Monday, April 26, 2010

A Month of Nexus One


Its hard to believe its only been a month since I've been using the Nexus One-its been an experience completely unlike any other. My Nexus has completely changed my gadget ecosystem-I haven't picked up my iPhone or standalone GPS since I got the car dock. I ended up returning the iPad because I couldn't fathom a scenario where I'd use it over my Nexus. I don't even miss a keyboard anymore because I couldn't imagine not having the screen real estate.
I've found apps to satisfy just about every requirement I had. The car dock has not only given me an excellent GPS device, its also kept me safe by removing the temptation to text or check emails while on the go. Using Toodledo and Got To Do for Android has taken me to a whole new level of organization (much needed since my recent promotion!). NewsRob keeps my Google Reader news items manageable as it has full sync. I've settled on Touiteur as my Twitter client of choice- its a rich, full featured experience.
The hardware itself is nothing short of spectacular- minimalist design and sleek curves. Everywhere I go I am asked about it- its just a conversation piece in itself. The camera and video are very good. Here's a sample video I took a few days ago...

It hasn't all been roses, naturally. I still wish there was a way to capture screenshots more easily. The speaker could stand to be a bit louder. I have a few gripes about the car dock- I plug in for MP3 playback over my car speakers, but I can't take a call that way because the caller has problems hearing me. I'd love the trackball to glow different colors based on the notification, but I hear that may be coming in a future update.
Its certainly been an amazing month with my Nexus One, and I'm excited to see what the upcoming months bring. I'm sure more interesting accessories will be coming soon, and updates have been a foregone conclusion on this device. Do I regret my switch? Absolutely not. The experience has been what I hoped it would be and so much more- the fun and flexibility of Windows Mobile, with the apps of the iPhone and the consistency of Blackberry.

Friday, April 23, 2010

TVGuide for Android

Hurray! An excellent TV Guide for Android exists! After my fruitless searches on Blackberry and Windows Mobile (after the Handmark apps shut down), I'm delighted to have found TVGuide USA for Android. It gives you a grid view of what's on, what's coming on next, a brief synopsis of the episode or movie and then by selecting the channel you can see the lineup for a few hours. The app itself is free, but I found it worthwhile enough that I opted to pay for the ads to be removed, and also for the option to select only my favorite channels. Tap a show to get an optional reminder too! Its exactly what I've been looking for and I couldn't be happier with it!

Monday, April 19, 2010

An eReader App for (Almost) All Formats


Here's some background on my eReading history: for the past couple of years I've been spread between the Fictionwise eReader and Mobipocket. The Mobipocket store is more expensive but the Mobipocket Creator means that you can turn Word, PDF or Text files into a book. The Blackberry OS had both readers available, but I opted to go with Mobipocket mainly because it was the only ereader that had white text on black background.
So once I got my Nexus, I was eager to find out what my options would be. I checked for versions of eReader and Mobipocket- the Android store has an eReader app (which ties nicely to the online store and bookshelf) but there was no Mobipocket app. I did, however, stumble on a gem called iReader. iReader claimed to be able to read both eReader and Mobipocket files (not to mention txt, prc and pdb files) - you can store your Mobipocket and eReader PIDs to make opening your books a cinch. iReader has tons of options for colors and brightness as you read- its the real deal.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Humor


Sent to you by Lulu via Google Reader:



Things you can do from here:


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

HelixLauncher for Android


If you asked me what my single most useful app for Android is, I'd have to say HelixLauncher. Its one of those apps that you install, never think about again, but every now and again wonder how you ever functioned without it. When I moved to the Nexus 1 after a brief fling with the Motorola Backflip the only thing I found myself missing was the quick access to the 'phone' button at the bottom of the screen. It made it easy to make a call regardless of which page on the homescreen you were on:


I did some research and firmly resolved to not go the route of rooting my N1. After reading some forums, I stumbled on Helix Launcher which boasted these features:

•Based on Launcher
•Standalone Launcher
•Sense UI-like scrolling / Velocity Scrolling
•Enabled rotation
•Double Tap action for Screen Previews
•Up to 7 screens!
•Full-screen app menu (with notification bar still)
•Quick Shortcuts! - Drag & Drop and shortcuts to the QuickBar

So I promptly downloaded it and have been in love ever since. 7 homescreens rather than 5, and 4 Quick shortcuts which are accessible on all homescreens. Unlike Home++ (which I never tried) it does support live wallpapers (yay!) and works like a champ in the background. I have had it force close on a rare occasion but it fixes itself so quickly you hardly notice. If you're trying to avoid the rooting route like me, but want a few added features on your Android device, give it a shot!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Nexus Car Pod

My Nexus One car dock arrived on Saturday and I was giddy with excitement as I got it set up. I opted to couple it with a bean bag mount so that I didn't have to attach it to the windshield or permanently to the dash of my new car. You've already heard me gush about the navigation function on the Nexus One already- I'm sure it won't be long before I give you a full rundown. In the meantime, I'll tell you the one thing that really takes the multimedia function over the edge on this device- homescreen widgets.


One of my homescreens is what I refer to as my 'Media' homescreen. It has widgets for BeyondPod and Mixzing Lite for my audio podcasts and music respectively. Keeping this screen up means I can have my favorite audio playing easily with a single tap.



Sunday, April 11, 2010

Goodbye iPad

It suddenly dawned on me this morning that I don't just not need an ipad, but it really didn't fit comfortably anywhere in my use. I had this idea that I'd use it for ereading and movies, but it didn't make much sense in practice. Instead I could use my Nexus one docked on my dash to watch my TV shows during my lunch break. And then the ereader plan fell apart when I realized how invested I am in my Mobipocket library.

In fact, my Epiphany about the ipad may well be an argument for me to ditch the iphone-as-ipod as well. I haven't made a final decision on that one yet, although I must tell you I've also toyed with the idea of putting a heavy duty case on it and letting Seth use it.

So, the entire iPad experience set me back about $50 (restocking fee) but I don't begrudge it. I needed to take it on a trial run for myself.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Gadget Shuffle

In news that will probably surprise absolutely no one, I picked up an iPad yesterday. In the back of my mind I knew I wanted to get something larger to watch movies on, but hadn't yet made a decision on how to go about it. I had also toyed last year with the idea of getting an eReader, but had put that idea to the side. Even last Saturday when I went to the Apple store with a friend to get a hands on with the device, I wasn't entirely convinced. In fact, the thing that did convince me had nothing to do with Apple at all. When the Nexus One Car Dock was announced last week (take a look at Bill Stebbins' excellent video on it) I started to think about how I was using my gadgets.

Earlier this week I had my first experience using the Navigation program on my Nexus One and was floored by it. Street names enunciated, estimated trip time, satellite view- it was worlds better than the TomTom One GPS I got earlier this year to replace our aging (and non-updateable Magellan). Why on earth wasn't I using this as my full-time GPS?? At that point I decided I would get the car dock and pass my TomTom on to the husband. Once I made that decision, I realized that if I would be docking my Nexus while in the car, I could also use it to listen to my podcasts via BeyondPod. In fact, with the "Media page" of widgets that I've created on my homescreen, I can easily transition between music and podcasts- not an easy feat on my iPhone. So, at this point, the argument for having an iPod/iPhone was dwindling.


But then I remembered how easily iTunes pulls all my Tivo Desktop content in, making it a no-brainer to keep it in that ecosystem. Combined with the iBooks application and a larger screen, suddenly the decision to get an iPad didn't sound so ridiculous. For an hour a day during lunch I sit in my car and watch my favorite primetime show from the previous night that I didn't get to watch. The thought of having a lovely large screen to watch it on, while still being able to use iTunes and all the TV-Out equipment I have at home for the iphone was something I couldn't pass up.
On Wednesday I ordered the Nexus Car dock, and I'm expecting delivery today. On Friday I popped into an Apple Store and picked up a 16GB iPad. The Apple store didnt have any more cases, so I had to make a separate trip to Best Buy to get the convertible Apple Case. I've been enjoying my new iPad so far- there's no learning curve and my biggest decision is which eBook ecosystem to settle on. Next step is to start listing some stuff on eBay. My Blackberry 9700 and iPhone will soon be on their way to new homes.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Week of Nexus One

A year ago I reluctantly moved over to Blackberry because I couldn't get the Windows Mobile experience of my dreams. At the time I could never have guessed that I would end up using an Android device, and yet, here I am- tapping away at my very own Slabby McSlab! And somehow, I'm perfectly content.
Its been just over a week since I started using my Nexus One and already I can't imagine going back. In the morning I wake up and see the time and weather glowing from the dock. I take it off and use PhoneMyPC to connect to my desktop and initiate a sync of my iPod Touch so that I can get the previous night's television shows (via Tivo Desktop) onto my Touch. A few swipes through my homescreens gets me up-to-date on Twitter, Facebook and the top headlines.

Nexus1 Homescreen 2

During my shower I listen to my audio podcasts that were downloaded automatically via BeyondPod

At work I use my widgets for Toodledo and Agenda to add things and check off my to-do list. I get my emails and instant messages via eBuddy without my battery draining. On my way home I listen to Pandora to relax during my commute.


During shopping trips I use Google Shopper to scan barcodes and find the cheapest price. I take hi-res photos and upload them to my Flickr or Photobucket account.

The bottom line is, I feel a sense of freedom and excitement that's been otherwise stifled for the past year. Everytime I browse the Market, there's something fresh and exciting. Without rooting my Nexus, I'm still able to enjoy tweaks and cosmetic changes I couldn't even dream about on the Blackberry OS. Maybe this will change when Blackberry starts using widgets (OS 6?) but for now, I'm as happy as I was on Windows Mobile, but more so because rather than being on a platform as it dwindles into end stages, I'm on a platform that is just getting started.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Android Comic Viewer

Now that I have a huge screen on my mobile device, I decided it was time to look into a comic book reader. I've been a longtime lover of the Archie comics, and it seemed like a good place to start. I decided to use Android Comic Viewer (ACV) since it supports a large number of formats. Its free in the Android Market, and if you have a repository of your favorite comics, you can just copy them to your SD Card so they are viewable by ACV:


And then open the one you want to view:


There are all kinds of zooming options available, and you can even use the 'Share" option to send a copy of the image you are viewing to any of your available applications (Twitter, Facebook, Email, etc).

Monday, April 5, 2010

Android Trick: Change First Day of the Week to Monday

For such an advanced platform, the calendar on Android leaves a lot to be desired. Thankfully, the Market is full of apps that can improve your calendar views without taking up too much space. One of my biggest pet peeves about the native calendar is that it shows the start of the week as Sunday, rather than Monday. Well, here's the simple solution to fix that!
-From your homescreen, click the menu button, then Settings
-Go into Language and Keyboard
-Tap Select Locale
-Tap English (United Kingdom)
Thats it! I tested the keyboard to see if it would then correct "color" to "colour" and as far as I can see, there is no noticeable difference.
This tip also works if you're using the UK locale but want your week to start on Sunday. In that case just set your locale to English (United States)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Android Trick: Remove Facebook Contact Photos

So, you've got your shiny new android phone and now you've linked all your Facebook contacts to your device. Well, unfortunately you'll notice that the default is for your contact to display the Facebook photo, even if you've got your own lovely photo you'd prefer to use. Here's how to get your preferred pic showing again for your contact:

Go into your contact list and find the person. Press the menu button then choose edit account. At that pint you'll notice that your originally selected photo (not the one from Facebook) is showing. Tap the picture and then you'll have the option to use that photo, delete it or chose a different one from your gallery.

Trick: Slingplayer on your Android

I just figured out how to watch my Slingbox on my Nexus One! Using the app "PhoneMyPC" you can get a decent video quality when you launch slingplayer on your desktop. The downside is that there's no audio, but if you configure your TV to show closed captioning when mute, you'll have a covert setup you might even be able to sneak in at work!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Today is....