Category Archives: Tech

Could the Samsung Note be Android’s answer to the iPod Touch?

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For many people, the iPhone is the best phone money can buy. For those who can’t commit to the contract or the fees, however, the iPod Touch is the next best thing (I myself have one.)

The iTouch has almost everything the iPhone has, save for a few features such as GPS and Siri, but it’s perfect for someone who wants iOS but doesn’t need a new phone.

 Is there an android equivalent?

Turns out there is. It’s called the Samsung Galaxy Player. It has most of the same features the iTouch has, including GPS, but it hasn’t been updated in over a year, made obvious by the fact that it only supports Android 2.3.5. Woefully inadequate considering we’re now well into version 4.1, aka Jelly Bean.

But what if there was something even better suited for the role? One that also had no phone capabilities but was equally powerful, if not moreso. I believe I have the answer:

Samsung Note Alternative iPod Touch

The Samsung Note is an oddity among Samsung’s phones. It seems to only fill one small little niche in the world of smartphones due to its unusual size and stylus needs, but it does it well. But, I argue that because it’s essentially a halfway point between a phone and a tablet, it would make a PERFECT counter to the iPod Touch!

 

Without the phone end of the device, the Samsung Note could be used by people who want a decent Android-based toy that isn’t attached to a contract, expensive data plan, or is a normal phone. And since it’s not part of the recent Apple V. Samsung lawsuit, it’s immune to the patent claims!

Think about it. The Note has a bigger screen, small width, HD camera, GPS and the like. The only thing Samsung would have to do is take out the phone end of things, and reduce the price of the player by about $100 or so to compensate. People would then finally have a decent alternative to the iPod Touch, and the Samsung Note finally gets to fulfill its destiny.

Do you think the Note would make a good alternative to the iTouch, or should it be a device similar to the Galaxy? Or something else entirely?

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How to get the LiveFyre Admin Page in WordPress

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As much as I love LiveFyre, there’s one thing about it that annoyed me: There was no access to my LiveFyre profile through the plugin.

Oh sure, there’s a “Livefyre” option in the comments, but when you click on it (And all your comments are already exported,) all you see is this:

Looks like you’re all set…start using LiveFyre!

So LiveFyre has this entire blank page that does nothing (At least on the front side.) I decided to change that.

I now have my LiveFyre setting display my account page for the system, allowing me to check my comments and my profile from within my WordPress blog. As a courtesy to LiveFyre and all its fans, I will teach you how I did this.

Please Note: This involves doing some light PHP editing. While the dangers of doing this are minimal if you follow my instructions to the letter, it may damage the plugin or your blog. LiveFyre and I take no responsibility for your code editing or following this modificiation.

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For doing this, you’ll need an FTP Program and a text editor capable of displaying how many lines are in a file. I personally suggest the free & open-source Notepad++. 

First, Connect to your server via FTP and browse to the LiveFyre plugin, located in the WP-content/plugins folder.

Then, download and edit the "options.php" file in the plugin folder.

Scroll down to line 159, where it says this:

$printthis = "It looks like you're done...start using livefyre!"; // . $result['body'];

Replace that line with this one:

Once finished, save the file and re-upload it to your server.

Review: Bluestacks: Android Apps on your PC

I am fascinated by the Android operating system. Unfortunately, since I don’t have an Android phone or Tablet (Not counting the Kindle Fire since it’s not a true Android tablet) I can’t really comment on it. But now I have Bluestacks.

Bluestacks, currently in Beta, allows you to run Android apps on a Windows system. It does this by emulating the Android operating system in a virtual machine. Essentially, you’re given an Android tablet backed by your own computer.

What I like

Well seriously, it’s ANDROID. (Well, the Apps really) ON YOUR PC. How cool is that? Even better, you don’t even need to repurchase apps you already bought. It can sync with your Android phone, as well as with the Android Market. Even better, other app stores such as the Amazon Appstore are also included as well, so if you’re heavy on Amazon’s stuff, you’re covered. All the apps you purchased are usable and work on your computer, which is a wonderful idea! (HINT HINT, APPLE….) 

The main use I see for this is for storing lightweight replacements for programs I frequently use. For instance, I’m thinking of using the WordPress App for Android instead of Live Writer, but considering the run of bad luck I’ve had with WordPress’s app for iOS, that may not be such a good idea.

A place I see real potential for is older computers that could use some life placed in them. I have a 10-year-old Toshiba Laptop just dying for something like this; low powered requirements and plenty of apps could allow me to make it usable again.

What could be improved

Unfortunately, the program is still in beta, so there’s plenty of bugs. I’ve already run into one with a program that requires a long-press on the Home button to access certain features. But the home button on Bluestacks does nothing when long-clicked. There’s also more lag on the program than I’d like to see.

Also, most Android tablets have the ability to use multiple different homescreens, just like the iPad. Bluestacks does not have this capability. I’d love the ability to organize homescreens based on usability, like blogging/communication/games, etc.

There’s also ads on the program itself. While this should be expected since it’s a free app, the bottom ad can sometimes interfere with the operation of an Android app.

I also have concerns about pricing for the apps. There are apps I know are not free such as Angry Birds and ReadItLater Pro that cost money, and I haven’t seen any information regarding pricing. In fact, I clicked on Angry Birds and it started downloading IMMEDIATELY without prompting me to pay. I find this very scary. If there was some sort of deal beforehand with Rovio and other app makers beforehand, I’d really like to know.

The Bottom Line

The app has some serious potential, but its shortcomings really make it suffer. I trust that as the beta goes on, the software’s bugs will be fixed and the program made better, but until then it’s just an E-curiosity. Not to mention the scare I had with downloading known paid apps.

Still, the idea of playing Android games on your PC will make a lot of people happy, and people can download free apps as well as Amazon’s paid app of the day to check them out.

Bluestacks is available now as a free download.

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Going Hands-On into Windows 8 – The Consumer Preview

At 6:00am this morning, Microsoft released its Consumer Preview version of Windows 8. Using the powers of Chrome’s download button, I did a Ronco and set it and forget it.

I installed it in a virtual disk so I wouldn’t have to worry about any content being deleted, and if I really gummed things up, I could just delete it. While it won’t give me the best performance, I don’t have to dig up another computer just to host it.

First Impressions

Right after installation (Which I will admit was relatively simple) I was confronted with that which I feared most: The Metro display. The screen consists of a number of unevenly shaped rectangles on a horizontal scrolling screen.

Windows 8 Metro Screen

I tried out the developer preview a few months back and got frustrated with the fact that nothing seemed to work. Thankfully, things are different with the consumer preview; there are a plethora of different apps to play with.

 

 

Apps & Games

The first thing I did was play Solitaire with the system. I’m not sure if this will be the final draft of Solitaire for Windows, but I feel Windows 7′s version looks a lot better. Taking into consideration the severe mouse lag, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to play. That’s when I ran into a problem.

I had NO clue how to exit the screen. There was no “X” marker like there is in Windows 7, or any menu where I could click “File -> Close” ala Windows 3.1 style. I managed to right-click on the bottom of the screen where I got options for “hints” and “New Deal” but no exit button. Clicking everywhere else on the screen like a frantic AOL noob didn’t seem to help either.

Eventually I hit Alt-F4, which managed to get me back to the Metro screen. Microsoft, you’re going to need to make that A LOT CLEARER for consumers once this gets fired off.

Clicking on another app, I got an interesting idea. You know that button on your keyboard with the Windows logo? You know, that one you don’t even know exists and doesn’t seem to do anything other than open the Start Menu? I pressed it, and it took me right back to the home screen. I guess that’s the new Home button.

After feeling good with this new discovery, I decided to check out the Windows 8 Store.

All of the apps available are free at the moment, so I just browsed. I downloaded the WordPress.com app thinking that I would be able to post to my blog. Unfortunately it turned out to be just an app showing what was popular on WP.com. Hey Automatic, I think there’s good business in making a Win8 WordPress app. Just saying.

There’s also some vagueness with the “People” app in Win8. I’m not quite sure what its purpose is. Is it just a contact management program, or will I eventually be able to use it to IM others using Facebook/AIM/etc? Will I be able to check my feeds as well?

Granted I’m just skimming the surface right now. Perhaps I’ll do something a bit more in-depth as to the social media implications of Windows 8, but for now this should suffice.

Summary

  • Microsoft needs to make OS navigation a bit more obvious. It took a while before I figured out how to exit apps.
  • Most of the apps look very nice, but a few also have a slight learning curve.
  • The metro desktop will take time to adjust to but will ultimately be very impressive.
  • I don’t hate the OS, but I don’t really love it either. Perhaps this will change.
Have you tried Windows 8? Do you like it? Hate it? 

 

 

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Ways to improve the Amazon Kindle Fire

I won’t bother you with a review of the Kindle Fire. There’s a bajillion different websites you can see to offer that. Instead, I can offer a list of things I feel that would really improve the Kindle Fire. I personally like it for what it is, but I can’t call it a tablet. It’s a fancy eBook reader.

Here’s a list of things Amazon can do with a firmware release.

  1. Allow me to change the direction I have to slide at the first screen.
  2. Enable Screenshots
  3. Enable the Android Marketplace (It already allows third-party software to be installed)
  4. Allow PDFs to be sent via one’s Kindle Email account.
  5. Let PDF files be included in the “Books” Section. It’s annoying to have to put them in “Docs.” 
  6. Show the PDF’s first page, which is usually the title.

Things to do for the next version of the Fire

  1. Bluetooth
  2. Consider a 3G plan ala the iPad
  3. Partner with someone for free WiFi?

Apps you need to approve: 

  1. WordPress
  2. Facebook (The REAL app, not a damn website)
  3. Instapaper (Although this is more a kick in the pants to the developer, not to Amazon.)
  4. The Android Calendar (So I can get Google Calendar.)
  5. Hootsuite
  6. Grocery IQ
  7. Some sort of Wikipedia app
  8. A journal app

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Why the iPod Touch shouldn’t be the Black iSheep of Apple

iPod Touch

The Black Sheep of Apple. Image via Wikipedia

Ok, it’s a given; the iPhone 4S: Clearly not what people thought was on the menu, yet that sure doesn’t seem to stop people from wanting it anyway. Still, the 4S got some decent upgrades, including a new processor, a camera capable of 1080p HD photos AND video, and of course, Siri.

What does the iPod Touch get? JACK SHIT.

I guess I should come to expect this from Apple. Ever since its debut following the iPhone in 2007, iTouch users have gotten the shit end of the stick. Up until 2010, we had to PAY for the same upgrades that iPhone users got for free, because of some archaic argument about how iTouches weren’t a subscription or something. I still think it’s a load of BS.

And now once again, Apple shows that it doesn’t give two shakes of an Android phone about the iTouch. The iPod Touch got NO updates, no refresh of the hardware, and NO cool new upgrated camera. Granted it got a price drop, but once again, iPhone users get all the love, and iTouch users are left outside the party.

This is a seriously bad practice, and here’s why: People who can’t afford the exorbitant cost of an iPhone and the attached Data plan like the iTouch for its ability to have a similar experience. Because of this, the iPod Touch should have the same hardware as the iPhone (minus cellular/3G capabilities) so nobody feels left out.

I am one of the people that would openly welcome a 3G iPod Touch, despite the fact that there isn’t a market for it.  Even with that in mind, however, since the iPod Touch is exactly the same as the iPhone, I am left to wonder why Apple decided not to update it. It will only hurt sales in the long run, and it couldn’t have been THAT much to install a new camera or Siri, right? After all, we know Siri can be put in the iPhone 4, so why not the iTouch 4?

 

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iPhone Hangover, Article #4S

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Well, another iKeynote from Apple has passed, and another spectacular amazing wonderful divine transformative iPhone has been unleashed from a Jobs-free iBowels.

 

 

Ergo, it’s time for me to write my annual iHangover 3GXBWZYX4SRamalamadingdong article! :)

Let me start by saying that as a former speech coach and rhetoric major, I have NEVER been impressed by any Apple keynote, whether delivered by Steve Jobs or anyone else. I usually expect more from the world’s richest company.

Usually, however, I’m alone in that statement. This time however, I’m not. There’s a smattering of negative comments and blogs about the iPhone 4s. And I agree. I look at this and think “What’s changed?” Someone? Anyone.

Ok, so it’s not the iPhone 5? Big Deal.

I’m not an Apple fan by any means. Anyone who knows me on Twitter knows that I frequently criticize them. However, even I have to agree that to give the 4S hate because it’s not the iPhone 5 is bullshit. It’s the iPhone 5 in spirit, anyway.

But it seems that there’s only three major changes to the phone proper: The processor and the camera. The most exciting change? The fact that this phone can adapt between GSM and CDMA. Yup. You heard me right. That’s the gist of the hardware changes.

The changes to iOS were much better, in my opinion. Cards will give Hallmark and its like a run for its money. Siri seems interesting but my iTouch will never really be able to use it to its full potential. The Newsstand stands to be the most interesting feature to me.

Oh, and thank god the new version is still free. God I hated paying for it.

One more thing.

Think that this is Apple’s first disappointment? Think again. Well, rather, think differently. 

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Nook in the Fire: Amazon’s Kindle Fire VS The Nook Color

Today, Amazon announced its Amazing addition to the tablet derby: The Amazon Kindle Fire. This Android-powered (But not completely run) tablet puts Amazon directly in competition with the current bookstore tablet champion, Barnes And Noble’s Nook Color. Of course, while the Nook enjoys a certain degree of popularity, it sits in the shadow of the Apple iPad.

First, let’s see some similarities:

  • Both have 8 GB Internal Memory
  • Both use WiFi to connect to the Internet
  • Both have a 1-year warranty with a 2-year extended plan available
  • Both have pre-installed Apps and inlcude the ability to install additional ones.
  • Both are compatible with most major media files (Except the Nook can’t read Kindle formats for obvious reasons.)
  • Both allow you to access your email via an app
  • Both include their own Internet browsers.
  • Most importantly, they both have Angry Birds™ available. :)
And now for the differences: 
Price $249 ($179 for a refurbished Nook) $199
Nook Color Kindle Fire
Size 8 x 5 x 0.48 7.5″ x 4.7″ x 0.45″
Weight 15.8 ounces 14.6 ounces
Charging time 3.5 hours 4 hours
Speed 800 Mhz Dual-Core (Exact speed unknown)
Storage 8GB, expandable with SD cards 8 GB Internal, No expandability
Borrowing options NOOK Friends: Lets you add other Nook owners as friends and borrow their books; you can also share your own. Paired with Overdrive to allow downloads wirelessly through Amazon.
Other Perks Allows you to read any book offered on Nook when using Barnes and Noble WiFi. Includes access to Amazon Cloud content. Also includes trial Amazon Prime subscription.

Me personally, I’d go with the Kindle Fire. But that’s because I honestly don’t frequent Barnes and Noble as much as I probably should. Note however that there may be changes as well. For instance, I expect that Barnes and Noble will reduce the price of the Nook Color significantly to compete with the Kindle Fire, and I think we will eventually see app exclusivity as well. Your mileage..or rather your reading will vary.

Your turn

  • Which do YOU like more? Why?
  • Does either tablet have a shot at ousting the iPad?
  • Would you rather have a pure Android tablet at their prices?

What to do with a Holiday iPhone App

Every year, Developers release iPhone app after iPhone App on the store, all of which were related to the Holidays. Sadly, the Holidays are now over, and we can start getting back to making useful software ruminating about the future of the iPhone App business.  But now there’s a whole department full of Christmas iCheer that’s gonna stay on in the middle of July, so here’s some tips for both developers and consumers on just what to do:

Consumer tip #1: Delete all Holiday apps

Yes, you heard me right. You are not going to need these apps for another 365 days, so why have them take up precious app space on your iPhone? Regular software can do so much better, if you’re concerned about gift apps and the like. Maybe if there was a cool Christmas game, you can keep it, but I saw nary a cool Christmas game this year.

Developer tip #1: Make your Holiday stuff free

“But I Won’t make a profit!” you say? Well, guess what? It’s not the holidays! There is practically NO DEMAND for your apps anyway, so you may as well make it free. At the very least, it’s another app you can say you made for the iPhone. Furthermore, you can always do what the consumers will tell you to do in this next tip.

Consumer Tip #2: Encourage Holiday developers to make non-Holiday related versions of your apps

If you really like an app, but don’t want to explain why you use a Christmas app in August, email the developer and ask them to make a regular version of the game. Santa Sleighs can be replaced with helicopters, Wreaths with bullet points, etc. If the developer wants to make money, they should listen to you, the consumer.

Developer tip #2: When the holidays roll around again, jack up the price of your apps.

It’s simple supply and demand. People want Holiday stuff when the holidays are around, so that’s when you increase the price. If anyone has a problem with it, say that the people who got your stuff when it was free was during a “Beta” period, or that they were early adopters, etc. If anything, it’s on them for not nabbing the app when it was free.

Next year’s apps will bring us all sorts of opportunities, but that’s another post.