Smartphone Transition

April 16, 2011

I’ve been using smartphones for a number of years and find it valuable to have the Internet at my fingertips while on the go. Accessing my email, web pages, and GPS-enabled maps for navigation has been great while on business trips. I started off by using a Motorola Windows Mobile 5 device, then upgraded to a Palm Pixi WebOS, and now I’m using a Verizon iPhone 4. I really like my iPhone 4, but I may have to turn it in as I’m looking for a new job and this phone is provided by my current employer. So what new smartphone should I get?

The iPhone 4 is nice and I know I would be happy with it, however, it is on the Verizon network and my family currently uses Sprint. I’d prefer to stay with Sprint and get a new line on my family’s plan, so getting a Verizon iPhone with a new account, etc. has its drawbacks. HP/Palm has re-entered the smartphone market (after delays during Palm’s¬†acquisition), but their new Veer and Pre 3 phones won’t be available until this summer. Besides, the Pre 3 is a bit too chunky for me and I’d prefer to not have a slide out keyboard. I’ve seen “spy photos” of a new Pre phone that looks appealing (it actually looks like my iPod Touch), but who knows when that will be released. Finally, there’s a bunch of Android phones available on the Sprint network including the Nexus S Google phone which looks really nice (with the new Gingerbread OS version).

Whichever phone I choose, I want to make sure I get the same functionality as my current iPhone 4. I started by examining the apps that I current use on my iPhone, and it turns out that they are all available for the Android smartphone as well. I’ve used the Sprint Navigation app in the past as well as the Verizon Navigation app (both I like), but I noticed that the Nexus S won’t have any Sprint apps loaded. Fortunately, it will have the new Google Nav app which apparently works just as well (or even better) according to the video I watched on Google’s site. So I think I’m covered there.

Finally, I really want a phone that will have enough juice to last me through an entire day (7 am through 7 pm). My iPhone 4 has great battery life, and if I switch to an HP Pre 3 or Nexus S Android phone I’ll need to have equivalent battery life. I have a feeling it will be close, so I do need to take that into consideration.

So for the moment, I’m leaning towards getting the Nexus S Android smartphone with the Verizon iPhone 4 closely behind. I’d consider the HP Pre 3 as well once it is released and I can check it out (although I still don’t like its slide out keyboard). Decisions, decisions…


Dragging my old laser printer into the future

April 16, 2011

I’ve got an old HP Laser printer which I inherited when the company I worked for abandoned their local office years ago, and I’ve been using it as my main printer workhorse ever since. As time progressed on, this laser printer continues to work well, but the advancement of technology will soon make this printer obsolete. For example, this laser printer has an old Parallel Port interface for connecting it to a PC. When was the last time you saw a computer with a Parallel Port? Most modern PCs and laptops have USB ports for connecting to printers and the Parallel Port has disappeared from nearly all motherboards. To get around this issue, I bought a Parallel Port-to-USB-Port converter cable which allowed me to use my PC’s USB port to access the laser printer for printing documents via a special device driver. This option worked well for me for a few years until I dumped my Windows PC in favor of an iMac. Unfortunately, this handy converter cable doesn’t work with my iMac since I don’t have the required special device driver.

Luckily, this HP laser printer has a RJ45 Ethernet Cable Connector on the back since it is a “Network Enabled” device. At my company’s office we had the laser printer connected to our local LAN so everybody could access it, and it seems that this may be my ticket for extending the service life of this printer for my use. So, how am I going to get this printer connected to my home wireless network so I can access it from my iMac and other computers I have in my house?

The solution I chose was to buy a Wireless Access Point device which will allow me to connect the printer to it, and have the printer available on my home network. There’s a few such devices available, but most of them were a bit too pricey for my wallet (over $100 US). I was able to find a model made by TP-Link which was selling for $35 US at newegg.com, so I ordered that and was able to successfully hook it up to my HP printer.

The way it works, is that the TP-Link Access Point is set to “Client” mode, and I configure it to connect to my home wireless network. The small device is placed upstairs in my office, and acts as a wireless access point. I can then plug any network device into the Ethernet Jack and be connected to my home network. It’s as if I’m connect my laptop, PC, etc. directly into my wireless router (which is located downstairs next to the cable modem). In my case, I connected my HP laser printer to it, and configured my laser printer to use a static IP address. I did this so that my wireless router wouldn’t change its IP address and I can use that address as a permanent network printer for my iMac. Luckily, after configuring everything my Windows 7 laptop easily found this printer on my home network and added it to my printer device list.

So, it seems I can continue using my ancient laser printer for a few more years until computer technology changes again. By that time, I’ll probably run out of Toner for my printer and will be looking for a new solution…


Back to using Google Chrome!

April 16, 2011

I’ve used the Firefox web browser for years on my Windows PC and now on my iMac, and I briefly switched away to Google Chrome a few months ago. I really liked the speed and clean look of Google Chrome (especially the Ominbar which is a combined search field and web address bar), but I was having issues accessing certain sites properly which prompted me to switch back to Firefox.

It seems that over the last few months Firefox and Google have released updated versions of their browsers that boast speed improvements, etc. I downloaded and installed the latest version of Firefox (4.0) and it seemed to work well, but some of my extensions weren’t available for the newer version. Specifically, the layout theme that I had been using with the previous version of Firefox (which basically makes it look like Google Chrome) was not available. I guess I’m a bit picky, as I didn’t really like the default Firefox 4.0 appearance. As such, I decided to switch back to the latest version of Google Chrome and give it a try again.

So far, so good with Google Chrome. The pages do seem to load faster in my tabs and most of the web sites that I visit load ok. I haven’t tried the “troublesome” web sites which I had previous problems, but if I really need to view those sites I’ll just fire up Firefox. The cleanliness of the Chrome browser is really appealing to me, so I’ll stick with using it for a while until Firefox comes up with some newer features…