Entries Tagged as 'Android'

Xoom

Several weeks ago I purchased a Motorola Xoom (WiFi only model), I’d looked at the Acer, the Asus, the Samsung, and read up on the Thrive — I decided that the Xoom was the best candidate of the available Android/Honeycomb tablets available now.

I’m happy with my purchase, and it’s amazing how quickly a “gadget” can find its way into your everyday life.

I will write a lengthy review of the Xoom to let you know everything I like about it, and the things I really don’t think are that great… plus I’ll write a post on my rooting adventure (after all, it’s Android, why wouldn’t you root it).

Let me just close with it’s a great tool, and if you’re willing to carry something like that with you it gives you incredible access to books, news, entertainment, information…

I do expect that prices for 10″ tablets will continue to come down… but I’d definitely recommend you only consider a dual-core (or better) tablet.

Originally posted 2011-08-03 02:00:04.

Re-mount Xoom External SD Card for Read-Write

If you’re having trouble writing to your external uSD card in your Motorol Xoom, you’re not alone.

If you’re rooted the device, the solution is fairly straight forward…

Open up a terminal prompt, then type the following three commands:

su

umount /mnt/external1

mount -t vfat -o fmask=0000,dmask=0000,rw /dev/block/platform/sdhci-tegra.2/mmcblk1p1 /mnt/external1

When you type “su” you’ll have to approve privilege elevation.

The umount commend unmounts the uSD card

And the mount command re-mounts the uSD card with read-write privilege.

You’ll need to do this each time your Xoom is booted; and I’m going to see about creating an application that will do this auto-magically.

Once again, this will only work on a rooted Xoom; and this solution is based on reading on xda-developers.com.

I want to give credit where credit was due, but there’s a typo there (mmcblk0p1 rather than mmcblk1p1 — at least that was the device/partition on my Xoom that the uSD card appeared as).

You can determine the correct device on your Xoom by just typing “mount” in the terminal window and locating the device mounted at /mnt/external1.

Originally posted 2011-11-19 02:00:12.

Screen Protectors

First, let me start by saying that any screen protector is better than no screen protector at all on a touch screen; but let me assure you that all screen protectors are not created the same.

Most screen protector vendors will tell you that their screen protector is made from “military grade” PET — and that’s not an expensive plastic, so we’d expect all screen protectors to be made of a layer of PET; but generally better screen protectors have additional layers of materials deposited on them.

The finish of the screen protector greatly affects it’s performance.  Generally you’ll want a matte finish — there are some applications where you may want a glossy finish, but for the most part you will not.  The matte finish will help reduce glare, as well as make those annoying fingerprints less obvious.

The “feel” of the various materials will vary greatly.  I personally like “soft” finishes where I can actually feel the material give slightly.  The extremely hard finishes I find unpleasant; though that would be exactly what you wanted if you were using a stylus.

The method of application will also vary.  Most of the inexpensive screen protectors ship with two thin plastic layers on each side, and one side will have adhesive (that’s generally the one with the “red” label).  Better screen protectors generally use a “wet” application where you use a small amount of fluid provided (which is essentially water and a mild, clear soap).  By far the wet methods are much easier to install and much easier to align perfectly.  Regardless of which application method the screen protector requires it’s important to make sure you clean your touch display so that it is absolutely spotless — which is one reason why you may want to apply the screen protector immediately after opening up the box and removing the protective film on the device.

Finally, check to see if your screen protector comes with a guarantee.  That may change the long term price of what you’re paying for the screen protector (though remember, for warranty claims you’ll likely need to return the screen protector — so there is shipping involved).

What screen protector do I think is the best — Zagg.  Their invisibleSHIELDs have lifetime warranties, a great feel, extremely durable, and easy to install.

But, Zagg screen protectors are expensive… and you just may not want to spend that for a screen protector; so you have to weigh everything I’ve said against your wallet.

But remember — any screen protector is better than no screen protector… so if you can’t justify the price of a Zagg, check your favorite places and find a good price on something that will protect your investment in your phone or tablet.

Originally posted 2011-11-13 02:00:08.

Remember when…

Remember when it was just so darn easy to share files with other computers on your local area (home) network?  It was ever simple to share files between PCs and Macs.

Have you noticed that while Windows was once a very easy platform to share files with others from it’s become almost impossible to even share files between two PCs running the same version of Windows?

If Microsoft is seeking to make their operating system more secure by making it unusable I they are getting very close to realizing their objective.

I really have grown tired of the complexities of sharing folders between PCs, more and more I’m finding that just using Box or Dropbox, or Google Drive is a much more efficient way to transfer small numbers of files between two machines — even if it’s a one time transfer.  I mean, yeah, it’s kinda retarded to send files to cloud storage potentially on the other side of the country to just copy it to a machine that’s a few feet away — but let’s be serious, it’s quicker than figuring out why Windows say the same user (with the same password) on two different machines, who should have unlimited rights to a directory can’t copy a file from and certainly can’t copy a file to a machine.

Yeah, it may seem retarded, but the days of using *nix copy command between remote machines seems easier…

Microsoft needs to take a hard look at human factors, and not of all the wizzy new feature they keep adding to their operating system, but to the foundation features that people (all people) actually use day in and day out for productivity — after all, we don’t all have domains at home… and not only do we sometimes move files between machines we own, but occasionally some of us might have a friend with a laptop come over.

I guess that’s why I keep a few fairly large USB drives around, because Microsoft certainly doesn’t want to actually make computers that run their operating system usable.

Originally posted 2013-11-03 10:00:23.

Formatting an SD Card

So you like many PC and Mac users (not really an issue if you use *nix and understand what you’re doing) have had a horrible experience trying to format a SD, SD-HC, or SD-XC full size, mini, or micro card for use in your device… fortunately the SD Association, the people who set standards for these cards are offering a free download of a SD card formatted program for Windows and OS-X… just use the link at the bottom of this post and go to their “downloads” section.

And a few things to keep in mind when you go out to purchase a new SD card — look at the speed ratings, the higher the “class” number on the card, the faster it is.  And take a look at the warranty, life-time warranties are always something you’ll use (flash devices have a limited life), but certainly you’ll want to get a reasonable warranty length (just in case you got the lemon off the shelf I missed).

sdcard.org

 

NOTE: There’s also a link on the SD Association to a driver to a driver Microsoft provides which may resolve issues with SD-XC memory cards when using an SD-XC compatible reader/writer.

Originally posted 2011-11-22 02:00:38.

Motorola Xoom MZ604 and Vizio VTAB1008

I picked up a Motorola Xoom MZ604 (US WiFi only) several months ago when the prices dropped (actually a package with a few accessories), and another a week or so ago when Target put the Xoom and portfolio case on sale for $399…  The Xoom runs Honeycomb (Android 3.2).

I also picked up two of the Vizio VTAB 1008 about the same time I purchased the second Xoom at Sam’s Club when they dropped the price to $194 (I got the Vizio cases at Walmart for $19 each since I didn’t care for the accessory package Sam’s Club had — or the price).  The VTAB runs Gingerbread (Android 2.3).

And yes, I have two Motorola Droid A855 handsets as well — so I currently have six Android devices; and I’ll consider a quad-core running Ice Cream Sandwidth (aka ICS, Android 4) when those come out.  My Droid is running Gingerbreak (Android 2.3) — and, no, it’s not an official release; the official release for a Droid is Froyo (Android 2.2),

I’ve rooted the Droid, the Xoom as well as the VTAB; and I’ll write up a review for each of the Xoom and the VTAB in the next several days and get them posted (if you really want a solid, reasonably priced Android handset with a slide out keyboard, the Droid, or the Droid 2, or the Droid 2 Global are great alternatives; but I see no need to review devices that are not currently produced or nearing end-of-life).

There are a lot of tablets out there on the market; but the Xoom is a great dual core 10.1″ tablet, and the VTAB is a pretty good buy for a single core 8″ tablet.

Now keep in mind that all 8″ (and 7″) tablets aren’t the same.  Many do not have GPS or Bluetooth.  Not only does the Vizio have that, but it also has IR (Infrared) and will act as an entertainment remote control (which I’ll probably toss the Neo Pronto I have aside in favor of just keeping the Vizio handy).

Like I said, I’ll do a complete review on each of the devices; and with the Xoom I’ll contrast and compare it to the other devices I considered.

The bottom line — if you’re looking for a tablet, this is the year of the tablet; there are going to be lots of them offered at very attractive prices over the holiday season, and I suspect you’ll find quite a few even better deals once the CES show announcements hit the press after the first of the year.

Do your homework, and know what you want, and determine what you’re willing to pay.

Originally posted 2011-11-23 02:00:50.

Cloud Storage

 There are tons of free (and paid) cloud storage services… and you can use more than one of them (I actually use all of the following myself).

 

Amazon

Amazon changes their cloud storage option fairly often, currently it’s 5GB free with 250 songs — the subscription for storage and music storage are separate now.

 

Box

50GB of storage.  Works with Windows, Max, Android, and iOS – plus there are several other apps that allow easy migration of files to Box.

 

DropBox 

2GB of storage plus an extra 500MB for using the above link to sign up (there are other bonuses you can get as well).    Works with Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and BlackBerry.

 

GoogleDrive

If you have a Google GMail account (or Google App account) you already have this, just sign in to activate it.  Works with Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS — probably others as well.  The storage amount you get seems to vary based on when you sign up.  NOTE:  Google Music is stored separately.

 

SkyDrive

If you have an MSN, HotMail, Live or any other Microsoft hosted/provided account you already have access to it.  Works with Windows, Android, iOS — probably others as well.  The storage amount you get seems to vary based on when you sign up.

 

Ubuntu One

5GB of storage, plus an extra 500MB for using the above link to sign up.  Works with Windows, Mac, Ubuntu (Linux), Android, and iOS – plus can be used automatically to store large Thunderbird attachments (great if you’re sending the same attachment to several people).

Originally posted 2013-08-27 11:10:21.

Google Music – Beta

Google has launched their cloud based streaming music service as a beta; you can request an invitation (using a Gmail account) via the link below.

What does it get you?

Well, up to 20,000 songs in your cloud storage; play back support on most Android devices; play back support from a browser; and an upload program that will sync your library to the cloud.

Not bad for free.

Apple provides a similar service for $25 per year; there’s no limit to the amount of music you can store.  The main differences being that there’s no Android support (basically devices iTunes supports is supported), and Apple actually finger prints the files and serves their iTune version of the music rather than your copy (likely at a higher bit rate — they, of course, don’t incur the storage overhead).

Amazon provides a similar service for $20 per year (you also get some storage for other files); and there’s no limit to the amount of music you can store, but you might find their uploader is a little less friendly to use (OK — to be fair it’s been updated since I tested it — so maybe not).

You can play with the free 5GB version of the Amazon service and decide if you like it, and it’s worth the $20 (I was hoping they’d just bundle it into Prime — but if they’re serious about Hulu they really need to start Al-a-cart charges for services, or Prime is going to have to go up).

Anyway, if you have an Android device, I highly recommend you go ahead and request an invite to the Google Music Beta — you can try the Amazon out as well… if you have an iOS device, you’re probably stuck with the Apple solution (but you’re an Apple customer, so you’re used to having to shell out money for everything).

Also, the Amazon tablets will reportedly ship with a free Prime subscription, possibly a free year of cloud storage might be thrown in as well (that’s speculation on my part).

http://music.google.com/about/

Originally posted 2011-09-10 02:00:28.

Kit Kat – Android 4.4 / 4.4.2

My Nexus 4 and my two Nexus 7s updated to Kit Kat about a month ago and other than Google+ becoming far more pervasive I can’t say I’ve really seen any improvements that matter much to me (yes, I’m aware that “under the hood” there are some substantial changes)…

Some things I have noticed (that I’m not happy with) are:

  • Bluetooth shuts off and cannot be turned back on until you reboot the device.
  • Bluetooth will disconnect and reconnect (by itself) from devices that worked perfectly under Jelly Bean.
  • Devices reboot periodically by themselves (without asking for confirmation — probably more often than you realize since you’re not using them continuously).
  • Devices freeze; sometimes they respond after a couple minutes — sometimes you have to power cycle them (I haven’t had a case where I had to force a reboot yet).

I’m hopeful I won’t see this on my Nexus 5 (when I start using it after the first of the year), but from what I’ve read in the forums I’m not the only one seeing stability issues with Kit Kat, and it appears to be on all devices that have received updates — including the Nexus 5.

I’m afraid this is another case of people who work on Android not really using (or testing) the product well before it hits the street — and while I don’t feel that Google employees working on Android should be forced to trade out their iPhones, I do feel that a substantial number of the engineers working on Android should have to use the latest release (maybe replace their desk phones with cellular handsets that run the latest Android version to help debug the hardware and software).

Bottom line — you might want to hold off on your move from Jelly Bean to Kit Kat until Google releases a few more updates.


 

Android: Kit Kat

Originally posted 2013-12-30 08:00:58.

LibreOffice announced for Web, iOS, Android

The Libre Office project announced today that they will officially support web browsers, iOS, and Android according to The Document Foundation.

Libre Office which formed from the community open source of Open Office and the work done by go-oo.org has primarily focused on being an office suite for the current times rather than trying to compete with or take market from Microsoft Office, and expanding into venues to support phones and tablets is a reasonable path, and one that many have been asking for for quite some time.

No specific time line has been announced, but there had already been some work done on porting to mobile platforms.

Originally posted 2011-10-14 02:00:01.