Monday, May 10, 2010

A few days with my Nexus One

It's been about 4 years since I've gotten a new phone. I've gone from a tiny Samsung T-509 to several used blackberries. I got tired of the slow performance of old blackberries running the newest software loaded with hundreds of contacts. I have been contemplating a new model blackberry for some time now. Then several of my friends got Android based phones and I made the switch.

I've only had it a few days. I'd have to say initial impressions are mostly good, but there are certainly some issues. Below I've outlined notes of specific features.

Stability Issues

In the few short days I've had my phone, I've have my phone reboot on me once, and I've had to reboot my phone another time because no one could hear me when I talk. These stability issues bother me, but I am hopeful that software updates will help with that.

Screen

The screen is 800x480, but each pixel has only two subpixels (red and green, or blue and green alternately). All the technical specs aside, the screen is bright and clear. I've seen a few older YouTube videos taken with low resolution camera that looked a little grainy, but I see that as a "good problem."

Storage

The phone came with 4 gig SD card, which was preloaded with some music. At some point I will swap that out for a 32gig or larger card. Unfortunately you need to remove the battery to remove the SD card. I'm waiting for the day when phone manufactures include one internal and one external memory card slot on their phones.

Browser

The browser looks and performs well. My only complaint is that it has a hard maximum number of windows you can open. This in and of itself is not a problem. The problem is when you click on a link that opens a new window after reaching that maximum, the dialog does not have a button that takes you to the window list.

Exchange 2008 Outlook Web Access renders as tolerably as one would expect it to on a non IE browser. I have not tried faking my mime type to see what happens.

Car Dock

The car doc has tiny, but decent, speakers. The speaker phone functionality works great. I can do all sorts of things I shouldn't do in a moving car when it is locked, like watch youtube videos. This is good because the fiancée can tilt the phone towards her and watch videos.

GPS Navigation

The short version: its a tolerable standalone GPS, but not as good as my nuvi 250.

The longer version:

Unlike my Nuvi 250, it announces street names. I find this especially amusing in New Jersey. It announces every designation for a road, so when I am at the part of 1&9 that is also the Northern end of 440, I feel as if it is announcing to me a member of the European Royalty.

When I miss a turn it chimes instead of uttering "recalculating" in a judgemental voice. I actually like it when I am yelled at by my GPS for making a mistake. I might have made the mistake because I could not get over to the exit in time, or I might not have been paying attention.

The NUVI is a far superior HUD. The Nexus One has no speedometer, and I don't like the map display. Of course unlike the NUVI, this things will probably improve in time via free software upgrades on the Nexus One.

So despite having an adequate GPS with free map updates, I might actually pay to update the maps on my NUVI.

App support

The marketplace has plenty of apps. A few I've made use of are Twitter, Urban Spoon, Yammer and Opera. Yammer is a twitter like application for internal use at companies, that my employer uses. More important than all these is of course the lightsaber app.

One application I was not able to find is something that can view Visio diagrams. However, it seems that no such app exists for any mobile device.

Google Applications

Gmail support is Great. I can place shortcut to labels on the desktop. Some google applications don't have actual apps such as buzz and reader. However, google did a very good job with customizing the browser experience for these on the android browser, that it is unnecessary.

Camera

The phone has a 5 megapixel camera. It can take video. The YouTube apps has a record button that lets you record and upload right to YouTube. The pictures seem ok to me, but I have no concept of good photography. Judge for yourself:


Self Portrait

French Bread

Caffine Free Diet Coke

Drinking Vessels

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Is our house of representatives too big?

I'm a small government guy. If that comes as a surprise to you, then I need to write about politics more on this blog. However, a though has occurred to me regarding the size of our house of the lower house. Perhaps it is too big.

I say it is too big because of a concept called Dunbar's number. Basically humans can only have social connections with about 148 people. When the first congress met there were 59 members. When the current sitting one hundred and eleventh congress first met, there were 434 members.

I'm not sure how to solve this problem. Perhaps we can draw up congressional districts without regards for state lines, and have the state legislatures appoint senators. The lower house can be reduced to about 125 members, which will account for the local office, and non elected people in the capitol building the congressmen will have to interact with regularly.

I don't pretend to have a clear answer to this problem, I just know that 400+ is to many people.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cops and Doughnut Shops

I was coming out of the PATH train at the WTC this fine President's Day morning (2010-02-15), book and dunkin doughnuts coffee in tow, when I passed by a women in a NYPD winter uniform jacket standing outside a patrol car. I verified that there was no "traffic patch" above her shoulder patch and noted that another female uniformed officer was sitting in the passenger seat of the patrol car. I uncharacteristically forgot to make note of the precient or other divisional market of the car. I'm not sure why I do this, I chalk it up to being aware of my surroundings.

As I passed by she inquired where I got the Dunkin Joughnuts coffee from. I replied, "Jersey." She thanked me as I walked away. I then remembered there was a Dunkin Doughnuts on Church Street going in the directions of Chambers. She thanked me again, and I continued on the A train.

Some of you might be asking what I find so weird about this encounter? Well, quite frankly, cops tend to know food places in their precincts pretty well. Putting aside stereotypes about cops and doughnuts, due to the nature of their work, they tend not to get a regular lunch break. They eat when and where they can while on duty.

Of course I don't know the full story. Perhaps she was just transferred to this precinct. Maybe she was working a special tour. She could have even been making conversation because she though I was cute. I will never know the reason.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Getting my fiancées' Blackberry to sync: Error Code - 0x80040fb3 Check Documentation

This is the post I alluded to "really wanting to write" in the obligatory holiday acknowledgment post immediately preceding this. This falls under the category of "more google juice to posts solving a problem I had" category. I post on this blog, and not in any of the blackberry forums because I am not a member of any of the blackberry forums, and I hate most blackberry sites as well as forums in general.

Long story short, my fiancées blackberry has not successfully synced with her desktop for quite some time now. Attempts to do so have produced a dialog box with the error in the title. Google turned up some links to the problem, but she was not able to resolve the problem. Today I finally had the time to sit down and fix it for her while she took a nap.

One of the better forum threads on the matter exists here. It doesn't describe the exact problem she had, but it has enough useful information to lead you in the right direction. The link to the blackberry knowledgebase article on how to turn on logging was broken, but it provided the KB number ( KB01451) so google found it for me.

The exact problem in her case was that two outlook contacts had corrupt pictures. It was a hard to identify this because when an outlook contact has a bad picture in outlook 2003, the image basically becomes invisible. I will use two screenshots to illustrate the issue. One has a contact with no image, and the other has a contact with a corrupt image:

Contact without Image


Contact with corrupt image



As you can see, in the case of a corrupt image, there is no indication that the contact has an image.

So after all that research, and the realization that the images were corrupt, the final steps to resolve the matter were as follows:
  1. Turn on logging.
  2. Attept to sync
  3. When you get the error message, before dismissing it open C:\Documents and Settings\\Application Data\Research In Motion\BlackBerry\Intellisync\tif.log
  4. Identify contact with the corrupt picture.
  5. Open Microsoft Outlook
  6. Select the contact in question.
  7. Right click on the grey area that should be a picture and select "Remove Picture"
  8. Dismiss the sync error and attempt to resync.
  9. Repeat until the syncing suceeds.
  10. Comment on this blog, a blackberry forum, or elsewhere of your experience.

Obligatory new years day post

First an explanation on why I find this post obligatory. I want to write another post, and it happens to be new years day. I feel I should acknowledge the new year to my vast lack of readership.

First of all, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Boxing day, or whatever quazi winter solstice related holiday it is you celebrate. I also hope you enjoyed your new years eve/day celebrations and have a prosperous new year.

Second, its time to bore you all with a bit of self reflection. Some notable events and achievements for 2009:
  1. I began work at a new company, achieving my long time goal of getting a job in Manhattan. For some reason it has always been easier for me to find jobs in Suffolk County than Manhattan.
  2. Related to the previous, commuting by subway has allowed me to read so many books I got a Library Card from the NYPL. The achievement of note is more that I have read a lot, than getting a library card.
  3. I took over the Long Island PHP User Group moving our meeting location to InVision.
  4. I became a Zend Certified Engineer in PHP5.
  5. Most important, I proposed to my girlfriend, and she said yes.
My online habits have altered. For the first time I began doing the following online:
  1. Using Twitter
  2. Listening to podcasts.
  3. Participating in the stack overflow trilogy.
  4. Using github.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My self imposed election day embargo

I've begun to develop many beliefs related to democracy. Some examples, I am a firm believers of term limits, one factor in me not voting for Bloomberg. Secondly, I am for a starship troopers-esque form of earned suffrage/citizenship, although the Michael Z Williamson book Freehold turned me on to the idea.

However, one of my stranger beliefs is that one should not talk about elections on election day. On the first Tuesday after the First monday in November, I do not encourage or discourage the act of voting in particular, and I don't mention the particulars of the election. Despite these strong beliefs, I have to this date managed to not injure or kill the those that stand right outside the polling place with pamphlets.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A (hopefully) short-winded post on my long-windedness

I tend to be long winded in my written and spoken works. I just published a post on another blog. What will probably never get posted is the article I stopped writing before starting that one. The unpublished article amounts to a preface to the article I published. The only reason it is not deleted is I am an unapologetic packrat.

This over-prefacing is quite typical of me. I need to address it. Knowing to stop writing a post just as I am getting to the point, so I can start a new article that "gets to the point," is a good strategy. Maybe one day I will publish something on a blog, and later publish my "overprefacing" as the back story.