Sunday, 20 May 2018

Freeware Review: Bluestacks

Bluestacks is an android emulator, basically meaning you can use it to turn your laptop or desktop into a giant android device and as such run android apps on your PC that under normal circumstances wouldn't work in Windows.  Achieving this functionality isn't as simple as it sounds as not only is BlueStacks almost 300MB, but it also consumes more RAM than any other program I use.  So accordingly when using it I tend to close all other programs, including graphic designers and even office-related applications, that may slow the computer down, and I also don't like to leave BlueStacks running in the background but rather close it when I'm finished using it.


Of course the people who would benefit the most from having a large android display are gamers who can enjoy the benefit of playing android games on a bigger screen, and as you can see from the above logo and indeed their official website this is how the BlueStacks' company mainly markets it.  However I think most people who use it in Ghana actually do so primarily to run Whatsapp on a PC.  

Using Whatsapp on BlueStacks not only affords you a larger display but also lets you open an account using a different phone number than the one you may have registered on your android, although to my knowledge you can also use the same number you already registered, basically meaning you can operate the same account on both your android and PC.  It also lets you use Whatsapp if you don't have an android altogether, but you'll have to have your chip in some kind of device for when they send you the mandatory verification code.  However one disadvantage of using Whatsapp on BlueStacks is that all of your contacts (phone numbers) have to be reentered manually.  

There's also the obvious advantage that using Whatsapp or another android chat program on Windows would afford actual typists the opportunity to use a conventional keyboard as opposed to the tiny android touchscreen version (although some people can type really fast using an android), but this benefit is reduced by the fact that again due to consuming so many system resources the characters you type can come out slowly, which makes accurate speed typing almost impossible since the autocorrect feature that is in place by default on most androids also isn't present (although I would presume can be downloaded elsewhere).  As such if you are typing a longer message the best option would probably be to do so in a lightweight word-processing program like Notepad and then pasting it into BlueStacks.


The primary reason I personally use Whatsapp on BlueStacks is that doing so gives me direct access to the files on my PC.  In other words you can upload files to or download files from BlueStacks directly onto your computer, which I personally see as the greatest benefit of using this program.  However doing so is not easy, and you'll need a program like ES File Explorer (as well as proficiency in navigating through Windows), and I also suggest you follow this tutorial for the basic on how to do so.

Once you figure out how to transfer files from BlueStacks directly to your PC then you can then use it in conjunction with other programs such as TubeMate, the best application I currently know of for downloading copies of videos from streaming sites like YouTube, since due to recent browser updates applications that used to do the trick such as Internet Download Manager or certain Firefox extensions no longer seem to work.  In other words TubeMate, though an android app, may be better for downloading duplicates of streaming video than even any currently-popular desktop applications for doing such and comes in especially handy if for whatever reason (such as file size) you're not particularly fond of downloading such directly onto an android device.


BlueStacks is such a complicated program that it's relatively difficult to install, occasionally crashes and can slow your entire operating system down, so if your PC isn't powerful enough then it's best to leave this program alone until you get one that is.  However once you get pass these limitations it's a very-useful program especially for gamers but also for those who prefer transferring files directly from their PC to and from android apps.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Freeware Review: Parallel Space

This is the first in a series of articles that will highlight some of the best free software (freeware) available on the 'net.  Sometimes software can be expensive and even inaccessible in this part of the world, so it's cool to be aware of free alternatives as well as applications that can help us in everyday life.
One such program is Parallel Space.  Parallel Space allows you to run two instances of the same app on a singular android.  So for instance you can have two Whatsapp accounts or two Messenger accounts (which I think is what most people use Parallel Space for) on the same android, which really comes in useful if for instance like many of us you're using a dual-sim 'droid and want a Whatsapp account allocated to each of your numbers.  Also if you have two separate Facebook accounts now you can receive messages from them both without the hassle of logging in and out.

The only thing I don't particularly like about Parallel Space is that every time you boot your phone you have to remember to start the program and activate the desired apps you want cloned, which I often forget to do since under normal circumstances programs like Whatsapp and Messenger don't need to be turned on every time you boot your 'droid.  However the original default accounts will still start automatically once you turn on your phone.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Private Tertiary Institutions in Ghana Added to GHfind Phonebook

The GHfind Phonebook now features the contact information on almost all 82 "private tertiary institutions offering degree programmes" in Ghana as provided via the National Accreditation Board's website.  One of two had to be omitted due to inability to find adequate contact information for them on the internet.

I'm currently processing the list of police stations as provided by a site called Nationton Republic.  This one should go pretty smoothly as all I'm basically entering is their phone numbers since all of the departments apparently share a common website and email address.