How to manually flash the OTA updates on OnePlus One

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Couple of months back I bought OnePlus One after my Nexus 4 screen was shattered to bits and pieces when it fell from my hand accidentally. So much for Corning Gorilla Glass 2 protection 🙁

Device came with CM11 and the first thing I did was to root the phone. Few days back, CM12 OTA was release for Lollipop however since I had rooted my phone with TWRP recovery, I did not get the same. So I manually flashed CM12 (YNG1TAS0YL) image. Right after my OnePlus booted with CM12, it started downloading an OTA update (YNG1TAS17L). I was so happy that OTA are working again on my rooted phone. However, disappointment came after OTA download finished and I clicked on “Install Update” button. Few seconds after clicking on it, my phone rebooted and went into TWRP recovery instead of continuing with update installation. I tried numerous times but with no success. Continue reading

How to download apk file from Android Market (Google Play) to PC, Mac, Linux .. the easy way

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I was interested in implementing a specific functionality in one of the Android projects we are working on. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a easy way to implement the same. Luckily the same functionality is available in an existing Android application so I thought of reverse engineering that application to figure out how they made it work.

Now the problem was how to get the apk file of the application since you can only install it via Google Play as it doesn’t allow downloading the apk file directly. I googled for “how to download apk from android market” and found a popular way of doing it (link). Unfortunately this violates Google Play’s terms of use and may result in suspension of your account so I decided not to go ahead with it.

A couple of days later, I was browsing contents of my Android phone using file explorer and found apk files of all almost all extensions I had installed on my phone. The next moment I knew how I could get my hands on apk file of any android market application. I had rooted my phone few days back and  took backup of all installed applications before that. Some of you may have guessed by now but surprisingly I didn’t find this solution online or may be I didn’t look hard enough.

Here are the steps for downloading apk for any android application from Google play.

  1. Install the application for which you need apk file on your Android phone. For example, if you need apk file for ‘Angry Birds’ then install it.
  2. Next, install this application – App Backup & Restore
  3. Open the application installed in step 2, select the app from step 1 and take a backup for the same.
  4. The backup will create a apk file of the application and store it in your SD card under App_Backup_Restore folder.

That was easy, wasn’t it? Enjoy!

How Joomla changed my life …

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I did my engineering in Computer Science, worked briefly at Defense R&D Organization and later moved to Motorola where I worked for around 6 years as telecommunications engineer on various wireless technologies like GSM/GPRS, WiMax and LTE. Since last one year or so, I have been building websites and web applications. And some time back I co-founded a web applications development firm with my brother who too is passionate about Internet and web applications.

From Telecom to Internet, it has been a wonderful and super exciting journey and though it might sound a little crazy but Joomla (Yes, Joomla) had a very large role to play in turning me from an employee to an entrepreneur.

One fine day when I had little work in office, I came across Joomla while surfing (useless random searching can land you anywhere :-)). Though I had no interest about website  building at that time, I found Joomla quite interesting. In almost couple of hours I realized how easy it is to build a website using Joomla without writing a single line of code. Since then there was hardly any day (hectic or not) when I didn’t spend some time learning something new about Joomla or website building in general. During weekends and in free time, I used to build sites using Joomla just for fun on a local server on my PC. Around same time, I read about freelance platforms like Elance and oDesk and came to know about few people (some from my friend circle as well) who had quit their day job to work full time as freelancers. By then, I was kind of Joomla expert. Being your own boss is a dream of every (well, almost) employee but only a few dare of chase that dream. I did and here I am running a startup with 7 employees (as on June, 2011).

After Joomla, learning other frameworks and technologies didn’t take much time (thank god, I attended some of the classes in college) and we started building all kind of websites and applications. Today we have more than 100 clients around the globe (mostly SMBs) and more than 25% of clients have worked with us more than once.

Had I not come across Joomla, I probably wouldn’t have discovered my passion for Internet and web applications. I sincerely thank Joomla and the strong developer community behind it for building such a fine application which has the capability of changing lives (in a positive way of course :-))

What could be the implications of Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype?

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Well, initially there were rumors of Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg is in talk with Skype over it’s acquisition. Due to Skype’s recent integration of Facebook in it’s VoIP client was seen as a conformation of these rumors. Then there were news of even Google planning to acquire Skype and not to mention, Microsoft too was in the queue.

When the news of Microsoft acquiring Skype for a whopping $8.5 billion USD broke out today, it surprised many since Facebook and even Google (Remember Google Voice?) seem more organic partners for Skype than Microsoft. What makes it more interesting is that Skype, though an extremely popular service, is not yet making any profits. You may find it hard to believe but the company carries approximately $700 millions in debt.

So what do you think could have made Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer make this highly expensive acquisition? Well, it’s probably too early to say anything however the most common opinion is that Microsoft could integrate Skype in Windows and probably in it’s Windows mobile OS. Does that mean it’s the end to Skype on Mac, iPhone/iPad, Android or other platforms? Probably not since it’ll be a too risky decision and will invite some real rough criticism for Microsoft which already has a nasty history of taking the ‘monopoly’ route.

It’s difficult to say how Microsoft plan to use Skype and how it’ll turn the loss making Skype into some serious revenue generating business. $8.5 billion USD is huge, huge, huge sum of money and personally I think it’s too big a risk for even a large organization like Microsoft to take. If this deal doesn’t work out then what? It certainly won’t affect Microsoft in general but it might certainly be the end of Steve Ballmer. However if you think a bit more, it may not look as bad. Tablets have already captured the market and are here to stay. Very soon, we’ll mostly be using mobile computers instead of regular ones. It makes perfect sense to have those mobile computers to have a VoIP client like Skype instead of using mobile carrier for making calls.

Mobile carriers usually do not like VoIP services since they offer free voice/data services and that’s why people love them. Since Microsoft has its own mobile OS which will mostly be the future OS of Nokia smart phones and integrating Skype into it may be a tricky issue since carriers may not like this and most likely Nokia too will not be happy with Microsoft’s move of acquiring Skype.

Well, a lot can be said however only time will tell whether it was a wise decision or a blunder. I wish Steve Ballmer all the very best though personally I am not a fan of him or even Microsoft. I said bye bye to Microsoft products long back and rely on open source 🙂

UPDATE: In a press conference, Microsoft official mentioned that they plan to integrate Skype in Outlook, Xbox, Windows mobile OS and some other products from Microsoft family. Outlook integration definitely sounds good but I guess providing built-in Skype in Windows mobile OS is the real thing due to the shift in momentum from computers to mobile computers.

First look at Google Chrome

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Most of you must have heard about the new Google browser – Chrome. Some of you might have used it as well. We were looking for some good reviews about Google Chrome but didn’t find anything much useful. Most of them were very basic reviews and that information is already available on Google Chrome site itself. Hence we decided to come up with a thorough review of Google Chrome covering all technical and usability aspects. Here we go…

The First Look

The very first thing that catches your eyes about Google Chrome is the neat, icy and lightweight look of Google Chrome. It has been designed in such a way that it’s not only lightweight in physical means(Memory, CPU consumption etc) but looks also will give you a very strong feeling that it’s a feather light application. Another thing which you’ll realize is that the browser is not clogged on top with stuff like other browsers, i.e. MS IE or Mozilla Firefox. By default, without full screen mode it shows the web pages to the maximum possible size and very little place is occupied at top by menus, tabs etc. There is nothing at bottom and status bar pops up only when needed and takes very little space.

Features

One thing which I found very interesting in Google Chrome is the tabs functionality. You can move the tabs around within browser like in Firefox and IE7 (and possible IE8 beta) but the feature which makes it different from IE and Firefox is that, you can take out the tabs from browser and create a new window just by dragging any tab out of current browser. Now that’s super cool… Isn’t it?

You’ll notice that the address bar in Google Chrome does all the jobs at same time. Be it opening a URL, web search, history search, suggestions or anything else, you just need to type in what you are looking for and Google Chrome will display all possible options which are possible for the words you have typed in. Press “Tab” after entering the URL and see the magic yourself.

Another ultra cool feature in Google Chrome is the way in which it treats the home page. What happens when you open your Firefox, IE, Opera or Safari? When you open your browser, your default home page will open; some of you might have set it to blank page because you are not sure if you always want to browse the same page. Google Chrome handles this situation in an excellent way. When you open Google Chrome or even a new tab, it displays nine most visited website with thumbnails. All you need to do is to click on the one you want to access. There is a very high probability that you were planning to go to one of those nine websites which you access/visit the most.

Sometimes while browsing sites through a multi-tab browser like Firefox, Opera or IE7, we come across a site which uses scripts (JavaScript, Flash ActionScript etc) extensively. These scripts consume high system resources like CPU and memory. Often, due to unavailability of resources your browser hangs and you need to kill it and restart. Even though the problem could have been caused by just one site, your browser need to be stopped and all other sites get closed as well. I am sure you all must have encountered these kinds of issues with your browsers. Now, let’s see how Google Chrome handles these situations. Google Chrome has a feature called Crash Control. Google Chrome is a multi process browser unlike Firefox or IE which are single threaded. This means that each tab in Google Chrome runs a separate process and in case of any issues like the one we mentioned above, only that tab will get closed and rest of the tabs will keep working. How cool is that?

Then there is one click bookmark option in Google Chrome, which is available in Firefox latest release 3.0 as well. You just need to click the star icon, just left to your address bar and the page is bookmarked. Also, Google Chrome allows you to create desktop shortcuts of you favorite pages. Just go to page menu on top right and select “Create Application Shortcut”, it’ll create a desktop shortcut for selected page. When you’ll double click on the shortcut, it’ll open the browser and open the page.

Another very good feature in Google Chrome is the Incognito mode. In short, incognito mode allows you to surf websites privately. You can open the tabs in incognito mode, as soon as you are done with your work on the site and you close it. After closing, Google Chrome takes care of cleaning up the browse history and cookies data. This feature is very useful when you are accessing Internet from outside home of office and you don’t want to leave any traces behind of what you did.

We are not covering all features of Google Chrome since most of them are already available in other browsers. Our intention is to cover only new and unique features. Apart from the features mentioned above, Google Chrome comes with other standard features like files download from within browser.

Design

Google Chrome has been built on top on WebKit and many features have been adopted from Mozilla Firefox. Most of you will be aware of Mozilla Firefox; As for WebKit, it’s an open source web browser engine. Safari is also built on top of WebKit. You can visit webkit.org to know more about WebKit.

Good part is, Google decided to keep Chrome open source like Firefox and WebKit which open doors to open source development community and soon you’ll start seeing various groups and communities working on development of extensions and plug-ins for Google Chrome. Google could have started with scratch for development of Google Chrome but eventually they decided to use WebKit due to its highly optimized code base. And this clearly reflects in Google Chrome performance when you open a page. It loads very quickly and much faster as compared to other browsers.

Another very good design decision was to make Google Chrome a multi process (note, its not multi-threaded but multi-process) browser unlike other browsers. Each tab is a separate process in itself. Have you ever seen in your task manager how much memory your Firefox is eating up? You’ll be surprised to see that at times it might be using 300+ MB. You might think that closing the tabs which you are not using might release this memory but that doesn’t happen. Why? The reason is that, Firefox and most other browser are single threaded and runs as a single process. Even if you close some tabs, memory is still kept by the process for future allocations and is re-used when you open new tabs. Over time, due to fragmentation, that memory becomes unusable and as the life span of browser extends, chances of crash becomes inevitable. In case of Google Chrome, as soon as a tab is closed, memory used by the tab is fully released to operating system since each tab is a process in itself and whole process is killed. On opening a new tab, a new process starts from scratch. There is a built-in task manager in Google Chrome which shows all details about the running tabs like, which tab is using how much to CPU and memory. You can access the task manager from page menu under developer option.

Since most of the sites are dynamic in nature nowadays due to extensive use to JavaScript, Google decided to build a dedicated virtual JavaScript engine which is platform independent.

Some “not so good” things about Google Chrome

It was really hard to find any issues with a nearly perfect browser but I managed to find a few. First, I noticed issues with menus like extensive flickering in some of the popular sites which runs absolutely find in other browsers like Firefox and IE.

Secondly, I found issues in Google Chrome while working with Joomla based sites. In administration panel, if you’ll try to add new contents and try to save it, nothing happens at all and nothing is saved.

Conclusion

Google Chrome is just released and despite some of excellent unique features, it has a long way to go. It took a while for Windows users of switch from IE to Firefox and users may not be willing to switch to new browser so soon when they are used to some very good browsers, especially Mozilla Firefox. At the same time – Change is inevitable and is for good.

One thing is for sure, it’s going the make the life of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer more difficult. First Firefox and now Google Chrome, it’ll be interesting to see what strategy MS adopts now to compete with Chrome and Firefox.

If you haven’t downloaded and started using Chrome then do it. It’s worth giving it a try and who knows you may never look back to any other browser. Download.

P.S. – This is a very old post I made on another site. Finally, managed to move the post from the original site to my blog.