20 ways to enhance your tech toys

20 ways to enhance your tech toys

Tag addresses on to Google Maps

On the road and need driving directions to a list of authorized phone service outlets in your city? Point your browser to Batchgeo.com and you are good to go. BatchGeo maps all the addresses from a spreadsheet on to a map using Google Maps with markers.

Use Google via SMS

Send a text message for your search query to 9-77-33-00000 and get the results via SMS (www.google.co.in/mobile/sms/search). To use Google Calendar, register your cellphone by going to www.google.com/calendar and completing Settings > Mobile Setup. You can also get RSS feeds and news updates using the Google SMS Channels service (www.google.co.in/mobile/sms/channels).

Type faster with double spaces

On Android, BlackBerry and iOS, instead of typing a period (.) at the end of each sentence, you can just double-tap the space bar. It will enter a period followed by a space.

Get faster Internet connection

If you are at a location where you have difficulty accessing your default DNS (Domain Name System), using a different one (such as Google’s can improve your surfing speeds. For your Wi-Fi connection, check the option to “use static IP" to enable manual entry of a DNS in network settings. For a 3G connection, load the SIM card into your modem/dongle and change the DNS on your PC/laptop through the advanced settings of your connecting software.

Desktop-like browsing on mobile

Many websites serve up mobile-optimized versions on Android. A quick way around is to make the browser identify itself as a desktop agent rather than a tablet or smartphone. In most tablets, go to browser settings, then go to advanced and change the user agent string setting there. In some browsers, you need to write about:debug where you enter the website address and then proceed with the above steps. For BlackBerry, fire up the browser and go to Menu > Options > Browser configuration > Browser identification > and select Firefox or Internet Explorer.

Root your Android device

Rooting your phone will give you super-user or root access so you can make all kinds of changes directly to the system. There is a plethora of apps that work only when your phone is rooted. Warning: Doing so will render your warranty void and if something goes wrong with the procedure, you may end up with a useless phone. An exact how-to is beyond the scope of this tip, but you can check a pretty good guide at www.addictivetips.com/mobile/how-to-root-your-android-phone-device

Boost your netbook graphics

Yes, a graphics accelerator for your netbook! GMAbooster is a small, lightweight program that overclocks or underclocks your onboard Intel GMA 950 graphics card, allowing it to run at a faster or slower frequency. It offers up to 2.4 times performance boost. This will be especially useful when playing HD videos or for playing games and saving battery resources on a lean netbook. Get it at www.gmabooster.com/download.htm

Run apps not compatible with your BlackBerry mode

When you try to run some apps that are not designed for your BlackBerry, the apps usually launch but with the keyboard in constant view along with the touch screen acting as a trackball. To fix this, go to Options > Advanced Options > Applications, highlight the app and press the menu key. Select Disable Compatibility Mode. Now the app will fill the screen and the touch screen will work like it should. Note: This tip works with select BlackBerry devices only.

Reboot your BlackBerry

If your device is slow, you can do a quick reboot to free up resources. Press left (ALT) + right (CAP) + (DEL) buttons simultaneously to reboot your BlackBerry.

Print on the go

If you have a device that supports HTML5, then on any of the following software—Chrome browser, Chrome OS, Gmail for mobile or Google Docs for mobile—you can directly print the content on it to any printer using Google Cloud Printing. For a quick tutorial on setting it up, visit www.labnol.org/internet/google-cloud-print-tutorial/18549

Unified friend stream

Create a unified profile of all your contacts from Facebook and LinkedIn, etc., on your BlackBerry using Super Address Book (free and pro versions). It ranks names by importance, complete with profile images. Get it at Appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/24009

Take smarter photos

Google Goggles launches the phone into camera mode and when you click a picture, it will try to make sense of it. Addresses and contact information of landmarks are searched, visiting cards are automatically made into contacts, text is not only optically recognized but also translated.

Stay connected to the office on the go

You can set up your phone so you stay connected to the VPN (virtual private network) and can access your work data wherever you go, as long as you have an Internet connection.A VPN extends the concept of aLAN network over the Internet in a secure way. Most iPads (www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WNrEBSUfBo) and Android phones (www.youtube.com/watch?v=0a0uayPyBzk) have VPN support.

Manage your travel

This is the ultimate mobile warrior tool for a BlackBerry user. It has features like automatic trip scanning that recognizes itineraries emailed to you and pushes them to your BlackBerry, no matter where you booked, the ability to identify gaps like a hotel stay that ends a night earlier than planned, and to make recommendations. You can make the bookings from your BlackBerry. If your flight is delayed or your connection changes, BlackBerry Travel will automatically push notification alerts to your device. Other tools include currency converter, weather forecast for your destination, local search to find what you need and the BlackBerry Travel Web portal—you’ll be well-prepared even for multi-leg journeys. Get it at Appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/25652

Read PDFs as books on your iPad

If you have loads of PDFs that you want to read as books on your iPad, you can convert them into the ePub format using a software called Calibre (on DVD, Calibre-ebook.com/download). It also lets you download metadata and covers for the PDF. To get a complete tutorial of how to do this, go to www.simplehelp.net/2010/04/05/how-to-convert-pdf-files-to-epub-files-to-read-on-your-ipad-with-ibooks

Share data on the go with a flick

You can share any kind of data from media to bookmarks and contacts with simple gestures like dragging or throw-n-catch to nearby recipients using Hoccer. It doesn’t require you to set up an account or additional hardware, since it works on a technology called linccer that will work on any kind of Internet connection. Download it at Market.android.com/details?id=com.artcom.hoccer

Leave messages for friends, anywhere

Want to set an alarm reminding you about a task at a certain spot? Or send your friend a surprise message on his/her arrival? With SpotMessage+ you can send a message designating a spot with Google Maps. Your friend will then get the message once he/she arrives at the spot. Get it here: Market.android.com/details?id=vanpool.app.spotmessageplus

Entertainment junkie

If music, video or just pure unadulterated fun is what you like, this section is for you. Read on to amplify your life

Remote control your PC with VLC

How great would it be if you didn’t have to get up from your seat to control the VLC media player while watching a movie on your PC? Just look up “VLC Remote" for your iOS, Android or BlackBerry device— download and install. We tried it on an Android phone and it worked like a charm. Obviously, your PC needs to be connected to a network to try this tweak. In VLC, go to Tools > Preferences and along the left column, tick the ‘All’ radio button under ‘Show Settings’. From there, click on Interface > Main Interfaces and select ‘HTTP remote control interface’ under Interface module. If it doesn’t detect your PC automatically, manually enter the IP address and port number (8080) in the app’s settings panel. Enjoy the good life.

MiniLyrics—learn your songs

Imagine how easy it would be if you could read and sing the songs you play in Winamp (or any other popular media player) without having to open a website every time. Enter MiniLyrics, a long-sought but little-known solution for this irritating problem. Install MiniLyrics from this issue’s DVD, and enable it from the player’s console settings panel. You’ll need to be connected to the Internet, of course.

Play practically any song on earth

Even if you aren’t a Last.fm user, give this extension a try. It lets you play practically any song on earth for free. It also scrobbles the song—that means the song gets added to your play count and contributes to the building of your musical taste, which in turn lets you discover more music. You can play, pause, shuffle and control volume right there in your browser and use keyboard shortcuts to play any song on Last.fm (Chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/bbncpldmanoknoahidbgmkgobgmhnafh)

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