Author: The Tech Soldier

Parrot Bebop 1 Drone Review

The Parrot Bebop 1 Review, Pictured is Blue Version
The Parrot Bebop 1 Review, Pictured is Blue Version

Welcome to the Parrot Bebop 1 review.

Its review time for the Parrot Bebop 1, although it’s been out quite a while now and I was reluctant to even go near it following a brief demo of the A.R. drone from a friend which didn’t impress me, but I succumbed to persuasion and here I am writing it.

With the release of the Bebop 2, the price has dropped dramatically and I was able to pick one up from our local retailer (UK) for £249.99. Still pricey I thought, given that the DJI standard is hovering between the £350-£400 price range, but for those without a large budget (myself included) it certainly provides a good starting point for those looking to up their game within the Drone hobby field.

The first thing I noticed as I opened the box was that the front portion of the shell is actually polystyrene, (you know that material that we used to rub against concrete walls when we were kids to pretend it was snow?) and I immediately thought to myself ‘this is going to be light’, which isn’t really ideal from a flying and control point of view…

Never the less when I picked it up it actually felt quite sturdy despite the material, and was impressed that within the box we had 2 batteries, spare props and side protectors for indoor flying. You also get a little tool to remove the props, as well as a lens cover for the camera to prevent the lens being scratched.

The box states it can be flown via the Free Flight app which is downloaded to either an Apple or Android device. It can also be flown with the Sky Controller which is just as expensive as the drone, but provides the pilot with the natural feel of the controller sticks, and enhances the wifi range considerably.

However, given that the price hike would put us into DJI territory I decided to review the drone just using the app and with my Samsung mobile phone.

So, I’ve read all the instructions (not many), charged the batteries, installed the app, switched on the drone, allowed it to go through its pre-checks (you can hear each of the motors moving slightly) and then went into my settings within the phone to the WIFI menu, and attempted to connect to the drone WIFI network….nothing there.

I checked everything again, reset the drone, reset the phone…still nothing. So I uninstall the app, hard reset the drone (done by holding in button for around 14 seconds) reinstalled the app, back to WIFI settings….nothing. I then change phones (at the moment I’m using a Samsung J5) to an iPhone 6, install the app, into settings…..nothing. No matter what I try I cannot for the life of me get the WIFI signal from the drone.

I check a few forums and groups, and I’m advised to return it to the store. I’m obviously disappointed, both with the drone not working and my inability to solve the issue myself.

I return the drone to the retailer, get my replacement, and begin again….

Drone 2

Into WIFI I go, and…… connection straight away!. I begin to feel a little better about my inability to solve the issue, and come to the conclusion there must have been a fault with the drone.

You are encouraged to immediately update the drones firmware since any issues that have occurred previously should be resolved with the updates. I install it, and then head out to the local field to fly it, very excited at this point.

FreeFlight Version

The Parrot Bebop 1 Review, Pictured is Free Flight Version Screenshot
The Parrot Bebop 1 Review, Pictured is Free Flight Version Screenshot

I fly it around the field for about 8 minutes (it was all the battery had, however I sometimes fly aggressively) and then get bored, and so head home to charge my battery (even though I have another charged), and whilst I’m waiting I have a look through the app and am eager to try the flight plan feature, but am a little annoyed to discover it’s an additional purchase at cost (£15 I think).

I shrug it off and purchase it, and after a short time my other battery is ready, I’m off to try this out.

Back to the same field, (I’ve flown here hundreds of times with my DJI and F450 with Naza V2) and start attempting to get the required GPS signal which is mandatory (DUH!) for use with the app. I can’t get a GPS signal!!.

I fly it for a few minutes, let it sit a few minutes, and continue this throughout the life of the 2 batteries and I cannot get a GPS signal. I head home, recharge, and go to another field where I always get around 14 satellites with my F450….nothing.

I contact Parrot via their blog, and others have told me of an ongoing issue following the latest update, which affects the drones ability to get a GPS lock. I am advised to start the drone up, and let it sit outside for a while as it may take some time. After 4 batteries being used, with a mixture of it flying for a while and then sitting, I am beaten….again!.

I head back to the retailer, but have to drive an additional 50 miles to the nearest store which has a replacement. I tell them what happened, and explain this is last chance saloon with this drone as this is my second return!.

Drone 3

So back home, batteries recharged, go through the usual checks, out to the first field I tried and after a few moments I get the long awaited green GPS signal….RESULT!.

I fly it calmly, and don’t put it too far out, as the whole touch screen navigation is new to me (used to my FlySky) but manage to at least give the RTH (Return To Home) feature a few go’s and am actually starting to enjoy it!.

So I go into the Flight Plan, which is pretty awesome I must admit. I set the drone to fly up to 30 metres, and draw a small square of no more than 50 meters away. I press the button, and am pleasantly surprised as it auto pilots around this albeit small area.

Bebop 1 Drone Review Flight Plan Example Image

The Parrot Bebop 1 Review, Pictured is Advertisement of Flight Plan
The Parrot Bebop 1 Review, Pictured is Advertisement of Flight Plan

I then up the distance, up to 80 metres by 80 metres, press the button to send it on its way and am horrified by what happens next.

As soon as I press the button I know something isn’t quite right. It takes of normally, but then jerked into the complete opposite way as it was supposed to (was supposed to go West). At first I think it’s just moving out to begin its ascent to the desired height, but it rises to about 50 meters in an Easterly diagonal direction.

I immediately press the RTH function….nothing; it doesn’t even make any difference. I exit the flight plan and press the land button….nothing. I am then hit with the horrid realisation that I’m going to have to press the emergency button and watch it tumble from a height…..but it doesn’t do anything!.

At this point I’m watching the drone get further and further away, and am running like an idiot after it, but it’s really shifting!.  Seconds later, I look at the screen and the WIFI is disconnected and the app is attempting to connect with the Bebop….that was the last I seen it!

Now this is where the power of forums and hobby groups come into play. After speaking with a few members, I am encouraged to contact Parrot as apparently this had happened before, and given I can’t return to the store with nothing, I have no option.

Communication with Parrot

I won’t go into too much detail, but after having to get serial numbers, pictures of my drones, pictures of my receipt, pictures of the receipt next to a piece of paper with my email address, and all the other stats they wanted, days later I was sent through paperwork with shipping details on. I was to print them out, return the box with its remaining contents, and send them off to Parrot in France.

The Parrot Bebop 1 Drone Review Free Flight Stats

The Parrot Bebop 1 Review, Pictured is Screenshot of Stats Required By Parrot
The Parrot Bebop 1 Review, Pictured is Screenshot of Stats Required By Parrot

I did so, and received an email 2 days later saying they had received it with thanks, and that they would be looking at it to attempt to discover the problem. This actually pissed me off if I’m honest. What details are you going to get from an empty box I asked?

The Empty Box That Parrot Needed To Ascertain Why A Parrot Bebop 1 Had Flown Away During Flight Plan

Pictured is the empty box which, according to Parrot, would unearth the secrets behind the Parrot Bebop drone flying away during Flight Plan

Following that question, I was then sent an email saying that Parrot were going to send me a replacement, and I would get confirmation within 24-48 hours of when it was to be dispatched.

I was impressed. The customer service at this point was really good, or was I more pleased with the realisation that I hadn’t watched £249.99 fly away from me?.

Drone 4

Anyway 2 days later no email. I had planned to call after I returned from work, but was taken aback when I returned home to find a parcel from France, and indeed a new drone!.

I wasted no time in getting outside and flying again. I couldn’t believe it when the same problem with the GPS returned! No matter what I tried I couldn’t get GPS and not only that, the information from the Free Flight App suggested that I didn’t even have GPS at all, as there was no GPS version listed!.

By this time as I’m sure you can understand, I’m bloody furious, and the customer service this time fell flat on its face. The first rep suggested I take it back to place of purchase, and even after I explained that I had contacted the retailer and they had stated that they couldn’t accept it as it wasn’t the drone they sold me, she continued to be extremely unhelpful. She asked had I hard reset the drone, and when I told her of course I have, a total of 16 times, she laughed uncontrollably down the phone for what seemed like the longest 7 seconds of my life.

I then asked to speak to her manager, and she asked me what the problem was. When I told her it was extremely rude to laugh at my problem and that I believed I wasn’t being given appropriate customer service, she actually REFUSED to put me through. We sat in silence for what seemed like an age, and finally I had to hang up and ring back, and managed to get someone else.

Again I explained everything that had happened, but this time I REFUSED to get off the phone until I had spoken to a manager. I eventually got one, whose name was Matthew and it was a breath of fresh air to speak to someone who genuinely not only understood my problem, but understood the dissatisfaction that must have been oozing from every pore of my body. I was offered a replacement and said OK, then immediately corrected myself and said no.

Why would I want ANOTHER dud i asked?, and went on to explain that now I was stuck with this product as I couldn’t even get a refund anymore. I wasn’t happy with the product, especially as this would have been my 5th had I accepted. I said in an off the cuff remark, that I believed I should be given an upgrade….FREE!. Mathew explained he would make the request on my behalf and contact me when he knew the answer.

The next day, I get a phone call and true to his word he had sought authorisation for a free upgrade, and it had been granted! A new Bebop 2 is on its way!

Update 04/06/2016: So I received my email on Monday (30th May), to inform me that my Bebop 2 Free Upgrade would be dispatched within 24-48 hours. Now, when I had been waiting on the replacement from Parrot, I received the same email stating it would be dispatched within 24-48 hours, and that I would receive my tracking code afterwards (as stated earlier), but actually received the drone before i received the tracking number!.

I received the email first thing Monday Morning, but it was Bank Holiday here (UK) and so i couldn’t phone and speak to Parrot, but instead I replied to the email saying thank you and please remember its a Bebop 2, not a Bebop 1. On Tuesday morning i call and am assured it is in actual fact, on its way. I wait until Wednesday afternoon and give them a quick call just to make sure everything is OK, and am gutted to be told the email was sent in error, the Drone is actually still in France, and would be dispatched that day!.

Thursday Morning arrives, and I finally receive my tracking details and when I check the location, its says its still in Paris!. I don’t bother calling or emailing and just wait for the update from the courier. Friday morning arrives, I receive an email to say the parcel will be delivered within an hour!….Very much excited!.

I arrange to leave work a bit earlier to ensure I don’t miss the delivery. The parcel arrives at 11am and I immediately grab the scissors and get tore in the box. I open the outside box, and my heart sinks when I pull back the lid to reveal the Bebop 1 Box!!…I convince myself that perhaps they have put the drone in the wrong box? (scraping the barrel here), but my fears are confirmed when I open it an sure enough the piece of garbage i’ve had so much trouble with is staring back at me, worse still, when I lift it out the box, the small circular piece of plastic which is stuck around the camera is hanging off!!.

I’ll leave out the expletives…but you can imagine how I’m feeling right now. I gently move the box with my foot (lol), and immediately get on the phone to Parrot. I ask to speak to Mathiou, the manager who has been working with my case and got me the upgrade, and even he is dissapointed with my news, but explains that from a Tech Support point of view, they have done all they can. I’ll leave out further expletives, but he really did understand my frustrations and promised to take this to the highest level within the After Care Team.

After Care Team: I’m given a number   0033 148 063060, and am told to press option 2 for english. I call the number, press 2 for english, and am transferred back to the TECH SUPPORT!! AAARRRGGHHH!!!!!!

I ask to speak again to the manger Mathiou, (who by now is impressing me by taking my calls lol) and explain the number problem. I ask to be transferred, but Tech Support and After Care Team are in different locations I’m told, and therefore can’t be transferred ( I would have thought having that capability was paramount!). I am assured by Mathiou that he has contacted the manager called Lorou? and that he is awaiting an answer.

At 4pm, i have a missed call from France. I call back and speak to Mathiou who informs me that normal procedure would be for me to await the return paperwork, and once received I’d return the parcel..HOWEVER, my case apparently has went directly to the top and I’m told that a Bebop 2 is on its way and I will be asked to return the Bebop 1 at a later date. I thank Mathiou again for his help, but explain i’ll keep my excitement contained due to previous events….

I received the email informing me my Bebop 2 would be dispatched on Monday 06/06/2016, but there may be a delay due to fuel issues within France.

Update: 11/06/2016.

Well, I’ve been made to eat my words!. Didn’t receive the tracking info as promised, but it turns out the product was out of stock. I call to express my dissapointment, and not only am I upgraded to a Bebop 2…they throw in a Black Edition Sky Controller for the trouble!. Would DJI do this I ask myself?

I immediately try the BB1 with the Sky Controller, and as i said im eating my words. Its such as contrast between using the Sky Controller and using my phone. The entire flying experience is dramatically improved, range, performance and enjoyability. I’m instantly hooked, and everything I’ve experienced with Parrot thus far is forgotten. Yes I’ve went through a few drones, some bad luck thrown in to the bargain, but for a company to turn around and GIVE THIS to me for FREE is I believe unrivaled.

 

Conclusion (Finally lol)

I don’t think any explanation is need really is it? However I have to be fair….

 

Pro’s:

  • Very compact, easy to transport
  • Quite fast
  • Can be controlled via phone/tablet.
  • Amazing camera stability when flying! The built in gimbal really does the job well
  • Customer Service came through, time and time again.

 

Con’s:

  • Wifi Signal Loss: Loses WIFI signal even at short distances of 30m, and was tried with several devices in several different locations. But no problems with the Sky Controller
  • Issue Once Landed: Several times when I pressed the land button, it would land but the propellers would continue spinning at high speed. This led to an instance of it rearing up on its hind ‘legs’ like a bloody horse, which then makes the rear props hit the ground, and gives an error requiring a restart, and if this had occurred on concrete would have required replacement props.
  • Battery: Battery doesn’t fit properly, and rather than go back to the drawing board and address the issue, parrot applies a band aid fix of using a Velcro strap…seriously a Velcro strap? And they try to gloss over it with a branded strap!.
  • Battery charger: After looking on the forums, I had to chuckle at this as the image of people trying to remedy this with a rubix cube type philosophy did make me laugh. The way the charger plugs in means that the battery can and does fall out whilst charging. There is a way to rectify it (shown below) and just requires taking a screw out, turning the plug and replacing screw.
  • Camera: The box and online reviews would have you believe this is a really good camera given it’s a 14 megapixel. The Bebop uses a fish eye lens though and although gives a wider range of view I admit I wasn’t impressed with it all. The light has to be just right in order to get the full potential of the camera, and the finer detail remains blurred at times.
  • Landing Feet: The small circular pieces of rubber fit into the bottom of the drones ‘feet’ and come off so easily you don’t even notice.

 

Overall:

I’d avoid unless you have the Sky Controller, simple as that. I spent more time on the phone, emailing and problem solving with the Parrot Bebop 1 than I did flying it at first, but once I had the Sky Controller it changed everything.

The customer service really sold it for me. Yes the DJI probably has a better camera and other features, and although I can’t say for certain how DJI would react to the above issues, PARROT are to be commended for their after sales support.

You’ve converted me Parrot!

 

 

 

 

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Welcome to The Tech Soldiers Parrot Bebop 2 and Black Edition Sky Controller review

I’ve been fortunate enough to receive the Bebop 2 and Sky Controller from Parrot and hope you enjoy the review…

Bebop 2 Review pic 1

The Drone

The first thing that I noticed is that the foam/polystyrene has for the most part, gone. It’s replaced by a sleek soft plastic which gives it a modern, futuristic design and let’s face it, it wouldn’t be hard to look better than the foam.

Next, the annoying battery issue is completely resolved. Gone is the fiddly battery connector and with it the ridiculous strap to hold the battery in, although the strap guides are still on the Bebop 2 but are completely unnecessary, as the new design delivers a satisfying click when slotted into place. Finally, the battery is claimed to give a 25 minute flight time, and if like me you had a Bebop 1 you will appreciate the improvement over a measly 7-9 minutes.

The GPS has reportedly been updated, and after the spate of fly-away’s with the Bebop 1, I’m relieved  it’s a thing of the past as there’s no more horrid feeling when flying a Drone and you watch helplessly as it flies away and isn’t responding to the controls or the RTH feature, or even heaven forbid, the Emergency Cut Out!.

Another improvement from the original design is the arms of the quadcopter are now a single solid structure as opposed to the thin double arm of the Bebop 1. The propellers are also noticeably bigger and it certainly looks like a different drone despite keeping many of Parrots characteristics.

Bebop 2 review pic 3

 

The Sky Controller.

I was actually taken aback when I first held the Sky Controller if only for the weight of it. It’s quite a large controller, and the neck strap provided with it is a welcome companion. You also receive the sun guard and tablet holder, and finally the Battery which conveniently fits the Drone too. Once you’ve had a play around with it and know how to adjust it properly, it becomes rather enjoyable using the Sky Controller. It’s certainly not compact but who cares?

I personally drive to wherever im going to fly and never stray far from the car anyway so I don’t buy in to the idea of it having to be compact, but if that’s your thing then prepare to be horrified lol.

The controls themselves are really comfortable, and the sticks extremely responsive. The Return to Home feature is simply a button click, as is for take-off and landing. There is also a control on the right hand side for the camera and allows you to move it around to suit your needs, something I really missed when using the phone with the Bebop 1.

Flying Time.

I averaged about 20 minutes flying time, and this was with a little aggressive flying and some tricks as well.

**Top Tip** I averaged about 20 minutes flying the drone, but given the battery for the drone and the controller are the same, I found that running the battery in the drone down to about 20% and then swapping over batteries, gave me another 20 minutes flying time. The Sky Controller doesn’t use much of the battery and so there’s no fear of it losing power but I’d stick to around the 20% mark when swapping over….

 

 

 

Pro’s and Con’s.

Pro’s

  • Battery fits better, looks better and gives a 25 minute flight time.
  • Propellers are bigger
  • GPS issue has been resolved, no more flyaway’s (hopefully)
  • Extremely fast, responsive and enjoyable to fly.

 

Con’s

  • Camera still has some issues, especially when moving vertically due to light issues.
  • Limited to the 150m range.
  • Still has connection issues, but no more than other Drones.

 

 

Conclusion:

I’m converted!. No it’s not as good as the DJI, and let’s face it every drones gets compared to them. But the truth is it’s not like a DJI at all. Yes the DJI camera is better, but the Bebop 2 looks so much better when flying!. The Sky Controller is a bit bulky, but I actually really like it and it felt extremely comfortable after a while.

I think the Bebop 2 deserves a solid 9 out of 10, and it only misses out due to the camera and the connection issues.

 

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Prevention Against Threats to Our Online Identity

The Tech Soldier Identity Theft
The Tech Soldier Identity Theft

The invention of the computer has been one of the best revolutions in our lives. However, technology did not stop there. The computer made our day to day activities easier and quicker to accomplish. Later, we were introduced to the internet and we established our identities over the World Wide Web.

The internet opened the gates to the world while we sat in the comfort and protection of our own homes or workplaces. However, it did not take long for people to discover the drawbacks of this advanced technology. Soon, people were troubled by viruses and malware that not only was a threat to the hardware of our computers but advanced enough to make our online information vulnerable. Cybercrime took the world by hype. It rushed computer developers to invent antivirus and malware protection software. Today, we have strong software that can protect our computers and online identities against malicious threats.

Why We Need Antivirus Software?

The importance of malware software has never been as true as in our present times and age.  Viruses and malicious software are lurking commonly but only a handful of people have relevant information about them. It is very easy to target internet users these days. Computers can become vulnerable to viruses due to illegal film and music downloads. It is too late when the person realises that they have downloaded malware files along with them.

Spreaders of malware and viruses have discovered various ways to accomplish their missions. You don’t need to download stuff to your computer to become a victim. Your mere presence on the internet and simple browsing can make you a victim. Popups are not only an annoying part of surfing but are dangerous to the health of our computer and online information. Most popups are related to adult material and gambling but they can easily spread viruses.

Prevention is Better than Protection

It is important to install antivirus software both on your personal computers and business networks. Many organisations have sensitive data flowing through user to user and you never know at which point there might be a virus attack. Therefore, antivirus software should be a part of your strategy before you get to working. It might become difficult to restore systems after you have been attacked so prevent the instance as soon as possible.

Antivirus software can protect against harmful viruses like Trojan horses and firewall protection will keep you safe against malicious links and websites when working online.

Antivirus Software

These days, the market has many ready-made software applications that protect against the standard and common malware. Moreover, if you own a large and complicated business network, then you can buy customised solutions. Off the shelf software is suitable for home computers but organisations have more sensitive data needs stronger protection.

It is important that we keep ourselves updated with different kinds of viruses and cyber-attacks. The viruses are becoming as advanced as the prevention technology. Therefore, continuous development and evolving software regularly are significant.

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An Introduction To Linux

Linux is one of the most famous versions of the well known UNIX operating system. This system is free to use and being an open source program, its source codes are freely accessible. The functionality list of Linux is very much similar to that of UNIX as it is designed to meet UNIX compatibility.

Various components of Linux System:

  1. Kernel: It is one of the core parts of Linux and takes responsibility for almost all major activities that are held inside this operating system. Kernel is composed of many small or big modules and they directly make interactions with hardware. Note that, the kernel provides demanded abstraction level so that low level hardware details can be hidden to other application programs or system.
  1. System Library: These are special programs or features available inside Linux platform and with the help of these all application programs are able to access different features of Kernel. This collection of libraries help to implement almost all important functionalities of Operating System but they never need access rights of kernel’s code.
  1. System Utility: These system utility features or programs work for all specialized as well as individual level tasks.

 

Incredible features of Linux Operating System:

Linux is commonly used throughout the world and users prefer to install this operating system due to its so many interesting features. Some of these are discussed below:

  • Portable: The term portability means that such software can easily work on all types of hardware with the same features and abilities. Linux Kernel as well as its application programs, are able to work on all types of platforms and they can be installed in easily within a short time.
  • Open Source: As discussed above, the source code for the Linux system is easily available because it is a community based and useful development program. The capabilities of Linux are enhanced by continuous efforts of so many system designers, and these development teams are continuously working to improve its features and abilities.
  • Multi-User: This is one of the most interesting features of Linux where as compared to other available operating systems, probably only Linux allows multiple users to access all resources of the system like application programs, RAM, memory etc and at the same time without any trouble.
  • Multiprogramming: Linux Operating system allows a multiprogramming feature that means a number of programs can be run at the same time.
  • Hierarchical type file system: You will be glad to know that Linux provides standard type file structure where all users as well as system files are arranged in perfect order
  • Security: Users love to use Linux because of its high end security features it consists of so many authentication features like controlled access to files; password type protections as well as data encryption features are available.

 

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A computer would only be a set of microchips and a blank screen without an operating system. The operating system provides a set of utilities that allow the computer to run different functions and programs. The most popular operating system is the Microsoft Windows. However, over time people have come up with other significant operating systems like Ubuntu, Linux and others. Different people have different needs; for example programs and software developers like using a command line operating system. One such operating system is the Debian.

 

Debian Desktop Screenshot

Pictured above is Screenshot of Debian ‘Desktop’.

 

What is Debian?

It is important to understand the concept behind software before we decide to use it. Many people end up being dissatisfied because they are not aware of the software they are buying. Therefore, before you consider using Debian, it is important you know what it actually is? Debian is a free operating system developed by the Debian Project. Debian Project is run by a group of individuals who had a common aim of developing a free operating system. Debian works using the Linux kernel. Linux is a popular command line OS preferred by programmers around the world. However, many find Linux hard to use because they have a misconception that it is all keyboard based. Debian is compatible with many types of computer architectures.

Should I Choose Debian?

Many people get sceptical about using Debian when they know it is free. They think why would someone spend so much time and energy on distributing something free to world? If you can’t decide about using Debian then consider the following benefits.

  • It is easy to install. People might have heard that Debian is difficult to install but they don’t know that the team constantly upgrades the software and installation process has become fairly easier.
  • Debian has a good packaging system. You won’t find software files cluttering your computer or a piece of software crashing your system.
  • Debian developers provide quick and quality support. The team is readily available to answer frequently asked questions and other complicated queries. Replies are usually provided within fifteen minutes. Plus, it is for free.
  • Debian is not the software used by specific or number of people. Many highly ranked organisations use Debian and have been generous enough to provide information on how and why they use it.
  • Debian has a set of efficiently integrated packages. You can find everything on a single platform as Debian is developed by a group of people who work on the same page.
  • It is easy and quick to get Debian upgrades. You can upgrade Debian from CDs or over the internet.
  • As mentioned before, Debian is highly compatible. It supports various CPU architectures.
  • Debian’s bug tracking system is publically available. The developers don’t hide that users can sometimes experience errors and encourage users to report them.
  • Debian provides security. Many people are unaware that data can be accessed easily by any source between you and the receiver. Users can send mail privately among each other because Debian uses GPG or PGP software.

It is important to convince your through correct information before you choose any product or service to use.

apps screenshot

Pictured above is ‘Apps’ installed within Debian.

 

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  • Open Office Software

Open Office Software

What is Open Source Software?

The generic definition of open source refers to a something that is available to the public for alteration or enhancement of an original design.  Though this term was originated for computing; now the term is used to denote a set of values known as the ‘open source way’. Projects or products that are referred to as open source are those that have an open exchange. Further, an open exchange is an exchange that takes place in public like collaborative participation, meritocracy, etc.

Having defined the term open source, let me come down to open source software. So, what is an open source software? An open source software refers to a software whose source code is available for modification or improvement, publically.

The source code is a part of the software. This part is something that users, more often than not, do not see. The source code is the tool used by computer programmers who have the liability of manipulating the code in order to change the working of an application and a program. Moreover, this enables programmers to enhance a program or an application by adding features to it or just by fixing parts of it that do not work the right way.

What makes open source software different from other types of software?

Proprietary software’s differ from open source software’s because they are explicitly closed source. What this means is that the code of the software is strictly under the team or an organization’s control because they made it. And, this is also why they keep the responsibility of maintaining and looking over it to themselves. Examples of proprietary software include Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Word. Additionally, the user of the software has to first sign a license when they run the software. The license entails the terms that ask them not to twiddle with the software without the permission of the author(s) of the software.

On the contrary, an open source software is a software where the source code is made available by the author of the software so that the users can use it: learn from it, alter it, copy it or even share it. Examples of open source software include GNU Image Manipulation Program and LibreOffice.

In open source software you have to sign a license but it differs from a close source software. The terms and conditions of an open source software promote the collaboration and sharing of the source code so that modifications can be done and can then be incorporated in their projects as well. In addition, open source software has a condition that demands the user who is making changes should make it available for others so that they can use it too; without charging the other person for it.

The importance and preference of open source software

Open source software can be of benefit for programmers and non-programmers. Non-programmers also benefit from it because internet is also almost entirely built on open source technologies. Like for example, cloud computing also referred to as remote computing gives access to the public to use, share, like or watch something that is not only locally available but also globally connected computers.

Though there are some application of cloud computing that are closed source but there are open ones as well.

Additionally, the open source software is a preference of users because they can have a control over it which gives a sense of security and also because open source is ‘public’, individuals can share stuff and the people on the receiving end can learn. This way they also become better programmers.

Not only this, but you save an absolute fortune!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When I first heard about Kodi, I actually didn’t understand the concept at first. I’d dabbled with what I’d call ‘Sky Alternatives’ such as the Skybox FS5, (this still required you have a Sky Dish),  but was left without TV after my box stopped working halfway through a 1 year paid in advance subscription!!; and the ‘provider’ advised me to buy another box!!, yeah right!, and that’s when I heard about Kodi…

So what exactly is Kodi?

Kodi® Kodi® (formerly known as XBMC™) is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media center for playing videos, music, pictures, games, and more. Kodi runs on Linux, OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android, featuring a 10-foot user interface for use with televisions and remote controls.

It allows users to play and view most videos, music, podcasts, and other digital media files from local and network storage media and the internet. Our forums and Wiki are bursting with knowledge and help for the new user right up to the application developer. We also have helpful Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Youtube pages.

 Source https://kodi.tv/about/

 

To me and you, it means Free TV!.

I like to think of it like this…

Most of us will have used Microsoft Windows at some point. You remember the Media Player? You could add your own libraries of Video’s and Music and watch/listen to them at your convenience?. Well imagine something similar, but some very nice people have already filled it up like a vending machine, row upon row of bright juicy Movies, TV Shows, Boxsets, Sports and much more!

But what’s the catch I hear you ask? How much does it cost?

Well…It’s ABSOLUTELY FREE! That’s right, it costs nothing! It’s so versatile it can be installed on Windows, Linux, OS X, Android…

So yeah you get the idea..

Music.

Yes it works as a Music Player too and you can support a wide variety of file types!.

Movies.

Yes you get Movies, lots of Movies!. It’s like Netflix but FREE!. New Movies, Old Movies, Classic Movies and all in a variety of video formats too!

You can easily navigate through the Movies. You can search for a particular Movie, Newly Released; Search by Actor, by Genre the list goes on and on! You can even add your favourite Movies to your Favourites folder and access in just a couple of clicks! (Yes we have a tutorial for that too here).

Pictures.

If (like me) you’ve loads of pictures in your Phone/Computer/USB, using Kodi, you can import all your images and view them on whatever you have Kodi installed on. You can even use them as your background image once you have Kodi Installed (We have a tutorial on how to do that here).

Add ons.

Something about Kodi you will need to learn to understand (it’s really easy, like anything else we walk you through it) is that it runs on behind the scenes magic called Add Ons.

I’ve thought of many analogy’s to explain add ons, and even after I’d dug a little deeper research wise, the explanation that make sense to me is that they are like Apps. Each ‘add-on’ may have a couple of channels, some may have a plethora!. Some are better than others, some aren’t even worth mentioning!.

I could reinvent the wheel and begin listing all the add-ons available for Kodi of which, some are recommended by Kodi, some aren’t. But the truth is, there already exists a fantastic website that guides through the process of installing these add-ons…

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this website. https://seo-michael.co.uk/

This guy has put A LOT of effort into his website, keeps it up to date and guides you step  by step throughout the entire process!.

 

 

 

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The internet has definitely invaded all aspects of our lives because we depend on the internet to shop, find jobs, plan vacations and socialize. Most of the world’s data is available online as access to the internet is easier than access to clean water due to the widespread use of mobile devices. However, as the internet develops there is a greater need for internet privacy and security.

We face a continuous challenge to keep our data and personal information secure. The two terms internet privacy and security are often cause of confusions as some consider them as synonymous to each other while others believe they are two different words with different meanings but are interrelated. This means that internet privacy is the term concerned with keeping our data accessible to just those whom we want whereas internet security is the technology developed to do so for example if you want to keep your facebook posts private that is internet privacy but the software that secures them is concerned with internet security.

The question that arises here is that whether in today’s era internet security and internet privacy levels are satisfactory or not. We fear security issues like viruses, identity thefts, email and social media hacking and wifi hacking so steps should be taken to ensure that our data available online is safe and secure.

Virus

List of potential infections:

  • The virus is a program that is designed to copy itself and spread throughout applications with which it attaches itself. It can be spread by downloaded files, USBs, and copying from other servers etc.
  • Spyware is often installed into your device without your consent when you are downloading or copying a file. It deletes, accesses and reads your files and continuously sends data to the creator of the spyware.
  • Trojan looks harmless first but it leaves your computer unprotected making it more accessible for hackers etc.
  • Adware is a malware which includes ads popping up in the form of advertisements based on your internet behavior and sends information like spyware.
  • Phishing is the fraudulent acquisition of sensitive private information like passwords and credit card details. This is often achieved by sending official looking emails impersonating a trustworthy sender. Users of banking and auction sites are usually an easy target of phishing.
  • Pharming is a more sophisticated form of phishing as it includes exploitation of the DNS system to create a real looking website to extract information from users who believe the website is authentic.

 

Privacy Threats

All these security issues lead to some of the biggest privacy threats which include cookie proliferation, seized cloud data and location data betrayal etc. Cookie proliferation means the invisible cookie agents that track your online behavior which seems a threat to your privacy because you don’t always want to disclose what you search whereas seized cloud data means that everything you do online is stored to the server who is the owner of the internet service you use. Location data makes it uneasy for you to wander off to your favorite places without anyone knowing.

 

 

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An Introduction to Windows 8

Windows 8 is a Microsoft operating system that was released in 2012 and forms part and parcel of the company’s Windows NT OS family.

The much anticipated Microsoft Windows 8 differs widely from its previous versions of Windows as it comes with its flexible access to a touchscreen user interface and includes a domain of one single operating system that works on both desktops and mobile phones. The upgraded version of Windows 8 works with every type of device: regular keyboard-and-mouse systems as well as touch screen devices, and because of this impeccable support feature facilitates the likeness of most users.

Windows 8 has been described by Microsoft as the most important redesign in regards to its interface and has been classified as the most important and anticipated upgrade in more than a decade. The release of Windows 8 took place in a packed launch event at New York along with Windows Store and Windows RT.  The Windows RT version supports the ARM processor architecture while Windows 8 Pro, is specifically aimed to cater to business and technical professionals.

Shortly after the launch, several PC suppliers including HP, Dell, Toshiba and Sony announced products all the way from laptops to smartphones that would run Microsoft’s newest operating system in them. Microsoft’s very own Surface tablet that was released in early 2013, runs Window 8 as well.

the tech soldier windows 8 screenshot

Example of Tile Based Windows 8 Blue Screen

The famous Windows 8 screen in blue found in most laptops and computers today is tile-based. Each tile represents a specific app and although the facility of the taskbar deviates from taskbars in previous Windows versions since it does not provide access to a Start button, users can still bring up a Start screen by tapping or clicking with their pointer in the lower-left corner of the display.

Windows 8 is based on the Metro design language that facilitates a touchscreen user interface and so contains a Metro version of Internet Explorer 10, along with applications for news, sports and travel etc. Windows 8 also offers the accessibility to an updated Windows Explorer and an updated Task Manager along with picture password capability. Windows 8 literally has the most broadest selection of apps introducing a new and groundbreaking wave in the category of touch-enabled apps.

the tech soldier task manager windows 8

An Example of the Task Manager in Windows 8

Microsoft launched Windows 8 in an attempt to stop its PC operating system business from losing its sales and shares to tablets such as the iPad. With their revived and upgraded operating system, Microsoft has made sure that they revive back their lost sales by turning Windows 8 into a tablet-first OS. Windows 8 fills in a void that neither Apple nor Google has yet been able to occupy. Windows 8 is an OS that works as well on a desktop as it does when it is carried around on a portable tablet.

The new operating system has been welcomed by Steven Sinofsky, head of the Windows Group, as the next era of Windows. He said that they built Windows 8 on the very foundation of Windows 7 and that everybody would benefit from the improvement made to its core features! Research says, that an upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 will definitely make a PC run 33% faster.

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