Windows Phone Limbo

January 20, 2015

Yesterday I saw a posted article on that had the header, “New details emerge on Microsoft’s last-ditch effort to make Windows Phone relevant“, which made me think: Is there any reason why I would switch from my current Android smartphone over to a Windows Phone?

After a few minutes of thought, the answer would be no. There’s no existing reason I could think of that would make me want to switch to a Microsoft Windows Phone. Not even low price would make me consider switching from Android, since my phone works perfectly fine and meets all my needs.

So, what would make me consider switching?

Being able to run desktop Windows apps on a smartphone (as the BGR article suggests) wouldn’t be a big deal for me. I’ve got all the apps I want on my current Android phone and tablet (also, I don’t use Windows but OSX). Windows Phone would need a big game changer for me to consider switching. Something like a 1-week battery life, or super-thin and strong design. Some kind of projection screen maybe, or extremely accurate voice recognition. A superior tie-in with my car’s bluetooth system to control it’s systems (e.g., self starting, security monitoring, etc). Easy home security link. A truly wireless charger which will charge my phone just by being in the same room as the charger. A next-generation wireless connection system that would allow me to remotely use and control my smartphone at greater distances than Bluetooth (like, me being at the gym with a wireless headset listening to Pandora from my Windows Phone that is sitting in my car 40 feet away).

A lot of pie-in-the-sky stuff which is what it would take to my me consider switching to a Windows Phone.

One thing that Microsoft really does need to do, is create a much, much better GUI interface than what Windows Phone has now. I think the Microsoft decision makers are stuck with the current OS theme, but to me it seems really drab and ancient. In fact, the Apple iOS is also getting long in the tooth even though Apple tries to update it. What I like about Android is it’s customization, and the fact they recently switched it up with the new “Material Design” look.

So, does Microsoft have a chance? I don’t think so with their current Windows Phone product. I think they need another reboot to be successful in today’s market.


Switching from Android to iPhone 6?

September 21, 2014

With this week’s release of the Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, there’s been a lot of online articles covering the topic of Android users switching over to the new iPhones. These articles seem to convey that the only reason keeping some people on the Android platform is the larger screen size, which the new iPhone 6 has now. I think this statement is partially true, but I don’t believe most Android users will jump ship so easily.

I do have to admit, that I was considering the possibility of moving back to an iPhone. The main reason being that I own and use a desktop Mac system and staying in the “Apple Ecosystem” would certainly reduce some headaches with syncing painlessly my calendar, contacts, etc. I have it working to some degree now with the Google Services, but I still have issues now and then getting data synced timely between my Mac and HTC One phone.

My wife just upgraded her iPhone 5 to the new iPhone 6, which is roughly the same size as my HTC One M7. Although the phone is bigger and has a nice screen, I’m still very hesitant to switching to iOS. The big reason, is that I really like and feel comfortable with the Android OS. I’ve been using it for 3 years now (and have written apps for it), and I feel it is superior to the Apple iOS in many ways.

The biggest benefit I see with Android, is the ability to customize the interface and how the phone works. I use an app called “Tasker” which allows me to fully automate lots of tasks, and I can’t see myself not having such automation on my phone. Sure, you might be able to do something similar with an “jailbroken” iPhone, but I’ve tried that in the past and it’s a pain maintaining a jailbroken state when you go through Apple’s update process.

So for now, I’m sticking with my Android HTC One, and will probably move on to a Moto X, LG, One Plus, or Nexus 5 in the near future. Lot of great choices in hardware, and I see the Android OS getting better and better by leaps and bounds.

Developing Apps for Windows Phone 8

November 2, 2013

imagesI decided to check out what it would take to begin writing apps for the WIndows Phone 8 smartphones, and here’s what I found:

  1. You need to have a desktop machine running the Windows 8 Pro 64-bit OS. The “Pro” version is required if you want to use the WP8 emulator for testing your app.
  2. To use the WP8 emulator, your desktop machine must have a CPU and motherboard (and BIOS) that can use “Hyper-V” or virtualization. If it can’t, then you can’t use the WP8 emulator for testing your app.

In my opinion, these are pretty heavy requirements for developing WP8 apps. First, you need to have the “Pro” version of WIndows 8 on your desktop machine which I don’t think most people have. Most new desktop and laptops seem to be shipping with Windows 8 Basic from what I’ve seen. Also, to run the emulator you need a machine that can do virtualization, which limits you to Intel i3/i5/i7 CPUs and some specific AMD CPUs. Even if your computer has one of these chips, the motherboard needs to support virtualization as well as the BIOS (which most laptops can’t do).

These requirements really restrict people from creating WP8 apps if they don’t have the required hardware and OS. It particularly affects me, since my main computer system is an Apple iMac desktop computer.

In contrast to writing Android apps, you can do so on a Windows machine, Apple Mac, or Linux machine. There are no special hardware requirements that I know of. So, why make it so hard for developers to switch to WP8?

In my case, I would need to purchase a copy of Windows 8 Pro, and either install it as a 2nd OS on my iMac (via Bootcamp), or try to run it in a virtual emulator (like VMWare Fusion, which I would have to purchase). Or, buy a laptop or cheap desktop system that had the necessary hardware requirements. This slowly becomes a big investment, which I’m not sure I want to do at this time.

Short Films on YouTube

December 26, 2012

imgresIt seems that with low-cost computer technology and a little bit of creativity, people  can make some really good independent films. Some are really low-budget yet the creators can product near-Hollywood quality movies. One subculture are the “Fan-Based Films” which are written, acted, filmed, and produced by fans themselves. For example, there’s several Star Trek-based and Star Wars-based fan films available on the Internet. For the most part, these fan-based films are really cheeezy with horrible stories and very poor performances by non-actors. One such fan-based production is Star Trek: Phase II, which started out as truly a “fan production” with horrible acting, however, over time each film/episode has improved dramatically. Definitely worth watching to see the amount of effort that is put into these productions.

There’a also some really great Independent films which I imagine are created by upcoming directors, actors, and producers on a shoestring budget. For example, below are some really good films you can check out on the Internet:

L5 (2912) – Excellent Sci-Fi short film with great sets, special effects, and good acting. The film is very high-quality overall, and in a lot of cases better than some TV Shows today. Very, very good film and I hope this group continues with more online episodes to continue the story.

1945A – This is one of my favorite Sci-Fi short films made on a $2000 budget. Very good acting and excellent special effects.

Best Sci-Fi Short Films – Here’s a web link to several very good short stories made in film format. Excellent filming, acting, etc. Definitely worth checking out to view some creative filming.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

December 24, 2012

It’s Christmas eve, and I just finished baking a batch of cookies so my son can leave one out tonight as a snack for hard-working Santa. In a few hours my son will be asleep, and my wife and I will act as “Santa’s Helpers” to bring out our son’s big gift (a Playstation Vita handheld game). Tomorrow will be a relaxing and fun filled day of eating hot muffins, drinking coffee, watching our son rip into his presents, and taking lots of pictures. Later that evening, we’ll have a delicious pot roast dinner with homemade mud pie for dessert. Can’t get any better than that for Christmas day!

Hope everyone gets what they wished for, and have a safe and wonderful Christmas.

Christmas Gift Ideas

December 15, 2012

imgres-1I always tell my wife I’m a man which has everything he needs, so it’s hard to buy me birthday and Christmas gifts. However, here’s a short list of good products which I recommend you consider if you’re looking for something good for a loved one.

  1. Samsung Chromebook ($249) – The previous posting gave my quick review of this product. For a person that has everything, this would be a nice addition to his or her collection of electronics. Although I haven’t used it much, I do plan to take the Chromebook with me on vacations when I expect to use the keyboard extensively. Definitely with the price.
  2. Google Nexus 7 tablet ($199) – This is my favorite 7″ Android Tablet, and it is well worth the $199 price. Very high quality product, with a metal frame, rubber backing, and high resolution display. It uses a Nivida chip and is darn fast. Personally, I think this is the best 7″ tablet on the market pricing aside. It also runs the latest Android OS (Jelly Bean), so you won’t be disappointed.
  3. Apple iPod Nano ($149) – Although I use my HTC EVO LTE phone for streaming music and podcasts, there are times when I don’t want to carry my phone with me (e.g., when doing hard work or working out at the gym). So that’s why I prefer using the new iPod Nano from Apple. It has bluetooth for use with my bluetooth headset and also with the Ford Sync system in my car. it also has FM Radio which I think is a cool feature (I used the HD FM radio that was built into my old Zune HD).
  4. Doxie Go ($199) – Doxie is a portable scanner which can scan documents and photos, and the best part of it is that you don’t need a computer to use it. All images are stored a internal SD card. The scanner also has the option of being battery-powered, so it’s truly portable. I currently have a 3-in-One HP device for scanning and making copies, but it’s a real pain to use with my iMac. the Doxie will simplify that process. In addition, you can get the optional Eye-Fi WiFi SD card ($30) which will allow you to wirelessly copy the files from the Doxie scanner to your iMac or PC using their supplied software.

My Google Chromebook Review

December 15, 2012

imgresMy Birthday came up (again!) and my wonderful wife asked what I would like as a birthday present. Since I’m a man that already has everything, I couldn’t answer her question. I already have a iMac as my desktop computer, a small Windows 7 laptop, two Android tablets (10″ and 7″), a Android smartphone, etc. I really had all the gadgets that I could want.

That same week, I heard about the impending release of the next version of the Google Chromebook, so I decided to investigate a bit. It was very intriguing to me, so I mentioned to my wife that a Chromebook might be something she could get me as a birthday present. As such, it arrived on my doorstep (albeit, a week after my Birthday) and I had one more new gadget to play with and ultimately write this review.

First of all, I’ve only been using this for a day now, so you’re getting a review from a fresh new user’s perspective. But none the less, I felt compelled to write this review since it would give me the opportunity to test out the Chrombook’s WiFi connection, keyboard, etc.

I’ll start with the positives. First, the Chromebook is well constructed and looks very much like a Macbook Air. The keyboard especially looks and feels very close to an Apple Macbook (which is a good thing). If I covered up the “SAMSUNG” label on the bottom of the screen frame and slapped an Apple icon sticker on the top of this device, you would probably mistake it for a Macbook Air.

When I first started up the device, it immediately wanted to connect to my home WiFi, and then followed by downloading and installing a software update (which took about 15 minutes). After the update, the system came up asking for my Google login name and password (which was my Gmail account). After typing that info in, within a few seconds my Chromebook was up and ready to go! In fact, one of the best features of this device is how fast it boots up. From being completely turned off, the system is up and ready in just 8 seconds. That’s super fast in my book!

The system is basically a very light version of Linux, but the only thing you see is the Chrome web browser. You do everything in the browser, which is probably the biggest limitation you might have if you’re use to running native applications. So if you want to run Microsoft Excel locally on your Chromebook you can’t; you’ll need to use a comparable spreadsheet program that can be run from a web browser in the cloud. Read the rest of this entry »

Upgrading my Smartphone

June 1, 2012

Sprint is releasing the HTC EVO LTE Smartphone tomorrow (Saturday, June 2nd), so I’ve decided that I will be upgrading to that phone. Since I’m only about 9 months into my 2 year contract with Sprint, I couldn’t take advantage of the “Upgrade” heavily subsided price. So to make my new purchase as affordable as possible, I did a “Upgrade Buyout” which means I pay a certain amount of money (based on the remaining number of days on my contract) to move my upgrade date forward to today. This fee is normally $5 less than the Early Termination Fee (which in my case is $150-$5=$145). So my upgrade cost would total to $145+$199=$344, which is much better than the $550 list price. To do this upgrade, I dialed *2 on my phone and selected the menu item for canceling my line. I then explained I wanted to do the early upgrade buyout and after the Sprint Rep made the change, it became active at 9 am the next morning.

BTW: To check your upgrade status, send a text message to “1311” with the word “upgrade” in the body of the message. You’ll get a response with your current upgrade status.

Now armed with an upgrade, I stopped by my Sprint store today to see if they had any HTC EVO LTE available for tomorrow. Unfortunately, I was told their small shipment of EVOs (which arrived today) were all earmarked for people who have preordered them through the store. They took my name down, stating that they would call me if someone canceled their pickup or didn’t pick up their EVO after 24 hours. Fortunately for me, I got a call back from Sprint after about 1 hour stating that I could pickup one of their EVOs tomorrow morning!

So the adventure begins tomorrow, but first I need to scrub my current Nexus S 4G phone completely of all my personal data and reload the original ROM on it (since I’ve been running the Ice Cream Sandwich OS for the last few months now). Luckily for me, this was a one-click process from the tools on this link.

Major Problems with the Palm Pre?

June 14, 2009

palm_preI’ve kept a keen eye on the Palm Pre smartphone being offered by Sprint, since I have interest in developing and selling applications for that mobile platform. The Pre has been out for about one week now, and from the various forum postings I’ve read it seems to have lots and lots of problems. Some issues are related to the hardware, while others are related to the Sprint Network or WebOS operating system.

In general, I’ve found that most people will post to forums when they have a problem or issue, and not when everything is going well. So, you have to take what you read with a grain of salt. However, there seems to be some overwhelming postings revealing these issues:

  • Overheating issues while charging and while in use
  • Very limited support for Microsoft Exchange Server access
  • Alarms and notifications do not consistently work
  • Pre device prematurely reboots when closing QWERTY keyboard
  • Battery drains rapidly and will not last the entire day
  • The Pre battery can drain completely even if connected to a car charge (when running apps like the GPS Navigation)
  • The screen will prematurely crack under no load
  • Poor reception signal compared to other Sprint phones

I can understand and tolerate the various WebOS issues (since an OS update or patch should fix them), however, the hardware issues are a different story. What’s especially troublesome is the poor reception and cracking screens. This clearly indicates a hardware defect situation, but Sprint and Palm are currently dismissing it.

Of course, we need to acknowledge that the Palm Pre is version 1.0 for both the hardware and OS, and the “early adopters” are willing to put up with these issues (or simply believe they do not exist). I may need to wait until Palm comes out with a higher-quality device before I jump over to Sprint and start developing apps. Let’s hope it won’t take too long and that Palm doesn’t run out of cash!