How does FireChat work without an Internet connection

How does FireChat work without an Internet connection Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Protestors

FireChat is a messaging app that lets iOS and Android smartphone users chat without a cellular or Internet connection. Th app once again was in the limelight as Hong Kong pro-democracy protestors were using the app fearing the government would shut down cellphone networks in the protest area. 

How does FireChat work without an Internet connection

Developed by San Francisco based company called Open Garden, FireChat in its default “Everyone” mode works just like any other messaging apps with chatting over the Internet. When in the “Nearby” mode, the app uses Bluetooth to connect nearby phones to form a wireless mesh network that enables chat messages to pass from phone to phone without going through the Internet.

The ability to work off-the-grid makes FireChat particularly useful in areas where the Internet is restricted. It is also harder for government to monitor the chat messages by nature of the app’s peer-to-peer connectivity. FireChat had previously been used during the Internet blackouts in Iran and Iraq earlier this year.

How to request the desktop version of a website in iOS 8

Many websites come with a mobile-optimized version which would be automatically served to you when it is detected that you’re using a mobile device. These mobile version of webpages are usually easier to view and navigate on smaller screens, but can occasionally offer fewer functionality compared to the desktop version.

Some sites offer link (normally at site’s footer) to allow you to switch between mobile and desktop version, but this practice is not consistently adopted by every sites. Safari in iOS 8 now comes with a new “Request Desktop Site” feature to allow you to view the desktop version of a mobile site. 

When you’re viewing a site with a mobile layout in Safari, tap on Safari’s address bar. This by default will display the list of bookmarks in your Favorites Bar.

How to request the desktop version of a website in iOS 8

Swipe down the list to reveal two new options: “Add to Favorites” and “Request Desktop Site”.

How to request the desktop version of a website in Safari

Simply tap on “Request Desktop Site” option and Safari will reload the site with a desktop layout.

Think twice before you upgrade to iCloud Drive


iCloud Drive is a brand new feature in iOS 8 that changes iCloud from an invisible storage system into something similar to Dropbox or Google Drive. When you upgrade to iOS 8, you’re asked if you want to activate iCloud Drive. You might want to think twice before tapping the “Upgrade to iCloud Drive” button.

Before iCloud Drive, apps are using the “Documents & Data” framework for documents in iCloud.  When you upgrade to iCloud Drive, documents managed under “Documents & Data” will be migrated to use iCloud Drive, and it is not backward compatible.

iCloud Drive is available only in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. In order for documents to sync under iCloud Drive, all your iDevices and Macs needs to be running iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite.

If you’re using only one device, if all you devices have been upgraded to iOS 8 and you do not have a Mac, it is safe to pull the trigger to upgrade to iCloud Drive. For Mac users, hold off a few weeks until the release of OS X Yosemite which is expected end October.

Visit simple version of Wikipedia article to read the layman’s version

Simple version Wikipedia article

If a topic in a Wikipedia article is too complicated with jargons that are foreign to you, you can visit the simplified version of the article by replacing the “en” in front of the Wikipedia link with “simple”.

For example, the normal Wikipedia page for Stem Cells ( are full of scientific terms and is not an easy read for most people. Change the URL to “simple” ( to get a “layman’s version” of the article.

Not all Wikipedia article have a simplified version. The “simple” version is not meant for any sort of in-depth research on the topic, but is useful to get a quick grasp of basic understanding on difficult topic.

How to quickly open all regularly visited sites in Safari for OS X

If you always start your day with the same set of web sites to visit, you can open each website one at a time. It becomes tedious if you have lots of sites to open. It is not uncommon for many to have more than 10 sites that are required visit each day. You can set up Safari to quickly open all the sites at once. 

First you need to save your frequently visited sites into a bookmark folder. You can create a bookmark folder manually and add those sites into the folder. 

If you’ve opened all the sites as tabs, you can quickly create a bookmark folder by using the menu Bookmarks > Add Bookmarks for These x Tabs.

Quickly open all regularly visited sites in Safari for OS X

You will be prompted to enter the location and name for the folder. Click the Add button to create the new bookmark folder.

Quickly open all regularly visited sites in Safari for OS X bookmark folder

When you right-click on a bookmark folder, you will see an “Open in Tabs” option in its contextual menu. Select this option will open at once all bookmarks in the folder as tabs. Please note that this will replace all the existing tabs in current window with the tabs in the folder. If this is not what you want, you can open a new window before selecting “Open in Tabs”.

Quickly open all regularly visited sites in Safari for OS X open in tabs

If you’ve created your bookmark folder on the Favorites Bar, Safari has a nifty feature that allows you to open all bookmarks in tabs with a single mouse click.

quickly open all regularly visited sites in Safari for OS X automatic one click

Right-click on the bookmark folder on the Favorites Bar. On the pop up menu, make sure the option “Automatically Open in Tabs” is checked. Bookmark folder with this option checked will have a square icon after the folder name. One mouse click will open the bookmarks inside the folder as tabs. This is the same as “Open in Tabs” but it takes just one click.

6 notably hyped apps in first half of 2014

Hype for an app can be a result of it being good, bad, addictive or disruptive. Irregardless, we highlight 6 such apps that caught our attention in the first half of 2014.

Flappy Bird

 notably hyped apps in first half of 2014 angry bird

Angry Bird is undoubtedly the most talked about mobile game so far this year. It was released in 2013 and received huge rise of popularity in early 2014. It is additive but was also criticised for its difficult level and alleged plagiarism in game arts. The Vietnam-based developer Dong Nguyen had removed the game from App Store in February due to “his guilt over the additive nature of the game”.  This take-down did not stop the demand for Flappy Bird download, and resulted in a dozen or so Flappy Bird clones occupying the App Store game chart days after the removal. 


notably hyped apps in first half of 2014 2048

2048 is a puzzle game that is compared to Angry Bird for its addictiveness and numerous spinoff clones. Created by 19-year-old Italian Gabriele Cirulli, the game design is inspired by Threes! and was initially available as a web app with its source code readily available to the public. Cirulli has since ported the game to iOS and Android.


notably hyped apps in first half of 2014 secret

Secret allows you to share picture and message anonymously with your circle of friends, friends of friends or the public. Founded by ex-Googlers David Byttow and Chrys Bader-Wechseler, the app is one of the leading app in the anonymous sharing space. Such apps oppose the openness of sharing platform such as Facebook or Google+. The ethicacy of anonymous sharing is debatable, just be cautious of what you share or who you trust if you intend to try out the app.

Monument Valley

notably hyped apps in first half of 2014 monument valley

Monument Valley must be one of the most beautiful looking puzzle games on the App Store. In the game, you direct Princess Ida to unlock mechanics and clear the path through to each levels map exit. Monument Valley is a winner of Apple Design Award 2014. 


notably hyped apps in first half of 2014 tinder

Tinder is a location-based app that uses your Facebook profile for match making. The app analyses your social graph and select potential candidates who are likely to be compatible to you. With a simple tapping or swiping, you select or reject those you like. If two users like each other it is a match and Tinder then introduced each other and open a chat room for both.  


notably hyped apps in first half of 2014 yo

Yo is an app with the sole function of sending your friend the word “yo”. It is so simple and brain-dead that one might wonder how could it be popular. It has over a million downloads and was able to reach number 3 in App Store chart ranking. Truly hyped.

How to combine multiple message in Messages for iOS

It is common to have a number of messages that you want to combine and share them with others. Copy and paste allows you to forward message one by one and it is time consuming. Turns out there is a quick and simple way to combine messages and forward them at once in Messages for iOS.

Tap and hold the first message that you want to forward. Select More from the popup menu. This will select the first message and place you in a selection mode.

How to combine multiple message in Messages for iOS

Tap on the checkmark button on the left to select the rest of the messages. Then tap on the arrow at right-bottom corner.

How to combine multiple message in Messages for iOS Forward Message

A New Message window will appear with the selected messages in the compose area. Complete the message, add recipients and tap Send to forward the message.

Apple stops development of Aperture and what are your options

Apple stops development of Aperture and what are your options

In a blow to Aperture users, Apple has told The Loop that there will be no new development of Aperture. Instead Aperture users are encouraged to migrate to use a new Photos for OS X app which will ship next year.

“With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture. When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS X.”

Apple gave a glimpse of the new Photos for OS X during WWDC 2014. When the app ships next year, it will replace both iPhoto and Aperture on the Mac. The exact features of the new app is not known. It is likely to be more consumer focus for ease of use, with a lesser emphasis on advanced photo editing features and workflow. 

Based on how Apple revamps its recent iWorks app, where initial release was feature-lacking, one can conclude that the first release of Photos for OS X will likely not have all the tools required for seasoned Aperture users.

You might be tempted to make the jump right now to Adobe Lightroom, the other professional photography workflow app. The advise is to wait and to evaluate only when Adobe releases a migration tool. Without any migration utility, you will lose all those edits you applied to your photos in Aperture.

There will be patches from Apple to make sure that Aperture continues to run under OS X Yosemite. It is early to panic if your photography workflow depends on Aperture. It is not a bad idea to wait for Photos for OS X, as it allows smooth migration of your Aperture libraries and its features could be all you’d need in your photography workflow.

Cloud storage services pricing compared – June 2014

Cloud storage services pricing compared

Microsoft just announced a price reduction for its OneDrive service by offering 15GB of free storage, up from 7GB. The monthly plan for 100GB is dropped from $7.49 to $1.99, and 200GB is down from $11.49 to $3.99. If you subscribed to Office 365, you get 1TB of free space, up from 20GB.

Cloud storage service is a textbook example of how competition benefits us. But the pricing could be confusing due to the varieties of free tier and monthly plans offered by cloud storage providers. We breakdown the pricing of iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive in a quick summary to help you pick the right cloud service. Pricing should not be the only criteria to look at, but is a good place to start when evaluating cloud storage services.

To keep things simple, we’ll focus on personal use cases and ignore enterprise storage plans. Here’s how iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive stack up.


iCloud (fall 2014)

Dropbox Google Drive OneDrive
Free plan 5GB 5GB 2 GB 15 GB 15 GB
10 GB $1.66/month - - - -
20 GB $3.33/month $0.99/month - - -
50 GB $8.33/month - - - -
100 GB - - $9.99/month
($8.25/month for
$99 yearly plan)
$1.99/month $1.99/month
200 GB - $3.99/month $19.99/month
($16.58/month for
$199 yearly plan) 
- $3.99/month
500 GB - - $49.99/month
($41.58/month for
$499 yearly plan) 
- -
1 TB - $9.99/month -
10 TB - - - $99.99/month -
20 TB - - - $199.99/month -
30 TB - - - $299.99/month -
File size limit - - - 10 GB 2 GB
OS supported Mac, iOS,
Mac, iOS,
Windows, Mac,
Linux, iOS, Android,
Blackberry, Kindle Fire
Windows, Mac,
iOS, Android
Windows, Mac,
iOS, Android