CategoryTech

Weekend Project – WordPress Migration to Bluehost + SEO for Blog

After being in the digital marketing industry for over a year, the biggest irony of my professional career had been the lack of any search engine optimization (SEO) effort at all on my personal blog/website. I started this blog, which used to be hosted on free WordPress domain at richxiong89.wordpress.com, some time in the 2012 and have kept it running with sporadic posting ever since. Over time, people have started taking notice of the blog as I’ve linked it on quite a number of my social accounts and the typical conversations surrounding my blog have always been “oh it must have been so search engine optimized”, “how long do you spend each week to work on the SEO on your blog”, “can you teach me what I should do with my blog”, and yada yada yada… I should have been ashamed of the irony, right?

No SEO Meme - Tell me how it works out for you

The untimely arrival of Panda 4.0 algorithm coincided with the period of time this year when I barely had any energy or time to take care of my blog, which led to my blog’s taking a huge dip in traffic over time. If it had happened to a client’s site, I would have been on top of my game planning strategies and tactics for recovery, churning out multiple action plans and executing at the highest level of diligence. But well, 4 months after the hit, here I am getting started on this long-overdue weekend project.

Custom Domain and Hosting

The first of many mistakes I made yesterday was hastily purchasing a custom domain on WordPress.com without digging much deeper into my research on hosting. The implication of this is that you will get very limited functionality for the price you’re paying for (26 USD per year) and you will have to look for a hosting provider (which also will allow you sign up for a custom domain, at a much better bang-for-the-buck bundled price).

Wordpress custom domainI’ll come back to how I managed to make the domain work a tad later. Without getting into long-winded research that went nowhere, I pretty much decided on Bluehost upon reading this article on selecting the best WordPress hosting.

Setting up Bluehost

After completing the transaction for a “Shared, Plus” account, I was ready to rock and roll. The first thing to do is to make sure your custom domain is pointing to Bluehost’s name servers, that is if you made the same mistake as me in purchasing a domain on WordPress. So, there are two options to set up WordPress on Bluehost if you already have a custom domain (if not, you can just sign one up on Bluehost itself and everything will take care of itself):

  • Migrate your custom domain from WordPress.com’s host server to Bluehost server
  • Point the name servers of your custom domain to Bluehost’s name servers

For the first pointBluehost CPanel Domain, domain management options can be found in the cPanel of your Bluehost account (some hosting companies do not allow domain transfer within 60 days from purchase, so you might want to check that).

For the second point, changing name servers on your WordPress’s custom domain is very simple. Go to your domain management screen on WordPress at https://wordpress.com/my-domains/

Wordpress domain management

Click on “Edit” and select “Name Servers” on the left sidebar of the popup that follows:

Wordpress domain name servers
Type in the name servers for Bluehost as seen in the screenshot and Save Changes – you’re good to go.
ns1.Bluehost.com
ns2.Bluehost.com

WordPress Migration

After changing your name servers to Bluehost, you have to set up a WordPress instance in Bluehost in order to build you site. Before you do that, you have to migrate your existing WordPress blog to Bluehost so that you can enjoy all the control and customization options that come with the hosting. This process is pretty straightforward as all you gotta do is to go to your WordPress’s Dashboard -> Tools > Export, select all content and the XML file will be exported to your computer. As simple as that. Bluehost has also posted a step-by-step instruction post for WordPress migration with video for your reference.

Now it’s time to go to Bluehost’s cPanel and set up that WordPress instance. In cPanel, there’s a website builder section where you can find WordPress, Simple Scripts, etc. If you click on WordPress and follow the on-screen instructions, you will have a WordPress instance set up MOJO Marketplace. Bluepost’s instruction on installing WordPress on MOJO Marketplace has outdated interface screenshots, but you get the gist anyway. After the installation, you will be redirected to the MOJO Marketplace landing page where you should be able to see your WordPress install (you’ll also receive an email informing you that WordPress for your new domain is successfully set up, with login details attached).

MOJO My installs

Completing Migration and Final Checking

Once you’re able to login to your newly setup WordPress on your new domain, you can follow the steps mentioned in exporting WordPress content earlier on, except this time you select import and let the process take care of everything for you. If you have a ton of posts in your old blog, the import will take quite some time, so just let the tab untouched. Of course, this is a very simplified migration process that hasn’t taken into accounts the migration of wp-content/themes, databases, etc. But because I am setting up my new website from scratch, new theme design, layout and so on, I didn’t do much transfer via FTP – all I needed were the posts. If you have time and are interested in a relatively more “complete” migration process, Bluehost does have a very comprehensive FAQ post for on WordPress migration.

WP PermalinksOne last thing to check is the “Permalinks” setting in your new WordPress website – it has to be the same URL structure as the old WordPress blog, or else 90 – 99% of your posts will go into a 404 header, following the redirection from old posts. There were a couple of hours yesterday during which I had absolutely zero stats from my new website, because I overlooked this last bit.

Permalink Structure

That’s been it. Thanks for reading. I spent the better part of this weekend working on this side project and I will probably follow up with a series of posts on WordPress SEO – the use of plugins, technical bits and other topics that may be of interest to you. Stay tuned! Also, do not hesitate to get in touch if you run into any issues or if you think I could help. 🙂

Living On The Cloud – Evernote

evernote-windows-phone-app

My friends think I am a control freak when it comes to organizing things; they’ve seen my OCD going to work on so many different occasions that it no longer surprises them when I am being extra particular about a small thing. They’d look at my Android home screen, my bookmark folders, the way I obsessively label everything on Gmail, my Pocket list, my Dropbox folder and believe that I know exactly where to look when I need a certain piece of information or a news article. It couldn’t be further from the truth.

The truth is I have absolutely no idea when and where I save a certain piece of information, much less being able to retrieve it in no time. Useful information such as a news article, an interesting research finding, something on the internet I found useful for blogging or a quote I found especially inspiring are dispersed among places such as Chrome Bookmarks, Pocket, Evernote, Gmail, Google+ (yes, I email and post stuff only to/for myself), and Twitter favorites. And then there is also a physical notebook I carry around with me most of the times which I use to jot down ideas, blog topics or things that I need to do more research on. When it comes time for me to sit down, organize things and get some work done, I would be looking all over the place for everything that I’d come across in the past few days.

I’ve kept Evernote on my phone for over a year but hardly use it much beyond taking a couple of notes. After reading this article on Lifehacker, I decided to give Evernote another shot and this time I’ve decided to be disciplined about it and use Evernote exclusively for all the use cases the author mentioned in the article. I even took more than 30 minutes creating Stacks > Notebooks > Notes and moving most of my bookmarks, articles and notes onto them. The result and the productivity following the move have been more than satisfying:

evernote UI

Literally spent more than an hour creating those stacks on the left sidebar and importing over 100 notes into them

Value Proposition – Centralized Information Center

Evernote Web Clipper has become my new best friend on my Chrome browser. I no longer obsessively save articles on Chrome anymore. Although Chrome is synced across all devices and much more easier to load an article than say I open a note on Evernote and then click on the link to load, Chrome doesn’t help me much in saving articles from other sources. If I am reading a news article on Flipboard for example, it’s much easier to drop it onto Pocket or Evernote than say open it in Chrome and save it to Bookmarks. Sometimes, I don’t feel like loading the articles because the 3G is slow most of the times and I don’t have time for it.

Perhaps the biggest reason why I could move so quickly away from Pocket and Chrome bookmarks is the fact that I can write down notes, potential blog topics or even draft blog posts in Evernote; eventually all of them are available to me on all devices in just ONE place. Of course, you can argue that I could use different services for such a wide variety of activities; my point is wouldn’t it make better sense if I can do everything in just one place? Besides all these, I can also save code snippets I come across from forums and also Linux scripts that I could use when I log onto my Ubuntu. Doing all the saving/organizing from Android is even easier than using the web clipper; the system-wide “Share” button makes it possible to save everything into Evernote (or any other services for example) and I can’t emphasize enough how much I love that bit about Android.

I did mention I also used to use Gmail/Google+ to solve the note-taking part, but honestly it sounds a bit lame even to me no matter how convenient it could be. We should probably use Gmail for just what it’s intended to be, i.e. sending and receiving emails.

2013-03-28 17.15.16

Perfectly Synced + All Notes Listed in Chronological Order when not viewed in Stacks/Folders

It’s worked out perfectly for me. What about you?

It’s been more than a week since I started using Evernote exclusively to speed up my work flow, and I’ve to say the result is astoundingly satisfying. I am not saying that other services I mentioned in the post earlier can’t compete with Evernote in terms of providing users speed, productivity and convenience. In fact, every app/service has something unique that it does very well. The fact that I get all crazy over Evernote is the consistency, in the sense that “Evernote” has sort of become the go-to app/service for everything I do on the Internet/mobile phone. Do you also use Evernote extensively to help you in your productivity? I want to know why or why not and also what other services keep you at the peak of your productivity.

[SOLVED] System Freeze on Ubuntu 12.04 64-bit

Disclaimer: this is by no means a one-size-fits-all solution for all similar bugs. There are various types of system freezes out there. The freeze mentioned in this post refers to one in which you can’t move the mouse cursor, you can’t do anything to make the system respond, which leaves you with none other than a hard reboot. 

Ubuntu users will know this — spending numerous (or seemingly endless) hours on sites such as Ubuntu Forums, Ask Ubuntu, OMG! Ubuntu, stackoverflow, to name a few, upon installing a new distro while looking for the best combination of settings, bug fixes or simply knowledge about Linux in general.

For many like us, the beauty of open-source operating systems lies in the joy of fixing broken things, be it incompatibility issues, kernel issues, power management issues and so on. In the past 3 years or so of using Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Arch Linux and Fedora, never once have I remembered having to tinker with kernels in order to get a problem fixed.

I recently got a Thinkpad E430 machine to replace my old Toshiba laptop which had served me well from 2008-2012. Within hours of getting the new laptop, I booted Ubuntu 12.04 LTS 64-bit on the 16-GB SSD meant for caching. After installing all the software packages I need and setting it up, a very annoying bug started to occur – the system froze completely at random times, most of the times while using Chrome browser. There was nothing I could do rather than doing a hard reset to overcome it, temporarily.

There’s no way it has to do with the RAM usage because I have 4 GB of RAM and 500 MB used as swap space for virtual memory. Then I read about Nvidia drivers not playing nice with different machines booting Ubuntu but that was not the issue for me too, as I did not install the proprietary beta drivers. I started to doubt whether the issue has to do with 64-bit. In my experience, 64-bit was never the ideal choice for me. Even with my previous machine having 4 GB of RAM and all, I was using Ubuntu 32 bit all along, for some reason I can’t really recall now.

I decided to update the kernel and if all else failed, I would boot the 32-bit version to see if there is a difference. Very fortunately kernel 3.4 was the perfect solution; I’ve been postponing this post because I wanted to make sure the freeze is completely gone, which it is after 5 days on the new kernel. Ubuntu 12.04 LTS ships with Linux kernel 3.2. The latest available kernel for Precise Pangolin is kernel 3.4.

First thing first, just do a check of which kernel you’re currently running. It’s supposed to show you 3.2.0. Run the command uname -r

Next, go to the index of kernels to download all necessary .deb files for the new kernel you’re going to install. http://kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/, and click on v3.4-precise/ folder.

There are three files you need to download from the folder. Two amd64.deb packages + all.deb. For 32-bit, same thing – download two corresponding i386.deb packages + all.deb.

From here, you could just click on these debian packages one by one to install just like you would any software package. Or to save some time, use the command line to install all the packages at once. Navigate to the folder to which your files are downloaded; in my case it’s the default Downloads folder.

Run the command  sudo dpkg -i linux*.deb and wait for the installation to complete. After it’s done, close the terminal and reboot your system. In the GRUB menu, you should be able to see the kernel being updated to 3.4.0 generic. You could always double check though by using uname -r command again when you’re logged back in.

There is one last thing to do after the system is rebooted, i.e. to remove the files related 3.2 kernel. Open up your Synaptic Package Manager (if you don’t have it installed yet, sudo apt-get update, sudo apt-get upgrade, sudo apt-get install synaptic), type “linux” into the Quick filter box and make sure to remove the generic kernel files related to 3.2 (Mark for Removal, Apply).

That’s all for updating Ubuntu 12.04 LTS to run kernel 3.4. The new kernel does come with a noticeably better power management and of course better stability. Hope this post helps you in some way. Enjoy!

Microsoft Windows 8 Review on Lenovo Thinkpad E430

After using a dual-boot setup of Windows 7 and Ubuntu on my previous machine for over 3 years, I almost adamantly believed that Windows 8 upgrade is one thing that is unlikely to appeal to me, given the fact that there have been mixed reviews and that I am not particularly a fan of Metro UI in the first place. Much less on a laptop, seriously?

I bought a new laptop last week (Thinkpad E430) and the OCD in me started having some serious first-world dilemma as to whether or not spending 18$ for a Windows 8 upgrade would add value to my productivity. For what it’s worth, 18$ sounds like a heck of a bargain for a full version of Windows OS, right? Well, the truth is Windows 7 had served my computing needs fully well in the past three years that I couldn’t see how much more value Windows 8 could bring. Besides, about 40% of my computing time was spent on Ubuntu. So it is kind of like unless I need to use Windows-only software, Live Writer (arguably the best blogging tool), Microsoft Office or gaming, I prefer using Ubuntu for everything else, merely for the fact that I like Unix-based OS better and that I love doing tasks with command lines in Linux, but that’s the story for another time before I further digress.

After reading some thorough reviews on Windows 8, I am convinced that faster boot time and more decent battery life alone bring enough value for the money I am going to spend. So here comes the setup:

Windows Upgrade AssistantI used the Windows Upgrade Assistant to purchase and download a copy of Windows 8 iso file (if you purchased a new Windows 7 PC between 2 June 2012 and 31 January 2013, you are eligible for the 18$ upgrade offer, more details here) and the process is a pain in the butt (literally if you were to sit down throughout the process). Because of slow download servers, it took me close to 5 hours to download the iso file alone; there goes my sleep.

The Setup

Thinkpad E430 comes with 500 GB HDD and 16 GB mSATA SSD. While the SSD is available for use as a boot device, it is actually intended for use as a SSD caching storage with Intel’s Smart Response Technology because obviously 16 GB is not even close to hold a full-fledged Windows installation. Check out how to set up SSD caching if you’re interested; it would supposedly increase the read/write speed of your HDD and improve performance in some apps. I wouldn’t be using this SSD for Windows 8 at all since I’ve decided to boot and run Ubuntu 12.04 on it.

After a grueling 7 hours of waiting, watching Breaking Bad, reading, taking nap, Windows 8 was finally ready to boot.

This is the first screen you’d be greeted with when the installation is done. After which, it asks you to sign in to your Windows Live account to keep data and settings backed up and synced across devices (assuming you have more than one Windows 8 machine and/or you use a Windows Phone device). Now all setup is done and it’s time to dive into the good, the bad and the ugly.

Metro, Metro, Metro

Remember that viral video where Steve Ballmer went crazy on stage screaming “Metro Metro Metro”? Well, let me refresh your memory.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dc7HPmPQV9E]

Yes, as awkward and silly as he sounded, he was dead serious about slapping Metro into any user interface possible.

I am not a big fan of Metro UI (far from it) but I will try to be objective here. While the convenience of navigation is primarily meant for touch-screen devices, it is not THAT bad if you really try to work your way around it. For example, scrolling with a mouse could almost replicate the experience you would have swiping it with your finger, albeit a tad slow. Using the PgUp and PgDn buttons on your keyboard will quickly swipe the entire page left and right respectively as well.

While it is clear that on a Windows tablet, all the apps will launch and run on the Metro UI, the same is not true about the Desktop UI. From the screenshot below, I would naturally think that the “Apps” on the left are Metro apps meaning they will open right inside the Metro UI without re-routing you into the Desktop UI, but no that’s not the case there; clicking on Windows Live Messenger will launch the software inside the Desktop UI just as you would see on Windows 7.

However, clicking on Chrome icon would open the Metro version of Chrome, meaning it would take up the full screen and you won’t see anything else until you dock or close the app. But Chrome is supposed to run within the Desktop UI; at least that is how I would want it to, provided I installed it inside the Desktop UI. So there is definitely some confusion here. Of course, it could also be a matter of configuration but this post is supposed to be about my “first impressions” – I have only tested it extensively for about a total of 4 hours so far.

Desktop UI

You can enter the Desktop UI by clicking the Desktop tile on the Metro UI (see two pictures ago, first tile). When Windows 8 boots up, it will mainly show Metro UI, then you have to click Desktop first to sort of “activate” the Desktop UI. From then on, you can switch between the two UIs by just clicking the “Windows” key on your keyboard, the one that’s supposed to bring up Start Menu in Windows 7. More on that later. Asides from some minor UI tweaks, Desktop UI is almost identical to what you see on Windows 7 minus the Start Menu and some minor tweaks:

Start Menu is Gone and That’s Not Such A Bad Thing

If there is just one gripe you would hear from users’ reviews of Windows 8, the elimination of Start Menu has to be the most common one. Not only the button is gone, but the classic Start Menu is also completely replaced by Metro UI. The start icon as you could see above is only brought up when you hover the mouse over to that vicinity and clicking that would bring you to, you bet, THE METRO UI. I know a lot of people have loved and missed the classic Start Menu but in my opinion this is not a poorly thought out UX consideration from Microsoft. If anything, it makes things as easy as, if not easier than, using the Start Menu. For instance, my use cases for Start Menu would be quite limited – accessing Control Panel quickly or the quick search bar. The search bar is the bomb. Yes I do miss it but guess what? On the Metro UI itself, if you start typing, the universal search is activated. Say I want to go to “msconfig” to change boot-up settings. All I need to do is to click the “Windows” button on my keyboard and type “msconfig” and voila I would get there in no time. See what I mean –

So all it took me to get there was 1. click windows button 2. type msconfig 3. click enter and that is the exact same step I would take if I were using Windows 7’s Start Menu. See my point? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But of course, you and I may well have very different use cases so if you want Start Menu replacements to bring back the familiarity of Windows 7, do check out these 6 alternative third-party Start Menu replacements for Windows 8.

Multi-tasking

I am sure many of Windows 7 users would be familiar with the Aero Snap feature from Windows 7 as demonstrated above. In addition to the good old Aero Snap (which snaps two windows to occupy 50% of the screen respectively by dragging the windows to the extreme left and right), there is another multitasking feature related to Metro UI, which I believe is simply called “Snap”.

What Snap does is basically creating kind of a dock to insert your Metro app in while working in your other window. The dock occupies 1/3 of the entire screen and the rest is filled up by  either your Metro app or Desktop app. To activate “Snap”, you just need to hover your mouse over to the top left of the screen to bring up the multi-window menu.

From here, all you need to do is to dock any of the Metro apps that are currently open the the left or right side of the screen to create the multitasking screen I mentioned earlier on. 1/3 and 2/3 split.

On the left I had Chrome Metro app running, and on the right was my Windows Live Writer from my Desktop UI. It is a quite neat feature but in terms of productivity, I can barely foresee how this is much better than the Aero Snap from Windows 7, but we’ll see. There might just be use cases I have yet to discover that would perfectly utilize this feature.

Charms Bar

Charms Bar is sort of like a quick setting menu in the sense that they dock 5 icons that are deemed useful on the right for quick access, namely universal search, share, start (Metro UI), connected devices and PC settings. You can bring up Charms Bar by moving your mouse to the top right corner of the screen. So there are only two corner gestures here – top left for multitasking, top right for Charms Bar. As simple as that.

Battery Life and Performance

It could be the placebo talking but the performance seems slightly faster than on Windows 7 inside the Desktop UI. As for the Metro apps, launching them could take up to 1-2 seconds depending on how big the app is or how much data it holds. I am also not exactly fond of the flip motion while launching  each app. Still, about 80-90% of the time, I am on Desktop UI.

The battery life is something that is much more quantifiable than the performance. After a couple of charge cycles, the battery lasts for about 5.5 hours on the 62 WH 6-cell battery before it reaches 5%. Use cases – Wifi constantly on with web browsing on Chrome, Live Writer, MS Excel and occasional YouTube viewing (a total of up to 30 mins). I got about 4.5 – 5 hours on Windows 7 with about the similar setup, usage and softwares installed.

Windows Store

Last but definitely not least, it’s the Windows Store. IMHO, a hybrid Tablet/Desktop UI on a device with full mouse and keyboard capabilities is quite unnecessary and redundant, really. My laptop is not a touch-screen device and I certainly do not foresee myself wandering around in the Metro UI much or visiting this Windows Store for apps. If I want to use Path or Instagram or whatever, the best experience is to use them on my Android phone or maybe a tablet in future.

I’d probably be more frustrated navigating around the Metro UI than benefitted from the value that it brings, if any. To add insult to injury, if the low popularity of Windows Phone devices and the lack of support from big-name developers are of any indication, Metro UI isn’t exactly moving forward. And finally for an OS known for enterprise stability, compatibility and productivity, I am not exactly sure where this hybrid system is going, honestly. Most of the times I might just end up using the Desktop UI to get the job done.

Thoughts on iPhone 5

“UNDERWHELMED”

This is not a filler post; I don’t even go around and publicize my blog posts. There are really no other words to describe how I feel about the event. I am never an Apple fan but I am definitely not hating on their products; they always bring wow stuff to the table in one way or another in the past product launches, and my next laptop is definitely going to be a Macbook with retina display. But iPhone 5? Meh. I don’t see myself jumping ship from the Android platform in the foreseeable future. Everything seems like an incremental upgrade from 4S with no real killer feature all around, except for the Passbook perhaps.

Apple goes after Samsung (not in stores, but in court)

Seriously, TouchWiz needs to RIP. Stock Android on future Samsung phones, I wish!

By now, whichever part of the world you’re in, you should have at least heard of the initial Jury verdict of Apple-Samsung case. Obviously, the outcome of this case has made many people rejoice, while pissing off a whole bunch of others. As a consumer, or more specifically a tech-savvy person who lives and breathes technology, I am still shaking my head in disbelief the more I read about the case.

Of course, one might argue this could be attributed to the fact that I am an Android fan for over 3 years who has recently switched to a Galaxy phone. All of these wouldn’t matter if I were to offer my points of view as objectively as possible here (I will provide a list of articles I’ve read recently to present where I am coming from):

1. The Jurors have no relevance or credibility in this case

Usually the jury team is formed on the basis to critically examine a lawsuit using instructions from the courtroom and the evidences presented from both sides, and then come up with an unbiased, reasonable and legally sound verdict. Let’s take a murder case for example, engaging the help of jurors who are unrelated to any parties in the case, who are impartial makes perfect sense. However, in the case of Apple-Samsung, how is it possible that all of the jurors have zero personal/emotional/sentimental attachment to either brand? These people are like you and me who use smartphones extensively and perhaps may even have an unwavering ‘brand loyalty’ towards either brand (in this case, obviously …… nvm), so any opinion they might have would ultimately be swayed by the most argumentative members in the team or maybe the majority are already swayed by the brand loyalty for that matter.

2. Has Apple ever invented anything? 

The video speaks for itself.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFeC25BM9E0]

3. 700 questions answered in around 20 hours! Wow?!

I am just making one assumption. The jury team is incredibly smart and efficient, much more than lawyers perhaps? But hey, aren’t they supposed to be laymen like you and me? These words taken from a law blog, Abovethelaw, by Editor Elie Mystal pretty much sum up the amount of ridicule (or how smart the Jury is):

“It would take me more than three days to understand all the terms in the verdict! Much less come to a legally binding decision on all of these separate issues. Did you guys just flip a coin?”    


UPDATE: The injunction hearing is shifted to December, which means that from now until the injunction, there won’t be any actions taken against any party. And contrary to the initial outcome, I actually think Samsung has a strong stand in this case, given many evidences of how the jury screwed it up badly, and how ridiculous the patent system currently is.

Engadget – Breaking Down Apple’s $1 billion courtroom victory over Samsung

Forbes – Why The Apple-Samsung verdict is a big mistake 

Techcrunch – Samsung-Apple And the Obviousness Standard

Business Insider – These are the 6 patents Samsung violated

Wall Street Journal – Samsung vows to fight ban

On-screen (Nexus) buttons on Galaxy W (I8150)

After debating with some friends regarding the use of on-screen buttons on phones that already come with capacitive buttons, I’ve decided to flash Paranoid Android ROM to experience it myself. While it may seem totally useless and pointless to some of you, I realize there are some important user-experience enhancements that come with these ‘Nexus’ buttons, of course at the expense of some space on the already meager screen of Galaxy W (3.7 inch).

For starters, I find myself accessing the multi-tasking menu a lot more than when I was using those capacitive buttons. Long-pressing home button sort of discouraged me to multi-task as I might have accidentally released the button or if the button got stuck and I was sent back to home screen in either case (it happened to me many times; not frequent enough, though, to cause annoyance). Now a simple tap would allow me to multi-task almost effortlessly. Then in legacy apps, stock apps or apps which are already optimized for ICS, those three dots on screen (signified for more settings/options) will tell you exactly whether there are other things to explore without having to compulsively press “Menu” key in every screen to find out.

And it is also quite likely that following the success of Galaxy Nexus, subsequent Nexus devices will comply with the no-button design. And if Ice-Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean and so on hint the direction with which Android is going in future, it’s better to get used to the way Vanilla Android is designed before you’ve to switch device and start all over experiencing something new. I am definitely getting a Nexus device for my next phone, so I don’t mind giving up a little bit of screen space to embrace the experience of using new-generation Android OS the way it’s meant to be.

Those buttons look sexy, don’t they?

[FIX] YouTube videos do not play fullscreen in Chrome on Ubuntu 12.04

It’s taken me long enough to be utterly annoyed by this bug and got down to find a fix. The bug is this – when I want to play a YouTube video full-screen, it works perfectly fine if I click full-screen button for the first time. However, let’s say for example I pause the video, switch back to normal screen and make it full-screen again, the video wouldn’t play anymore. For sure, it’s the problem with the infamous Flash player which has taken a long time to be finally of acceptable standard on Linux.

The fix is surprisingly easy. Just go to your Chrome address bar, type chrome://plugins and hit enter; you’ll be led to the following page.

Click on “Details” button on the right side and you’ll see two versions of Flash currently available on your Chrome. Just make sure you disable the version number 11.3 and enable the version 11.2. Now reload the videos and enjoy! That did the trick for me.

How To Speed Up Ubuntu 12.04 with BleachBit

When Ubuntu 12.04 was released, I decided to give Unity another shot. I skipped 11.04, 11.10 and stayed with 10.04 LTS because of various bugs first found in Unity. Ubuntu has actually become my main OS and daily driver since 2009, so stability and maintenance mean a lot to me. To my surprise, I actually like the way 12.04 works after just playing with it for a few hours.

There was one problem with 12.04, though, that I didn’t face when I was using 10.04 for close to a year. The OS actually became very laggy almost to the point of me doubting if one of my RAM sticks has stopped working. I came across a software called BleachBit after doing a bit of research regarding speeding up Ubuntu and freeing up some disk spaces. The best part? It’s free and open-source. You can install simply by calling up your Terminal (Ctrl + Alt + T) and type sudo apt-get install bleachbit.

Once it is done installing, open up your Dash and look for BleachBit and choose to run it as Root.

Now, check the options that you wish to clean on the left side of the screen. As you tick along the way, many warnings will pop up informing you what each option will clean. DO read them very carefully. It’s good to know which part of your system is being wiped.

After checking everything, just click clean and wait for the process to complete. The whole process takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on how cluttered your system is. It is advisable to close all your programs and let it run in peace, so make sure you have ample time before you run BleachBit.

For me, the process helped me clear up to 60 GB of disk space and my Ubuntu 12.04 is running as snappy as a fresh install. Do give it a try to see the difference.

If you are unsatisfied with the boot time even after “bleaching” your system, open “Startup Applications” and disable any unwanted apps and services at startup.

Despite saying Ubuntu is my daily driver, I still have Windows 7 installed on my other partition, mainly for Microsoft Office and gaming purposes. Or when there’s a mainstream software I have to run on Windows, I would always have a safety net to fall back upon. If you’re looking to dual-boot Ubuntu 12.04 and Windows 7, I am afraid it’s not as straightforward as the previous versions, so you might want to check out this tutorial and follow every step closely.

How To Save Battery On Android

Before I start off the topic, just in case you are one of those who are due for a smartphone upgrade and pondering between HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S3 (most powerful Android phones to date), here is what I found from GSM Arena

Of course, just to be clear from the start, I am never a big fan of these tests; in fact I think that all of these numbers do not really matter when you put your phone under a real world usage. But it is good to know.

I am inspired to write this post because of my recent encounter with a memory optimizing app, which claims to be award-winning and not just a regular task-killer (well you can read it yourself here). But I have to really really warn you here: DO NOT use the app unless you really know what you are doing and are keen to do continuous testing. I did and I regretted installing that app. I should have known better about root apps and their implications before even testing out that app. Well I was desperate for battery life and willing to try out anything that might help; I mean who doesn’t want a better battery life?

To be fair to the developer of the AutoKiller app, it does what it says and does it so well that my phone was on the fly for the three days I was using it.

Well basically you have the liberty to set at which threshold should background processes start to get killed automatically

It might sound logical, by reading their “Help” page that all the processes they claim they’re killing are totally unnecessary to your phone usage. For example, I don’t have any crash or instability issues while using this app to fine-tune my Android memory management. I assume that if you are interested in such an app at some point you’re probably using an old Android phone with 512 MB of RAM and really wish to see some snappiness out of it.

I am using Samsung Galaxy W (review with CM9 ICS here). Single-core, 1.4 GHz CPU and 512 MB of RAM. While it doesn’t suffer from any lag, I certainly wished it would be more snappy. The downside I started to feel was that my battery was depleting much faster than before I used the app,  rather obviously. On the first day of using RAM optimizer, my battery went from 99% to 4% within 7 hours and a half with heavy usage of 3G (social networks, Flipboard, web browsing) and about 3 hours of music playback. Before using the app, with the same amount of usage I could get up to 9 – 10 hours of battery life under one charge (of course this is measured under very frequent use of the phone; with a couple of meetings in a day and a lot of idle time, my battery could go as high up to 16-18 hours).

So I wondered what was really the cause? I’d hate the idea of giving up using AutoKiller because it had made my phone so much faster (my Quadrant score was higher than literally most of the dual-core phones, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S2, Optimus 2X, you name it). But it has to be done so I tried to examine how it messed with my inner memory management. I used the Strict settings so it’d start killing background processes once the free RAM goes below 80 MB or so (see below for different settings).

As attractive as the app seems, I still wouldn’t recommend it; use at your own risk

It started to kill background processes aggressively in order to keep the phone running at 70, 80 MB of RAM and above. It may sound like it’s helping us save some juice because it is exactly what HTC One X set out to do in order to boost the device’s battery life.  However, due to how Android is designed, killed processes will come up again automatically into the background once I launched a different app or when CPU is sleeping so it has spaces to come back up. What it does is for the CPU cycles to be active even when the phone is not supposed to be using any power. Here it is important to understand that what causes battery drain the most in a smartphone are the CPU usage, 3G traffic, and screen time. More realistic battery saving tips include toning down your brightness to the minimum your eyes can accept, mess with your CPU settings (underclock to a much lower frequency) and so on. I realize every battery life saver comes at a cost. (Also read this article on a more detailed explanation of Android processes).

Currently my only battery saving tips are to use Juice Defender to manage 3G traffic and make myself comfortable reading at 30% screen brightness (instead of 50 in the past). And ever since I started running Cynogenmod ROM on my phone, I’ve stopped messing with the kernels and CPU settings, so it’s running at stock (245 MHz min, 1402 MHz max, INTERACTIVE). My observation with the RAM optimizer app mentioned above is not conclusive but I am pretty paranoid about such apps from now onwards and wish to make a conclusion that performance comes at a cost of battery life and vice versa. Which one are you willing to sacrifice? Your call! My best suggestion is to use Juice Defender (Google Play link) with the built-in Balanced settings (read more about the Settings on their website), which would disable 3G traffic when the screen is off, and pull updates every 15 minutes in the background, using minimum power). I also put a widget on my home screen, just in case I need my 3G to be on the whole time (e.g. having a Whatsapp chat or any app that requires consistent 3G even when screen is off).

Just in case you’re intrigued by battery consumption on Android, read this Engadget article about wakelocks as well as the comments. It is good to understand about wakelocks and how battery works exactly so that you can start diagnosing your battery drain issues. In future, I intend to release more of my findings and will start with battery charging tips in the next post. Stay tuned!

I believe Android does a pretty good job self-managing the RAM usage, best not to mess with it

Juice Defender app, the only app you need for your battery saving!