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03 May 2013

Things every iPhone owner should do immediately


Whenever I get a new iPhone (by upgrading from the previous model), I make it a point to setup with a fresh install and not restore from backups. I try move only the content that I need on the new phone. This way I can filter the contacts that I can already removed, pictures I can put on my external hard drive to save space and the apps that I do not normally use.

Aside from that, I dig right away on the settings and tweak the settings to improve the user experience and as well as to save battery, space and make sure my device is safe. If you have an iPhone, regardless whether it is new or not, these are some of the things you should do right now.

Download and Enable Find My iPhone.

Your just don’t know when you need to track your phone’s location. I learned this the hard way when I left my iPhone on a cab on my way to work from the gym. Since then I never forgot to switch on this feature for my iOS devices. You can do this by:

1. Sign in to your iCloud or create a new one in Settings > iCloud > Account.
2. Flip “Find My iPhone” to ON.

Whenever you lose your phone, you can just open a browser from any computer then log into iCloud.com then click the Find my iPhone icon. You will be able to track the location, remotely lock the phone and erase all the data.

Another critical step is to prevent any changes to the Location Services settings. Do this by:

1. Navigate to Settings > General > Restrictions > Enable Restrictions
2. Enter your Passcode.
3. Scroll down to Privacy > Location Services and select Don’t Allow Changes.

With this, the Find My iPhone section of the iCloud will be grayed out and can’t be switched off by the thief.

Turn on Auto-Lock and Set a more secure Passcode.

iOS lets you define a Passcode for your phone to prevent unauthorized access to your device when it is locked. It also serves as additional protection when making changes on the device settings. The default or simple Passcode is composed of 4 numbers.

It is still difficult to guess the 4 numbers you set, however this is still not safe. The best way to protect your phone is to turn off the simple Passcode. Turning this off will allow you to set up to any number of characters as your Passcode and it will not limit you to numerical characters. You can even use spaces or special characters.

A 4 digit Passcode can be cracked within 20 minutes. If you set it to around 8 characters, it would take 1000 years to just to crack it.

1. Navigate to Settings > General > Auto-Lock
2. Set it to your preferred interval.
3. Navigate to Settings > General > Passcode Lock
4. Flip “Simple Passcode” to Off
5. Set your Passcode.

Disable Ad tracking in iOS6

This is self explanatory and can easily be done through the steps below:

1. Navigate to Settings > General > About > Advertising
2. Flip “Limit Ad Tracking” to ON

Adjust the phone’s Brightness

Dimming the display on your phone (just like any other device) is going to prolong the battery life. Adjust it to according to your preference.

Disabling Push Email

Disabling Push for Email lets your device idle rather than constantly waiting around for a new message. If immediate delivery of an email isn’t critical to you, you should just set your phone to download messages from the mail servers less often.

Push for email can be disable by navigating to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars.

Disabling Push and other Unnecessary Notifications for Apps

Every time you receive a notification, your device’s screen lights up to tell you. This takes a little power and you probably don’t need to be notified of every little thing that every app wants to tell you.

You can enable and disable this on a per-app basis, so if you like having one or two apps sending you notifications you can keep them, but just as I said, you don’t really need notifications for everything.

Push for apps can be disabled by navigating to Settings > Notifications

Turning off Location Services

Turning off Location Services is another helpful battery saver. Your GPS loves sipping power, so if you keep your apps from constantly tracking your location your iPhone will last a bit longer.

In my case, I only enable the location services for app that really need them like Find My iPhone, Maps and social media apps that I use to check in or tag my location like Foursquare, Facebook and Instagram.

Download over Wi-Fi instead of 3G

If you have any larger downloads, such as software update, a podcast, or whatever, you’ll be better off letting Wi-Fi handle the download. First of all, it’ll generally download faster over a Wi-Fi connection so your phone won’t be actively downloading for quite as long. Second, your phone’s 3G or LTE radio tends to be a little more battery-hungry so it’ll cause more of a drain regardless.

Hide Unwanted Stock Apple Apps

When I mean stock, I am not referring to the Stocks application. The iPhone comes with default applications that most of us never use, there’s the Stock app, the weather app and Newsstand.

Hiding the apps can be done even without jailbreaking your phone.

1. Visit rag3hack.no-ip.org on your iOS device.
2. Tap Hide Apps without Jailbreak.
3. Choose the app you want to hide and tap it.
4. You’ll be asked to install a new app/certificate. Confirm that you want to do this.
5. The installation will fail, but that’s supposed to happen. Tap “Done” when you receive the failure message.
6. Long press an icon on your home screen to enter “jiggle mode” and go find the app you wanted to hide. You’ll now see that the app is blank and has the word “Hide” before its name (e.g. “Hide Stocks”). Tap the “X” in the upper-left corner to remove it.

This part is not really important, but if you are like me, it would be best if you don’t see the apps you never use anyway. It will save you precious space on your home screen.

Regularly Close Open Applications

Clear the multitasking queue so you don’t have an endless trail of open apps. Even though Apple designed multitasking to be battery-friendly, suspending a ton of apps still takes its toll. It can be frustrating to manually close a bunch of apps in the multitasking queue, but doing this on a daily or weekly basis can help reduce unwanted battery drain.

Got any other tips for iPhone users? Feel free to share them on the comments section.

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30 Apr 2013

Planning the Perfect Vacation


So a few months ago, I told myself I’m going to travel around the world like I had dreamt of so many times before. The first thing I did is to jump into Google and attempted to find an itinerary that someone else had planned for me to use in my trips.

The top results show the popular travel sites like Lonely Planet, WikiTravel and Trip Advisor. Lonely Planet is the one that got my attention as I remembered seeing the guidebooks that they made on our local book shop, there’s no way I could go wrong. Since I don’t really want to spend a lot on guidebooks I decided to check out the free content on their website and picked – up the free version of the guidebooks instead (on the App Store). A quick look on those and then I moved onto forums, specifically Pinoy Exchange as I believe it would be best to get some info from fellow Filipinos who have been to the places I want to go to. I went on to find what section I wanted to be in and then I read with a thirst.

Still not satisfied with the all the information I have found, I search blogs. Blogs of people who claimed to have created the perfect travel itinerary. Jumping from one blog to another, reading what each one of them thought was the best way to see Asia, Europe and the rest of the world. Bookmarking every blog post as I went on to get as much information overload I can handle.

I’ve read about how to make the most of your travel time, backpacking in Europe, an Asian tour in a budget and a whole lot more.  While researching I started to draft my itineraries taking into consideration the things that I’ve read.  It was difficult in the sense that you have too much information with you, too many things to do, conflicting ideas on what is the perfect way to see the world.

I then realized, there is no such thing as a perfect itinerary or a travel book/guide. You can’t really say that one’s better than the other. Each of the guides and blogs I’ve read really worked, but they worked for that one person (or maybe a group of person) who wrote that. It is based on their experience. I had to make my own adventure; I need to make a plan of my own. After all, I’m the one who’s travelling. I should know what I want to see and the things I want to do.

I started to close all my open tabs, cleared the bookmarks and fired up Google once more. This time, instead of searching for the answer, I searched for things that might interest me. I then began on building my own itinerary. I began writing the plan for my own travel story.

I still needed some help of some websites/blog though, just to pick up some useful tips and maybe some hidden gems (places) that I may not be able to see reading through the list of attractions one place has to offer. When planning my itinerary, I always make it a point to read different travel guides just to get an idea of the places I will see. From there I just pick the items that interest me and build up from there.

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29 Apr 2013

The Tech Toys You Can’t Live Without


We now live in an era of technology and gadgets and living in this “high-tech” century has become simple and interesting as we have gadgets for every purpose in life. We use these gadgets on a daily basis and they do improve the quality of life.

Sure, one can argue that stopping using them on a daily basis won’t cause your life to fail should they suddenly disappear. We did not have these gadgets before anyway. However a number of them has become an integral part of everyday life such as managing communications.

For me, here are the gadgets I cannot live without:

 1. Smartphone

Yes, a Smartphone and not just an ordinary mobile phone. Back in my high school and college days, I did not really care much about the model of the phone I’m using. As long as it allows me to text and call my friends and family, it’s fine with me. But then one day I got my first iPhone, the iPhone 3G, which I got as a gift for myself after getting my first job. The iPhone 3G, just like any other Smartphone, allowed me to carry the entire world in my pocket.  Aside from the basic phone features, I can now browse the internet wherever I am, play games, take photographs and video, listen to music and use apps that let me do just about anything. It’s basically an all in one device, which means I don’t have to bring with me a dedicated mp3 player, camera with me. I just had to bring 1 device.

 2. Laptop/Ultrabook/Netbook

Throughout the years, laptops have become much more affordable and had made it a better choice than getting a desktop computer at home. It’s portable and packs the same power (sometimes even faster) as a regular desktop computer. I got my first one in college for my thesis and software development projects. It is an important device as I use this to surf the internet, read/write my emails, do my assignments/and work, sync and edit photos and videos, and my favorite, play online and LAN based games. I can just bring it anywhere I want as long as the battery is fully charged and there’s an internet connection.

I’ve only listed two items on the list. Some people would say that tablets and cameras should also be on the list. For me those two are enough. I have a DSLR camera which I use to take photographs during my trips but I can live without it as I have my iPhone 5 with me at all times. I also have an iPad which serves as my backup device whenever I want to do some note taking or if I want to surf the internet on a larger screen but don’t want to carry my netbook or my slightly heavier Laptop with me.

How about you? What are the gadgets you can’t live without?

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