WhaleTech

WhaleTech: Cool apps for your Android TV Box

Following the considerable interest in last week’s post about Android TV boxes, I thought I’d share some of the top apps I use on mine.

Bear in mind at the outset that the apps I like may not be ideal for you; that’s the ‘wonder’ of smartphone ecosystems. The millions of apps available on Google’s Play store (or Apple’s App Store…and to a lesser extent, Microsoft’s Windows store) provide the flexibility for you to get your device working like you want it to.

While I’ve included YouTube, I’ve left out some other ‘major’ but obvious ones, like Facebook, Twitter, Google Earth, Chrome, etc, as these are, well, obvious.

Worth noting too, is that an Android TV box is based on a smartphone, but it isn’t a smartphone. That means some apps which work well on a smartphone, won’t work well (or even at all) on an Android TV box. After all, it doesn’t have GPS, a camera or a gyroscope – and it’s primary purpose, at least how I use it, is to access and display media.

Right, on to those apps.

YouTube1.       YouTube 

Yes, it seems trite, since YouTube is probably something we all use every day anyway. The reason this makes it as a top app is because in addition to endless FAIL collections (people doing stupid things and getting it on camera), you can watch a huge collection of old full length movies. As someone who thoroughly enjoys wasting time watching FAILarmy (to the annoyance of my wife) and old movies, this is enormously valuable. You could just access YouTube in your browser, but the Android app makes it easier to navigate. As a bonus, sign in to Google on your PC, your notebook and your Android box and your activity on any and all other devices is synched (ie find fails faster).

MX Player2.       MX Player

If you have a ‘cache’ of content (no, I don’t care where it came from, that’s between you and its maker) on a hard drive or even just on your PC and want to watch it on your TV…well, that’s what the Android box was made for. Yes, and a lot besides. MX Player is my choice for playing back movies, old TV shows – I’m a fan of such things as Magnum PI, 30 Rock, Arrested Development and others – clips from the GoPro, etc. What makes MX Player stand out is that it can handle just about any file format (and there are lots of them) without a hitch. One thing you don’t want when streaming content, is tech hassles. With MX Player, there isn’t a file I’ve found that it can’t handle.

ES File Explorer  File Manager3.       ES File Explorer File Manager

A comment from JeffdaReff last week alerted me to the fact that many of us are still technophobes; luckily, setting up an Android box and connecting it to your wireless network is really easy. Once it is connected, you will want to browse the network and find your other devices (like the PC or networked drive on which you have that stash of content). ES File Explorer makes this simple; load it up, find the ‘LAN’ button, click SCAN and every device on the network will appear. Click through and find the file you want, and open it with MX Player. Happy time.

Fast Reboot4.       Fast Reboot

Here’s an opportunity for Apple fanbois (hi guys) to get excited. Android does occasionally wind up with too many background processes and apps running, which can clutter things up. Fast Reboot is a simple utility which, at the click of a button (now that didn’t sound like a cliché, did it?) closes any extraneous apps. I place the icon on my desktop and routinely hit it after ‘fiddling’ to keep my gadget running sweetly. I am aware that the last sentence is potentially ambiguous and potentially incriminating. No matter.

MX Mariner - Marine Charts5.       Marine apps, including Predict Wind, NZ Marine Weather, and MX Mariner

I’ve grouped these together just as an example of some of the ‘interest’ apps you can whack onto your Android TV box. Although I live right next to the sea and a visual check isn’t too much of a mission, it’s always a good idea to get an idea of what’s going to happen later before going fishing. Whatever your interests are, you’re likely to find heaps of stuff on the Play store to keep you busy.

TARDIS in space. No, a REAL one. Well, a model, but still.

Check this out.  These people are sending a TARDIS into space for the 50th anniversary of Dr Who.

It’s crowd funded here.

How far along are we?

Pretty far, actually. The TARDIS is built. That’s right. We’ve completed the satellite. The satellite is constructed from really light weight aluminum (because weight is a huge issue) and it is a scaled-down version of the actual TARDIS. Our satellite is only about 1 foot tall – because again, weight is a major factor. However, the light on top functions (powered by solar cells in the windows.) And that means that when we put this thing in space, there will be a TARDIS with a blinking light orbiting the Earth. SWEET!

No, this is not a joke.  This is really happening.

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Bright kid. In more ways than one – the Hollow Torch

I was wondering if wearing special clothing, say, an undergarment (I mean, clothes worn under the visible clothes), could produce enough to power a smart phone?

WhaleTech: Microsoft Blue: Good grief, Ballmer’s off his leash again

crazy steve

Via fakesteve.net.

Thanks to the flop of Windows 8, Steve Ballmer’s trying to tell us all that more frequent updates to the company’s flagship product is the new normal. Instead of admitting that the latest Windows is an abject failure and that this necessitated the fast-track of the ‘fixed’ version,  he’s been spotted jumping around at Microsoft’s developer conference declaring ‘Rapid Release! Rapid Release!’.

Be warned: when the Microsoft CEO romps, he means business. For those who haven’t seen what kind of a loon is in charge of the company, feast your eyes.

Steve’s claim that Windows 8.1, known to some as ‘blue’, heralds a new dawn of short cycles for product updates isn’t entirely unprecedented. While Windows isn’t exactly an iStore app (or, indeed, a Windows Store app…did I just see a tumbleweed blow past?), it does enjoy a long history of very frequent updates – except these have consistently focused on the many security problems in the shipped software.

Windows 8.1 is a free upgrade, of course, from a company notoriously unabashed about charging lots for its software. Rapid release! Rapid Release! Should have called it Service Pack 1, Steve, like you used to in the good old days.

Those unfortunates who have Windows 8 and are hankering after a ‘Start’ button, settle down. It’s not coming back, or at least, not as you have come to know and love it. Instead, the major changes include such arbitrariness as ‘better organisation and customisation on the Start Screen’, and ‘improvements to Windows Store and Start apps’. You can boot it into Desktop mode….and then the Start button kicks off that abominable Start Screen.

Windows 8.1 Beta preview is available as a preview from 26 June in the Windows Store.  As with all software, download and install at your peril; messing with operating systems is particularly risky and can bork your entire machine. If you’re going to do that, you might as well bite the bullet and revert to Windows 7. It is, after all, a far better operating system.

WhaleTech: Smarten up your old HDTV

When we called for some people to help with the blog, one of the people that responded was Donovan Jackson.  You may know a little about Donovan already as he’s a Blubbergeddon participant as well as a regular in the Comments Section.  Donovan is also in the professional business of words, running his own New Zealand Copywriting company.

This is his first post for WhaleTech, which will appear under my name, but the future ones will be posted under his own name as we will trust him with a key to the blog.

Welcome  aboard Donovan!

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Smarten up your old HDTV

Love your smartphone? Of course you do. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get your old or even new TV to do just half of what your handset does? Of course it would, and you can with an Android TV box.

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WhaleTech: Smartphone Condom

via psfk.com

via psfk.com

I spent a considerable amount of time in the rain yesterday needing to use my phone,  and it wasn’t a happy experience.  So I looked for a solution to it today, and what would you know?

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WhaleTech: Who is surprised at this, really?

via Boing Boing

via Boing Boing

Turns out the spies are hard wired into your email, Skype and other conversations.  All to keep the world safe from the nasty people, of course.

A leaked NSA slide-deck claims that NSA has “direct access” to servers at Google, Apple, Facebook, Skype, Yahoo, and many others.

The Guardian and The Washington Post have both been leaked a 41-slide NSA presentation on a program called PRISM, which — according to the slides — gives the spy agency (part of the US military) “direct access” to the servers of the biggest Internet companies in America, including Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo and Skype. The papers have released three slides (reproduced above). The presentation dates from April 2013, and is marked “top secret with no distribution to foreign allies” and is claimed to be part of training material for new spies.

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WhaleTech: Latest iPhone 5S rumours

via bgr.com

via bgr.com

Apple’s next generation iPhone may feature a 12-megapixel camera with an improved night shooting feature and HDR reports Vietnamese site Tinhte.vn.

According to the site, the rumor comes from a source at Wonderful Saigon Electricsin Binh Duong, which specializes in providing camera modules for the iPhone.

An improved camera has been a long rumored feature of the iPhone 5S, but there are few specifics available.

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WhaleTech: Google Glass dissected

Martin Missfeldt has published an informative infographic, detailing the functions of the Google Glass Project. The infographic reveals a revolutionary design which employs a mini-projector to display images on the main prism display that focuses directly on the retina.

Users can adjust the focus by moving the unit closer or further away from the eye. This means that Google Glass will have to be worn outside regular user spectacles.

google-glass-1-590x332

The revolution that the Google Glass Project has inspired is nothing short of awe-inspiring. It goes without saying that it has generated enough criticism over time but then the opportunities that it promises are eagerly anticipated.

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WhaleTech: Star Trek phaser rifle sells for US$231,000

set-phaser-rifle-2-590x328

One of the Trekkies among us

The Californian auction house, Julien’s has managed to sell Captain Kirk famed Star Trek rifle, used in the 1960s original series, for a whopping $231,000.

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