Feeding My Mind with Feedly for Android

Feedly for AndroidA few weeks ago Feedly for Android was released, first in beta, then in the Android Market. I’ve been running around with it for a few days now and today I’d like to tell you about it. If you’re here for the short story, three words — I love it!

I’ve been using Feedly ever since it became popular I guess. Bugs, glitches, but okay, it was a cool interface on top of Google Reader and the folks at Feedly have done a great job at keeping it up to date and working in Chrome and Chromium, so yeah, I was wondering when I’d see the Android version, and then finally they spoke about it. I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to see it in the Market and then bam!.

As much as I was familiar with the Feedly interface on my PC, it took me some time to get around on the Android app, and their getting started tours were fascinating. I especially loved the horizontal scrolling featured, never seen such a thing before, it was quite unusual, and probably risky for Feedly to do that. But hey, Feedly for Android was nominated Gizmodo App of the Day so I guess it was all worthed ;)

So now I’m tweeting my stories from both my PC and my Android, though it takes one click to share a story on my Feedly for Chromium, but it takes three taps to share one on my mobile, and that is one thing that should definitely be fixed, because the “like” and “save” buttons at the bottom make no sense to me. A share (on Feedly and Google Reader) just like in the desktop version would make my stories automatically drive to Twitter, with one tap. Oh I’d really, really love that!

And if you were wondering what app I used to read my feeds before — Google Reader, of course ;)

qrTip: A jQuery Plugin to Display QR Codes for Links

Hey. I was doing some experimenting earlier this week with the new Google URL Shortener API and then found out that they can display QR codes for their shortened links using Google’s Chart API which is awesome. So today, I present to you qrTip — a jQuery plugin that can display QR tooltips for links on your page:

qrTip jQuery Plugin

Check out the qrTip Demo and hover over the links to feel the taste of what it’s like.

Why would you ever need this? Well mainly be cause it’s cool, and with this plugin you can provide a link to a mobile version of your website, so that people could hover, scan the QR code using their mobile and fire up the link on their device! Yeah, a little bit inspired by the Chrome to Phone extension which is quite awesome but not yet compatible with all browsers and devices out there.

Here’s a quote from the behind the scenes of this plugin section if you’re into development:

Well, I basically took the ColorTip jQuery plugin and wrote a little bit of extra code inside that injects images inside the tooltips. The actual images are coming from the Google Charts API! I also use the js-uri to get the relative links right.

You can download the sources in an archive or use git to grab it directly from my github account:

$ git clone http://github.com/kovshenin/qrtip.git

That’s all there is to it! Hope you like the plugin and find it useful in some way. You might want to tweet it too! I would also appreciate if you commented on bugs under Windows and Mac browsers. I didn’t test it on anything but Chromium on Ubuntu ;) Cheers!

Review: Nexus One, Android & Software Freedom

The first time I mentioned I wanted a Nexus One phone was on January 21st, 2010. That’s almost a year ago and I was ready to trade in my iPhone for a Google phone. This Christmas I made myself a present and got that Nexus One from some “not so legal” Internet store here in Moscow. I guess they’re (Nexus One & Nexus S) not yet or ever will be certified for the Russian market, so I had a hard time finding one, but I did, and I’m glad I did.

I was an iPhone 3G user for over a year and was quite satisfied with everything that it offered. I didn’t jailbreak it, updated the iOS frequently and used the free applications from the App Store. That’s right, I never spent a cent on software for my iPhone, since most applications had an ad-driven free version available, and I’m quite greedy — I can’t remember the last time I payed for software.

I opened up the Nexus One box and figured that Facebook and Twitter applications were pre-installed, gorgeous! So I instantly tweeted, and posted a photo and the fact that it has a flashlight surprised me. I then found out it came with a 4GB SD card, which is awesome. Yeah, my iPhone had 16 gigs but you can get a 16 GB SD card for around $130 when you run out of the 4GB.

Next up was my e-mail and contacts. Honestly I was a little scared here, since as soon as I added my Gmail account, my phone had all my contacts, and not only! It linked my Twitter and Facebook contacts to my Google ones, and then I installed Skype, and there too, everything was linked and merged, so there’s no longer copying contacts from SIM cards, syncing by connecting to your PC and what not. This is definitely more user-friendly than Apple, way to go Google. And there’s more! When I started texting, Google’s dictionary recognized all the names from my contacts, so I never had to spell my or my girlfriend’s last name again — input three letters and voila!

Then I took a few hours to explore the Android Market. I never knew they had such a place, which could have made me miss my iPhone, but they did, and it was quite easy to navigate around, since it looked very much like the App Store on iPhone. I didn’t try the paid apps but I did give a go at a few dozen free and ad-driven ones, including Angry Birds ;) The Market syncs very well, giving instant applications updates when they’re available.

Next thing to surprise me was Google Voice Recognition, they got their TV ads running around here in Russia. It’s not as good as the TV says, but they get most of the stuff right. There are some language configurations which have to be done in order to recognize both English and Russian. I got that working when writing text, but not Google Voice Search, which keeps giving me junk in English when I speak Russian. Anyways, that’ll be fixed I’m sure.

Battery. Definitely better than the iPhone 3G here, and could be boosted even better with some utilities from the Market. Just make sure you don’t have Sync, Wifi and 3G turned on when you don’t really need them. Multimedia? Ah you’ll love Android if you’d like to read books, watch videos or listen to music, iPod? Meh!

Below is a list of applications that I, as a novice Android user recommend. Some might be pre-installed on your phone. Can’t get you direct links to these, but searching by names in the Android Market will get you going:

  • Foursquare — obviously!
  • Google Reader — still waiting for Feedly for Android, but this is okay I guess.
  • Chrome to Phone — I don’t use it much, but certainly a time-saver.
  • Dropbox — sync files and multimedia to the cloud.
  • ConnectBot — an easy to use SSH/telnet client. Good way to reboot your servers when in the metro ;)
  • Adobe Reader — books save you from being bored.
  • MySettings — quickly turn on and off stuff like sync, wifi, rotate and other settings.
  • OI File Manager — surely one of the best file managers for Android.
  • Thinking Space — create neat mindmaps on the fly and export them to various formats to email, Dropbox, etc.
  • WordPress — of course, it’s where I’m writing this post from ;)

There are also a bunch of interesting widgets, one of which is the Google Analytics Widget that can display pageviews or visitors directly on your home screen. Nice thing to check out waking up in the morning haha ;)

So anyways, the bottom line is yeah — I fell in love with Android. I’m not really looking forward to getting the Nexus S model, although I believe it’s better than Nexus One, and it’s been to outer-space too, but Nexus One is really a first, so I’ll sell that for a couple of thousand after a couple of decades. Besides, I think HTC’s better than Samsung anyway ;)

Internet Connection Sharing Via Wi-Fi On Fedora Linux

I was very tired yesterday evening, so I thought about tweeting through my iPhone while lying in bed. EDGE is pretty slow and expensive, and 3G hasn’t yet arrived in Moscow (military issues) so I decided to go with Wi-Fi. Good idea, huh? And it took me just a couple of hours to set the whole thing up. I’m running Fedora Linux 10 but you should’t have much trouble on other distros.

Setting up a Wi-Fi hot spot at home using a simple Wi-Fi router is the easiest way to go around, but that costs like a hundred bucks – not worthed. I’ve managed to setup an Ad-hoc (computer to computer) connection using my built-in 10m Wi-Fi module on my laptop PC. If you ever ran a Windows OS (duh!) you might know that sharing an Internet connection on your LAN is quite simple. My situation’s slightly different. A Vista running box is already sharing a PPPOE connection through LAN to two other laptop PCs, one of which is my favourite Fedora 10 box.

Anyways, the wired network on Fedora is set up and works fine (eth0 interface). Hadn’t had to iptables anything, nor should you ;) Now, setup a wireless network. Make sure you choose Ad-hoc (computer to computer) connection, input a passkey and setup your IP settings: 192.168.1.1, 255.255.255.0 and use 192.168.1.1 as your Route in case Fedora says it’s required (mine did). You might also need to input your DNS information (you can obtain your DNS information by running cat /etc/resolv.conf). This is all setup in the Networking manager (a Gnome utility AFAIK). Activate the connection and run ifconfig to make sure you’ve got a wirelass connection available (you should see a wlan0 section).

At this point you might want to test your connection. Get some device to ping your computer and try to ping back. Remember that you’ll have to setup IP information on your device manually (unless you’ve got a DHCP server running on the wlan0 interface). Pings fine? Okay, good. Now, all you’ve left to do is run a simple iptables script. Go ahead and generated one: Easy Firewall Generator for iptables. Don’t forget to pick the Gateway/Firewall option. Mine settings were like this:

  • Internet interface: eth0 (this is my wired LAN)
  • Static Internet IP Address (my wired LAN address)
  • Internal Network Interface: wlan0 (the wireless network)
  • Internal Network IP Address: 192.168.1.1
  • Internal Network: 192.168.1.0/24
  • Internal Broadcast: 192.168.1.255

The Generator will give out a shell script. Copy the contents and paste into a file (/home/kovshenin/wifitables.sh). Then:

$ cd /home/kovshenin
$ chmod a+x wifitables.sh
$ ./wifitables.sh

All done! I can now tweet free from the kitchen, balcony, bathroom and even from my toilet! :) Now I’m thinking about setting up a VNC server, so I’d never have to go back to my laptop PC again. Oh and by the way, if you DO have a feeling that you’ve messed up iptables, just run the iptables-restore command and start over. If you’re sure you got everything correct, use the iptables-save command, so that you wouldn’t need to run the script everytime you boot your system. Good luck everyone, and happy tweeting!

P.S. I’m glad to have some more connections on Google FriendConnect. Welcome newcomers! Hope you enjoy your stay!

Gone Mobile: SSH Terminal on Your iPhone

I was in a bus today in the morning standing in a traffic jam, when I suddenly got a call from my colleague Alex. He said that he messed up something in our database on my virual private server and didn’t know what to do because everything stopped working. Alex doesn’t know what SSH is and how to work with Putty so I had to figure this out all by myself and fast. Luckily I found TouchTerm – it’s a free SSH client for your iPhone. Download available in the App store.

It took me around thirty seconds to connect to my server, restore the database and make a couple of backups ;) screenshots:

Give WordPress the iPhone Look: wpTouch Plugin

I don’t want to talk much about the wpTouch plugin, cause it’s all well documented over here. I’m writing this post for those of you who are afraid to make the first step to the terrific handheld view. Yeah, iPhone has got the Safari browser which can show my page just as it is shown on PC, and it even executes javascript! That’s the main reason why people don’t bother switching (others think that they’ll get the iPhone view on PC, duh!). But you… You should try it! Look at what I got to!

It took me about 10 minutes to set this whole thing up. It was messy with the WP Super Cache plugin serving cached pages to my iPhone, but thanks god I noticed that checkbox called ‘Mobile device support’. That saved me loads of time. Works okay now. Don’t forget to add your Google Analytics tracking code to track your mobile visitors!

BTW check out the code snippet I wrote for my brand new huge tag cloud thanks to the PHP-Exec plugin and the power of WordPress.

WordPress Junkies: Blogging via iPhone

I wrote about offline blogging with Windows Live Writer some time ago, and now I realized that it’s not that fun! Alright, I have two good news. The first one’s that I received approval for my second wordpress plugin (Related External Links) to be hosted at the official WordPress Plugin Directory. I commited the first beta a few minutes ago so go ahead and vote it up: Related External Links (thanks!).

The second news is… Y’know I’ve been dreaming about it since it was first announced. Yeah, I finally got myself an Apple iPhone!! Woot! It’s so sad that Moscow hasn’t got 3G internet yet (MTS announced it for the end of 2009) but I’ve got Wi-Fi at home and office plus EDGE everywhere else, so I guess I’ll survive. The first thing you definitely have to install on a brand new iPhone is TwitterFon. Get it for free from the iTunes Application Store (via iTunes on PC or App Store on your phone) and you’ll be tweeting 24/7, sending TweetPics along with your iPhone GPS coordinates. Jeez I’m so excited (BTW follow me!).

Anyways. Back to WordPress. I really appreciate that the WordPress team made this iPhone App. You can get it for free at the iTunes Application Store. It’s very user friendly and all the functionality you’d need is plugged into this little app. I’ve made some screenshots (thanks to @CMoz) to show you the whole process. Make sure you read the comments to each shot.

One more thing. If you’re into iPhone, you should definitely check out: Apps and Hats. It’s a brand new video blog about iPhone apps, which is launching 20th of March. Make sure you subscribe to their RSS feed and/or follow the Apps and Hats Twitter account. I think they’ll be using TwitterFeed to tweet their blog updates. Cheers!