We’re Moving! Handz Studioz Goes Self-Hosted

This has been in planning for quite some time…we’ve gone self-hosted. Now you can find us at http://www.handzstudioz.com/!

There are a few things we’d like to highlight/inform you about this move:

  • The URL is a bit different. Besides being self-hosted (i.e. dropping “.wordpress”), the URL is now handzstudioz, not handzstudio.
  • If you’re currently subscribed to us through email, we won’t leave you hanging, don’t worry! We have migrated our email subscribers over to the new site via the Jetpack plugin, so you’ll continue to get notifications about our posts if you’re subscribed.
  • All new content will be posted on the new website, so head over there for our new stuff. This site will remain on the internet and all old posts will be kept here (although this site may be set to automatically redirect once users have time to adjust to our new location). In addition to that, all of the old posts you can find here on this site have been transferred (copied) to the new site).
  • The new site has been changed a bit. It looks nearly identical, but it’s slightly different. An example is we have a new favicon (tab image) for the new site.

Thanks so much for checking us out! Be sure to subscribe via email (you can do that on this site, or the new one, but consider checking out the new site and subscribing while you’re there) to be notified whenever we release a new post!

Sincerely,
Handz Studioz

http://www.handzstudioz.com/ (previously http://www.handzstudio.wordpress.com/)

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Official Handz Studioz Review — The Best Apps of 2014

logos

You’re probably aware that there are a lot of apps out there. But do you know how many there really are? The facts are pretty stunning — Android users have access to 1.3 million apps via Google Play, and Apple users have access to 1.2 million via the App Store (data from July 2014)! That’s a lot of apps, so we thought we’d simplify things for you a bit. As the year draws to a close, Handz Studioz presents you with our list of the best apps of 2014. We’ve broken them down into the top three for each category (such as games, note taking, education, etc). Enjoy! (Please note that this is mainly geared towards Apple users, but most of these apps are available on the other platforms)

We all like to play, but sadly, work comes before play — so let’s get right into Category 1: Productivity.

First place: Pages, by Apple, Inc. It’s essentially Microsoft Word for Apple products, and despite many other word processors, Pages is still the cream of the crop when it comes to word processing.

Pages

Second place: iA Writer, by Information Architects Inc. This app replaces the default iOS 8 keyboard and adds a new row of keys that let you skip lines and individual letters, parenthesize and quote without switching keyboards, and more. All in all a very good application, although perhaps not quite as good a deal — it’s $4.99; Apple users with newer devices can get Pages for free.

iA Writer

Third place: Evernote, by Evernote. This app is great. It syncs with your Mac or PC, keeps checklists, notes, pictures (they have a neat feature that lets you search the text in an image), and can use your calendar to help you plan. As always, Evernote continues to impress, whether on the computer or the tablet.

Evernote

Now that we’ve done some work, let’s play a little in Category 2: Games. This category is a bit tricky since there are so many different genres of games to choose from, but we’ve decided to rank these based on aspects they all share, such as graphics, performance, etc. Plus fun factor — personally we find Trial Xtreme 3 more interesting and fun than Candy Crush Saga, but that’s open to debate I suppose…

First place: Temple Run 2, by Imangi Studios. The second installment in the Temple Run saga, Temple Run 2 is loads of fun — and that’s not all. Good graphics, high frame rates (we videoed gameplay with a slow motion camera [which we reviewed here], and found it to go up to 60 fps), and a nearly spotless performance record round this app out at #1 on our list. Users around the world enjoy these apps — the first version, Temple Run, is the ninth-most-downloaded app on the App Store!

Temole Run 2

Second place: any of the Angry Birds versions, by Rovio Entertainment, Ltd. Angry Birds comes very close to Temple Run 2 for first place. Ultimately the thing that decided it for us was the challenges that Temple Run 2 does, such as the Daily Challenge and the Weekly Challenges. Maybe we’re just goal-oriented or something, but that little bit of “zip” that a challenge provides tipped a nearly level scale. Either way, you’ll want to have both of these on your phone or tablet.

Third place: Deer Hunter 2014, by Glu Games Inc. Third on our list, Deer Hunter 2014 is king of the castle when it comes to graphics. Let’s back up a little and say that Glu Games is king of the castle when it comes to graphics — every game of theirs that we looked at has stunning visuals, and DH 2014 is no exception. Looking at performance, the app can be slightly frustrating. Occasionally there can be a timer error that means your energy (which you need to go hunting) doesn’t replenish itself over time like it is supposed to do. Luckily, this problem is easy to fix — just connect to a network and start the app. DH 2014 also can take a while to load, sometimes up to two or three minutes; it’s usually faster when connected to a network. As for fun factor, it depends on your taste. Our nearly all-male staff finds playing with guns and shooting animals in Africa to be quite enthralling, although this may not appeal to all audiences.

Deer Hunter 2014

Honorable mention: Clash of Clans, by Supercell. There are so many good games out there that we just had to do one more. Clash of Clans isn’t the most engaging game, and that’s one of the reasons it’s on our list — it’s still fun without requiring all of a user’s brain function in order to operate it. Graphics are good and performance is stable. The only problem we have had is server maintenance, which results in temporary inability to play…which brings us to another point: you have to be connected to the internet in order to play Clash of Clans.

Bonus! Hardest game: Geometry Dash, by RobTop Games AB. Download it (or the Lite version). Try it. Fail. Try again. ‘Nuff said.

Let’s move on to Category 3: Document Management. So much of our lives now revolves around our documents — resumes, essays, letters, and or just plain grocery lists all have to be stored and managed. Here are Handz Studioz’ top three picks for document management from 2014.

First place: Documents, by Readdle. This app handles everything — it’s pretty incredible! If you can name it, Documents can handle it. .pdf’s, .zip’s, pictures, audio, .doc’s — they all work with this app — you should definitely get this app going into 2015.

Documents

Second place: Google Drive, by Google, Inc. We’re talking about Google Drive here, folks. What can you expect other than seamless integration and performance? The app doesn’t dissappoint — it’s every bit as functional and useful as the online drive — we highly recommend it.

Google Drive

Third place: iBooks, by Apple, Inc. iBooks isn’t particularly impressive as document managers go, but it’s still our favorite for managing .pdf’s. The sleek new look introduced in iOS 7 and the bug fixes in iOS 8 make handling .pdf’s a pleasure in iBooks — it now comes standard when upgrading to iOS 8, so if you haven’t upgraded yet, it’s something to consider. We reviewed iOS 8 in two installments this summer. Check out the first one here.

iBooks

We’ve arrived at our last category. With all the new camera abilities on recent Apple products, we feel that we should mention Category 4: Photo Editing.

First place: Autodesk Pixlr, by Autodesk Inc. This app is pretty nice, especially for the price ($free). While it’s certainly not Photoshop or Gimp, it gets the job done quite nicely on your devices. The UI is simple to use and powerful, with a wide range of effects, overlays, text, collages, and more. We highly recommend this to just about anyone, and it certainly suffices for the needs of the average consumer.

Autodesk Pixlr

Second place: Sketchbook Pro, by Autodesk Inc. This app might not be on the App Store anymore, unless it has been replaced with another name. Regardless, it’s pretty powerful, and we highly recommend it. Why is it second place? The UI is not helpful at all…there are no labels with the buttons, so you kind of have to guess at what they do until you learn them all. Other than that, it’s great.

There is no third place for this category. If you have a suggestion, please comment below. One app that we have not looked at is Apple’s App of the Year, Pixelmator. It’s a highly rated photo editor that we may look into eventually. If anyone has looked at this in depth and has any feedback on it, please let us know in the comments.

That concludes Handz Studioz’ Best Apps of 2014 Review! We hope you enjoyed this post; please share Handz Studioz with others in your community (online or physical). Disagree with any of our choices? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks for visiting Handz Studioz! If you find our content interesting, consider following us and we’ll let you know via email every time we release a new post!

-The Editor

Apple Releases a Look at Their New 5K iMac

On Thursday the 16th, Apple released a look at its newest products: the iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3, and a new, 5K iMac.

5K iMac

Image from Apple.com

Today we’ll take an in-depth look at the new iMac, and you can expect a post on the new iPads soon.

The first thing to be mentioned here is that this computer is pretty big, with a 27″ display. However, Apple went a step further and added a Retina Display, which basically means the pixels are so small that they can’t be seen with the naked eye. But wait — that’s not all! Not only does the new iMac have Retina Display, it also has a screen resolution of 5120 x 2880 (which comes out to 218 ppi). That’s 5K — not 4K, 5K. In other words, this Apple machine has a higher resolution than a movie theater screen (which is typically 4K)!

Now that we’ve looked at the display, let’s look at the performance:
iMac Graphics

Image from Apple.com

Apple tells us that its new iMac will have stunning performance, with the latest AMD graphics processors, with up to 3.5 teraflops of graphics power. This will provide stunning images, games, and 3D. Apple claims that these will provide a 45 percent performance upgrade from the Nvidia GeForce GTX-powered Macs. The new iMac will be built around the 4th-Gen Intel Core i7 processor, boasting up to 4.0 GHz with the integrated Intel TurboBoost.

Apple’s new supercomputer will utilize the new Fusion Drive system, which combines the storage capabilities of a hard drive with the performance of an SSD. You can get up to 3TB of storage total in the system, with up to 1TB of that being SSD (flash storage). The Fusion Drive will provide outstanding performance because of the way it works: the OS boots from the SSD, and most of the data is stored on the hard drive. Essentially, it’s a tower-computer drive system rolled into one unit.

The new iMac will feature the new Thunderbolt 2.0 ports for the fastest data transfer possible, with speeds up to 20GBps, 4x faster than the USB 3.0 system.

Finally, Apple topped it off with the fastest internet speeds, up to 1.3 GBps of the latest three-stream 802.11 ac WiFi. The new iMac will feature channel bandwidth of a stunning 80MHz, for about twice the bandwidth of standard channel bandwidth.

So, there you have it: Apple’s new 5K iMac, in a nutshell. If you enjoyed this post, please like and follow! Please share Handz Studioz with others in your community (online or physical), and let others whom you think would enjoy our site know about us!

-The Editor

External Links:
http://www.apple.com/imac-with-retina/?cid=wwa-us-kwg-mac-com
http://www.apple.com/imac-with-retina/performance/
http://www.wired.com/2014/10/new-apple-5k-imacs/

What Is Alexa and Why Does It Matter?

Have you ever visited a website and wondered, “How popular is this site compared to others in the world?” Or perhaps, “What’s the most popular website in the world?” Alexa.com has the answer for you.

Alexa Logo (from Alexa.com)

Image from Alexa.com

Alexa is an Amazon.com company that tracks visitors to websites, and then ranks those sites based on the number of views that it gets. Not surprisingly, Google is #1, Facebook #2, and YouTube #3. The way Alexa works via a toolbar/plugin that users can install to their browser; Alexa looks to see, for instance, ‘OK. How many toolbars (equivalent to visitors) visit example.com? How many views does example.com get?’ Alexa is regarded pretty much as the gold standard in basic web analytics, along with Google Analytics.

Now, let’s look at the second part of the question: why does Alexa matter anyway? Well, let’s give an example. Let’s say that here at Handz Studioz we wanted to review a new camera. We would contact the manufacturer and say, “We have a tech website, and we’d like to review _________ product. What can you offer?” Now we wouldn’t be that blunt, of course, but that’s the general idea. The company would receive our request and most likely visit the site; they would want to know whether it’s worth giving a discounted product out in exchange for a review. Thus, they would use an analytics engine (either Alexa or Google Analytics, most likely both) to see how popular a particular site is. Then they would decide either to say, “Sure, here’s our offer,” or “Sorry, but we can’t help you.”

You can see how important Alexa is; if you have a good ranking, you’re much more likely to get better opportunities than if you don’t. Established sites with high rankings, such as Engadget.com, would be much more likely to receive a free iPhone 6 than a new tech website that someone just recently created. That’s not the only reason Alexa is important, however. Ranking on Alexa is a pretty big deal. You may have noticed that Ford says in all of its commercials, “…Best selling pickup in America for ______ number of years…” In the same way, one (Google) could say, “We have the #1 website in the whole world!”

Here’s where we could use your help. Handz Studioz’ current rank according to Alexa is 16,900,046; we do receive a fairly high amount of traffic, but unfortunately not many viewers have the Alexa toolbar installed, thus, a fairly low Alexa rank. If you enjoy Handz Studioz, please visit the Alexa.com toolbar download page and install it for your browser. As you visit Handz Studioz, Alexa will get more data for more accurate ranking.

This won’t just help Handz Studioz, but all websites you visit. If you visit Amazon.com to order something, then Alexa gets a little more data about the number of visits to Amazon.com (which provides a more accurate rank). If you visit Weather.com, then Alexa gets a little more data about the number of visits to Weather.com; it progresses from there. So, here’s a chance to help Handz Studioz, and at the same time, help all sites on the internet!

If you enjoyed this post or found it interesting, please like and follow! Please share it with others in your community, whether physical, or online. Be sure to install the Alexa toolbar; doing so will help the whole internet with more accurate data. Plus, as you visit Handz Studioz, we get a better ranking as the traffic monitoring becomes more accurate!

-The Editor

Hack Your Nook Color to Run Android 4.2 (Overwrite OS, No SD Card!)

A while we did a post showing a Nook Color that I hacked to run Android 4.2 Jellybean, and today you get the knowledge; I’m going to tell you how to do it. The title of this post is a little misleading, but not completely. It says, “No SD Card,” but you do need one in order to perform the root. However, once the root is done, you can remove the SD card and use the Nook without it.

PLEASE NOTE: This root is not the kind where you pop out the SD card and reboot and it’s a Nook again. To my knowledge, this is irreversible. The MicroSD card I used was 16GB, but I believed you can go as low as 4GB for this. Some people used 2GB, but using at least 4GB will speed up the process (and make sure you have space for all the files that you will use).

That aside,
Today I’m going to tell you how to make you Nook Color into an Android 4.2 Jellybean tablet. Here’s what you’re going to need:

OK. Now that you’ve downloaded from the provided links (use the links that I provide, because they all work with each other. If you try to use the wrong version of gapps for CM 10.1.3 it won’t work. These are the files that I used when I rooted my Nook and they should work.), this is what you need to do:

  1. Insert your MicroSD card into your computer using an adapter (or a cable or whatever you need).
  2. On a Windows PC:
    • Launch Win32 DiskImager
    • Make sure the drive letter selected is the location of your MicroSD card (in other words, choose to burn the file to the MicroSD card).
    • Select the ClockwordMod Recovery IMG file that you downloaded and unzipped.
    • Click “Write” and wait. As I recall, this took a while.
  3. On a Mac:
    • Use Disk Utility to erase the MicroSD card and format it to FAT32. Then unmount the MicroSD card from a terminal prompt and use the command line to burn the image to the card. (Detailed instructions here)
  4. Once you have completed the instructions for whichever machine you are using, copy all the other downloaded .zip files files (CyanogenMod 10.1.3, gapps, repartition, and reformat .zips) onto the MicroSD card. DO NOT unzip these files, and DO NOT put them in a subfolder.
  5. Safely remove (unmount, eject, whatever your system calls it) the MicroSD card.

OK, now it’s time to actually hack the Nook. Once you have done this, YOU CANNOT REVERSE IT TO MY KNOWLEDGE. So if you want to use the Nook as a Nook in the future, STOP NOW. If you want an Android 4.2 tablet, continue.

Your Nook should be shut down (turned off completely) to start the hack.

  1. Get into ClockworkMod.
    • Insert the MicroSD card and turn on the Nook Color
    • I believe you will see a loading message in the middle of the screen with skulls on either side (I can’t remember for sure; I did this in February).
    • Then you will come to a menu in amber colored text (I think that it might be blue, actually; once again, I can’t remember).
    • You use the volume buttons to go up and down the menu, Nook button to select an option, one click of the power button to go up a menu
  2. Repartition and reformat Nook’s internal storage (you can skip this if you have done it previously, but I would recommend doing it anyway).
    • Navigate to “Install .zip from SD card.”
    • Select the repartition package (repartition2GBdata-v1.zip).
    • Go back to the main menu (press the power button) and select reboot. (Note on this: I believe that when you do this it reboots as a Nook. If it DOES reboot as a Nook, shut own the Nook [by holding down power] and continue with the next steps.)
    • Navigate back to “Install .zip from SD card.” This time select the reformat package (reformatData-v1.zip).
    • Go back to the main menu (press the power button) and select reboot. (Note on this: I cannot remember whether or not it will reboot as a Nook at this stage. I believe it DOES. If it DOES reboot as a Nook, just shut down the Nook [by holding down power] and continue with the next steps.)
  3. Install CyanogenMod 10.1.3
    • Navigate to “Wipe data/factory reset” and follow the steps to convince the machine that you actually want to factory reset.
    • Navigate to “Install .zip from SD card.”
    • Select the CyanogenMod 10.1.3 file.
    • Select the Google Apps (gapps) file (this is optional, but if you want to download apps from the Play Store, you must select Google Apps).
    • Navigate back to the main menu (press the power button).
    • Remove the MicroSD card from the Nook Color.
    • Select reboot.

When the Nook reboots, it will not run CyanogenMod the first time (It might, but usually it will boot as a Nook from my experience and everything I read online). Just power off the Nook and power it back on and it should start up running CyanogenMod 10.1.3 (which is Android 4.2 Jellybean).

After its first boot up, CyanogenMod will prompt you to configure the Nook (which is an Android tablet at this point) and provide Google credentials.

Well, that’s it! Congratulations, you now have your own Android tablet! You can put the MicroSD card back into your computer and remove the files, and after setting up the tablet, put it in as extra storage.

If you enjoyed this post, please like and follow! Please share it with others in your community (online, or physical) you think would enjoy it or find it helpful!

Thanks for checking out Handz Studioz!

-The Editor

External Links:
This is the tutorial that I originally used when I hacked my Nook Color this February (I didn’t follow the steps exactly, because I used a different [newer] version of CyanogenMod and Google Apps). Unfortunately, some of the links to his files don’t work anymore, so it is a bit obsolete.

http://www.jamesrigg.com/2012/11/android-4-1-jelly-bean-on-the-nook-color/

Windows Releases Information About Its Newest OS — Windows 10

Yes. They skipped a number, we know. Hopefully this is an indication of where Microsoft is going with Windows.

With Windows 10, Microsoft did a combination of Windows 7 and Windows 8. You still have the tiles and apps of Windows 8, but the start menu is back! Joe Belfiore of Microsoft said the company wanted to bring back the familiarity of Windows 7 and the functionality of Windows 8. Maybe so, but personally I find 7 a lot more functional than 8; navigation is much easier. Whereas 8 was more of a tablet OS, Microsoft has moved back towards a computer-geared OS model for Windows 10.

Check out this video from Microsoft that shows the new OS in action!


This video shows seamless integration between Windows 10 as a tablet and a PC operating system. In PC mode, the start menu opens the “Windows 7 Start Menu” with the familiar quick launch icons, and the applications over to the side. Switch to tablet mode, and you get the Windows 8 tiles OS. Now you don’t have to use your laptop as a tablet. That was one of my biggest frustrations with the tile system of 8. Thank you Microsoft!

Windows 10 features a new “task view” that is reminiscent of the Mac taskbar, and resizing windows that automatically fill the screen or change layout to match the window size. Users will get keyboard shortcuts that were missing in Windows 8 back, and although that might not be the most groundbreaking news, ctrl+c and other shortcuts can be the most powerful functions on a machine.

Is Microsoft feeling guilty about 8, so they skipped straight to double digits with 10? Perhaps. Microsoft only revealed a few thing about Windows 10, but we will keep you up to date as Microsoft releases more information. You can’t get 10 yet for about a year, unfortunately; Windows 10 is due to release in late 2015.

If you enjoyed this post, please like and follow! Please share this post with others in your community (online or physical) you think would enjoy it!

-The Editor