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How to Easily Install a Full Bitcoin Lightning Node on a Raspberry Pi

I recently installed a full bitcoin node on our home network, and lucky for me, I got everything up and running quickly without bumping into some issues. Before I will show you the steps on how to install a full bitcoin node, allow me to explain some of my reasons why I ended up doing this.

As some of you may already know, bitcoin is a network composed of thousands of nodes. A record of every bitcoin transaction is verified and maintained inside a node. So if you are running one, you will essentially be hosting and sharing a copy of the bitcoin blockchain and you will help maintain the network decentralized.

What are the benefits of running a bitcoin node?

Unlike mining, you will not be rewarded with a bitcoin when running a node because you are simply giving support to the network instead of solving complex computational math problems. However, one of the main advantages of running your own node is that you can do some transactions on the Bitcoin network without the need for a third party provider thus allowing you to save money for the fees. For added peace of mind, you can connect your wallet and forward all your transactions through your own node, making sure that every transaction is safe and secure.

For me, another reason for running a node is for educational purpose and taking a deep dive on the blockchain technology. I am very passionate about this emerging tech because it is already shaping up to change the world for the better.

Without further ado, here are some of the steps that I have followed to easily install and run a bitcoin node:

Step 1: Prepare the hardware

You donat need an expensive mining rig to run a bitcoin node. I bought the following items, but you can always use your existing hardware provided that you have all the recommended system specs:

1. Raspberry Pi Model 4 (Particularly, I bought the Model B with 4GB RAM starter kit that includes the power adapter, 16GB microSD card, and case)

2. 1 TB SSD (SanDisk SSD Plus 2.5a 1 TB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive)

3. SSD Enclosure (SENDA Transparent USB 3.0 SATA III 2.5 HDD/SDD Enclosure)

Note: I bought all the items at Lazada and the total cost is around 10,000 Philippine Pesos (200 USD).

Step 2: Download the software

Download Umbrel OS HERE and extract the file. Download Balena Etcher HERE and install it on your computer.

Note: For downloading the software, obviously you will need a laptop or desktop computer. A microSD card reader is needed for flashing the software to the microSD card.

Step 3: Flashing Umbrel OS

Put the microSD card on your card reader, open Balena Etcher, and flash the downloaded Umbrel OS to your microSD card. After flashing, remove the card and insert it into the Raspberry Pie.

Step 4: Plug it up

Put the SSD drive into the enclosure and plug it into any of the blue colored ports (USB 3.0) of your Raspberry Pi. Connect the Raspberry Pi to your Internet connected router via ethernet cable. Connect the power supply and power up your Raspberry Pi.

Step 5: Starting up

Around 5 minutes after powering up, Umbrel OS can be accessed at http://umbrel.local on the web browser of your device (smartphone, tablet, desktop or laptop) that is connected to the same network as the Raspberry Pi.

Follow the initial set up of Umbrel and enjoy running your very own bitcoin node.

I am still exploring some of the features of Umbrel and might write a quick review about it soon, so watch out!

The Bitcoin Revolution is Here

Since 2014, Iave been talking about bitcoin here (read:Is Bitcoin The Next Open-source Software Revolution?,Best Bitcoin Applications for Linux).Back then, bitcoin was still very much in its infancy and our articles about it were some of the least popular posts weave ever had. However, I have already seen its potential and proclaimed that it could become a revolutionary open-source software project and that it has the potential to be bigger than Linux.

Today, bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general have already gone mainstream in terms of popularity. Although widespread adoption could still be a few years away, different personalities like social media icons, hip hop moguls, top athletes, famous actors, financial gurus, and several billionaires are already talking about it incessantly.

Speaking about widespread adoption, different countries have already started recognizing the value of cryptocurrency. In fact, one countryhas recently passed a law to make bitcoin its official currency. I believe more countries will follow after we will all be able to clearly see the positive economic impact of having a legal tender in bitcoin.

Recently, we have witnessed institutional investors or publicly traded companies that have started filling their balance sheets with bitcoins. To name a few, thereas Tesla(invested around 1.5 billion dollars worth of bitcoin), Microstrategy (250 million dollars), Galaxy Digital Holdings (176 million dollars), and Square (50 million dollars).

Although I am not a financial advisor and this site is not about making money, I encourage you to consider investing it bitcoin. Forgive me for not telling you this in 2014 when 1 bitcoin was equivalent to around 500 dollars. At that time, buying and selling cryptocurrency was difficult because there were very few trusted exchanges and wallets so the possibility of losing your investment was enormous. If ever you decide to invest in cryptocurrency today, I suggest that you do your own research first because, like all others investments, there are still risks involved, albeit much lesser than before.

After promoting Linux and other free and open-source software in the past, I have decided from now on to focus most of my time here in writing about bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and other interesting blockchain projects. I think it is about time to enlighten people that bitcoin is not purely a speculative asset, but something that is more valuable because of its capability to empower people from around the world. Like most of you, I find joy in freedom and for me bitcoin is freedom. Now, I can safely say that the cryptocurrency revolution is underway, and we are just getting started.

25 (More) Funny Computer Quotes

I have been reading some of my old posts here and noticed one that is still quite popular simply because a lot of us love humor. If you are a new site visitor, kindly check out "My Top 50 Funny Computer Quotes" post to know what I mean. Inspired by that one and since itas been a long time that I wrote or posted some funny stuff here, I decided to collect a few more amusing quotes.

So without further delay, here is a brand new collection of funny computer quotes:

25. What if one day Google got deleted and we could not Google what happened to Google?

24. Never trust a computer you canat throw out a window.

23. The attention span of a computer is only as long as its power cord

22. Microsoft has a new version out, Windows XP, which according to everybody is the amost reliable Windows ever.a To me, this is like saying that asparagus is athe most articulate vegetable ever.

21. Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain.

20. "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers." - Pablo Picasso

19. If you think patience is a virtue, try surfing the net without high-speed Internet.

18. The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers.

17. aThe Internet? We are not interested in it.a - Bill Gates, 1993

16. The only truly secure system is one that is powered off, cast in a block of concrete and sealed in a lead-lined room with armed guards.

15. "Being able to break security doesnat make you a hacker any more than being able to hotwire cars makes you an automotive engineer." - Eric S. Raymond

14. I'm sorry that I'm not updating my Facebook status, my cat ate my mouse.

13. "I am not out to destroy Microsoft, that would be a completely unintended side effect." - Linus Torvalds

12. Dear humans, in case you forgot, I used to be your Internet. Sincerely, The Library.

11. My wife never gives up. She is so insistent that she entered the wrong password over and over again until she managed to convince the computer that she's right!

10. Computer dating is fine if you're a computer.

9. I love my computer because all my friends live inside it!

8. The only relationship I have is with my Wi-Fi. We have a connection.

7. The problem with troubleshooting is that trouble shoots back.

6. Why can't cats work on the computer? They get too distracted chasing the mouse around.

5. My wife loves me so much, she tries her best to attract me to her. The other day she put on a perfume that smells like a computer.

4. I changed my password everywhere to 'incorrect.' That way when I forget it, it always reminds me, 'Your password is incorrect.'

3. A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history--with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila."

2. Life is too short to remove USB safely.

1. Passwords are like underwear: you donat let people see it, you should change it very often, and you shouldnat share it with strangers.

I hope you enjoyed our latest list of amusing computer quotes!

How to Install Raspbian OS on Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

After my Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ First Impressions, allow me to share with you how I installed Raspbian OS on this tiny computer as promised. But first a quick introduction about Raspbian. This lightweight Unix-like operating system is based on Debian Linux and is highly optimized to run on Raspberry Pias ARM CPU. Its desktop environment is called PIXEL (Pi Improved X-Window Environment, Lightweight), which is made up of a modified LXDE desktop environment and the Openbox stacking window manager. It comes pre-loaded with useful applications such as web browser, office suite, programming tools, and several games among others.

Now, letas get down to business and give you some of the requirements needed to install Raspbian OS. If your Raspberry Pi is not bundled with a microSD card you should get one with at least 8GB of space. Some of the basic PC accessories required for setup are USB keyboard, USB mouse, and a computer or TV monitor (preferably with HDMI port). The Raspberry Pi Model B+ has an HDMI port for video output. So if your monitor has DVI or VGA port, you should have an HDMI-to-DVI or HDMI-to-VGA cable. You will also need an extra desktop or laptop computer for downloading the OS and then flashing it to the microSD card.

The next thing that you should prepare is the installer. You can download it from HERE. It is recommended to Download the NOOBS version, but if you are adventurous enough you can go for the full Raspbian version of the installer. The file that you will download is compressed in ZIP format so you will need to extract the OS image (.img) to use it. After extracting, you may now proceed to flash the OS image to your SD card. To do that, you will need to download the recommended tool for the job HERE. Install it, and then follow the simple step by step process of flashing the OS image to your microSD card. It is also worth noting that you will need an SD card adapter and an SD card reader if your laptop or PC donat have one built-in.

Finally, the Raspbian OS is now installed, and all you have to do is eject the microSD card from your computer and plug it in your Raspberry Pi. Connect all the needed Raspberry Pi peripherals and power up your tiny but very capable Linux desktop machine.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ First Impressions

I have always been curious about the tiny computer called Raspberry Pi but I didnat have the time or opportunity to buy one until now. I got the latest version (Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+) along with bundled accessories from AliExpress for $65. I think it was a good deal considering what I got which I will explain to you later on. But before that and for your convenience, here are some quick facts about Raspberry Pi that I got from Wikipedia:

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

* The Raspberry Pi is a series of small single-board computers developed in the United Kingdom by the Raspberry Pi Foundation

* It aims to promote teaching of basic computer science in schools and in developing countries.

* The original model became far more popular than anticipated, selling outside its target market for uses such as robotics.

* According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, more than 5 million Raspberry Pis were sold by February 2015, making it the best-selling British computer.

* In March 2018, sales reached 19 million.

* On the CPU level, the first generation Raspberry Pi is similar to a 300 MHz Pentium II of 1997a99. While its graphical capabilities are roughly equivalent to the performance of the Xbox of 2001.

* More info about Raspberry Pi including tech specs can be found HERE

First Impressions

I have only seen a Raspberry Pi in photos before so I was quite in awe of its size when I finally opened the box. It measures just 85.60mm by 56.5mm or around 3 by 2 inches.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ beside my iPhone 6 and glasses for size comparison

As I said, I got the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ rather cheap since it is bundled with a case, power cord, 32GB micro SD card + adapter, HDMI cable, heatsink, USB cable, and 3.5 inch touchscreen display. It is loaded with a 1.4 GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor, 1 GB RAM, gigabit Ethernet, on-board dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, Power over Ethernet (PoE) feature, and USB and network boot capabilities.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ running Raspbian OS

The first thing that I did after unboxing the package was placed the Raspberry Pi inside the included plastic case. The plastic case needs to be assembled and it didnat come with instructions so I had to figure it out myself. Next, I searched on Google on how to install an OS into my Raspberry Pi. So, I downloaded Raspbian, a Debian-based OS highly optimized for the Raspberry Pi and installed it. On my next post I will be sharing with you more about Raspbian and will guide you on how to install it and give you tips on some of the things that I did after installation.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ setup alongside my iPad Pro

As you can see from the photos above, I now have a full-pledged desktop powered by a tiny computer. I connected my Raspberry Pi to my 13-inch HD display and it runs smoothly without lag or graphics issues. I also connected a wireless mini keyboard with built-in touchpad and an external hard drive to complete the setup. As of now, I am using my Raspberry Pi as file and VNC server (set up my iPad Pro as VNC viewer). I also intend to use it for testing Linux distros and for doing a bit of Python programming.

As Iave said, my next post will be all about installing and setting up Raspbian on Raspberry Pi so watch out.

Dark Mode on Appleas macOS? Linux did it First

Last year, Apple introduced the highly anticipated adark modea feature on their macOS (Mojave) desktop operating system. Many Apple fans regarded it as a cool and useful enhancement to their desktop user interface. It allowed users to turn on the system-wide dark color scheme and encouraged third-party app developers to offer a dark mode for their Mac apps. If you are thinking that Apple is the first to use this feature on the desktop, think again.

As far as I can remember, Linux is the first desktop OS that lets users easily customize the UI and provided plenty of dark theme options. I think Ubuntu started the trend in using darker themes out of the box several years ago, and they did it in a more elegant way when compared to other Linux distros. Elegant in a way that the dark scheme UI was consistently used and built-in apps were using dark themes.

Apple macOS

When customizing my Linux desktop, I always prefer dark themes since it is easy on the eyes and it looks good. Dark background also allowed me to focus more on the job at hand because there is less visual distraction. Using dark mode on my Mac desktop right now, I canat help but think about the endless customizations I did before on my favorite Linux distros to achieve that perfect dark look.

Ubuntu Linux

So to all the Mac users out there who also enjoyed using the dark mode on their desktop, perhaps you can thank Linux for showing the guys at Cupertino that dark mode UI is not just cool but also usable. However, correct me if Iam wrong through the comments below if you think that Linux did not have any influence whatsoever in this new macOS feature.

My Top 10 PlayStation 4 (PS4) Games of 2018

2018 was an awesome year for PlayStation 4 (PS4) gamers. Top game developers have released several exciting titles that made us stay on our couch for much longer periods of time :-)

So letas get started. I made here a list of my favorite PS4 games last year. Do please note that my choices of games are mostly action, simulation, survival, sci-fi, fantasy, first-person shooter (FPS) shooter, and role playing games (RPG). These games only made it through the top ten list because of their cool realistic graphics, amazing storyline, and of course their highly engaging gameplay.

So now, here are my top ten PS4 games of 2018:

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

10. Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Made by Warhorse Studios, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a single player, open world action role playing game set in the Medieval Kingdom of Bohemia in 1403. Although this game barely made it to the top ten, it is an awesome game with a fantastic storyline. This game takes place during a war in Bohemia where you will be playing as Henry, a common blacksmithas son who lived a very normal life until the Cuman mercenaries (the gameas main enemy) attacked and destroyed his village and killed (almost) everyone he knows and loves. Luckily, Henry escapes and soon joins Sir Radzig Koblya who leads a resistance movement against the Cumans.

The Game has a pretty long main storyline with lots of side quests and amazing characters for you to discover. Its combat mechanics are a little bit hard to master and its realism is a bit high because the armor can offer a lot of protection. The swords and gear can break and get dirty and with the armor offering heavyweight protection, you really need to search for weak spots in order to defeat your enemy. It also gets very frustrating when your shiny plate armor gets bloody and dirty after a long journey or a fight because you have to clean it frequently. But still the gameplay is enjoyable and and above all, it does not need Internet connection to be played.

Gameplay - 7/10; Graphics - 8/10; Realism - 10/10; Content - 8/10

Jurassic World Evolution

9. Jurassic World Evolution

This is a Business Simulation game created by Frontier that lets you create your own Jurassic Park. It is a very nice simulation game that takes place on the six islands based on the movie Jurassic Park. It is a fun game because you can observe your dinosaurs roam around your park. You also get to take care of your dinosaurs by feeding them and giving them a perfect home with lots of buddies, and another exciting feature is, you can create your very own dinosaur arena and watch your dinos fight or might I say rip each other to pieces.

The game also features main missions, side missions, and of course your very own sandbox, so that you can create the perfect park with unlimited cash and without your dinos attempting to break out. The only thing that is quite disappointing about this game is the short dino lifespan, but of course in the sandbox mode you can let your dinos live forever perhaps even longer than you. Thus, overall this game is very entertaining especially to those who are a fan of dinosaurs, But Dino fan or not, this game is definitely worth a try and it does not need Internet connection to be played.

Gameplay - 7/10; Graphics - 10/10; Realism - 9/10; Content - 8/10

Monster Hunter World

8. Monster Hunter World

Developer by Capcom, this game is the newest installment in the Monster Hunter series. In this game you can create your own custom character and you are tasked to track down, kill, or capture any monster you see. The plot of the main story of the game is that you are one of the hunters of the new world. You are sent to hunt and capture monsters for your colony. Although some of the old monsters are returning to the game, there are a lot of new monsters, some even bigger and scarier than the old ones. The game also features a lot of new weapons for your hunter such as swords, spears, bows, and even guns, along with a lot of very customizable armor pieces so that you can kill monsters in style. Overall, the gameplay is surprisingly fun and worth your dime. You can play this alone or with friends for more fun and theyall definitely be amused. This game does not need Internet connection to be played.

Gameplay - 9/10; Graphics - 9/10; Realism - 8/10; Content 9/10

Far Cry 5

7. Far Cry 5

Created by Ubisoft, Far Cry 5 is an open world FPS game that sets place in Hope County. The main story lets you start as a deputy trying to stop a cult from taking over hope county. After a failed attempt, you are saved by freedom fighters and you join them in the fight against the cult. In Far Cry 5 you can create your own character and equip him or her with various weapons, vehicles, and customizations, and you can also bring in guns for hire in the fight against the cult. This game also features a map creator so you can create your own levels and even play with your friends.

You can play Far Cry 5 in singleplayer or multiplayer mode and it does not need Internet connection to start. This game is really entertaining and gut-busting, but I think that the main story goes a bit too fast. And although this game is single player and does not need Internet connection to play, but you can connect online and look for challenges or online players to make the game even more exciting.

Gameplay - 9/10; Graphics - 9/10; Realism - 9/10; Content - 8/10

God of War

6. God of War (2018)

God of War is an action adventure game that is developed by Santa Monica Studios. The latest game is the eighth installment of the God of War series, and it continues the story of Kratos years after he killed his father Zeus and destroyed all of the Greek World. In God of War you play as Kratos who is now in Norse Mythology, and his son Atreus. In the main story Kratos and Atreus will journey throughout the nine realms to fulfill their promise to Kratosa second wife and Atreusa mother to spread her ashes in the highest peak in the nine realms.

The latest God of War has a fantastic and highly moving storyline. Most of the characters are fun to interact with, and the game features lots of enemies, jaw-dropping boss fights, and a variety of enjoyable characters. The graphics of this game is really cool and realistic, and the monsters look awesome, so it is definitely worth checking out. God of War is a single-player game and does not need Internet connection to play.

Gameplay - 8/10; Graphics - 10/10; Realism - 9/10; Content - 9/10

Soulcalibur VI

5. Soulcalibur VI

Soulcaliber VI is a Fighting Game Produced by Bandai Namco Entertainment. In this game you can play with more than 20 existing characters to choose from or you can create your own custom characters. It also features a lot of cool weapons for your custom character and a lot of other customization options.

Soulcaliber VI is a very fun fighting game that features 2 campaign modes, soul story (the original story mode), and Libra of Souls (the story of your own custom character). The gameas fighting is very detailed and is highly realistic because your armor can break, you can roll if you are knocked down, and you can push your enemy off a cliff for an instant kill. The characteras fighting style is also diverse because each weapon has its own moves, special skills, and fighting style.

Overall, the gameas graphics is superb. Though there were times the capes clip with the armor, and the story mode isnat the best out there, but itas the fighting strategies that really made Soulcaliber VI an awesome game and worth it. Although this game is single player and does not need Internet connection to start, you can still play this on split screen in online multiplayer mode.

Gameplay - 10/10; Graphics - 8/10; Realism - 9/10; Content - 9/10


4. Spider-Man

Created by Insomniac Games, Spider-Man is an awesome game based on the super hero Spider-Man. In this game you play as Peter Parker, or should I say Spider Man who spends his time swinging all over New York stopping crime wherever he goes. This game features most of Spider-Manas enemies such as Kingpin, Shocker, Doctor Octopus and more. It also lets you craft a whole lot of cool gadgets and high tech suits to help you bring those bad guys down. It even has these cool skins a the Avengers Infinity War Iron Spider suit, Spider-Man Homecoming suit, and the Homecoming Stark suit.

In this game you will not only take down common street criminals but super powered minions as well. These super powered minions can either have dark demonic powers, high tech jet packs, rock hard skin, and more making the game very enjoyable than ever. You will also face many challenges, find cool collectables, and even visit the Avengers Tower. The game also has one of the best main stories, you will want to keep playing until the very end because it gets more exciting and you will even meet a lot of interesting characters along the way. The game also has side missions, challenges, and a whole lot of landmarks. Overall, Spider-Man is an awesome game and is definitely worth it. The game is single player and does not need Internet connection.

Gameplay - 10/10; Graphics -10/10; Realism - 8/10; Content - 9/10

Assassinas Creed Odyssey

3. Assassinas Creed Odyssey

This game is an open world action RPG game created by Ubisoft and is probably one of the best in the list. In this game you play as either Alexios or Kassandra and the story takes place in Greece during the Peloponnesian War, a war between Sparta and Athens. In the game, no matter what character you choose you start off as a common mercenary that wields the blade of Leonidas (who is your grandfather) the former king of Sparta and has a pet eagle named Icarus who looks out for enemies and helps you hunt for materials. Your main weapon is the blade of Leonidas that serves as your hidden weapon in the game (sadly there are no other hidden blades in this release compared to the previous) and gives you incredible powers such as bull rush, hero strike, and the good old Sparta kick.

In Assassinas Creed Odyssey you are on the hunt for the people who destroyed your family, which is the cult of Kosmos (the main enemy) while at the same time trying to bring your family together again. The game has a nice main story and has a lot of interesting side quests all over Greece. It also offers your character a lot of weapons such as axe, swords, daggers, hammers, bows (but sadly no shield), and a lot of armor for your characters protection and style. It even has a few mounts to buy and unlock. In this game you also have your own boat where you can customize your crew members and add special lieutenants to improve ship power. Overall, the game is magnificent and is worth every penny.

Gameplay -10/10; Graphics - 8/10; Realism - 9/10; Content - 10/10

Just Cause 4

2. Just Cause 4

Just Cause 4 is an open world action game created by Avalanche Studios and Square Enix. In my opinion, this game is probably one of the best games of 2018. In it you play as the badass former secret agent, Rico Rodriguez who (after killing Di Ravello and avenging his family) went to the fictional South American country known as Solis to search for his fatheras secrets, only to find that his father left a weather machine capable of unlimited destruction. This game, like all other Just Cause games, features a lot of guns, vehicles, and a lot of destruction. It also offers a whole lot of tech, explosion, and awesomeness. Like for example you can have a gun that shoots drones and lasers or a boat that can make the enemy base rain with lighting. Just Cause 4 also lets you create an army of chaos that you can use to help yourself in the fight against the Black Hand, which are the gameas main enemies. Overall, the game has fantastic graphics, storyline and is highly engaging.

Gameplay -10/10; Graphics - 9/10; Realism - 9/10; Content - 10/10

Red Dead Redemption 2

1. Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 is my top favorite game of 2018 and it may be the best game I played since 2016. It was developed by Rockstar Studios and for me it is just perfect, a flawed masterpiece. I could play this game for a month and could not still get enough of it. In Red Dead Redemption 2 you play as Arthur Morgan, an outlaw in 1899 America who just escaped a place called Blackwater with his fellow gang members after a failed heist, and has a mission to make his gang rich again (after losing all their money in Blackwater) and to ensure that he and his gang survives with the law chasing them.

In terms of graphics, this game is just amazing and the realism is excellent that guns look like the real thing. The game also has some realistic survival elements because your character can get sick, hungry, tired, dirty, and even your hair can grow in this game which is so cool. You can also hunt 100 plus animals in the game for food. The NPCs of this game also feels so alive and breathing you almost donat want to kill them. In addition, the environment details of the game are very realistic like the snow, the dirt, even the water.

In Red Dead Redemption 2, horse riding is probably the best means of transportation and the horses are very detailed that their sizes, speed, and faces differ. The horses are your most valuable companions and they can even kill some enemies if you are lucky. This game also offers your character a lot of outfits and guns to use, and you can even go bounty hunting or go rob a train if your money is low. In the game, you also have a special ability called deadeye that allows you to slow down the time and then you shoot the life out of multiple enemies like a pro.

Overall, Red Dead Redemption 2 is so close to perfection that it is my top pick for 2018. You just have to get your hands on it and for sure youall be hooked. Please note that even if the game is single player and does not require Internet connection to play, there is always an online mode if you want to play with friends.

Gameplay - 10/10; Graphics - 10/10; Realism - 10/10; Content - 10/10

Written by: Marco Auza. Note: This is Marco's first article for TechSource. He will be writing game reviews during his free time since he is still in Junior High School.

The Essential Smartwatch: From Motorola MOTOACTV to Apple Watch

Although I am not a watch enthusiast, I have a soft spot for smartwatches. They have tons of features that ordinary wristwatches donat have and as a techie, I think they look way cooler than your average watch. Since 2011, I realized I have not been using my conventional wristwatches that they are already gathering dust in my closet. The reason? I bought my first smartwatch that year - the Motorola MOTOACTV.

For $300, I got a brand new Motorola MOTOACTV and wearing it felt like having the most awesome watch in the world. At that time, smartwatches are not yet popular but I enjoyed using it because it has features that I thought was ahead of its time. Powered by Android, it features built-in fitness apps, accelerometer, Bluetooth, music player, FM tuner, capacitive multitouch LCD display, ANT+ for connectivity to fitness sensors (eg. heart rate sensor) and has the capability to connect to smartphones to display calls and text messages.


Although I love the MOTOACTV, it was far from perfect. In terms of design, it looks bulky and there was really no room for customization. As for the software, it was stable at first but was later on plagued with buggy updates. It was also not as durable as I thought it would be since it was made by Motorola. It took just one waist-high drop that shattered the LCD display of my MOTOACTV, and so I was quickly in search for my next smartwatch.

For around $100, I got the very first version of Pebble. Considered at that time as the most funded project in Kickstarter history, I never regret purchasing that smartwatch. The original Pebble had some of the features that I want such as Android and iOS app support, notifications (calls, texts, emails), water resistance, aalways ona display, 7-day battery life, and array of sensors (magnetometer, accelerometer, ambient light). One of the best things about the Pebble was its app store that contains tons of free downloadable applications and watch faces. In terms of design, the Pebble looks plain and simple but you can customize it by replacing the 22mm wrist strap or using some skins to cover the bezel.


The Pebble was definitely better than the MOTOACTV but it also had some crucial issues. Iave been using it for around 3 years and had experienced several buggy software updates that became really annoying. The most recurring issue Iave encountered was constantly losing connection to my phone hence the notifications feature was a hit or miss. In addition, the first version of Pebble had no built-in GPS and heart sensor, which for me was a major caveat since Iam a fitness buff. Lastly, although it can control the music from a connected smartphone, it didnat have a stand-alone music player like the MOTOACTV.

Using it on a daily basis, my Pebble looks good as new even until today so there is no question about its durability. I just got tired of the look and its limitations so I decided to hunt for my next smartwatch.

In September 2016, Apple released the Series 2 version of their smartwatch. Aimed at enhancing the iPhone experience, I considered the Apple Watch way better than the MOTOACTV and two steps ahead of the original Pebble. For around $400, I bought the Series 2 (aluminum, space grey, Nike+) in January 2017 and Iave been using it almost every single day since then.

Apple Watch Series 2 (Nike+)

The first thing I liked about the Apple Watch is its sleek and highly customizable design. I bought a few cases for protection and plenty of bands (wrist straps) for styling and comfort. After constant usage, I begin to appreciate the Apple Watch for its stable hardware and software integration. Connecting to my iPhone is a breeze and it runs flawlessly that I didnat have to worry about not receiving important notifications. I think this is the main reason why Iam still using this smartwatch.

Here is a list of features that I love about the Apple Watch (Series 2):

* Awesome display (OLED Retina display with Force Touch)
* Customizable watch faces
* Built-in sensors (optical heart, accelerometer, gyroscope, ambient light)
* Built-in GPS
* Water resistant up to 50 meters
* Built-in fitness and wellness apps
* Activity tracker (motivates me to exercise or stay active)
* Supports third-party apps
* Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity
* Built-in music player
* Easily removable bands and plenty of cheap bands available
* Simple but good-looking design
* Durable screen and body

Some of the features that I wish Apple Watch should have:

* Longer battery life
* Always on display
* Third-party watch faces

Although the Apple Watch Series 4 has been released in 2018, I didnat find it necessary to upgrade as my Series 2 still serves its purpose well, and looking at the features of the latest Apple Watch, it didnat tick any of the wish list I wrote above.

My Apple Watch is my constant and reliable companion. I regularly use the Breathe app when meditating, the built-in fitness app when swimming, running, cycling, weight lifting, or doing yoga, and the stand-alone music app when playing music on my AirPods. I also heavily rely on its notifications feature for calls and SMS. The Apple Watch can do all those things while looking sleek and of course showing me what time it is.

These days, there are still a lot of people who are using traditional watches compared to those who are using smartwatches. I think this is mainly because ordinary watches are more convenient to use for non-techies, as they are easy to set up and donat have to be charged all the time. As for me, I will probably stick to wearing smartwatches until my heart rate per minute goes zero.

Hello (Again) World!

Hello (again) world! After 10 years of posting here, I left without saying goodbye. Now that Iam finally back, allow me to say sorry to my loyal readers. Is it too late now to say sorry? :-) I hope not. Now, why did I take a very long break? To keep it short, here are the two main reasons why I stopped:


* I finally got burned out of thinking about topics to write, writing, proofreading, editing, and posting.

* The other reason is that I got into iOS app development that took most of my free time.

I lost focus, and so I started my disappearing act from the World Wide Web.

Some of you may wonder why I came back after all these years. Well, I just missed writing. Iam now more excited than ever to share with you again all the tech-related stuff that I find interesting. Although I am still quite busy with mobile app development and physical (offline) business, I have more hunger and freedom now to write so I think this is going to be fun.

So where do we go from here? Before I decided to make a comeback, Iave been thinking about ways to revive the site. Like, should I change the design of the site first? -Which I did. As some of you may notice, the site now has a new design. It is now more mobile friendly than ever and more responsive. I hope you all like it, and please bear with me if you encounter some problems as we are still making a few adjustments and site enhancements.

I have also been thinking about changing the main topic or the future content of the site. Since the beginning, I have been posting mostly about Linux and other open-source software. When I took a break and have been developing apps for iOS, I obviously have been relying on my Mac as my main computer and OS X operating system. So I have to be honest with you that I have not been using Linux for a long time now and have lost track on whatas happening in the world of free and open-source software. Some of you Linux fans out there might be disappointed but I hope youall understand. As some of you may know, I also love Apple products simply because of their excellent hardware design and software reliability. In fact, I posted here before that I run Linux on my Macbook Pro.

Moving forward, Iam still going to post tech-related stuff but I will not just focus on a particular niche. That way, I will have more freedom to share with you what I know or experienced. I just hope that the things that I will be writing about will somehow be useful to you because that has always been the main reason why I started this site.

For those of you who stick around and for those who are planning to follow this site no matter what, thank you and see you soon!

Edit: My apologies for those of you who commented using mobile devices the past few days. Comments were not published due to error. I have already fixed the issue and comments will now push through.

4 Cloud-based Applications that Work Perfectly on Linux

As far as cloud-based applications go, the market seems to be very competitive. With the recent OneDrive controversy, users are becoming much more conscious about how and where they invest their valuable data. Pricing changes or changes in business models have started to backfire against companies pretty quickly. In other words, cloud-based applications are no longer second-class citizens on the desktop. In fact, they have become a solid business model that big companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple heavily rely on.

Now that the cloud has become an end-user commodity rather than a product that was meant for data giants, companies are trying hard to increase the outreach of their cloud services to clients across all platforms. One such attempt is to bring more Linux users to the party by treating Linux-based desktops at the same level as their Windows and Mac counterparts. Many cloud-focused companies have already made available well-supported Linux clients for their services. This, in turn, has made Linux as a lucrative platform for people who dual boot or switch their computers a lot. That way, they can enjoy all their important files on Windows at work and Linux at home. It's a win-win situation for both parties.

Today, we will be focusing on a few such cloud-based applications that work natively on Linux without any major glitches or bugs.


While we waxed eloquent about the cloud-based applications available on Linux right now, we would be more than glad to leave out Google's name in this case. The search giant has already angered a lot of Linux users lately over their lack of support for the penguinian desktop. While the Google Drive client seems to be well-supported on Windows, Mac, and Android, the Linux desktop has largely been ignored for more than a year.

Thankfully, some great alternatives have emerged to make sure that Linux users don't miss out on the amazing service. Insync is one such alternative. The application comes with a host of features that even the official Google Drive client doesn't offer. Features like command-line usage, Raspberry Pi usage, feed of file changes, and multiple accounts are present in this application. However, unlike Google's client, it's not free. The developers charge about a one-time $20 fee for downloading and installing the application. If you are someone who relies heavily on Google Drive and your Linux desktop, this is worth paying for.

More about Insync HERE.


Copy is an often-forgotten application in the small list of cloud-based services on this platform. What separates this app from its competitors is its focus on providing a cross-platform syncing solution with a focus on security and privacy. While it is not as secure as SpiderOak, it does, however, make security a priority. Another great thing about Copy is that it is generous when it comes to providing storage space. While Dropbox offers a meager 5 GB for starters, Copy gives you 15 GBs of storage space to begin with. Overall, it is a great backup solution if you're looking for something new and fresh.


Dropbox is the tried and tested solution for Linux users that has worked well in the past and continues to work well even now. It offers a stable and powerful interface that is at par with its clients on Windows and Mac. Furthermore, the support and the steady stream of updates the Linux client gets makes it a great default cloud solution for many users. Whether you are a new Linux user or a penguinian ninja, you'll have no trouble getting used to Dropbox.

More about Dropbox HERE.

SpiderOak One

These days, securing the data you store on cloud has become a number one priority for many uses. Furthermore, there is one more area where companies are a bit nebulous in their offerings towards their customers, and that is privacy. SpiderkOak is a company that plans to change that. Their service has a strong focus on keeping your data safe and secure and making sure that no one other than you can access it. By providing adequate security measures, SpiderOak is designed in such ways that not even the company's employees are allowed to access your data. The best thing about SpiderOak is that it works perfectly on Linux and can even be accessed via command line (for those terminal junkies out there).

More about SpiderOak HERE.

Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

Popular Hollywood Movies that Utilizes Linux

Hollywood, with all its glitz and glamour, seems like the last place you'll find the mighty penguin's influence. Well thankfully for all Linux fans, the truth is quite the opposite. The open source operating system has played a key role in turning many directorial dreams into silver screen successes. What attracts the billion-dollar industry to this 'free as in free beer' operating system is not its price. In fact, it is Linux's unmatched performance is what makes it the preferred choice over some of the top-of-the-line operating systems like Windows and Mac OS X.

Be it screenwriting, animation, editing, or post production, Linux can be used in pretty much every department involved in the making of a major motion picture. If you're wondering where exactly the mighty penguin has impacted Los Angeles, sit tight as we list some of the most prominent examples of Linuxian influence in Hollywood movies.

Scooby-Doo (The Movie)

Scooby-Doo was a popular 2002 flick by Warner Brothers starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. Adapted from the popular cartoon series, this was the first live action movie in the franchise. Since the success of the movie relied on portraying an animated dog, and not just any dog, but the mighty Scooby Doo himself, the pressures were high. And this, my friends, is the scene wherein Linux steps in to save the day.

Animators of the post-production studio Rhythm & Hues used about a hundred Linux desktops to make the popular Hannah-Barbara look as realistic as possible. Using Film Gimp (now Cinepaint ) and other proprietary Linux-based tools, the open-source desktop was a key contributor to the movie's success. No wonder, Scooby-Doo was the 15th most successful film of 2012 with an official box-office gross of more than $275 millions.

Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is a 2002 Oscar-nominated movie that has grossed over $122 million so far. On June 3rd 2002, in a press release, HP announced that Linux played a critical role in the production of the movie. It was also the first movie to place Linux in the hands of animators giving them power to create a unique blend of 2D and 3D animation. Furthermore, it also helped power Dreamworks' proprietary 2D animation software Toonshooter thanks to HP's high-power Linux workstations.

Karen Duffin from HP had the following to say about Linux:

"This deal also signifies a larger emerging trend - the shift in Hollywood
from proprietary (a la SGI's IRIX systems) to open source platforms, and
HP's leading role in this evolution. Many of the major studios are moving
over to Linux, but DreamWorks is pioneering this movement. The evolving
relationship between HP and DreamWorks and the movies emerging from the
multi-year alliance is indicative of this movement."


Shrek the Third

Shrek the Third is another great movie where Linux was involved in the making. Released in 2007, the third installment of the popular animated movie franchise grossed over 322 million dollars at the box office. DreamWorks with their powerhouse animation backend of more than 1,000 desktops and more than 3,000 server CPUs relied heavily on Linux for bringing the movie to fruition. What was more important was that Shrek pushed the limits of where animation can go with the accurate detailing of the models' hair and flow dresses. Furthermore, the movie also included lighting and effects that were rarely found in movies at that time. You can read more about the involvement of Linux in the movie on a Linux Journal article.


Probably one of the biggest movies ever made, Titanic ranks amongst the movies with the best special effects. According to Box Office mojo, the current worldwide gross of the Oscar-winning masterpiece stands at a whopping $2,186,772,302. And yes, here too, Linux had a big part to play in the making of the film. Titanic, as you may know, relied heavily on the use of visual effects. A risky move at that time considering they had to create a complete ship from the ground up and everything from the water to the flag on the ship was to be pure CGI. Despite having a lot of choices in the operating systems department, no other OS proved as powerful as Linux to give birth to one of the biggest cinematic experiences of the decade.

Digital Domain, the company responsible for the visual effects of Titanic had the following to say about Linux:

"The Linux systems worked incredibly well for our problems. The cost benefit was overwhelmingly positive even including the engineering resources we devoted to the problems. The Alpha Linux turned out to be slightly more difficult than first expected, but the state of Alpha Linux is improving very rapidly and should be substantially better now.

Digital Domain will continue to improve and expand the tools we have available on these systems. We are engendering the development of more commercial and in-house applications available on Linux. We are requesting that vendors port their applications and libraries. At this time, the Linux systems are only used for batch processing, but we expect our compositing software to be used interactively by our digital artists. This software does not require dedicated acceleration hardware, and the speed provided by the Alpha processor is a great benefit to productivity."



Time and again, Linux has played a huge role in successes of many Hollywood blockbusters and continues to do so till this day. It is not just the low cost that has made Linux such an attractive choice for high-profile media studios, it is also the unmatched performance it offers that easily outshines what Apple or Microsoft offers.

Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

Best Cross-Platform Note-taking Apps to Enhance Productivity

When it comes to taking notes on the go, there are many solutions you can try out. You can carry a small notepad, you could take notes in a simple text file, or you could try out any app from the thousands of choices the Android Play Store offers. While there seems to be no dearth of good choices in this department, apps that are truly cross-platform are hard to find. That's why, in today's article, we'll help you find apps that you can use to take notes and refer to them from everywhere.


OneNote is Microsoft's heavily publicized note-taking application. It is a simple, easy-to-use service that ties in perfectly with MS Office Suite of desktop tools. Compared to Evernote, OneNote stacks up quite well with its easy-to-use interface and cross-platform capabilities. You can take and access your notes on desktop, web, mobile, and tablets. The interface conforms to Microsoft's popular ribbon UI and anyone who has used MS Word or MS Excel (2013+) would have no trouble getting started with it. The best thing of all is that OneNote is entirely free to use with no premium tiers or restrictions. Much like Evernote, there isn't a Linux version for OneNote. However, having tried the web version myself for about a few months now, Linux users won't be missing out on much.

Pricing: Free
Publisher: Microsoft
OpenSource: No
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Web, Mobile


Evernote is a frontrunner in the race for being one of the best cross-platform note-taking applications out there. It is stable, works across all major platforms, and has excellent features that are useful for users from all backgrounds. What's great about this application is that it seamlessly syncs all your data across all platforms. Be it bills, receipts, or even a complete novel, you can store pretty much everything in your Evernote account without having to worry about data loss. While there isn't a Linux version for this service yet, there are a couple of third-party applications you can try that will let you access your notes on Ubuntu and other distributions. Once such application is Nevernote, an open-source clone of Evernote ( The app provides a basic interface for accessing your notes and creating new ones. Other than that, you won't find any bells and whistles you usually find on the Windows or Mac application. The basic version is free to install and use and is enough for anyone who's looking for a solid cross-platform note taking solution.

Pricing: Free for Basic, $24.99 per year for Plus, $49.99 per year for Professional
Publisher: Evernote Corporation
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Web, Mobile


Simplenote has been around for quite a while now. However, it never really got the attention it deserved. Its lightweight, clean interface is something that makes it stand apart from other feature-heavy applications and services. The application has a web-based interface and has apps that work perfectly well on iOS and Android. Simplenote, by living up to its name, ensures that you get the bare minimum features you need from a cross-platform note editor. That said, as simple as it is, the service supports Markdown thus letting you publish your notes on the web and share them with your friends and coworkers. Overall, Simplenote stands apart not only as a great note-taking tool but also an effective productivity app.

Pricing: Free
Publisher: Automattic
Platforms: Mac, Web, Mobile

Google Keep

Google Keep is the search giant's way of letting you know that it has its tentacles spread across all areas of your life. Just kidding. If you're an avid note-taker and are looking for something that ties in well with the Google ecosystem, this is an app you must try. It's simple, colorful, and does the job pretty well. You can group your notes in categories and tag them with different colors. Furthermore, it also allows you to show notes based on your location, thus letting you remember anything you have to buy whilst going out shopping.

Pricing: Free
Publisher: Google
Platforms: Web, Mobile, Chrome-based apps for Windows, Mac, Linux

5 of the Best Raspberry Pi Projects Out There

Raspberry Pi, when first launched about two years ago, became an instant phenomenon. After all, who could have thought of a $35 computer that lets you browse the web and does most of your office work? What is even more surprising is the reception it got from average users. Usually, one would expect a bare-minimum $35 board computer that runs Linux to be popular only among developers or geeks. However, as many as 100,000 Raspberry Pi units were sold on the day of its launch eventually selling more than 2.5 million units till date.

Completely open-source, Raspberry Pi lets you do most of the basic tasks you'd normally do on a full-fledged desktop. You can browse the web, you can create documents, and you can even play music and watch videos. When it comes to desktop computers, Raspberry Pi is a veritable "Starter's Edition." Since its inception, the project has made common computing available to parts of the world where owning a desktop was once considered a luxury. Moreover, it has also spurred a flurry of interesting projects that take this tiny superboard to a whole new level. If you are ready to show your creative, geeky side, then read on as we cover some of the best Raspberry Pi projects out there.

1. Turn Raspberry Pi into a Low-cost Coding Tutor for Kids

We've already covered a list of the best programming courses out there. However, as good as these courses are, learning programming can be a tough ordeal for kids who need a more hands-on approach to code. Instead of letting them mess up your production computer, you can buy them a little Raspberry Pi box, hook it up to a monitor, and let them code their heart away. A good programming language that's up to this task is Scratch that turns programming into an activity that's geared towards kids, making the whole process fun and enjoyable to them. In fact, this combination of Pi and Scratch can make programming accessible to places where kids who don't have the privilege of owning a computer, thus making it easy to spread knowledge everywhere.

2. Turn Raspberry Pi into a Media Center

Did you just say media center? Yep, there's a lot this little board can do that you won't usually expect it to do. What's great about Pi is that it supports 1080p out of the box with a tiny-but-powerful GPU running behind the scenes. Combine that with the Xbian project, you got a full-fledged media center on your hands. XBian is a small, fast and lightweight media center distribution that is designed for Raspberry Pi that brings the latest of XBMC to your mini-computer. It's a great, cheap investment if you're someone who likes watching a lot of movies.

3. Turn Raspberry Pi into a Car Computer

A very interesting blog post by developer Andrei Istodorescu shows you exactly how you can turn Pi into a PC that sits in your car. This means that you'll be able to watch your favorite movies or TV shows in your car. While that's a perfect idea for a romantic date, just make sure that you're not doing Game of Thrones marathons while driving. The blog post explains pretty much everything you need to do in order to install, configure, and get it up and running. The approximate cost of the parts requires comes down to about $200. However, as costly as that sounds, compared to the $25 board, it's a worthy investment for every geek who also loves her car.

4. Make a Wearable Raspberry Pi Computer

Envious of your Google Glass-sporting friends? Or maybe you're too privacy conscious to try the search giant's latest wearable. Whatever the case maybe, geeks and privacy enthusiasts can make use of Pi to create a DIY wearable that they can brag about to their friends who are busy drooling over Android Wear, Google Glass, and other wearables. While no way near perfect, this project can provide a full-powered desktop computer that you can use wherever you are. Even while walking. Although the cost of this project is about $400, it's a justified investment for every geek out there who wants to have a great learning experience.

5. Turn Raspberry Pi into a Universal Remote

Instructables has another cool guide on turning your Pi computer into a universal remote. Though you'll need some parts to get that working for you, those little investments are worth it if you're a lazy geek who loves to control everything from the couch. Also, it's a great learning experience for anyone who's interested in knowing more about the LIRC or tinkering with electronics. A bit tough to get working overnight, this project can be treated as a huge learning experience more than just a way to create a universal remote. You can also pair this off with XBMC and then create an ultimate media center with remote and everything at a very low cost.

Best Bitcoin Applications for Linux

Bitcoin is, if many industry experts are to be believed, the future of currency. Everyone from expert coders to entrepreneurs is banking on it thus making it one of the hottest topics. We already discussed a lot about bitcoins in our earlier article and we believe that it does have a potential to cause a huge disruption in the market. For our FOSS supporters out there, bitcoin means a great deal. The reason for this is that this digital currency is entirely open-source. Which means, if Bitcoin ever reaches public adoption, it will be the most popular use of open-source technology.

If you are a Linux user, managing your bitcoins and even mining them is a piece of cake. The penguinian platform offers some great tools for bitcoins enthusiasts to manage their digital currency.


CGMiner is a multi-thread multi-pool miner for bitcoins. It works from the command line and can help you mine bitcoins in a way that makes maximum usage of your resources. The commands are pretty simple and straightforward thus making it easy even for non programmers (with a little bit of help, of course) to get started with bitcoins. What makes CGMiner popular is the fact that it gives you complete control over the mining process. If you are new to Bitcoins and want to get started with mining, a fantastic guide that teaches you how to mine Bitcoins on a Xubuntu desktop with CGMiner can be found HERE.

Bitcoin QT

Bitcoin QT is the official Bitcoin app that provides you with the ability to manage your coins. It has a simple interface that works across most Linux distributions and makes it easy for you to handle all your bitcoin transactions from one place. Though there are better Bitcoin applications out there, this one may be a preferred choice if you are looking for something more official.


MultiBit is a free application that serves as a wallet for your Bitcoins. Open-source and easy to install, MultiBit works across all major platforms. Once installed, it lets you manage your Bitcoin transactions from one single place. The application is very lightweight and quick to install. It even stores your data in files of really small size, thus making it easy to work with on computers that have low resources. This also means that you can backup your data onto a pen drive or even your smartphone's SD card and not have to worry about computer crashes. MultiBit is fast and keeps all your private keys encrypted on your machine. Overall, it is a great lightweight application for Bitcoiners.


If you are someone who wants to make money mining Bitcoins, BitMinter is a mining pool that allows you to do just that. The aim of this mining pool is to make mining accessible to everyone so that they too could be a part of this open-source phenomenon. Of course, mining coins using a regular computer is not really profitable. It will not only tax your resources but will also send you a huge electricity bill. However, if you have a powerful graphics card, you can surely use it to mine coins as much as you want. And, for that, you'll need to install the BitMinter application. Built on Java, BitMinter works across all major platforms out there.

Electrum Bitcoin Wallet

Electron is a Bitcoin wallet that lets you store your coins in a safe place. One of the striking features about this app is its simple user interface. Working perfectly well across all major platforms, Electrum stores your data in a secret phrase so that even if your computer gets stolen, only you would have access to your stuff. Also, apart from security, Electrum also offers a lot of convenience for users who like to travel. It does so by letting you use your wallet offline. If you are an Android user, Electrum will also work on your smartphone.

Best Firefox Add-ons for a Better YouTube Experience

From blocked videos to annoying ads, there are many things about YouTube we don't like. These restrictions and distractions only dampen the amazing experience that the video-sharing website is meant to provide. If you are a Firefox user, however, you won't have to worry about such things. Firefox offers a variety of add-ons that let you fix pretty much any annoyance that YouTube has. Furthermore, they also let you download videos right to your desktop so that you can watch them whenever you want, even without a connection.

So, without much ado, here are some of the best Firefox add-ons that help you have a better YouTube experience.

1-Click YouTube Video Downloader

What makes this downloading app so special is purely its simplicity. Once installed, you'll find a small button below the video you are watching. This will let you choose the quality of the video you want to download, and then once you click it, the video starts downloading automatically. The add-on supports a wide variety of major formats like MP4, FLV, WebM, 3GP thus letting you watch the video later on any device you like. While it doesn't add any fancy functions to the mix, its simplicity is the only reason, which will probably make you start using it right away.


Ageless for YouTube

If you are over 18 but still find it annoying that you have to sign in to watch age-restricted videos, then this next add-on is just for you. Once installed, you won't have to sign in every time you watch an age-restricted video. This is great for people who don't have a YouTube account or don't want to sign up for one.



If you are someone annoyed by some of the unwanted elements on the YouTube page then this extension will come in handy. By simply a single click you can hide the comments section, the sidebar, ads, and other parts of YouTube that you find annoying. What gives this add-on the upper edge is that it lets you customize the look of your YouTube page the way you want it to. If you prefer, you can customize it till the only thing you see is your video and nothing else. It is really a great tool for minimalists.


Download YouTube Videos as MP4

Much like the aforementioned 1-click YouTube Downloader, this one too puts a simple download button below your videos. What is great about this add-on is that it doesn't require you to restart the browser. As far as restrictions go, this one is limited to MP4s only. However, if all you do is watch videos on your desktop, this addon fits the bill.


YouTube Unblocker

If you are not living in the United States, watching videos that are blocked in your country can be quite a trouble. Though there are many workarounds for that (like VPN), there isn't a convenient solution that just works. Thankfully, though there's a simple extension to remedy that problem. YouTube Unblocker does exactly what it says, it automatically unblocks disabled videos like VEVO by enabling proxy that directs to the US website. So instead of completely using YouTube with a proxy server, this addon intelligently queries the video so that you will be watching only the blocked videos through a proxy. There are no VPN or shady sites involved here.


7 Nifty VLC Tricks You Should Know

VLC started as an academic project in 1996 and back then it was called "VideoLAN Client", and hence the name VLC. Soon, however, it grew to become a client as well as server that can be used to stream videos across the network. Its popularity showed steady growth leading up to the development of Version 1.0 that was released in 2009. In other words, the project took 13 years of development to reach its first major release, something that shows us how stable the open-source tool has indeed become.

Be it Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux, VLC still remains the undisputed king of media players. From playing YouTube videos and MP3s to helping you enjoy Blu-ray movies, this open-source tool is regarded as one of the indispensable tools every desktop user should have installed. If you are using Linux right now, chances are you are a VLC user too. And if you are, we've got some useful tips for you that will help you get the most out of it.

1. Taking Screenshots of the Currently Playing Video

Whenever you are playing a video, you can grab a quick screencap without even pausing. All you have to do is press the combination Shift + S and your screenshot will automatically show up in the Pictures folder. If, however, you are using Mac OS X, use the shortcut Cmd + Alt + S and the snapshot will be waiting for you in the Pictures folder.

2. Bookmark a Position in a Video

Imagine you are busy watching your favorite movie and suddenly your smartphone rings. It is a bummer right? Start the video again and then seeking to the last position you were on. Thankfully, VLC saves you the trouble by letting you bookmark a position in the video so that you can come back to it whenever you want.

All you have to do is go to the menubar and then Playback -> Custom Bookmarks -> Manage. A new window will pop up. Here, simply click on the button that says "Create" and you will have the bookmark at your disposal whenever you want.

Note that you can also use this for listening to audiobooks as well where bookmarking plays an important role.

3. Record the Currently Playing Video/Audio

If you listen to streaming audio or watch a lot of online videos natively, this next tip will help you keep the best bits to yourself. By recording a currently playing song or video, you can re-listen to it whenever you want.

To start recording, simply go to the menu bar and navigate to View -> Advanced Controls. Once you do that, a small red button will show up below the video or audio. Click on it and the stream will be saved to your default Videos or Music folder.

4. Record from a Webcam

If you are a wannabe rising YouTube star, this tip might help you a lot. VLC, apart from playing your favorite movies, also lets you do a recording from the webcam. Simply go to Media -> Open Capture Device. There, you'll find a dropdown menu. There, select DirectShow to select your webcam. Once that is done, start recording by hitting the red button. The video will be stored in the default videos folder.

5. Play Video Files in .zip and .rar Archives

The next time someone hands you a bunch of video files packed in a .rar archive, simply open it in VLC and it will play. VLC reads through the archive letting you play the video files contained in it.

6. Watch a YouTube Video Without a Browser

Instead of watching a YouTube video in a distraction-ridden webpage, you can use VLC to watch it on your desktop. Simply click on the menu bar -> Media and click Open Network Stream. There, paste the URL of your favorite video and it will start playing automatically. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl + N anytime and paste the video directly.

7. VLC Does Podcasts Too

VLC can do a lot more than playing videos and music. It also acts as a full-fledged podcast downloader and player. Open VLC and if the playlist view isn't showing up yet, press Ctrl + L or hit the playlist button at the bottom. In the left pane under Internet, you'll find an option that says Podcasts. Hit the grey button besides it and paste your favorite podcast URL.

Windows 10: Is it Really Worth Ditching Linux for?

Though we won't call Windows 10 the perfect desktop OS, it is certainly an eye-catching offering packed with features that are hard to resist, even for Mac users. The homely start menu, the sharp Cortana, and Linux-esque features like virtual desktops all blend in to provide a seamless desktop experience that, for the first time, matches up with the prowess of the Mac OS X desktop experience. While Ubuntu's growth remaining stagnant and no new 'big' announcements on the Linux front this year, many penguinian users are considering migrating to the dark side. While some have already crossed the threshold, others are reflecting on the pros and cons. For them the following article will shed light on some of the tempting features of the OS and how they compare to what Linux currently offers.

The Search Experience

One of the biggest changes in Windows 10 is the integration of search with Cortana, local files, and content from the web. This combination makes search a powerful addition to the Windows 10 experience. With the ability to look through files, folders, and content on the web, the need for opening the web browser time and again becomes redundant.

The search experience on Linux, however, is still mediocre as compared to what Windows or Mac offers. On Ubuntu you can search through files; but searching on the web through the Dash is still flaky. If you are someone who wants a unified desktop and web experience and online search is a big deal for you, switching to Windows 10 might not be such a bad move. Otherwise, the good ol' Dash works perfectly for the normal desktop user.

The Start Menu

Yep, it's back. After hearing the complaints of millions of users from around the world, the Redmond giant finally decided to bring the Start menu back. Though it is not the same as what Windows XP and 7 had, it still retains the functionality of its predecessor. You can search, browse through programs, and even pin tiles to your start menu. This is a welcome change from the gaudy Windows 8 start screen that took up useful real estate. For Linux users, there has always been an equivalent of the start menu. In Mint for example, the start menu is reminiscent of the Windows 7 start menu and on Ubuntu we have the Dash, which is the right blend of modernity and functionality. If you are looking to ditch Linux for the Windows 10 start menu, unfortunately, it might not be worth it.

Free as in Free Beer, but not Freedom

Windows 10 is free. Yes, completely free. Well, almost. If you own a genuine copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8, you can upgrade to the latest desktop without paying a single penny. If you don't, you'll have to pay the retail price for a new copy of the operating system. So, if you are already on an earlier version of Windows, probably dual booting with your tux desktop, there are no reasons not to upgrade to Windows 10. However, it is essential that you backup your data before making the switch as the upgrade has been known to cause some issues.

Always Updated

Both Linux and Windows rely on updates to provide a secure and up-to-date desktop experience. Windows, however, goes a step further with this process. Switching to a software-as-a-service model, the latest version of the desktop will deliver all future updates and upgrades online. This means no Windows 11 or 12 and every new feature or major change will be delivered to your desktop via a simple over-the-air update. The only problem, though, with this model is that you can't opt out of it. If you upgrade to Windows 10, there's no official way of disabling those updates. So, if you have a limited bandwidth, just think a couple of times before upgrading. Compared to Linux, this might feel like an intrusive move, but Microsoft plans to make money as a service rather than an operating system that is quite different from the way Linux operates.

Privacy Issues

Last, but not the least, one of the controversies surrounding Windows 10 is quite a biggie for Linux users and that is of privacy. Despite clarifications by Microsoft on this matter, Windows 10 is known to collect a huge amount of data that is quite unsettling for a desktop user. If there's one big deal breaker Linux users have to face while installing Windows 10 is this one. Even though you can tweak the settings, having complete control over your data is something only a Linux user can enjoy in its full glory.


So, is it worth ditching Linux for Windows 10? While it is a great update to Windows 8, the one that fixes it all, upgrade problems and privacy issues are main reasons Linux users should be wary of the upgrade. However, if you want the latest and greatest, it should be a no-brainer. Our advice is to wait till Microsoft settles the issues plaguing the OS and then give it a shot. Till then, penguins are always your friends.

Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

5 Best Tools You Need To Create Your Next Big Android App

Creating a simple Android app that calculates the amount of tip you have to pay at a restaurant is easy. Creating a fully functional messaging app with third-party integration, not so. Android app development is such a big area that the possibilities for you are practically endless. You can create very basic apps that make you enough money to pay your rent and then you can create those big apps like Snapchat, which make you a billionaire. Android marketplace isn't just an app store anymore; it's a playground for showcasing your best abilities and creating something valuable for millions of mobile users.

That said, good apps do need some extra effort, some manpower, and more importantly some solid tools that help speed up the process. That's why today we've listed some of the best tools out there for helping you create your next big Android app. These will help you get through some of the most common hurdles that show up when you create, deploy, and test your app.

Android Studio

This is the most basic stuff you'll find in an Android developer's repertoire. Android Studio replaces Eclipse as the official IDE for Android and comes with all the libraries and developer tools that will help you create your app right from scratch. The whole bundle works across all major operating system platforms. The huge download also gives you access to a version of Android system image for the emulator. This means that you can write your app then test it right on your desktop. You won't even need an Android device at any stage of the development process.


Titanium SDK

If you have strong aversion to Java and prefer coding in languages like HTML, PHP, JavaScript, Ruby and Python, this SDK is for you. Instead of sticking to a native SDK like Android SDK, you can develop apps for multiple platforms at the same time. In other words, you can create apps for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows from the same codebase. If you are a small business or a budding startup that needs to get apps up and running across multiple platforms, Titanium is a great choice. It has been used by many developers from around the world and many apps are created using it.



The default Android emulator, despite being distributed by Google, itself happens to be quite slow and buggy. Genymotion remedies that problem by providing a blazing fast Android emulator that does much more than what the default Android emulator does. Moreover, apart from providing an Android emulator, Genymotion also provides more than 10 virtual devices so that you can test your app across all the major platforms out there. If your app or game has special features that make use of the motion sensors or requires connecting to a big display, Genymotion handles that too by providing specialized features to test your app. If you are developing a small app, the default emulator is good enough. But for big apps that need to be deployed to millions of users (in case of startups, etc.), there's nothing better than Genymotion out there.


Much like Titanium, Rhomobile lets you build apps for multiple platforms without requiring you to become a Java ninja. What makes it so special is that Rhomobile focuses more on enterprise clients. We've already written a lot about Enterprise apps on Android and if your next app is one then Rhomobile might come in handy. You can code in HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, and Ruby yet be able to deploy a single app across multiple platforms. The basic suite is free but if you're a company then go for the Silver or Gold plan depending on your needs.



If you are building a big app that needs to be tested aggressively, Ubertester is a service that will definitely come in handy. It lets you organize and monitor your app's beta testing process much more efficiently. It doesn't matter if you have 4 or 400 testers Ubertester gives you a lot of flexibility, which the usual testing process doesn't allow. You can send OTA updates (much like Google does) to your testers and get quick feedback. Among other features, Ubertesters also allows you to do in-app bug editing which comes in very handy if you are reiterating on the go. Overall, it is a great service for testing and improving your Android app.

5 Best Calendar Apps for Google Chrome

Managing time has become so important these days. You have a meeting at 10 am, then lunch at 2 pm, and a lot of things in between. It is hard to manage so many things in one day. Thankfully, these days we have so many time management apps that it is barely a hassle anymore. As humans, we should be grateful to the wonderful technology we have at our disposal.

Technology, in many ways, has saved us from the hassle of being late to meetings, forgetting important birthdays, and missing out on some great parties. Be it an app, a web-based service, or a nifty command-line trick, never before has time management become so easy. One of the biggest proofs of this advancement is the way our calendars have been reinvented. From simple sheets of papers that we used to hang on the walls to the omnipresent "apps" we carry with us anywhere we go, Calendar has come a long way. If you're a person who lives in their browser, however, nothing comes more handy than these calendar apps.

So, if you are looking to ramp up your productivity this week, read on as we list some of the best calendar apps for Google Chrome:

Google Calendar

Undoubtedly the most popular web-based calendar service out there, Google Calendar's omnipresence is hard to deny. Be it a corporate meeting or a family gathering, this nifty service makes sure that punctuality will be the last thing you need to worry about. What's great about Google's calendar service is that it allows you to share your calendar with your coworkers and friends. This means that they won't have to call you up every time they want to schedule a meeting with you. They can simply add an event to a calendar and you can choose whether to accept or to deny the invite (much like Facebook events).

Another good thing about Google Calendar is that it syncs with most of your desktop applications thus helping you access it no matter where you go. This app for Chrome, though almost identical to the web app, lets you have a quick access to the service.


Boomerang Calendar for Gmail

While this might not be necessarily an app, it does give you some great functionality if you are someone who gets lost in a myriad of appointments and commitments to keep. Once installed, you'll be able to schedule your meetings with just one click. Whenever you get an invite, the extension goes through your schedule and checks for any available spots. If it finds any, it will let you book that spot in just one click. The add-on is pretty simple and straightforward and works quite well with Gmail.


Zoho Calendar

Zoho Calendar is part of the Zoho suite, a well-known competitor to Google Docs. While neither as popular or as feature rich as Google Calendar, Zoho seems like a perfect choice for those who want to unshackle themselves from Google's huge ecosystem. As far as the UI goes, the app looks pretty similar to Google Calendar, almost as if it is a clone. However, the fonts and many other UI elements do a good job at reminding you that this is a different application you are using. Also, Zoho allows you to embed your calendar on any website or blog. This can be very useful for bloggers who like putting out schedules and future post announcements on their site.

Apart from being a solid, Google Calendar alternative, Zoho makes itself stand apart from the web giant by allowing you to integrate the calendar with various CRM applications.


Memo Calendar

This app stands apart from others on this list by focusing on simplicity rather than features. Memo Calendar acts and feels much like the memo calendars we used to (or still do) hang on our walls. On each date, you can stick a small note so that it could help you remember something important that you have to do that day. Be it a birthday, a meeting, or an award show, just write it down on the memo calendar and you'll be fine. If you are looking for a simple, clean alternative to Google Calendar, this is your pick.


Sunrise Calendar

Compatible with the aforementioned Google Calendar as well as iCloud, Sunrise calendar is what Wunderlist is to a plain-old to-do list. Gorgeous design coupled with all the essential features you'd want from Google Calendar or any other calendar app, Sunrise is probably the best calendar app out there (Yes, it's even better than Google Calendar). What makes it so special is the fact that it integrates with many of the important services that have similar features built in. In other words, you don't have to open Facebook to check your distant cousin's birthday, Sunrise brings your Facebook Events and GCal events together thus removing the necessity for you to keep checking multiple sites at the same time. Much like Google Calendar, Sunrise works offline and allows you to add maps to a particular event. If you are already using Google Calendar, try this.


Using Android Apps for Keeping the Family Safe

Thanks to the GPS technology many smartphones come built with, you can easily locate your family members on a map and reach them whenever they are in need of your help. This is also a great way to keep track of teenagers when they go out to a party late at night thus keeping you up worrying about them. Furthermore, even when you are in a supermarket or a mall, you can prevent your kids from getting lost by tracking them on a map. The aforementioned safety measures don't come built-in with a new smartphone, however, there are some really good apps that provide those features at a very low cost or for free. Following is a list of few such apps:

Life360 - Family Locator

Life360 is a well-designed and useful family safety app that is great for small or even big families. Once installed, you can view your family members' locations on a private map along with their display pictures. What's good about Life360 is that it has a "Check-in" button like Foursquare that lets your kids or you punch in their current location. Also, if there is any trouble, you can push the "Alert" button and notify your parents. Among other features, this free app is great for chatting up with your family members while you are away.


ZoeMob Family Locator

Much like the aforementioned Life360, ZoeMob too serves as a GPS tracker for your family members. What is great about this app is that it comes with a GeoFence feature that lets you receive alerts whenever your family members arrive at school or at home. This is great for working moms who want to get notified once their kids get home from school. Furthermore, ZoeMob also features a family messenger app for chatting with other family members.


Family Safe

Family Safe is a GPS tracking system that can be used for tracking family members' locations. The application operates on 2 modes: Guardian profile and Protected profile. Under the Guardian profile (aimed at parents), you will be able to add your kids, elders, or any other relatives to your list and locate them on the map. If they're in trouble, you can quickly drive over to them using Google Navigate. There is also an option to call your relative right from the app. Under the protected profile (aimed at kids/elders), you're able to send a quick alert to a guardian signaling any emergency.


Family Safety GPS Tracker

If you want to track specific members of your family using their phone's GPS tracker, this app is worth a try. It has a unique functionality that gives you your relatives' GPS position at specific predefined intervals. This means that, you can get alerts about your kids' positions every one or two hours and not every minute (which can be quite annoying for both parties). Another good thing the app comes with is the emergency button. Just press the power key (even when your phone is in your pocket) four times and it will sound an emergency alarm. Also, if you want to know your child's location using SMS only (useful for older phones), you can simply send the SMS : REQUEST LOCATION and you'll get the location. Overall, a clean and simple app that does what it says on the tin.


Family Locator - GPS Tracker

Family Locator is another good app for locating your family members. What's unique about this app is that you can manually set safe or danger zones in the phone. This means that if your child goes into a particular part of the town (let's say the one that's more prone to violence, robbery etc) it will sound an alarm. Similarly, in a safe zone, when your kid leaves a particular zone, it will inform you. Apart from those features, the app has pretty much all the bells and whistles from other Family safety apps like messenger, maps, and real-time location.


Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

7 Best Chrome Apps and Extensions for Coders

Whether you are a code ninja or a budding programmer, having a good programming environment is a must. However, with the high amount of time we spend in our browsers and on our Chromebooks, finding any coding tools that are not native is a bit of a daunting task. Thankfully, Chrome with its huge repository of apps and extensions, has us covered pretty well. So, if you are looking for some great coding tools that work perfectly in your Google Chrome browser, read on as we cover the best of the lot.

Zed Code Editor

Zed Code Editor is a nice, clean-looking code editor designed specially for Chrome. Fully capable of running offline, its dark UI makes you focus on coding and nothing else. What's great about Zed is that it allows you to edit files locally as well as the ones that are stored on your Dropbox or Github account. Zed also supports syntax highlighting for most of the popular programming languages and can complete your code thus saving you the usual typing trouble. Another unique thing about Zed is that it has no tabs, it exists in a simple Chrome window that can be navigated using the goto UI. Built using web technologies like HTML5 and CSS, Zed is probably one of the best code editors you can have not just on Chrome but on desktop as well.


Code Cola

If you are a web developer, you will love Code Cola. It is a simple little extension that allows you to edit an online page's CSS in a visual way. Once installed, you can treat the whole web as your playground as you edit pretty much any page that you find worth experimenting on.



Modeled on the famed Sublime Text, Caret is an offline-capable text editor with syntax highlighting capabilities. What is special about Caret is that it is a great companion for users who love their Chromebooks thanks to its syncing capabilities. You can edit a file on your home computer and then you can continue working on it whenever you're traveling. Just hook your Google account to Caret and it will let you carry on where you left off.



What Text lacks in features, it makes up in simplicity. Though definitely not as feature rich as the other editors on the list, this one is capable enough to become your default text editor. It has a clean and simple UI and it handles opening multiple files pretty well. With syntax highlighting for most major programming languages, Text can serve as a great, lightweight companion for a budding coder.



Tailor is an experimental code editor for Chrome. With support for Git, it lets you work on multiple files with full syntax highlighting enabled. Though it doesn't have as many features, it is still a very simplistic, bare-bones app that works perfectly well offline. Though still in heavy development, it will be interesting to watch out for future additions to this project.



If you are a web developer, you'll love Shift Edit. The online IDE lets you develop in PHP, Ruby, HTML, CSS and JavaScript with full syntax highlighting. You can then publish those files through SFTP, FTP, and Dropbox to any location you want. Despite taking a freemium approach to an IDE, ShiftEdit does live up to the expectations many web developers have from a good coding tool.



If you are a developer who spends most of your coding life on GitHub, this next app is just for you. Once installed, you'll be able to collect the useful code snippets you find on a daily basis and organize them according to a programming language, project, or goal. Another cool function of Gitbox is the ability to quickly search through your text files. Just enter your query with a # or a keyword and the results show up instantly. What stands out in Gistbox is its simple UI and easy-to-use layout that makes it a treat to work with.


How to Doodle and Sketch on Your Android Smartphone

Sketchbook Express

If you are a professional artist, Sketchbook is a must-have app for you. Developed by Autodesk, this free app provides a set of dedicated sketching tools for devices with screen sizes 7" or smaller. Whether you prefer to capture your ideas on a paper napkin or draw beautiful sketches of people that you see everyday, this application lets you take your creativity to a level that you want. Though the app is for professionals, it can be used by pretty much anyone who has a flair for drawing and sketching.


Evernote Skitch

While not strictly a sketching or a doodling app, it is a useful addition to the list, nonetheless. Evernote's Skitch lets you annotate images and even PDF files so that you can be more expressive with the data you already have. It's a great tool to snap a picture of something, mark it up with your own ideas, and then send it to someone who can help transform the idea to reality. It is definitely worth a try for the creative types.


Doodle Magic

Doodle Magic is an app that kids will love. It is simple, without any extra bells and whistles, and just works. You get to draw on a black background with bright glowing colors, which might seem a bit odd at first, but results in some great artwork if you are good at it.


Doodle Text

If you are someone who likes to have more fun with your photos, Doodle Text is an app for you. Once installed, you'll be able to doodle on your photos, add some funky effects, and then send the picture to your friends. This means that you can draw a moustache, make yourself look like a ninja, or even type in messages for your loved ones. As far as sharing features go, this app has plenty with even an ability to post to your Facebook wall. Go ahead; share your masterpieces with your buddies!


Bamboo Paper

Bamboo Paper is an app with a simple goal: Turn your Android smartphone into paper. Among the apps mentioned in this list, this one is probably the most accurate and the most useful one. With precise inking tools, annotation capabilities, and much more, Bamboo Paper really strikes out as a doodling app that you can actually use in your daily life. Once installed, you can create your own notebooks wherein you can sketch, write, or doodle anything you want. Once you are done, you can share those notebooks with colleagues and friends via Dropbox, Evernote, Twitter, and Tumblr.


Infinite Painter

Infinite Painter is an app specially designed for Galaxy Note smartphones that come with S-pen or similar styluses. Once installed, there is a lot you can do with this app. Aimed for creative minds, this app is perfect if you are someone who paints a lot or likes sketching. Instead of frantically searching for a canvas every time you head out, you can have a full-fledged virtual canvas at your disposal. Though using the app on smaller (5 inch or less) devices won't do it much justice, it is still a good investment if you are serious about sketching.


5 Best Enterprise Apps and Extensions for Google Chrome

We have already covered a lot of enterprise applications on our site before. However, one would never expect apps in this genre to exist on a browser like Google Chrome. But, nothing could be further from the real truth. Google's effort to outsmart even the biggest players in the enterprise market are gradually paying off. Slowly spreading its wings into the business world, Google is venturing into arenas where Microsoft once reigned supreme. While the competition doesn't concern us much, but what has happened, in effect, is that the rivalry is bringing out the best in both companies.

Both Microsoft and Google are trying their best to give enterprise clients exactly what they need, and for consumers, this is a huge bonus. If you are a Chrome user or a Google fan that uses the search giant's services in their company, there's much more you can do with your browser. And, the following applications and extensions let you do exactly that. So, without much ado, here's a list of the best applications and extensions for Chrome tailored for enterprise customers:


With the ability to integrate with CRM's, Contactually helps you manage your work relationships better. The way this service works is that it prioritizes your email contacts so that you can connect with the right person at the right time. If you are into business and are looking to build a network of connections, Contactually might help you take things up a notch. Its email-centric workflow is great for anyone who uses LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to make their work relationships easier.



Presentme is a great service that lets you create personalized sales messages. Integrated with Google Drive, the app is great for creating personalized sales messages you can deliver to your prospective clients. What's nice about Presentme is that it brings everything together in a neat little place. You can manage your presentations, videos, and other stuff all in one place and focus only on the task at hand. Another great thing about Presentme is that it lets you create full presentations from scratch and then publish them instantly to your clients. This way, you get an uninterrupted workflow that helps you manage things in a much more organized way.



Whether you have a salon, a small motel, or a big restaurant, you can use BookedIn to accept bookings online. This simple application lets you create your own booking webpage where your clients could look you up and then make their bookings. With web-based scheduling and client reminders, BookedIn aims to be a one-stop solution for booking and scheduling and it does do a good job at it.



Nutcache is a free multilingual online application for invoicing and time management. If you are looking for something to help you track your invoices, multiple projects, and lost time, this app claims to handle it all. Its web-based interface works great for tracking your time on those big projects. Within the app itself, you can create unlimited invoices and estimates and then track them when they are overdue. If you are more of a budget person, Nutcache also lets you keep an eye on your expenses. One of the nice things about this app is that you can monitor your spending and then bill your clients accordingly. Overall, it is a great free app for small businesses that are looking for a simple and cheap solution.



Insightly is a free CRM and project management application that is targeted towards small businesses. It integrates with Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Apps as well. What's noteworthy about Insightly is how well it handles its integration with the rest of the Google services. Be it client relations or project management, this app works well on many fronts together. The web app itself has a nice, sleek look with a search bar at the top that allows you to search clients, projects and many other things. The tab-based layout then brings it all together in one place making it easier to sort things out.


Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

SwiftKey vs. Fleksy vs. Google Keyboard: Which keyboard is best for you?

The keyboard is probably one of the most overlooked aspects of a smartphone or tablet. For years, iPhone users had to put up with the default keyboard simply because Apple thought that having third-party keyboards wasn't necessary. However, as soon as they saw the success third-party keyboards were having in the Play Store, it made them reconsider their decision. Now, the market is flooded with keyboards for both iPhone and Android, making this a lucrative field for many developers and innovators.

Furthermore, a keyboard doesn't just involve typing. These days, you'll find all sorts of useful additions to your typing experience. From themes to integrated emojis, keyboard apps keep adding features that differentiate them from their competitors. While there are many such applications out there, only three stand out as far as popularity and performance is concerned: SwiftKey, Fleksy, and Google Keyboard. All three apps are fast, provide great features, and are used by millions of users. So, let's do a quick comparison between the three and find out which one is the best for you.


As far as predictions go, SwiftKey remains the undisputed king. The app is shockingly intuitive and can predict your next word even when you least expect it. In a way, prediction is SwiftKey's USP. Many users have stuck with this app over the years because of its amazing prediction. It reads your writing style and adapts to it thus giving you accurate predictions. SwiftKey can also hook into "Trending Topics" to give you predictions; however, we recommend disabling that option if you are noticing any lags in performance. Overall, SwiftKey's predictions are near to perfect and you can always rely on them even if English isn't your first language.

So, how does it compare to Google keyboard and Fleksy? Well, if we had to rate these two apps with respect to SwiftKey, Google Keyboard would come in at a second place while Fleksy will take the third spot. Google Keyboard is quite accurate and is the second-best choice for many users as far as predictions go. Couple that with Google's mind-reading technology that looks into your usage in other Google apps, this keyboard sounds excellent on paper. However, in the real world, the predictions are not as good as the ones we find on SwiftKey. We find that as we type, occasionally it misses a beat here and there. While that's not something that would make you stop using the keyboard entirely, it's definitely one of the shortcomings of the app that Google needs to improve on.

Thirdly, the newest of the apps is Fleksy, which is not yet up to the mark when it comes to predicting next words. Sometimes it's too slow (especially on older devices) and sometimes it predicts a wrong word here and there. That said, it's not terrible, especially when compared to some of the lesser-known keyboard applications in the Play Store.

Overall, if you are someone who relies heavily on predictions, SwiftKey is your best bet with Google Keyboard being a second choice.

Winner: SwiftKey


When it comes to actual typing speed, there's not a lot of difference between SwiftKey and Google Keyboard. Both have a sleek design and soft well-spaced buttons that make typing a breeze. However, they both pale in comparison to Fleksy, which is especially known for its typing speed. Holding the Guinness World Record for the fastest typing speed, this app relies more on gesture control rather than pressing keys mindlessly. While on first install you won't find yourself typing an essay on Proust in an hour, you will definitely feel a difference. The difference gets more and more visible as you take the time to learn how to use the app like an expert. Don't worry though, Fleksy has added enough gamification that give you rewarding incentives to learn the keyboard. Overall, if you get the hang of it, Fleksy can be a dream typing machine.

Winner: Fleksy


As far as design goes, Fleksy looks quite stunning with its big keys and HOLO-friendly theme. So does SwiftKey with a fantastic set of themes that you can buy from the market place. However, when it comes to default design, Google Keyboard wins the race with its simplistic material look that appeals to pretty much everyone. While Fleksy and SwiftKey both offer a lot of customization options, the default theme on SwiftKey is no way as good as that on the Google Keyboard. That said, we'll have to contend that both Google's material look and Fleksy's sleek big look are hard to beat.

Winners: Fleksy and Google Keyboard (tie)


SwiftKey comes free for all users; however, if you had to buy new theme packs, you'd have to shell out some extra cash. Fleksy, on the other hand, comes as a trial. This means that in order to use the app fully, you'll have to spend some money. Compare that with Google Keyboard, which is 100 % free, those two keyboards get a little left behind in this arena.
Winner: Google Keyboard

Performance and Reliability:

As far as actual usage goes, Google Keyboard comes out as the most reliable keyboard of the lot. Why? Well, it runs perfectly across almost all devices, newer and older without any glitches. The same, however, can't be said about SwiftKey and Fleksy. SwiftKey occasionally slows down and lags on older phones and Fleksy too suffers from the same fate. If you are using an older phone, Google Keyboard is your only choice.

Winner: Google Keyboard


It's not hard to see why people still prefer the default Google keyboard. It's fast, reliable, and looks really good. SwiftKey, on the other hand, is the second best choice in this arena. Its quick predictions and predictive typing make it quite popular among many users. Last, but not the least, Fleksy is a new entrant, and while it's yet to grow as big as SwiftKey, it shows a lot of promise.

Overall, if you are a new Android user, there's a simple way to choose which keyboard is best for you.

Overall Winner: Google Keyboard because it's still the most reliable and fast keyboard around.

How to choose:

If you are using an older device: Google Keyboard.
If you are looking for speed: Fleksy
If you are looking for accurate and intuitive predictions: SwiftKey.

Battle of the Phablets: Nexus 6 vs. iPhone 6 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 4

When it comes to smartphones, the recent trends seem to veer towards the notion that abigger is better.a It all started with Samsungas Galaxy Note series. At that time, phones looked like boxes of tic-tacs compared to this giant beast they dubbed as phablet (phone/tablet).

While there were other big phones around, the Galaxy Note was the first smartphone that showed the world that using a big phone can actually make you more productive. Then, in just a few years, big phones became the norm. Slowly, but steadily, the size of the average smartphone kept getting bigger. Phones, nowadays, resemble a tablet more than anything else. A screen size of 5 inches of more is actually quite common, the kind of phone that covers the whole side of your face while you talk. The iPhone 6 Plus and the Nexus 6 are two new entrants in this phone-tablet, that is phablet race, aiming to take down the giant Galaxy Note 4.

For any casual user, choosing between these 3 expensive smartphones could be quite an ordeal. That's why, we decided to do a quick comparison between the devices and help you pick the one that's best for you.


The Note 4 comes with a metallic frame with an S-pen tucked neatly at the bottom right corner of the phone. There are curves at the corner, but they're not as angular as the ones found on Nexus 6. This gives the Note a more rectangular shape, making it look professional. Compare that to Nexus 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the Note is the first phone that a business user would most likely pick up.

Coming to the Nexus 6, it does look similar to the Note 4 in some aspects, however, the curved edges give it a much more modern feel. At the back, the phone is curved thus making it easier to hold in your hand and also easier to use given its big size. Overall, it looks like a bulked up Moto X. Not that there's anything wrong with that, we'd have loved it if Google had tried something different with this one.

The design of the iPhone 6 Plus is a similar story. It does look like a bulked-up iPhone, and it too doesn't look that bad. In fact, when compared to the Nexus 6 and Note 4, it's the most nice-looking phone of the lot. Its aluminum body with a smooth finish and a ring-styled Home button make it an attractive phone. So, as far as design goes, the iPhone 6 Plus leaves behind Samsung and Google.

Winner: iPhone 6 Plus

Software and Usage

The iPhone 6 Plus comes with the latest version of iOS. The operating system doesn't look out of place on the phone and it does work quite well with the 6-inch screen. The same goes for Nexus 6, which is the first phone to come with Lollipop out of the box. It looks quite good on the phone and makes use of the 6-inch screen very nicely. However, when you compared them to the Galaxy Note 4, they both pale out in comparison. Despite having a clunky version of Android known as TouchWiz, the Note 4 surprisingly delivers in the software department. It comes with software that makes perfect use of the S-pen hardware and the large screen. From note-taking apps to "Smart Select" that lets you select important text from an article, Note 4 is loaded with tools that help you get the most out of the big phone. If you're a businessperson, the Note 4 is the best of the lot because of the amazing features geared towards office goers. Even for casual users, Note series of phones have a lot to offer, thus making it an all-round treat to use.

Winner: Note 4

Hardware and Performance

Both the Galaxy Note 4 and the Nexus 6 come with a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor that clocks at 2.7 GHz. They are also loaded with an Adreno GPU and 3 GB of RAM making both smartphones absolute powerhouses when it comes to hardware. On the other hand, the iPhone 6 Plus comes with a Dual-core 1.4 GHz Cyclone ARM-based processor and 1 GB of RAM. While iPhone's specs don't quite match up to what the Nexus and the Note have to offer, Apple's software optimizations make the smartphone a treat to use. However, if we did compare these phones purely on specs basis, the Note 4 and Nexus 6 would come out on top. Between those two, well, that's a tough choice but we'll have to pick Nexus 6 here since it uses pure Android thus giving it an ability to get the maximum from the chips.

Winner: Nexus 6

Display and Screen

The iPhone 6 Plus screen comes with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 and 401 ppi pixel density. It's about 5.5 inches in size, which is still smaller than the Nexus 6. The Galaxy Note 4 comes with 2560 x 1440 pixels display that has a 515 ppi pixel density. It's a Super AMOLED display that makes the colors stand out and look vibrant. The Nexus 6 is slightly larger in size with a 5.96in AMOLED display that has a resolution of 1440 x 2560. Among the three devices, the phone with the "best-looking" display would be the Note 4. It's saturated display looks vibrant and bright even at odd viewing angles. As for the iPhone 6 Plus, it looks slightly brighter than the Nexus 6 but its display quality is pretty much at-par with these devices. However, if we did have to pick one, we'd go with the Note 4.

Winner: Note 4


The Nexus 6 comes with a 13 MP rear camera with HDR+, panorama, photo sphere, and many other useful features. The Note 4, however, comes with a 16 MP camera with a boatload of features in the camera application (which is typical of Samsung). Samsung's camera captures details quite well when compared to the Nexus. Quality wise, they are pretty much at par, however, the Note 4 camera is a little better than the one on Nexus. The iPhone camera, though has an 8MP shooter, takes surprisingly good photos. Compared to ones taken by the Note 4, the iPhone pictures are a bit warmer in tone. Not that it is a bad thing, but the warm tone gives the photos a much "realistic" feeling. If you disregard the differences in color tones, all three cameras pretty much take pictures of similar quality that won't disappoint you.

Winner: Tie


Depending on where you live, all of the three phablets are few of the most expensive gadgets in the market. You'll find these phones around the $700 range. Also, these phones though expensive, offer some of the best specs around, so they do serve as a good investment in the long run.

Winner: Tie

Conclusion: Which one to buy?

If you are planning to use your phone in the office and for business, the Galaxy Note 4 is the best phablet you can buy hands-down. It has the best specs and the best apps suite that is geared towards office owners and business users. The Note line of products is the best thing Samsung created and it is not a phone that you can overlook. It is loaded with the best specs and features out there.

If you are not a business owner, still the Note 4 is worth considering. But as far as casual work+play devices go, both the Nexus 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are great choices. The big discriminating factor between them as far as value for money goes is the presence of different operating systems. If you are someone who's already in the Android ecosystem, go with the Nexus 6 as that will guarantee you updates for quite a long time. The iPhone 6 Plus is a great addition to the family for anyone who already owns a lot of Apple products. That said, the Note 4 still remains a solid product that both Apple and Google will have to work hard to take down.

Overall Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

Wrongful Convictions and Wrongful Exonerations

My wife was assaulted by a stranger in downtown Toronto, in January of 2020. She was walking through the underground passage from the Eaton Centre into the Queen TTC station. A man suddenly ran up and kicked her in the leg. She was rattled, and her leg was bruised, but she got over it within a few weeks.

She was lucky. A few weeks later the same man attacked another woman, in the same mall. This time he approached his victim from the back and hit her on the head. This lady suffered a serious concussion, and couldnat work for . . . [more]

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Tips Tuesday: Quick Parts for Quick Drafting

Do you have a particular portion of an e-mail or an entire e-mail that you end up sending repeatedly? It could be something as simple as a reporting e-mail or an e-mail where you discuss your fees. It could also be a just a single paragraph that you use often or even just a sentence.

Let me introduce you to “Quick Parts”. Let’s say that I always use the same text for my annual return reports to my client and I didn’t want to keep typing that out over and over again.

You can go into the last e-mail that . . . [more]

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Mondayas Mix

Each Monday we present brief excerpts of recent posts from five of Canadaas awardA-winning legal blogs chosen at random* from more than 80 recent Clawbie winners. In this way we hope to promote their work, with their permission, to as wide an audience as possible.

This week the randomly selected blogs are 1. 2. PierreRoy & AssociA(c)s 3. NSRLP 4. Ontario Condo Law Blog 5. The Trauma-Informed Lawyer
Canadaas Collaborative Modern Treaty Implementation Policy: A New Roadmap in a Long Journey

After years of requests and proposals from Indigenous Modern Treaty parties, the federal government has released Canadaas . . . [more]

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Summaries Sunday: SOQUIJ

Every week we present the summary of a decision handed down by a QuA(c)bec court provided to us by SOQUIJ and considered to be of interest to our readers throughout Canada. SOQUIJ is attached to the QuA(c)bec Department of Justice and collects, analyzes, enriches, and disseminates legal information in QuA(c)bec.

PANAL (DROIT) : Le juge de premiA"re instance a commis une erreur de principe en retenant contre l’appelant des faits rattachA(c)s A une accusation prA(c)alablement portA(c)e qui a A(c)tA(c) abandonnA(c)e conformA(c)ment A une entente entre les parties; une telle erreur a eu une incidence certaine sur la peine puisque ces . . . [more]

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Dishonest Expense Claim Sinks High Level Employee

Written by Daniel Standing LL.B., Editor, First Reference Inc.

Employees who enjoy a lot of discretion and autonomy in their jobs may be tempted to submit a false expense claim. If they do, they risk upsetting the relationship of trust that is central to their ongoing employment. When that happens, even if the amount of money at issue is relatively small, the repercussions can be drastic for the employee, like the plaintiff in 2023 BCSC 635.


One gets the impression the plaintiff was very successful in the car sales field, since he worked his way from a sales . . . [more]

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