Hey, All. I’ve been messing around with custom Android ROMs on my Galaxy Note recently and thought I’d post my thoughts on the ROMs and why I went this route to begin with. Of course, there are many out there who want to root and load custom ROMs as soon as possible, but I didn’t want to deal with the hassle. I wanted to wait until I got the official Jelly Bean update from Samsung because supposedly it was coming in March. AFAIK, the original Note STILL hasn’t gotten an update, but I stopped caring after Samsung’s ridiculously crappy and sexist S4 launch event. However you may feel about that lame S4 event, it was the last straw for me.
I really like my Galaxy Note. It’s a unique mobile device that basically jump started the trends for uber-large Android phones as well as devices with styli coming back into vogue (a little). I think Samsung did a great job of creating a new market segment and dominating it. I still hear lots of people singing the praises of the Galaxy Note 2, which I totally wanted to upgrade to before all this. It got super irritating to see all other Samsung devices, some on AT&T, getting their JB updates day after day, week after week, while the Note got left out in the cold. Then the S4 fiasco happened, and it pushed me over the fence to finally seek out Jelly Bean ROMs to try.
There’s no technical reason for the Note not to get a JB update. It’s not like when older iOS devices were denied firmware updates because their hardware wasn’t up to snuff. My Note is currently running a Jelly Bean-based custom ROM and it’s humming along nicely. In fact, I daresay that many older devices benefit from running ICS or JB because the two versions are more optimized and seem to run more smoothly than Gingerbread or Honeycomb did. Plus oddball devices like the NOOK Color that don’t have the typical Android buttons benefit from the virtual nav bar of ICS and JB.
No More Samsung For Me
Anyway, because of Samsung’s lame behavior (even before the S4 event), I decided that a) I wouldn’t wait anymore for an official update, and b) my next Android device is NOT going to be a Samsung device. Besides, Samsung is dominating Android devices now, and I am inclined to seek out the “underdogs” and help them along. It’s too bad because I was crazily eager to get a Note 8.0 because I love smaller tablets and feel that my Galaxy Note is a bit too small to comfortably write on. I think the Note 8.0 would’ve been an ideal inking tablet, but now I am not even considering it. Same for the Galaxy Camera, another shame.
I’m actually pretty interested in the following devices: Sony Xperia Z, HTC One, LG Optimus G Pro, and the OPPO Find 5. I’ve always loved Sony products, and the Xperia Z looks like a great device (waterproof!). The HTC One is getting a lot of praise for the hardware design, rightfully so. The LG Optimus G Pro is essentially a Note 2 knock off. And actually, I’m tickled by LG’s blatant cloning (and/or beating Samsung to the punch) of Samsung devices/features because it’s giving Samsung a big dose of their own medicine. Besides, the Nexus 4 looks like a nice LG device. The OPPO Find 5 is a pretty oddball device, but I think it looks great and it has an interesting hardware HDR capture feature. Because I have a stubborn streak in me that tends to like things that the mainstream doesn’t, the OPPO Find 5 kind of speaks to that side of me. But I also tend to get frustrated by lack of accessories and other support for oddball devices, so I don’t know if I’ll really end up getting the Find 5. The Xperia Z is at the top of my list so far. And actually, as I was searching for Xperia Z photos, I found out there is a purple one! My decision is made!
photo credit: Droid Life
Fun With Custom ROMs
So, back to the custom ROMs. I started out with the Avatar ROM because I stumbled across a video by the bloggers at RootGalaxyNote.com that showed off the features and had notes on how to install the custom ROM. Up until now I haven’t done much to my Android devices beyond rooting them in the past (mainly to silence obnoxious shutter sounds or to add screenshot capabilities and customizing fonts…minor stuff) because the process seemed rather annoying and error-prone. Well, it seemed like that for the ATRIX 4G since Motorola did their damnedest to keep the bootloader locked down. I didn’t research much about it because I just didn’t want to deal with the fuss at the time. Samsung devices seemed to be more easily modified. So I finally loaded a custom ROM on my Note a couple weeks (?) ago. Good stuff! I really like the changes in 4.2.2 with the lockscreen widgets, Google Now, and all that. The jump between the stock ICS ROM for the Note and 4.2.2 is pretty significant. BTW, I think that the Samsung devices that have gotten official JB updates are stuck at 4.1.2, so that further validated my decision to stop waiting for the official update from Samsung.
S Pen Still Works Like a Charm
I did lose the S Pen apps like S Memo, but even before going the custom ROM route, my main digital inking was done in an app called Papyrus. It’s great because I can set it up to only allow inking from the S Pen, and configure finger input as an eraser (two-finger pinching zooms, and two-finger swiping moves the canvas around). And you can finally export inked pages to JPG or PNG. It used to only support PDF export. So as long as Papyrus worked under this custom ROM, I was good to go on the S Pen route. There’s also an app called GMD SPen [sic] Control for rooted devices that adds S Pen gesture support, which is a nice addition, but I haven’t used it much yet.
Finally, Google Now!
I felt like I had a new device. I liked configuring lockscreen widgets, though truth be told, I didn’t use them a whole lot (though I might as time goes by). But having Google Now on my phone is awesome. I know some people think it’s creepy, but I like it. It alerts me about traffic to places of interest; I’ve gotten notifications about my brother and sister-in-law’s vacation flights since they e-mailed me the flight info for reference; and of course there are the notifications about weather and nearby events. Very cool stuff.
Running Tablet Apps
I wanted to try running some tablet-only apps on my Note, and for some reason could not find any guides on how to do this. I think I was using the wrong search terms. My first plan of action was to try a hybrid ROM called JellyBam that incorporates Paranoid Android ROM preferences to both use tablet or “phablet” UI for the home screens, and set per-app DPI settings. I thought perhaps it would also set some kind of flag or something to spoof the Play Store into thinking my Note was a tablet. However, this didn’t end up being the case. After installing JellyBam, I tried some different Paranoid Android settings but the Play Store continued to deem my phone incompatible with tablet apps.
Then I finally started searching for build.prop edits to make a phone look like a tablet. This lead me to an article on Android Police for an app called Market Helper. It does some voodoo to trick the Play Store into thinking your device is something else, apparently without editing the build.prop? I don’t know exactly how it works.
It’s kind of fussy because you have to choose from a device in the drop-down menu, then visit your Google Dashboard to complete the tweak. Rebooting your device clears out the changes. So while I can now download both phone and tablet apps, it’s not exactly as easy as flipping a switch. But I guess it is easier than switching build.prop edits.
The JellyBam ROM itself is pretty nice, a customization freak’s dream. I only just loaded it yesterday, so I haven’t been able to dig very deep into all the features. But if you have a compatible device, I’d say check it out. If you guys have any other ROMs you feel are worth checking out, please let me know.
One Last Item: NOOK Color and Jelly Bean
I don’t have a Nexus 7. Up until recently I thought my next Android tablet would be the Galaxy Note 8.0. But now I’m kind of at a loss of what other 8-inch Android tablets are out there that aren’t “craplets”. I did a little bit of searching and saw that Toshiba has a 7.9-inch tablet that seems promising. Otherwise there are the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 and the Nook HD+, both of which aren’t that stable as far as rooting and custom ROMs are concerned (that I could see; correct me if I’m wrong).
So I decided to upgrade my NOOK Color to CM10 after reading some guides and finding out that there are CM10 nightlies for the device. I’ve always liked the hardware build of the NOOK Color. It was sluggish when I played around with custom ROMs before, but it was partially because I was running CM7 (?) off an SD card instead of installing it internally. I figure I won’t be selling this thing, so I went ahead an installed to the EMMC (I think that’s the terminology). The software works pretty well. However, I figured out something that is preventing me from continuing to use it as a regular device — it’s ridiculously heavy for its size! I am used to a Galaxy Note and an iPad mini (my two primary devices). The NOOK Color is way heavier than the iPad mini. And while I tried to use the Color for most of a day, my arms and wrists just protested at the weight. This is why I don’t like 10-inch tablets, too heavy and unwieldy for long-time usage. Sadly the NOOK Color is the same. And I’m sure the HP TouchPad would be as well (I haven’t updated it to JB, it’s still on an old build of ICS). What a bummer! Sony has a pretty nice Xperia Z tablet, but IIRC it is a 10-inch tablet. I may make an exception for it, though, who knows.
If anyone has any suggestions for a good 8-inch or so Android tablet, let me know. And remember, no Samsung devices.
The shot below is one of several pictures I took while walking around Woodfield Mall. I used Posterous’s new iPhone app, PicPosterous, to essentially “live blog” interesting things I saw at the mall. The app is pretty nice, and I like how Posterous presents pictures as albums if I choose to group them together. WordPress would do well to update the way people can embed media on WordPress.com blogs… Anyway, to see the rest of the Woodfield album, go here.
***Editor’s note*** I just realized that the picture from the N95, while it seemed to transfer over as full-res, got shrunken down when it was added to the iPhone’s camera roll. I thought CameraKit was working awfully quickly, compared to when I used native iPhone pictures… So while I get the benefit of the N95′s autofocus and macro focus, I don’t get the benefit of higher-res pictures once transferred to the iPhone (because the N95 has no cool photo editing apps, nor do I have a working data SIM for it for direct uploads)… SIGH. So much for kludging together better mobile phone pictures through the iPhone, N95, and jailbroken 3rd-party app iBluetooth.
Pic taken with a Nokia N95, then transferred to my iPhone via BT (shhh, it’s a secret!) for post-processing and uploading. Oh, what convoluted things I’ll do because I can’t get an iPhone 3GS right now…
When I finally bought an Eye-Fi card, I thought it was going to be super cool, because I would be able to dump pictures from the camera to my laptop without needing to mess with card readers or USB cables. Unfortunately it didn’t work out as planned. Firstly, it didn’t handle file types other than JPEGs (I think with the firmware updates that have been released, Eye-Fi does handle RAW files, too, but don’t take my word for it). Secondly, you couldn’t choose which pictures to send to the computer, or when you could upload them. You basically were uploading whatever you shot after you put the Eye-Fi in the camera and started shooting. If you were out shooting with the Eye-Fi card away from an AP and/or your home WiFi and computer, you couldn’t go back and select the pictures you took after you got back home. Thirdly, you had to set up wireless APs beforehand; you couldn’t just scan for and use any old WiFi AP available (again this may or may not be addressed now by new firmware updates) on the fly. And the worst part was that you couldn’t turn off wireless scanning if you knew you wouldn’t be in range of an open AP or knew you didn’t want to use wireless uploading for some reason. I didn’t think about this when I went to this year’s Chicago auto show and realized that my LX3′s battery had died in about 15 or 20 minutes, even though I fully charged it the night before. Luckily I had another battery and a different SD card to use. At that point, I stopped using the Eye-Fi altogether.
Now, it wasn’t exactly that incident that soured me on the Eye-Fi, though it was a big contributor. Also, many of the limitations with the Eye-Fi result from the functionality being embedded in the card, not the camera. So of course I know there’s a limit to what the Eye-Fi can do, given its form factor and how it was originally designed to work. Some of the issues I mentioned have been addressed by firmware updates, and sometime in the near future I’ll revisit my Eye-Fi and see what I can and can’t do with it. I’d be happy to retract all of my gripes if I find out they’ve all been fixed!
Actually, the main issue for me is that I normally like to edit my pictures before posting them online. Mobile-wise, I really liked being able to take pictures with my Sony Ericsson P1i, then do some rudimentary editing with the built-in photo editing software. I did some photo editing on my Nokia N95, but being limited to using the joystick to do editing, and the limitations of the app itself meant that I didn’t really use it much. Processing photos was better on the P1i because of the touchscreen. Also, I could optionally pen annotations right onto the photo. I continued to do mobile photo editing with my iPhone. At first the editing apps that showed up in the App Store were pretty useless for me — face melting, adding silly frames and cutesy little stamps. But eventually the category exploded and soon there were a ton of different photo processing apps, from utilitarian to whimsical, that piqued my interest. I check that category from time to time for new apps to try. I think it’s pretty cool how people have come up with some genuinely creative photo apps for the iPhone.
I’ve posted before that I have a couple pet photo editing apps that I love to use on the iPhone — Photogene and Tiffen’s Photo fx. Photogene is more like a Photoshop-type editor, whereas Photo fx applies various filters to your picture. Cropping was recently added to Photo fx, so if all you need to do before applying some filters is to crop the picture, you can do it all within Photo fx. Anyway, the “problem” with this setup is that the iPhone’s camera is not as good as my favorite P&S — the LX3 — or my D90. The iPhone is fine for moblog snapshots, but if I want to upload pictures from my other cameras, I have to wait until I’m home, sift through the pictures on the card, copy over the ones I want to edit, edit them, add title, description, and tags, and then upload them. Or, do this on the go with my laptop and hope I can connect to a WiFi AP somewhere because I don’t yet have a MiFi or some other method to tether my laptop to a mobile broadband account.
Perhaps you already know where this is going: my ultimate wireless picture-taking and uploading setup would be to take pictures with my LX3, D90 or any other digital camera, then wirelessly transfer certain pictures to some mobile device that would allow me to edit the picture, add metadata, then upload it. Alternatively I could do the editing in-camera (both the LX3 and D90 seem to have some rather decent in-camera editing tools) and then just use the mobile device’s data connection to upload to Flickr or elsewhere. I envision a couple different scenarios to accomplish this:
1. A device like an Eye-Fi or some other dongle connected to the camera communicates with my iPhone and either lets me copy the picture over to edit on the iPhone, or I edit the picture beforehand in-camera. Then I use a photo uploader app on the iPhone to upload the picture to Flickr or wherever else via the iPhone’s 3G or WiFi connection. For the briefest of moments, I thought perhaps that was what Eye-Fi’s iPhone app was going to enable. How sorely disappointed I was when I found out it was basically an uploader like Flickit (my Flickr uploader of choice on the iPhone) for pictures taken with the iPhone. WHAT? *facepalm*
I understand that the Eye-Fi uploader could have been restricted by the iPhone’s SDK somehow, but it would’ve been awesome if Eye-Fi could’ve worked out a deal with Apple to implement the type of uploader I described. Can you imagine how many people would consider the iPhone if it could act as a mobile broadband gateway for any camera using an Eye-Fi card? What up, Eye-Fi? Apple?
2. A mobile device such as the mythical (but hopefully soon-to-be real?) Mac tablet would be even better than a smartphone in this situation because it could have more processing power and more screen real estate in case I want to do more “serious” editing for a particular shot. Then I could feasibly use Photoshop Elements or something else to do the editing and have the regular arsenal of tools at my disposal. The touchscreen on the tablet would be like a Wacom tablet, enabling easier manipulation of the editing software with your fingers.
Before anybody balks at me, I realize that it may be possible to do scenario number 2 with a camera, an Eye-Fi, a laptop or netbook (or UMPC if you go that way *smirk*), and a MiFi. I’m guessing that you would be able to set up the Eye-Fi to see and use the WiFi AP that the MiFi provides (if that’s what the MiFi does; I’m guessing). That’s all well and good, but as I’ve realized when I’ve carried my MacBook with me along with all my camera gear to the yearly visit to the Detroit auto show, carrying all this stuff is friggin’ heavy! A device smaller and lighter than my MacBook is preferred. As an aside, I actually tried to use my N810 in a very kludgy setup with an external hard drive and a card reader to be a photo bin and/or a mobile photo uploader. The setup never really worked, unfortunately, and it was too unwieldy with all of the cords and external devices to be useful in a mobile setting anyway.
I would probably feel differently if I had a netbook with enough horsepower to run a photo editing app like Photoshop Elements. That might be what I’m missing, along with the MiFi. But I still am holding out for a Mac tablet as my dream device to be my photo editor and upload gateway. It might not work as well as I planned if the Mac tablet ends up basically being a large-screened iPhone, running the embedded version of OS X. In that case, the photo editing apps might be limited to those already found on the iPhone. That’s okay for the most part, since I try not to do that much editing beyond cropping and a little bit of levels and shadow/highlight fixes. But I would love something like a slate tablet computer that can do full Photoshop Elements or Aperture, if we’re talking about the ideal scenario. I really liked editing photos in slate mode on my Tablet PC back in the day. But I am primarily an OS X user now, hence my wish for a Mac tablet. YMMV.
I picked on the Eye-Fi a bit in my post, but really this semi-gripe applies to any of the cameras out there that have built-in WiFi or use dongles for WiFi connectivity. Often these cameras are locked into specific online services as well, which make them even less useful for my personal workflow. They never end up simply being a camera that connect to a wireless AP on the fly and upload pictures to any site.
One last thing: an alternate or parallel scenario is for the iPhone or some other cameraphone to have a decent enough camera so that I don’t have to use a separate camera. However, given the technical restrictions on sensors and such, I don’t see any cameraphones in at least the next 2 or 3 years being as good as my LX3 or similar creative P&S with regards to low-light capability, fine detail, or depth of field, nor would they be as good as a DSLR. However, an iPhone with at least a 5 or 6 MP camera, autofocus, macro mode, and modest optical zoom would be a great moblogging device. I almost went with one of Sony Ericsson’s Cybershot models before I decided on the iPhone 3G because they are more like cameras with phones shoehorned into them. I really like SE’s cameraphones, and as I mentioned in a previous post, the Satio is a phone I’m keeping an eye on. But I’m so invested now in the iPhone and its apps (and iTunes) that it would take a pretty spectacular phone to pry me away from the iPhone family.
I am quite the iPhone enthusiast, but before I finally got the iPhone 3G, I was using a Sony Ericsson P1i. I loved that phone. It had a great camera, even though it was lower-res than my Nokia N95. The camera UI was quite user-friendly and a bit snappier than the N95′s. Once I figured out the hotkeys, it was easy to change settings on the fly without having to navigate an on-screen menu. The overall UIQ OS was a bit fussy, but there were many things I liked about it over S60 3rd-edition. I loved the unique keyboard on the device. I got really good at typing fast on it. I even really liked Opera Mobile and Opera Mini on the P1i. I almost upgraded to the K850i before I decided to go with the iPhone. IMO, Sony Ericsson does cameraphones just right. They basically shoehorned a Sony Cybershot camera into nice phones. And their Walkman line of phones use a great UI that’s very similar to the PSP/PS3 menus.
While I am eagerly anticipating the update to the iPhone 3G, and it’s highly likely that I will upgrade to it (if I can afford it), I am very, very intrigued by the Sony Ericsson Satio (though I’m not so enthused by the name):
I think I saw news about this phone when it was still called the Idou, but I hadn’t paid too close attention to it at the time. I’ve been bad about keeping up with tech news lately, and this, among other things, slipped by me. However, after I saw today’s news about the final name of Satio, I went looking up more info about it on Engadget Mobile and saw this video they did. Very cool idea behind the phone, merging the Cybershot and Walkman lines of phones together. I also love that it’s Sony’s great UI over Symbian S60. I haven’t been too impressed by Nokia’s half-assed implementation of touch S60, so I’m hoping that Sony did better.
Even though I think that the iPhone has a great combo of OS, UI, and App Store, I do miss using other phones sometimes. The Satio looks like a great gadgety phone with features that I would love. The Palm Pre looks great, but I really don’t want to switch to Sprint. I already switched from T-Mobile to AT&T when I got the 3G, and my contract hasn’t run out yet. Besides, I was on Sprint a long time ago (using a Nextel phone before it got popular and then annoying) and don’t want to go back. I know the Pre is going to be released on other carriers later, but it could be quite a long time before it’s available from AT&T, if ever. Anyway, the Satio just seems really interesting to me right now. I was disappointed when the P1i never got updated, and SE subsequently dumped UIQ. But the Satio seems like the natural successor to the line of smartphones that the P1i was a part of. I’m very eager to see how the Satio looks like in person. And I’m glad that even though there’s been some bad financial news with Sony Ericsson lately, they still seem like they’re working hard to release interesting phones, which is more than I can say for other phone manufacturers in the dumps.
I was sifting through my many unread items in Google Reader when I had this random thought: it would be really cool if there were a “Read later” button in Google Reader that would automatically add the article in question to your Instapaper queue. I star a lot of items in Google Reader with the intent of reading the articles later. But of course it’s more likely than not that I star an article and never get back to it. If I could shuttle that article off to Instapaper, I could open the Instapaper app on my iPhone and have a lot of interesting content to browse through whenever I have a spare minute. Of course, I could just open the original article in another tab and then hit my “Read later” bookmarklet, but what can I say, I’m lazy…
Can someone please code up a Greasemonkey script or something to do this? That would be awesome (sort of…I use Chrome at work and Webkit nightly at home, so a Greasemonkey script might force me to go back to Firefox, but I would strongly consider it for a Google Reader -> Instapaper script).
I keep forgetting to post about this idea I had for an iPhone feature. Well, here it is. Essentially I want any audio to be piped into the phone’s earpiece if the phone detects that you’re holding it up to your face. For example, if you’re listening to a podcast or some streaming music via the speaker (if you have headphones plugged in, this feature wouldn’t kick in) and you put the phone up to your face, the audio should stop playing out of the speaker and start playing in the earpiece. Once you take the phone away from your face, it could continue playing out the speaker. Or you could configure it to pause the audio when you take the phone away from your face (if possible) and ask you where you’d like the audio to output to. I don’t have fine details all worked out.
The main impetus for wanting this feature is that sometimes I listen to podcasts during my commute and want to continue listening while walking to my desk, but I don’t necessarily want to put on my earbuds. Another time, I went on a short walk around the campus at work but forgot my earbuds. The speaker was too weak for me to hear outside. At least if I had had the option to pipe the audio through the phone earpiece I could’ve listened to the podcast a little bit that way.
This feature could also be useful if you’re in a public place like a store and you want to listen to a track sample from the iTunes store, or listen to some music or podcasts while you’re walking around, but you want to remain aware of your surroundings. You could also use it when you’re faking being on a phone call to avoid talking to someone. At least then you’d be listening to something.
Of course you wouldn’t want to use this method of listening to audio for too long, since your arm would get tired. But for short stints I think it could be a useful feature. Preferably it would work beyond the iPod app, so that you could have this functionality with apps that stream music, or as I mentioned before, the iTunes store. Of course this functionality could be obviated by being able to stream audio to a Bluetooth headset, but I personally don’t use a BT headset so I’d still want this feature. The phone part of the iPhone is actually the least used feature for me. I mainly use it as an always-on Internet tablet, and/or my media player, so while I lust a little bit over some BT headsets or BT headphones, I really don’t need them, hence my idea to “repurpose” the phone earpiece.
So what do you think? Completely silly, or possibly a feature you’d use?
Today I again found myself wanting a to-do app that allows me to set alarms for certain tasks, specifically I wanted an iPhone app that does this. A very cursory Google search didn’t come up with anything useful, but admittedly my search was far from exhaustive. What bugs me is that most to-do apps do not have the functionality to set alarms. Why not?? Doesn’t this seem like a logical, intuitive feature for a to-do app to have? I don’t want to constantly be checking my to-do app to make sure I’m not forgetting anything; it’s the app’s job to remind me. Why else would i be typing up a list of to-dos in the firat place? I think I wanted some app like this even back when I had my Windows Mobile device. IIRC, the 3rd-party Palm PIM apps had this feature, but on later devices I found that I only needed a to-do app, not really a full-blown PIM app. What would be even cooler on GPS-enabled devices, is if the to-do app would wake up and pop up a reminder for tasks I have to do in certain locations, like remind me to buy some grocery item when I’m at the grocery store. But I am willing to forgo that “advanced” feature for the basic alarm feature.
So what’s up, People? Where is my to-do app with alarm function? If anyone has app recommendations, I’m all ears.
Ever since I upgraded to an iPhone 3G, my iPod touch has been sitting around getting dusty. But tonight I realized one way I can effectively repurpose it — make it into my kitchen computer/cookbook. In the past, when I’ve wanted to make a note of a recipe, likely found on allrecipes.com, I merely Google Bookmarked it so I could pull it up in any browser later. But since for whatever reason Google Bookmark still doesn’t have an iPhone-friendly site (or even a regular mobile site, AFAIK), pulling up recipes isn’t that easy, requiring multiple clicks and zooming in on the recipe text just so to make it readable.
Just today I realized that it would be better just to clip the recipe text and maybe a picture and send it to Evernote. Then I can open the note in the Evernote app on the iPod touch and it’ll be nicely formatted for the small screen. Sweet!
Anyway, I finally was able to upgrade my iPhone (3G) to 2.2 without losing my jailbreak functionality. PwnageTool to the rescue! And luckily, despite the warning that the new unibody Macbooks have some issues with DFU mode, the jailbreak went off without a hitch, and as far as I can tell, all major functionality from AppStore apps to making and receiving calls works as expected.
This is a screenshot of what my phone looks like now. I love being able to skin my home screens. This is the iGlassSol theme available from the Cydia installer. Yesterday a buddy of mine on Twitter asked what my favorite jailbreak apps are, and today I answered the question on Jaiku (in my “good morning” thread):
Since I know a lot of you will not click on the link above, I will reproduce the relevant text here:
Winterboard – skinning app. There are tons of themes out there! Currently I’m using iGlassSol as my theme, and Tokidoki Lockscreen. I’ll post screenshots on Flickr. (Editor’s note: I was using the Tokidoki lock screen before I realized I could add weather info to the lockscreen, so I’m using that now. Screenshot can be seen in my Flickr stream.)
CallMe – creates an icon for a contact on the home screen for one-touch dialing.
QuickGold – a Quicksilver-like app launcher. Pretty nice if you have a ton of apps installed.
PdaNet – tethering app. Not free anymore, but it said it would revert to a free version after the 14-day trial is up. Not sure what the limitations are.
OpenSSH – for easy SSH access to your iPhone’s file system. There are 3rd-party audio/video players that will play songs that you SFTP into a directory like /private/var/media or whatever.
Notifier – adds taskbar icons for stuff like unread mail, missed calls, SMSes, etc.
Backgrounder – app to allow 3rd-party apps run in the background. Recommended for AppStore apps, not jailbroken ones. If a jailbroken app can run in the background, it’d be coded up to do so (like a scrobbling app). It doesn’t always work that well, but I like having it around, in case I’m streaming music or listening to a sound generator app like aSleep or Easy Relax and want to check my e-mail or surf something up without disrupting the audio.
I also use Scrobble so that my listened-to tracks on my iPhone get sent off to last.fm, but the app is buggy in that it sends duplicate “scrobbles” to last.fm, requiring me to periodically prune my track list. I realized that there is another app called Scrobbled which, IIRC, is actually the scrobbling portion of the MobileScrobbler, the last.fm app that used to be available for jailbroken phones, but is now obsolete with the official last.fm app available in the AppStore. However, Scrobbled doesn’t seem to be working with 2.2 firmware, as I found out today, so I switched back to Scrobble.
So that’s what last night’s project was. It’s very cool to have 2.2 firmware functionality, but the podcast downloading feature is rather disappointing. The 10MB podcast size limit is ridiculous. Just about all of my podcasts are over 10MB (video and audio), so there aren’t many that I can just download on the fly via 3G or EDGE. I’ll have to play around with the new features in the 2.2 firmware to really figure out what can be done.
Just pulled the trigger on buying a netbook upgrade for the hubby — an Asus Eee PC 1000H. Why am I blogging this? Well, I’m pretty sure the hubby will not see this post if I don’t point it out to him. Also, I bought it through the Amazon web store he has set up, so the secrecy is pretty much a non-issue. He likes the Eee PC we bought from Kevin Tofel of JK On the Run fame, but the small screen has been bothering him lately, so I hope he likes this upgrade for his b-day.
Sorry I’ve been so scarce for a while. I’ve been experiencing a summer slump of sorts, not really feeling in the mood to read much online, like my feeds in Google Reader, or keeping up with my buddies on Jaiku or FriendFeed. And before the summer slump, I was always on Jaiku and FriendFeed, essentially microblogging in a true sense. Frankly, I get way more interaction on Jaiku and FF about the RSS items, articles, and photos I post there than I do here. The almost instant feedback on Jaiku was fun and satisfying.
However, it seems now I am not in the mood to spend a whole lot of time on my social network sites, either. Part of that could be attributed to my wonderful Kindle that The Hubby got me for my birthday. I have enjoyed getting back into a reading mood with it! My relatively voracious reading of late reminds me of how much of a bookworm I used to be when I was younger, before Teh Internetz killed my attention span. **smirk** I also have been writing in my journal a lot more, partially because it’s a nice, inconspicuous way to kill time at work. And so I’ve been writing in my journal, even outlining things I’d like to blog about, but then never get around to actually writing the blog posts. Hence, not a lot of writing on the blog. I’ve been trying to supplement the lack of writing with pictures cross-posted from my Flickr stream, but that’s not really enough, is it, Dear Readers? So, I’m going to consciously make an effort to keep up with my RSS feeds again and post more, even if it’s just shorter, blurb-y posts that are more appropriate for Jaiku. All I ask in return is for a bit more commenting here so I can enjoy more interaction here as well. Deal? Okay.
Before I wrap this up, let me address the “…and a test” part of my blog title above. I am composing this post in the WordPress app for iPhone/iPod touch. I just downloaded it from the AppStore for free, and this is the first test.
Quick first impressions:
- UI is pretty good. When you set up your blog account, you can choose how many recent posts the app should display. I didn’t try it, but I assume this means you can edit currently published articles.
- It has an embedded browser so that you can preview your work. This worked pretty well when I previewed an older article.
- It has full access to your categories. It was pretty easy to scroll through the list (I have a lot of categories) with my finger, with the kinetic scrolling typical of OS X’s touch interface.
- It’s annoying that you cannot rotate the screen to landscape mode. Therefore, you can’t use the more comfortable landscape version of the on-screen keyboard. I don’t have as big of a problem with the iPod’s virtual keyboard as others do, but I still would’ve appreciated the “breathing room” accorded by the landscape keyboard.
I’ll see how well it works when you want to include pictures, or if there are any issues if you’re composing a post and you don’t have wireless access (you shouldn’t). But for now I’m going to wrap this up and upload the post. Later, Kids!
Hey, Kids! It’s been a while… Lots has happened, but I’ll get caught up with that later. Of importance for this post is that I got an Amazon Kindle from the hubby for my b-day last month, and I’m loving it! I’ll write up a more elaborate review later, but see this Jaiku thread if you want to see my first impressions of the Kindle. For right now though, this post is about the reading light I just bought today.
I went searching for Kindle accessories and remembered I wanted to get a good reading light to use for reading in bed. I saw a recommendation on Mobileread for a couple Mighty Bright lights, one full-spectrum light, and another called the XtraFlex 2. Since the XtraFlex 2 was at my local Borders, I picked one up.
I just resized this picture. I didn’t tweak the contrast or anything so that you can see how bright and even the lighting is. The button at the top turns on both LEDs. Pressing it again turns off one of the LEDs. Pressing it a third time turns off the light.
Nice and simple, uses 3 AAA batteries, and apparently has an AC adapter. See here for more details.
*No, I don’t work for Mighty Bright, nor do I get anything for recommending their lights. I just like the product I bought.
I love the Sony Rolly. It’s such a cute little, “Aibo meets mp3 player” kind of robot toy. When I first heard about it and saw videos demoing its functionality, it reminded me of the old Sony — the Sony that made really awesome gadgety stuff, whether or not it made sense as a mainstream product. They made tons of different electronic devices in strange form factors, and dominated the consumer electronics world. Unfortunately, that Sony has been replaced with “is it good for the shareholders?” Sony — a Sony that still makes some really lovely hardware, but has enough financial issues that they can no longer afford to make devices like the Clié (the absolute best line of Palm OS PDAs, closely followed by the Tapwave Zodiac) or the cute line of Aibos. When I saw the Rolly, I saw the old Sony taking a peek out from behind the stodgy, “bottom line is king”, new Sony. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of innovative (and expensive) products coming out of Sony, like that super-thin, OLED TV that they are selling now, their interesting take on digital SLRs, the Sony Reader, and their fun line of phones, several of which I’m enamored with. I just miss all the fun, “What am I going to do with this?” products they used to have.
Anyway, this rambling is just an introduction to a video I put together recently. I was surprised to see the Sony Rolly displayed at the Sony Style store in Woodfield, so I busted out my phone to take a video of it in action. Too bad I didn’t have the N95-3 with me; I could’ve Qik’ed it… Oh well! The original song it was bopping to was “Love Song” by Sara Bareille (IIRC), but I forgot that I turned off the audio recording. The audio probably wouldn’t have turned out so well anyway, since there was some other music blaring in another part of the store. Luckily I was able to find a good replacement song that still fits with the Rolly’s dance moves. Strangely it’s quite a different song from the original tune that played — “Discipline” by Nine Inch Nails. Thanks, Trent Reznor, for Creative Commons licensed songs! I converted the video from the original 3GP format and added the song as the backing track in iMovie, quite a painless process. I was all smiles while I was watching the Rolly dance in the Sony Style, and I was still all smiles when I watched it dance to NiN. Pretty funny contradiction between a cutesy, mp3-playing robot toy and an angsty (but dancey) NiN song. See it for yourself!
I didn’t notice until this morning that this case actually has two pockets. I tried to take a picture of this, but I’m not sure if it’s illustrated clearly here (see notes on the pic). This is nice, because then any accessories I put in here can be separated from the N810, so it doesn’t get scratched up. Nice bonus, Case Logic.
I have been searching for an N810 case for quite a long time now. I saw tips on the Internet Tablet Talk forums that people were using Nintendo DS Lite cases since the devices are similar in size. So I hunted online and locally for a good DS Lite slip case. It’s surprisingly hard to find non-ugly, non-crappy cases in stores around here. I would have thought that since the DS Lite is like the iPod of the portable gaming world, that there would be a huge selection of accessories, including cool cases. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be so!
I did find a nice DS Lite case by Waterfield Designs, but I still wanted to try to find something locally, preferably less expensive as well (though Waterfield Designs’ price was really not bad at all). Well, finally I found a decent case at Fry’s today by Case Logic that’s actually intended for a small portable hard drive, but I think it will work out well as an inexpensive slip case.
As you can see, it’s a bit bigger than the N810, but when the N810 is actually in the case, it fits more snugly than one would expect. The small amount of room that’s left could be used for a little memory card case, extra styli, or the N810′s micro-USB cable.
I might end up getting the Waterfield Designs case for the DS Lite later, but for now, I’m quite satisfied with the last-minute find from Fry’s.
P.S. This blog post was composed on Maemo WordPy. I’m trying to learn about all of its features. So far I’m rather pleased about how well it works. I hope I didn’t jinx myself.
Editor’s note about my last “quinkie” post: I composed and uploaded it from MaemoWordPy on my N810. The other times I posted quinkies, I actually inked them out and uploaded the pictures to Flickr from my 770, but then I went on my desktop PC to type up the description and post it to my blog from Flickr (for a few reasons that I won’t bore you with).
This time I tried out MaemoWordPy to see if it would properly upload the picture directly to WordPress.com, which other blog editors have screwed up in the past. It was a bit tedious to switch between MaemoPad+ and MaemoWordPy to type out the text “translation” of my ink post, but other than that, it was incredibly easy to compose and upload directly from MaemoWordPy. Very cool.
P.S. This post is also coming at you from MaemoWordPy.
Editor’s note: I hereby call these short ink blog posts from my Nokia internet tablet, “quinkies”. Also, regarding the Buy.com annoyance, they were asking for additional authorization when a charge was already pending on my card! So what other info do they need? And why did they charge my card before they shipped out the item (which I believe they said would not happen, but I can’t remember exactly)? What a disappointing experience. Never again.
Buy.com delaying shipping out my order to request an authorization form be filled out w/ a copy of my CC and driver’s license! No online retailer should need a copy of my license. I decided to request cancellation (spelling corrected) of my order and will instead order from Amazon. Lesson learned! >:P
A couple of the devices that I carry with me everyday have all the features of the Sony mylo 2.0, and then some. Yet, I am still quite intrigued by this device. I can’t help it; it’s a shiny new gadget.
I doubt that many people bought the first mylo. It was a cool device, and I was quite excited to see one in person, but I think at the time of its announcement and release, there were other devices, including Sony’s own PSP, that had similar features plus more functionality, for less money. I had been hoping that perhaps the first mylo would’ve taken the same great media playback features and the wireless connectivity of the PSP and repackaged it into more of a communication device than a gaming device. I had also hoped that some of the technology in the mylo would have been ported back into the PSP — well, mainly the slide-out keyboard and the dedicated media playback controls. Entering text on the PSP is a pain.
However when I finally got my hands on the mylo, I was disappointed that it didn’t even support all of the audio and video codecs that the PSP did. At the time I had been pleasantly surprised that the latest firmware update for the PSP (3.x, IIRC) allowed it to support most audio and video podcast material formatted for the iPod without any transcoding. That, combined with the RSS support that allowed the user to download podcasts directly to the PSP, made the PSP a really nice media playback device for me. The PSP also had an okay browser that was marred by low memory errors and the lack of a decent text input method. The mylo seemed to improve on the PSP in that arena, slightly, but not enough to make it a great browsing device. These were my impressions from playing with a mylo at the Sony Style store for a while. I didn’t actually own a mylo, or get an eval unit, so it could be that later on Sony released some firmware updates to address some of these issues. Or perhaps some enterprising developers took on hacking the mylo as some had taken to hacking the PSP. I didn’t follow its development closely after the mylo’s release, since I had been rather disappointed with it when I saw it at the store myself.
All that being said, I think the updates that Sony made for the second-gen mylo really go far in addressing some of the issues I (and probably others) had with the original — updates to the browser to support more Flash content (still Flash lite, not full, desktop-machine-level Flash), more audio and video codec support (upon first glance it seems to at least be on par with the PSP’s codec support now), a backlit keyboard, and some refreshed hardware design in general. It’s interesting that it has a touchscreen now. This might make mobile browsing a nicer experience, instead of having to depend solely on a d-pad or joystick to move the cursor around the page. It’s also nice that it has a camera, though I wish it had higher resolution than 1.3 megapixels.
On the software side, the mylo is a lot more like the iPod touch than the N810. It’s more closed down, with a simplified interface that probably isn’t very tweakable. And it probably won’t ever have any full-fledged apps that can be installed, however it is interesting to note that in the features list on Sony Style, there is an item called “mylo Widgets”. Under that bullet point, it is clearly stated that, “…for the first time, users will be allowed to register as a developer in order to gain access to the technical resources they will need to build their own widgets.” For a consumer-level device that’s more on par with an iPod, this is sort of a unique feature. It’s not in Sony’s nature to allow a device to be open like this, even though widgets are pretty low on the totem pole compared to full apps. I know that the iPhone’s/iPod touch’s SDK is getting released in February, but the way the text reads from Sony Style, it seems more like any average user can register to create his/her own widgets, whereas the iPhone/iPod touch SDK seems more for established developers. I would be keen to see if any mylo widgets make their way over to the PSP platform.
Lastly, I like how Sony has taken the idea of free WiFi hotspot access that they first tried out with PSP users and carried it over to the mylo. I don’t know if Sony eventually did the same thing for mylo users before, but I did notice it this time around. The number of hotspots is limited, and I don’t know if there’s a time limit overall. IIRC, PSP users could have free WiFi hotspot access via T-Mobile for 6 months or a year. Either way, this helps take the sting out of not being able to be connected all the time via a GPRS/EDGE/3G connection.
These updated features make the mylo 2.0 a very nice addition to the internet tablet device space. Right now there aren’t many devices in that area, but the mylo’s competition is stiff, with the Nokia tablets and the iPod touch (and maybe a few others I can’t remember at the moment). While I’m not sure that the mylo will reach huge sales numbers, I’m still glad that Sony is releasing devices like this. It could be that somewhere down the line, mylo features will get ported into a new version of the PSP. Even if they don’t do something like that, I like that Sony is still taking a chance in niche markets and putting out products other than the PlayStation, TVs, and other mainstream, “sure bet” items. I’ve always been a fan of Sony’s imaginative devices and hardware designs, even though I don’t like some of the decisions they’ve made with their consumer electronics. The recent mylo and the Rolly mp3 bot products remind me of the old Sony I knew and loved during simpler times.
I got a new tablet today, but it’s not a fun HP 2710p, or tx2000, or even an Axiotron ModBook (oh how I wish I had one of those… ). Nope, actually, I bought a Wacom Bamboo tablet for use w/ both my iMac & my Fujitsu P1610. I would’ve posted an ink blog post from the iMac, but I couldn’t find an app that would allow me to ink naturally, so I’m inking this from the good ol’ ink blog plug-in on Windows Live Writer. Even though it still seems like WLW isn’t sampling the tablet input as much as Windows Journal seems to, I’m getting much better ink output from the Wacom than from the P1610′s own touchscreen. It’s more difficult to write on a separate tablet than on the screen, but I’m much happier with the results. Yay!
I’ll report back later after I’ve had more time to play around w/ the tablet.
How were your holidays? What fun gadgets or other nifty gifties did you all get?
Sorry about the huge gap in blogging. I was slowly withdrawing from reading feeds & doing much of anything else online other than reading & posting on Jaiku, Twitter, & Pownce (mostly Jaiku). And over the holidays I got rather sick, which really sidelined me for a while. Anyway, enough excuses. I can’t promise that I’ll be more prolific in the coming days, weeks, or months, but I’ll try my best!
In other news, I’m excited for tomorrow’s MacWorld keynote. Rumors about a tablet-style Mac have been running rampant again this year, but I think the ModBook will be the only tablet Mac for a while. There will probably be an ultra-portable MacBook. I hope it’s not called “MacBook Air” as the rumors claim. What I’d really like is direct WiFi downloading of podcasts to the iPhone/iPod touch. Yes, I can already do this via a 3rd-party hack, but native support would be nicer. That’s really all I care to predict at the moment. I’d love it if Apple would release an iPhone-like tablet with a 5″ or 7″ screen and decent amount of flash storage, but it won’t happen this year. Maybe next year. Whatever is announced, I know that tomorrow is going to be unproductive while the keynote is happening.
The other even that I’m looking forward to this weekend is the Detroit auto show! The hubby & I have gone every year for at least the past 4 years (IIRC). It’s a nice weekend road trip to take after the holidays. I’ll talk more about what gear I’m bringing later. Right now I really need to get to bed!
P.S. I really hate touchscreen inking… *sigh*
* 10 points to the first commenter to tell me where “nifty gifties” comes from.
Just last Friday I bought a FLY Fusion pen from Target. I was interested in seeing how well of a Tablet PC “replacement” it would be for ink blogging. My first couple writing tests were not really what I expected, unfortunately. The results are as jagged as my ink blogs from my Fujitsu P1610. It seems that the sampling rate is not as high as I liked. I’ll be doing some more writing samples to test out the device some more. Here is an ink blog post I wrote:
New toy: Fly Fusion pen top computer
Today I decided to pick up a little gadget called the Fly Fusion, by LeapFrog. It’s aimed at younger kids, from elementary to high school (maybe HS is too old…). But I wanted to see how well it would work for digitizing handwritten notes, like for ink blogging.
So far, I’m impressed by the functionality in this little guy. I won’t go into too much detail now, but suffice it to say, it’s an interesting device. Entertaining. It has a speaker that provides aural cues when you’re doing activities. You can even play mp3s with it, or tap out some songs with the keyboard printed inside the back cover of the Fly Fusion notebooks, or you can draw your own instruments on a sheet of notebook paper!
One irritation so far: when my handwritten notes are saved as a jpg, it looks jagged! I had hoped that I’d be able to achieve better-looking ink blogs using the Fly Fusion. Oh well, I still like it. More later, Kids.
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I just watched the pilot for NBC’s Journeyman. If I were to oversimplify the general plot, I’d say that it’s like Quantum Leap happening to a normal guy in 2007. The key word here is oversimplify. I thought the pilot was pretty good, though. I’ll be adding the show to my regular TV viewing schedule. However, I think they’re going to have to get a bit more on the ball about certain details. Case in point: the main character, Dan, has an iPhone, but unless it’s a special one that’s causing his jumps back in time, it was shown upside-down in a quick scene:
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