Wednesday, April 28, 2010

HTC Incredible arrives at my office

Brad got his Incredible today. We took a photo of the guys:

The camera is very good.

The phone feels great in the hand, not as wide as an iPhone, less heavy than a Nexus One. The screen looks amazing - bright and crisp.

Setup was a breeze. I look forward to owning one of these.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sad truth about HDTVs

I saw this funny comment about HDTVs...

"well, I've got a PS3 hooked into a 1080p projector and a 106" screen. I find it hard to leave the house at times."

From gizmodo comments feed.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Office 2007 help, someday maybe we can move beyond keyword matching

Type "edit background image" into Power Point's help and this is what you get:

Advent calendar, really?

There is a check box on the View ribbon that allows you to "hide background image" - so naturally when I click that and it makes the items I want to change disappear - I assume that it is a background image I need to change. Hence the chosen search terms.

But, alas it really isn't an image at all. It is a text box on the master sheet. Took me a few clicks and sorting out a red herring to get the text changed.

I wonder if help could be made smarter and see that I'm looking at the master sheet and I'm typing those search terms and .... well I think you see where I"m going. I'd like an AI help system so that it seems like I have a Power Point expert leaning over my shoulder. One who I can ask how do I do such-n-such? This "person" looks at what I'm trying to do and maybe through a mouse gesture and keypress combo, I'd get nearly human style help.

Sounds a bit like clippy - but smarter.

I'd like a video walk through of what I'm trying to do or a relevant help text to come up. Something that tells me the page I'm looking at doesn't have a background image, so unless I'm really looking to "add a background image", "edit background image" makes no sense.

Now that would be helpful.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

HTC Incredible Simulator

Gotta try it before you pre-order it, but can't touch one yet? Try the simulator

Not really a simulator, but still fun to look at.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Engadget Droid Incredible review, plus it does tethering

Engadget gives the Incredible a generally very positive review. Particularly the Sense UI. They did not review:
  • Tethering
  • Friend view
  • Footprints
  • FM Radio
Here are some notable comments:
HTC has included a handful of its own widgets alongside some of the familiar stock ones which Google offers. Of course, the widgets (and their corresponding apps) which HTC offers generally offer far more functionality than Google's options, and they're also tied together with Sense in way that makes the experience of using them within the OS feel complete -- something notably missing from the Google-only experience. To say that this UI is competitive with something like iPhone OS 3.1 (or 4 for that matter), or Palm's webOS is an understatement; in many ways it's superior to what Apple and Palm are offering.
Besides just the cosmetic stuff, HTC has also done seriously heavy lifting in the details department, continuing to improve the music, video, and photo browsing options on their devices, as well as making their fantastic on-screen keyboard even better in this higher resolution version. We found finger tracking and typing speed to be considerably improved, as well as word prediction and correction. Apple, watch your back... HTC has done a damn good job of sneaking up on your tech, and maybe improving on it. We can't stress this enough: HTC has made a really good OS (Android) into a truly amazing and competitive OS.
Overall the experience with 2.1 and Sense was a complete pleasure -- using the phone felt fast and efficient. We'd like to point out that we've been running the Incredible without any third party task managers, and without manually killing any applications. Android is designed to multitask without the need for utilities of the sort, and based on Steve Jobs' words from the recent iPhone OS 4 event, we were extra curious to see how this brand new build of the software would fare. We can tell you this -- it hasn't let us down yet, and we're not seeing any sluggish behavior or force closes on apps. If this OS has a need for management of its processes, we haven't experienced it yet.
Still no official word on cost (or lack of cost) for tethering, but it is something the phone can do and Verizon is saying so publicly.

Friday, April 16, 2010

ID theft lecture today

A representative from the NC DOJ was on site to day discussing ID theft. I took some notes. Enjoy.

  • Get a single free credit report 3 times a year rather than all 3 at once. So go to the site Jan. April, and Oct.
  • Credit security freeze is free in NC, good thing to do. Should do it. Reduces the need to check the credit report. A credit freeze can be unfrozen in 30 minutes with a phone call and a pin number.
    • note - can't get instant credit at the register... you know for the 10% off at the register, so if that is your thing.....
  • Even with a freeze a thief can use your Social Security number to gain employment. Check your yearly Social Security statements - to see if income is higher than expected.
  • don't carry Social Security card in your wallet, who does that?
  • don't carry your Medicare card - it has the Social Security number. 
    • Try this: carry a xerox copy with the number partially blacked out, you know the rest.
    • More important to carry list of meds and primary care provider's name and number. Hospital staff can treat you more appropriately with this information.
  • Destroy documents you don't need - keep stuff around for 7 years (broad rule of thumb)
    • See -> events, shred-a-thon! These are industrial shredders - fast and no need to worry about staples binders etc. Paper is recycled.
And finally, one long running debate put to rest:
  • Of cash, check, debit, or credit card, the credit card is safest for all purchases. Reasons:
    • Cash and check can be stolen - $$ is gone
    • Using a debit card means that if the number is stolen, the thief is spending your actual cash.
    • If you use a credit card, you're risking the credit card companies money not yours. 

I learned something, did you?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tidbits from HTC Incredible User Guide

There are many sites listing the Incredible's most important specs. However, it seems there are some tidbits in the 206 page manual that I haven't seen reported. For one, the phone supports pinch to zoom. But there is more, much more.

Mobile Broadband Connect: When you do not have Internet connection on your computer, you can select this mode to share your phone’s mobile data connection with your computer. For more information, see “Using Your Phone as a Modem” in the Internet chapter.
VPN support:

Depending on the type of VPN you are using at work, you may be required to enter your login credentials and/or install security certificates before you can connect to your company’s local network. You can get this information from your network administrator.  Also, your phone must first establish a Wi-Fi or data connection before you can initiate a VPN connection. For information about setting up and using these connections on your phone, see “Data connection” and “Wi-Fi” in this chapter.
FM radio:

FM Radio lets you listen to FM radio stations on your phone.  You need to connect a headset first to the audio jack of your phone to use FM Radio. FM Radio uses  the stereo headset as the FM radio antenna.
In addition to PDF support, there is support for Office (just not the new 2007 formats):

Quickoffice lets you view Microsoft Office Word, Microsoft Office Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint files on your phone. Quickoffice supports viewing of Microsoft Office 2003 and 2007 Word (.doc), Excel (.xls), PowerPoint (.ppt) and text (.txt) files.
HTC Footprints:

HTC Footprints™ provides an easy way to record favorite places and revisit those places. A footprint consists of a photo you take of a location such as a restaurant, a sightseeing destination, etc., stored together with a precise GPS position and other information about that location such as the street address and phone number. The next time you want to visit the same place, simply access the footprint. You can then dial the phone number or view the location in Google Maps
Any song can be a ring-tone:

You can select a song from the Music application’s Library and set it as your phone’s ringtone or a ringtone for a certain contact.
Flicker reduction (I've never heard of this, it's under the Video section):
When taking indoor shots under fluorescent lighting, keep this setting on Auto or change
it to the proper frequency (50Hz or 60Hz) of the power in your country to reduce flicker
Well that is enough for now. I think this phone is a winner, even without a front facing camera.

Android for Intel Atom devices spells trouble for ARM - Really?

"Android scored another victory this week, as chip-giant Intel announced at its Developer Forum in Beijing it had ported Google's OS to its Atom microproccesors, the latest move to ensure the tiny chip supports a plethora of operating systems."
via Android for Intel Atom devices spells trouble for ARM - RCR Wireless News.

Yawn, I'd be more worried if Intel came out with a ~1ghz Atom chipset that used less than 2+ watts of power

Monday, April 12, 2010

Microsoft gets it - KIN equals win

KIN is Microsoft's second new phone system this year after Windows Phone 7.

Best described by this short quote:

Windows Phone 7 is the "generic" smartphone platform to target a broad audience, Kin is for a specific subset of super-connected kids.
I think Microsoft gets it. The Facebook, MySpace, Twitter generation. They may be coming in later than Apple and Google, but their new stuff is very compelling. And the target audience is going to eat this stuff up. I bet the data plans will be cheaper too, as in less than the current $30 a month. We'll see when Verizon makes an announcement.

As for KIN itself, you can watch the UI videos on Engadget explaining how it works. If you only watch one, watch the fourth one on photo sharing. All photos are automatically backed up to the cloud - so now you don't have to worry about losing the phone or how much memory is on the phone (well not as much anyway). A great concept - I love it.

I believe KIN, along with Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, will bring Microsoft's phone business back from the brink.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The bicycle with bionic assist

Were you ever biking along when you see a huge hill looming ahead and just felt like turning around? I have. I'm not an avid get-out-there-with-pro-bicycle-shorts biker. I get out on the weekend and tool around with the kids.

This past weekend at Carrboro's Earth Action DayI visited Cycle 9's booth. They had the most amazing thing there and better yet they let me try it in the parking lot! (Not too smart of them....)

What I got to try is called the BionX assist system. I was going to say it is like riding a bike with someone jogging next to you occasionally pushing, but after reading their description I have to agree it is more like "riding your bike with Bionc legs."

Let me explain. I went in the booth thinking that what they had were bikes with motors where you have a throttle you twist or push to make it move the bicycle. Instead this thing requires you to only pedal. When it senses the pedals are being pushed hard, like when you stand on them to get up that nasty hill, the motor turns on and gives you a bit of a nudge. Help if you will. Help that is surprisingly strong and effective.

How does it know you need help? Who cares - it just works (if you really want to know check out the BionX web site for details). 

The system is totally adjustable for things like amount of assist and the threshold for when it determines to give assist. There is even an engine breaking mode for that long downhill - yep it will recharge the battery on the way down the hill.

Just amazing. Try one out for yourself at Cycle 9 - you'll be amazed too.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Kudos to Lee Brimelow - Adobe Evangelist

Apple's mobile products do not do flash. Apple's CEO has said that flash is a buggy CPU hog and a security risk.

Lee Brimelow works for Adobe - the company behind flash. In his latest blog post the comments are tuned off because "I’m not interested in hearing from the Cupertino Comment SPAM bots"

Nicely put, kudos to you Mr. Brimelow.

5 guys do it right

You've heard the expression, to be successful, take one thing and do it right. 5 Guys Burgers do just that.

Great story about a family owned business with smart management and great decisions from the start.

Hats off to them.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

50% of households pay no tax is a misleading headline

Recent news reports, including our own News and Observer printed an AP story by Stephen Ohlemacher with the headline:

For half of U.S., tax bill is $0

Ouch, sounds like we need to re-arrange things, pronto. But wait, put the pitch forks down for a minute. Not paying income tax is not the same as a tax bill of "$0".

Why did I say income tax?  They said "tax bill."

There it is, that is how they misled you. With the scary, newspaper-selling, web-site-click-generating, headline. Mr. Ohlemacher got the numbers for his story from the Tax Policy Center which two days earlier published: 5 Myths about your taxes.

The first myth? It is this: "The poorest and the richest Americans pay no taxes." Turns out that, even the poorest of the working poor pay "Social Security and Medicare taxes when they work, sales taxes when they buy things and property taxes on their homes."

Should we get all worked up about our taxes - sure we should. But let's not let the shouting people in the world tell us what to think.