Custom Jelly Bean for LG Optimus 2x (root)

The Jelly Bean version of Paranoid Android for the Optimus 2X is amazing. The LG Optimus 2X was not a popular phone in Singapore but it served me well as a decent dual core Android phone, However, the lack of updates from LG has been plain disappointing. Till now, there is no official graphics driver support beyond Gingerbread Android OS 2.3 and official news releases of them publishing an Ice Cream Sandwich ROM has kept delaying. For this reason, I would not consider buying the LG Optimus 4x, despite the comparable hardware specs to the other top phones like S3 and HTC One X. Thankfully, the community is very strong and they have been very active in developing their own instead.

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Top 5 Free New Android Games for Sep 12

It’s the weekend and if you are looking for some new games to try out, here’s a roundup of the best new Android games that went live in the Play Store or were spotted by us over last month.

Pebble Universe

It’s a free physics game that involves you controlling the little pebbles and erm, using their hats to destroy the black Soot-monsters. The pebbles smash into each other to blow up their hats and in the process, destroy the soot-monsters. The logic defies me as to the pebbles basically killing themselves in the process, but just ignore it and enjoy the game! Its one of the top iOS games to be ported over to Android. Read the developer summary to find out more:

For centuries the Pebbles lived in peace. They farmed their loved flowers, which they ate with great appetite. But that was then, before the monsters came. Now they are neurotic and constantly chased by the soot-lump creatures who love Pebble-meat more than anything else. And the monsters have a great advantage. With their great horror instil xray-eye, they see through the Pebbles stone camouflage, and they can’t protect themselves against attacks. Until now. The Pebbles discovered that their hats explode when they smash into each other at high-speed. Suddenly they had a weapon to defend themselves. Now they can finally fight back. And they need your help.

Scan this barcode with your Android phone to see this game in Google PlayClick on this image to see this game in Google Play

Stick Tennis

Those looking for an easy to get into Tennis game for Android should check out Stick Tennis. It has nostalgic 8-bit graphics and relatively simple gameplay with only one action required, swipe. Anyone for tennis? Easy to play yet difficult to master, Stick Tennis offers fast and fluid gameplay with realistic court surfaces and a huge range of unique player styles and characteristics. With just a simple one-fingered swipe you’ll soon be thumping cross court winners, yet at the core of Stick Tennis is a highly sophisticated physics engine that rewards tactical play. It’s an easy way to pass some time if you are a tennis fan!



Scan this barcode with your Android phone to see this game in Google Play
Click on this image to see this game in Google Play

Save the Puppies

It’s an adorable puzzle game that might be more appealing to young children. Puppies are adorable. The wiener dog that you control grows and shrinks as you move it around, eating sausages. This cute puzzle game combines Snake-style movement with sliding-block puzzles and destructible environments, which are a lot harder and more creative than the kid-friendly atmosphere might suggest. So if you are looking for a new puzzle game to entertain yourself.

Scan this barcode with your Android phone to see this game in Google PlayClick on this image to see this game in Google Play

Bombshells: Hell Belles

Bombshells is an air combat game, like Dogfighter or Crimson Skies, but its focus is more on a cartoonish, arcade-style. The game is a free download from the Google Play Store, and like most of Glu’s offerings, is supported by in-app purchases. Its has a multiplayer mode, so if you are sick of shooting down computer opponents, have a go at your friends. There’s a wide variety of arenas customizable planes, weapons, power-ups, and environmental factors. Of course, some of these come at a cost but you can have a pretty fun experience without paying as well.

Scan this barcode with your Android phone to see this game in Google PlayClick on this image to see this game in Google Play

Dead Trigger

Last but not least Dead Trigger is a visually stunning fast-paced First Person Zombie Shooter Arcade that showcases your device capability, with extended effects on Tegra 3 devices. It’s not an entirely new game but the 1.5 update last week comes with new mission and new arenas to gun those zombies down.

“The world has collapsed. In 2012 modern civilization is coming to an end. Global economics have been disrupted, money has lost its value. People have risen against the ignorant politicians who were just lining their pockets – and they didn’t spare any of them. Smash hordes of bloodthirsty zombies * Secure vital supplies * Save other survivors * Protect the Safe Haven * Explore the city * and uncover the provoking truth in this intense FPS action game!”

Scan this barcode with your Android phone to see this game in Google PlayClick on this image to see this game in Google Play

Kindle Fire HD vs Nexus 7: Value for money?

Amazon has just launched a new, larger version of its Kindle Fire tablet with a high-definition display, in a move by the retail giant to take on the Apple iPad and also a smaller 7 inch to compete it against the Nexus 7. How do they stack up? Value for money? And judging by specs alone, the Kindle Fire HD is the better buy.

7-Inch Kindle Fire HDThe Kindle Fire HD vs Kindle Fire What's changed 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDThe Kindle Fire HD vs Kindle Fire What's changed Google Nexus 7Kindle Fire 2 vs Kindle Fire Whats changed
Display 7-inch LCD IPS 8.9-inch LCD IPS 7-inch LCD IPS
Resolution 1,280 x 800 1,920 x 1,200 1,280 x 800
OS (Skinned) Android 4.0 Android 4.0 Android 4.1
CPU Dual-core 1.2GHz TI OMAP4 4470 Dual-core 1.5GHz TI OMAP4 4470 1.3GHz quad-core
Graphics IT SGX544 IT SGX544 Tegra 3
Memory TBA (likely 1GB) TBA (likely 1GB) 1GB
Storage 16GB, 32GB 16GB, 32GB, 64GB 8GB, 16GB
Front Camera Yes Yes Yes
Rear Camera N/A N/A N/A
Cellular N/A AT&T 4G LTE N/A (3G coming)
WiFi Dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n Dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth Yes (TBA) Yes (TBA) Yes
Dimensions 193 x 137 x 10.3mm 240 x 160 x 8.8mm 198 x 120 x 10.5mm
Weight (WiFi) 395 grams 567 grams 340 grams
Battery “11 hours” TBA “10 hours”
Ports microUSB, microHDMI microUSB, microHDMI microUSB
Price $199 (16gb), 249 (32gb) 299 (16gb), 349 (32gb) 199 (8gb), 249 (16gb)

Clearly, Amazon is pricing the 7″ Kindle Fire HD aggressively. You get more storage for the Fire HD, better battery life, and HDMI output as well. In terms of playback, the Nexus 7 is only equipped with a mono speaker but the Fire HD is equipped with stereo. Currently, there are no real world experience or results that pitch the Nexus 7 processor vs the Amazon Kindle. The Kindle processor in benchmarks released by Amazon states that it is faster but I would  take the usual marketing releases with a pinch of salt. I would expect the quad core Nexus 7 to better it in other performance tests.

For the Nexus  7, you get a lighter tablet (15% lighter!), better “official” software, without waiting for 3rd party ROM releases. Amazon might be stuck with their proprietary software and limited to applications from their app store. Apparently, their screen saver would display paid advertisements as well. From the get-go, you would not have access to some of Google features like Google Now and Wallet, but this features as of today may not be that important to most of us.  Furthermore, the Kindle Fire HD has no GPS, no gyroscope so maps or location aware apps would not work well. Also no NFC.  Also, the Amazon app store has only 50,000 apps compared to 600,000+ for Google Play. I believe the Kindle Fire is limited to the Amazon App store without loading a custom ROM or rooting it.

The Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ version is actually quite valued for money if you were to compare it against the $499 16gb iPad. Apple boasted about the iPad revolutionary retina screen but now Amazon were able to launch a full HD 1920 x 1200 resolution tablet at $200 cheaper.

End of it all, it all boils down to what you are going to use it for, and which ecosystem you are currently using. The Kindle Fire HD would be the pick if you are going to use your tablet quite a bit as a media device. Although in this case, I would recommend that you just get the 8.9″ version instead. The better screen, larger storage and microHDMI output are useful features. The one huge selling point for the new Fire HD is the micro HDMI. I have that on my Optimus 2X, and it’s a great thing to be able to watch content in my living room or TV full size.

On the other hand, the N7 would be the pick if you value reading and portability as the N7 is more versatile. The 15% weight difference is significant if you are going to be bringing it out frequently and using it for reading. For books, you aren’t limited to Amazon Kindle store and you can still access the Amazon book stores and also other distributors like Barnes and Noble. Google Play also have a pretty well stocked magazine and book library. App and software access is also not restricted. However, it is very likely that the Kindle Fire HD would be rooted and custom ROMs made available and that would  allow full app and software compatibility. Still considering? Don’t forget the possible iPad mini launching in October.

 

Facebook Open Graph: How to get your FB Shares and Likes to Appear Right

I had a problem with the site where if a reader were to share a post or like a page, the resulting box that appeared on Facebook had the wrong thumbnail and shared post excerpt. It was frustrating to see the wrong information being submitted. Luckily, we have since been able to resolve this! This helps to resolve Facebook using the wrong thumbnail and summary for the pages that you share.

Well, the best way to ensure your WordPress site gets recognised by Facebook is to include the Open Graph tags. Facebook Open Graph protocol allows you to share your blog content not only with your readers, but their Facebook friends as well. The best part is whenever someone liked your content(s), it will be published on their Facebook profile and shared with their friends. But that’s not all, Open Graph has a few more advance features which we might explore in future. It allows you to explore more interesting ways to interact and engage with your readers (such as watch a movie, or ate at a restaurant, instead of just liking everything). Ultimately, if this is done right, it builds up your brand and increases your site’s traffic.

HongKiat.com has a very good article that clearly explains  how to integrate Facebook Open Graph with a self-hosted WordPress in a detailed step-by-step guide. It will require editing your existing WordPress theme and creating a Facebook application (if you don’t have one).

However, you may encounter that even after doing this step, when you try to share your old URLs, the information that Facebook displays is inaccurate. If that is the case, it likely means that the Facebook had already crawled your website and created the little preview that you see when you try to share a URL into its cache. This can be frustrating when you are trying to integrate the Facebook Open Graph into an existing website. Other tips recommend that you add slashes to your URL or use a URL shorterner but those just messed up your Facebook analytics. It turns out you can force Facebook to re-crawl or re-cache your site and update its cache by putting your URL into this tool: https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug. That seems to shake the cache out.

 

More Leaks & Updates on the new iPhone 5 / iPod and iPad

Its coming. 


Apple has invited the tech press to a special launch event on 12 September which no doubt means the launch of the next-generation iPhone, dubbed the iPhone 5. The event will be happening at 10am in San Francisco, California, and that means 1 am Singapore time on 13 Sep. This marks the long-awaited arrival of the iPhone 5, which many have been eagerly anticipating. What about the iPods? iPads?

From Left to Right: iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod Touch

We managed to get hold of some new leaked photos of the iphone 5. So what’s new? The rumours and anticipations were that it will come with a 4″ screen, new dock connector, metal back, and powered by the new iOS 6. The above photo was provided by a highly reliable source and it confirms the larger screen and new dock connector. The new iPhone 5 is also significantly slimmer as compared to the iPhone 4S. Most of the other features have already been confirmed as well such as the latest addition was that of the new battery which match the increase in height for the iPhone 5.

iPhone5 new Dock Connector

So what else does Apple have up its sleeve to wrestle back control of the Smartphone industry back from Google & Samsung? We are anticipating a refresh and update of the iPod Touch alongside the iPhone announcement. We have also recently heard of rumours of the 7.85″ iPad but recent news suggest that it might be delayed till October. I believe that is going to be the case as that would allow Apple to better manage the sales of its two top sellers.

The New iPod (s) Touch, Nano?

The iPod Touch has always been somewhat like a cheaper cousin of the iPhone 5, with lousier camera, specs and other features. In fact, with phones today being so feature-rich, is there still a market for the iPod Touch? My initial guess would have been that Apple would pull the iPod Touch off the market and focus on the iPhone, but on Sep 12, there is going to be a new iPod Touch announced as well. So what’s going to be new? It will definitely come with the improvements, new screen, new dock etc, even slimmer than the iPhone 5, but would that be all? I guess Apple could differentiate it as a pure gaming device targeted at the younger generation who may not own a smart phone. Or perhaps, own a Samsung Galaxy S3 with an iPod Touch to have the best of both Apple and Android.

You might be interested in our related post on: Anticipated Launch Date for the iPhone 5 in Singapore

Outlet.com.sg Closed Down. Were they a scam?

My friend was horrified when he came across news that outlet.com.sg had went bankrupt. Over 600 consumers and merchants have taken their grievances online. They operate similarly to Groupon, and he had bought things from them previously, such as gelato buffets. On hearing the news, we went to check if we had any unused coupons, which thankfully we didn’t. But what will happen to those that do.

The coupon business has been the darling of online shoppers over the last two years. Their short titles grab your attention with “Daily Deals!” and “70% off!”. The deals are no longer as valued for money and many are of the same types: ‘dubious’ travel packages or spas, facials, and bikini waxes! Too many new players, less interest by consumers spells trouble and it appears that the first sign of the bubble popping has appeared with Outlet.com.sg filing for bankruptcy. Yet, only in June, Outlet.com.sg was ranked the 5th highest coupon website in Singapore and there are many more that I have never heard of.

Apparently, since 10 Aug 12, Outlet.com.sg has been placed under liquidaton and there have been many complaints of consumers who have paid but not receive their items.

What you should do if you have unused Outlet.com.sg items:

  1. Join the Outlet.com.sg Victim facebook page
  2. Check with Raffles Corporate Consultants if your item is listed as delivered prior to the filing of insolvency. You may have a chance of retrieving it. This was stated from the website.
  3. Check with your bank or Paypal if you paid by credit card and attempt file a dispute claim. They might be willing to refund you the money. Comments from facebook indicate that successful refunds were obtained from AMEX and POSB. So at least try and see how it goes.
  4. Else, you can choose to file a Proof of Debt (Form 77) for Company Liquidation through IPTO (http://app2.ipto.gov.sg/) Direct link to the form is here. It will cost you $8.

Unless it can be proven that Outlet.com.sg was involved in fraudulent conduct of their business, otherwise under Singapore regulations, once a company has filed for insolvency,

“ their assets would be handled by an independent appointed liquidator. The liquidator would then investigate into the company’s affairs and the conduct of the company’s officers, and make the appropriate recovery from them. All business is ceased and the assets/goods are frozen for computation and distribution. Consumers are considered unsecured creditors and they are paid on a pari passu basis, i.e. they are paid out of the company’s assets equally. Any balance is then distributed among the contributories of the company 

For the distribution of assets, it would be in accordance to:

Section 328 of the Companies Act in the following order:

  • Costs and expenses of winding-up, including the taxed costs of the petitioner and the remuneration of the liquidator
  • Wages or salary including allowance or reimbursement
  • Retrenchment benefits or ex gratia payments under employment contracts
  • All amounts due in respect of workmen’s compensation under the Workmen’s Compensation Act accrued before, on or after the commencement of winding-up
  • Contributions payable by the company as an employer
  • All remuneration payable to any employee in respect of vacation leave, accrued in respect of any period before, on or after the commencement of winding-up
  • All tax assessed under any written law before the commencement of the winding-up or assessed at any time before the time fixed for the proving of debts has expired ”

And lastly, the unsecured creditors otherwise known as the consumers.

By that time, hopefully there are still some scraps for the consumers, so that’s why my advice really is to not cry over spilled milk. Take it as a lesson (albeit painful) in life and move on. If you are angry and think that I’m just making snide remarks or 风凉话. I just want to share that I have also been a victim of companies that had folded. It was the case of Frankel Motors and my first car purchase in 2008. The episode left a nasty unpleasant taste in my mouth for months. Suffice to say, I lost my deposit after the protracted saga and really, on hindsight, there was not much I could have done about it other than to move on.

So What’s Next for Other Consumers?

Beware of the domino effect. Now that the first has fallen, it just shows that this business model may not be that ideal and we may start to see more such coupon companies follow in the footstep of Outlet.com.sg. If you already have coupons, use them soon!

CASE executive director Seah Seng Choon said, “Consumers should conduct research to ensure the credibility of the business and find out how the group buying system works before making any purchases.” I feel that the Consumers Association of Singapore has really not much power in such instances. In fact, the only resolution from CASE is through meditation and that involves the consent of two parties. CASE could be useful when the company you have a complaint against has a reputation to keep. But in this case for Outlet.com.sg, nothing is left and consumers are out of luck if they pursue this venue.

End of the day, buyers need to be savvy and realise what they are in for. Quite a few comments on the internet suggest that the authorities should step in to prevent such incidents. My opinion? The internet is a free market. Its like buying an iPhone from a Nigerian seller that wants you to transfer him the money first. Would you do it? Since the start of commerce, there have been business deals falling through, bankruptcy being declared, and its normal. Is it fair? I don’t know but I know for sure that is legal. Bankruptcy laws are designed to protect troubled businesses and provide for orderly distributions to business creditors through reorganization or liquidation. Thus, whenever we enter into a transaction, we, the consumer, actually undertake a risk that the deal would not materialise or well, that you acquire a ‘lemon’. Luckily now, there is the lemon law. But for instances where the company declares bankruptcy, this is not going to help you either. And this risk, is exactly the advantage of buying from a reputable dealer, because the risk of them closing or putting their reputation at stake is reduced. Reputation counts and that is why, some people only buy and/or willing to pay more from the bigger, better established companies. Does this mean I am going to stop buying cheap items off unknown sellers from eBay? Nah, but I would be more careful when it comes to more expensive items.

This is a sad day for e-Commerce especially with the growth we have seen in years but its a painful reminder for us to be careful of the risks of internet shopping. Caveat Emptor – Let the buyers beware.

Can't bring Samsung Galaxy SGS3 into SAF camp

Remember that news where you can start bringing camera phones into saf camps?

I got news from the fine print for you. You can’t bring your SGS3, or your Samsung Note into camp. And definitely not your nexus 7.

I know the rule of less than 4.3 inch is an old rule, but they really need to review the regulations in totality.

Now instead of buying a extra non-camera phone, you’ll have to buy an extra camera/but small size phone for use in saf camps. Isn’t the end result the same. People just want to be able to use the latest model of phones.

A better approach is developing software that would disable your camera the moment you enter saf camps. This can be done by GPS/ Mobile triangulation, or even NFC technology. I know there are companies doing it. Here is one example.