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You know how they say some things get better over time? Wine falls squarely into that category. MiniPlayer does too. The upcoming 2.1 version, which is being submitted to Cydia’s BigBoss repo today, is a more refined experience than its predecessors.
The first version of MiniPlayer had potential, but left a lot to be desired in the avenue of designed. Now that Surenix has stepped on board with the project to help out with its design, the tweak has come into its own.
Music controls have always been a part of a crowded market in Cydia, so it takes a lot to make any particular tweak stand out in this space. I’m happy to report that not only does MiniPlayer stand out with its latest 2.1 update, it shines. Check out our full video walkthrough of the latest version of MiniPlayer right after the break.
Just to briefly catch you up on things, version 2.0 of MiniPlayer was a huge improvement over the 1.0 release. The developer, MPow, deserves a lot of credit for this, but this tweak has Surenix written all over it. Cody put it best, when covering the 2.0 release:
The initial release saw mixed reviews, but if you weren’t a believer before you need to checkout today’s update. MiniPlayer 2.0 just hit Cydia, and thanks to a complete UI overhaul by Ayecon theme designer Surenix, it looks and feels much better…
I think that’s an apt description of MiniPlayer. With version 2.1, I can report that this version feels even better than the 2.0 version. For starters, there’s a new black theme that looks absolutely stunning. I was never crazy about the bland gray look of the stock theme, but this black theme really makes the tweak stand out amongst the Home screen app icons. The new theme can be set to default in the tweak’s preference panel, but it can be swapped on the fly using a handy double tap gesture on the MiniPlayer itself.
Up next is a new feature that music lovers will surely enjoy — the ability to toggle the music volume directly from the MiniPlayer interface. A simple tap and hold gesture on the now playing album art will yield a slider for the music volume. Once you’ve finished adjusting the volume, just wait, and the player will eventually go back to its default look.
The other big feature included with MiniPlayer 2.1, is the option to open any music app via taping album art. By default, the tweak will open to whatever music app you’re using to play the currently playing song. With version 2.1, you can also configure the tweak to open to any app using a setting in the preference panel. Unfortunately, the only way that you’re able to launch the app configure via the preferences is if you kill the music app that the tweak is currently using. That’s a hiccup that the developer is apparently working on to remedy.
Speaking of development, I’ve talked to Surenix, and he’s confirmed that the pair have discussed the possibility of having MiniPlayer work with landscape mode. Landscape mode support is currently not in version 2.1, but I certainly wouldn’t dare rule it out for a future revision of the tweak.
Overall, I think MiniPlayer 2.1 is the definitive version of the tweak. Version 1.0 showed promise, version 2.0 made it supremely usable, and version 2.1 is as smooth as butter. If you’ve been fence sitting thus far about MiniPlayer, then get off the fence, get over to the BigBoss repo, and purchase MiniPlayer. It’s a free upgrade for previous customers. New customers should plan to fork over $1.99. What do you think about the update?
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When Google announces a broad core algorithm update, many SEO professionals find themselves asking what exactly changed (besides their rankings).
Google’s acknowledgment of core updates is always vague and doesn’t provide much detail other than to say the update occurred.
The SEO community is typically notified about core updates via the same standard tweets from Google’s Search Liaison.
There’s one announcement from Google when the update begins rolling out, and one on its conclusion, with few additional details in between (if any).
This invariably leaves SEO professionals and site owners asking many questions with respect to how their rankings were impacted by the core update.
To gain insight into what may have caused a site’s rankings to go up, down, or stay the same, it helps to understand what a broad core update is and how it differs from other types of algorithm updates.
After reading this article you’ll have a better idea of what a core update is designed to do, and how to recover from one if your rankings were impacted.So, What Exactly Is A Core Update?
First, let me get the obligatory “Google makes hundreds of algorithm changes per year, often more than one per day” boilerplate out of the way.
Many of the named updates we hear about (Penguin, Panda, Pigeon, Fred, etc.) are implemented to address specific faults or issues in Google’s algorithms.
In the case of Penguin, it was link spam; in the case of Pigeon, it was local SEO spam.
They all had a specific purpose.
In these cases, Google (sometimes reluctantly) informed us what they were trying to accomplish or prevent with the algorithm update, and we were able to go back and remedy our sites.
A core update is different.
The way I understand it, a core update is a tweak or change to the main search algorithm itself.
You know, the one that has between 200 and 500 ranking factors and signals (depending on which SEO blog you’re reading today).
What a core update means to me is that Google slightly tweaked the importance, order, weights, or values of these signals.
Because of that, they can’t come right out and tell us what changed without revealing the secret sauce.
The simplest way to visualize this would be to imagine 200 factors listed in order of importance.
Now imagine Google changing the order of 42 of those 200 factors.
Rankings would change, but it would be a combination of many things, not due to one specific factor or cause.
Obviously, it isn’t that simple, but that’s a good way to think about a core update.
Here’s a purely made up, slightly more complicated example of what Google wouldn’t tell us:
“In this core update, we increased the value of keywords in H1 tags by 2%, increased the value of HTTPS by 18%, decreased the value of keyword in title tag by 9%, changed the D value in our PageRank calculation from .85 to .70, and started using a TF-iDUF retrieval method for logged in users instead of the traditional TF-PDF method.”
(I swear these are real things. I just have no idea if they’re real things used by Google.)
For starters, many SEO pros wouldn’t understand it.
Basically, it means Google may have changed the way they calculate term importance on a page, or the weighing of links in PageRank, or both, or a whole bunch of other factors that they can’t talk about (without giving away the algorithm).
Put simply: Google changed the weight and importance of many ranking factors.
That’s the simple explanation.
At its most complex form, Google ran a new training set through their machine learning ranking model and quality raters picked this new set of results as more relevant than the previous set, and the engineers have no idea what weights changed or how they changed because that’s just how machine learning works.
(We all know Google uses quality raters to rate search results. These ratings are how they choose one algorithm change over another – not how they rate your site. Whether they feed this into machine learning is anybody’s guess. But it’s one possibility.)
It’s likely some random combination of weighting delivered more relevant results for the quality raters, so they tested it more, the test results confirmed it, and they pushed it live.How Can You Recover From A Core Update?
Unlike a major named update that targeted specific things, a core update may tweak the values of everything.
Because websites are weighted against other websites relevant to your query (engineers call this a corpus) the reason your site dropped could be entirely different than the reason somebody else’s increased or decreased in rankings.
To put it simply, Google isn’t telling you how to “recover” because it’s likely a different answer for every website and query.
It all depends on what everybody else trying to rank for your query is doing.
Does every one of them but you have their keyword in the H1 tag? If so then that could be a contributing factor.
Do you all do that already? Then that probably carries less weight for that corpus of results.
It’s very likely that this algorithm update didn’t “penalize” you for something at all. It most likely just rewarded another site more for something else.
Maybe you were killing it with internal anchor text and they were doing a great job of formatting content to match user intent – and Google shifted the weights so that content formatting was slightly higher and internal anchor text was slightly lower.
(Again, hypothetical examples here.)
In reality, it was probably several minor tweaks that, when combined, tipped the scales slightly in favor of one site or another (think of our reordered list here).
Finding that “something else” that is helping your competitors isn’t easy – but it’s what keeps SEO professionals in the business.Next Steps And Action Items
Rankings are down after a core update – now what?
Your next step is to gather intel on the pages that are ranking where your site used to be.
Conduct a SERP analysis to find positive correlations between pages that are ranking higher for queries where your site is now lower.
Pay attention to the content itself. As you go through it, ask yourself questions like:
Does it provide a better answer to the query than your article?
Does the content contain more recent data and current stats than yours?
Are there pictures and videos that help bring the content to life for the reader?
Google aims to serve content that provides the best and most complete answers to searchers’ queries. Relevance is the one ranking factor that will always win out over all others.
Take an honest look at your content to see if it’s as relevant today as it was prior to the core algorithm update.
From there you’ll have an idea of what needs improvement.
Keep focusing on:
Finally, don’t stop improving your site once you reach Position 1, because the site in Position 2 isn’t going to stop.
Yeah, I know, it’s not the answer anybody wants and it sounds like Google propaganda. I swear it’s not.
It’s just the reality of what a core update is.
Nobody said SEO was easy.
Featured Image: Ulvur/Shutterstock
Theming your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad has been a long time primary reason of jailbreaking. Unfortunately, as the wait for a new jailbreak becomes ever so longer in between iOS releases, the jailbreak scene is becoming less reliable for getting the features you want on the latest version of iOS.
For those who are tired of waiting, iSkin is a new platform that can be used directly from your Safari web browser to install themes on your iOS device without a jailbreak, and we’ll show you how it’s used in this tutorial.Installing themes on your iOS device without a jailbreak
It might sound too good to be true, and in some ways it is, but it’s now possible to have themed app icons on your Home Screen without having a jailbreak. This method works on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad running iOS 7 and later.
So why did I say it might be a little too good to be true? Well for starters, yes it’s going to add themed app icons to your Home Screen without a jailbreak. But… that’s exactly what it does. It adds themed app icons to your Home Screen; it doesn’t replace your existing ones.
So basically, iSkin is going to add shortcuts to your Home Screen. These shortcuts can be used to launch the respective app or web clip link with a simple tap on the corresponding shortcut. This means you’ll want to add all your stock iOS icons into some kind of folder to hide them afterwards once you’ve downloaded a themed pack of app shortcuts.Selecting a theme
Once you’re sure you want to proceed, you can follow these steps to select a theme you want to install:
1) Visit the iSkin web page in Safari on the iOS device you wish to theme.
2) Scroll down and tap on the Browse all themes button to reveal a list of themes to pick from:
3) Pick a theme you want to install. We’ll be using the Midnight theme by citydog123 for our example.
4) Now you’ll want to tap on the Application icons button. This section lets you select what apps you want to theme on your Home screen.
5) Tap on every one of the app icons that you want to theme to select them, and make sure to give each app the name that you want it to have from the text fields that appear at the right of every app icon.
6) When you’re happy with the selection you’ve made and the names you’ve created, scroll all the way down and tap on the Install icons button.
7) A prompt box will tell you to wait a few seconds while the installation takes place, and then you’ll be asked to install a configuration profile.
9) If you have a passcode, enter it and then tap on the blue Install button once again. Then, tap on the red Install button to confirm.
10) Once installed, tap on the blue Done button and you’ll be returned to Safari.
11) Once back in Safari, it’ll only take moments before the theme pack is installed on your Home screen. You’ll know things are going good if a green box is displayed that says Installation in progress… in it.
12) Wait a moment and then go to your Home screen and scroll to the last page. You’ll see all your new themed app icons:
That’s all there is to it! Now you can move these themed app icons anywhere you want them and put all your original app icons into a folder somewhere so they don’t distract you.More info about iSkin
There are some things you need to know about using iSkin. We’ll talk about those below.
Third-pary configuration profiles
iSkin is going to want to install a configuration profile, which is untrusted. Obviously, you do this at your own risk. We tried it and everything seems to be alright, but some people are much more wary than I am about installing configuration profiles because they’ve got much more personal information on their devices than I do.
You can delete individual themed apps
If you accidentally add a themed app icon to your Home screen that you don’t want, or you choose to remove a theme, you can easily delete the themed app icons from your Home screen by entering jiggle mode and tapping on the X button that appears on the icon.
The shortcuts are web clip links
Because the shortcuts are web clip links, each time you launch an app you are actually launching a Safari link that then links to either the corresponding app. iOS 9 doesn’t like this that much, and it activates the breadcrumbs links in the Status Bar.
For some apps, like the Calculator app, a web interface is launched instead of the Calculator app, which is kind of odd and undesirable.
For some, this may be an annoying thing to have to get used to. Personally, it’s a make-or-break situation for me (I prefer my jailbreak, thanks!), but it’s still going to be a potential option for those that want to theme their devices without a jailbreak.
Wallpapers and more are included
In addition to app icons for your Home screen, some theme packs include wallpapers to go with them. Downloading wallpapers are optional, and you can keep your own wallpaper if you would like to.
Unfortunately, because of limitations set by Apple, you can’t theme UI elements like Notification Center, Control Center, and more.
Some themes are premium-only
Most of the themes are easy to download without creating an iSkin account, but some of them are premium and you’ll be asked to make a free iSkin account.
More themes are always being added
Developers work hard on these themes, and more are constantly being added as time goes by. You can also contribute if you’re a theme maker by following the directions provided on the iSkin website.Conclusion
iSkin isn’t a perfect theming platform, but nevertheless, the ability to add themed app icons to your Home screen without a jailbreak is something that some people are going to really enjoy.
Source: iDeviceHelp – Thanks for the tip iDB, Antoine!
Windows command line utility, known as CMD or Command Prompt, is one of the most powerful tools that Microsoft offers to the Windows users. However, it is also one of the creepiest and not-so user friendly command line utilities you can find. You can’t even resize the command prompt window or change the fonts as per your requirements. If you have ever used a Linux or Unix command line utility (Terminal), you will know how useful it is to have a customizable command line utility.
Luckily, there are plenty of third party Windows command prompt alternatives and Console 2 is one of the best.Console 2 – A Command Prompt Replacement
Console 2 is a free and highly recommended command prompt alternative for Windows with a whole lot of features and eye-candy. To start using it, just download Console 2 from its official website. There is installation required. Simply extract the zip file to your C drive and you are good to go.
With this change, you can start using Powershell by selecting Powershell from the “New Tab” dropdown menu. Along with Powershell, you can also integrate other shells like Cygwin, Git Bash, Visual Studio CDM, etc.., so that you will have a consistent user interface.
Another handy feature is the keyboard shortcuts. They are found under the “Hotkeys” section in Console 2 settings, and you can easily change them to your liking.
Here you will see a host of tweaks where you can change the type of font, Windows smoothing, window position, docking, custom window titles, etc.
If you want to set transparency to your command screen, you can do so by navigating to the “More” section under “Appearance.”Conclusion
Console 2 delivers the same functionality as the regular Windows command prompt but does the task in a more appealing way. It adds several missing features in the Windows command prompt. If you are a regular Command Prompt user, do give Console 2 a try and see what you think.
Vamsi is a tech and WordPress geek who enjoys writing how-to guides and messing with his computer and software in general. When not writing for MTE, he writes for he shares tips, tricks, and lifehacks on his own blog Stugon.
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Whether you’re thinking of your own wish list or looking for gifts for others, picking up some gear to make traveling easier and more fun are sure to be appreciated. Follow along for options from $10 that are useful for traveling near or far.
Traveling can be challenging in a variety of ways, especially during the holidays. In this gift guide we’ve rounded up some of the best gear and accessories to help you get through security smoothly, stay organized, and keep your devices protected and charged up.Staying charged
Anker offers amazing value and its products are highly rated. The Candy Bar Power Bank packs a 6700 mAh capacity in a compact size. It even charges at 2A for faster power delivery. At just $13, this makes an awesome stocking stuffer.
If you’re looking for a something with a larger capacity, Anker’s PowerCore 10000 offers over 3 full charges for most iPhones starting at $26 and still comes in a reasonably small package.
If even more power and flexibility sound good, the PowerCore+ 20100 with USB C can charge up to 3 devices at 2.4A simultaneously. The USB C port supports both power input and output and can even fully charge a MacBook once. It’s a great value at $66. There’s also a version without the USB C for $42.
Anker Candy Bar Power Bank – $13
Anker PowerCore 10000 – $26
PowerCore 20100 – $42
PowerCore+ 20100 USB C – $66
If you like to travel as light as possible, there are some good compact, MFi Apple Watch/iPhone chargers available. UGreen offers a 2200 mAh option with a USB port to charge your iPhone (our review) for $50, but a better value is its new model (look out for out full review soon) with 4400 mAh capacity and built-in Lightning cable for $55 (after $5 instant coupon).
Oittm’s MFi Portable power bank also offers Apple Watch + iPhone charging convenience with a 5000 mAh capacity. It’s also a good value at $54, but doesn’t have a built-in Lightning cable.
UGreen Portable Wireless Charger for Apple Watch w/ Lightning cable – $55
Oittm Portable Charger for Apple Watch – $54
It’s always good to have an extra Lightning cable or two, and Anker’s MFi certified cables are a no brainer at $9.
There are some generic brand charging cases available for iPhone 8 and X, but nothing from more reliable companies like Mophie yet. With the low-cost and flexibility of great stand alone power banks, they seem like the way to go.Staying organized
With all the devices, cables, dongles, and other accessories you probably have, it can take some work to stay organized when you’re on the go. Here are some affordable ways to keep things more manageable.
Cocoon’s GRID-IT is a great simple way to keep all your gear in check. GRID-IT is available in a variety of sizes and colors to fit most any bag or setup. Some even offer a laptop or tablet sleeve on the back.
Cocoon GRID-IT from $10
For an option with more protection, a universal electronics case from BUBM might be a good fit. You’ll find a variety of colors and sizes, and some are even waterproof.
BUBM Universal Electronics Cases from $6
Bento Stack is a unique option to keep organized and was designed with Apple accessories specifically in mind. It’s a hard shell style case that keep items contained inspired by bento boxes. It’s a bit pricier starting at $38 on Indiegogo, and also may not arrive in time for Christmas, but deliveries are expected this month.
Bento Stack from $38Bags and luggage
A good bag or suitcase to keep your devices protected and make it easy to breeze through security is really helpful. Here are some top picks.
I’ve been a Timbuk2 user and big fan for over a decade. The bags are excellently made in San Francisco and have a lifetime warranty.
You can create your own custom backpack or messenger bag to perfectly fit your needs and taste, but the Timbuk2 Command Laptop Backpack and Timbuk2 Command Laptop Messenger are both great off the shelf choices.
Build a custom Timbuk2 bag from $109
Timbuk2 Command Laptop Backpack from $88
Timbuk2 Command Laptop Messenger from $90
If you’re a fan of carrying on your luggage, the Nomatic Travel Bag is a sharp option. It sports features like TSA approved laptop and tablet pockets that allow you to leave your devices in the bag when going through security, an RFID protected pocket, and lots of storage for accessories.
Other features include a separate shoe pocket, a laundry bag, and detachable waist straps. The bag is also waterproof and seamlessly converts between backpack and duffel bag.
Nomatic Travel Bag – $220
There are a several companies making ‘smart’ luggage. A couple of the most popular are Bluesmart’s ONE and The Carry-On by Away. While Bluesmart includes the most features of almost any smart luggage with 3G+GPS tracking, software operated locks, and a power bank, its luggage doesn’t feature removable batteries, which major airlines will start requiring next year.
This also explains why Bluesmart products seem to be unavailable from its website and retailers like Amazon.
The Carry-On and The Bigger Carry-On from Away don’t feature as much tech as Bluesmart, but they do have USB ports to stay charged, a removable battery, a built-in TSA approved lock, and an unbreakable design with a lifetime guarantee.
The Carry-On – $225
The Bigger Carry-On – $245Staying protected
When it comes to keeping your devices protected, it seems like the options are endless. Here are a few top picks for iPhone.
Even though I might not use a wallet case all the time, I particularly find them useful when traveling. An affordable, simple choice is the Silk Wallet for iPhone X or iPhone 7/8 at $15.
Mujjo also makes some great cases like its iPhone X wallet case. The company also offers its high-quality, functional leather cases for almost any iPhone model.
Lastly, JimmyCase offers a unique approach with hardwood backed iPhone cases with a durable elastic back for storing cards and cash.
Silk Wallet for iPhone X – $15
Silk Wallet for iPhone 7/8 – $15
Mujjo wallet cases for iPhone X – $50
Mujjo wallet cases for other iPhones from $24
JimmyCase for iPhone from $40
As for protecting your MacBook or iPad, there’s no harm in adding an extra layer of protection with a sleeve or case even if your bag or briefcase offers up some defense.
On the budget side of things, AmazonBasics has options for felt sleeves from $10-$14 and neoprene style sleeves from $6-$12.
In the moderate price range, Incase offers up solid products to protect your devices that include a little more attention to aesthetics.
For more premium sleeves and cases, Mission Leather Co. makes some sharp options for MacBook and iPad ranging from $70 and up.
AmazonBasics Felt Laptop Sleeve from $10
AmazonBasics Laptop/Tablet Sleeve from $6
Incase sleeves/cases from $50
Mission Leather Co. sleeves/cases from $70Miscellaneous
Other handy items that can make great stocking stuffers or nice small gifts include the iOttie OneTouch 2 or iOttie Air Vent to keep iPhone useful for navigation. Anker also has a good magnetic mount option.
If you don’t have or don’t want to spend the money on noise cancelling headphones, I enjoy using EarBuddyz or Earhoox when flying to give a noise isolation boost in addition to a snug fit with EarPods and AirPods.
Finally, if you live in a cold climate, or are visiting one, Mujjo’s Touch Screen Gloves make a great gift (full review coming soon). They come in both knit and leather options starting at $30.
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Have you ever missed an ideal snapshot as you waited for the Camera app’s animation and UI to finish loading? I think it’s safe to say that all of us have missed a perfect photo as a result of having to wait on the iPhone’s Camera app. Things have gotten considerably better in this regard as hardware speeds have improved, but it’s still not exactly perfect.
QuickShoot Pro is a jailbreak tweak that seeks out to solve the issue by letting you snap photos and videos directly from the Home screen. It accomplishes this feat using a couple of different methods. The first method requires you to double tap on the Camera app icon for a photo, and a triple tap on the app icon for video. By doing this, a photo or video is taken without the Camera UI, hence resulting in a faster composition.
The second method is a simple Activator gesture. You can setup an Activator gesture for taking a photo or starting a new video. QuickShoot Pro features quite a few options that can be used to configure the tweak to your needs and liking. It’s not going to completely reduce the wait time associated with taking a new photo, but it’s certainly faster than the stock method for taking photos and videos. Take a look inside as we break down QuickShoot Pro in our hands on video walkthrough…
Once QuickShot Pro is installed, you can begin using it immediately. Double tap on the Camera app icon, and you’ll see an impressive little animation denoting the snapshot. You’ll also notice the green focus boxes when the camera is focusing on a subject. A triple tap on the same app icon yields a red LED indicating that video recording is now taking place.
Venture into the tweak’s preferences contained within the Settings app, shows an assorted variety of different options. There’s the standard kill-switch for starters, along with a bevy of preferences for configuring the way photos and videos are taken. Here’s a quick rundown on what you will find in the tweak’s settings:
Camera Device – Allows you to select between rear and front facing cameras
Video Quality – Let’s you choose the video quality of the movies you shoot
Flash Mode – Enable flash, disable flash, and select automatic mode
HDR – For enabling High Dynamic range photos
Anti-Blur – Waits for the device to become still for 5 seconds before a photo is taken
Image Capture Shortcuts – Activator gesture for photos
Video Capture Shortcuts – Activator gesture for videos
If you’re the type of person who hates venturing into the Settings app over and over again, you’ll be glad to find a shortcut options window — this allows you to adjust settings on the fly. The options window can be configured using an Activator gesture, and pops up directly on the Home screen to let you change HDR, flash, and camera device settings. You can configure the window to disappear after a set amount of time in the tweak’s settings.
Last but not least, there’s another option contained within QuickShoot Pro’s settings. This option allows you to select additional icons for invoking the camera with double or triple taps. This is great for those of you who use an alternate camera app like Camera+, and/or for those of you who hide the stock Camera app icon.
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