Long have I been a devout advocate of all that is not Apple, when the smartphone revolution began with Steve Jobs announcing the first iPhone, I already had my sights set on the -now a mere memory- Imate Jamin, I thought it looked cool with its matte black finish and big resistive touch panel with a whopping 240×320 resolution, also the promise of a Windows OS was very appealing.

I went from that to a Samsung F480 that my sister had bought me for my birthday, then to my first flavor of Android with the Samsung Galaxy S2, which I had fitted with a nice amount of custom roms/bios and have some articles on this blog for how to unbrick. It was a nice phone, I absolutely hated Samsung’s TouchWiz and swore not to get another Samsung until they got their shit together. My very next phone was a switch back to Windows Phone with the Lumia 920, which I wholeheartedly loved, but was ultimately let down by the lack of apps, I was not patient enough to stick through with Microsoft, not that that would have done me any good anyway. I stayed with mostly vanilla android devices afterwards, jumping from the Nexus 5 to the Nexus 6, to a OnePlus One, then a OnePlus Two, which were all very pleasant devices to work with, albeit having one common problem though, and it’s not the phones’ problems, and definitely not an Android problem, but it was a personal problem, I had gotten bored of how Android looks and works. I knew it inside out and yearned for a new challenge. I knew what I was thinking but did not want to admit it to myself, or to anyone.

So I set these taboo thoughts aside and stayed the course with my Android love, I bought myself a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, it was praised everywhere as the flagship phone to get with its curved edges and its sexy sleek design. TouchWiz had definitely improved over those 5 iterations, it became snappier, less filled with Samsung bloatware (AT&T made sure to counter that though), and mostly just nicer to look at.

But it was still there… That urge… That need to try something new, Android was becoming stale and there was a new announcement happening in the weeks to follow. One at Cupertino… So I went for it. I bought an iPhone 7 Plus.

Let me give a little more backstory, the only Apple devices I had ever owned were a circa 2009 Macbook Pro, which was fine, but compared to how customizable regular PCs are, it just fell flat on its face, specifically because I do love upgrading and customizing my computers. And a last gen iPod classic, the 160GB one, which still works, and that I still love and consider the best mp3 player to have ever existed. It was fast, it had my entire music library on there, and there was never a place I went to without it in my pocket.

Other than these two devices, I was an Apple hater, challenging the logic of every person buying an Apple device and just wondering why would they ever settle for less? Why wouldn’t they just buy an Android device with the same iPhone coming in year in and year out, with only mild surface changes? It’s like buying Call Of Duty on a yearly basis. What’s the point? It’s the same game.

Make no mistake though, I still feel the same way, the difference between the iPhone 6S and the iPhone 7 is laughable to say the least, it’s an incremental upgrade through and through, and the only noteworthy changes are the missing headphone jack, because that’s what courage is all about, and the new home button.

With that said, let me get back to my experience with an iOS device. Once I got the phone, before I opened it up, I started Googling how I can transfer my texts over from my SGS7 to my new shiny Apple device, this was always a pain for me, I love keeping my texts, I have texts from way back when I had my SGS2 four years ago. All I was able to find was a few dedicated apps that required you to connect to a PC. So I proceeded to unbox my phone first and thought I would get to the text transferring later, to my surprise, Apple already took care of that issue with their “move to iOS” app, installed on my SGS7 and transferred every last thing from that phone to my new one over the course of a couple of hours.

I then spent the next few days with my new phone, I was mesmerized, I wasn’t able to put it down, it was everything I wanted in a new phone, it was sleek, it was intuitive, and most importantly, a complete mystery to me. I had never used or owned an iPhone before, so for me, this was no incremental upgrade, it was a complete overhaul.

I started downloading apps upon apps, and discovering everything my new iPhone has to offer, the camera is stunning, the screen is absolutely fantastic, the force touch feature is something I never knew I’d be enjoying so much, the fingerprint sensor is SO much faster than my SGS7’s was, and man, are those speakers loud!

I will admit to missing a couple of things from my Android days though. I do miss the headphone jack, I don’t use wired headphones on my phones at all, I only use Bluetooth ones for when I go on a run and leave my audiophile music needs to my PC and my work laptop, however my car’s bluetooth is finicky at times, so now the option of connecting a 3.5mm jack into my phone is but a dream, also the ease of syncing an Android watch with an Android device is SO much easier than doing so with an iOS device. Or so my Moto360 would have me believe anyway.

I also miss the myriad of folder explorers on the Android store, there might be an Apple equivalent that I haven’t found but for now, I don’t have one.

And the last thing I miss about Android is that toast notifications aren’t persistent and can be dismissed by a swipe on either side. Apple, take note, don’t give me notifications that block the top part of the screen and that last for minutes on end unless I actively open and then close the notification.

So, there you have it, I love my iPhone, I think it’s a wonderfully built device that’s fantastic for newcomers to the Apple ecosystem, but extremely redundant if you have an iPhone 6 or 6S.


Nvidia (CES 2013)

CES 2013 kicks off on January 8th yet that doesn’t stop Nvidia from doing their press conference today, and sadly I didn’t know about it until a little towards the end of the press conference.


Nvidia talked first about a new software solution for the PC called GFE which was pretty interesting. What GFE does is evaluate your computer’s hardware and set the game video settings for you automatically so that you have a smooth 60FPS without fiddling with nasty video settings all the time. This is particularly useful for the gamer migrating from consoles to PCs and that has little to no experience with optimising their gameplay. You get an Xbox or a PlayStation game, you pop it in your console and you expect it to work just outside of the box, that’s not the case for the PC though, unless you have the absolute best of the best, chances are, you WILL have to fiddle with video settings in order to get a stable frame rate, GFE transports the console experience to the PC that way, it just sets everything for you, now I’m a little low on the details since I read a live blog of this part of the conference so forgive me for the lack of more details.

Next thing Nvidia talked about was Nvidia Grid, and this is basically their cloud gaming solution, didn’t read a bunch about it and didn’t catch it on the live stream, but I’m assuming it would be a more successful version of OnLive.

Onto the good stuff, Nvidia announced Tegra 4. Tegra 4 is Nvidia’s newest system on chip solution for handheld devices (phones, tablets, and whatnot -> “Whatnot” will be explained momentarily) it has a whopping 72 GPU cores along with 4 A15 ARM processors, that’s power right there! They showed off some tests and benchmarks with a tablet running Tegra 4 and other tablets, including Google’s Nexus 10 and the iPad 4, needless to say, the Tegra 4 tablet blew past everything.

Now to the REALLY good stuff. Nvidia built this up for a while in the press conference and it was damn worth it. Using the Tegra 4 as driving force, Nvidia unveiled the Nvidia Shield!


The Nvidia Shield is Nvidia’s attempt at a handheld gaming console, and a pretty interesting attempt at that. It runs pure Android, no skinning, they just didn’t mention the version though I’m guessing Jelly Bean 4.2, it is built around a Tegra 4 though no mention was made of other hardware specs, it also has a 720p retinal display mounted on it, and it’s shaped like a controller, which I think is pretty epic, I like the design a lot, reminds me of another old controller shaped gaming handheld, but that sadly didn’t make it big (Can you guess what handheld I’m talking about?).

Nvidia showcased Shield a bit, showing the software running, the Shield layer, though they said it was pure android so it must be just an application that connects to all the games and Tegra Zone, though it looks pretty clean. One of the things they showcased that was pretty amazing is how this handheld connects to TVs via HDMI, the Tegra 4 chip was able to drive a 4k resolution, and they showed that by running a few games on the handheld and on the TV simultaneously. They aslo demonstrated multiplayer via a game called Hawken which looked okay, frame rate was good, it ran smoothly.

What they showed off next though blew my mind! They connected Shield to a PC running Steam (After a while of trying to get Shield to recognise the PC, and failing, and trying again, but hey, they eventually got it!) and what they did next was pure magic, they streamed Steam onto Shield and from Shield to the TV, so basically, they eliminated the need for gaming consoles altogether. Imagine now yourself on the comfort of your couch, watching TV, when all of a sudden, you get the sudden urge of, oh, I don’t know, whacking random people with a thirty inch purple dildo, the conventional way of doing this was to get off your couch, go to your PC and start Saints Row: The Third, however, if you have a Shield nearby, you can just connect to your PC and you get all your Steam library on your Shield in the comfort of your couch, and if you connect your Shield to your TV, you can enjoy this PC gaming goodness on your TV without moving PC cases or anything! It’s absolutely beautiful! They showcased though Need for Speed Most Wanted and Assassin’s Creed III, both ran smoothly and amazingly!

No pricing has been mentioned, though if I were to guess I’d say a $300 price tag would be perfect for it hitting the sweet spot between gaming handheld and tablet, and since it runs Android, it will do what any tablet does, thus the advantage over your everyday gaming handheld.

Let me know what you folks think of this new innovation of Nvidia’s and whether you’ll be interested in purchasing one when it comes out or not!

UPDATE: Nvidia confirmed that Shield will run Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with an expected release of Q2 2013!

Trustious (Social Network) Review

Trustious is a social network start up made by my colleagues at the German University in Cairo that was founded in early 2012. It is currently in the alpha phase with registrations open exclusively for GUC students, since I’m one of the aforementioned students, I shall review this nice start up here.

Now let me start off by saying this, when I say social network, I don’t mean Facebook-esque network, or even Twitter, my first impression of it was actually that it is more of a Twitter/Foursquare hybrid (Fourwitter? Twitsquare?), but the more I used it after registering the more wrong I found out I was. In a nutshell, Trustious is web site which helps you decide where the best burger place in town is, or what people say of a certain novel, it’s more like the equivalent of ratings on Amazon products, but with places and pretty much everything! Pretty innovative since we need something like that in Egypt.

Interface wise, the website is VERY welcoming and clean, although a little sluggish, but that is understandable since it’s not even open for public yet. You are greeted with cards of different things on the website, as in the image below, and you get to read the opinions left by other members and can vote them up if they were helpful.

You can then browse for specific items when you click the categories icon up top, and you can tell that this website won’t stop at just being for restaurants! There are lots of categories to cater for every need.

To the top right of the page you have three buttons, the home button, a stream button, and the profile button, we already covered what the home looked like, and we’ll move on to the stream. It’s basically your list of trusted people’s activities on the website, be it new entries or opinions. I’ll get to “trusted people” in a minute.

Alternative for Facebook’s “friends” or Twitters “Followers” is Trustious’ list of trusted people, and while it is a nice concept, I think the way they tackled it wasn’t very nice, you can view the entire (yes, the entire) list of people registered on the website by clicking your profile and clicking on connect, now this doesn’t seem very nice, to me at least, is because, well, you have a list of everyone on the website! It somehow feels wrong. You can always search for a single person using the search bar.

You can edit your profile to show an avatar and a description of yourself, though for some reason my avatar wouldn’t be uploaded, but this is basically what your profile looks like.

And this is what another person’s profile looks like.

When someone thinks you gave a helpful opinion, you get a notification that tells you so, you can control what notifications you get in the settings screen.

Now that we’ve covered how the website looks like and what your profile does, let’s go into what this website is about. The website uses data added by the user to populate its database, I started out and there was already tons of entries, however I wanted to find out how to add stuff anyway, and that’s when my first issue came to light. There is no clear “add item” anywhere in the website, so I did a simple search of the item, it wasn’t there, but a nice little notification told me that I can add the item if it’s not there, much like how adding a place in Foursquare works.

Adding a new item is as easy as it gets, you’re only required to fill in a few fields and you’re good to go, unless you want to fill in more fields. I couldn’t however find an area to upload a picture of that new item.

Now where the website really shines is in its restaurants sections, why you ask? Because it’s the most active so far, restaurant profiles have restaurant menus in them, which is a really nice touch, and lots of opinions about the restaurant!

Lastly, adding an opinion is also very easy, you just go to the restaurant or item you want to add your opinion on and click on “express”, you’re then greeted with a nice simple box in which you write your opinion and give it a rating out of 100%.

All in all, I think this is a really promising start up, and the minor bugs that are present will surely go away by the time for public release.

How to fix a soft bricked Samsung Galaxy SII i9100

// Disclaimer: This guide is strictly for the i9100 and not any of the other Galaxy SII variants such as the i9100G.

If you were as unfortunate as I am and had your i9100 soft bricked for no apparent reason, don’t freak out, there is still hope.

As I was happily updating my rooted i9100 to the 4th build of SuperNexus, something very weird happened, my phone, after flashing the rom and doing everything as I usually do, restarted, and never got to booting, it was just stuck after the Siyah Kernel logo on a black screen, attempting to enter recovery again wasn’t paying off as I was just redirected into download mode (or Odin mode), I researched a little and came by this little handy article. Most, if not all of the information in THIS article will be attempting to make the reference article more accessible, I sincerely thank the writer of the original article for helping me bring my phone back from the dead.

To start off, let me first tell you what you will need (for a soft brick and this article, the rest is for a NAND rw corruption which can be read about in the original article mentioned above, consider only steps 1 and 2):

1*. Download your i9100 drivers from here, if you have Windows 7/8 and have connected your phone to your computer before, chances are, you won’t need them, I didn’t, but it doesn’t hurt to download them anyway.

2*. Download the i9100 recovery package (read: stock rom) from here (Gingerbread) or here (Ice Cream Sandwich), I personally used the Gingerbread rom, I would advise you to do the same, for now.

3. Download the stock kernel from here (Gingerbread) or here (Ice Cream Sandwich), according to the step above, each kernel should be used with its respective rom.

4. Download the bootloader for the Gingerbread version from here.

(the password for the Gingerbread files is: intratech@XDA) (Thanks to Lvl70PassWordMagician)

Extract the recovery package into a folder and you will find Odin inside of it. What you need to do now is start your phone in download mode by pressing simultaneously Volume Down + Home + Power, keep the pressed until you see a warning message asking you to press volume up to continue or down to restart, press Volume Up.

Open Odin on your computer, connect your phone, and the first square in the second row should turn yellow and say (0:[com#], where # depends on the USB). Make sure you have Auto Reboot and F. Reset Time ticked, only those, nothing else. Click on PDA and select the biggest file in your package folder which (in case of the Gingerbread) will be named “CODE_I9100XXKI3_CL577579_REV02_user_low_ship.tar.md5”, next click on phone and select the file that starts with MODEM, or this file to be more exact “MODEM_I9100XXKI3_REV_02_CL1062028.tar.md5”, finally click on CSC and choose the one with CSC in it, or this one: “GT-I9100-CSC-MULTI-OXAKI3.tar.md5”.

Now that everything is in place and your phone is connected and Odin can see it, click Start. After about 3 minutes you should be all done and the big square in the first row should be green and has “PASS!” written in it. Your phone will then restart into recovery, restore factory settings and clear the cache on its own, then it should restart once more, and voila! Your phone is back from the dead! As has mine!

UPDATE: Apparently it’s a Siyah related bug, after rooting my device again and re-installing SuperNexus Build 4 without Siyah, it booted normally, after flashing Siyah, soft bricked again.

UPDATE #2: After the third soft brick (in one day! Record?) I zeroed in on the issue, and it’s with SuperNexus’ Build 4, for some reason, it’s not playing nice with Siyah, I’m back to build 3 on Siyah 4.1.5 and it’s working like a charm!

Samsung Galaxy SII Custom Roms Overview

/* DISCLAIMER: DO NOT FLASH I9100 BUILDS ON I9100G OR ANY OTHER VARIANTS. Also, rooting voids your warranty, flashing custom roms kills bunnies, and overclocking can set the world to an early end. You have been warned. */

Hello, folks!

This here will be a general overview of all the I9100 roms I’ve tried since rooting. I’ll try not to be lazy and add screenshots for the newer ones including battery performance, quadrant, and vellamo scores.

GB based roms:

MIUI: The Gingerbread rom was my first custom rom, and stepping away from Touchwiz to MIUI was nothing short of marvellous to be honest, it was full of eye candy, although it wasn’t that much faster, it was a lot nicer. MIUI is basically a very heavily skinned Android rom, if all you want is having something eye appealing, the GB MIUI for all you GB users is definitely the way to go! It also had a lot more settings in the notifications area, and for you Arabic users, it has Arabic support as well! It also has a neat feature where you can make your own theme! Get it through here.

CM7: I didn’t use this rom a lot, since I didn’t like the stock look of Android’s Gingerbread, but I think CM7 was flashed with Siyah at the time, or another overclocking helping kernel because I could overclock from the settings menu with no external apps! Or maybe CM7 just supported OCing, who knows! You can’t go wrong with Cyanogenmod anyway, this is where you can get the latest stable build of CM7.

ICS based roms:

MIUI: When I updated to the ICS MIUI I was extremely disappointed to seeing some touchwiz lingering here and there, the dialer was Touchwiz’s, so is the notification area, which ultimately defeated the purpose of never using Touchwiz again, so I deleted it, that was the first ICS MIUI rom. However I recently ran the newest ICS MIUI and it was nice, laggy, but nice, no more Touchwiz lingering anywhere, the only complaint I had was that it looked the same as the GB MIUI with the exception of the settings menu, oh, and I think I forgot to mention that MIUI has no appdrawer, it’s iOS-ish in look really.

CM9: I spent a considerably long amount of time with CM9 ever since it released with the nightlies, following the RC builds, but I never got to getting the stable build since it was released after the Jellybean experimental releases were out, anyway, I wrote an extensive review of the rom over here where I cover the nightlies I’ve flashed on my phone and the first RC build. Stable build was released and you can find it here.

JB based roms:

Let me first start off by saying that Jellybean isn’t yet fully supported on i9100 devices since the mighty generous Samsung gods haven’t bestowed upon us, mortals, a JB rom yet. Until then, settling for AOSP roms ported from other devices is the best bet, although things aren’t buttery smooth yet, they are definitely faster than your fastest ICS or GB rom.

CM10: Again, extensive review of CM10 over here, I stopped using CM10 since the last few builds were crashing SO much it was downright irritating. Nightlies are over here.

Slim bean AOSP: Don’t expect a link here, I can’t remember the link for the version I used. Anyhow, it was a weird rom to say the least, it was, phablet like, everything was bigger, it wasn’t all bad though, it looked nice if you’re looking to see what your i9100 would look like stretched out.

SuperNexus build2: This is my current daily driver, it is VERY stable and smoother than CM10, I didn’t use it with its stock kernel, I have Siyah 4.1.1 flashed, and understandably it does make every thing smoother anyway and allows over clocking.

Battery as shown below lasts nicely, it should be known though that I underclock my phone to run at 900MHz, although the impact on performance is very negligible.

Quadrant scores are nice, maxing at 3640 when overclocked to 1.5GHz, OCing to 1.6 crashes Quadrant.

You can get it through here.

Resurrection Remix: I’ve heard a lot about this rom, and the way it was hyped up, though I have to say I was underwhelmed after a few days, the rom itself is big, huge, even, compared to other custom roms, it’s a 420 MBs rom, but it has its own custom installer (Aroma), with a lot of choices for modems, you can install either the CM10 kernel, or Siyah, you can choose to add multiple applications to your phone, including file explorers, music players, and launchers, though after that, it’s all downhill, the rom, crashes, a lot, even with the latest 3.8 update, I find the keyboard struggling to keep up with my typing, be it in Twitter or in the browser, this was also present in the previous version, and sometimes the phone itself gets extremely slow to the point of almost freezing, but not actually being frozen. Battery wise, it stacks up with most custom roms, 25~30 hours with average usage. I didn’t bother checking for Quadrant and Vellamo scores in fear that it might freeze again. This should not be a daily driver.

Siyah Kernel (tiny) review (v4.1Beta4)

I have seen the word “Siyah” thrown around a bit on the XDA forums, never really knowing what that was, and me being a bit lazy, I didn’t research it, until a friend of mine brought it up, and said he wanted to flash it but didn’t know how, so I decided to flash it myself and tell him (and all you good folks) the results!

Flashing the Siyah Kernel itself could not possibly be any easier, you just download the latest kernel from here (Make sure it’s the S2’s and not the S3’s), reboot into recovery, and flash it as you would a normal rom! I usually wipe both cache, and Dalvik cache, not sure if it’s necessary though.

After flashing you will notice how smoothly every thing is going, yes, even smoother than the stock CM kernel, a LOT smoother even! It has the potential to make the battery last even longer than your most battery saving settings since Siyah makes underclocking (and overclocking) a breeze! You have clock frequencies ranging from 100MHz to 1600MHz, and if you download ExTweaks as well, you can modify the voltages of, well, pretty much anything in your phone!

The latest Siyah also flashes CWM based touch recovery for you! So if you’ve been intending on switching to the touch recovery, this will do it for you! (It’s a lot prettier, if you’re wondering). The one thing that drains the battery, is the screen, which pretty much makes more sense than seeing “Android OS” on top of your battery drainage list, I still managed to have it last an entire day and 4 hours at 200MHz – 1200MHz which is the normal.

One thing to note though, after you flash a new rom, (in my case it was a new CM10 rom) make sure you re-flash Siyah as CM’s kernel replaces it.

Now the most epic feature of Siyah is its support for dual booting! This will pretty much allow you to install two custom roms (let’s say ICS and JB) and switch between them whenever you wish to! You can install a battery saving ICS one and the latest JB for example, or you can do like me, and dual boot MIUI v4 and CM10!

The process of dual booting itself is really easy, all it requires is patience, and a fully charged battery. All you need to do is basically make sure you have at least 2.5GBs free on your internal SD card.

1. You then have to download the other rom you want to flash (pretty obvious) and save it on either your internal or external SD card, won’t matter.

2. Reboot into recovery and go to Dual Boot Options.

3. Select Wipe 2nd ROM data/cache, this will take the longest, probably 7~10 minutes, so don’t freak out.

4. Go back outside, go to advanced, and select Wipe Dalvik Cache.

5. Now after you’ve done all that, select from Dual Boot Options “Install 2nd ROM from Internal SD card” if you’ve saved the other rom on your internal SD, or “Install 2nd ROM from External SD card” if you’ve saved it to your external SD.

6. Navigate to the secondary rom, flash it, reboot.

7. press the volume down or home key for secondary rom boot, don’t press anything for primary rom boot. TA DA!

Personally I didn’t really dual boot for anything other than geeking out, if you’ll do it for the same reason, you have my respect, if not, well, you still have my respect nevertheless.

Let me know what you folks think of Siyah, or of any other kernels out there, I’d love to try out some of your favorites and review them here! Have a good day, folks!

UPDATE: Overclocked the phone today to 1600MHz and the minimum to 1500MHz through ExTweaks, kept crashing, A LOT! Though when I lowered the maximum to 1500MHz and the minimum to 1000MHz it didn’t crash, though the battery was draining in front of my eyes, which was admittedly, a bit surreal. Anyway, Benchmarks time!

Quadrant read a nice back to pace 3065, which was very nice to see, after all the 2xxx’s I’ve had over the past few CM9/10 roms with their stock kernels.

Vellamo, however, read a 19xx score! Which is almost an all time high for my humble Galaxy SII! Psyched? Indeed I am, good folks! Flash away, now!

Cyanogenmod 10 Review (Updated to build 20120815)

Jellybean! Google’s latest sugar coated Android offering! And it has already been ported to other Android devices! My galaxy SII being one of them, thanks to the great Codeworkx and team Hacksung! This sugar coated flavour comes to us GSII users in the guise of Cyanogenmod 10! Now most of my readers will know how much I love CM over other custom roms out there, like MIUI for instance, it’s simply for how much CM sticks to the stock Android look, and seeing as I, along with many others, I’m sure, have suffered so much at the hands of Touchwiz, and don’t really want an iOS-ish look, Cyanogenmod saved the day!

Onto the good stuff. You can download the build I’m currently using on my phone here and of course the Google Apps over here. To start this off, I’m not responsible for any damage/bricking that may occur to your phone, though it’s a very VERY low possibility that it almost never happens unless your battery dies out midway through flashing a rom or something, it’s still a possibility! I also read on the original post by Codeworkx on XDA that you should have ICS bootloaders before flashing CM10, basically, have CM9 first, do a full wipe, all cache wipe, and flash this bad boy.

And now, the review (Yay!).

Let me first and foremost remind you all that this is an experimental build, not even a nightly build, so it is basically allowed to have bugs, though I am yet to find any, which is incredible for an experimental! This rom here is as stable as CM9’s RC2, if not better (It actually IS better). The OS feels smooth all over, thanks to Google’s Project Butter which completely eliminates the Android lag we have all grown accustomed to, this basically means that the one thing iOS users have been bragging about, is no longer a brag point. Scrolling through the screens and the apps is a joy, I honestly just open the phone to scroll through it meaninglessly just to enjoy how smooth it is! The notification bar has a new look now as well, also when you drag it down, it dims the background, like a curtain, and brightens while pulling back up. Speaking of the notification bar, we have expanded notifications now! Yay!

Also when you set app defaults, like for viewing pictures, or whether you want the phone or skype to make the phone calls, this stuff, well, they changed that a bit.

It’s not that big of a change, but it’s nicer that way in my opinion.

Google’s voice search! Oh how I love it! Let me ease your minds first, it is lightyears ahead of Samsung’s S Voice, so, no, you didn’t miss out by passing on the SIII, it’s almost as accurate as Siri, but it doesn’t launch apps yet, and you can’t tweet/update your Facebook status from it, not yet at least. But you can make calls and send messages from it. It also has a nice feature called “Cards”, it’s basically, well, cards.

Now that we’re done with the UI stuff, let’s delve a little under the hood. As I mentioned before, the OS feels A LOT smoother than ICS, though Quadrant and Vellamo don’t seem to think so, but hey, if it’s making the experience more pleasurable, who am I to judge by the numbers?

The numbers though ARE higher than CM9’s RC1 though a lot lower than the first few CM9 nightlies I’ve flashed. I should mention that I’m keeping the processor at stock speeds, I didn’t overclock the phone yet, I was keeping it running at 1200MHz throughout the benchmarking for optimum results.

The battery life was tested with heavy usage in mind, and some mild usage in between, and it lasted a nice day and a few hours! Wifi was on most of the time with screen brightness set to max since I was outside most of the day, and the benchmarks were done in that battery cycle as well, while showing some of my friends CM10, so they toyed around with it testing and stuff, hindering the battery cycle even more, for it to last a day with that much usage was really nice! I think with mild to almost no usage, it would last around 2 or even 3 days!

One single disadvantage I encountered was that the connection drops frequently, a simple reboot though fixes it.

And that’s it for my CM10 review, I think it’s outstanding, very fitting for day to day use albeit being in experimental status, I won’t be flashing back to ICS at all, and again, much thanks to Codeworkx for bringing this to life as soon as he did!

Let me know what you folks think of the rom if you flashed it, if you have any questions feel free to leave them down there and I will do my best to answer you all! Have a nice one, folks!

UPDATE: This build is, hands down, the smoothest version of Android I have personally ever used, it is amazingly responsive, and I haven’t yet encountered any experience hindering bugs, the build brings back Trebuchet as the launcher though, so you WILL see your desktops reset, but then again, Trebuchet is a really nice launcher, so, win-win. Quadrant shows a score of 2175, Vellamo a score of 1257. A new system settings menu has been added, “Hardware options” which allows you to enable custom actions on your button presses. I’ll update this post again if I encounter any bugs, for now though, this really is the nicest JB build out there! After a day of usage, I can also say that the battery life is a lot better than the older build!

UPDATE: Latest experimental build, now I did not test this build thoroughly, though basic stuff works fine, that includes -but not limited to- phone, messaging (I think), camera, video camera, data, wifi, and all buttery goodness! Also, I know you like numbers, and I like this build’s numbers so much I let out a loud “HOLY CRAP” at the beach, and when my friends asked what I was surprised at, I told them, and, well, suffice to say, I was labelled the trips ultimate dork/geek. But I care not for the earthly amusements of theirs! It is numbers we seek, and it is numbers we shall get!

Quadrant gave an absolute all time high. (I should mention that I’m also running Siyah Kernel, and this was made while having the phone overclocked to a max of 1.5GHz and min of 1.0GHz)

Vellamo as well gave an all time high. Same overclocking.

The 20120815 build, while good as benchmarks, does have frequent crashes, annoyingly frequent that is. Another weird thing that has happened as well, both Apollo and Gallery have switched to showing the media stored in the external SD card, not the main memory, and I can’t find a way to switch it back.  I would advise NOT flashing this build mainly due to the frequent crashes, unless you want to show off the benchmark numbers that is.

Sony to acquire Gaikai!

So as I was idly looking through my twitter feed this morning, I noticed a post from IGN (and Gamespot as well) that Sony has purchased the cloud gaming giant, Gaikai, for, well, 380 million dollars, weird since Sony wasn’t making much in the way of money as of some recent console launch and them losing money and all…

Now this alliance was heavily rumored in the not so distant past, a little before 2012’s E3, now as to why I fear this will cause a LOT of gamers to turn away from Sony should they implement cloud gaming as the main medium in the next PlayStation is this: Basically, not everywhere has internet connections as fast as light, over here in Egypt, the premium is considered the 8 Mbit downlink connection, and while cloud game services such as OnLive state that the minimum is 4 Mbit, I had slight lag in Super Street Fighter 4 on a 20 Mbit connection in philadelphia, now imagine how an 8 Mbit connection can possibly do any better. And that’s the premium, most households here still run on 512 Kbit/s connections – 2 Mbit/s connections which is no where near what is minimum to smoothly stream a video game.

As to why I think Sony might implement this, at least partly (which will be a lot better and I’ll explain why later) is that rumors have been floating around a lot about a block of used games on next generation consoles, wouldn’t this be much easier to implement if the games were bought on the cloud as OnLive does? Certainly! You will never be able to trade in your used games ever again, your friends won’t ever be able to borrow a game of yours, or you borrow one of theirs, and the next gen console makers will reign supreme in their thrones made of money and wasted hopes of game sharing! Okay, that might have been a bit of a stretch, but the point stands. Because of the bandwidth reasons mentioned before, most people in Egypt, and other countries with similar internet issues won’t stand a chance. However, if Sony played this right and just implemented the system alongside the current one, it will prove very beneficial to them. Think of it this way, you get the choice of either buying and downloading a certain PSN game to your PlayStation, OR, you buy the game and stream it instantly! With no waiting what so ever! Wouldn’t that be nice? What would also be even nicer is if you buy a PSN game and you install said game on your console, however, let’s say you sold that console, moved somewhere with a really nice connection, with the same purchase, you can stream the game instead of downloading it! Kind of like getting to versions of the game without actually buying two versions of the game, since it’s essentially the same game, the same price, just a different delivery method! Of course this would also be extended to demos as well.

That’s basically my two cents concerning the issue at hand, let me know what you folks think below!


Digtal game downloads, are they better than physical discs?

I was very recently faced off with a choice of either saving some cash and buying a game off of the PlayStation Network Sony Entertainment Network , or getting the physical disk for the game, since here in Egypt, PlayStation 3 games are grotesquely overpriced, the best prices I have personally found are those in this website (Which offers great service, and the one co-owner I have met of this whole investment was very friendly, and a gamer himself), although a look at the prices there, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 costs a whopping $42, while in Gamestop, it only costs $20 (though new games cost normally $3 to $5 more) but I wouldn’t personally blame the guy, you have taxes added, shipping costs, and the guy has to have some sort of commission from the sales, else he would just be a delivery man. Anyway, with this rather long and boring introduction said, I’ll get back to the point I started.

So I decided on buying Infamous 2 from the PSN, for $50-$55 (I can’t really remember how much), and all the “retailers” in Egypt were selling it for 420 EGP (which is roughly $70, not taking in consideration the website I had mentioned before, didn’t know of it yet, also not taking in consideration Virgin Megastores, which, and I am typing this still in disbelief, are selling Skyrim for 600 EGP, which is exactly $100, the price for the special edition! And the edition they’re selling is the standard one!), anyway, I bought a couple of PSN cards from Amazon (back when they sold digital ones), recharged my PSN wallet, and went on to purchase Infamous 2 (which was great by the way!), after the purchase was completed, and I tried convincing myself to get excited about having purchased a new game (you know, that initial excitement when you go out of the game store, with your new game in hand, I was trying to emulate that… Didn’t work), and I was greeted with a behemoth of a download file, a 15GB file, which was probably the biggest file I had to download in my life, but I thought my internet connection was fast enough, and it actually could have been worse! Well, let’s just say I tried several times to kick myself in the nuts afterwards.

Since here in Egypt, having a 1Mbit down-link connection is considered among many a premium, a 2Mbit connection would be out of this world! And that’s what I have at home, sadly, that meant a maximum of 240KB/s download rate, now imagine this “lightning fast” internet connection, downloading a 15000000000 KBs file… Took me almost 24 hours! And that’s not the best part! Here’s what happened next, after the download was finished, and I was again excited to play the sequel to one of my favorite games, I remembered that there would be the install time, which seemed to take awfully longer than it should have, so, optimistic as I am, I restarted my console, tried installing the file again, nothing, contacted Sony’s twitter account, and the guy who replied told me that I should re-download the file… Yeah, apparently people outside of Egypt don’t know how frustrating it is downloading a file that big, but then again, the dude helped, and for this I thank him.

So there I was, 24 hours in and no Cole Macgrath, I started the download again, another day went by, and the game was finally downloaded, installed in almost an entire hour, but worked fine that time.

Now onto another story, I purchased Half Life 2: Episode 1 off of Steam a few months ago, but didn’t install it, went to Philadelphia a month ago, tried installing it on the 30Mbit down-link connection I was using, and the game downloaded in 15 minutes I think, 20 minutes later I had downloaded both x64 and x86 variations of Windows 8’s Consumer Preview (Why both? I was happy with the download speed!)

So, in a nutshell, should you consider purchasing full retail games digitally? Well, if you’re living in the US, hell no! Nothing matches the feeling of owning a physical object that you have paid for, and almost always digital versions of games are priced at the same price tag of their physical counterparts, except for the PlayStation Vita, but Sony made up for that with making ridiculously expensive proprietary memory cards! (Don’t you just love Sony?) If you’re anywhere else in the world, say for example, the United Kingdom, I would actually urge you to consider it, simply because the British consumer gets ripped off on prices, if you’re British, you should definitely consider making a US PSN account and buy games off of it, you’ll save, A LOT! And lastly, if you’re, like me, from Egypt, or anywhere else where an internet connection of 256Kbit is still existent, then by all means go for the physical version, the few dollars you’ll save aren’t that much in the face of the frustration you’ll be facing.

Let me know what you folks think of this issue in the comments section below.

Cyanogenmod 9 Review (Updated with CM9.0.0 RC1)

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, the whole “custom roms” thing, since I finally got the guts and rooted my Galaxy SII. And ever since then I tried exactly two custom roms, MIUI and Cyanogenmod, now the reason I’m reviewing CM and not MIUI is very simple, I was lazy. Anyway, onto the review!

I initially made the switch from MIUI since their ICS version wasn’t all that stable, nor was it really usable on a day to day basis, the lockscreen wouldn’t function correctly, the device was overall slower than the Gingerbread version, and it all just didn’t feel nice. So based on a couple of recommendations from a few friends, I decided to give Cyanogenmod a go, and let me tell you this, I was scared shitless of bricking my phone with all the custom rom installations, but after I got the hang of it, I was switching out roms like there’s no tomorrow! I also tried the Gingerbread CM7 but I didn’t like it all that much, the ICS flavor was a lot nicer.

The thing about Cyanogenmod is that it looks almost exactly the same as the stock Android, so if you want that stock Android experience, especially that the stock ICS is VERY sexy and hot, then I strongly suggest going with the nightly build I’m reviewing right now (which is CM9 Nightly build 20120322, since it’s stable enough for day to day use). Now this has all the ICS goodies Google were so kind to bestow upon us, including Face unlock, the new task manager, and the very nice browser wheel thingy! Oh, and it supports Arabic! Finally! MIUI didn’t, my stock Touchwiz android didn’t, but now I can finally read Arabic tweets!

Onto the battery life! And I can say with absolute certainty that it. is. fucking ridiculous! seriously! compared to what I used to get before rooting, 3 days and some hours is insane! This was an average to low usage, with me overworking the processor at times, and doing the occasional benchmark, because, you know, you only get the idea to do these things when you’re leaving the phone on the side… Scumbag brain…


Speaking of benchmarks, here you will see two benchmarks, first is Quadrant, now what I did here, is set the processor to work on full load (Yeah, you can actually do that in CM9! But you can’t overclock without extra tools, unlike CM7) and just blasted away the benchmark, and this is what I got! before CM9, or actually, before rooting entirely, I got a 3200 score, now I know a 297 jump isn’t exactly THAT huge a jump, but it’s still a difference, and it proves that TouchWiz was somewhat hogging my phone’s potential.


The other benchmark here is Vellamo, a mobile web benchmark that evaluates browser performance and other stuff, and as you can see here, my dual core GSII beat the quad core Asus Transformer Prime, albeit by a very small margin, but a win is a win! Which further proves the advantage in performance I gained from Cyanogenmod.


The only issue I have with this version of CM is that the video camera doesn’t work, at all, when you start recording, it crashes, but everything else works just fine.

This whole rooting, custom roms thing is very new to me, since the GSII is my first Android phone, and again, I was scared shitless when I was doing this stuff the first time, especially since I had a couple of issues rooting the phone at first. Let me know what you folks think of Cyanogenmod and MIUI, and if you have suggestions for other custom roms, let me know!

UPDATE: Flashed a newer Nightly (20120402), fixed the video cam issue, records normally in fullHD now, scored 3555 on Quadrant, and scored 1569 on Vellamo, I don’t exactly remember how much the older rom scored, but I know it was closer to 1400.

UPDATE: Flashed the newest Nightly (20120625), AVOID THIS NIGHTLY! Highly unstable, lots of issues with the dialer, the “1” key hangs as if pressed and any other press is considered a multitouch press and swipes the dialer away, along with frequent network connection losses, all the other stuff seems to be working fine though. Mainly all of the Nightlies prior to (20120402) have lower Quadrant and Vellamo scores, significantly lower, Quadrant doesn’t pass the 2900 mark, and Vellamo at best reads 1100.

UPDATE: RC IS RELEASED! Yay! Get it through here. So far, the dialing lag is there, also the notification bar doesn’t show notifications, the rest though isn’t there, very stable, everything I’ve tested seems to be working fine, although Quadrant reads a disappointing 2371 and Vellamo reads 1100. It’s still completely bad ass though, very smooth and stable, highly recommended!