kw501: Ubuntu on the Nexus 7 with Alex Chiang.

We kick off season 5 of by cutting into a hot topic : Ubuntu on Mobile phones. Oblivious to the announcement Canonical made a couple of days ago about bringing Ubuntu to the Mobile phone, we talked to one of their lead developers in December of 2012.  Alex Chaing tells us about the development of an Ubuntu distribution for mobile devices. What were the hurdles, how is it done and how do YOU get it on there. A sneak peak behind Canonicals roadmap, a geeks guide to getting Linux on your tablet.


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10 Acer CloundMobile Smartphones enter a bar …

About 2 weeks ago Knightwise asked me if I would like to go to an Acer Smartphone presentation as a reporter. Well … I certainly don’t have his wit and ingenuity, but since I’m quite interested in the whole Smartphone thing I decided to accept the invitation. The kind people from MindShake were expecting us in Brussels for a short presentation and a little surprise.

The Presentation

I have to say … I only know Acer from their computers and I didn’t know they were also in the Smartphone business. Apparently they are, and according tho the Acer person, they are doing quite well in Belgium too. They showed us a few models starting with the Acer Liquid Z, which is an Android ICS phone which comes in at a very affordable 99 euros. Next up was the E Series and we ended with the Acer CloundMobile at a very affordable price of 289 euro.

Apparently Acer is going for a ‘vanilla’ Android smartphone, which means it is as close to the default Android as possible. No funky skins, no icky any animations … just a few little tweaks here and there. For me this was a big difference to my current Android experience using the Samsung Galaxy S III and I have probably been spoiled with the shiny bling bling on that device.

The Hardware

Acer CloudMobilePersonally I’m not the guy who looks at the tags with all the numbers next to the phones in the shops. But I know some people love to know those details so here we go. It comes with a 1.5 Ghz dual-core processor and has 8 Gb of built-in storage which can be expanded using microSD cards. The screen is a 4.3 inc screen with 720p resolution (1280 x 720 pixels). What’s interesting is that it comes with an 8 megapixel front facing camera which sounds nice indeed.

The thing which interests me is battery life. I remember telling Knightwise I wasn’t impressed with the battery after the first day of testing, but I have to correct myself. The phone lasts at least whole day even with my Twitter and Instagram addiction. Of course all this depends on how often you use the device, the camera, the GPS and all the other stuff in the phone so your mileage may vary. But after 2 weeks of extensive testing I can say that I’m quite pleased with batter life on the Acer CloudMobile.

I did have a minor issue though. If I understand it correctly it should be possible to use Android Beam to ‘beam’ pictures and other things from one android device to another and that feature uses NFC (I could be wrong here). Sadly I couldn’t get it working at all. We tried with an Acer CloudMobile and a Samsung Galaxy S III, and even between two Acer CloudMobile devices … but there was no way we could get it working. I showed the problem to the Acer person (sorry … forgot to write down your name) and we tried different things but it didn’t work. He mentioned it could be a software issue and that there might be an update or fix soon.

The Software

Well, strangely the device comes with Android 4.0 which is rather strange to me. I’m not a veteran Android user, but I know there is already an Android 4.1 and probably an even more recent version, so why didn’t it ship with the most recent Android version ?

The good thing is that the Android version is only lightly skinned and thus … in my opinion … it should be easier to keep the OS updated. Sadly … so far … I didn’t see an Android 4.1 update for the phone.

I have to admit though … the device seemed pretty fast and it does come with Polaris Office 4 and EquiView pre installed. Additionally the device also comes with support for AcerCloud. For those of you who wonder what AcerCloud is … well I could say it’s Acer’s version of iCloud. Apparently it’s a service active in the Benelux, France, Germany, Italy and the UK which allows you to remotely access information from you laptop, Android tablet and Android phone from wherever you are.

The AcerCloud service includes PicStream which automatically uploads you pictures to the cloud and synchronizes them with your other devices (including non Acer devices). From what I heard this service is also available for your documents and music and there isn’t really a limit on storage. The data should be available in the cloud for 30 days.

The Verdict

Well … you have to know that I’m an Apple fanboy and only very recently ventured into the Android world. My first Android experience was on a Samsung Galaxy S III, so I’ve probably been spoiled there. But I have to say the Acer CloudMobile is and amazing device considering the price. Roughly speaking it costs about half as much as the S III, but you are getting way more than half an S III for that price.

In short … it’s a very performant Android smartphone at a very affordable price.

About the Author

Stefaan is a Software Developer by trade, but also active as a Tech Reporter and Podcaster mostly in Dutch / Flemish. You can find out more about him on his blog at iTutor Podcast or check out the Tech45 Podcast.

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Control your Android device from your computer.

You all know I hate sync cables and application with a passion that borders on the insane. Somehow the logic escapes me that our “mobile devices” ever need to be connected with a “Cable” to our laptops or workstations. Our phones and tablets must be free and independent devices that do not require a connection method that goes back to the PalmCe PDA. 

So todays softwarepick AIRDROID makes sure I do not foam at the mouth whenever a pairing between phone and computer is required.  After installing the client on your Android device you are good to go. Use the browser on any device on the same Wifi Network. After slamming in the correct URL to your mobile device (the client will tell you) you can : 

  • File management: transfer files between your computer and your android device ( Files on the SD card )
  • SMS management: send, read, delete SMS messages (For those of you who still do that)
  • Photos: preview, set as wallpaper, slideshow, import/export 
  • Share clipboard between desktop and your Android device (very nice for long passwords)
  • Applications: install, uninstall, backup (downloads .apk files), search (for those apps you ‘didn’t buy’ in the store) 
  • Contacts management: create contacts, search, check call logs (See who has been spamming you )
  • Ringtones: import from computer, export, preview, customize ringtones for phone calls, notifications and alarms
  • Music: import from computer, export, play, etc. 

Airdroid helps out a lot when it comes to the hassle of getting content to and FROM your mobile device. It might not be as fast as the Millenium Falcon on the Kessel run .. but you still have a wired alternative if you are looking for that kind of data transfer rates. 

Even on your broken phone.

Remember that HTC one X you dropped on the floor last week ? The one with the broken glass but the working touchscreen ? Or the old Galaxy SII that has the funky batter ? Why not plug it into the charger, hook it up to your wifi, install Airdroid and use it as a “sms modem” for the family ? You, your wife / kids / dog can acces the phone via a webbrowser and use it to send text messages. Huzzah ! Old broken hardware rescued from oblivion once again.

Airdroid is cool because it requires nothing on the client side except for a browser and gives you the convenience of managing a small device from the big screen of your laptop.

Links : Airdroid is available for free in the Google Play store.

How  do YOU get content from and to your phone or mobile device ? Tell us in te comments section.



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kw405 : Nas4free as your cross-platform network filehub.

We get technical this week with a great open source and free network attached filestorage solution called NAS4FREE. After running down the list of things it can do we show you how to tweak into the core of your cross-platform filesharing world, enabling you to use it as a central filehub for all of your devices and from all of your locations. We top it off with some information on how to virtualise the whole solution and give you a spot of music from Planet Boelex’s new track ‘Refurbished’ all of that and more on Kw405.


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Turn a broken smartphone into a home server with Servers Ultimate.

The most horrible sound that you can imagine is the sound of a smartphone clattering on the floor or the sickening crunch of a breaking tablet display. With many of our favorite devices made out of glass ( I still feel like the Monolith in 2001 a Space Odyssey was actually Apple’s first iPad add) the chance of some of those glass display’s shattering .. is real.  But what then ? What when hairline cracks criss cross your screen, (but the touch-part still works) ? What happens when your smart device becomes broken or obsolete. Should you throw away that old or broken phone or tablet ? If its and Android : Don’t ! There is still life in it !

Enter Servers Ultimate.

Servers Ultimate turns your Android device into a home server. It offers you the ability to run “services” on a smartphone or tablet, that are usually reserved for a VM or a beige box. But think about it ! : Your old phone is light, small, powerful, always connected AND has a built in UPS (uninterruptible power supply) called “A Battery”. Why not hook it up to its charger, plop it down somewhere in a corner and start “Serving”.

Servers Ultimate lets you run the following Services on your Android Device

  • https (webserver)
  • dlna (mediastreamer)
  • dyndns
  • irc (chat)
  • socks (proxy)
  • Webdav (web storage)
  • Scp (secure file transfer)
  • SSH 
  • ……

The free version of the app lets you run 2 services at the same time, the payed version lets you check all the boxes and turn that old DroidX into a small home server. Storage capacity depends on what you hook up to it ( Internal SD card of your phone or some external storage) Power depends on the processor in your smartphone. But all in all  : its a great way to setup a server in your house and re-use an old device.

I’m personally using Servers Ultimate to mess around with my MK802.22 stick to turn that into a home server with the Carbon Footprint of a small fly (its very low power) and hook it up the the wild wild web.  Servers Ultimate is Free , but the Pro version will cost you a measly 4.99 in the Google Play Store.

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Inside every phone is a pc trying to get out.

When I take a look at what I cram into my bag every morning, I try not the think of the redundancy that huddles inside.  Should my Tablet, Phone and Laptop ever play together using a magical protocol made of fairy farts, I would be able to have a small load balanced computer cluster with a shoulder strap. Each device houses at least both the storage capacity and the cpu power of a 5 year old desktop computer.  In essence : I have at least 4 different “computers” in my bag. Never mind the fact we give them different names and use them for different things, in the end they all have the muscle power under the hood .. to do the same thing.

So why should your phone be just your phone ? Why not make it so much more ?  “Ubuntu for Android” looks down that path of possibilities. In essence they want to put a desktop operating system inside your mobile device and have it “morph” into whatever you need , depending if the device is “docked” or not.  

The whole thing is just an “idea” right now, but Canonical is putting some serious thought and effort into it. As recent builds of “Ubuntu for the Nexus 7” are downloadable for anyone who wants to give it a try , can only indicate .. the term “My Phone, My Tablet and My Computer ” might soon find themselves in the history books.

Thanx to @Sharky for the heads-up !

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You know what to do ! Gtasks for Android.

Getting things done can be a full time job. And I’m not talking about getting any work done. No ! I’m talking about the art of getting things done. Of constantly reorganising and optimising ones work flow, tools and strategies to achieve maximum efficiency in a minimal time span. Nothing better then being able to get a days work done in 4 hours .. so you can idly surf Reddit for the rest of the day. However , sometimes the quest in finding the right tools, takes up more time then the actual work you wish to get done.  We have talked about some great apps in this field like Wunderlist, Evernote and Mindmeister, but when you are a real “I do everything in Gmail” kinda guy .. Wunderlist might not cut it for you. Enter Gtasks (for Android). One of the lesser know functionalities of Gmail (and Google Calendar) is the option to organise your tasks. But its all in the web interface. What if you want to go all Freddy Mercury and .. “break free” of your browser ? “GTasks is a simple and efficient android to do list app. It help you to organize your life in a simple and elegant way. It has both local mode and google account mode.” or so the website claims and .. it is correct. Simple in use, modest in functionality, brilliant in simplicity. It helps you to get things done on your droid-friendly device.

Gtasks is available from the Play Store.


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#KWPOW : Jay’s Sliders World

This weeks picture of the week comes from listener Jay as he shows us a cross-platform setup that would probably rip a hole inside a proprietary universe. However it does make us proud as Jay lines up his Windows phone, his Nexus tablet and his 13 inch Macbook pro running Ubuntu 12.04. Quite a setup if you also consider that Jay manages to “slide” his productivity from OS to OS without breaking a sweat. 

jays Setup

Do YOU have a picture you want to share with us ? Feel free to tagg it #kwpow on twitter or shoot us the link via the well known email address. 

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Kc308 : "Reviewing the Nexus 7"

We take a look at one of the hottest devices currently on the market and stare down the bellybutton of the Google Nexus 7. After looking at hardware software and specs its time to answer the important questions : How can this technology work for us AND what will it do to the market. A different approach at a product review this time that will surely enlighten you in some way or form. Spice it up with some great feedback from the voicemail and twitterspheres and we have another podcast .. in the can.


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A brief history of Skype.

fotoIn the beginning there was crap. 

If I do have to point out what programs I use the most beside Firefox, its probably Skype. From what used to be a fancy Voice Over Ip novelty thing where you could talk instead of type it has evolved into a means of communication that has outgrown even my use of IM programs like MSN and all the others. By comparison : I use my cellphone for about 20 minutes a month , while my average Skype time can count up to more then 1 or even two hours a day sometimes. To the amount that what used to be a busy MSN list and an occasional Skype contact fluttering by, is now more of the opposite.
The great thing is that its becoming more and more popular around the world. Not only is the amount of users steadily increasing, the third party technology is finally rising above proto-techno level and is starting to make some seriously interesting stuff.

The Headsets.

First off (of course) there where the headsets. Since the coming of Skype the most exotic headsets in all sizes and degrees of quality have popped up on the market. From the flimsy to the “Nasa mission control” style headsets have been used with Skype with various degrees of succes.Later came the handsets. Nothing more than a headset with a mike and line plug to jack into your sound-card. The only difference was that it looked like the handset of a phone. Slightly more inconvenient then a headset I personally think , but useful none the less.More advanced models used USB and the functionality of acting as an external soundcard to give more buzz to the horn. You could now dial numbers on the horn instead of using your keyboard. Since you where only 3 feet away from your keyboard anyway (the cable is   just that short) there is no use in that whatsoever.So bring on the external DECT phone.


The Handsets. 

Using a wireless handset and a USB Dongle connected to your pc , you could now roam the house when calling on skype. Pretty cool and dandy. You could even call people on your skype list and use some models in combination with a classic landline resulting in a hybrid voip/classic phone. Only bummer ? Your Skype had to be running on your pc. It was getting better .. but not yet.
So what do we realy need : Well , a kind of phone like the one mentioned above .. But without the pc . How about a phone that has Skype running inside it. Embedded so to speak. And wouldn’t it be great if that phone would use a standard wireless ethernet connection as the link? No extra devices needed ? 

In-bed with Skype. 

 Enter the embedded skype phone. First time is was rumored was quite some time ago. Netgear was supposed to be working on their model with the program embedded and using Wifi as means of connection. But at a proposed price of 250 Euro”s it did weigh in quite heavy on the wallet. Time to call our next competitor. That one came in the form and shape of the new BELKIN skype phone . Clearly looking a tidbit more snappy then its competitor the Belkin model actually looks like a real phone. (something of a love-child between a Ericsson 610 and a bar of shoe-polish) but nice in both the functionality department (equipped with bluetooth and actively on the lookout for free wifi everywhere) and the price (at some 170 dollars US) For the moment its only available in the US but we will keep you posted when we get our hands on one.
What it boils down to is that WIFI is a serious competitor for classic cellphone carrier signals, GPRS and UMTS when you start having devices like this. Possibly the greatest intrusion on the market of the classic cellphone industry can be made with devices like these. Slowly but surely the age of the pay-per-second phone billing industry is coming to an and and the landline dinosaurs have outlived the flintstone age.

The future.

But what would be even cooler ? How about an embedded camera in that phone. Now THAT would be awesome. Being able to call hands free, perch the phone on the table and there you go. But besides from a combination of existing technology into a new product this would also require a change of mentality. The age of email made way for the age of chat. The age of chat has made way for the age of talk and the age of talk will make way for the age of image. The mental upgrade you have to make is using video at any given moment as an enhancement of the communication. Either people webcam with far away family relatives or they are teenagers that are trying to undress their female peers in a futile attempt for kicks. The trick is : Tune it into your way of life. Like me and my buddy Dave for example. We just fire up the webcam as I'm cooking dinner. It might be fun at first to have somebody at the other side of the globe yell at you because your spuds are boiling over. Another cool thing to do (certainly with the built in isight) is to give your buddy a tour around the house. Like with all new technology , at first its a novelty , just playing with it long enough so it becomes natural is the trick.

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