September 15, 2009

LoseIt with Diet Coke

My sister and I are both using LoseIt for the iPhone to track our calories.  You tell it what you eat,  it tells you how many calories you have left.   We’ve decided to spot-check each other to stay honest, and I found this exchange particularly amusing.

A humorous exchange w/ my sister about dieting.

A humorous exchange w/ my sister about dieting.

August 25, 2009

Android Root

Okay, so the hackathon of my Google Phone is over.  I decided to “root” my G2 (Google Ion, myTouch, whatever) phone so that I can install other versions of the operation system.  The primary reason was the speed advantages but I was also interested in wifi tethering.  There are a ton of options but I went with Cyanogenmod (at the time it was v4.0.1 but a few days later I installed v.4.0.2 and it was easy) because it has the most “play” (i.e. I read about it all over the place).

It’s funny because supposedly it’s a “one click” process but wherever you read that headline you’ll see 50 links and 10 pages of text.

Advantages:

  • It does seem faster but it’s no iPhone (probably not even as fast as the first iPhone let along the 3GS)
  • Wifi tethering!  I can tether with a laptop or netbook to my data connection using just wifi.  The irony is that I would need to plug the phone in with USB anyway for power but still, tethering!
  • Multi-Touch browser.  Again, not as responsive as iPhone be still nicer than the +/-.  Would be really nice in maps and I suspect that might come soon.
  • More “screens” so I can have more widgets and icons in the locations that I want.  Not all that big a deal as 3 was enough, really, since I could get to the stuff I didn’t use much from the “pull up” menu
  • Couple of new apps I couldn’t have gotten otherwise . . . pdf viewer and an office viewer.
  • Discovered “MyBackup” which is an app that takes care of backup for apps and data so at the end of it all restoring back to the phone I had before took about 10 minutes . . . with the exception of my background image, ring tone, and some setup inside a few apps like latitude.  I had to install all of the apps one but with MyBackup I just had to okay each install one by one but it all went really fast . . . at least I didn’t have to remember what I liked and download it all one by one.
  • Three keyboards to choose from . . . though, I already had two after installing an alternate a while back.

Disadvantages:

  • Takes forever to boot up (but that was just the first time . . . it has to run some script)
  • It was kinda scary though it was actually one of the easiest hacks ever.  More scary that most other projects because I *need* my phone whereas if I bust a PSP or my Wii or an XBox I’m just out some entertainment which is no big deal.

Sheldon

August 20, 2009

The New Monitor is Here!

FACT:  My new monitor is larger than the TV Set that we had growing up as a kid.  FACT: The scale on Google Maps now reads “One inch equals: one inch”.  FACT: Only Cartman can adequately describe what I’m feeling right now.

Great Phone . . . or Greatest Phone

Some background first . . . .

I got my wife the iPhone 3G the day it came out.  Waited in a line for a few hours and everything.  She had been using a Razr for about 3 years and it was time.  And we were already on the AT&T network so it was easy.  I would have gotten one for myself but a month before the 3G was announced I got myself a Blackberry Pearl so I wasn’t eligible for the $199 new customer price.

At the time the biggest problem with an iPhone was the $30 mandatory data plan.  It’s the only phone on any network that requires you have a data plan.  I like the idea that even though I’m locked in for 2 years I can get the $40/month voice plan to lower my bills just in case. And a year ago the iPhone was a 10 and there was nothing even close from what I could see.

Anyway, a few months ago I went to Google I/O and got one of the G2 HTC phones (it’s called a Magic or myTouch or something like that on T-Mobile).  It was a dream come true . . . a chance to use “the other cool phone” without paying for it.  And the best part is that I got AT&T to give me a data plan for $15 a month!!  Please don’t call AT&T and ask for that plan and ruin it for me.  No, seriously . . I’m glad that no one will be reading this.  And it sucks that I only get “Edge” speeds because apparently 3G isn’t a standard and AT&T and T-Mobile do 3G data in different ways so if I want 3G on AT&T’s network I have to wait until an Android phone comes out for AT&T.

Okay, so that’s the background info out of the way . . . I’ve never had an iPhone personally but being the techie of the house I do get how the iPhone works and use it occasionally and I always know about cool apps for it before my wife does.  And I’ve used a Blackberry for over a year.  And now I’ve had the Android phone since May.  Here are the results:

If you are a non-tech person, the iPhone is a 10.0 and sets the bar incredibly high.  If you can afford that phone, ignore all the stuff about how crappy AT&T is and just get that phone.

If you are a tech person it’s a much harder call because although the iPhone is great . . . it’s locked down!  So, a phone like the G2 or any other Android phone (once they come out!!) has an incredible appeal since they are so hackable.  It’s an 8.2 to the 9.0 of a iPhone (not a perfect 10 because it’s missing concurrent apps and no Google Voice app but those things don’t matter to a casual user).  The old blackberry I had would be a 5.0 at best . . . I mean, you can use maps and check gmail with those apps but getting the apps in the first place sucks because you have to get them directly from the vendor (although this is different now from what I understand) AND it’s still a locked down OS that no one want’s to develop for.

The apps and the speed of the iPhone is why it has any chance against an Android phone . . . and both of those problems will fix themselves if someone releases some decent hardware.  It needs to be powerful and WITH a headphone jack (even though bluetooth noice canceling headphones have got to be in the pipeline somewhere at Bose, right?).

I’ll do a pro/cons list about my Android phone some other time, maybe.

Sheldon

September 6, 2008

Upgrading the iPhone and the useless iTunes progress bars!

So it’s about time to upgrade to 2.0.2.  I ripped a DVD and put it on the iPhone (thanks to handbrake!) and it was suprizingly easy.  But it took a while to encode so I had plenty of time to do an upgrade.

First step was to download the update . . . over 200 MB!!!  That’s going to take a while  . . . .

Okay, now it has to backup the iPhone.  I get a progress bar from hell that just keeps scrolling by.  After that’s done, another useless progress bar saying it’s extracting the files or something.  Next another annoying progress bar to say that it’s “Prepping the iPhone for an upgrade”.  On and on and on.   Probably more than 5 different progress bars.

After all that it couldn’t install the software (my USB ports are flaky) so it was in “Restore mode” and I had to do the entire process all over again (well, at least I didn’t have to download the update).  Lucky that it backed up the iPhone because everything was wiped out after the restore.  But I did get back all the apps I downloaded as well as the addressbook.  But I did loose all the music and video so I had to sync all that back up.

Two hours later . . . finally done.

Sheldon

August 28, 2008

iPhone 3G reception problems are real!!

It’s been a while.  I’ve been messing with CakePHP instead of writing . . . but I need to do both.  Anyway, an iPhone rant.

The iPhone 3G reception problem is bad news.  While we were in DC a few weeks ago I was trying to look up maps and stuff and the iPhone was sucky so I switched off 3G thinking DC just wasn’t a good coverage area.  When we got back, I never switched it back (it is Sarah’s phone after all).  Then on Monday (several weeks later) I read that “Tris” (the Tetris clone) was being pulled from the App Store on Wednesday.  I grabbed up the iPhone and downloaded it.  (It’s pretty sweet by the way.)   The download took a while and I remembered about how I switched off 3G weeks ago so I switched it back on and put the phone on the dryer (that’s where we put our phones and keys).  Later that night Sarah does some laundry and I notice the iPhone is pretty hot sitting on the dryer . . . so I put it on the washer.  Next day, all calls are dropped after less than a minute.  At first I thought it was the heat from the dryer . . . but then Sarah said “It’s that Tris you installed!” and then it dawned on me . . . it was because of 3G!!!  I switched off 3G and all is well . . . sorta, I mean, it’s not “twice as fast” and it certainly wasn’t “half the price”.

That said it’s still a cool phone and I wish I had one.  It just sucks that it is advertized as better . . . and it’s certainly one of the most expensive options when it comes to the TCO (total cost of ownership) for a phone.

Sheldon

June 16, 2008

Apple raises the price of the iPhone

The big news about the new iPhone is “Twice as fast, half the price” but now we know the truth.  Sure, it only costs $199 but now the data plan and text messaging is the same as the ones you get with a Blackberry (see my earlier post) so essentially the new iPhone costs more than the old one over the two year contract.  Or, to look at it another way, the new iPhone has the same data plan as the Blackberry so now it’s easier to compare the total cost of an iPhone over the total cost of a Blackberry since there isn’t a special iPhone package from AT&T anymore.  I guess Apple is the one pulling something this time, not AT&T.

Sheldon

June 3, 2008

How does AT&T get away with this?

UPDATE:  Well, with the new iPhone comming out the link to the pricing plan below is invalid.  Thank goodness for the way back machine!!  At archive.org I found the text about the $20 “iPhone Data Plan” that includes 200 text messages, unlimited data and visual voice mail.

The new iPhone means a new post.  Stay tuned.

Okay, so, here is the deal. I get the Blackberry Pearl. Lost my Razr and for $50 (after getting a rebate card) I figure I need a change and the Blackberry charges with mini USB so I don’t need to invest in chargers. As you can tell it was a tough decision. It was!

The Blackberry is okay and it’s cool to have Google maps and GMail . . . comes in handy a lot more than you think. It does lock up and give me the spinning hourglass too much and without Google it would be worthless but it’s a few steps up from the Razr. Not sure if it’s worth the “data plan” fee but still, it is useful. I figure I’ll keep the data plan a few months to see if I use it enough and beside, I can’t let the mobile web pass me by.

Then I get the *second* bill. $40 more than I expect. Last time the “Blackberry unlimited” was charged at $25. This time it was $30. I guess it was prorated the first month and $30 is the normal fee. Okay, that’s kinda steep but that only accounts for $5 increase. Oh, and my wife made a few calls in Canada . . . there goes another $25. Still missing $10.

Going over the bill for the third time and IT’S THE TEXT MESSAGES!!!! No text messages are included with the $30 Blackberry plan . . . NONE . . . For that you gotta pay $5 more.

According to Apple you just pay another $20 per month as an existing customer to get 200 text messages and data. WHAT THE!?

So, to get what I would get with an iPhone (data and text messaging at least) on the Blackberry I need to pay $15 extra per month or $180 more per year! What am I missing?

Sheldon

May 7, 2008

My mouse hates me

Occasionally my mouse would lock up and the pointer speed would slow down and it would be hard to navigate so I would go to the control panel and change the pointer speed to accommodate. But then a few minutes later it would speed back up and be too fast so back to the control panel. I tried to close down Firefox (figuring that it was eating away too much memory or I had some webpage up that was hitting the CANVAS too hard) but even with Firefox closed my mouse was messing with me.

I looked for all kinds of things that I thought might be doing it. I stopped every process but the bare essentials. I searched and searched and searched. I decided I needed to reinstall but I still have work to do so I just kinda dealt with it for a few weeks (I settled on an “in-between” speed so that if it was slow or fast I could adjust my movements to accommodate . . . it was brain training!). Oh, and the same thing happened with a similar but different mouse.

Then one day I plug my new BlackBerry in (I wanted an iPhone but the Blackberry was $50 . . . and even free now! . . and I lost my other phone so I had to do something) to USB and I got a notice on the phone saying there wasn’t enough juice to charge the BlackBerry. That’s strange because I plugged into a powered USB hub. Anyway, I figured the BlackBerry had some special power requirements or wouldn’t charge with just mini USB.

So I decided that I should buy a new USB hub thinking maybe that was the problem. I have no idea why I came to that conclusion but my old hub was one of the first USB 2.0 hubs to come out. I get a new Belkin. I go to plug it in and notice that something else had come unplugged . . . that’s right, my USB Hub!!! I plugged it in and ever since the mouse has been working fine. WHY WOULD YOU NEED A POWERED USB HUB FOR A MOUSE?! That and the keyboard was all that was ever plugged in there.

Sheldon