Stop Phishing On Techloban!

It has been about a week since we found and removed, hopefully permanently, malicious files from Techloban‘s server. So far, we haven’t encountered any recurrence of the files that, among others, display a fake online banking landing page aimed at tricking unsuspecting account owners into divulging their usernames and passwords.

For those who remain clueless as to what the hell we are talking about, let us start from the beginning.

In November 2011, a vulnerability in the theme we used for Techloban, Gabfire Themes’ Snapwire, made it possible for unscrupulous people (I refuse to call them hackers; crooks is a better term) to insert files in our server. The vulnerability in image thumbnail plugin timthumb.php (get the latest script here to avoid getting compromised) was detected too late.

Every day from that moment on Techloban was deluged with visits from people who clicked on a link in a phishing email sent to them by whom they thought was their bank. In our case, the bank was CIMB Bank of Malaysia and the phishing email link these poor people clicked on redirected them to a page on Techloban that looked like an online banking portal.

This is an example of a fake CIMB Bank login page

Fake CIMB Bank of Malaysia online banking login page. Image courtesy of the bank.

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Coin Dozer: Tom’s World In Your Pocket

Anyone who has ever played a game at Tom’s World in Robinson’s Place or Gaisano Central in Tacloban City has, I’m sure, at one point or another, tried those coin dozer, slot machine-looking games. All it takes is a peso or two dropped at the right moment and one will be rewarded with tickets that you can exchange for items.

Well, if you haven’t heard yet, you can enjoy a round or two of Coin Dozer in the confines of your own home or, to be more precise, on your iPhone, iPad, Android Phone or Android Tablet.

The only difference between the virtual Coin Dozer, from Game Circus and the real one you play in the arcade is that in the latter, you get tangible prizes after exchanging those tickets that come out of the machine.

Coin Dozer from Game Circus

Push those coins and prizes into your bin!

This doesn’t mean, however, that Coin Dozer for iOS and Android isn’t fun. In fact, it’s truly addictive!

The problem is you get a finite amount of coins to dump, I guess much like the finite amount of money you are willing to throw at a real Coin Dozer machine.

In the first few levels (yes, you level up in Coin Dozer, much like any other game you encounter today), you only get a maximum of, if I’m not mistaken, 47 coins. The coins regenerate at a rate of one per nine minutes when you’re offline (when you don’t have the game open) and one per 30 seconds when you’re playing the game.

Aside from coins, you may also push and drop prizes into your bin in Coin Dozer. These prizes are not only collectibles, they can also be exchanged for more coins (in case you run out of the shiny stuff.

Bah, enough of my prattle! Go download Coin Dozer from the Android Market or Coin Dozer from iTunes for iOS.

CableDrop from Bluelounge

Cables Making A Mess? Here’s The Solution

Have you ever wished for a clean, wireless work area at home, with very few cables running to and from your computer? I do, every day. At home, my home office space is cluttered, not with paper or anything else you normally see on an office desk but wires. I’m actually afraid to touch these wires as I might not know how to put them all back.

Wires run from the computer to the electrical outlets. More wires run from the computer to its peripherals like the printer, the scanner, and the router. They’re everywhere, and it’s driving me crazy.

Oh, sure, I’ve applied several solutions, ranging from tying up these wires in a bundle with anything from electrical tape (ewww, sticky) to twine (which works okay, except for the fact that untying them drives me bonkers, too.

Aside from the meters upon meters of wires, there’s also the problem of missing connectors. We have a few computers at home, including several laptops, and I usually keep two to three network cables free, in case you want to move to another desk or move the computers around. The problem with this is that the network cables get lost in the jumble of computer cables that look like a snake mating ball.

CableDrop from Bluelounge

Say goodbye to cable-cluttered workstations

Recently, I’ve come across a solution to part of my cable problems. It’s called CableDrop, a nifty little gadget that has been called an “elegant yet efficient solution for that cable mess” you have been trying to clean up for years.

CableDrop, a product of BlueLounge, is very simple. It looks like a small rubber clip that you can attach to any surface with an adhesive. This little gadget is also affordable (for a chance to organize chaos at USD 9.95 or around PHP 500) and available at the Rustan’s Gateway in Gateway Mall, Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City.

Sure, the location of the store is a bit far from Tacloban City. But, hey, I’m sure we all have relatives in the big city who can help us out. Speaking of relatives, I might have a cousin or sibling send me one for Christmas. Organized chaos, here I come!

The MMOsh Pit on Techloban

Don’t Worry, Techloban’s Alive And Well

We like to apologize to our loyal followers for the lack of any updates this past (wow, has it been a) month. It’s been hectic, and I’d like to think that we can continue the good work we’ve done so far. And so, with your indulgence, let me explain our absence.

Techloban has just launched a sub blog called The MMOsh Pit, which is actually an old blog that focuses on massively multiplayer online games, the people who play them, and the industry that spawns them.

The blog has quite a history. From 2007 to 2010, I handled a blog on online gaming for North America-based blog network b5media. When that blog, MMOtaku, was absorbed into one of b5media’s EveryJoe, I went ahead and started The MMOsh Pit to continue writing about what I loved most.

The MMOsh Pit has almost a year’s worth of articles under its belt, and we are sure you’ll find some that interests you. Why don’t you hie on over there and take a peek. You may also want to check out The MMOsh Pit TV, the blog’s video channel on YouTube. Here’s a sample of what we have there:

Steps you take to arrive with Arrived iOS app

No Manual Check-Ins: Arrived Has Arrived!

Earlier today I posted a tweet linked to an article on Mashable about Arrived, an app available on iOS that lets you check in to places automatically whenever you arrive at an area. My tweet asked, “Is this the end of Foursquare?”

Hey, I’m not a Foursquare hater. In fact, I love Foursquare so much that I do my best to stay at the top of the leaderboard in my immediate circle. I find the effort of checking in tedious, though, especially if you can’t find a reliable Internet connection.

I have had probably more than a hundred aborted check-ins in my four months of using Foursquare just because of shoddy Internet and the number of steps I needed to take just to check in.

One of the Arrived sales pitches perfectly sums up the dilemma I have described:

Until now, location sharing has been largely about manual check-ins. Although check-ins have served a purpose for some, they require you to constantly remember to update your status. Most people don’t have that kind of time.

Well, with Arrived, the steps to checking in to a location have been reduced and maybe even eliminated.

Here’s how Arrived works:

Steps you take to arrive with Arrived iOS app

Steps you take to arrive with Arrived.

  1. Select or add the place or places you frequent.
  2. Add people to your Arrived account.
  3. Associate people to places so they are automatically notified every time you get checked in to a location.

Yes, that’s how simple it is, or at least, that’s how simple the service works according to Arrived.

It’s a shame that Arrived only works on iOS. Android users will love it, I’m sure. It does have a web app, though.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll play around with Arrived for a few more hours.

[cb type="company"]Arrived[/cb]
[cb type="product"]iOS[/cb]

Techloban Tacloban WiFi Hotspots Project

Tacloban WiFi Hotspots Project

If you are a regular here at Techloban, you may have already noticed the large sidebar image that has a similarly large WiFi logo in the middle. Well, it’s what I like to call our soft announcement for a project we are working on: To map out the locations of all WiFi hotspots in Tacloban City, and maybe even some nearby towns.

Oh, it’s far from complete, and we need your help in populating it–that is, if you live in Tacloban and breathe Techloban. To contribute, simply fill out our contact form and submit the information in this format:

Place: The general area where you encounter the WiFi signal.
Network Name: The name of the WiFi network.
Status: State whether it’s locked or open.
Note: What you need to get access if the network is locked.

Techloban Tacloban WiFi Hotspots Project

Techloban's Tacloban WiFi Hotspots Project page

If you’re confused, open the Techloban WiFi Hotspots page and take a gander at the format of the table.

Contributing to this cause, of course, has its rewards. Nothing grand, though, just a simple thank you note on the Techloban WiFi Hotspots page and a link to whatever website or blog you own.

Let’s get crackin’ and show the world that Tacloban and the rest of Leyte are moving towards the future with them.

Thanks to Jean for the hard work and dedication she has shown for the project.

Wordpress for Android

WordPress For Android: Update Your Blog From Anywhere

image

When I came across this article about WordPress for Android during my daily sweep of tech news blogs and websites, I spent little time debating with myself the advantages of having it on my Android phone.

At first glance, WordPress for Android seems a convenient alternative to blogging from a laptop or desktop. After a few strokes using my Android’s virtual keys, however, I’m thinking tedious and not really worth it.

But that’s just me and my sometimes kilometric posts. There is definitely an advantage in using WordPress for Android, especially if you are into short blog updates or live blogging. Just make sure your Internet’s up and let ‘er rip.

I’ll keep this posting short as I have heard a few horror stories on blogging via WordPress for Android, like needing to edit the post once you get your hands on a laptop or desktop.
Stay tuned to Techloban for a more in-depth review of WordPress for Android.

Oh, by the way, this entire article was written using the app and my Android phone.

Update: Well, they were not kidding when they said you’d still have to go into admin on a laptop or desktop to edit your post. A friendly suggestion to the guys developing WordPress for Android — make the content editor HTML instead of WYSIWYG, if it isn’t already.

[cb type="product"]Android[/cb]
[cb type="product"]Wordpress[/cb]

TripAdvisor as seen on the Android Market

TripAdvisor: Handy App For The Travelbug

More and more people are using their mobile phones to access and browse the Internet. So it’s perfectly logical that travelers may access travel-related news and reviews via their mobile browsers. Some travel sites have taken this idea a step or two forward by coming up with mobile apps.

One such mobile app is TripAdvisor on Android. I’m not really a big fan of the TripAdvisor website, but I’ve got to say that having the app on my Android is a big help, especially when traveling.

TripAdvisor as seen on the Android Market

TripAdvisor as seen on the Android Market

Here’s a few things you can do with TripAdvisor on Android:

  • Browse 50+ million reviews and opinions on the best–or the worst, as the case may be–places to eat, sleep, and play.
  • Write a review of any hotel, restaurant or attraction.
  • View photos of hotels, restaurants and attractions.
  • See what’s nearby with Near Me Now.
  • Get advice in travel forums.
  • Virtual Tour: See a street-level view of your destination, plus nearby hotels, restaurants, and more.

It should be pointed out that TripAdvisor on Android is not a stand-alone app in the sense that you still need an Internet connection–and a reliable one at that–to use it.

While TripAdvisor is pretty handy to have on your Android phone, viewing the website on a laptop or desktop browser gives the better experience.

On the road, however, where even laptops are scarce (yeah, we’re talking about portability here), your Android smartphone, with the help of TripAdvisor, becomes your primary–and maybe only–source of travel information.

Check out the TripAdvisor app on the Android Market. The app is also available on other platforms: iOS, Nokia, Windows Mobile, and Palm.

[cb type="company"]TripAdvisor[/cb]

Steve Jobs 1955-2011, may he rest in peace

A World Without Jobs–Steve Jobs, That Is

The world is mourning the passing of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple and one of the modern age’s most prolific visionaries. The last time I witnessed mourning at this magnitude was when Pope John Paul II died way back in April 2005. I’m not saying Steve Jobs and Pope John Paul II were cut from the same cloth, but they were definitely sources of inspiration for various generations.

Steve Jobs was–and still is–an inspiration to me. My first computer, the Apple II, was from the company that Jobs built. With that machine, I had learned basic programming, basic computer troubleshooting, and of course, how to play video games. Sadly, that Apple II never made it past 1990, but memories of the times I used it and had fun with it remained with me.

The next time I encountered an Apple product was in 1995 when I joined The Manila Chronicle, a now-defunct newspaper in the Philippines. All of the computers at the newspaper’s office were Macs, and I had to adapt because I became a Windows-based PC user. No biggie, I thought. Macs were easy to use, something Jobs probably thought of.

Steve Jobs 1955-2011, may he rest in peace

When I opened my Safari today, this is the first image I saw on the Apple homepage

Today, I own a couple of Apple products–an iPod Shuffle and a MacBook Pro–and run across or encounter other Apple products like the iPod Touch, iMacs and Mac Minis. Truly, it is hard to think about what the world will be like without Steve Jobs. In my life alone, his work in the technology industry has inspired me and verily molded me into the person I am today.

Thank you, Steve. You will be missed.

So how did Steve Jobs and his vision of a better world affected your life? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment or starting a thread on the Techloban Facebook fan page.

Can’t think of anything to say yet? No worries. Here’s a list of recent Apple-related stories on Techloban to help jumpstart your way to writing a tribute to Steve Jobs:

How To Share Your MacBook Pro’s Internet Connection Via AirPort
Top Ten Thursdays: 10 Apple Apps That I Wish Were Free
Top Ten Thursdays: 10 Free Apple Apps I Use On MacBook Pro
5 Things You Can Do With An Android That You Can’t With An iPhone

The Moron Test by DistinctDev Inc on Android featuring a checkpoint

Show Off Brainpower With Moron Test For Android

Prove you’re a genius with this fun and tricky brain-teaser. This is the come-on phrase of The Moron Test, an app for Android that pits your brain against ingenious puzzles that will have you tapping, twisting and shaking your smartphone to master the game.

The Moron Test by DistinctDev Inc on Android

The Moron Test developer DistinctDev Inc seems hung up on ducks

The Moron Test is available as a paid app on the Android Market at PHP 43.26 (roughly USD 1) a pop. Not bad for a brain-teasing app that gives you almost endless fun–that is, until you’ve mastered the game enough to go through it even with your eyes closed.

Like a real test, The Moron Test is divided into sections, and you can get two sections–The Moron Test: Section 1 and The Moron Test: Section 2 for free.

I’ve played the two free versions, and I can safely tell you that getting The Moron Test is definitely worth it if you base your decision to purchase it on the two freebies.

The Moron Test isn’t perfect, though. I’ve found some really annoying puzzles that more often than not pushes you back a few screens to the last game checkpoint. These puzzles can be implemented without these annoying quirks, but I guess they’re just part of the way the developer, DistinctDev Inc., envisioned the game to be played. I’d rather not tell you about these here, though. Spoilers ruin the experience, believe me.

The Moron Test is also available for the iOS, so iPhone and iPod Touch users need not feel alienated.

Techloban Who's Who

Who’s Who: IT Student and 7 Years Blogger

Every once or twice in a month, we will be posting our Techloban interviews, with our first being @LorLeala. Today, we give you our second installment where we asked a young blogger and IT student who may be too shy to initiate a conversation, but compensates by writing well-delivered everyday experiences where most teenagers her age will be able to relate.

Let us all welcome, @ewoishe!

Eloise: "I started blogging when I was 13, although I didn't really know how to write back then so my entries were mostly photos and music."

Techloban: Tell us something about yourself.

Eloise: My name is Eloise Bercero, a 20-year-old introvert, blogger (currently on hiatus), foodie, and IT student. I’m a very shy, awkward and quiet person. I don’t really talk much but I like to write. I also take pictures and doodle.

Techloban: We heard you’re a pretty popular blogger around town. When did you start blogging?

Eloise: I started blogging when I was 13, although I didn’t really know how to write back then so my entries were mostly photos and music. I was also bad at grammar and spelling. Haha!

Techloban: Doesn’t seem like it though. (chuckles) What was the first blogging platform you have used?

Eloise: It was either Xanga or Tabulas. I’ve created lots of blogs before (but had all of them deleted) so I forgot which one I had used first. But I do remember being active on Tabulas and LiveJournal during my younger years.

Techloban: Old school blogger. Sweet. What made you start writing your own online journal?

Eloise: To remember stuff. Haha! My entries back in high school were mostly lists of what I did every week and my to-do. I used it as a planner/diary. Now, whenever I try to remember dates and events or just feel nostalgic, I dive into my archives. I also made it a place where people could read my thoughts, since I don’t really talk or tell stuff in person.

Techloban: What do you usually write about?

Eloise: I write about random things (food, movies, music, people, experiences, rants, love and interests), but usually about what happens in a day. My blog is just like a personal diary without the “Dear Diary” salutation on every entry.

Techloban: Have you ever shell out an amount for your blog?

Eloise: Yes, when it used to be a self-hosted WordPress blog. Anyway, I still keep my domain name so I pay for that annually.

Techloban: Did you gain, say, monetary value, from blogging?

Eloise: I haven’t really tried blogging for money yet. But I do earn from serving ads on my blog.

Techloban: What other social networking sites are you actively using these days?

Eloise: I’m most active on Twitter nowadays because it’s the easiest one to update, and then crosspost my tweets to Plurk for karma maintenance. Also migrated to Google+ just recently and well, I still check Facebook from time to time.

Techloban: What gadgets and apps do you use for blogging & connecting to other social networking sites?

Eloise: Since I don’t have a computer, I make the most out of my Samsung Galaxy Mini. I use Android apps to update on social networking sites (such as Twitter, Google+ and Facebook for Android) and to blog (I use the official Tumblr app).

Techloban: Can you share with us some tips on blogging and maintaining your online presence?

Eloise:

  • Know which platform or tools should you use. Weigh the pros and cons.
  • Be both professional and personal.
  • Have personality, but don’t overshare.
  • Keep active through status updates.
  • Monitor your pages through periodic vanity searching.
  • Network through comments, recommendations, group activities, etc.
  • Update all your profiles at once.
Know someone tech-savvy from Tacloban and willing to be interviewed? Refer them to us! They might just be featured next.
android-market-313

Owning An Android Phone: Tips For Beginners #1

Consider this scenario: You’ve finally saved enough money to buy yourself a decent mobile phone. You decide on a good smartphone, most probably one that runs Android because you have heard a great deal about how Android is dominating the market for smartphones.

So you hie off to the nearest mall (in the case of Tacloban, it has to be Robinson’s Place), browse through a selection of Android phones on the racks and display shelves of popular electronic communications shops like Digital Gleen, CellCom, and even maybe Samsung Style.

And then finally you’ve found it, the perfect smartphone for you. You immediately run home, charge the phone overnight, and then play with the gadget come morning. The question is: now that you have your smartphone, what do you do with it?

To make a long story short: A lot of people who purchase Android phones don’t really know the full capabilities of their gadget.

In this first installment of our Owning An Android Phone: Tips For Beginners series, we tackle how to choose and install apps.

Android 2.2.1 as seen on a Samsung Galaxy Mini

Android 2.2.1 as seen on a Samsung Galaxy Mini

Connecting to the Internet on an Android phone

Before you can raid the Android Market for apps, you should first connect your smartphone to the Internet. If you are on a plan with any of the big telecommunications firms, particularly data plans, your smartphone will connect to the Internet automatically when you open the market. To make sure, install your subscriber sim into the smartphone upon purchase with the help of the store’s representative. About 99 percent of the time, these little Santa’s helpers know what to do.

If you don’t own a plan with any of the big telecoms firms, fret not; there is hope in open Wi-Fi networks. There’s a couple of open Wi-Fi networks at Robinson’s Place Tacloban, including those named “Robinsonsmalls” and “Tenants,” which seldom work, FYI, and “NETGEAR.”

To connect to a Wi-Fi network, make your way to Settings on your Android phone (on Samsung Android phones, it’s usually in the first app screen indicated by a “gear” icon). Tap on Settings and then Wireless and Networks. This opens up a menu of Connectivity settings. Choose Wi-Fi Settings. Make sure Network Notification is checked so that the phone will notify you when an open network is available. If the phone detects an open network, it will automatically try to connect. If this fails, it will move on to the next open network on the list and cycle through it until it successfully connects.

If you are finding it impossible to connect to any of these open networks, find the nearest Internet cafe and post a comment on this blog post. I will then contact you and send you tips on how to access some secured Wi-Fi networks.

Link a Google Account

We’ve almost neglected to mention that you need a Google account to access the Android Market. The fastest way to link your smartphone to a Google account is by accessing the Gmail app and logging in. The app will ask for your permission to link the gadget to your account. By all means, tap on “Yes” or “Accept.”

Once your shiny new Android phone is linked to a Google account, move on to the next step in the process, that of opening the Android Market and grabbing all the apps that your little phone can handle.

Load the Android Market app

Once you have connected your smartphone to the Internet, it’s time to open the Android Market and browse through its selection of applications. Most of today’s Android phones come with the Android Market app already installed. So just click on the market icon to load the app.

Fair warning: when the Android Market apps loads, you’ll be bombard with information. You can sort through this with the help of search or by tapping on Categories and choosing a topic as a starting point.

The Android Market has, in my point of view, four main categories (not to be confused with established categories mentioned above): Paid, Free, Apps and Games.

I suggest taking it easy on your first go at the Android Market. There are hundreds of free apps that you can use on a daily basis. Here’s a handy list of the most used Android apps on my smartphone.

You can take my list and download the apps that are on it, especially those that are pretty common like the Facebook Android app or the Twitter Android app. But I encourage you to build your own list (and maybe even share it with us here on Techloban).

Download and install apps

Needless to say, when you find an app that you fancy, go right ahead and download it. Remember, though, that not all apps will work on your Android phone. There are several limiting factors in choosing apps, foremost among which is the screen size.

Don’t worry about downloading an app by mistake. The Android Market will prompt you every time you click on “Install” with a message that tells you if the app is compatible with the smartphone you registered with your Google account. Register? Oh, yeah, I think we forgot to mention that, too.

Enjoy your Android apps

Now that your Android phone has apps, it’s time to enjoy them. I recommend downloading and installing a healthy mix of apps classified into three:

Apps that you think you will use on a daily basis. This type of app usually includes Facebook (because, come on, who doesn’t own a Facebook account … well, not all, but you get the picture) and maybe even YouTube.

Apps that you think will help boost your productivity. There are quite a number of apps that belong to this category. On my Samsung Galaxy Mini, I have Dropbox (an app that allows you to access online data storage; account needed), ConvertPad (handy tools that helps you convert figures), and Thinking Space (which helps me plot plans for projects).

Apps that help you relax. Naturally, games belong to this classification. For starters, go with well-known game apps like Angry Birds and its sequels, Angry Birds Rio and Angry Birds Seasons. If you want games that challenge your brain, I’ve compiled a short list of Android apps that might tickle your noggin.

So there you have it, our first installment of beginner tips for Android phone users. Do you have tips to share? Tell us about it via a comment on this blog post or through Techloban’s contact form.

[cb type="product"]Android[/cb]