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.


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."


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.


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.


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

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.

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.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Batteries, the tires of laptops

As mentioned before, I drive a 2005 Toyota Corolla. In addition to being the car I learned to drive a manual on, it is also my first new car. Before that had a 92 shadow and a 94 Sable. Both were given to me.

I dumped a lot of money into the Shadow and the Sable. I've dumped less in the Corolla, if you don't count oil changes.

One conclusion I've come to is that you can't count tire maintenance as part of maintenance. Well you can certainly factor in tire wear, and the costs of special tires, if your tires are not of a standard size and mounted on steel wheels. I'm talking about the cost of repairing flats and dented rims and steel wheels.

Flats can happen to anyone, as can dented rims. The frequency of such a happening depending more on what roads (or lack of) roads you drive on than anything else. There also pretty self contained damage. Sure there can be some strain put on the axle, but unless you ride for miles on a flat, this is hardly noticeable.

The conclusion of this observation is I will rarely consider getting a new car as opposed to replacing its tires. The car would have to be truly on its last legs. A busted hose that I would fix myself would put me into the "maybe its time for a new car" train of though before 4 new tires and a steel wheel.

The same is true of laptop batteries. I was recently given a G4 by someone. I spent $119 for a new battery for it. I did not think twice about the cost of getting a new laptop. Sure part of the appeal of it was "full size laptop with netbook battery life," and the cost comparisons to low end laptops go out the window if you only compare Macs to it. But laptop batteries are strange things. They die at irregular intervals. They are expensive to replace, but third parties often make slightly better performing batteries for the same price. This is especially true of older laptops simply because the third party will put newer more efficient power cells in battery cases designed for older laptops.

So my conclusion is always buy a new battery for your laptop. If you don't think you need a battery, buy yourself a desktop. They make small energy efficient ones that use effecient 2.5" hard drives and laptop CPUs.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Back in the New York Groove

Time for a personal announcement. August 19 2009 at around 18:00 I handed in my laptop for my last day of work with the company I had been with for 2 years 4 months and three days. The next day, a Thursday I started at my new company, walking distance from Penn station.

It was a good run with the company. My main reason for leaving is a job in Bohemia. NY is not practical for a man who lives in queens and has a girlfriend who lives in Jersey City, NJ. The new company is definitely larger, and my role is more front end based than my old job.

The new company is larger than my old company. The people I have met so far are intelligent, and passionate about what they do. I look forward to growing with the new company.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

NeatUpload is Neat

NeatUpload is an ASP.NET component that performs http post uploads while displaying a progress bar. This seemingly simply task is actually hard to get right.

I used this once for a site that never launched. The entire site was written in PHP, but I made the upload page in ASP.NET simply because NeatUpload was the only tool I could find at the time to do the job. I exposed my PHP business layer via a web service, and let this one ASP.NET app handle the uploading of large files. The ASP.NET page actually ran on mono, which was not a problem since NeatUpload was originally a mono app.

If I had to upload files again in a PHP app I would probable give swfupload a try. However, NeatUpload is definitely my tool of choice for uploading