Monday, October 20, 2014

Unblock-Us Review (Updated)

There have been a lot of changes since I wrote my original Unblock-Us review *HERE*, *HERE*, and *HERE* that I thought that I would revisit the topic by mentioning some of the things that are currently changed/updated/improved.

I use Unblock-Us mainly for Netflix and I find that it excels in allowing users to switch the country of Netflix so users can view the Netflix offerings in different countries. When I first wrote my review of Unblock-Us back in August 19, 2012, Unblock-Us allowed users to switch between 6 Netflix country offerings (Canada, US, UK, Ireland, Mexico, and Brazil). As of today, Unblock-Us subscribers can toggle between 19 Netflix offerings (Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, US, and UK). Regardless of the country selected, the majority of Netflix offerings are available in English. I did encounter some offerings where there was no English audio available (ex: animated movies or foreign television/movies).

Having the choice between all those Netflix country offerings allowed me to watch all of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy or all of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy since for licensing reasons, Netflix doesn't have the entire trilogy in one country. As an example, for me to watch the Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, I switched the Netflix setting on Unblock-Us to Luxembourg and watched "Batman Begins" and then watched "The Dark Knight". However, to watch the last of the Batman trilogy, I quickly switched the Netflix country on Unblock-Us to Canada in order to watch "The Dark Knight Rises". Please note that this example uses the Netflix country movie offerings at the time of my blog entry. Netflix often moves their movie selections around. I did something similar in order to watch Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy.

Another change/improvement since my original Unblock-Us reviews is that Unblock-Us now offers a VPN service included in their Unblock-Us service. The VPN uses Point to Point Tunnelling Protocol (PPTP) so certain devices that don't use PPTP for VPN unfortunately can't use their VPN service. Having the VPN option is good since changing the DNS settings may be easy when it comes to your own home network but for certain wireless networks where you have to log into a website in order to access the internet, it isn't possible (or easy) to change the DNS setting on your device after you've connected to their network if you still have to have access to the internet. This is where having a VPN option helps.

I find Unblock-Us to be great for Netflix subscribers. Best of all, they offer a 1 week free trial which you can get information on by going to their website *HERE*.

Unblock-Us supports many sites other than just Netflix but I use them mainly for Netflix. It basically allows you to watch (or listen) to certain videos/songs which are region restricted. Episode videos from American television broadcaster's websites for the most part won't work unless you are in the US but using Unblock-Us, the American television broadcaster's websites that I'm interested in watching do work as does the video episodes from http://www.startrek.com which normally wouldn't work because I'm in Canada.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

OnePlus One OTA CyanogenMod Update to XNPH38R

After having my OnePlus One for ~1 week, I noticed an OTA (over the air) update was available for CyanogenMod earlier this week.

I decided to update it to see what the process was like as well as how it behaves after the update. Considering I still haven't really played with my OnePlus One for a long time (I only had it ~1 week and was still using mainly my LG Nexus-4 as my Android phone), I didn't really notice any issues with it prior to the update. That being said, generally when there are OTA updates for my devices, I will update them.

The update happened very seamlessly. After clicking on the "Install update", the phone rebooted and the update was applied immediately. I'm not sure if it was because my phone was encrypted via the security settings but the boot up seemed to take longer than usual so I powered off my phone and then repowered it back on. The phone powered on without any issues when I did this.

I then tested my OnePlus One briefly to see if it worked properly and based on the things that I tested worked without any issues.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

OnePlus One Purchasing Experience and Unboxing

I apologize for not having written a blog entry in close to 3 months since I've been busy with some other things and mainly write my blog reviews as a hobby and because writing and technology are 2 of my passions.

Although I've purchased/received many items that I could write about, I'll start with the latest technology gadget that I recently purchased. This would be the "exclusive" OnePlus One mobile Android smartphone.

I ordered it on Monday September 29, 2014 after receiving a random invitation from the company and was a bit hesitant on whether to purchase it or wait for the next Nexus version. As it turns out, a co-worker had offered me an invite the week previously on Friday but informed me that if I wasn't 100% sure that I would purchase it, he wanted to know so he could give it to someone else. Since I wasn't 100% sure that I wanted it (I was thinking of getting the next Nexus phone), I informed him that it might be best if he were to give his invite to someone else.

I didn't get the HTC Nexus-One but purchased the Samsung Nexus-S, skipped the Samsung Nexus Galaxy, got the LG Nexus-4, skipped the LG Nexus-5, and I was planning on getting the next Nexus version but it hasn't been announced yet. Because I probably wouldn't get another invitation to purchase the OnePlus One, I decided to redeem my invitation and ordered the OnePlus One when I arrived home from work on Monday September 29.

For those of you unfamiliar with the OnePlus One purchasing method, I'll just cover it briefly here. First of all, the reason that I wrote that the OnePlus One was an "exclusive" phone was because unlike most other phones where a customer can just purchase a phone given the amount of stock available at a retailer, someone wanting to purchase a OnePlus One must be invited to purchase it. Even after being invited to purchase it, he/she must purchase it within 24 hours of the invitation since the invitation expires. Also, in order to purchase the OnePlus One, the customer must create an account on the OnePlus One website as well as have a PayPal account since at the time of me writing this blog post, PayPal is the only accepted method of payment however OnePlus One will ship the phone to an address that isn't verified (I shipped it to my work address which isn't listed on my PayPal account).

The invitation marketing method is similar to how Google first distributed their Gmail and GoogleVoice accounts. If I were to want to purchase the latest 2 phones (Blackberry Passport and iPhone 6) available now, I can basically pre-order it from my carrier or I can purchase these phones from one of the retailers who sell them. With the OnePlus One, excluding purchasing it second hand, you can only purchase it from their website and in order to purchase it from their website, you must be invited to purchase it either by randomly being selected by the company or being invited by someone who already purchased it.

I was surprised how fast I received the OnePlus One after working it late on Monday September 29 (~10:00PM EDT). Because I knew that I would have to pay taxes/duties/customs/brokerage fees, I opted to send the item to my place of work as opposed to sending it to my place. On the OnePlus One website, it showed the "Processing" status the following day on Tuesday, September 30 and then on Wednesday, October 1, the item shipped from Los Angeles. I received it in Montreal during my lunch on Thursday October 2 at work at ~1:58PM where I left the fees after having received a phone call from the courier company (DHL) informing me what the fees would be after it passed through Canadian customs.


I didn't open bubble-wrap envelope before getting home but after opening it, there were 2 boxes; one small OnePlus One labeled box and another brown cardboard coloured box.




When I opened the brown cardboard coloured box at home as well as the small OnePlus One labeled box, I saw that the small OnePlus One labeled box contained the AC USB adapter plug and the brown cardboard coloured box contained a large OnePlus One labeled box. I believe that within the smaller white OnePlus One box, there was also a nanoSIM card adapter/tray. I was a bit curious on what the nanoSIM card adapter/tray was used for but when I ejected the OnePlus One SIM card tray and saw that it was a microSIM card tray, it was quite obvious that the nanoSIM card adapter/tray are for those users who have a nanoSIM. Instead of having to purchase a microSIM to nanoSIM converter, the included nanoSIM card adapter/tray is used directly instead of using the microSIM card adapter/tray that was already in the phone. This is ingenious and I wish most manufacturers included a different tray for at least the 2-3 common sized SIM cards for their phones without having to resort to an adapter.



Opening up the large OnePlus One labeled box, I found the OnePlus One phone. Underneath the white board that the phone sat on, was the USB cable as well as the SIM extraction tool.


It will take me a few days/weeks of using my new OnePlus One phone in order to write my review/thoughts about it but the phone is noticeably larger than my LG Nexus-4 and in terms of responsiveness/speed, I find it to be quite fast and responsive. After opening the box on Thursday evening after work, because I arrived home late, I didn't really "play" with my new technology gadget but charged it for the entire evening and after work on Friday I spent most of my time configuring it as well as installing/customizing the Android applications on it.

You can get some information of the OnePlus One from the keynote document either from the company's own website *HERE* or from my blog *HERE*.

If you have any comments/questions regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section below. Please note that the comments are moderated and any comment containing a URL link (whether embedded or not) will automatically be flagged as spam and will not be posted.