Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Hopefully shorter means more

September 13, 2011

When it comes to blog posts, I’ve been caught between my desire to be complete and the constraints on my time. So, for now I’m going to try to eke out a few posts by making them shorter … less complete, in my opinion, without (some, many, most, all? of the) cross-links to things I’ve referred to. Hopefully this will allow me to post more, be more informative and highlight some of the things I’ve wanted to bring to my/your attention. I’ll try to be as complete as time allows so feel free to comment and provide your own cross-links.

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Almost a week with the XOOM

March 9, 2011
I ordered a XOOM two weeks ago and it came while I was away on a business trip. When I got home last Friday I got busy with it. I promised myself that I wouldn’t post anything for at least a week so I wouldn’t post the usual crap you see when someone gets a new device and posts a review after a few hours or a day, still unused to the paradigm shift that’s typical with new hardware or software.

That said, I have to break my own rule to comment on the b XOOM’s battery life. One charge lasts me TWO days, easily! I power on my device in the morning while at home and use it on wifi for an hour or so, power it off and then turn it on again at the office where I use it on and off all day on Verizon 3G. It stays on for the trip home and, once home, I switch back to wifi for the evening. I turn it off before bed and then start the process over the next day. That means it’s on for about 14-15 hours per day, 5-6 of which is wifi. Pretty good if you ask me (note that I charge my phone each night). I’d guess I acttually use it about 8-10 hours each day.

Ok, that’s all for now.

Clearing up some misconceptions about the Viewsonic G Tablet

December 18, 2010

Lots of stuff circulating on the web about Android tablets of late. And, as usual, there’s a lot of truth and a lot of crap going around. I have some personal experience with one of the tablets so I thought I’d break my long silence (more about that in another post) and post some truth.

I make no secret of being … well, I guess I’d be called an Android fan-boy. I pre-ordered and received the G1 on launch day back in 2008 and have never looked back. Bought a Nexus One on launch day, too and am still using it. Friends say I have techy ADD — I can’t stay interested in anything that’s not new. Yet Android has held my attention fast since day 1. I unlock, root and install custom ROMs pretty much as soon as I can. I’ve been waiting for an Android tablet since this time last year. So, when I saw the Viewsonic G Tablet at Sears shortly before November 2, I was interested. Tegra 2 chip, 512M RAM, 16G internal storage, microUSB and full-size USB port for $379, I figured it’d keep me happy until Gingerbread’s Honeycomb’s released next year and the framework and UI can be updated for larger screens.

Before I go into the details, let me cut to the chase. This Android tablet isn’t an iPad killer. It’s not for moms and pops who want to charge it and go about their business. It’s for hacks like me who like to fiddle with things. It can do a LOT but it requires some work. So, don’t buy one if you’re not up for it. Wait until 2Q2011 and buy a fully-baked tablet, OK? Don’t buy one and whine because it’s not an iPad.

But, if you’re comfortable flashing ROMs and want a tablet with cutting-edge CPU hardware, plenty of RAM and loads of internal storage, don’t hesitate!

OK, now, the details. On Novermber 2, I walked into my local Sears store, grabbed (and paid for) a G Tablet and ran home. How bad could it be? Tegra 2, it’s gotta be a killer, right? So I powered it up and was incredibly disappointed! The UI was slow and laggy, it couldn’t remember the date and time and there was no Android Market! I turned to my friends at XDA and, sure enough, there was an active community there (albeit crowded into one thread in a general forum at the time). I found out that NVidia had lots of tools (notably, nvflash) I could use to work on Tegra tablets. I helped the crew at XDA by providing them with stock images from my tablet and was soon rewarded with new ROMs that removed or altered the UI and some of the other elements that were problematic. We tweeted to @Viewsonic and called their support line telling them of the problems and suggesting solutions. Some of the other members of the crew joined Chinese forums because, it turns out, the tablet is from Malata — the SMB-A1002 and there were lots of ROMs and hacks for it there. Another member began a port of Cyanogenmod but, since we didn’t have source for the kernel, it was less than stellar. Then, some enterprising soul saw the Advent Vega and everything changed. The Vega is based on the same tablet as the Viewsonic. A couple of folks got very busy and ported the binaries over to our tablet and, I must say, it’s makes the tablet great! Along with some mods to make the Android Market usable and I now have the e-readers Aldiko, Nook and Kindle on it along with Pulse, TapaTalk Pro, Google Voice, Google Reader, Fring, K9 Mail, Xfinity and, well, pretty much the whole suite of apps that I have on my phone. On a 10″ screen. I carry it with me to work every day. I watch movies and listen to music and read books and read news and email and surf the web with a screen I can easily read and type on a keyboard that I can easily type on.

Am I happy with it? Yeah, you can probably tell the answer is “yes”. And you can probably also tell that it’s not for everyone … hence, it’s not a iPad killer. But that’s OK. I don’t want an iPad killer. I want an Android tablet.

 

HRP-4C dances!

October 19, 2010

No matter your ethical views, this is pretty amazing. Head over to this CrunchGear posting to see the Japanese HRP-4C dancing. If you haven’t heard or just need some extra motivation to head over, it’s a robot with some human female features that’s been under development over in Japan for quite a while.

No, she’s not gonna set any new dance trends but just think about the coding that’s gone into this (gyroscopes or not) to just keep her stable. Lots of work left to do on her but it’s pretty impressive so far.

Batteries: OEM vs 3rd party

April 21, 2010

Head over to¬†http://batteryboss.org/ if you want to see some tests of battery capacities. Looks like you really DO get what you pay for. Note that these are for Nexus One batteries but I think it’s reasonable to assume the pattern holds for other phones and manufacturers.

SIP protocol explained by ars technica

April 5, 2010

Part 1 and part 2.

Courtesy of this article over at DSLReports.com

Goodbye VoicePulse, hello … uhhh …

March 17, 2010

I’ve been on VoicePulse’s Connect plan for a couple of years and have consistently paid less than $25/year for service. It’s a pay-as-you-go plan that had rates of about .7 cents per minute back when I started. Of course, rates have risen but I’ve still had very low cost service and have been quite happy with their quality. I chose a roll-your-own route for Voice over IP as opposed to Skype or MagicJack or AT&T or Comcast because I wanted to integrate my landline (yes, I still have one) and my VoIP line into one telephone device. I did that with a Sipura SPA-3102 which provides both a landline INPUT (an FXO port, i.e. from the phone company) and a VoIP input and meld them into one phone line OUTPUT (an FXS port, i.e. plug your telephone into it). Woth this setup, I can make or receive both VoIP calls AND landline calls from the same handset.

OK, so back to the story. Last week I received notice from VoicePulse that they were instituting a $3 monthly regulatory compliance fee and a $9.50 minimum monthly fee, raising my costs to just under $13/month. Now, that’s not bad, all things considered but that’s not what I’m after. So, I’m looking for another provider. The first company I tried was Localphone. They provide good quality calls at a good rate (0.9 cents per minutes as of right now). But they don’t provide the ability to set your caller ID — something that’s important to me because I use Google Voice with Gizmo for my main inbound number and want my outbound number to be consistent with that.

The next two providers that are on tap are voip.ms and CallWithUs.com and both provide customized Caller ID. By and large, outbound calls to the USA with CallWithUs is 0.99 cents per minute with no minimum and calls billed per minute through one server. Voip.ms calls are more expensive at about 0.105 cents per minute for their “value” connections (“premium” costs 0.125 cents per minute) but their calls are billed in 6 second increments and they have several servers located around the US.

I’ve just signed up with VoIP.ms and am trying them out now. They’ve got a live chat facility which helped me get up and running very quickly (you need to fund your account even if you’re only going to make toll-free calls). I’ll report back later.

Windows 7 does speech recognition out of the box

March 4, 2010

I’m sure I heard this at one point in the past but Windows 7 (and Vista) support speech recognition without any add-ons. Go to Control Panel and start it from “Start Speech Recognition”. You may need to wake it up by saying “Start Listening” (capitalization optional). I haven’t tried it (at the moment I’m on a Linux machine) but I intend to as soon as I get the chance and if I find anything startling or worth mentioning I’ll post it.

Thanks to Win7News for the reminder, specifically “Talking to My Computer: Speech Recognition in Windows 7“. A list of commands is available from Microsoft here.

What’s in YOUR media PC (or “kicking Dell in the teeth”)

March 3, 2010

At CeBIT yesterday, nVidia announced new ION chips (the news is all over so I won’t bother with links to the stories). The great thing is Acer, Asus, Lenovo and Zotac are all on board. In fact, Zotac has a new box (Zotac ZBOX HD-ID11) that’s outfitted with the new chipset. Many people have opted for the more expensive Dell Zino which, while consuming more power (50W vs 25W is what I hear), also can handle 1080p Blu-ray fairly easily. But that power comes at a price. In pricing systems myself, I found the Acer Aspire Revo R3610-U9022 for less than $350, the Zotac MAG MAGHD-ND01-U for about $300 (without operating system) and a well-outfitted Dell Zino for about $500, depending on CPU, memory and video options. Granted, the Dell includes a DVD drive and, like I said, more powerful CPUs and video options but I question how much of that you’ll really need, especially if you use the PC for music and video only (and no gaming).

Granted, these are in user’s hands yet and I haven’t seen any reviews but it’s something to consider. It’ll be interesting when these things start rolling out.

$60 for UNLIMITED 3G data and NO contract

February 25, 2010

Engadget is reporting that Telava has released their “Broadband Bullet” — a 3G USB modem. For $60 per month, you get unlimited data (for $50, you get 5G) and it doesn’t require a contract. Yep, a pay-as-you-go data plan! You can switch from one plan to the other or go a month without (or 2 or 3, for that matter). You give them $100 and promise to return the modem in pristine condition with all packing material and they promise to return your $100 to you within 5 business days or you can buy it outright for $200. Supposedly it runs on the T-Mobile 3G network.