Google Chrome: How to change the look & feel?

This is a quick post about how to change the look & feel of the Google Chrome browser.

Just open a new tab and browse to:


There you will see different options.


Each option has a different UI. The refresh option is for Material Design. So, if you are a fan of MD then you should try this one.

Click here to read more tech articles.

How to use wildcard domain with OpenShift hosting?

If you have a domain name and want to use OpenShift for hosting then using a wildcard domain name is a bit tricky with some domain registrars like GoDaddy. The reason is IP address of the app on OpenShift doesn’t remain the same and to use the wildcard domain a DNS A record is setup with the IP address of the hosting server. So, how do we make sure the following is true:

  • user enters > user sees
  • user enters > user sees

That is, the www prefix is always displayed anywhere on the site.

But due to the non-static IP of the OpenShift app, it is not possible to adjust the A record. But you can set up a CNAME with the following:

www >

where the format for the OpenShift app is

This means the site is accessible at but not at To make it work you need to do the following.

On domain registrar like GoDaddy
– Create a new Record with
Record Type CNAME
HOST: www

  • Setup Forwarding
    Forward to:
    Redirect: 301 (Permanent)
    Type: Forward only

On Openshift
1. Select Application tab > select application > click change
2. Enter the Domain name

That’s it! Wait for 10-15 min and see the magic.

Unlocking HTC Sensation Z710e Bootloader for Android

Take the following steps to Unlock your Device’s Bootloader.

  1. Step 1

     After powering down, press Volume Down and while pressing Volume Down, press Power holding both buttons to start the device into Bootloader mode. If you have difficulty, power up normally, go to Settings->Battery and deselect Fast boot. Power down and try again.

  2. Step 2

    Use the Volume buttons to select up or down. Highlight Fastboot and press the Power button.

  3. Step 3

    Connect the device to the computer via a usb cable

  4. Step 4

    Download the following fastboot binary for your OS using the following links:

    Platform Download Size (bytes) Checksum
    Fastboot binary, Linux
    (Unzip the file before executing)
    fastboot 61887 ffd3b02cdf9aa7609462e3957663d238
    Fastboot binary, OS X
    (Unzip the file before executing)
    fastboot-mac 59071 0b3e2a8c5cfeb7c23b362483b93f7dd6
    Fastboot binary, Windows
    (Unzip the file before executing)
    fastboot-win 83753 a90c25141e306b3062dc8e47e14a1005
    1. Step 5

      Open a command Prompt: Windows: Start->”cmd” Mac: Applications->Utilities-> Linux: Terminal

      Type in Command Prompt: fastboot oem get_identifier_token.

    2. Step 6

      You will see a long block of text. Copy and paste this text into the the token field below (in the Windows command prompt: Right Click > Mark > highlight the block of text > Right click to copy. Mac users can use cmd-option to mark and select text.).

      You will see one of the following two screens:

      Ref. 6a

      Ref. 6b

      When copying the token, start with this line:

      <<<< Identifier Token Start >>>> 

      And end with this line:

      <<<<< Identifier Token End >>>>> 

      (Note: Only copy the highlighted sections above. Do not copy the INFO or (bootloader) prefix)

    3. Step 7

      Paste this string of text into the token field and hit Submit in order to receive your unlock code binary file. You will receive this information in your email.


Next you need to go to and enter you identification token there and click sumbit. HTC Dev will take you further from there.

Were you able to unlock your bootloader? Share with me your experience in the comments below. Don’t forget to read more articles on Android.

Android? Too many pattern attempts? Can’t hard reset?

htconexI had a pattern screen lock on my HTC One X Android phone. Yesterday my nephew tried to unlock it too many times and it got permanently locked.

Too many pattern attempts

After too many attempts, my phone got locked and asked for my Google username and password. But unfortunately, I wasn’t connected to Wifi due to which whenever I entered my login details it says invalid username and/or password. Since it tries to connect to the Google server to authenticate and it couldn’t.

Master Reset

OK, since my phone wasn’t asking me for a pattern and it wasn’t connected to the internet so it was also not able to authenticate my logins. So doing a master/hard reset was the only option left. To hard reset phone, you have to power off your phone and then turn it on in recovery/bootloader mode. To do this you have to follow these steps.

  1. Press and hold the VOLUME DOWN button, and then press and hold the POWER button.
  2. Wait for the screen with the three Android images to appear, and then release the POWER and VOLUME DOWN buttons.
  3. Press VOLUME DOWN to select FACTORY RESET, and then press the POWER button.

But for this to work the Fast boot option in Settings > Battery Manager must not be selected. Oops! I remember I selected that option so I was out of luck and this didn’t work and my phone keep starting in normal mode leaving me on the same login screen.

Big Problem!

So, now I was stuck and there were several problems.

  1. I couldn’t enter my pattern since it wasn’t asking due to too many attempts
  2. It wasn’t connected to Wifi or my phone data plan so there was no internet due to which it wasn’t authenticating from Google.
  3. The fast boot was selected so I was unable to restart my phone in recovery mode.

Now what? I tried to Google solution but all I was getting is to go in recovery mode to hard reset my phone to make it reusable and I was unable to do that as well. Then suddenly I found the solution!

The Solution!

The solution to this was when your phone is switched on and you are on the login screen do the following:

  • Press and hold both Volume down button as well as the power button until the screen goes completely black.
  • Once it is black release the power button only. Do not release the volume down button.
  • You will be booted into the bootloader mode.

Woala! That’s it! Now you can select Factory reset from the menu and wow, finally I made my phone reusable again. 🙂

Google+ Custom URLs

English: Google+ wordmark
English: Google+ wordmark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Getting Started with Google+ Custom URLs


A custom URL is a short, easy-to-remember web address that links directly to your profile or page.

For example, YouTube’s Google+ page can direct people to to visit their page rather than

If you meet the eligibility requirements, you can get a custom URL for your Google+ account or page. This means you can choose one of the custom URLs Google preassigns to your Google+ profile or page. Depending on the preassigned custom URL, you may also need to add a few letters or numbers to make it unique to you.

Custom URLs must be used in compliance with the Google+ User Content and Conduct policies and Google+ custom URLs terms of use.

Requirements for getting a custom URL

Before you can get a custom URL, your account needs to be in good standing and meet the following requirements:

Eligibility for People:

  • Ten or more followers
  • Your account is 30 days old or more
  • A profile photo

Eligibility for Local Google+ pages: Must be a verified local business

Eligibility for Non-local Google+ pages: Must be linked to a website

Getting your custom URL through Google+

If you meet the above criteria, you’ll see a notification at the top of your Google+ page or Profile.

  1. Click Get a custom URL button to get started. Alternatively, from the “About” tab on your Profile, click the “Get” link located under your Google+ URL.
  2. You’ll see the URL(s) you’ve been approved for. If you see more than one option, select the one you like best. You may also be asked to add a few numbers or letters to make the custom URL unique to you.
  3. Check the box to agree to the Terms of Service.
  4. Click Change URL.
  5. We may ask you to verify your account by your mobile phone number. If you need to do this, you’ll see a box pop up asking you to do so.
    a. Enter your mobile phone number.
    b. Check the box to make it easier for people who have your phone number to find you on Google services.
    c. Check your phone for the code that was sent to you.
    d. Enter that code in the box.
    e. Click Verify.
  6. Once approved, this URL will be linked to your Google+ page or Profile, so be sure everything is exactly the way you want it. Once your URL has been approved, you can’t request to change it. When you’re certain, click Confirm.

Pro-tip! If you know someone’s custom URL, you can quickly access areas of their Google+ Profile or Page by adding key words to the end of the URL. Some examples are:


Change your custom URL

If you want to change the capitalization or accents/diacritics of your custom URL, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the “Links” section of your Google+ profile.
  2. A box will appear allowing you to make edits to the formatting.

Remember, you can only change the capitalization or accents/diacritics of the URL, not the URL itself.



How to Disable Ads by Google

1. Find the Windows hosts file on your computer. The file is probably located in the c:\windows\System32\drivers\etc\ folder. Look for the file named “hosts”.

2. Right-click the hosts file. Click “Open,” and then choose “Select the program from a list”. Click “Notepad”. The hosts file opens up as a text file in Notepad.

3. On the first empty line of the hosts file, copy and paste the following:

4. Save the file.

5. Allow the change if prompted with a warning from your antivirus or spyware programs.

Going Google-Free: The Best Alternatives to Google Services on the Web

Going Google-Free: The Best Alternatives to Google Services on the Web Face it: Google runs your life. The search giant turned web ecosystem owns your email, calendar, and even your voicemails. Your most important data lives on Google’s servers. What you may not realize is that, despite the quality of Google’s products, someone else is doing it better—and placing all your eggs in Google’s basket isn’t necessarily the best thing. Here’s a look at alternative services you can use in place of Google’s webapps.

Photo remixed from originals by Jan Kranendonk (Shutterstock) and Alfonso de Tomas (Shutterstock).

You might want to move away from Google entirely, whether you’re tired of things like the Google Plus-ification of your search results or the fact that Google’s mining ridiculous amounts of data and selling you to advertisers, or maybe you’re just plain tired of Google creating services it doesn’t actually improve over time. You may scoff at the idea of using Bing or other less popular competitors, but they’re quite good—sometimes even better—than Google. We’ve just become too entrenched to notice.

If you want to take a serious look at the alternatives, we did some digging and a lot of experimentation to find the best alternatives to Google’s most popular services (and we also asked you guys to share your favorites). Most of these services are still from big companies, like Microsoft or Yahoo!, but we’ve tried to include a few services off the beaten path as well. The fact of the matter is just that the highest quality services around are going to be from the companies with the most resources. Below, we’ve listed the best Google alternatives in each category, as well as a few runners-up we think are worth checking out.

The Best Search Alternative: DuckDuckGo

Going Google-Free: The Best Alternatives to Google Services on the WebGoogle Search, while great, isn’t without some big annoyances. From the new Google+ results on your search page to the Instant Preview layout to its constant desire to change your search terms to what it thinks is better, you might just be ready to switch to something new. Our favorite alternative is DuckDuckGo, a search engine that focuses on your privacy, while also packing itself with great features for power users, like searching specific sites with a bang (e.g. !lifehacker jailbreak iphone), keyboard shortcuts that help you navigate your results, and even integration with other services like Wolfram Alpha for quick answers to certain things (like unit conversions, calculations, and other facts).

Of course, DuckDuckGo falls short in a few areas. For all the engine’s cool features, it still doesn’t have some of the basic features other popular search engines will give you, like the ability to narrow your search down by date. If you find that DuckDuckGo isn’t giving you what you need, you can try one of the more traditional search engine alternatives below.

Other Alternatives: Bing, which offers related searches and your search history in the sidebar; Yahoo!, which offers links to the cached version of a page; and Ask, which can answer a lot of other questions without the need to sift through results (such as release dates for movies and video games). Of course, you could also try choosing your search engine based on what you’re searching for.

The Best Gmail Alternative: Hotmail

Going Google-Free: The Best Alternatives to Google Services on the WebGmail, frankly, is far and away our favorite web-based email. But if you’re truly committed to ditching Google—even your precious Gmail account—you could do much worse than Hotmail.. We’ve compared the two before, and not much has changed since last year. Hotmail has some pretty cool features, like one-click filters, SkyDrive integration for attachments, and embedded content, not to mention some Gmail favorites like conversation view and a great spam filter. Even its Bing-powered email search is very good, offering suggestions for certain operators but offering a ton more (many of which are the same as Gmail’s). It also has a great set of keyboard shortcuts, just like Gmail, that let you control the interface without touching your mouse. Also like Gmail, you can use it to manage your other, non-Hotmail mail accounts. If we weren’t in love with Gmail, this is the first place we’d go to host our email.

Other Alternatives: Yahoo! Mail, which requires a paid account for things like POP access or email forwarding; iCloud for seamless syncing with your iPhone; or Zoho Mail, which is ad-free and has a more desktop client-like interface but doesn’t support saved searches or advanced filters.

The Best Google Calendar Alternative: Zoho Calendar

Going Google-Free: The Best Alternatives to Google Services on the WebZoho Calendar is the only calendar application that can really stack up to Google Calendar. It has everything we love about GCal, like a “smart add” feature that lets you add events with one line of text, the ability to search your calendars, an “agenda” view that shows you just your upcoming events without the grid, and more. The interface is very similar to Google, so migration is dead simple, and sharing your calendars with others is as easy as copying a given calendar’s link.

That said, we want to give a shout out to our other favorite: simple pen and paper calendars. When we asked you guys what your favorite Google alternatives are, many of you noted that you’d use a paper planner over Google Calendar, and we don’t blame you. Paper calendars are about as quick and simple as they come: it’s easy to add events, and super quick to browse through your months (even easier than digital calendars, really). Alternatively, if you still want a digital calendar, you can always just use a calendar app on your phone and store it locally. There’s no reason you have to sync it to the web if you always have your phone with you.

Other Alternatives: Hotmail Calendar, which has a beautiful interface and Hotmail integration but doesn’t have a search feature (seriously); AOL Calendar, which surprisingly has a nice interface and a fair amount of features, and 1Calendar, which is light on advanced features like sharing but has a very nice interface, Facebook integration, and an upcoming mobile app. Yahoo! Calendar is not really worth your time due to its frustratingly bad interface.

The Best Google Maps Alternative: Bing Maps

Going Google-Free: The Best Alternatives to Google Services on the WebAs much as I hate having three services from the same company in this list, I couldn’t find anything I liked better than Bing Maps. Its interface is not only clean, but smooth as heck—even smoother than Google Maps—and its Streetside view is arguably even better than Google’s Street View, too. It’s super easy to use, and the images are all very high-res, meaning you can find what you’re looking for quite nicely (though it also has a 360 view if you prefer something more akin to Google Street View). It also has live traffic views, satellite images, and great pages for businesses that you find via the Maps search. And, of course, you can save places you want to visit later, as well as find driving, public transit, or walking directions to just about anywhere. Zooming in with the mouse wheel is a bit overagressive, but if you can get past that, it’s a fantastic alternative to Google Maps—in fact, I might even like it better.

Other Alternatives: Mapquest, which has a cool “MQ Vibe” feature that helps you find the best restaurants, shopping, and other activities in a specific area (but only works in the US); OpenStreetMap, which is community-driven and has lots of plugins for things like directions and 3D views; and Yahoo! Maps, which frankly isn’t worth your time compared to other service, and lacks in a lot of basic features like public transit directions and saving your home location.

The Best Google Reader Alternative: NetVibes

Going Google-Free: The Best Alternatives to Google Services on the WebEven if you aren’t looking to ditch Google Reader, you should check out NetVibes. You can add and read feeds just like Google Reader, though it also has a really cool widget view that turns your RSS feeds into a more visual, newspaper-like layout in your browser. You can give higher preference to certain sites, see the top stories, and (as with the feed view) see how many articles you haven’t read. It’ll also link you up with the Twitter accounts of the sites you add, so you can see what they’re saying there too. It’s also got a bunch of different snazzy themes to choose from, and sharing features coming out of its nose, for sending articles by email, through Facebook and Twitter, and more.

Other Alternatives: NewsBlur is another great alternative to Reader, with a similar (but very desktop client-like) interface, though it could stand to be a bit cleaner. Other than that, there aren’t a ton of good, browser-based online RSS services out there, but you can always store your RSS feeds locally on your desktop or phone instead. Feedly is a very popular service worth mentioning, but it does sync with Google, so you aren’t truly escaping Google by using it.

The Best Picasa Web Alternative: Flickr

Going Google-Free: The Best Alternatives to Google Services on the WebThis one’s a no-brainer: Flickr is one of the most popular photo sharing sites on the net, and that’s because it’s very well put together. While Picasa has Google integration and 1GB of free space, Flickr lets you license the photos as you see fit, and has a bunch of really cool social features that get you in touch with like-minded photographers (and gives others the chance to see your work). It also has a built-in image editor for you to tweak your photos, which is pretty great.

Other Alternatives: SmugMug, which provides a beautiful, customizable interface for viewing your photo collection, though lacks the community that makes Flickr so strong; and Dropbox, which is not only a dead simple way to get your photos in the cloud, but also offers a barebones album view for showing them to your friends.

The Best Google Docs Alternative: Office Web Apps

Going Google-Free: The Best Alternatives to Google Services on the WebThis is another area that Google wouldn’t win even if it were in the picture. Microsoft’s Office Web Apps let you edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations from its web interface, designed after the Office desktop programs. It has the ribbon, built-in support for Microsoft SkyDrive, and tons of collaboration features for working on documents with your friends and co-workers. Plus, since it’s made by Microsoft, compatibility with Office documents is top-notch, which you won’t get with Google Docs.

Other Alternatives: Zoho Docs, which has some neat formatting features, collaboration features, and a ribbon-less interface (if you aren’t a Microsoft fan); and Evernote, which isn’t an Office suite per se, but a webapp that you guys mentioned was your first go-to for online document editing.

The Best Google Voice Alternative: Phonebooth

Going Google-Free: The Best Alternatives to Google Services on the Web There is no true Google Voice alternative on the market. When you look at the feature set and the price, Google Voice is really the only service of its type, and once you use it, it’s hard to pull away. If you absolutely must, though, the most comparable is probably Phonebooth. They have a free service that gives you a local phone number for free, lets you forward calls to your different phones, and transcribe voicemails, just like Google Voice. The free version gets you 200 minutes of inbound calling per month, with extra minutes costing 3¢ each. You can’t record any of your calls, nor can you make any outbound calls on the free service. You also can’t send SMS messages from that number or from your browser (though you could always use a service like DeskSMSinstead). You can also upgrade Phonebooth to the paid, PKR1,915/month plan which includes unlimited minutes, outgoing calls, and more business-oriented features.Other Alternatives: Google Voice has no true alternatives. You can try some similar, but not equal, services like Line2, which adds a second line to your mobile device and can forward your calls for PKR957 a month; or RingCentral, which is pretty expensive and only available for iPhone (and also doesn’t include an SMS service).

This is far from a comprehensive list of Google’s services or the alternatives out there, but these were our favorites after lots of testing. We wish there had been a few more independent services worth featuring, but they’re surprisingly hard to find (that is, if you care about a good feature set). Of course, if you want to see even more, check out our previous Ask the Readers on the subject, or share your own favorite alternatives in the comments below.