Use Google Music Outside US with These Simple Steps

Use Google Music Outside US

\"GoogleEven if you live outside US, you can use Google Music Outside US by following the simple steps below.

Getting Google Music on your Android Smartphone and tablet is one thing — it only involves searching and downloading for Google Music apk (com.google.android.music.4.0.9.apk). However, what\’s more important and the more troublesome part is signing up in Google Music itself because Google checks your IP address upon login and keeps you from getting in if you\’re outside US.

Fortunately, there are tricks on signing up so you can freely use Google Music in Australia, Canada, UK, Europe, Philippines or anywhere  you are now.

Engadget has a very complicated  way to get Google Music outside US using Tor. Tor is good and it is free but most of the times we just want to keep it simple. So this time, we\’ll use any VPN software with US-based IP. For this example, I\’ll use TunnelBear because it\’s very easy to use, it is free for 500MB bandwidth a month, and I have tried and tested it personally on several occasions already. You can use it for Hulu or Spotify as well.

Install and Run VPN, Register, Done!

  1. First, download TunnelBear for your operating system. Unfortunately Linux users, you have to stick with Tor now because TunnelBear is not available for Linux.
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  1. Install it and choose the free version. Don\’t forget to verify the email address used during sign-up.
  1. Run TunnelBear and turn it on  (left knob). By default, the VPN location is set to US (right knob) so keep it as-is.
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  1. You can confirm your IP by checking ipchicken.com and you should have a different IP already, one that is based in the USA.As long as the status of TunnelBear is connected, you can sign up in Google Music already. You\’ll be able to agree with the terms of service and it looks like this:

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And that\’s it. You\’re already signed up. You can turn TunnelBear off after completing the sign-up process and you can now use Google Music outside US, virtually anywhere.

This method is not limited to TunnelBear. I was actually connected to a different VPN when I signed up in Google Music last week. I repeated the process using my wife\’s account with TunnelBear and it works flawlessly so it should work with any type of VPN and tunneling software as long as the new assigned IP to your computer is located in the USA. Do you know something better? Leave your comments below.

If you\’re just starting with Google Music or just curious, check out the promotional video about Google Music below.

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New Google Chrome Web Store Looks Like Flipboard for Apps

New Google Chrome Web Store

With the redesign of the New Tab Page in Google Chrome 15, Google released  a New Google Chrome Web Store, too.

Some people have associated the new design with Microsoft\’s Metro UI for Windows 8 but to be honest, I don\’t see how it looks like Metro.

Metro uses squares for the default icons and the live tiles uses rectangle about twice the size of the regular square icon; the new Google Web Store uses rectangular images for regular apps and apps with larger promo image uses rectangular images about 4x the size of the regular image. Apps with larger promotion images also comes with screenshots. It appears after you hover and click the arrows at the edge of the app\’s promo image. You can also click on \”Add To Chrome\” for a one-click install. Metro isn\’t like that.

The new Google Chrome Web Store looks  closer to a WordPress magazine theme with post type style optimized for touch, and to some extent looks like Flipboard for apps.
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The new Web Store comes with infinite scrolling and more accessible options for language, location and list of all apps that you have installed before, including the ones that you uninstalled.
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Gone are the \”new and noteworthy\”, \”staff picks\” and \”featured\” apps category. It seems that the home page of Google Web Store are showing featured apps or staff picks, while Popular apps are now all lumped together instead of sub-divided in categories. Collections are still there and look better.

There are two things that bother me: search and user reviews. Now it seems that there is no way to put an anonymous comment anymore.

Search is inaccurate. Even if Google is very good in search engine, searching applications in the new web store is awfully difficult. Try to search for \”Twitter\” and you will get many unrelated results.

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And then the user reviews. It seems that you will need a Google account before you can create a comment or a review on any application. Therefore, no more anonymous comment and if you don\’t have a Google account, you have to create one first before you can add an app review.

Overall the design is okay. It seems that the new Web Store is positioned to be more user-friendly for tablets and because it looks like a magazine for apps, big promotional image is the best way to capture the attention of users to install apps. There are some issues on app discovery and search so let\’s hope that Google will improve search features and make it more accurate.

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Google Maps Weather Overlay Now Available

I am expecting this kind of feature to come in Google Maps sooner or later and there it is, Google Maps Weather Overlay!

Ever since Google Maps came out, I kept on wondering why it does not have a weather information overlay. If you are planning a holiday vacation, it is very troublesome to look at your map for directions and then look up another site for weather information of that place. Now you can do it in Google Maps at once. It makes planning trips much easier.

There are several mash-ups out there but this one is better, not to mention it is available right within Google Maps.

To activate it, you have to click on the upper right hand corner widget. You can hide clouds and change the unit of temperature as well as the wind speed. The default is Fahrenheit and mph (US units) — I wish Google could default them to °C and km/h (metric units) because Google could detect your location anyway.

If you click weather icon, you will get a pop-up for the current weather and the next 4 days. These includes temperature and humidity as well.

See a sample weather overlay below:

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The weather layer comes from weather.com and the cloud data comes from from U.S. Naval Research Lab.

See the promotional video below. With Google Maps Weather Overlay, anyone with a huge LCD TV or projector can become a weatherman.

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New Gmail Sign In Page

Have you seen the new Gmail Sign In page yet? You can see it below.

The new Gmail Sign In page design seems to be similar to the  new themes that you can find in Gmail. It shares similar colors with Google+

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If you don\’t like it you can switch back to the old design for a limited time only. Maybe you should send Google some feedback if you really don\’t like it. I think it\’s okay because it\’s part of  a larger redesign of Google products spearheaded by Google+.

You can learn more about this new Gmail Sign In page here.

So do you like the new sign-in page?

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New Yahoo Mail (2011)

Update 2012-12-16: If you are looking for the New Yahoo Mail 2012 update, click here. Otherwise, proceed reading.

I should have done this review long ago but I haven\’t paid much attention to the New Yahoo Mail service until I received the service announcement last week that Yahoo is upgrading all non-beta users to the New Yahoo Mail. It\’s almost a year now since I have participated in the early beta and now the public can already upgrade to the latest version of Yahoo Mail.

Before I continue,  I need to confess something: my Yahoo Mail account has collected cobwebs since I switched to Gmail but I do log in occasionally to keep my account active.

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Key Features of the New Yahoo Mail

Faster Email

Yahoo claims that this version is 2x faster and I really feel that this version is faster than the previous incarnation of the \’improved\’ Yahoo Mail 2 years ago. It also allows instant previews of photos and videos, and you can play it right in your inbox. I tried linking a Video video and it was not recognized so I think that the instant slideshows and playback is only limited with official supported sites Flickr, Picasa and Youtube.

Quick Reply looks like Gmail\’s  in-line reply but unlike Gmail where you can edit the subject and recipients on the fly, Yahoo Mail\’s Quick Reply works like an instant message only. You can only type your reply and there\’s no other option. It\’s very useful for quick one-liner response and that\’s all there is to it.

Enhance Security

Yahoo boast a better spam protection and to some degree I agree that they do have a better spam protection because I receive far less spam in my Yahoo inbox than in my Gmail inbox even if my Yahoo email address had been around longer.

Mobility and Integrations

Yahoo Mobile Mail is available in major mobile devices like iPhone, iPad and Android.

Instant messaging and SMS is now highly integrated with the new user interface.  Apart from email, you can also choose instant messages and SMS when composing new message.

You can also optionally connect your Facebook friends to chat with them right in your inbox. Personally, I will not integrate my Yahoo account with my Facebook account for reasons that I have discussed in my blog in the past.

Ease of Use

While it\’s true that the new Yahoo Mail  is faster than ever before and it fully supports all major mobile devices, some of the basic features that I am looking forward are still missing

There is still no threaded messages. Somehow when you got a  taste of Gmail, it\’s hard to come back to Yahoo or any conventional listed emails.

Also, I\’m a bit surprised that clicking reply on the top navigation does not copy what you have written on the quick reply area. What if in the middle of a \’quick\’ reply  I change my mind and I want to format my message? In order to keep what I written on the space below, I have to copy it – click reply – then paste it; still not as useful as I thought it would be.

Yahoo Mail breaks the back button. Click the back button does not return you to the previous action. If you click the back button you will most likely end up on the sign-in page. How can they miss this?

On the positive note, when I tested the beta version last year, there is still no page-by-page navigation. I have requested this over and over for the last 2 years and that\’s the best thing they have added from my feature requests. At last, my Yahoo inbox works like how I wanted it.

Automatic Organizer

If you activate the automatic organizer application by Otherinbox, your lower priority emails will be automatically organized in folders which leaves more important messages from family and friends in your inbox. It seems like a good idea but I am not comfortable enabling a 3rd party application right in my inbox. I find the implementation of priority inbox in Gmail more useful than this.

Personal Archive

Ever since Yahoo took heavy competition from Gmail, Yahoo started offering unlimited storage. It is awesome even for casual users. Gone are the days that you have to worry about your mail inbox limit.

When sending attachments, you can attach large files as many as 50 files or as big as 100mb in a single email using Yousendit 3rd party application. Take note that  standard attachment size is still 25mb which is the max message size limit.

Yahoo Mail Overall Impression

Overall I think this is the best Yahoo Mail ever since Gmail came out. I think Yahoo listened a lot from loyal fans and translated that feedback to this latest version of Yahoo Mail. Even if it took so long to achieve this status I think it is worth all the time and effort put into this product.

The integration of Yahoo Messenger, SMS and Facebook right in your inbox looks very attractive for avid chatters and babblers because it gives easy access to all your online friends even on the web.

Good things put aside, let me enumerate what I found missing. I already mentioned the broken back button and remarkably limited quick reply but there\’s more.

Secure HTTP connection or HTTPS is still not available in this version of Yahoo Mail. Gmail and Windows Live have this for some time now. It shows that Yahoo do not care if your inbox is vulnerable to session  side-jacking. Session hijacking is not new but it is getting more accessible using free hijacking software readily available on the web like Firesheep.

Until today you still have to pay premium fee for POP access and it is just sad because it should have been free long time ago. You can use IMAP in mobile free of charge and there is a work around to make it work in PC but you have to do some research.

Threaded conversation is also absent. I\’m not sure if this feature is not requested by many Yahoo Mail users at all or Yahoo is just reluctant to copy yet another Gmail pioneer feature. Windows Live already gave an option to group email by conversation long time ago for the benefits of Live users. Why can\’t Yahoo do the same?

Then there is the ongoing concern with Yahoo\’s updated Privacy Policy which I will discuss after I have done a review on Yahoo Messenger 11.

You can watch the \’trailer\’ video below and you can also watch it New Yahoo Mail overview.

Wrapping Up

Let me wrap this up by saying that to me, Gmail is still the best free email provider, IMHO. Competition is good and it creates a lot of options for consumers like you and me. Yahoo\’s effort to modernize the look and feel of Yahoo! Mail is certainly welcome. There are some good new features thrown in but it still fall short on my expectation.

Let me know what you think of the new Yahoo Mail in the comment section.

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Google Black Navigation Bar: Remove, Disable or Change It

\"GoogleOver the last few weeks, Google rolled out black navigational bar in Google search and it  got mixed reactions. A lot of people started seeing this when Google+ grand beta invitation draws nearer so people started questioning the change in Google search UI. No one really knows what the black menu bar is for, not until recently when Google officially announced an evolved design and experience across Google products.

Long story short, the Google Black Navigation Bar (codename \”Sandbar\”) is a toolbar that attempts to unify all Google properties according to this article and if you read between the lines, it have stemmed from the Google+ social project.

You might consider it ugly or distracting but the black bar reminds you that you are using Google products. To make the design more consistent across Google products, there is also a new Gmail theme available for preview and Calendar was already redesigned to give the same look and feel.

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Now that you know how the black bar came to be, it\’s really up to you if want to get rid of it. Personally I would keep it black but the best part is you are not constrained to that color thanks to browser extensions.

For Firefox users, you can use this userscript available for Greasemonkey  to go back to classic Google Bar.

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For Chrome users, you can also go back to the old white Google navigation bar by installing this Chrome extension, Remove Black Bar from Google.

Alternatively, you can try this Google Plus bar color changer extension so that you could change the black menu bar to any color that you prefer.

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For other browsers, it seems that your only option is to run Greasemonkey userscripts in those browsers.

So now that you know your options, will you remove, disable or change the color of Google black navigation bar? Let me know.

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Google Periodic Table

There are lots of APIs and developer tools from Google so it could be a little overwhelming if you don\’t know where to begin. In order to bring some order to the long list of tools available for Google enthusiasts, Google put up a table resembling a periodic table. The tools are grouped in categories and if you hover the categories, the respective APIs and tools will be highlighted and you can click on them to go to their respective websites. It\’s entertaining if you like Chemistry or if you just like to see a cool visualization of Google APIs and developer products.

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See the full interactive table here: http://code.google.com/more/table/

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