Category Archives: android

the best android ftp server app

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Hooking up your Android phone with a USB cable to your computer is so cumbersome isn’t it? So with that WiFi network you have around the house you might as well fire up a FTP server and transfer your files using FileZilla or WinSCP right?

Of course! But what android FTP server app is good, stable and free to use?
Well I’ve tried a few and I have to say there are a lot of shitty ones out there. Some of them are free as long as you don’t transfer files bigger than 10 or 50MB (boooooh!!), some of them get in trouble when transfer speeds get “high” and crash or loose their connections (booooh!!) and some of them are just too cumbersome to set up (booooh!!)

But I wouldn’t be blogging about it if I didn’t find a pretty damn good one in the bunch. In fact, this one isn’t just a FTP app. ES File Explorer is a darn good file explorer app for your Android phone packed with some extra handy features such as a remote access module, which basically sets up a FTP server on your phone.

The cool part is once you’ve configured it, you can have it drop a shortcut on your home screen to start-up that FTP server with a single tap next time.
It’s awesome and so far it’s stable as a rock. I throw big bunches of large files at it with WinSCP and it takes everything with a smile.

So if you’re looking for a good FTP server for android device, check out ES File Explorer.
It’s also a really good file explorer, can access a bunch of cloud services, uninstall apps, check battery and running apps and much more. In short, this is a good tool to have on your geeky Android tool belt. I imagine it to be a bit like the one Batman has, but with one of those green robots as a belt buckle.

Note: FTP is kinda flaky on android to transfer files sometimes, so recently I tend to use Bittorrent Sync for easy and trouble-free file transfers from and to my phone. However, FTP can still be a quick and dirty way to get files transferred without having to install the BTSync client.

Photo by John Trainor, cc-licensed.

mighty handy android apps

Marvin from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - not again

Well look at that. It’s been since 2010 that I actually reviewed the list of Android apps I often use. Can’t have that now can we? What awesome and fresh new apps would I be using these days? Which ones have I ditched for more shiny or slick ones? Let’s see!

  1. The stock browser. Yes. I’m still using it. The other ones, still too bulky imo and don’t seem to be adding any features I can’t live without.
  2. The stock energy manager had to go for a better one I’m afraid. So now I’m sporting Free Power Widget on my homescreen which also gives me access to Bluetooth & mobile data settings and has customizable colours. Ooh, pretty indeed.
  3. Catch Notes is still there. Kicking note-taking buttocks.
  4. FBReader also still there. Best eReader out there & open source.
  5. Advanced Task Killer Free has gone. The stock one is good enough really.
  6. Tweetdeck. You betcha. Best Twitter app for the phone. Ever. Love the tabs. The tabs make all the difference for me. Slide, slide, slide and you’ve seen everything you want. Awesome. From Twitter Inc nowadays. Makes sense.
  7. Zeam Launcher has now replaced the stock launcher because minimalistic goodness and features. It adds a nice customizable toolbar, double-tab multi-screen overview and the easiest way to uninstall apps ever. You just drop them from the app list onto the trashcan ét voila, you can uninstall that bugger without using the market or “Play” thing, nor having to go through the slow loading and tedious system applications menus.
  8. LittlePhoto is the only phone app besides the stock on I’ve kept around. It’s minimal but has lots of nice filters which you can combine in an endless number of ways until you have the perfect image… all messed up. Not locked into any online photo sharing thing either, so you can just save locally and share to whatever you like.
  9. iPaper is a must if you are already using instapaper.
  10. As photo viewer I’m using QuickPic now. Why? Because the stock one just isn’t fancy enough. It also has more features, but still, sometimes you just want things to look pretty dammit.
  11. Dropbox is worth mentioning too. If you don’t know about it, it’s for syncing your files in the cloud to all your devices, so in this case also your Android phone. Lately they’ve done a great job on the Android app, making it a breeze to upload photo’s (automatically even, which is a bit spooky) or other files to your global cloudy storage space. Beats hooking up that darn USB cable to your PC for sure.
  12. An old version of Acrobat Reader for PDF’s, because the new one is just plain worthless on Android imo. Sorry guys.

Photo by Adam Foster | Codefor, cc-licensed.

getting the old Acrobat Reader back on Android

Tokyo International Forum : Tokyo, Japan / Japón

Acrobat Reader is as far as I know the best PDF reader on an Android device. So every time an update was available, I gladly downloaded it from the market to check out the new features and it’s usually fancier layout.

After the update to Acrobat X however, I found out that they killed the most important feature to easily read PDF’s on a phone. From now on there is no way to have the text of a PDF reflow and resized on that small mobile’s screen. What. The. Fuck?

Without this it becomes extremely annoying to read any PDF, since none of them have been adjusted for reading on a tiny handheld phone’s screen. Reflow & being able to adjust the font size allowed me to use it as an e-book reader. Without that, it gives me instant RSI from constant pinching and scrolling left, right, up & down to be able to fit the text on-screen. And I don’t like RSI.

None of the other PDF Readers seem to have a text reflow feature, except BeamReader. Although this is damn good app, it’s only free for evaluation for 10 days. I didn’t feel like spending 7 Euro on something that I used to have for free, so I kept looking for another solution.

So how about getting the old version back of Acrobat Reader? That would fix it right? You can’t do that through the market unfortunately, but I did find a copy on a website called freewarelovers.com. I know this is something to be wary about, so take care if you’re following me down this path. Downloading apps from websites like this is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. I did get the 9.0 version of Acrobat Reader from it though, and so far nothing funny happened and I have my text reflow back. Hurray!

Being able to restore/install older version of apps would be a nice feature. Not all updates are going to turn out as they should, or as you’d want them to on your phone. I’m wondering if you guys and girls have another way of dealing with this kind of thing too.

Photo by Miguel Michán, cc-licensed

android ringtones, alarms and notifications the easy way

clock vector

Lot’s of smartphones come with software tools from the phone’s manufacturer to easily sync data, add ringtones, media etc. Most of those tools however suck so hard, they can suck a golf ball through a garden-hose.

With Android however you don’t need to install that crapware as you can get access to your sd card easily by hooking it up using a good old USB cable (miniUSB probably). But how do you add those nifty mp3 ringtones you so carefully crafted from your favourite top-40 breakcore hits?
Or how about notifications when you receive a new text-message, a tweet or whatever? How about those alarms? I mean, waking up to that dreadful rooster or old-fashioned analogue ring is only making it worse to get up in the morning to go to work.

Well, all that can be done by simply creating some folders in the root of your SD card and putting some mp3 or wav files in it.

So those folder names to use are:

  • Ringtones
  • Alarms
  • Notifications

That’s it!
Once your phone has re-indexed the sd-card’s content, you’ll see the files appear in your ringtone, alarm & notification lists.

Photo by postbear, cc-licensed.