Entries Tagged as 'Android'

Smart Phones

If you’re looking for a smart phone, you’ve got lots of great choices now.

Whether you’re interested in an Android based phone, a Windows Mobile 6.5 based phone, or holding out for a Windows Mobile 7 based phone you really want to take a look at HTC.

I believe HTC phones are available on all the major US carries, and most all the smaller regional carriers (your selection might vary).  Internationally you can purchase an unlocked GSM version — and several of the HTC handsets are multi-band, multi-format.

HTC innovated the smart phone interface; and the worlds most popular smart phone (the Apple iPhone) appears to have “leveraged” off the work HTC did years before.  What, you thought Apple created that gesture based user interface all by themselves?

HTC built the first Android based phone; HTC released the first Windows Mobile 6.5 phone (and supplied upgrades for a number of Windows Mobile 6.0 phones); and it looks like HTC will release the first Windows 7 phone (there are already rumors).

Other than the Motorola Droid (which HTC already had shipped a similar phone) HTC phones are the “hot ticket”.

I have an older HTC phone — the 6850, aka Touch Pro — and I love it.  It’s been upgraded to Windows Mobile 6.5 and works well.

A smart phone provides me with the ability to keep my contacts synchronized (without having to attach my phone to my computer), get quick answers on to questions on the Internet, be alerted to email (or read and send email for that matter), use mapping software (or act as a full blown GPS since I have Garmin loaded as well), check fuel prices, check the weather, and tether my laptop when I can’t get a free WiFi signal.  I guess I could use my phone for a multimedia player (video and audio); but that’s not a requirement for me (but you could — and I’ve played with streaming audio and video to my phone, so I wouldn’t be limited by the 8GB flash card I added to it).

Today smart phones are a viable solution for people who want more than just voice communications in their pocket, and don’t want to carry multiple devices.  Over a decade ago my friends and I “dreamed” of a convergence device that would give us PDA, data, and cellular all in one — today that dream is a reality.

Originally posted 2010-01-14 01:00:20.

Smart Phones

I have a great deal of respect for what Apple’s ability to re-invent itself and market form (over function) to the masses… and I’ve underscored many times that *nix based operating systems will likely never gain critical mass until they have a cohesive environment for the user (as Apple has done with it’s Unix based OS-X).

But respect doesn’t mean I’m going to “drink the Kool-Aid” and believe everything Steve Jobs tells me.

Clearly Jobs does an exceptional job creating devices with glitter and glitch and making the gullible believe that Apple pioneered the technology and that consumers simply cannot get along without purchasing it (and purchasing a new upgrade every time a new bell or whistle is added).

The bottom line is Apple creates nothing… Apple puts a shinny new coat of paint on existing technology, brands it, markets it, and calls it their own.

Apple isn’t driven by innovation, Apple is driven by greed — almost makes you wonder what inadequacies Steve Jobs is trying to compensate for.

And certainly (as I’ve posted) the iPhone is one of Apple’s greatest charades!

Serious smart phone users wouldn’t consider an iPhone as anything more than eye candy; both Windows Mobile and Android devices are far better choices for a serious user.

The next time you walk down the street and see someone sporting an iPhone don’t laugh too loud you might give them a complex — I fear most iPhone users are like Steve Jobs, and feel a little inadequate.

Originally posted 2010-06-14 02:00:25.


For many POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) is a distant memory… and given the pricing I’d say the local TelCo providers have priced it out of existence.

In a society where almost everyone has a cell phone (and unlimited cell service is fairly reasonably priced), the likelihood that any “home” telephone service will make a comeback is fairly low.

That said, Google Voice (a totally free service from Google) is something I’ve used for years to provide me with an auxiliary communications channel.  Why would I want to give me cellular number to all the annoying people who get a phone number; I pay for my phone service, so I should be able to decide who can reach me when — and Google provides many of the features you simply must have for telecommunications in Google Voice.

You can easily access Google Voice directly from your Android handset, but sometimes you might want to be able to just pick a phone on the end table to answer or make a call; or you might have that occasional FAX you need to send (while I find it hard to believe that companies don’t allow you to upload scanned documents via a web page portal, or send them via email — many are still in the stone-age of technology and simply think FAX machines will be here until the end of time, or that some law makes a FAX somehow necessary, or that they’re more secure).

To that end, OBiTalk has a number of telecommunications devices (technically VoIP Telephone Adapters [TAs]) available for a fairly reasonably price, and they support Google Voice.

The OBi200, the lowest model currently sold, is a great and economical device to provide you with a “home” phone.  The OBi200, a Google Voice number, and a home cordless (multi-station) phone is everything you need to have a service that fulfills you needs for free (if you require E911 service, you would have to subscribe to that service separately, but perhaps your cell phone is a better E911 device).

The Obi200 supports a single handset, but will support up to four phone lines (and any combination of them can be Google Voice — or other VoIP services… but again, Google Voice is free).

I’ve been using one of these devices for quite sometime, and I recently just added a second one (you can do station to station dialing with it as well), so it’s fairly easy to see that I’m quite happy with the device.

One word of advice, if you’re interested in a OBiTalk device, watch sales at online (also remember some brick-and-mortar stores will match online prices at some sites).

Just remember, with Google Voice, you do need to use each line (I recommend using them monthly at a minimum), but you will get an email notification from Google if you’re at risk of losing your Google Voice number from inactivity.


OBiTalk OBi200

Google Voice

Originally posted 2017-05-30 08:00:23.

Google Voice(mail)

I’ve already made a few posts that tell you how you can use Google Voice to make and receive unlimited free calls (provided your carrier allows you to specify at least one telephone number that’s air-time free), but here’s a way you can use an unlimited data plan to reduce your air-time fees for retrieving voice mail and totally eliminate any carrier charges for “visual voice mail”.

Verizon charges nothing for “Basic Voice Mail” per month; but they will charge you air time each and every time you call your own voice mail (evening and weekends are air time free on some plans, but you cannot put your own number in the air-time free call list [current called “Friends & Family”, it used to be called “My Circle” before the AllTel acquisition).

Verizon charges $1.99 for “Premium Voice Mail” .  You can read up on the features they’ll rape you for.

Verizon charges $2.99 for “Visual Voice Mail”.  Again you can read up on the features they’ll rape you for.

Or… you can just setup your Google Voice account to be your voice mail — and then you’ll essentially get all the feature Verizon would love to charge you extra for; plus be able to call your voice mail for free (assuming you have put your Google Voice number in your “Friend & Famly” list) or just read the SMS and/or email message that contains the voice mail transcription or play the voice mail over your unlimited data connection.

There are actually instructions on Google Voice for setting up Google Voice mail as your primary voice mail on your carrier (they will tell you for most any carrier), so this doesn’t only work for Verizon, this will work for pretty much any carrier…

Why throw money away?

While I might have reservations about letting Google have access to more and more of my information, I sort of lump them in the category that the people you don’t want to have access to your information had it before you did…

Anyway, Google Voice mail (and Google Voice) will work with any cellular phone (and actually you can use this strategy with landlines as well).

Originally posted 2010-10-17 02:00:07.

Galaxy Nexus

I got a new handset today… a Google (Samsung) Galaxy Nexus.

My Motorola Droid (A855 — the original one) was getting a little dated and running way too slow for me.

I was originally thinking about the Motorola Droid 4, and held out until that was released to make up my mind (I really liked the idea of a physical keyboard); but when I found that Motorola pulled GSM support (added in the Droid 2 Global, and kept in the Droid 3) as well as used a crappy display (compared to the Droid Razr — which the Droid 4 is basically a Droid Razr with a keyboard) I decide it just wouldn’t satisfy me.

I considered switching from Verizon to a pre-paid GSM plan and getting the Galaxy Nexus GSM model, but one of my Google friends had gotten the Verizon CDMA model from Google and offered to give it to me (I guess I can consider it a birthday present — and again, THANK YOU very much), so I decide to go ahead and try it.

I’d already confirmed with Verizon that my plan (unlimited data) wouldn’t require any changes to support an LTE handset (woot)… so when the phone arrived today I called up and activated the handset and SIM.

The handset has a stunning display… there’s just no way to describe it without seeing it, the 3.65″ Super AMOLED curved display is wonderful.  And of course with a 1.2 GHz dual core processor and Ice Cream Sandwitch (ICS – Android 4.0) it’s about as “new” a handset as you can get.

Technically (by the map) Verizon doesn’t have LTE at my home, but outside I do get a weak LTE signal (and let me tell you, a weak LTE/4G signal is way faster than a good CMDA/3G signal)… it’s not really an issue that I don’t get LTE at home, just slightly West of here there’s stable LTE coverage, and hopefully Verizon will continue their 4G build out in this area.

Next task will be to root the phone so that I have unfettered access the power of Android 4.0.

Google Galaxy Nexus

Originally posted 2012-04-13 02:00:35.

Usability Summary

I think I can sum up the real problem with Linux or any open source system where there’s no real usability mandate…

Developers make arbitrary decisions that suit their needs without any regard to how others will view their decisions or even figure out how to use what they do… the real difference between Windows and OS-X and Linux is that two of those are the cooperative efforts of “experts” who try very hard to address the needs of a target audience who wouldn’t be capable of writing their own operating system.

And, of course, with something like Linux it’s geometrically worse than most open source software since any given Linux is the culmination of hundreds of separate open source modules put together in a completely arbitrary fashion.

It really is funny that what I’ve been describing as a lack of cohesiveness is layered; and I suspect no matter what the intentions of a single developer to try and wrap it inside a nice pretty shell that gives a forward facing pretense of a system that was planned and targeted for productivity, the ugly truth of how much a patch work it is will show through… and we can look back on early versions of Windows and MacOS and see just that… it’s really only been within the last five or six years that those systems have risen to the point that they are in fact fairly cohesive, and designed to be tools for people to solve problems with; not projects for people to build for the sole purpose of developing a life of their own.

Without some unifying direction, the only Linux I can see suceeding is Android; and that my friends is likely to become a collection of closed source tools running on top of an open source kernel.  Trust me, you haven’t seen an evil empire until Google gets on your desktop, phone, settop box, etc…

Originally posted 2010-01-11 01:00:10.

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.

My Droid 1 Does Gingerbread

I decided that the state of the Android 2.3.2 (Gingerbread) development for the Droid 1 had reached a point that I was happy enough with the stability to put it on the Droid 1 I use day-to-day; so I flashed in Peter Alfonso’s GPA12 build last night along with this overclocked kernel modification.

Without the overclocked kernel modification Gingerbread seems just a little sluggish on the Droid 1… usable, but far from snappy.  With the overclocked kernel modification it’s fine.

There are a lot of small feature improvements in Gingerbread; and I believe still the only official release of it is for the Nexus S (the Samsung Galaxy S class phone that’s Google branded and unlocked — I have one of those as well, but it’s a GSM phone, so I use it to travel abroad since my US carrier is Verizon Wireless — CDMA).

Keep in mind to use any custom ROM on your Android phone you do have to root the device… that’s generally pretty easy on most devices (particularly on the Droid 1).  There’s little to worry about, and you’re not likely to brick your phone as long as you follow the instructions (you might want to read over them a few times before trying, and if you’re not clear on something find another set of instructions).

Let me end by saying the Droid 1 is an incredible device — it’s well built, and a great value… while it may not have all the whizzy new features you find on the front line phones, until we get to second generation Android LTE handsets, I think I’ll be happy.


Originally posted 2011-02-22 02:00:45.

Sprint 4G Surcharge

So I was looking at Sprint devices, plans and coverage — they have the Samsung Galaxy S 4G handset, and their model includes a slider qwerty keyboard (I really like keyboards on smart phones)… of course we’re talking about Sprint’s network, which has marginal service in this area and no 4G within about 300 miles (and likely no 4G for a very long time any where around here) but the interesting thing is they still insist on charging a $10 4G surcharge for plans on 4G phones even when the phone is used in 3G service areas…

Personally I feel that if a cellular company is going to charge me a surcharge for enhanced speed (and features) that I should be getting those features…

I don’t think I’d be too keen on Sprint for anyone of a number of reasons…

Let’s see, first and foremost would be a horrible experience with Sprint and Sprint’s billing practices when they first started.  And their CEO can keep apologizing about it, but the bottom line is I wouldn’t tend to try Sprint unless they offered me a deal that was just incredible (and charging me for a service I’m likely never to get isn’t a way to make me feel like it’s a deal I can’t refuse).

Then there would be the fact that their service and coverage here is abysmal — even worse than AT&T!!!  In fact, their service is so spotty they actually caution you about it on their web site when you go to browse phones and plans.

Then, they choose WiMax rather than LTE (like the rest of the world).  Though since they’re depending on Clearwire for WiMax services and Clearwire has been showing more and more interest in LTE (and ditching WiMax — which probably doesn’t make Intel happy) who know if Sprint will actually really keep rolling out WiMax or shift to LTE.

Anyway; I like the Galaxy S… but I’m holding out for HTC to make a high end Android phone with a slider and I’d prefer it to be a CDMA/GSM/LTE handset.

Originally posted 2010-10-15 02:00:34.

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).



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.