02 June 2013

Do You Use Two-Step Verification? [MakeUseOf Poll]

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Last week we asked you how many monitors you use in your current setup. Thanks to the great turnout of voters, it was possible to get a pretty clear picture of the most popular setup. Can you guess what it is? Full results and this week's poll after the jump.

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Ode to 3GS

With all this hype about quad-core and dual quad-core phones, I find it amazing that a smartphone from 2009 runs the latest OS version and the latest apps well. I'm sure that a 600 MHz single-core CPU and 256 MB of RAM no longer impress anyone today, not to mention a 480x320 resolution with 163 ppi. Well, a phone with these terrible specs is still relevant: in fact, it's the only phone released in 2009 that's still relevant today. It's the only phone from 2009 that runs Chrome and Google Search with Google Now and enhanced Voice Search without relying on jailbreaking, rooting and custom ROMs.

iPhone 3GS launched with iOS 3.0, which added basic features like cut, copy, and paste or MMS support. Then it was updated to iOS 4.0, which supported third-party apps multitasking. iOS 5.0 brought iCloud and better notifications, while iOS 6.0 for 3GS was a limited release that didn't include many features that were available for iPhone 4S/5. Apple got the foundation right and started to add features later, while Google started with the features and fixed the foundation later.

Back in 2009, Android was buggy and slow, so Google released new software updates quite frequently. Android 1.1, 1.5 and 1.6 added new features and fixed bugs, but didn't focus on the user interface. At that time, not many Android phones were available: G1, HTC Dream, HTC Hero, but Motorola Droid and Verizon's ad campaigns put Android on the map. Motorola Droid had better specs than iPhone 3GS: higher resolution screen, bigger battery, hardware keyboard, microSD support, multitasking, free turn-by-turn navigation. Droid does did look interesting and more feature-packed. Motorola Droid was only officially updated to Froyo (Android 2.2). The latest CyanogenMod release is based on Gingerbread and there are some other ROMs for Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean.

In January 2010, Google launched Nexus One, a phone with much better specs than Motorola Droid: 1 GHz Qualcomm Scorpion and 512 MB of RAM. It was updated to Froyo and Gingerbread, but the limited internal storage was the most important flaw that made it obsolete. In fact, the only Android phone released in 2010 that was officially updated to Ice Cream Sandwich is Nexus S (December 2010). Ice Cream Sandwich was launched in October 2011.

Meanwhile, Apple's iPhone 3GS is the only iOS device that received 3 major OS updates. Apple usually supports iOS devices for 2 years, so you get at least one major OS update and most often 2 updates. 3GS was still sold (free with contract in the US) until September 2012, when iPhone 5 was announced. 4 years of software updates is unprecedented in the mobile world, with hardware and software that evolves so quickly.

Cool Websites and Tools [June 1st 2013]

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Check out some of the latest MakeUseOf discoveries. Most of the listed websites are FREE or come with a decent free account option. If you want to have similar cool websites round-ups delivered to your email daily email subscribe here....

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The Curious Case of Google Hangouts History

Do you remember the post about the updated Gmail chat logs? The new interface is only displayed for Google Hangouts conversations, while the old interface is still used for Google Talk/Chat conversations.

The updated interface no longer treats chat logs like regular Gmail messages, so many features like reply, forward, label, "move to inbox" are gone. You can no longer disable chat history from Gmail's settings, but you can click "delete Hangout history" to "permanently delete all messages" in a Hangout.

Google Hangouts logs are loaded dynamically, as you can see in this screenshot. This suggests that the logs aren't really stored like standard Gmail messages.

I clicked the "print" icon next to one of my Hangouts and I was surprised to notice that the print preview page only included a few messages, not the entire conversation.

In fact, Google Hangouts logs are only displayed in the regular desktop Gmail interface. They're nowhere to be found in the "basic HTML" interface or in the mobile Gmail sites/apps, not even when you use the search feature.

I disabled the conversation view in Gmail's settings to see how this affects Hangouts logs. Each reply was displayed in its own separate message, so a Hangout generated tens of message. Google Hangouts logs are unusable if you disable conservation view.

A very basic feature that worked well ever since Google Talk was launched is now broken: buggy, more limited and less useful.

{ Thanks, Katty. }

Google's Calorie Counter

Google can now answer questions about nutrition, but it's strange to see that this feature only works if you use voice search in Android, iOS or Chrome. "You will be able to quickly and easily find extensive nutrition information for over 1,000 fruits, vegetables, meats and meals in search. From the basics of potatoes and carrots to more complex dishes like burritos and chow mein, you can simply ask, 'How much protein is in a banana?' or 'How many calories are in an avocado?' and get your answer right away," informs Google.

It works for general questions like 'how many calories are in carrots' or for queries like 'carrots calories'.

By default, Google shows the number of calories in a medium carrot, but you can pick a different serving size: 1 slice, 100 grams, 1 cup grated and more.

You can also disambiguate your query. If you search "tuna calories", you can select from bluefin, skipjack and yellowfin. Unfortunately, the list is incomplete and you can't select canned tuna.

Google shows a knowledge graph card with information from Wikipedia and nutrition facts, so you can quickly find the amount of saturated fat, cholesterol, protein or vitamins and minerals without clicking a search result.

And it's not all about calories. You can also ask: 'how much protein is in an egg?', 'how much cholesterol is in chicken?', 'how much saturated fat is in butter?', 'how much sugar is in Coca Cola?', 'magnesium in an apple', 'vitamin C in parsley'.

The feature only works in English and it's gradually rolling out, so it may not work for you. Try it in Android's Google Search app, Google's app for iOS or in Chrome (click the microphone icon from the search box).

Bigger Thumbnails in Google Search for Tablets

Google Search's tablet interface highlights some of the top search results if they're from video sites like YouTube or Dailymotion. Google shows much bigger thumbnails, so the search results really stand out. Unfortunately, Google no longer includes a snippet.

It's likely that this UI is used for queries that return a lot of video results. Some examples that worked for me in the tablet interface: [internship trailer], [u2 one corbijn video].

It's interesting to notice that Google adds a +1 button next to the video results when the top result is highlighted. The +1 button has been recently removed from the tablet interface, so these results are treated differently.

4 Astounding Linux Mouse Hacks


Ever since its invention, the mouse has become an extremely useful tool that makes using a computer much easier to learn when coupled with a graphical user interface. However, some of you may feel like the mouse should be capable of doing more work for you. Then there are some of you who like the [...]

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