Tag: Tips (page 1 of 2)

Goodbye BitTorrent Sync. Hello Syncthing.

I first started using BitTorrent Sync back during its Alpha release in early 2013 as an alternative to Dropbox for syncing large quantities of files across my work computers. I needed an easy way to automatically transfer data from my collection computer to the lab server for storage and to my office computer for post-processing. While I have much more free storage than your average non-paying Dropbox user, I needed to regularly transfer tens of gigabytes of files without any need of uploading to the Internet/cloud. BitTorrent Sync seemed to fulfill that need almost perfectly and was vastly easier than constantly running rsync commands.

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Facebook Photo Compression

A couple weeks ago there was a Reddit post on /r/Android recommending Facebook users upload photos via the mobile website rather than the official Android Facebook app. The app reportedly compressed an original 8MP (4.5MB) photo to only 0.6MP (100kB) whereas the mobile website uploaded at 3MP (440kB). For a typical 4:3 ratio photograph, 0.6MP works out to neither dimension having more than 1000 pixels! Viewers on almost all current smartphones and tablets would be looking at an image smaller than their screen size. For a social network so heavily driven by photographs, you would think Facebook would do a better job maintaining some modicum of image quality. Most users probably have no idea their images are being so heavily degraded by uploading via the app. This blog examines the varying quality of Facebook image uploads in an attempt to identify the best option if you must upload to Facebook.

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Hackintosh 2.0

It’s been roughly two years since I built my original Hackintosh desktop computer and I decided earlier this year that the time was ripe for an upgrade. After considerable waffling on the exact components to get, I finally settled on an relatively high-end build largely based on the December CustoMac Buyer’s Guide that reused a few components from my original Hackintosh (case, power supply, and memory).

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Full Page Background Image with CSS3

Several of the websites I’ve created use a background image as part of the design. It turns out that making the image stay centered, maintain the same aspect ratio, scale with the browser, and always fill the entire page is a difficult task. After several infuriating hours of trial and error, I finally figured out how to make all the above occur in a modern browser using only CSS3. Check out this JSFiddle for an example of it in action or read on for an explanation.

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Automatic Android Location Mode Toggling 2.0

A few months ago I had a blog post about automatically toggling Android Location Mode on my smartphone between High Accuracy and Battery Saving when using certain apps. Using the super-app Tasker and a 3rd-party plugin called Secure Settings I was able to swap the Location Mode of my Nexus 5 between the two modes. However, this was a poor solution since closing an app would result in disabling GPS access, which was undesirable if navigation was currently active. Furthermore, closing an app and returning to it would result in deactivation regardless of the timing. Despite numerous suggestions in the comments, none of them provided a viable answer.

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Automatically Toggle ‘High Accuracy’ Location Mode on Android

Check out this blog post for an updated Android Location Mode toggling task

One of Android’s most innovative features is Google Now, a service that attempts to provide relevant information to the user based on location and time. Unfortunately, in order to utilize the location-based service, your smartphone must provide location information to Google at expense of battery life. When Android 4.4 “Kitkat” was released in late October, the location settings were updated to include three different modes: High accuracy, battery saving, and device only. The ‘high accuracy’ mode utilizes GPS, Wi-Fi, and mobile networks to determine location, ‘battery saving’ only uses Wi-Fi and mobile networks, and ‘device only’ relies exclusively on GPS.

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Quickstart Dogecoin blockchain sync with bootstrap.dat

While Bitcoin is the undisputed leader of the cryptocurrency world, a meme-based alternative called Dogecoin has gained steam over the past month. Sporting the comical Shiba Inu dog character from the “doge” meme, this altcoin gained significant media coverage recently after helping raise $30,000 for the Jamaican bobsled team for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Promoters of this cryptocurrency have been extremely vocal about the carefree attitude surrounding Dogecoin and actively encourage giving freely to others (tipping) in order to raise awareness. The userbase has exploded since its December 6, 2013, introduction with over 33 billion Dogecoin mined to date. The growing online presence and transaction volume have caused the Dogecoin blockchain to swell to over 2GB in size. The lack of a thin client means that new users must download and verify the entire blockchain before they can participate. While online wallets do exist, many users are wary following a Christmas Day hack that resulted in the loss of millions of Dogecoin. The desktop wallet software offers client-side encryption and eliminates the need to trust a third party to secure your assets. The downsides of the desktop client are the extremely slow initial sync and need to constantly resync with the blockchain network. Fortunately there’s a trick that can help speed up the initial blockchain download by loading the blockchain from a local file rather than the network.

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Get the Price of Bitcoin with Google Now

The digital currency Bitcoin has grown increasingly popular in recent months as more and more businesses have begun accepting the peer-to-peer cryptocurrency. Keeping up with the highly volatile price of Bitcion (BTC) is a must for traders, who use exchanges such as Mt.Gox or BTC-E to turn a profit. Even the casual holder through services such as Coinbase need to see how much their BTC are worth. While there are many websites that track the price of BTC across exchanges, there is no official integration into Google’s search engine. For Android users, Google Now/Search is at the heart of their device’s functionality. MohammadAG recently released an XPOSED module that adds an API to the Google Search app. This guide will help you install the necessary applications and modifications to use the “Okay Google” voice command to get the current price of Bitcoin on Mt.Gox from BitcoinWisdom.

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Fixing a Broken Google Wallet

I recently upgraded to a Google Nexus 4 phone from my old HTC Inspire HD. Unfortunately, the original device that I received had some problems with the ear-piece, resulting in a very noticeable static hissing noise during calls and even when the phone wasn’t in use. I decided to RMA the defective device to Google in exchange for a replacement. After several weeks of waiting, I finally got my hands on my Rev. 11 Google Nexus 4 (original was Rev. 10) and prepared to transfer over to the new phone. I opted to use a standard nandroid backup of the original device’s content in order to transfer everything to the new device (essentially duplicating the content). Unfortunately, I did not pay attention to the recommended process of transferring Google Wallet to this new device, which suggests reseting the original device’s Wallet application prior to the transition. This is necessary so that the Secure Element created on the device by Google Wallet isn’t accidentally transferred to the new device. This secure element can only be accessed by a SINGLE instance of Google Wallet, so if it is transferred to a new phone or even restored to a new ROM on the same device, it can result in Wallet completely losing functionality. Because I failed to reset the Google Wallet app, which removes the secure element, prior to performing the nandroid backup, I inadvertently transferred the secure element and the linked Google Wallet app to the new phone. Unfortunately, this resulted in the breaking of Google Wallet on my RMA Nexus 4 device.

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Keeping your Papers Library Synced

As a graduate student, one of the most important tools I use practically every single day is a citation and bibliography reference manager. I’ve gone through several (Endnote, Mendeley, Zotero, etc.) over the years before finding one I truly liked: Papers. Initially a Mac-only client, Papers seemed like a native extension of the OS X environment, akin to that of iTunes or iPhoto. With the ability to search online databases, import articles into a “library” for organization, and cite papers and assemble bibliographies, Papers does everything I needed and wanted from a reference management program. Over the course of its development, numerous features have been added including an iOS app and Windows counterpart.

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