Alternative App Stores for Linux

"It's clean, sleek, and does what it says on the tin; however, as a FOSS enthusiast you might be looking for something different. If that's the case, then we have for you a list of alternative app stores for Linux that will help you get the software you need instantly."

Android 4.4 vs. iOS 7

"The reason both iOS and Android are the top is solely because of their amazing operating systems. That's why no Apple vs. Android fight is complete without a comparison between their operating systems. So, here we are with a sweet comparison between Android 4.4 KitKat and iOS 7."

How to Install Netflix on Linux

"As omnipresent as Netflix is, it is not officially available on Linux yet. Thankfully, though, developers have come up with unofficial versions of the app. In this article, we'll show you ways to get Netflix working -- using these unofficial versions -- on your Ubuntu or Fedora desktop."

Ubuntu Phone OS vs. Mozilla Firefox OS

"Other minor players are also emerging; however, the ones most people are watching out for are Ubuntu Phone OS and Mozilla Firefox OS. These two operating systems, which offer completely different approaches to mobile computing, are almost ready to cause a disruption in the mobile market. But which one is the better of the two? Well, let's find out."

Get the Flat UI Look on Your Ubuntu Desktop

"If you're a Linux user, you might have noticed that your Ubuntu setup doesn't really live up to the flat trends. While some elements of Nautilus have moved in that direction, it isn't really the "look" you're looking for. Thankfully, in the Linux world, there's an answer to your every prayer."

Steam's release followed by the announcement of Steam OS was an unexpected boon for the slow growth of gaming on Linux. Both the developments were major milestones when it comes to Linux's recognition as a commercially viable gaming platform. Be it Left 4 Dead or Portal, Linux is no longer the operating system for nerds. It has truly gone mainstream.

Steam is now on the Ubuntu Software Center and more and more games being added to the catalog every week. As good as it sounds, only a few AAA titles are being released on Linux. This means that if you are a Call of Duty, Assassins Creed, or a Battlefield lover, Linux isn't ready yet for turning your PC into a full-blown gaming machine. But don't worry; there are signs that this might change. In fact, there are some upcoming games that might actually make you excited about building a new Linux-based gaming rig. So, without much ado, here are 5 exciting games soon to be available for Linux:


Metro 2033: Metro

Last Light was probably one of the biggest titles to arrive on Linux. After all, it was a game with 80+ Metacritic rating, stunning graphics, and a highly engaging storyline. The prequel to the title, called Metro 2033, will also be available on Linux. Metro 2033 Redux is already listed for pre-order on Linux and will be available for purchase in Summer 2014.

The game is a survival-horror title based on a popular novel by Dmitry Glukhovsky. Developed by 4A games, the plot moves from the perspective of Artyom who has to survive in the post-apocalyptic metro stations of Moscow. The game heavily relies on darkness to make the gaming experience even more immersive. Moral choices at important plot points determine the endings of the game.



Total War: Rome II

Rome II is a strategy game that was the eighth title in the ever-popular Total War series. Released in 2013, this game has received heavy critical acclaim for its engaging battles and realistic graphics. With 76/100 score on Metacritic, Total War: Rome is probably one of the biggest titles to arrive on Linux. Whether or not the port will be good that's another question, but this game for sure might make the penguinland an exciting arena for game developers.



Unreal Tournament Series


Probably one of the most popular FPS games of all times, Unreal Tournament is known for its fast-paced action and competitive deathmatches. Developed by Epic Games, this title is probably one of the biggest games to come to Linux. According to recent reports, the next installment of Unreal Tournament will be free and will also be available on Linux. The popular title is an arena FPS with head-to-head multiplayer deathmatches being its typical specialty. There are five other type of matches you can play with your friends online or on a LAN network making this game dangerously addictive.



Age of Wonders 3

Age of Wonders 3 is an amazing turn-based strategy game that was recently released on Windows. Developed by Triumph Studios, this game involves the player taking up the role of a leader who sets out to explore the world interacting with other races and kingdoms in order to expand his empire. According to a recent discussion on Steam forums, the developers have hinted at a possible port of the title on Linux. While the possibility of this happening seems highly positive, a lot of waiting might be needed to actually get your hands on this title. 



Portal 2

While the game is still in beta, this is another big title that's coming to Linux. What's great about Portal 2 is that it is an evergreen game that just never refuses to grow old. For those living under a cave, Portal 2 is a puzzle-based strategy game that is a follow-up to the ever-popular title Portal. The game has superb pacing along with some hilarious dialogues that keep you engaged in an exciting gaming experience. Since being in beta, it won't take a lot of waiting till you get your hands on this one. For science!



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Best Android Apps for Disney Fans

Posted by jun auza On 7/25/2014
Disney movies have the uncanny ability to make us laugh, cry, and dance with joy at the same time. Whether you are a young kid or an adult, these films have a special place in many people's hearts. Apart from winning many Oscars, these movies have garnered fans across all generations. From overbearing grandmas to unapologetically brash kids, Disney movies are so irresistible that they can make anyone laugh or cry. That's why today we have for you a list of some of the best Android apps out there that are made for Disney fans.


Nemo's Reef

Nemo's Reef is a great application for fans of the movie Finding Nemo. The aim of the game is to help Nemo and his dad build the coolest reef out there. For building that home, you'll need to collect some awesome decorations, plants, and fish. In this journey toward building a better home, you get to meet Nemo and his friends including Dory, Gill, Bloat, and Bubbles. Overall, it's a fun game wherein you get to build something really cool. 



Where's My Water?

Where's My Water is a hugely popular Disney game that is played even by people who are not a part of the horde of Disney fans. The game features challenging, physics-based puzzles that keep you engaged for hours. With over 4 unique storylines featuring Swampy, Allie, Cranky and Mystery Duck, Where's My Water is a game that provides an innovative new gaming experience for kids as well as adults.

The basic premise of this game is simple, Swampy the Alligator lives in the sewers under the city, but unlike other alligators, this one simply loves taking a nice long shower after a hard day at work. However, the recent trouble with the pipes has forced Swampy to ask for your help in getting him his shower back. Overall, it is a fun game that you can play for hours no matter how old you are. 



Disney Memories HD

If you missed out on your Disney World trip, this next app is just what you need. Once installed, it allows you to pose with your favorite Disney stars without paying a lot of money for the plane tickets and entrance fee. Be it Mickey Mouse or Goofy, instead of indulging yourself in pointless selfies, this app lets you create a perfect Disney World experience right from the smartphone. Simply snap a pic of yours and add the filters you need to create a complete magical moment. Once you are done, you can share the pic on Twitter or Facebook.



Where's my Mickey?

Where's My Mickey? is a physics-based game where you help Mickey Mouse find water to open his own lemonade stand. The game comes with 5 unique episodes that use realistic weather effects to simulate rain, wind, and clouds. With over 100 levels to play from, the game is free but requires you to pay an additional fee for some extra features. Overall, this is a well-done game by Disney that engages the player at every level.



Disney Hidden World

For the die-hard Disney fans, this one is a treat. The purpose of this title is to make you find hidden objects from popular Disney movies like Beauty and the Beast, Tangled, Aladdin, Brave, The Little Mermaid, and more. As you keep playing the game, the difficulty keeps increasing making it harder to find the objects. However, if you have watched a lot of Disney movies, you won't have any trouble spotting them. 



Toy Story: Smash It!

With 15 levels of puzzle-based gameplay, this next title is a great experience for Toy Story fans. The game has 70 challenging levels and comes with 5 episodes, which you can enjoy for hours at a stretch. After each level, much like in Angry Birds, you get a star rating, thus allowing you to replay each level till you get good at it. Overall, it is a fun, imaginative adventure even for those who haven't seen the movie.



Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate. 

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While we maybe living in a post-PC era, there is no denying the fact that the desktop OS still matters. Mac OS X is an operating system that is still ahead of Ubuntu when it comes to the race towards the number one desktop. Apple knows that, and that is why they seem to have put a lot of work in making Mac OS X 10.10 "Yosemite"  as good as their mobile operating system, which is iOS. The goal here is convergence. Apple wants to build an ecosystem in which the desktop, the mobile, and the wearable operating systems work seamlessly together in harmony. This is the same thing Microsoft is aiming for and so is Google. And yes, Shuttleworth's brainchild Ubuntu is shooting for the same thing by working really hard on the next iteration of the open-source OS. But, with all these efforts, can Canonical match up with its competition?

Well, it can if it takes some of the great things its competitors are doing. Both Apple and Google are known for "borrowing" each other's ideas. If Canonical does a bit of that, its desktop might be able to reach a whole new level. So, if you are an Ubuntu fan wanting some of the best things from Apple's latest Yosemite on your desktop, here is a list of few things Canonical can steal or copy from Cupertino right away.

1. Improved Search

While there are many speculations as to whether Apple copied the latest Spotlight search feature from Ubuntu's Dash, it is still a feature that will take desktop search to a whole new level. Searching on Ubuntu works like a charm. You enter in the query and results show up from both online as well as offline sources. Having said that, it lacks the same intuitiveness as Spotlight. Search is sometimes erroneous and the Dash taking over the whole screen to search feels a bit "heavy". We hope Canonical refines Ubuntu's search even further so that it matches the quality offered by Spotlight both in terms of speed as well as the accuracy of results.


2. Airdrop-like File Transfer

Airdrop is an amazing feature that lets users transfer files between your computer and other devices in the same network. The feature is further tweaked and polished in Yosemite, making it even better. Ubuntu currently lacks a user-friendly way of transferring data between two computers. We hope Canonical takes some ideas from Apple and comes up with a nice way of connecting devices in the same network.


3. Powerful File Explorer

In Yosemite, Apple updated finder with features like tags to help users find their content better. While Ubuntu doesn't need an exact replica of Finder, it does need a better and more organized Nautilus. Ubuntu's default file explorer is simple and gets the job done pretty well. However, with the humongous amounts of files on our desktop, a little more organization is the need of the hour. What Nautilus needs is a blend of Windows Explorer and Finder's best features. Maybe a set of libraries that can be created by users according to specific search criteria.


4. Improved Notifications

The notifications in Ubuntu are really pretty, in fact, much prettier than those on Windows. However, they barely measure up to what Apple's offering in Yosemite. They are not distracting, provide the information you just need, and pull up vital data from the applications you are using already. If somehow Canonical manages to improve the existing notifications, we'd have a superb desktop.


5. Smartphone Integration

While Ubuntu for Android seemed like an ambitious endeavor when it was announced, we're yet to hear any developments in this arena. Apple, and even Google, are aiming for convergence and have almost already achieved it. Apple with Continuity has managed to bridge the gap between smartphone and desktop even further. Lazy Ubuntu users like us are dying for something similar to that, which helps them connect their phones to their desktops. This will at least, eliminate the need to get up and pick up the phone all the time.


6. Better Mail

While Thunderbird pretty much does the job on Ubuntu, it is still lacking in many areas. Canonical can take cue from Apple and come up with a better and more integrated mail application that blends in well with the rest of the desktop.


7. Dedicated Calendar Application

Yosemite features a gorgeous-looking calendar application that helps you keep up with your day's appointments. It is about time Ubuntu users got a dedicated calendar application that possibly ties up with Google Calendar as well.


Conclusion

While Ubuntu doesn't necessarily need to "steal" features from Apple, but it does need to look at what its competitors are doing. Taking a few ideas from the Cupertino might help Canonical take its desktop to a whole new level.


"Ultimately it comes down to taste. It comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those things in to what you're doing. I mean Picasso had a saying he said good artists copy great artists steal. And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas." -- Steve Jobs


Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

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Best Fitness Apps for Google Chrome and Chrome OS

Posted by jun auza On 7/18/2014
Having to keep track of your daily eating habits is quite a task. Oh, and there is those tedious workouts that you have to do. Being healthy is such a bore, isn't it? Don't worry, even the healthiest of people hate getting out of bed and going to the gym. Yep, that's true. Fitness isn't a pleasant experience, it's hard work and yes, hard work for some people is boring.

As prolonged tech junkies, we are used to having shortcuts or little apps here and there that help us cut our job in half, in other words, keep us lazy. We have apps for self-diagnosing, for reserving our table at a restaurant, and even ordering the menu. Just press a button and your job is done.

In this world of 'click-and-buy,' it is understandable how hard it is to not be lazy. So, if you are someone who wants to get fit and wants to do it the quick way, what to do? Well, there is actually an easy way! Thanks to many apps and extensions that are out there you can keep track of your fitness right from your Chrome desktop or your Chrome browser.


Bodbot

Bodbot is an application that serves as your own personal assistant. Designed specially for people who either can't afford a gym or don't have to join one, Bodbot helps you personalize your exercise as well as nutrition. Once installed, Bodbot will get to know your goals very well. So whether you want to lose fat or gain some muscle, Bodbot will create personalized plans for you depending on what your needs are. From the weight of your dumbbells to the amount of sodium in your diet, it is amazing how detailed this app is. If you are a Chromebook user and a fitness freak, Bodbot should be your first choice as far as fitness apps go. 



Bloody Weight

Bloody Weight is a simple app that lets you record your body weight and keep a track of it on a daily basis. Nothing fancy in the UI or in the features department, this little app is great for getting a bird's eye view of your weight-loss progress. If a neat calendar and a graph is all you need to keep track of your fitness, Bloody Weight is a perfect solution for you.

Diet Diary

Fitness is not just about going to the gym and working out for hours. It's also about keeping track of what you eat and how much you eat. If you are lacking some focus in the latter part, Diet Diary is just the app you need. Once installed, Diet Diary will help you log the foods you eat, the exercises you do, and the water you take in order to create your complete fitness profile. The app shows you charts for daily, weekly, and monthly averages for weight, water consumed, calories consumed and exercise minutes. Overall, the app comes with four trackers: Food tracker, Exercise tracker, Weight tracker, and Water tracker. If you are someone who is looking for a free app that helps take complete control of your fitness then Diet Diary should be your best bet.



Lose It!

Lose It! is a free Chrome application that helps you create a personalized plan to track your food, exercise, and weight loss. With a built-in calorie tracker, Lose It! serves as a fabulous tool to help you get an idea of how many calories you take and how many you burn. One of the distinct features about this app is that it also lets you add sport activities so that you can subtract the number of burned calories from your chart. If you are using the app on mobile, it will also let you scan barcodes so that you won't miss out on tracking the foods you just bought from the supermarket. It is a great app to go for if you are calorie conscious. 



Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.
 
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5 Games You Can Play from Your Linux Command Line

Posted by jun auza On 7/14/2014
When it comes to gaming, Linux has taken major steps forward. What once was a deserted island for gamers has now become a growing arena for both gaming fans as well as game developers. With each passing week, we see more and more gaming franchises debuting on this platform. Thanks to the massive investment of Steam in Linux, you can now have a full-fledged gaming experience without booting up your Windows installation.

That said, Linux was once, and still is, the ultimate playground for geeks. While many are busy fighting wars in the latest Call of Duty game, a true Linux fan can be seen having as much fun, if not more, playing an old-school command-line title. For the fans who lean towards the latter category, we have a list of some of the finest command-line games out there for Linux. If you are not a geek, though, don't worry. We have included instructions for you to start playing these games right away.

To get started, open the terminal by searching for it in the Dash or by using the combination (Ctrl + Alt + T) if you are using the Ubuntu desktop.


1. Worm

Ever had an old-school Nokia phone? I'm sure most of you have had one. If yes, then you might remember those good old days when you spent hours playing the legendary game Snake. What a game that was. With the growth of smartphones, sadly, those days are over. Now you have Temple Run, Angry Birds, Flappy Bird and many other titles. However, if you are a true Snake fan, you know nothing comes even close to that game. If we have made you mildly nostalgic, don't worry, because the first game in this list is the closest you'll get to playing Snake. Worm is a fantastic command-line game that will keep you hooked for hours. Just type in or paste the following command in your terminal to install the game:

sudo apt-get install bsdgames

Then, type the command "worm" in your terminal and enjoy!



2. Tetris
 
Oh! The beloved Tetris! One of the most popular games of the 80's and 90's was tetris. Those brick-sized video games were capable of keeping kids and adults hooked for hours. Released in 1984, this Russian tile-matching puzzle game has sold more than 170 million copies worldwide and ranks second in IGN's list of 100 Greatest Video Games of All Time. With this awesome game, you can't help but keep yourself addicted for hours. To install Tetris in your command-line, use the following command:

sudo apt-get install bsdgames

Then launch the game by typing the command "tetris" without the quotes and enjoy.



3. Space Invaders

Save the space from aliens in this ever-popular game. Released in 1978, Space Invaders was a phenomenon back then, and probably still is. The aim of this title is to defeat waves of aliens with a laser cannon to earn as many points as possible. To install the game on your computer, simply type in the following command:

sudo apt-get install ninvaders

Then launch the game by typing in "ninvaders" in your command line.



4. Backgammon

One of the oldest two-player board games out there, Backgammon has been played for as long as 5000 years. Unlike Chess, though, this game does rely on luck quite a lot. However, if you have the right strategy, you might win against the luckiest of opponents. Playing Backgammon in your terminal isn't as fancy as the real thing, but it still got all the features for you to enjoy a full-fledged competitive play.

To install Backgammon in your terminal, type in or paste the following command:

sudo apt-get install bsdgames

To open the game, you have to type "backgammon" without the quotes. 



5. Arithmetic

Last, but not the least, this simple math game will help you improve your brain function every time you take a break. Simply load up the game and try your best to remember everything you'd learned in math class. Go easy on yourself though, it's just a game. We all suffer from poor math skills every once in a while.

To install the game, type in or paste the following command:

sudo apt-get install bsdgames

Then type "arithmetic" without the quotes and enjoy.



Note: Most games can be controlled either by using the arrow keys or the J, K, L keys. To exit a game, press Ctrl + C.

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Moto E: Is this the World's Best Cheap Smartphone?

Posted by jun auza On 7/11/2014
Although Nexus remains the flagship line for everything new and shiny Android, a new, or rather an old player is taking the market by storm. Motorola, with its simplicity and its unbeatable price has become the next big thing in the Android world. Bringing the same pure Android experience of Nexus smartphones and the cool features of many flagship phones, Motorola's line of products seems to make everyone love Android. What makes Motorola’s new smartphones so special is the fact that they could fit into anyone's budget. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One, iPhone 5s, or even Nexus 5, these devices are designed to fit your pocket, both literally and figuratively.

Moto X, Moto G, and the Moto E appeal to 3 different types of phones you can buy according to the cash you have right now. Moto X, the top-of-the-line Android device is pretty much a competitor to Nexus 5. It is loaded with amazing features that look even better with the stock Android that it comes with. What's more, it is completely customizable with its sleek-looking back panels that go with every style.

The next is Moto G, a budget-friendly device that appeals to those who don't have a lot of cash to spend, but still want a decent high-performing smartphone. It doesn't have the best features that are out there, but still, it makes for a good mid-budget phone.

Finally, there's the Moto E, which is going to be our focus in this article. This sleek little phone has gotten a lot of attention in the press lately. With so many Android phones cropping up every day, it stands out not only because of its price but also for the value it offers at such a low budget. Many have hailed it as the world's best cheap smartphone. But, is it worth the title? Let's find out: 


Performance

Moto E comes with 1GB of RAM --which is enough to run 4.4 KitKat --and a Dual Core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 processor on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 chipset. These specs for merely $129 are a steal. You won't be able to do a lot with the smartphone, but for daily usage, this is a great choice. In fact, the Moto E performs surprisingly well as far as gaming is concerned. The Adreno 302 GPU gives a pretty good low-level gaming experience offering more value for money than expected. The apps perform pretty quickly, thanks to KitKat, which is optimized for devices with memory as low as 512 MB. Overall, compared to other low-budget smartphones, the Moto E performs surprisingly well.


Display

For this low a price a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 display comes as quite a pleasant surprise. With large bezels and a 4.3-inch screen, the display is something you won't complain much about. The colors are sharp and you would rarely notice any pixels thanks to the small size of the screen. The 256ppi pixel density does provide a satisfactory display for anyone who wants to use chatting apps, browse the web, and watch the latest YouTube videos.


Camera

The 5MP isn't something you'd want to complain about. It's simple, easy to use, and takes okay-looking pictures. If you are someone who's looking to take pictures with focus, this is not the phone to go for. However, if you don't care about the quality of your pictures, this smartphone is made for you.

The only disappointment about Moto E is the lack of front-facing camera. Sorry, selfie fans, but you'll have to look for another device.


Operating System

The Moto E features Android 4.4 KitKat that is regularly updated along with Moto X, Moto G, and Nexus 5. So, if you are someone who wants to stay with the bleeding edge of Android, Moto E is a great choice. Also, thanks to the low cost of the phone, it can be used as a device you can tinker with. 



Extra Features

What makes this smartphone even more appealing is its sturdiness. Not only does it have a splashguard that makes it water resistant, it also comes with an anti-smudge coat. Though you won't be that careful with a $129 phone, it is still a great feature to have. Also, there is the Gorilla Glass sturdiness that makes things even better.

So, is it the best cheap smartphone in the world?

Yes, at least for now. But the competition is heating up as Motorola has created a whole new market. Also, Firefox OS has been looking to enter this space for a couple of years now.

 
Who Should Buy It

If you are a little tight on budget but need a decent performing Android smartphone this has to be your first choice. Also, if you are an Android tinkerer or someone who develops apps for Android and needs a secondary phone to mess with, Moto E is your go-to device.


Who Shouldn't Buy It

If you take a lot of selfies, do video chats, and play heavy games, opt for the Moto X instead. Also, if you are looking for a phone with a great camera, this probably won't be worth spending $129 on.


Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

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Best Custom Icon Packs for Android

Posted by jun auza On 7/07/2014
Android is best known for its customizability. By installing a simple app, you can completely change the look of your smartphone. When compared to its competitor iOS, Android is miles ahead in this department. Despite the fact that the new iOS 7 offers a look that one finds hard not to drool over, Android users can imitate the flat-looking UI in a matter of seconds. In fact, we even wrote a whole article in helping you get that clean iOS 7 look.

In this article, we won't be helping you create a UI that imitates any other OS. Instead, we will be focusing on showing you some of the coolest-looking icon packs that will turn your boring vanilla phone into fabulous eye candy. The following is a list of some of the best icon packs for Android.


Blitz Icon Pack

If you are new to theming but are afraid to lose the familiarity that you've been relying on for so long, the Blitz Icon Pack is your safest option. With over 250 icons, Blitz lets you turn your default icons into flat ones without sacrificing the original look of the icon. This means that Gmail will look like Gmail and Facebook will look like Facebook, but better. The sweet, flat rounded edges make the icon pack really appealing to fans of the flat UI design. 



Flatro Icon Pack

If you are looking for something minimalistic yet fancy, Flatro is your best bet. With over 1000 custom icons, matching widgets, and 24 minimal wallpapers, this icon theme is a result of hard work by the developer. Moving away from the traditional squarish icons found on most user interfaces, Flatro sports a distinct flat, round look. Apps like Twitter, Chrome, and Facebook retain their familiarity making them look like veritable buttons rather than just icons. The only downside to Flatro is that sometimes, some of the icons are hard to recognize. Flaws aside, Flatro is a great icon pack for people who are serious about giving their smartphone a makeover.



Stark Icon Set

Stark is one of the best icon packs out there as far as the minimalist look is concerned. With over 1500 icons and a cloud-based wallpaper gallery, Stark Icon Set is a great way to give your Android phone a completely new look. Retaining the familiarity of the app, Stark gives a flat, square look to your icons. The sharp edges to each icon make them look rather professional. Furthermore, you'll find the icons sometimes resemble the tile-based UI Windows Phone users are familiar with. Though not free, Stark is a fabulous, polished, icon set that is a great investment whether you are a regular themer or not.



Peek Icon Pack

If you are looking for something that is free yet gives your phone a distinct new look, Peek Icon Pack is your best bet. What makes Peek stands apart from other Android icon packs is that it brings its own look to popular apps yet it retains their familiarity. For example, the Google Maps icon comprises a green, flat square with rounded edges with a pushpin dropped in the middle. For many users, this won't be something that's hard to recognize. Similarly, you'll find that many icons in this pack do a great job at keeping the familiarity level very high. The only downside to Peek Icon Pack is that there are only 96 icons so far. But for a free set, it is not that big of a negative.



Aeron HD

With over 1900 icons icons, this one is the most beautiful icon pack of the list. Minimal and clean, Solstice retains the familiarity of your favorite apps while making your Android smartphone look very modern and stylish. Most icons are flat and circular with a single color. The logo of the app is etched into it thus keeping each and every icon minimalistic to the core. Though not free, Solstice is a great theme pack for those who love circular icons.
 


Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

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How to Use Parental Controls on Ubuntu Linux

Posted by jun auza On 7/02/2014
The Internet serves as a vast reserve of knowledge and information. From the latest news to funny videos of cats playing pianos, pretty much everything can be found on the World Wide Web. However, the dangers of the Internet are rarely talked about openly.

The Internet is a wide-open jungle that pretty much everyone can explore in any way possible. Without restrictions of any kind, the freedom offered here is a complete opposite of the constrained lives we live on a daily basis. This freedom though, in the wrong hands could be very dangerous. Kids often accidentally stumble upon violence, pornography, and other things that are inappropriate for their age. This is where the need for parental controls comes in. 

Parental control ensures that kids can browse the web with complete freedom but without stumbling upon any of the bad stuff. In this article, we will outline some simple yet effective tools that will help you create a safer browsing environment for your kids.


Method 1: Using OpenDNS

This is the simplest and the fastest way to block any unwanted content reaching your web browser. OpenDNS, once configured for your router, will help you secure your network against most known adult-related sites. Simply set up OpenDNS using the instructions given HERE or contact your system administrator to help you set it up for you. Once it is up and running, simply set the filtering to ‘moderate’ from the accounts settings menu. This will block most adult websites. However, if you want to go a step further, you can set it to ‘high’ which basically blocks most of the sharing, social, and webmail services all of which may or may not be suitable for your kids. 


Method 2: Using the 'hosts' File 

A quick way to block particular site(s) on your Ubuntu desktops is by making changes to the 'hosts' file. 

Step 1: Open the terminal using the Ctrl+Alt+T combination or by looking for it in the Dash menu. Then take a quick backup of your hosts file by typing in the following command: sudo cp /etc/hosts /etc/hosts.old

Step 2: Now that we are on the safer side, let us edit the 'hosts' file by adding the sites we need to block.

Let's say you wanted to block yahoo.com. Open the file in the text editor: sudo gedit /etc/hosts

Once the ‘hosts’ file opens up, type the following to block Yahoo! from your computer: 

0.0.0.0 www.yahoo.com

Step 3: Press Ctrl+S to save and you are done. 

You can add as many sites to the list as you want. Remember not to make any changes to what's already there in the file. All you have to do is append your sites to the list. 


Method 3: Using Google Chrome

If you are a Chrome user you can install a simple extension called Blocksi that helps you block potentially harmful websites. The extension scans through 76 million rated web sites, and more than 20 billion rated Web pages to help you maintain safety as your kids use the web. 



Method 4: Using Timekpr

Timekpr is an application that won't help you block sites but will surely help you limit the amount of time the kids spend on the computer. With a neat access limit feature, Timekpr would automatically log the computer out when a particular time limit is crossed. Though not that stable, it is a great tool you can add to your repertoire if you want complete control over your computer. 

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5 Secure Alternatives to WhatsApp

Posted by jun auza On 6/30/2014
Ever since WhatsApp, a massively popular messaging app was acquired by Facebook, many of its users have started looking for alternatives to the service. Facebook, which itself, doesn't have a good track record when it comes to privacy, is the only reason users are on the lookout for good replacements to the service.

The landmark acquisition deal that happened several months ago shocked many people, especially those who used WhatsApp as a regular chatting tool. As part of the deal, Facebook offered WhatsApp a whopping $4 billion in cash and $12 billion worth of shares. Starting 2014 with a big bang, the deal is one of the biggest deals that have ever happened in the tech industry. Biggies like Google and Microsoft were keen on buying WhatsApp but finally Facebook managed to woo the emergent startup and make history. WhatsApp has over 450 million monthly users, 72% of whom use the app everyday.

After the deal, many developers started coming up with more secure alternatives to WhatsApp fearing privacy concerns. From that need, some fabulous apps have evolved. We have listed here some of the best apps to help you choose a better, more secure alternative to WhatsApp.


TextSecure

TextSecure is a free app that puts privacy first. With an advanced end-to-end encryption protocol, the application ensures that your every message is sent securely without any government snooping. What's more, TextSecure is open-source thus making easy for you to access the code just to make sure about your privacy. Security aside, TextSecure comes with all the basic features you need from a text-messaging app along with group messaging. Its UI is simple, easy to use, and faintly reminiscent of WhatsApp. 



Threema

Threema is an app whose popularity soared the moment WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook. With true end-to-end encryption, Threema is designed in a way that only the recipient reads your messages. Apart from putting focus on privacy, this app also excels in providing features that many competing messaging apps provide. Features like contact sync, group chat, media sharing (photos, videos, etc.), and location sharing make it a solid alternative to many apps that lack the security feature. Threema also offers ID scans (like BBM pins) so that you can add people you meet in person. Though not free, this app is a perfect choice if you are looking for a good all-round messaging app. 



Telegram

If you are having trouble saying goodbye to WhatsApp, Telegram is your best bet. With key focus on security, Telegram Messenger claims to be the fastest messaging app on the market. 100% free of ads, this one offers some interesting features like cloud storage, ability to function on the weakest mobile connection, and large group chats with up to 200 members. The app looks and feels pretty much like WhatsApp, thus making it a great app to migrate to.



Wickr

If you want to send private, encrypted, anonymous messages legally, Wickr is the app you are looking for. With exclusive focus on private communications, this service puts military-grade encryption (AES256, ECDH521, RSA4096, and TLS) on your chats. And yes, the keys stay with you. Designed to be cross platform, Wickr doesn't take any of your personal information. It is easy to set up and use and yes, it is completely free. Once installed, you can start using the service right away. It doesn't collect any of your private data and can also help you ensure that your messages leave no trace whatsoever. If, in an unfortunate situation, you feel that you are being spied on, Wickr can be your best bet. 



Crypto.cat

If you are looking for a web-based application that helps you send messages, crypto.cat is a great choice. With plugins for all major browsers and an app for iPhone, crypto.cat allows you to have encrypted chats with your friends. The service is a no-fuss, secure chatting tool that can be used by anyone whether they are on mobile or not.

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Smartwatch Battle: Pebble Steel vs. Galaxy Gear 2

Posted by jun auza On 6/27/2014
Before Google comes in with its own smartwatches, consumers have two mainstream devices to choose from. On one hand, there is the Galaxy Gear 2, coming from a reputed brand like Samsung and there's Pebble Steel by Pebble Technology Corporation that gained popularity after a successful Kickstarter funding campaign for their first watch.

When we consider the turf of wearable devices, there's nothing much to boast of, except, of course, Google Glass. Apart from Pebble and Gear, the tech industry is impatiently waiting for the Motorola smartwatch, which will be made in collaboration with Google. The wait, however, doesn't have to be this hard. If you are someone who wants to get their hands on a smartwatch right now, both the Pebble and the Gear 2 are excellent choices. Both have their own merits, and also their own demerits. But then, which to choose between the two? Well, that's why we are here. In this article, we'll be doing a quick comparison between the Pebble Steel smartwatch and the Galaxy Gear 2. Let's see who wins: 


Design

Both the Pebble Steel and the Galaxy Gear 2 are well-designed gadgets. When compared side-to-side, they look very similar, though not the same. Pebble Steel looks more like a classy watch with a stainless steel body, while the Gear 2 slightly looks more gadget-ish. While the Pebble Steel is slightly curved, the Gear 2 is squarish with a bigger bezel.

 Pebble Steel

If you are someone who wants to show off the latest gadgets, Gear 2 is perfect for you. If, however, you want a gadget that looks and feels like a real watch, something you can wear for any occasion, Pebble Steel will definitely win you over. The understated design of Pebble Steel makes it great for everyday use. Be it a party or a formal occasion, it looks very classy and elegant. However, that's not to say that Gear 2 looks bad. It's just not as good as Pebble.

Samsung Galaxy Gear 2

Winner: Pebble Steel 


Display

The Gear 2 features a Super AMOLED multi-touch display. The screen is 1.63" with a 320x320 resolution. With the colored display, you get a PPI of 278, which is not that bad. In simpler terms, the Gear 2's screen can be likened to that of a smartphone. The Pebble Steel on the other hand has a 1.26" screen that is quite small compared to Gear 2. Also, the display is not colored as it features a sharp LCD e-Paper display that is similar (but not the same) as what we see on Kindle. This means that you'll be able to read the screen from multiple angles even in broad daylight. Though, on paper, the Gear 2's display looks better, Pebble somehow steals the show by having an always-on display that runs for hours and hours. In other words, all those traditional watch fans would never be disappointed by this gadget.

Winner: Pebble Steel 


Features

This is an area where Samsung's Gear 2 wins hands down. The sheer amount of goodies that this watch comes packed with, makes it a lucrative gadget to lust over. Firstly, there is the ability to accept, reject, and even answer calls all using your watch. While this might make you look like a secret agent from some spy movie, we have to admit, it is kind of cool to use that. Then there's the pedometer, the heart-rate sensor, the sleep tracker, and the music player, giving the users a lot more than they asked for. And last but not the least, there’s the 2MP camera. While many won't find it that useful right away, it's still good to have one. The Pebble on the other hand, can't take calls, can't play music, can't track your heart rate, and can't even take pictures. If those are the features you don't need, Pebble is still a great choice. It does have a pedometer and a sleep tracker thus making it a little less disappointing in this department.

Winner: Galaxy Gear 2 


Compatibility

This is where the Pebble proves to be a true rockstar. It is compatible with most of the popular Android phones, and yes, it works with the iPhone too. The Gear 2, on the other hand, needs a Samsung Galaxy phone with Android 4.3+ to work -a huge drawback on Samsung's part.

Both watches vibrate when new notifications come in. You can choose which apps you get notifications from, and yes, both watches work very well with third-party app notifications. If you miss any notifications, you can check them later in the notification center.

Winner: Pebble Steel 


Water Resistance

Both watches are water resistant giving them equal points in this round. Don't worry even if you go swimming with the Pebble, it will work just fine.

Winner: Tie 


Battery

This is another area where Pebble beats the Gear 2. The Pebble Steel's battery lasts for almost 5-6 days while the Gear 2 can run for 2-3 days max without charging. Undoubtedly, the Pebble Steel wins this round hands-down.

Winner: Pebble Steel 


Performance and Specs

Given the fact that the Pebble Steel is designed to be a minimalistic gadget designed for displaying nothing more than text-based apps, it lacks severely on the specs front. If you are someone who wants a smartwatch that can act like a smaller smartphone, Pebble isn't for you. It features a 120 MHz single-core processor and 1 MB storage that allows you to install only 8 apps. The Gear 2, on the other hand, comes loaded with 4GB storage and 1GHz dual core processor. Now these are the specs that you usually find on an entry-level smartphone. So, if you're looking for a device that's future-proof, Gear 2 is a great choice.

Winner: Galaxy Gear 2 


Price / Value for Money

The Gear 2 costs $50 more than the Pebble Steel. If you opted for the Galaxy Gear 2 Neo instead, you can save more money as it costs $200 only. Coming to the pricing of the two main smartwatches, the Gear 2 costs $300 while the Pebble Steel costs $250. So, if you are looking for a smart companion for your Galaxy phone, you can spend $50 more and get a good smartwatch. The result for this round is a tie as both offer excellent value for money.

Winner: Tie 


Verdict

If you are looking for something classy, something less gadgety, then Pebble Steel is a good investment. It won't do much except a few basic things, but given its open nature and huge compatibility, it is something that can be used as a companion gadget by practically anyone. Samsung's Gear 2, on the other hand, is severely limited due to its lack of compatibility with other phones. This means, if you own a Galaxy phone already, this is an investment you won't regret. The watch pairs beautifully with the phone making it a great utility. If you don't own a Galaxy phone however, buying one for a Gear 2 watch, isn't a smart investment. Instead, either you can wait for Motorola to come up with its own smartwatch, or you can go for Pebble.


Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

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