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Thursday, 31 March 2011

Titanium backup

An interesting article from Maketecheasier:

Not all applications that are available on the Android market are free of charge. Some of the more useful apps can be had for a price. If you're an Android power user, you've probably invested your fair share of money on higher end applications which may include any number of powerful utilities for your phone. Like any other customer, you want to make sure to protect your investment. In the case of your applications, it would mean backing all of them up. Although there are a variety of ways to do this, one of the best methods involves using Titanium Backup, available on the Android Market.

As the name would suggest, Titanium Backup, is primarily a backup application. Apart from doing simple backups, it also includes features to keep every power user content. The application comes in two varieties: free and a donate version. The donate version unlocks most of the features that would cater to the power user crowd. Some features of the donate version include: batch backups and restoration, backup sync to the Dropbox file service, scheduled backups, and the ability to backup protected applications. Users also have the option of encrypting their backups for additional security upon restoration.

Note: It should be mentioned that in order to use these powerful features, you must have a rooted Android device. If you have not done any modification to your phones before, most probably your phones are not rooted.


Go to the Android market and initiate a search for Titanium Backup (or go to the web-based market here). Doing this will yield a search page that displays the actual application as well as the donate version license. Although the free version can be had, the paid-for version truly displays the applications full brilliance and potential. Download both applications and install them as you would any other app from the market.

Open the Titanium Backup application and select the "problems?" option. The application will then do a variety of system checks to ensure that its capabilities will not be prevented from functioning in any way. Once you receive the green light from the application, you will be free to make any backups that you see fit.


One feature that is especially handy is the Dropbox sync feature. In order to enable this, hit the menu button and select Preferences. Select "Enable Dropbox" from the menu. Directly beneath this option, select Dropbox settings to enter the appropriate credentials. After this you will be allowed to sync all apps directly to your Dropbox account. This feature is especially useful should your SD card fail for one reason or another.


In order to initiate backups, select the Backup/Restore option located at the very top of the application's screen. After selecting this icon, all of your available apps will be displayed in a list. Press on an application entry and you will be presented with a series of options for backing up that particular application. Also remember that you can perform batch operations, allowing you to backup multiple applications at once. To do so, hit the Menu button and select Batch. This will allow you to perform multiple backups.


A final feature to be aware of is the ability to schedule backups.for your applications. Selecting schedules at the top right hand of the screen will allow you to create schedule recurring backups.


To summarize, Titanium Backup truly provides a powerful set of backup features for the Android power user. Not only does it perform its job intelligently, it also provides secure backups of all of your paid-for applications. Use and abuse your Android with total peace of mind.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Create your own QR encoded messages in Linux

OMHGUbuntu had an interesting article

QR Codes are time-saving shortcuts: sort of hyperlinks that can be put on paper to follow.

A Quick Response is a ‘two-dimensional barcode’ made up of black squares on a white background. Used in Android and Blackberry mobile phones for reading URL's.

The creation of QR codes in Ubuntu is simple, though command-line based. You will need to install ‘qrencode‘ from the Ubuntu Software Center - you can search for ‘qrencode’ manually, or use a terminal :

sudo apt-get install qrencode

Once Qrencode has been successfully installed you can create QR codes using the Terminal and the following command structure: -

qrencode -o- [filename.png] '[text or URL to encode]' 

For instance a command to create a link to google in your homefolder  you would run: -

qrencode -o google.png ''

this outputs the following: -
Creating QR codes on linux: 3x3

You can make the ‘pixels’ used in the code bigger by using the ‘-s‘ argument. Let’s make the same QR code but with the square pixels increased to 6×6 and have the .png saved somewhere else, e.g. your desktop:

qrencode -o ~/Desktop/google.png -s 6 ''

The result is:

Larger QR code

 A Gui is being developed by David Green. Read more about that here:

You could use the web-based graphical interface to Google's QR generator at and as for reading QR codes on the desktop, I've found an AIR app that works OK at

The Google Charts API does this. See An example:

Thursday, 24 March 2011

How to Set Up a Fully Automated App and Settings Backup on Android

An article read on and forwarded to my weblog:

In an ideal world, your Android's apps, their settings, and your system settings would automatically back up to the cloud so that if you lost your phone, bought a new one, or installed a new custom ROM, setting up a fresh device with everything in place would be a piece of cake. The good news: This utopian Android backup actually is possible. Here's how to set it up.

We back up our computers religiously, but our phones are often neglected. There are tons of situations in which you may want to have your phone backed up. Perhaps you uninstalled an app and deleted its settings, only to decide that you want it back. Perhaps you've picked up a new phone, or you've flashed a new custom ROMand you don't feel like reinstalling all your apps and reconfiguring everything from scratch. An app called Titanium Backup saves you from these annoyances and more, by backing up all your apps and settings to your SD card (or to the cloud via Dropbox) and restoring them worry-free. You can even schedule backups, set them, and forget them until you need that data back. It's one of the best apps an Android user could have in their toolbox, and if you aren't using it, you really should.

How to Back Up Your Apps and Settings with Titanium

The biggest and best feature of Titanium Backup is, obviously backing up your phone's data. What's really nice about it is that it's an incremental backup, meaning it will back up everything the first time, and then after that, back up only the apps that have updated, so you won't need to go through a long backup process every time. Here's how to formulate your backup plan.

What You'll Need

  • A rooted Android phone: Titanium delves into some pretty deep settings of your phone, so you're going to root if you want to use it. For more information, check out our guide to rooting your Android phone, and maybe look through XDA's device-specific forums to find the easiest method for rooting your particular phone, as these methods do change from time to time on various phones.
  • Titanium Backup: You can grab Titanium Backup from the Market. There is a free version, but I highly recommend you pick up a $6 Pro license, too (you'll need to install the free version, then the Pro license from the Market). The Pro version has a ton of features we're going to cover here that make it far more useful than the toned-down lite version. It's really a small price to pay, believe me.
  • A Dropbox Account (Optoinal): Titanium Backup is going to use your phone's SD card to store backups, but it's much, much easier (and safer) if you also sync it back to your Dropbox account, which Titanium can do automatically for you. That way, if you accidentally wipe your SD card, your phone's internal storage, or if you just get a new phone, you don't have to worry about messing with SD cards—you can just download your latest backup from your Dropbox.

Your First Backup

How to Set Up a Fully Automated App and Settings Backup on AndroidThe first thing we're going to do is run a full backup of all our apps and settings. Once you've downloaded Titanium Backup, just follow these steps:

  1. Launch Titanium Backup and tap "Allow" when it asks you to grant it superuser permissions.
  2. On the first screen, before you do anything else, hit the "Problems?" button and hit Get Busybox. This will install some of the necessary tools that make Titanium Backup tick. Once that's done, you'll get a notification prompting you to restart Titanium Backup. Tap that, and you'll be ready to start a backup.
  3. Open Titanium Backup's preferences (Menu button > Preferences) and check the Auto-sync TB settings box. This will make sure Titanium saves its settings on your SD card, so if you end up wiping your data completely, Titanium will still be able to restore its own settings.
  4. Head back to Titanium's main screen and hit the Menu button on your phone.
    Tap the "Batch" option.
  5. From here, you'll see all the batch options you can perform—right now we're going to backup all our apps and system data, shown in the screenshot above. Hit the "Run" button next to the "Backup all user apps + system data" entry, and then hit "Run the batch operation". It'll take awhile, so just let it do its thing.
  6. Congratulations! Your phone is backed up and ready for anything that comes its way.
  7. Optional: If you have a Dropbox account, head back into the preferences and check the "Enable Dropbox" button. Then, go to the main screen and tap the "Sync to Dropbox now" button to send your backups to Dropbox.

Automate Your Backups on a Schedule

How to Set Up a Fully Automated App and Settings Backup on AndroidAfter your first backup, you'll probably want to do things a little differently. From now on, instead of backing up all your apps, you can tell Titanium Backup to back up just the ones that have updated or are new. What's even cooler is that you can automate this process, so you don't have to remember to back it all up yourself. To set up a backup schedule:

  1. Open Titanium Backup and hit the Schedule tab.
  2. There should be a few schedules there already. Enable the "Backup all new apps & newer versions" schedule. If you want to edit when it runs (by default it'll run every Sunday at 3AM), hit the Edit button and tweak it to your liking. Hit Save when you're done.
  3. Now, to create a scheduled backup of all our settings. Tap the "Add new schedule" button, and hit the Edit button when the new schedule pops up in the list.
  4. From the top drop-down menu, choose "Backup all system data" and hit Save. Those two schedules should be sufficient for pretty much any data you may want to back up on your phone..
  5. Note that your backups will not sync to Dropbox automatically. You'll have to do this manually by opening Titanium and hitting "Sync to Dropbox" for right now

You can do a lot more than that, but those two schedules will keep you in good shape for a while. If you keep your phone on at night, run them when you're asleep and you won't even know they're there.

Set Up Filtered Backups

How to Set Up a Fully Automated App and Settings Backup on AndroidThe backup method above can take up a few hundred megabytes of space on your SD card or Dropbox account (depending on how many apps you have installed). If that's more than you've got room for, you can save a little space by backing up only the really important stuff instead—say, your browser bookmarks, SMS history, or call log—instead of all your settings. To do that, we can make use of filters.

  1. Open up Titanium, the Menu button and go to Filters.
  2. Hit the "Create Label" button at the bottom of the screen and call it whatever you want (like "My favorite settings").
  3. Next, head back to the Backup/Restore tab and find the settings you want to back up. The most useful ones will be listed in green: things like Bookmarks, SMS history, and call logs, for example. When you find one you want to add to your backup schedule, press and hold on its entry, and hit the Assign Label button in the menu that comes up.
  4. Assign it the "My favorite settings" label you just created
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for all the settings you want to back up.
  6. Once you're done, head back to the Schedules tab and hit the Edit button under your settings backup schedule.
  7. Under the top drop-down menu you'll see another one that says "No filtering"—change this to "My favorite settings" and that schedule will only back up the settings you absolutely need, as opposed to all of them.

Restoring Your Apps and Settings

Whether you just want to restore an app you uninstalled, or you've gotten an entirely new phone or ROM and are starting with a blank slate, restoring apps and settings with Titanium is super easy. Before you start, make sure the TitaniumBackup folder on your SD card is full—that means your latest backup data is still intact. If not (or if you're on a new phone), head into Titanium and hit the "Sync to Dropbox" button. This will download your Titanium backups back to your SD card (but only if the TitaniumBackup folder is empty!). Then, just follow the steps below.

Restore a Single App

How to Set Up a Fully Automated App and Settings Backup on AndroidIf you just want to restore an app or its data, head into the Backup/Restore tab. Then:

  1. Tap the list entry for the app you want to restore.
  2. Hit the "Restore" button.
  3. Pick the option that describes what you want to do (e.g., if you have the app but just want to restore your old settings, hit "Data only") and let it do its thing. You'll get a notification when it finishes.
  4. Repeat for any other apps or system settings you want to restore, and go on with your day!

Doing a Full Restore

How to Set Up a Fully Automated App and Settings Backup on AndroidLet's say you flash a new ROM to your phone, get your hands on a new device, or otherwise need to restore all your apps and settings. You can easily save yourself endless amounts of reconfiguring with just a few taps from Titanium's main screen.

Note: If you aren't using Dropbox and have a phone with two SD cards, like a Samsung phone, an HTC EVO or Incredible, or the Viewsonic G-Tablet, you'll want to make sure your Titanium backup data is stored on the external SD card instead of the internal SD card. This process is described in Titanium's FAQ (number 14 on the list). If you're using Dropbox, this shouldn't be a problem, as you'll always have your latest backup just a click away.
  1. Head into the Market and install Titanium Backup, if it isn't already on your phone. You'll also want to Reinstall BusyBox here.
  2. On Titanium's main page, hit "Sync to Dropbox" if you don't already have your Titanium data on your SD card.
  3. Hit the Menu button and go to Batch. From there, hit the "Restore all missing apps + system data" button, and let it restore your data.
  4. Reboot your phone. When you come back, you should find that everything is just how you left it on your old ROM or phone. You may have to re-apply your old wallpapers and widgets, however.

If Your Data Isn't Restored Correctly

How to Set Up a Fully Automated App and Settings Backup on AndroidThere are a few cases in which Titanium Backup can't, sadly, restore a few specific settings to a new ROM. If you have a phone running the HTC Sense UI, for example, you very well may not be able to restore your SMS message history when you load a non-Sense ROM, or switch to a non-Sense phone. The messaging apps are just completely different. You can increase your chances of restoring incompatible data by going to Titanium's Preferences and checking the "Data Migration" option before restoring, however. Additionally, you can exclude anything you want from the backup process by unchecking its list entry when you go to back up your phone.

That said, restoring most data should work just fine. Just be careful, and if you're messing with custom ROMs, I'd recommend doing full backups through ROM Manager or Nandroid apps in addition to Titanium Backup. The two systems serve very different purposes—Titanium lets you restore specific data to your current phone or ROM, while Nandroid/ROM Manager make complete images of your phone, restoring it to exactly the way it was when you last backed up with it—ROM and all. If you're big of flashing custom ROMs, I wouldn't neglect Nandroid backups.

Other Awesome Things Titanium Backup Can Do

As if all that weren't cool enough, Titanium Backup also has a bunch of other really neat features that make it a must-have for Android rooters, like Dropbox integration, crapware removal, and

Remove Pre-Installed Crapware

How to Set Up a Fully Automated App and Settings Backup on AndroidWe've briefly mentioned this once before, but it bears repeatin:. one of Android's biggest annoyances (and one of the things that can really slow down your phone) is the pre-installed "crapware" that comes with almost every phone—things like the Amazon MP3 store, the Peep Twitter client, or games like Need for Speed. To remove these apps with Titanium, just find them in Titanium's Backup/Restore tab and tap on its list entry. Hit the "Freeze" button to freeze the app. This won't uninstall it completely, but it will keep it from running or slowing down your phone. I usually stop there, since uninstalling certain pre-packaged apps can break your phone. If, after freezing it for awhile, you're confident your phone will work fine though, you can go back to that same screen and hit "Remove" to free up a bit more space on your phone's hard drive.

Move Apps to Your SD Card

How to Set Up a Fully Automated App and Settings Backup on AndroidWe've mentioned before that moving some apps to your SD card can speed up your phone, and if you're running Titanium Backup, you don't need an extra app to do this. What's especially nice is that Titanium Backup will move them even if the app doesn't support it—which is great for big apps like games that you really, really want to get off your internal storage. To move an app, just long-press its list entry in the Backup/Restore tab, then hit "Move to SD Card". Of course, I only recommend forcing the move with non-essentail apps—you don't want to break anything by accident. If you find you have problems with the app after moving it, though, you can always try moving it back by going to the same menu—you'll then have an option to move it back to your phone.

This will get you started working with Titaniium Backup, but the app has a ton of advanced settings and actions if you find that this doesn't do quite what you want it to. I definitely recommend checking out the Titaniium Backup wiki for more information on how it works and all the other things you can do with it. And, of course, if you have your own favorite tools hidden away in Titanium Backup, tell us about them in the comments below.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Two Android tools that can help cut down your phone bills

Have you been struggling to stay on top of your mobile bills ? With these Android applications, you can send free sms and monitor your mobile usage, so that you’ll never have to go over your monthly mobile allowance.
To accomplish this, we will use two Android applications:  HeyWire for sending free local and international sms, and Droid Stats to monitor our monthly phone usage. Both of these applications are available for free from the Android market, so head over to the market, and install them when you are ready.

Free SMS

HeyWire, developed by Media Friends, offers free sms in over 146 countries worldwide. HeyWire lets you send sms over WiFi, or your data plan, so you do not have to worry about consuming too much of your data plan when you have a free WiFi available for you to use.
Check your HeyWire number by tapping the “Settings” button. You and your friends have to use this number to exchange sms.
You can use HeyWire beyond sending sms; you can even use it to update your Facebook status. Just tap the “Chat Services” button, and you can add your Facebook account to HeyWire.

Monitoring Your Monthly Mobile Usage

If you’re puzzled on why you keep exceeding your talk time or sms allowance, then you might want to monitor your mobile usage with Droid Stat.
Droid Stat’s setting screen consists of four menu: the monthly limit menu, the billing menu, the application setting menu, and the actions menu.
The monthly limit button lets you configure your phone allowance, the billing button lets you configure your phone charges, and the application settings button is where you can set Droid Stat to warn you when you are about to reach your monthly allowance.
The monthly limit screen lets you configure your monthly call, sms, and data allowance.
Tap the free minute, sms, or data, to set your monthly allowance.
Once you’re done setting up your monthly allowance, head over to the “Application Setting” screen, and set Droid Stat to send notifications when you are about to exceed your monthly limit.
Sometimes, despite all of our best and honest efforts, we still exceed our monthly mobile allowance. The best thing we can do is to evaluate our monthly mobile usage, and pick a different plan to accommodate our average monthly mobile usage.
Feel free to share your tips on how to save money on mobile phone in the comments section.