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Android Tip: Activate Window Transition Effects on the G1

12.05.2008 @ 4:10 AM in Technology
Droid sans Tweak Tools Lite is a utility that activates a yet-to-be supported window transition effect in the Android OS. You can control the speed of the window slide, as well as window fade speed (effect you see when notifications pop in and out). You also have the option to turn it all off and go back to the boring way you were before but I bet you won't.

For icing on the cake, Tweak Tools Lite also lets you deactivate your data connection for those not on a all-you-can eat data plan. I've not tested this since I have unlimited data, but I did demo the transition effect for you below.

Note that there is another app in the Market called Tweak Tools, which does other things (written by the same dev) but only runs on rooted (modded RC29 or RC30) G1 units. DroidSans

Multi-Touch and the Android G1

11.18.2008 @ 3:40 PM in Technology
The first thing people say when they see my G1 is, "Is that an iPhone?" The second thing is "Well, does it have multi-touch?" the first answer is a sturdy and confident "No," but the to the latter, I respond "not yet." Officially, no. the HTC G1 is spec'd to be a single-touch device. That being said, the G1 uses a Synaptics touchs module that is capable of handling two-finger responses, and blogger RyeBrye has found some clues that may lead to possible activation of multi-touch.  he says that after "uncommenting a bunch of lines in the synaptics touchscreen driver, and recompiling  my kernel and replacing my boot.img - I was able to enable the debug logging of the touch input that tracks 2 fingers." The problem is, that while these findings mean that its totally possible, it would require a community built version of Android to be installed, with all the drivers and supports added manually. Plus, just because the screens on this wave of G1's are built for multi-touch, doesn't mean that the next wave will have the same screens. So, yes, multi-touch can totally come to the G1, but more than likely will happen officially on a new phone, with a long-updated and bug-worked-out Android release. However, I'm in the hacker mind and still can't wait to get whatever I can out of the G1.

Android Tip: Use Any Cut to create a Quick SMS list.

11.05.2008 @ 1:06 PM in Technology
I do a lot of text messaging, most of which is either to Twitter, BrightKite, or John. A caveat with smartphones is that with more functionality comes more steps to get to the simplest of actions. Luckily, Android lets you put shortcuts to your favorite apps, email labels, and contacts right on your homescreen. Any Cut, a free app from the Android Market, unlocks even more possibilities. This tip shows you how to use folders and Any Cut to organize a two tap quick SMS list.

Any Cut allows you to create shortcut icons on your homescreen that link directly to actions like calling a number, sending an SMS, or accessing settings like wifi. First things first, find and install Any Cut from the Android Market. Next, go to your home screen and longpress (hold your finger down for a second) on a blank spot. The "Add to Home" menu will pop up. Expand "Shortcut" and select a folder. Now we have a folder named "Folder." That's a little unimaginative, lets change that. Tap on the folder and it will expand into a blank window. Longpress on the title bar (over the "folder") and give it a new name. I chose "Quick." Tap the "X" to close the window, pull up the applications drawer, and launch Any Cut. Select New Shortcut and then "Direct Text Message." Scroll through and find your contact. I'm going to add Twitter, since I'm pretty much addicted to it. You have the option to shorten the name if you'd like. Notice the contact's icon serves as the shortcut icon. If you don't have a picture set, it will just show an SMS bubble. Hit OK. The Shortcut lands on the homescreen by default. We want it in that folder. Longpress on the icon until it detaches and you get some haptic love (that little vibrate you feel). now drag it over the folder and release. Rinse and repeat Any Cut until you have your quick launch folder just the way you like it. Remember, Any Cut lets you create shortcuts for nearly any action, and you can even write your own!

Circuit City to Close 155 Stores, no plugs pulled in WNY

11.03.2008 @ 1:35 PM in Buffalo, Technology
Going the way of Comp USA (though not a total fold), Cicuit City announced today that they are closing 155 stores and pulling out of 12 market areas. Terminations in departments like Installations and Firedog should begin within 48 hours. A quick look at the list shows that the Western New York locations are safe for now; don't expect any fire sales just yet. Circuit City also plans on reducing the number of "future store openings and aggressively renegotiating certain leases." Maybe this means we won't be seeing as many Best Buys popping up next to every Circuit City. Or will we? Store Closings - Circuit City

G1 Ruminations: How to Master Reset

10.31.2008 @ 1:32 PM in Technology
There may come a time when you need to reset your G1 phone because some jerkbag set your touch pattern and locked you out and you forgot your gmail password and reset it but it didnt sync so you have to reset the whole damn thing. If that ever happens, here's some handy instructions on what to do... Master reset the T-Mobile G1 from Nathan Strang on Vimeo.

Android Ruminations #1 – Hello G1.

10.31.2008 @ 12:25 AM in Technology

I've had the T-Mobile Android G1 for well over a week, and while I could say that I waited so long to get a good review of the G1, truth is, I'm lazy. I never realized how peaceful yet out of the loop one can be while on a blogging hiatus. Additionally, I never thought it would be this hard to jump back on the horse after nearly two months of nothing. Lets get back into it shall we, and please if you will, welcome me back into your feeds with my 9 day review of Android's first born child, the T-Mobile/HTC G1 "Dream." What wacky family the G1 gets to grow up in. First, its mother is Google, who got knocked up out of nowhere and went through a wild and bumpy pregnancy after banging nearly every cellphone company (except Sprint, who's into Asians) only to get knocked up by T-mobile, the runt of the litter. Gotta hand to T-Mo, they're like a guy with a small dick. Though he can't plow you as well as the other guys, he tries a hell of a lot harder to please you. Then we have HTC, who swears he's the real father. And while the G1 looks exactly like him (ya know, shitty internal memory, slow camera, and a disfigured USB port), T-Mobile promised to raise the G1 as his own. Physicalities and such I'll admit, the G1 is no looker. Sure the 3.2 inch touchscreen with 320x480 resolution looks baddass, but everything else about the phone is all wrong. Why? HTC can make beautiful tech. Shit, if they can make a windows mobile phone droolworthy, then why can't they make a new phone with yet to be set design rules so freaking turdlike? The answer is probably because this is the same exact hardware that was built to test the Android platform on. HTC probably had plans to sex up the design a bit, but time constraints and the general need to just get this thing out to developers is probably what greenlit the dev model into production. Maybe I'm a little rough, because I love the phone, I love that its the first of its kind, and that it totally looks like an akward geeky toy. There are a lot of buttons on the G1: Call, Home, clickable trackball, Back, End/Power, Menu, Camera, and Volume controls, not to mention the QWERTY and a dedicated search button. everything is flush or near flushed, making accidental clicks less likely but harder to navigate blind. The camera button is a bit awkwardly placed; try gripping it for portrait mode and your thumb will push the slider up into your index finger which is trying to press the camera button to take the shot which will come out blurry 75% of the time because HTC put yet another slow camera (albeit 3.2 Megapixel with autofocus) in another supposedly high end phone. Another awkwardness is the little curved banana nub bottom half that gets the mic 2mm closer to your face but hates on your chubby fingers when you try to use the keyboard. One handed multitasked typing on this thing is surely a skill to master. I have to say I wasn't so much disappointed about the lack of a headphone jack in lieu of a duel use micro USB port. I've had HTC devices before. Its what they do. The supposed proprietary port will actually allow any micro usb connection but also accommodates certain HTC only accessories with the special connector. I really like the one connection port. reduces the exposure to damage and helps to ease the clutter. If I absolutlely have to charge and use a headset at the same time, I'll plug in the HTC port splitter (came with my Shadow) that lets you get kinky with some double penetration. The trackball is very responsive and can navigate 98% of the phone without having to use the touch screen. While the phone is sleeping it won't turn the phone on or register any function. This is nice because its the only button that sticks out. Everything else about the phone is sturdy. The slide mechanism operates almost like a switchblade, and all the buttons respond to a nice firm press. Physically, the G1 is a sound device, well made despite its fuglyness. A new operating system, a whole new world. I can't begin to explain why Android is so important to the mobile industry. Its just going to have to play out, but I made sure I bought my ticket to glory early. I don't normally early adopt, but I stuck with T-Mobile despite the lack of 3G in Buffalo just to get this phone. This was in February. I committed to buying the G1 in February and I wasn't disappointed. The G1 comes loaded with all the goodies to put Android to the test: 3G, Wifi, GPS, capacitive touchscreen (easy on the touch, heavy on the response), a compass, and accelerometer. I'd say it has everything but for some reason while there is bluetooth, there is no A2DP profile and its more crippled in that regard than a verizon phone. Specwise, it has enough to fly: 528MHz Processor, 192MB RAM, and an internal storage of 256MB. CDMA, Quadband GSM; yup, its a world phone. Syncing to my Gmail account is a breeze, even on EDGE (no 3G in Buffalo). I'm using my Google Apps account @buffawhat.com to sync, too.  For someone that relies on Google for just about everything, you'll find that Android is your friend indeed. Your calendar, contacts, and email are all kept in the cloud, but pulls and syncs seamlessly and with no effort from the user. You can set sync schedules if you are that controlling type, but its best to let the G1 do its thing. After a slight learning curve, the Android becomes a breeze to use. Its not as intuitive to use as the iPhone but you won't get another touchscreen experience like on the Android. It feels so much like a mobile computer, and even more so when you find out you can put folders on the home screen. The homescreen is a mashup of OSX with spaces, and vista with widgets. left and right swipes of the home screen reveal two new spaces to put icons, folders, gmail shortcuts, even widgets (android shipped with a clock, search bar, and a photo frame). I realize that I have a lot to talk about the android operating system, but that will come later. This is only part one of a never-ending (I hope) relationship with Android, right up until the day they all gain consciousness and we lose it all. And it may seem that i totally thrashed the phone in this mini review, but its all tough love..

P.S. - It has cut and paste. and does it fucking well.

Polaroid POGO: Instant Gratification

08.30.2008 @ 2:43 PM in Technology

Last November, I posted about Polaroid's leap back into instant photo gratification with POGO, an ultra-portable photo printer using zero ink technology from Zink. I was pretty stoked about the device; I was big fan of Polaroid back in the day and recently I've been looking for a decent method to print out some mobile pictures. Time goes by and the POGO falls off my radar... that is until I walked into Target today and noticed it was on sale for $129 (original price, $149)! The desire for instant gratification struck instantly. I instantly had to have it and instantly marched to the camera counter. Instantly purchasing it, my compadres and I (we were on a post GBC breakfast excursion) instantly headed back to the car. I instantly started to free my overpriced photo printer from its cardboard cage welcoming it into my loving realm of mobile gadgetra. Immediately inspecting the instructions, I installed the battery and paper pack; it instantly spit out the paper calibration "smart sheet." And then it instantly died. First gripe: put a charge in the battery for Christ's sake. I know we all are supposed to charge a full 2-24 hours before stuff works, but no one ever does and most everything else has at least half a charge on purchase (ipod, phone, camera...). With my efforts dashed to justify the purchase with my compadres by showing them the awesome power of instant gratification, I eventually made my way to my office to plug the damned thing in. Eventually, I unraveled the power block and extension cord; the POGO prints while plugged in, but this is a mobile gadget and meant to be carted around in a messenger bag. the construction is solid and metally. I'd say it weighs about a pound, but feels very study. The thing was expensive enough; it better weigh a ton. On to printing. I tested the pogo with the gamut of photo sources, all routed from my phones bluetooth; you can connect to a digital camera with a USB cable as long as you have a PictBridge enabled camera. First picture was one I took of kirk, taken with my T-Mobile Shadow in  a lot of sunlight; it came out well enough. Then, I emailed a few pictures from Scranto's flickr to my phone and printed them out with more stunning results. The colors were full and bright, and the resolution crisp. At 2x3 inches per photo, you won't have to worry that much about mobile phone resolution; anything over a mega pixel will look just fine printed from the POGO. Since a lot of my BuffaViews and Snaps are in B/W, I printed out skylar from my previous post, and Lafeyette Square from the post before. Since the ZINK technology isn't CYMK but rather CMY, the b/w photos had a slight blue hue, which I don't seem to mind at all. If you really enjoy having hard copies of your mobile photos, then this printer is for you. I wouldn't recommend this for someone with a shitty camera phone, or a Verizon anything, since VZW cripples bluetooth so that it can only pair with a headset. Polaroid - POGO

Switch-A-Bit: upload to flickr and send to twitter.

07.16.2008 @ 10:57 AM in Technology
I don't have anything against TwitPic (or any other of those mobile photo to twitter apps), but I already use flickr to store my photos. If I use TwitPic, I'll have to re-upload my photo to flickr or just lose out. With all the social networks, your intellectual property can get spread out and lost, so I like to keep flickr as a basecamp for all my photos. However, Flickr doesn't allow me to directly tweet pictures. Though I have streamlined the process of blogging from my phone using email-to-flickr, I wanted a way to tweet my snaps without having to send anything twice, and without using another photo hosting service. And by god I think I found it. Enter Switch-A-Bit. Switch-A-Bit is a switchboard/router/thing-of-magic for your social networking needs. Sign up and connect it to your accounts, and switch-a-bit monitors your activity, routing content back and forth along the channels you set up. Switch-A-Bit lets you set trigger words to activate the channels preventing you from overloading your social networks with a lot of useless data, like what happens with the inadvertent blog spammers on twitter. For example, on my flickr-to-twitter channel, when I'm posting from my phone, I append (#snap) to my post. It uploads to flickr then on to my blog, like normal. Switch-A-Bit catches the "#snap" and posts a tweet with a link to my photo. Switch-A-Bit is as simple to set up as dragging and dropping. In fact, I was a little confused at first that it was working because there wasn't a lot of set up or even options. Links are processed for twitter by a new sister service called bit.ly. As the service progresses (its still in beta), You can be sure to see a bunch more social network added. Right now they offer connections to blogger, facebook, flick, jaiku, tumblr, twitter, and your wordpress blog. Switch-A-Bit

Firefox 3 Download Day: Help Set a World Record

05.30.2008 @ 2:30 PM in Technology

Download Day

Back when FF1 was released, I was a real active member of Spread Firefox. I'd shoot my badges all over the web and preach the ways of alternative browsing, life free of pop ups, and a general Exodus from all things IE. I was really into it, even made a few flash sigs for forum use, like this one..

[Totally Unofficial ATHF FTW] So, I've been kinda lax on the FF preaching, despite a few sermons on addons and tricks. Maybe I've realized that Firefox isn't a perfect browser, and that all those wonderfull addons can drag the poor fox to the ground, and that effing flash issue.... Or maybe I'm just lazy in general. Well, praise be to the gods, because Firefox 3 is here to save us, with load of new features, upgrades to the rendering engine, (Gecko 1.9) and bit more polish all over. You can download the RC1 and see it for yourself; and more plugins are syncing up to make the upgrade easier and more attractive. The SpreadFirefox team is also planning on setting a Guinness world record for the most downloads of a software title in a 24hour period with the launch of Firefox3. Since this is the first attempt on record, there isn't really a goal, but we want to make it as high as possible. One, thing though, they don't actually have a date for this event, so hit the badge above and pledge your download; you will be emailed when the time is nigh.

Wired 15th Anniversary: For the Love of PMS805

05.21.2008 @ 2:19 PM in Technology
Wired has long been a fan of using neon inks for their magazine covers, and Pantone 805 Orange-Red Neon Ink is somewhat of a signature color. To celebrate, they doused the entire cover in PMS 805; I literally saw the thing sticking out of the mailbox from the other end of the driveway (and I live in a carriage house!). The articles are pretty swell too, a farewell to Bill Gates, BSG, and a bit about how to really cut down global warming... Subscribe now (Only $10) and you'll get this issue guaranteed, or go the the bookstore and look for the sore thumb... Its totes worth it.