Insights For Success

Strategy, Innovation, Leadership and Security

App Review

Bypass Google's AMP with DeAMPify for Android

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
deamp1.png

A handful of readers asked me to review the DeAmpify Android app and talk about it on my blog. So for those readers, here is my opinion.


Google introduced AMP in 2015 (Accelerated Mobile Pages) with the hope of speeding up the mobile web by degunking all of the junk publishers were adding to their web pages (tracking, advertising, etc.)

The CBC web page I am using for this article connects to 16 separate domains (to load content) and has eight different trackers. Obviously, this clogs up the page and makes it slower to load and less responsive.

Journalists and privacy advocates have been criticizing AMP because they claim it is another Google attempt to control content by encouraging publishers to use the search giant's AMP caching servers. Additionally, Google chooses what tags will be allowed for AMP markup on web pages. 

For those with modern high-end smartphones connected to super fast LTE networks, the difference is minor. But if you are on a mid-level phone or a slower connection, an AMP page could load in half the time. 

A crafty developer (Joao Dias) created an Android app called Deampify whose sole purpose in life is to convert AMP links back to "normal" web ones. The app is free with a small in app purchase option to unlock pro features:

  • Disable Ads
  • Ability to add exceptions so that some websites still show the AMP versions
  • Tasker integration so that you can load original pages when you’re on Wifi but load the faster AMP pages when you’re on 4G/3G for example. 

DeAMPify demonstration video

Important considerations

DeAMPify doesn’t work if you click on an AMP link inside of Chrome

Since a link clicked in Chrome does not kick off the Android intent process, you cannot redirect it to DeAMPify and this the app cannot perform its magic. The app works in any non-Chrome app (messenger, hangouts, the Google Search app, etc).

How does DeAMPify work?

When you click on an AMP enabled page, the app searches the HTML code for the original web page URL and then passes this to the browser. So in effect, it is pre-downloading the entire web page anyway.

Conclusion

So is this useful and do I recommend it? No! I tried to find a reason to like this app but I couldn't. I don't have a technical or moral issue with AMP so there is no reason for me to go out of my way to bypass it. 

Additionally, it is pre-downloading the web page to find the non-AMP URL so I am not saving bandwidth and may actually be slowing down my browsing experience. 

I'm glad the app exists in case someone does want it but it's going to be useless for most Android owners. The only reason someone would probably consider this is if they have a moral issue with Google playing manager of the AMP technology and wants to "stick it" to the man.  To me it feels like stabbing yourself to teach someone else a lesson. 

Secret to a 3 minute better you

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment

Why continuous improvement is important

Companies have competitors, but so do employees. There are others that can do your job, the questions is who can do it better. Continuous development through education (formal and informal) is the only way to keep and and hopefully move ahead. Moving ahead means you gain unique differentiating qualities that hopefully will lead to promotions, better compensation and maybe lead to the job you've been dreaming of.

By improving who you are, you gain the ability to deliver better services to clients, your company, colleagues and friends. A true professional is always striving to become better so that they may serve their entourage better. It increases the value you deliver to others and it increases your value.

ipsa scientia potestas est - aka Knowledge is power
— Sir Francis Bacon

Continuous improvement is important both in your professional space and your personal one. You need to become better at what you do (your chosen profession) and who you are (your ability to handle different situations and make the best possible decisions). Sure in good times, better knowledge could lead to promotions but in bad times, it could be the difference that helps you keep you job. 

So continuous personal development improves knowledge, skills and ability. At the same time it strengthens confidence and many times this new calm, cool confident you results in you being more relaxed (even in though situations) which means it improves your well-being.

The bank can take your house or car but they cannot take away your knowledge. What you learn is yours to keep and will benefit you your entire life. An investment in yourself is the best investment you can make.

The 3 minute secret

The biggest complaint I hear from people is that they want to learn and improve but they just don't have the time

Time is one commodity we can't buy or make more of. So in the spirit of helping you improve without consuming large amounts of your personal time, I present to you the GetNugget.co app. It is a small and simple iPhone & Android app that distills the wisdom of thousands of well reviewed books into small easy to consume information snippets.

They have thousands of books grouped in these categories:

  • Biographies
  • Business
  • Business Strategy
  • Creativity
  • Health & Happiness
  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Money
  • Our Journey
  • Personal Development
  • Sales
  • Science
  • Startups & Entrepreneurship

When you open the app the first time, you are asked to chose categories that interest you.

Then you are presented with books of interest.

When you chose a book, you get the nuggest for that book.

When you click on a nugget, you get the full screen view.

And all of this for free. So go download it now and become smarter.

My 6 best Android apps

technologyEdward KiledjianComment
Image by  JD Hancock  used under Creative Commons License

Image by JD Hancock used under Creative Commons License

The Google Play Android App store has over 1M apps but there are a handful of apps I found really useful in 2014 and they tend to be the first apps on a new phone and the apps I use most often.

1 - Drippler

Drippler is a neat little app that provides  reviews, tech tips, updates and app recommendations in a well designed easy to use Android app. This app is a must for anyone interested in Android.

Drippler will provide tips and app suggestions based on the device it is running on. It's simple and straight forward.

Get Drippler from Google Play here (link)

2 - Slice: Online Shopping Tracker

Slice is a helper app for anyone that makes purchases online (and who doesn't). At it's core, it is a fantastically full featured package deliver tracker that has push capabilities (no more checking 5 online package tracking websites). It supports most major US package delivery carriers such as : USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, OnTrac, Lasership, Prestige, Ensenda, and more

In addition to tracking packages, it tracks recalls to see if anything you bought has been recalled or if the price has dropped (helping you claim under price match policies).

If you are in the US and use Android, you should download this now. 

Get Slice from Google Play here (link)

3 - Agent - do not disturb & more

Anyone that has met me in the last year, that uses a non Motorola Android device has heard me recommend this app. It is a must. Everyone that tries this app loves it.

It basically gives you some of the functionality that has made Motorola phones so popular. It is a smart background agent that automatically changes phones settings to save battery, prevent distracted driving, remembers where you parked, silence your phone when you are in meetings or sleeping (except for urgent calls), etc.

The Drive Agent is triggered by your cars bluetooth connection or by the motion of your car. It can be configured to read your SMSs, allow you to respond by voice or auto-respond to callers/texting letting them know you can't answer now because you are driving.

The Battery Agent is triggered when your battery drops below a certain threshold and allows you to turn off blutooth, dim the screen, etc. Everything comes back to "normal" when you charge your device automagically. 

Meeting Agent knows when you are busy (based on your calendar) and then switches your phone to either silent or vibrate. You can specify your work week (days/hours) so it only applies during these windows. 

Sleeping Agent allows you to automatically silence your phone when sleeping. You can configure different times for different days. It can auto-respond to callers/texters letting them know you are sleeping. You can specify which contacts can "wake" you. 

Get Agent from Google Play here (link)

4 - Time Hop 

There was a fantastic online picture storage service (now gone) called Everpix. One of the coolest features they had was a flashback feature where you received an email everyday highlighting a picture from that day a week ago, a month ago, a year ago, etc. It was a great way to relive some of your past moments captured in photos.

Time Hop is a similar concept except it does this for all your social media networks. It brings back this day from your past by surfacing posts and pictures from your various networks: Phone, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Foursquare. 

Get Time Hop from Google Play here (link).

5 - Lastpass

With all the hacks and breaches, you should already be using long unique passwords for each internet site you are registered with. Obviously keeping all of those in your head doesn't work otherwise your passwords aren't unique enough. Enter LastPass. It is a fantastic cross platform password manager that costs just $12 a year.

6 - Evernote

I love Evernote and everyone should have it, use it and love it. 

$0.99 Lytro alternative for the iPhone

technologyEdward KiledjianComment

Related Article: 

I remember first hearing about the wondrous Lytro camera before it was even released. I was amazed at what they had done and the promise of the incredible technology. Unfortunately the cost of the generation 1 camera is so high (Starts at $399) that I couldn’t justify getting it just yet.

Imagine my surprise when I found a $0.99 app called tap2focus which simulates the light-field focus technology using clever and simple techniques. You tap the first area of focus and it takes a picture, you then repeat this process for other areas you may want to focus on later and built this refocusable image. In reality it is taking multiple pictures with different focus points and storing them in its own format which brings up the appropriate picture when someone clicks on the picture. You can email the picture to anyone that has the app or share it via a weblink (works on smartphones, tablet and PCs).

Of course this isn’t real light field photography and has many quirks (like keeping the camera absolutely stable) but it could be fun for iphoneography.

I think this is a novelty app that you will use a couple of times then forget about but it’s great to see developer thinking outside of the box. If you have $0.99 to spare and like iphoneography, download it and enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Automatically silence your Android phone / tablet at night

technologyEdward KiledjianComment

One of the questions I get asked most often is how to silence an android device at night or during busy times. Unlike IOS, Android doesn’t include this functionality in the base OS but fear not, a free app called Silence is the answer.

It is a well designed app with a clean and simple user interface that can toggle settings (sound, wireless, mobile data, etc) automatically based on your calendar. Unlike other similar apps (aka Tasker or locale) this one is incredibly easy to use and even a newbie can configure it in minutes.

You can configure Silence to use your calendar entries and make device changes accordingly. As an example, you can configure it to automatically switch your device into vibrate mode during meetings. You can also configure (non calendar) settings like switching your phone to quiet mode every evening from 1000pm until 0800am.

The most recent version also adds the ability to change data and airplane mode settings for most devices (depends if the device supports third party apps changing these).

The app is free (ad-supported) or you can spend $2 to get the ad free version and support the continued development of the app.  The developer seems responsive when emailed and the app get’s periodic updates (which is a good thing).

A more technical person can definitely accomplish the same results by using Tasker or Locale but these are not free and much more complicated to use. Silence is simple enough for your mom to use and free so give it a try. And if you like it, why not support the developer by purchasing the $2 ad-free version?