Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My apps, my tablet

China's full of geeks, right? Every single of them has a smartphone, even the tribesmen of the least known tribe of the desert in Xinjiang. But not only do they have smartphones they have rooted them. What's rooting a device you might ask unless you're one of my dearly missed geeky friends.
Rooting a device, phone or tablet is getting full access to it. You can do things a normal user can't do. Like running certain more applications or running linux for example.
And as Nabila would say:
I think you can only understand the joke if you're french, sorry
I have one quite important reason for rooting my tablet but I'll keep that a secret until we pass the deadly trinity.
Among other reasons, I needed to root my tablet to put Linux on it. Rooting a tablet is a process in which you trick the system into giving you full access. There are several steps when you unlock different parts of the tablet until you finally can do whatever you want with it. It's a risky proces for some tablets, especially mine but if I succeed I'll suely earn the respect of all of the People's Republic of China so I guess that's worth it!
Unfortunately the internet went down before I had the chance to start the process. I was in the south-east of France at the time. In that reagion, public transportation is scarce and my distance-wise closest friend was 10km away so I spent afternoons and nights going there and away.
Even though we have our differences I am thankful to him for letting me there.
Once the tablet rooted, I spent days looking for useful applications. Applications are not as important as real gear but they can be really handy. Here's what I found useful:
  • Maps: MapsWihMe is a great application that enables you to download very detailed maps into your device. You download the countries you want (you can download regions for Russia) and you can access them offline afterwards. It will even localize you on the map using the tablet's GPS chip. Finally, it includes a very nice function: it stores the maps on an external SD card if you wish. This is extremely welcome since the maps are 100Mo/country and my tablet doesn't have that much memory.
  • Languages: Google Translate. Better than any dictionary. You can download languages offline just like the maps. Afterwards, you can translate things offline and even translate whole sentences, it has some knowledge of the language grammar. The only two downsides is that are that it doesn't translate from and into pinyin in chinese (and go figure the correct pronounciation from the sinograms!) and it cannot store languages on SD card.
  • Wifi crackers: Free wifi is good, hacking into secure wifi is good too. So just in case I downloaded Penetrate Pro which is supposed to work pretty easily but unfortunately it only works on a small nomber of routers. In the real world you'll be able to crack one secure wifi out of about 100, at least here in europe. I am also taking Backtrack which only works on rooted tablets. I haven't tried it but I hope for a better performance than Penetrate.
  • Facebook, google talk, twitter, gmail: for obvious reasons
  • Weibo, the chinese twitter
  • Communication in remote places: Spot Connect enables me to use my GPS beacon to write text messages on my tablet and send them via satellite even when there is absolutly no phone coverage.
  • Hitchhiking spots: Hitchwiki is an application which lets you access all of online hitchwiki.org. It's not a very mature app but it has all the info. Offline browser is better. You can store web pages and whole websites to access them offline later. It's great for storing useful countries from hitchwiki and later use them to find the good hitchhiking spots.
  • A photo processing program: Not some lame quick software with a few fancy looking filters applied to the whole image. Something closer to photoshop with layers, text insertion, brushes. I haven't been able to find a suitable one yet, if someone has any ideas.