brandorf.com The everyday ramblings of one nerd.

26Jan/11

Office Drama : The Quickening

Matthew : Ready for lunch?
Brandon : Could be.
I must admit, I am forced to assume that you believe that your voice is a finite resource.
Because.
We're in the same room, you know.
Matthew : Yes, you are correct finite.
Brandon : That, or that you are preparing for the eventually of your promotion, and getting your own office.
Mark : ROFL
I don't even have my own office...
Brandon : I hope you don't think promotions work like the Quickening in Highlander.
Mark : There can be only 1
Brandon : Killing Mark won't get you his job.
Well, I say that.
Mark : I'm calling the cops
<Mark has left the conversation.>
Brandon : We might have to ask Josh.

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25Aug/10

Welcome to Android

So I finally join the smart phone revolution.  I've upgraded to the Droid X after two relatively faithful years from my Blackberry Storm.  I've decided to share some of my thoughts on the switch.

  • Can't "hide"" unwanted apps - On blackberry, you can hide any icon or application with a simple option in the menu, then this icon will be hidden unless you select "show all".  This was handy because Verizon would push new apps or services to the phone, and if I didn't want to use them, I could hide them.  On Android, Verizon and the other carries have shipped the phones with certain apps preloaded, such as the Amazon Kindle app.  These are treated as system apps, and therefore cannot be uninstalled ...unless you root the phone.
  • Keyboard - I actually liked the surepress screen on the blackberry.  However, I'm beginning to love Swype more.
  • Apps - Now here is the biggest difference of all.  Blackberries use some sort of antiquated system whereas the system RAM and available application space are the same, ergo the more apps I have installed the less total RAM I have, and if you hit that limit the phone at best becomes very slow, at worst becomes unstable or crashes.  The BB Storm has a paltry 128mb of "Application Memory", about half of which is taken up by the system ROM to begin with.  In essence, you get penalized for installing apps that you would only use occasionally.  The rest of the internal storage, and the 8gb memory card?  Only for pictures, music and movies.  On Android, I get all 8gb of the phone's internal storage, plus I can store apps on the memory card as well.  So I have the freedom to keep as many apps on the phone as I want, with no worries of running out of space or making the phone unstable.
  • Browser - Blackberry's default browser is terrible, it's slow and awkward.  Putting Opera mini on the phone makes it marginally better, but browsing the web on the Storm was only marginally tolerable.  Android is worlds better, and now it has flash support too.
  • App Store - I honestly don't know if it's just the demographic of the droid market versus Blackberry, or if there is more going on, but in my experience BB apps cost more and do less.  That nifty little Leveling app that the iPhone has?  Free, free on Android too, but Five Dollars on the Blackberry.  This is just one example.  The first lightsaber app that I saw on the store was also a paid app.

What did I like about blackberry?  The unified inbox.  All IMs, Emails, Facebook messages, SMS, etc., all went to the same inbox.  It's split up a bit on android.  And while it wasn't as fast as my screaming droid, I prefer the way it handles the email interface and the like.  Also, I might be a bit old fashioned, but I like to have hardware buttons to pick up a call and hang up, which most android phones lack.

Plus, I can remote desktop to my home PC from my android phone, that's worth so many geek points.  So many.

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20Jan/10


Wow Item Creator!

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16Jan/10

My Nook Book thingy.

My Nook

Yes, that's a map of Middle Earth on it.

I was fortunate to receive a Barnes and Noble Nook for Christmas this year. I figured I'd sum up some of my feelings about the device.  First up the screen; it's a beautiful screen, seriously a joy to read on compared to a normal LCD monitor or my phone.  Even though I was reading ebooks on my blackberry previously, there's no comparison.  The whole device fits well in my hand, and I can use it equally well in either hand.  The Touchscreen on the bottom is nice as well.

Pretty much the only faults I can find with the device are all related to the software.  First gripe the "More in store feature" the premise is that if you take your device to an actually B&N store, the Nook notices this, and you get special features and offers while you're there.  I tried this last week for the first time.  While the Nook did acknowledge that I was in fact in a B&N store, nothing else happened, no special features or offers.  I ended up asking a manager if she knew what was supposed to happen when I brought one of these in, but she wasn't able to tell me much.  At this point, I'm willing to assume that this is some sort of infrastructure problem, or perhaps it's too soon for these features to work?

Next, no browser.  This is pretty minor I suppose, but there is one thing that the Amazon Kindle can do, and that's lookup things on Wikipedia over it's cellular net.  I get a little geek thrill over the idea of this, as it's pretty much the closest thing we've got to a Hitchiker's guide to the Galaxy.  Granted, the Nook is an Android device, and it has already been rooted such that we can put our own apps on it, including a fine web browser, it's a bit of a pain to do so.

The Nook as an interesting feature called "The Daily", this is where you magazine and newspaper subscriptions show up, as well as where a couple of daily columns show up.  The feature falls a bit flat in my opinion for two reasons.  First, the daily columns are just that, daily, meaning that if I don't check todays articles, they won't be around tomorrow.  The ability to go back a day or so would be most welcome.  Second, there's no capability to customize this content.  This would be the perfect place for a news feed reader to go, I'd like to be able to subscribe my nook to one or two RSS feeds out there, and have that show up on my nook.

The last gripe is the music player, I have no doubt that it was put in as an afterthought.  I didn't have an need to put music on the device, but I figured I'd try it out.  It's lacking some incredibly basic features which I expect from just about any music player, Like playlists, browsing by artist / album and cover art display.  With the exception of cover art these are things that my $5 Sansa player can do, there's no excuse to put a music player on a device like this, if the user can't easily select what they want to listen to.

That's it for my rant I suppose.  Overall I do like the device, and B&N has promised some sort of magical firmware update to address some of these problems, but I've heard that sort of talk before.

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