Totally Googled | TeknoCratik Episode 014

teknocratik_14_cover

 

Tim and I are back after a short hiatus with some new tech!

We review the HTC M8 Android phone, more Chromebook updates and where we are in our Linux adventure.

Other topics:
YouTube to acquire Twitch.TV?
Ubuntu 14,04 LTS
Microsoft – what’s the strategy? Surface 3 and Kinetic being quietly sidelined?
Apple WWDC announcements
Witcher 2 – the embarrassing Linux “release”.
GOG.com to launcher a Steam “competitior”?

 

Uncut Video version here on YouTube:

 

 

Play the edited audio version here below:

Netflix: How to watch content from ANY Netflix region easily

Netflix

 

Netflix is one of the best value for money streaming content services we have. There is no disputing this fact but many people are unaware that subscribers can increase the value of the service tremendously without incurring much (if any) extra cost.

 

Netflix in different countries and licensing issues

 

For a while now Netflix has been an international service providing content to subscribers in multiple countries. As with mainstream television, Netflix is bound by many existing licensing deals in these various countries. This means that content that is available in one country may not be (and often isn’t) available in another. Despite this, Netflix allows subscribers who may be “travelling” to sign into the service in any country that has it and have access to the content available in that country. This is a fantastic bonus feature to paying subscribers in itself which they didn’t have to provide.

 

“Spoofing” your location to access another Netflix region

 

The fact that the service is available internationally to subscribers from any participating nation means that it isn’t too difficult to fool it into thinking you are in another country and therefore take advantage of having access to content not normally available to you. I want to stress that this is not illegal, as the way I will describe the process you are using totally legitimate services. It may possibly be against the “spirit” of Netflix’s terms of service but as far as I can tell they make no attempt to prevent it.

There are various ways to “spoof’ your location online to take advantage of geographically “locked” services. Different methods have different success rates and different costs ranging from free to expensive. The general rule is ‘you get what you pay for’, at least in my experience. The method we are looking at is one of the simplest and can be done for free, although I personally use a paid service which has certain extra benefits which I will explain.

 

 

Unblock-US.com

 

Screenshot from 2014-04-28 10:20:53

 

Unblock-US is the service I use and for full disclosure I have included an affiliate link in the article if anybody wishes to sign up. I have tried other services (paid and free) and each has various features. The way these services work is by altering the DNS (Domain Name Server) that your computer or device uses to translate domain names you are trying to access (such as google.com) into IP addresses the system understands. Without DNS you could only access sites via the direct IP addresses. Certain sites will use these DNS servers to figure out where in the world the requests are coming from so if you are using a DNS that doesn’t originate in your home country you may be identified on certain sites as being in the country that your DNS service originates from. Netflix is one of those sites that use DNS to identify where there subscribers are, which is why this service works.

As I have indicated there are many services that can do this, including free services, and a quick google search will provide you with alternate methods. Most of these other services provide a “fixed” access to United States DNS servers which is ideal if that is the only thing you need access to. The same was true with Unblock-US (as the name suggests) but they have evolved into providing access to multiple countries via DNS, countries where Netflix provide a service. The service isn’t free but costs only $4.99 a month which I think is great value because it is so easy to use.

 

Changing your “location” with Unblock-US

 

Screenshot from 2014-04-28 10:20:24

Once you sign up to the service and register your email address, your home IP address is connected to your account. You then need to make a small change to your network configuration on the device or computer you wish to use with the service. Many different devices are compatible, from routers, smart phones, PCs to media boxes and Blu-Ray players.

 

Screenshot from 2014-04-28 11:19:02

 

The site has full instructions on what you need to do, which if done manually only involves changing two lines in your network configuration. Windows users can download an app that automates the process making it even easier. Once you are set up it is just a matter of choosing your preferred region whilst logged in to the Unblock-US website:

 

Screenshot from 2014-04-28 11:14:58

 

Finding something to watch: Moreflicks.com

 

Screenshot from 2014-04-28 11:31:27

 

So, you’re all set up and now are ready to watch something on Netflix. How do you find content? You could pick a region and explore the content directly on Netflix but it would work a lot better if you had something in mind and just needed to find out where you could watch it. This is where Moreflicks.com comes in. There are other similar sites and even apps but this is the one I use. I have no affiliation with them but I think they have a fantastic looking and easy to navigate layout. What this site does is list streaming services that carry a particular movie or TV show that you are looking for. You simply search for the content you want and if it is available it will indicate to you where to watch it, including for such services as Netflix, which country has the content. The following services are supported but for the purposes of this article we are only discussing Netflix:

 

Screenshot from 2014-04-28 11:34:54

 

So, for example, I want to watch the Disney movie The Princess And The Frog. Just perform a search on Moreflicks.com and you get:

 

Screenshot from 2014-04-28 10:22:33

 

USA Netflix subscribers miss out on a lot of Disney content but you don’t have if you use these recommended services. Just by changing you region to UK on the Unblock-US website you would be watching this great movie in seconds!

 

The Linux Challenge | TeknoCratik Episode 011

linux-penguin1

 

 

A Linux filled episode! Can anybody use it?

Tim starts a tech support business and Dan does it for free. We share some stories.

Tim tries a couple of Linux distributions on his spare hardware and talks about his experiences.

We discuss privacy concerns about the direction that Canonical is taking the Ubuntu desktop.

We now have Amazon Affiliate Chrome and Firefox extensions!

 

Enjoy!

 

TeknoCratik Episode 10 – What next for mobile?

Phonebloks-400x400

 

In this episode we take a look at mobile. We discuss what we would like to see and what may be coming to rock the industry in the future. As well as reviewing what direction we think the big players will take we also take a look at:

 

The Ubuntu Phone Project

Firefox OS

The Tizen project and Samsung

Phone Bloks

 

Enjoy!

 

 

TeknoCratik Episode 09 – Elementary Mumblings

Screenshot from 2013-08-28 16:32:04

 

 

We are back after a summer break!

Tim builds another PC.

Dan hops Linux distros once again and settles for Elementary OS

We dump Skype for Mumble

We talk about the latest goings on in the tech world.

Enjoy!

podcast@dangelus.com

 

 

TeknoCratik Episode 06 – These Are The Droids You’re Looking For

galaxy s3

 

Tim gets a new phone and it’s… A Samsung Galaxy S3.

We discuss how’s he’s finding switching from iOS to Android, how different the experience is and what features and apps have caught his eye so far.

 

Thanks to Rick Moyer for the theme music.

 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

TeknoCratik Episode 05 – What the Facebook?!

Facebook Ad Fail

 

Welcome back to TeknoCratik! Lots to talk about after an extended break from recording including:

 Dan swaps his iPad 2 for a Nexus 7 becoming “Apple free”.

Tim tries Linux on his spare PC, Dan goes back to Ubuntu on his production machine.

We talk about phone upgrades. Tim considering moving to Android.

 Google banning ad block apps from the Play store.

Apple ban sweatshop game from app store.

App stores restrictions, the difference between Apple and Google.

Tim moves his music library from iTunes to Google Play Music and talks about the experience and functionality.

 The Samsung Galaxy S4 – first impressions. Are Samsung trying to be the next Apple?

 CyanogenMod custom ROM versus manufacturers versions of Android

 When advertising goes too far, Facebook and frowned upon practises.

 Google announces it is discontinuing Google Reader.

App picks

 Plume Twitter client for Android, great for Facebook too. Flipboard gets a great update on iOS.

The GIMP (cross platform)

AirDroid for Android

MightyText for Android

gMusic for iOS

Week Calendar HD for iOS

Enjoy!

Contact Us

 Tim’s YouTube channel

TeknoCratik’s YouTube channel

TeknoCratik blog

 Email

 Twitter:

Dan

Tim

TeknoCratik

 

 

TeknoCratik Episode 04 – PC Woes

brokenpc

 

Tim nearly trashes his PC! He and Dan discuss his upgrade plans, the state of play of hardware and software in mobile and desktop gaming, and more discussion on digital entertainment ecosystems.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Podcasts on iOS – Beyond iTunes

20120615-141728.jpg

There was a time when you wanted to listen to or watch a podcast on your iPod or iPhone, iTunes was your only option.

Nobody can deny that Apple was instrumental in the popularity take off of podcasts since the early days in 2005 when the functionality was added to iTunes but Apple haven’t really done anything revolutionary with them since. In the days of the original iPod the current support of podcasts built into iTunes made total sense. The devices were not wireless and had no Internet connectivity. They needed to be physically connected or docked to a computer to allow iTunes to update their content.

This is no long the case. iPhones, the iPod Touch and the iPad are wireless Internet ready devices and yet Apple still required users to physically connect their device to update their podcast collection up until less than a year ago. Still, when it comes to podcasts the new “WiFi Sync” feature of iOS 5 is not ideal. Podcast management still needs to be controlled from the desktop in iTunes. You still need to go to your computer, fire up iTunes and let your podcasts update.

There are very strong indications that Apple have no interest in supporting podcasts in any more than they do already and this is understandable for a couple of reasons. Firstly the podcasting medium has come full circle in the fact that there are so many applications and websites that search, index and playback podcasts on both computers and portable devices that the reliance on iTunes has all but disappeared. Secondly there is no revenue for Apple when it comes to podcasts. The majority are free and iTunes has no facility (and the content producers have no desire) to give access to subscription based shows as far as I know.

I have absolutely no clue why Apple have not added podcast management features in the mobile versions of iTunes that you access from your iPhone or iPad. Only the most basic functionality is available. You can search for podcasts and you can even manually download them individually but no facility is available to automate the process.

To make matters worse not only did Apple not offer these features they prevented third party developers from offering them for a very long time. Apps that are commonly known today as “podcatchers” we’re banned from the App store until quite recently. They had a very strict policy that third party apps that replicated the functionality of native iOS apps we not allowed. Luckily this policy has gradually been relaxed and there is a good choice of apps available today.

So what is the advantage of using a podcatcher app? Let me describe two scenarios in getting new podcasts on to an iPhone.

Scenario number one: Using iTunes for podcast management, I would need to go over to my computer, fire up iTunes, give it time to go through all my podcast subscriptions and download them. Once that has finished I either have to plug my iPhone in or connect to wifi sync and update the content on my iPhone. This takes a little time, longer if I’m doing it wirelessly and iTunes may also do a backup of my device as well which will delay things further. Finally I can disconnect my iPhone and listen to my updated podcasts.

Scenario number two: I fire up my podcatcher app and it downloads the latest podcasts I’m subscribed to directly to my device. I start listening! :)

That’s the bare bones of it. Of course podcatcher apps do offer quite a few other features depending on which one you go for but even when comes to the basics it’s so much simpler. At the time of writing (as listed in Wikipedia) these are the podcatcher apps that are available in the App Store:

PodCruncher: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/podcast-player-manager-app/id421894356?mt=8
Podcaster: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/podcaster-4/id377195245?mt=8
Downcast: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/downcast/id393858566?mt=8
Podcatcher: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/podcatcher/id367314338?mt=8
Instacast: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/instacast/id420368235?mt=8
Pocket Casts: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pocket-casts/id414834813?mt=8
RSSRadio: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/rssradio-podcast-downloader/id382552897?mt=8
iCatcher!: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/icatcher!-podcast-catcher/id414419105?mt=8

I have used a few of these and recently switched to iCatcher! so a review will most likely follow soon. In the mean time I wholeheartedly recommend you try one if you’re still using iTunes.

Update: According to this blog post Apple are planning on removing podcast functionality from mobile iTunes in iOS 6 and giving them there own app. Still a rumour, but interesting.

Review: Radiant Defense

Radiant Defense, developed by Hexage is a colorful Tower Defense game set as a “sequel” to the popular Radiant, which is a arcade/action space shooter inspired by games such as Space Invaders. Yeah, a bit of a weird sequel idea.  Your in charge of stopping alien invasions by an alien commander that is incompetent.  So is Radiant Defense a worthy Tower-defense game or one to throw into the bin? Well, read on and you’ll find out…

Radiant Defense, if I had to label it anything at all, its unique.  It is a single player game with an online score board that you can submit your scores to and compare to other players.   The colorful, yet old-style inspired graphics are a trademark of Hexage and no less impressive in this game. It is a feast for the eyes and the various colors are fun to look at.  The audio is a good, solid OST that complements the game very well.  The presentation of the game is very well done and if you’ve ever played any of Hexage’s other games, its very familiar especially for Robotek players.  There is no real difference in UI or functionality between the iPhone and iPad besides the screen size difference.  Its a great presentation.  In typical Tower defense fashion, Radiant gives you a choice of towers and you have to fend off waves of enemies.  While you do get a preset level to play on, the game also gives you a certain number of modules to dictate where the enemies will path through.  Look at the screenshot below to see what I’m talking about.  The game also has a “research unit” that allow the construction of additional towers in the level.  The research unit is also required every game in order to allow the building of the tower packs that you can purchase for 99 cents each.  The aliens that attack are varied and colorful and there are apparently over 100 different aliens that you get to fight.

One of the waves

The game begins to fall apart when you start playing in the first few levels.  Most of the towers shoot at random times and there is an accuracy/physics to each tower’s shots.  So its entirely possible for you to have enemies slip through your defenses because all your towers missed.  In all the tower defense games I’ve played, this mechanic mystifies me because I have never seen it used and for good reason.  Its frustrating to have enemies get through because your towers just happened to miss.  Also, the AI for the towers is poorly done, as they will shoot at random enemies most of the time rather than at the most important ones, the ones closest to the end of the road.  I lost several games because the towers were not shooting the most important targets.  The difficulty level is also incredibly high considering I was only on level two and failing.  Which is mostly caused by the fact that the waves seem to be unbalanced.  One wave, you can have two towers at base level easily kill them and then the next wave those upgraded towers plus additional tower are no longer able to keep the wave down and you got mowed over.  Its a very unforgiving setup which is mystifying considering how flexible the game is with allowing you to dictact where the enemies get pathed and variety of towers.  Plus, the amount of money that aliens drop per kill is simply too low for how costly the towers/research units are and they are very expensive.  Its clear they had some interesting ideas about TD, but it plays off as too random and based on chance and as such, very frustrating to play in the TD-genre.

Settings are basic and straightforward

I also have to slam the lack of iCloud sync between iOS devices or any type of sync for that matter.  This game would easily be suited for it and its rather jarring to have a game app show up on the store without some sort of sync.  And really, considering how many devices this game supports, it makes me wonder why they didn’t try something.  The iOS version also requests an iTunes password when you load the game for no explicable reason and maybe its for the IAPs, but I’d rather it would wait until I actually requested to purchase the tower packs.  The freemium based model this game uses is also questionable for a tower defense game and I don’t think it works all that well.  I certainly don’t have any compulsion to buy the tower packs that are offered.

That said, Radiant Defense looks and sounds good.  If your looking for a challenging Tower Defense game, you may be interested.  The game is certainly very unique in the mobile crowd and I’m glad to see devs trying something new.  I personally won’t be playing it after the review as I didn’t find the humor to be funny and the game mechanics poorly implemented.  The game just isn’t all that fun.  However, it is free after all so it doesn’t hurt to try it out.

Trailer:

Radiant Defense is developed by Hexage for the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Windows 7 Phone, Android, and Mac. Requires iOS 3.2 or later. Requires Android 2.2 or later.  Requires Mac OSX 10.7 or later. It is a universal app on the iOS store and is free on all platforms with no advertisements. It does have in-app-purchases that are optional for 99 cents in order to increase the amount of towers you can have. This review only covers the iPhone & iPad versions, but the experience should be the same on all platforms.  There is no social media integration, except an optional scoreboard hosted by Hexage.

-KingIsaacLinksr

Important Links:

Radiant Defense Website

Hexage Website

iOS App Store

Mac App Store

Android Play

Windows 7 Phone Store

Radiant Defense for Mobile Devices