How-to: Avoid Fake and Insecure Apps

Google Play store frontDo you assume that anything in the Apple and Android app stores has been vigorously tested, vetted and proven 100% legit?

Don’t.

We’ve been telling users for decades now to be extra careful when downloading PC software to avoid common scams by crackers, fraudsters and pirates: so it is with tablet and smart-phone apps. Even though most Android malware comes from apps ‘side-loaded’ or installed from outside Google Play, be sceptical of cheap, free and trial apps even in the store. These may be perfectly legitimate, they may also be cloaks for nefarious activities such as financial and identity theft. Continue reading

Review: Samsung Galaxy S3

Samsung Galaxy S3Don’t you love airports. All human life is there, along with every variety of mobile phone on the planet. Which is how I got my hands on a Samsung Galaxy S3 belonging to a German-American called Jeff who owns one.

The first thing that strikes you is the slab design of the case. It’s a large plastic lump with a very big screen and one slightly ugly rectangular button. Only when I held it did I realise its a big thing to fit in small pockets, you need the rounded corners. I’m not totally keen on the design, not only is it a bit bland, I had hoped that Samsung would have built their premium model with a better finish. The plastic feeling of the Galaxy S3 won’t appeal to everyone although it feels very lightweight (despite weighing in at 133g).

I’m sure there’s a comedy routine in the trend for smaller gadgets except phones that keep on getting bigger and bigger. Remember when the Xperia Arc’s 4.2inch screen was considered large? Soon we’ll be back to the 80’s brick phones. Ah, nostalgia… But the S3 is smaller than the Galaxy Note so you don’t look like one of The Borrowers when using it… Continue reading

Review: Dropbox Cloud Storage

Dropbox LogoThe Cloud back-up and storage market is getting crowded with new players offering ever more ludicrous amounts of free space, but we couldn’t run this series without looking at one of the established ‘brand names’; Dropbox is one of the most popular Cloud storage and file sharing programs and has built up quite a following in the last couple of years.

View from the Top
Dropbox is a reliable on-line data backup service that lets you access and share files from almost any computer or mobile device, using native clients or its’ web interface. It is one of the few truly platform-agnostic services, with client software for Windows, Mac and Linux; you’ll find a .deb package for the Dropbox client in the 11.10 Ubuntu Software Center for a painless, one-click install of a client we can happily report ‘just works.’ Add to that mobile clients for iPad, iPhone, Android and Blackberry and you can see the Dropbox bid for ubiquity across devices that gives it an appeal beyond its’ competitors. I’d have to say some of those mobile apps do look a little thin on functions, but that’s not unique to Dropbox.

From our corner, the current Linux client is a mature development over previous, ahem, ‘idiosyncratic’ versions, so now the free package of 2GB online storage with a high reliability desktop client, collaboration features and continuous development, is quite sufficient for home users starting out in the Cloud. By way of an incentive, Dropbox has an attractive referrals programme for increasing your initial free allocation from 2GB of free space up to a usable 8GB by referring friends. Continue reading

How-to: Discover MAC Address on Android

Hardware MAC address on AndroidIf you travel around a lot, as I do, then you’ll often find the more secure locations with computer networks want to know the MAC address of any mobile devices you want to attach to their networks.

The MAC address is one way for wireless networks to restrict access to only those devices they can identify. You’ll need to give your MAC Address to the network manager to add your device to the list of registered devices so that you can use the network.

The method for stock Android (from my trusty HTC) follows. AJS

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Review: Arnova Tablet

Supermarket Asda in Android Tablet Shocker!

This is either the latest sign of a runaway bandwagon or the clinching proof of a tablet PC take-over: Walmart’s UK subsidiary supermarket chain Asda is now the exclusive UK retailer of the Arnova 8 Android tablet, at a bargain price of £99. It may not compare well with the $99 price everywhere else, but it does demonstrate the saturation of the PC market with tablets. Continue reading