I watch a lot of movies on my iPhone when I’m on the move and have been using some of the basic free apps that would play DivX or similar formats on the iOS. But nothing beats the features provided by paid apps and even better is getting one for free.

Presenting GPlayer video player for iOS app for free only for today.

The UI is not that nice as some other apps but GPlayer does an excellent job of playing back most of the media files you think your i-device’s hardware is capable of playing with. The creator of the app claims it to work with XVID/DIVX AVI, WMV, RMVB, ASF, H264, MKV, TS, M2TS and other formats which is more than one would have in their collection. Another deal maker feature that I found to be bonus was the subtitles support. I watch some of foreign language films at times and its irritating that even the best of the apps like OPlayer don’t support subtitles. Luckily Gplayer comes with support for subtitles.

Other useful features like WiFi / USB sync, File management on device, TV Out & AirPlay, Resume from last position are present too. There are some extra features that you won’t find in most of similar apps like Subtitles (already mentioned), Gesture based controls, Screen lock and Movie thumbnails to help you find your choice easily.

I would have loved to have some DLNA love in this app but I think it already does a fair share of job.

Extra extra bonus points to GPlayer for understanding that most of the people use the 5GB free account of iCloud and would not like to upload their movies to iCloud and hog their available space and having it to delete later. GPlayer by default doesn’t sync movies with iCloud but their is a setting if you still want to.

Grab it while it still lasts.

Rating:

OverAll: 4 / 5
Features: 4 / 5
UX / UI:  3 / 5 

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My favorite Mac OS X Mountain Lion features

On June 12, 2012, in Mac OS, by Mark

Exactly an year from the release of Mac OS X Lion Apple brings the next cat with again a similar tag of 200+ features. Again I’m here with a list of my favorite features that will be part of this upcoming release. So here goes.

1. Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, Flickr integration

Single sign on into any of these services with share buttons, share menus, share sheets integrated and scattered deep into the system. Even nice thing is you can share anything from a video to a link.

2. Notification Center

Ever since Growl moved to App Store I haven’t been able to get over the idea of a free app charging money. I am all for supporting open source and useful stuff but I think you know what I mean. Once you go free its never ever the same again. And since the OS didn’t have even the basic replacement for Growl it was getting even more frustrating at times. Now finally they have something worthwhile. Take notifications from the iOS and put it on the big screen.

3. Widget Search from Dashboard

This has been a long pending task as a lot of people don’t usually go to the Dashboard Widgets site that Apple has hidden somewhere on their website. With widget search in the Dashboard itself finding and installing new widgets should be rather easy.

4. Dictation

If anyone asks me, iPhone is the only phone I have ever had which does have a working voice commands. Siri took it to another level which is definitely evident from the websites that have popped up dedicated to what Siri answers to our commands. Apple has integrated dictation into every text field out there in the OS with interesting twists like Address book.

5. Game Center

Yippiee! Anybody coming from iOS side doesn’t need to be retold how simple and awesome this Game Center thing is. Unlike Android, multiplayer gaming is a breeze thanks to this small app. I specially appreciate game discovery feature as its quite difficult to find good games on the App Store with so many apps trying to grab your attention. If you know people and you somehow know what games they have been playing on their devices, it is actually a lot better than trying them out from the app store. The Mac version of this app does it even better with in-game voice chat.

6. Launchpad Search

Its practically faster to search for applications using Spotlight but if you are borrowing / adapting a feature from iOS you better do it right and include features that help. Springboard search has been there from the start on the iPhone, same comes to the Mac version of Springboard a.k.a. Launchpad.

7. Automatic app downloads from Mac App Store

Another feature borrowed from iOS in Lion and now done right. Similar to automatic download of purchased apps on the iOS, now you can have automatic download of apps purchased on your other Macs.

8. Click to go to top of inbox in Mail.app

How many times have you wished for having an undo button while writing a letter with real pen and paper. Its really the same thing with a lot of small things that you get used to on the iPhone. And one of those small things is tap on the status bar to scroll to top in any list in any application. So we have a nicely borrowed and quite useful feature in Mail.app. Click on the sort bar at the top of the message and see the message list jump to top. I know this could have been done by a small change to how your scrollbars work in the System preferences. But how many people actually take effort to do it. None that I know of :D

9. Reminders

I’m tired of reading the features borrowed from the iOS but I’m glad they did as these all are pretty addictive and most people tend to search for alternative of same on the desktop side.

10. Improved Safari

Smart search field, What took you so long ? I have had to argue with the windows fanboys because you guys at OS X were too lazy to bring this simple thing in. Chrome had from start, Firefox had it from start. Why in the world not have it. Thank you anyways.

Performance improvements: I had moved away from using Safari altogether because of how slow Safari has been getting with every update. Its nice that they have noticed and doing something about it.

 

There are lot of other small things that have made their way into Mountain Lion from the iOS like better integration with iCloud, sharing sheets, location based reminders, Notes that sync with iPhone and there are a lot of things that have been improved over Lion in general like the scrollbars which expand horizontally when you hover over them, full screen on any display or the encrypted Time Machine backups. There are even features that you may not find very useful but will surely have some use some time and you are going to appreciate them for doing it then. Did I mention Game Center enabled Chess :)

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You are enjoying a splendid ride on your dream road with nice black asphalt below, lush green fields and trees on the sides and clear blue sky on your head. You make a stop for a quick stretch or a piss and wonder will it ever get better than this. You mount again to enjoy the heavenly trip and then it happens. The clutch cable snaps!

Scene two.

You are stuck in the middle of nowhere with only crows in the fields to look at you. Your cellphone is out of coverage areas. The last fuel pump was some 50 Kms back and you have no idea about any available mechanics in the area. Also, to add to the burden I would upgrade your bike to something on the lines of a Royal Enfield which from time and again has proven to be a nightmare to push across in such a situation.

What to do?

You can wait for somebody to show up on that lone road to help you out.

Or

Ride without using the clutch.

Yes, we all know that you need a working clutch lever to engage the gears and get the bike moving, but it is totally possible to not use the clutch lever at all and still be able to ride. And this post is about doing just that.

Word of caution here that this can turn out to be pretty dangerous if you are not experienced enough and may end up hurting yourself or people in front of you at that time. You have been warned here so don’t come blaming.

If you would remember your old days back when you were learning to ride a geared motorcycle. You did end up having the bike jump and stop to a stall because you weren’t good enough with the clutch. You can have a Déjà vu here except that you don’t have a working clutch lever at all to mess up with.

So here it goes:

  1. Relax, and trust your experience on the road.
  2. Start the bike and be comfortable revving it up nicely around 10% throttle.
  3. Try putting the bike into first gear while revving at 10%. Be ready to hit brakes just in time.
  4. Most probably the gear won’t engage. Or, the bike would stall with a jerk.
  5. So now you know what to expect. You can try it a couple of times to get yourself comfortable.
    Now the problem is that without proper clutching and revving the engine will stall with all that weight of the bike standing still. So give it a little push while we do that.
  6. Get the bike rolling with your feet while mounted on the bike while the engine is still on.
  7. When you reach enough speed so you can lift your feet off the ground, rev again like you would normally do to shift gears at that speed.
  8. Shift to first gear.
You should be able to continue driving if you do it just right. If you don’t succeed don’t get disheartened and try some times. This would be quite similar to situations when the engine stops while you are at slow speeds with wrong gears. It would be easier once you get moving in lower gears. Just be careful in congested areas.
This is an absolute emergency workaround and it does effect the life of the clutch plates and its very dangerous when done wrong.
Do post back if this works for you.
 

I would be contradicting my own post with this one as I was eagerly waiting for the Mac OS X Lion myself and have been promoting its vast list of new features and why it is the next latest and greatest OS of all time (only till Mountain Lion comes in ;) ). Spending time with the Lion I have learnt that this one just like the real world lion does a few things in its own way and on its own will. Now scene isn’t exactly as bad as the words I have used here. But, if you are a developer on a schedule and on going projects but also eager to go ahead with the OS X Lion I would suggest you to hold on your horses.

Upgrading to Lion makes a lot of great things but also breaks a few mainly because the hardware vendors and other developers a bit slow in adopting and releasing compatible updates for the new OS. It has been quite some time since Lion came out but still a lot of hardware doesn’t just work with this OS. For eg. I have this High Speed Mobile Internet dongle from MTS (MTS Blaze) which used to work really awesome with Snow Leopard. But with Lion, all you get is Kernel panics that too so frequently that it leaves the machine totally useless. Their support is clueless and all they have to say is change your OS if you want this to work, how nice!

You may be able to downgrade if your machine came with Snow Leopard and you had upgraded to Lion but users who bought their Macs recently don’t even have this choice as you can’t just downgrade below the OS version your Mac shipped with :(

Also, a lot of network devices like Network Attached Storage (NAS), Network shares using Samba and older AFP drivers also fail to work reliably with the new OS.
Lion requires that you use the latest version of Xcode developer tools (4.1+) and which can only be downloaded from the Apple AppStore  which again requires a credit card verified Apple ID even for free downloads. That may look nice on personal machines but on office machines you are sure to have a hard time explaining this to your IT department (who may already hate Apple for not playing nice with their favorite tools) and to get them to somehow download this huge file (4.66 GB).

Things don’t end here with this transition. The new Xcode uses some thing called ARC (Automatic Reference Counting) which trust me is a huge huge thing for Objective C developers as now you don’t have to bother about allocating or releasing memory blocks which the compiler does for you, automatically. Great.
Only one problem though, 99% of the Open Source  code out there won’t work with this :(

You do have a Transitioning to ARC guide by Apple (link) or the ever so great community at Stack Overflow to help you out (link) but I wouldn’t want to work with something that will break 2-3 months of existing effort on a project. So be careful, no matter how tempting ARC is you will end up with 60% of your time trying to get your project up and running on the new Xcode.

There are a lot more little quirks that you will find while developers drag their feet to update their projects. Till then if you can avoid the temptation, I will suggest you google some more about this.

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To all Gameloft games fan, there is a $0.99  or upto 85% off sale on all their Android games for today only.

Hurry up and save some money while you can.

Some of the game on sale:

  • Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus (Link)


    Modern Combat 2 Black Pegasus screenshot

  • Asphalt 6: Adrenaline HD (Link)


    Asphalt 6 Adrenaline HD screenshot

  • Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation (Link)


    Modern Combat 3 Fallen Nation screenshot

  • Assassin’s Creed Revelations (Link)


    Assassin’s Creed Revelations screenshot

  • N.O.V.A. 2 HD (Link)


    N.O.V.A. 2 HD screenshot

  • The Adventures of Tintin HD (Link)


    The Adventures of Tintin HD screenshot

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My favorite Mac OSX Lion features

On June 7, 2011, in Mac OS, by Mark

Mac osx lion large

6th June 2011 finally passed and along came host of brand new Apple goodies. Too bad no hardware updates this time but definitely something long overdue.

Apple announced next successor of the benchmark operating system Mac OSX Lion at the WWDC 2011 event which was attended by more than 5200 Apple developers and fans.

OSX Lion brings 250+ new features to an operating system which already provides an amazing experience. This raises the bar again as Apple brings in innovative as well as adapted features with the regular finesse that only one company has been able to deliver.

With enough of chatter, here is a list of my favorite features from the next gen OS.

1. Air Drop

Macs in our office have been put on domain user controllers and it sucks. Everytime I need to setup a share on a regular domain user account I have to call in the IT guy to type in his password. I know its not Apple’s fault by the way it is in our office. So we use somebody else’s network shares or finally ended up setting a common share for the whole team to be able to share files amongst us.

Enter AirDrop. Now I don’t have to look for the Samba share names or IP addresses of people whom I want to share my stuff with. AirDrop automatically finds people around me (God bless Bonjour) and lets me transfer files wirelessly without even needing a separate router’s help. Isn’t that great. Now the only thing that I need to ask the other person would be to enable AirDrop and accept the incoming file transfer request rather than all that network gibberish which half the people would reply to with more questions about how to find that out :)

 

2. Resume

Windows could never impress me with the ‘sleep’ function. Every time I put my laptop to sleep I would pray to my forefathers so that they will bless me and I would be able to successfully resume my session which I had left for not more than 15-20 minutes. But they always had a very solid ‘Hibernate’ or a.k.a. ‘deep sleep’ which worked quite well most of the time. Since, win laptops never had a reasonable battery life I would use it quite often while leaving for the day home.

Mac on the other hand have had ‘sleep’ in a kind of ‘born with’ way which works so well that you often tend to forget what you were working on last when you put your MacBook to sleep in your bag but the Mac would be back online in just a few seconds when you open it again. Back to the point where you left it.

Battery life on the new MacBooks is something which puts every other portable device to shame. Sleep mode on MacBook doesn’t use much of this enormous power source, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be able to drain it. Depending on for how long you leave it in sleep mode the battery is going to drain eventually bringing you closer to the same situation that you have on a desktop without power backup. Mac OS X does have this ‘deep sleep’ fail safe which will save the entire session to disk and die out gracefully. Resuming from this point will require you to plug in the power adapter before you can do anything and it will take a bit longer than the usual resume from sleep mode.

I always wished if we could have this deep sleep or hibernate mode on Macs so I could save my long battery life for an even longer work session after this bigger than usual break.

My wish has been fulfilled with ‘Resume’. Something which takes hibernate further up one notch by not only saving my session across lid close open events but by also saving the state of individual applications. You can now close your document midway and the next time you open up the app it will resume from the same state. awesome!! For those ‘half empty’ types, it does offer you an option to clean start the machine.

 

3. Mission Control

Every time I use Exposé I wish for better grouping of application windows or at least application icon badges on them. Its very hard to remember the which window was which when you have left something in the background for sometime. Mission Control is something that I have been craving for long and have tried out possibly every single window manager app out there which will be close to what I want without giving up on simplicity that Exposé offers.

Mission control puts up a kind of heads-up display for you along with the app icon badges and grouped application windows for you to stare at. You can add remove Spaces, bind apps to spaces, use the regular Exposé shortcuts like spacebar to preview the window and tab to change focus. You also have all your spaces arranged neatly on the top so you can access them more easily. And cherry on the top is the per Space desktop wallpaper without using any third party app for that. presto!

 

4. New Address Book

Finally a better looking address book. I use this app for storing and managing my contacts, although its not as good looking or complete as most of the paid incarnations can be, but hey! its integrated deep down into the heart of the OS and does what I want. At least now it won’t hurt my eyes that much and I’m pretty sure they would have added some of goody useable features to it.

 

5. Full Screen Apps Safari

All the browsers have had this, and any 13″ Mac user would do what not to have this for Safari. I mean I had to hide the bookmarks bar, hide the address bar and still be left with a lot more chrome that I would want on my precious little screen. Finally somebody heard my plea and gave this tiny little absofuckinglutely required feature that was missing there.

 

6. All New Mail

Better overall view, better search, good looking conversation view of messages what more could you ask for in one of the simplest mail clients. The overall UI looks much better now and the message list left pane is really nice add on (it does look like it took some ahem! ‘clues’ fromSparrow’s interface). Having option of showing contact avatars in the message list is again a nice thing to have especially if you have more than one person with similar names. Dynamic suggestions in search surely is smart and would be appreciated I assume. I’m not really sure about the toolbar icons at this stage, mono tone icons could be nice or I may be wrong here but is more of personal choice, drop down Flag button is much better to place on the toolbar.

 

7. Mysterious browser only mode or “Restart to Safari”

Mac OS X Lion beta releases have brought about an interesting new feature which has been lost in all the hub nub. On the lock screen users are presented with another option “Restart to Safari” which will basically reboot into well nothing to guess here – Safari browser. This sand-boxed environment will allow guest users to browse the internet without even having to login to the guest account. Now this could be a good thing and this could be a bad thing, we will have to wait and see how well has Apple thought on this. And for those who have already started pondering about what happens to the currently logged in users, well go to point number 2 above, Resume that is. Current user states will be saved and resumed without anybody knowing about it.

A lot of people have been comparing this with the Google’s Chrome OS but that would be highly incorrect, the intent is the main thing that matters. While google is partnering with hardware manufacturers to come out with “ChromeBooks” Apple has other plans. Apple just wants to provide a sand-boxed environment here so you could browse the internet without needing a separate account on the machine. I am pretty sure this would have been utilized in system recovery and other things like a boot shortcut so you could quickly get online when that is the only thing you want to do. Now imagine doing that on a top of the line MacbookPro loaded with the speedy SSD storage. Neat! I would say.

 

more to join as I finish trying out the complete 250+ list…

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Best SVN app for Mac OSX ?

On April 30, 2011, in Apps, Mac OS, by Mark

yeah yeah! I know. another one of those never ending discussions about the ‘best’ apps for something.

But you can’t help reading it further either. This is one of the most asked and most sought after topics amongst Mac users. Command line people would not care at all about this post and I know a lot of those who fall into this category. But how can you not use a damn gorgeous app when you are on a Mac. This is what sets you apart from ‘the os which must not be named’. Mac apps are beautiful, and Mac users desire a good looking functional app that would let them be at peace with their mind for justifying the high cost of their Mac products ;)

Coming back to the topic of this post, SVN. Most of us still use SVN for version control whether its by choice or by fate (a.k.a. the choice your boss made). Using command line is cool but you wouldn’t mind if there was this little app which will ease the pain of finally putting your work up for the team.

There are a lot of free as well as paid apps that will get the job done, and I have been going through most of them myself in search of one great app which will make me say “this is where I can stop”.

Starting from basic ones like SCPlugin a.k.a. Finder SVN to much more full fledged approaches likeSmart SVN I’ve been trying them all. So here is a list of few of the SVN apps that you can try out if you are on the same hunt I was sometime back.

1. SCPlugin

License: Free

Website: http://scplugin.tigris.org/

 

SCPlugin

This one is for all of those who are looking for something closer to Tortoise SVN that is the de-facto of SVN on Windows OS. Just download, add the app to the toolbar area of Finder and presto! you are all set to do things the SVN way. Click on the icon to open a context menu with a list of all the available commands which will work on the current open folder or selected files / folders in current view.

Apart from some minor issues related to https repositories this tool kinda worked nicely most of the time. Has a great little dialog for committing  a list of files and thats just it. you’ll see the same dialog in a slightly different avatar while checking the status of the current working copy or any other similar situation.

Works directly with the SVN installed on your machine which minimizes the chances of conflicts with apps like Dreamweaver which probably carry their own copy of Subversion.

The newer version of the app has gotten even more closer to Tortoise SVN by supporting File badges (those small little checks and crosses indicating the repo status of the file) and contextual menu directly on the files in the working copy which I think is great and probably an exclusive feature among all the other available clients.

All in all a great free tool only if my desire for getting some more could be curbed. misses on things like some fancy charts, history view etc etc. Lacks on features but more than makes it up on the simplicity and Finder integration.

 

2. Smart SVN

Licence: Paid (79 USD)  | Get a discount

Website: http://www.syntevo.com/smartsvn/index.html

Syntevo SmartSVN

Syntevo claims this as the tool for the professionals, and they are quite right about it. This is one the most straight forward no frills client that you can find. The interface will remind you or rather force you to compare it with the MS Visual Source Safe or maybe FileZilla but  they already got rid of these kind of issues by labeling it as “for Professionals”.  Fairly easy to setup and use Smart SVN gives you most of the tools that you use in your day to day SVN life in a little less appealing form factor. Kind of like buying a new thing without all the good packaging part of it. Smart SVN is quite robust and uses some simple but logical keyboard shortcuts too.

Changed content or content needing an update is quite easily visible given the simple iconography and in the face column view. Transactions pane lets you see a kind of journal of the commit messages of the activity in the repository. The Output pane more like a log pane of a FTP program is quite efficient in letting you know what when where of the communication between the repo and working copy.

There is a simple compare tool as well which you can use for your help to remind you what all mess you made before you commit it to repo. The context menu on items is pretty detailed and lists all the things you could possibly have on your mind while selecting that file. Revision Graph is a kind of disappointment and could have been better.

Tagging is super easy to figure out and use. Supports kind of ‘change sets’ though I haven’t been able to use it much. Top Menu bar is well organised and the tasks have been grouped based on functional areas.

Each repo or working copy opens in its own window which may or may not be to the liking to some people. Has its own plugin api in case you want to extend it. Haven’t found any available plugins myself as of now.

The newer version for OS 10.6 does have some nice things up it sleeve like Finder integration, perspectives (la a la from eclipse) and a more wizard kind of approach to make it appear more interactive. And did I mention this thing is available for the three major OS platforms, yep! they got it covered on Windows, Mac OS and Linux as well.

Overall a to the point tool which you can’t complaint about and works as expected except that you may mistake yourself to be on a win machine at times.

 

3. Cornerstone 2

Licence: Paid (59 USD)   | Get a discount

Website: http://www.zennaware.com/

Zennaware Cornerstone 2

Zennaware spent more than a week just to get the logo right. wow! does that give you any hints on what might be behind door number 3?

Cornerstone is a pure bred Mac app with beautiful visuals carefully planned feature set. From my 13″ MCBP to 21.5″ iMac this app looks great and feels great at all times.

Whether its the bread crumbs, dock icon badges, always there working copy and repository views they’ve got most of it covered and that too in a neat package. Iconography is as good as it gets though the column file view could need a bit of time to get used to the icon metaphors of the status. Filter and search toolbar below the breadcrumbs is absolutely the thing you always needed since you were born and after using it once you will surely think about how you managed so far.

Cornerstone comes with a built in file compare tool which works like a charm and well thought of buttons at the bottom make it even easier to merge or resolve conflicts when they do occur. The log view couldn’t get any better and Timeline view is surely one of the best and most effective ways of browsing the history on the repo.

While reviewing a file for changes you can click a block of code to see who, when why (Blame info) of the revision that brought the block into the file. pretty neat huh?

Transcript is a kind of transfers only log but much cooler. you can again filter the transcript based on updates, commits, imports, updates, user etc.

Locking unlocking is super easy and probably now you can start using it to your benefit more often and there is an option for having checklists which can aid users before committing files and resulting in fewer conflicts.

There has been a known issue with some of the versions about remember password feature not working as you would expect it to, I guess that has been resolved in the new version as hinted by people. The new version also adds support for growl notifications and full support for svn user properties that will let you attach images or detailed text info to files.

I can go on and on about this great tool but instead of wasting screen space here, maybe you should go to their website and check it out in detail, it has been done pretty neatly.

 

So, here you have it. Three of the best of line svn clients that you can end up with. They represent a different taste altogether. Each with their set of pro and cons and I’m sure you are going to like one of the three for sure.

 

 

Reset Mail.app

On March 8, 2011, in How to .. ?, Mac OS, by Mark

Many a times it happens that after restore from a backup or something like that Mail.app would show you the dialog that it needs to import the messages. When you proceed,  *pop* it would crash showing you that useless *ignore reopen* message.

Now if you happen to use Mail.app with Gmail it would be more convenient to reset the app and then setup your account again so it just works like it should.

How do you do that?

well very simple, delete the folder at the following location:

~/Library/Mail

and also the plist file:

~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.mail.plist

Thats it, fire it up again and you can set it up afresh and probably not waste time pondering into the issue.

cheers :)

 

Electric Royal Enfield ?

On May 13, 2010, in Trip, by Mark

The Volta 102 that Hammarhead built in just three months is one in a growing field of electric street bikes but the first to go retro.

Read More http://www.wired.com/autopia/2010/05/hammarhead-volta/

 

If you guys are on a mac and are using iCal to sync up with the Google calender, then you probably have noticed a sync icon on your taskbar besides the clock.
Its for syncing with the mobile me account.
I don”t have a Mobile Me account and don”t need it anyways. Its kinda irritating to see it stuck over there without much help to remove it.l
The hints that you find on internet are mostly about some setting in the System Preferences which you won”t find in most of the cases.
There seems to be an easier way to throw that icon out of the taskbar, just hold the Command key while you drag the icon out of the task bar and poof! its gone, just like the dock icons.
you can do that to any icon which presents itself in the taskbar.
I hope somebody finds it useful.