"It is very lightweight and it has the highest energy density. You get more power per volume and weight, leading to lighter, smaller batteries with more power," Cui added.

But engineers have long tried and failed to reach this Holy Grail.

Researchers say that lithium's expansion during charging is "virtually infinite" relative to the other materials.

Its expansion is also uneven, causing pits and cracks to form in the outer surface, like paint on the exterior of a balloon that is being inflated.

The resulting fissures on the surface of the anode allow the precious lithium ions to escape, forming hair-like or mossy growths, called dendrites. Dendrites, in turn, short circuit the battery and shorten its life.

To solve these problems the researchers built what they call nanospheres, a protective layer of interconnected carbon domes on top of their lithium anode.

Made of amorphous carbon, the nanosphere is chemically stable, yet strong and flexible so as to move freely up and down with the lithium as it expands and contracts during the battery's normal charge-discharge cycle.

The study appeared in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.