Category: Technology


I have been an Android user, we’ll addict really, for a few years now. Like alot android users I started out as as iPhone user. I got an iPhone 3Gs and was blown away by what it could do compared to what I was used to on my old Samsung Jack Windows phone.

But alas after a short while i stated seeing the problems with apple phone. Apple fan boys often ask “what would Steve do”, we’ll the answer was simple, only what Steve wanted you to do. In short Apple restricted you to their iTunes store and only apps from the iOS store. On top of that iPhone were already expensive devices for the 8GB models, you say you want more storage? Better mortgage your house to get it.

So safe to say my trip into ifanboy turf was a very short lived experience. Once I got my first Android phone, the Sony Ericsson X 10,  I was immediately in love with all the possibilities that android gives us as consumers.

Want a cheap phone that can run a few apps and that it? No problem. Want a giant phone with a great screen? Got you covered. Want a decent phone with expandable memory so you can decide yourself how much you want to spend for that extra memory? Yes, yes and oh my god yes.

There are so many great things about android, how many different screen sizes shapes and types there are. All the different styles of manufacture overlays. All the different app stores that aren’t run by Google and so so much more.

But as far as I’m concerned the biggest advantage to alot of android phones is the ability to add extra storage through micro SD and yes even USB.

Many Android phones have micro SD card slots allowing you to choose how much memory you need or more over how much you can afford to spend on that memory. For instance, I recently purchased a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 16GB off of kijiji for under $300. While that may seem like a lot if you look at the fact the the 32GB version sells used for around $400+, but like I said you can add extra memory.

With the price of SD storage dropping every month you can now get a good deal on a 32GB card for around $50 or less if you know where to look.

Don’t have that extra money, or does your phone not have an SD card slot. Well there is still an extremely cheap option out there for you. It’s called a USB on the go cable or USB OTG.  While you can’t really find them is stores you can easily pick one up on eBay for under $3. Here are some pictures of what some of the USB OTG cords and hubs look like and look down to the bottom to see other examples as well of what you can do with them.
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So once you have the cable what can you do with it? Well the first and most obvious reason for getting on is to add extra storage. I’ve had a few of these for my past couple phone and assuming either you android device supports USB Host or USB mass storage or if you are rooted or running a custom ROM like cyanogen then all you have to do is hook up a USB thumb drive or hard drive and you have all the storage you could ever need. But it doesn’t stop there.

The advantage of USB host mode is that you can hook up just about anything USB to you phone. I myself have used the cord to hook up my PlayStation 3  controller for gaming on the go. You can also hook up a card reader if your traveling and away from a computer to take pictures or files off of Sony Memory sticks, SD Cards, Micro SD and more. If you hook up a powered or non powered USB hub depending on the device you need to hook up you basically have a computer I  your bag. Just hook up a USB hub then add on a keyboard, mouse and hard drive and with some good apps you have all you need to be able to stay connected and get your work or play done on the go anytime anywhere.

This is a very little know advantage to android phone and I just hope that I can help enlighten people of the possibilities when using a cord like this with a supported device. So go out and do a little research to see if it will work with your phone. Oh and by the way, it will also work on your tablet too for more or a computer like experience on the go.
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Richard R
@riche_613

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More and more these days people are connected and consuming media. Heck even our kids as young as toddlers know how to use tablets, I know mine does.

And with mobile becoming more and more a part of our live we consume more media on the go. Unfortunately the days of unlimited data are gone and though it may come back again wireless data packages are notoriously expensive. To make things worse we are now seeing a major trend of our media storage switching over to “the cloud” and while that is great at home and good for some things on the go, media is not really one if them unless you can afford a great data plan.

Enter the Sandisk wireless media drive. The drive, which fits in the palm of your hand, runs for 79.99 for 32gb and 99.99 for 64gb and can serve media to devices on the go. You can even put HD videos on it watch them off of it which is pretty impressive. Basically its a self contained Network Storage Device (Nas Drive) on the go.

The drive has its own battery to power itself while you are on the road which can last between 6-8hrs which is pretty damn good. It also had an SD car slot so you can expand the device even more or take the card out of your phone/tablet/camera and see and share pictures and video without the need of a computer.

Having something like this around on a road trip would make a big difference. You could put movies for the kids, music for you and when you camera or phone gets full and you remember that you forgot your charger or even don’t have your laptop, just hook up to the device via its personal WiFi hotspot and empty your device on to it.

I honestly think that this is one of the BEST gadgets to come out in a very, very long time. If you, like me, tend to fill you phone/tablet memory on a weekly basis this is a perfect solution and I will definitely be picking one up when I can.

Richard
@Riche613

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Recently my wife and I had our phones cut for a few weeks. During that time period we were not at home and still needed to stay in contact with each other constantly due to my daughter being in the hospital.

Since we both had smartphone and internet where we were staying, at the hospitals and at my work it actually was not as hard as one would think. The following is a guide, that I hope will help others in situations like this, to the apps that we used to stay in touch on our android phones.

Google Hangout:
We started with hangout because it was already on our phones. Hangout is a good app for this because, like I said, its pre-installed on most android phones, its free and you can text and have video or audio calls.

Facebook Messenger: we ended up using FBM more for phone calls once I found out you can call other Facebook users via VoIP. If you don’t know how I’ll explain. When in the messenger app find the person you want to call, tap on them, then tap the “I” info icon in the top right corner and you should see “free call”. The call quality was actually very good and considering most people have Facebook and the messenger app already its a good choice since its free and you can call a lot of the people you know, at least if they have Facebook anyway.

Now that I’ve covered the two apps that helped me and my wife message and call each other while our phones were cut, what about if you need to call a landline or cell phone. Sure you could use Skype or one of the many knockoff apps, but that costs money. What if you are strapped for cash and need to make free calls to landlines, that’s where this next app comes in.

Bobsled Calling: it took a lot of searching to find an app that would let me call landlines for free. There are a lot of apps that do this, but most either cost money or give you a certain number of free calls before charging you per call. Bobsled calling is an app put out by AT&T oddly enough. It works great if you have a solid WiFi connection and the app itself is easy to use once it connects. Beware though if you have a weak or slow connection the quality drops significantly.

**Update** Bobsled actually only has a trial period like most other apps. But it works well for that trial period and if you feel like shelling out some cash its not a bad option.

Magic Jack: yes this is an app by the company that makes budget VoIP phones that you may or may not have seen. This app us actually pretty amazing. Once you sign up for a Magic Jack account you not only get to make unlimited phone calls for free, but they also give you voicemail. Now you may ask yourself, why would they give me voicemail? Well its because you get a phone number. Yes you read that right, they give you your own FREE number. Here is the catch, when calling you, your friend must first sail the Magic Jack number, then dial your number once connected to magic jack. So for example 1(679)555-5555 then 0127883321. So while its a bit complicated and most likely will cost your friends or family long distance fees they can call you if they need to and even leave you a voicemail if you don’t answer or are on the “phone” at the time.

So there you have it, my guide to surviving without a cell phone. Hope it helps out people who have been are in or will be in a situation where there cell phone gets cut.

One last note, I am  from Canada, I know in the United States they have Google calling for free and that would work in this situation perfectly. But if, like me, you aren’t in the States and can’t use that service these apps should help out until you get you service back.

Richard
@riche_613

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So WWDC has come and passed and as I mentioned in my last blog I’m a bit behind. So here is what I took from the recent reveal of the new iOS 7.

First off I have to say that I am not an apple lover, well at least not a mobile device apple lover anyway. I would kill for a Macbook for sure but I avoid the iOS devices like the plague. I used to be a proud iPhone owner but once I discovered the freedom and options of android I quickly became aware of how locked down iOS was and still is.

That being said after watching the iOS 7 keynote I mist say one thing above all else is true for Apple, its fucking beautiful. The way that the UI looks in general from screen to screen and the different native apps are amazingly detailed and just great to look at. Unfortunately that’s where, in my view, most of the originality ends.

The new iTunes radio while really cool and rumored to be released for a while now is not much more than any other streaming radio service except that it also works with your own purchased and iTunes match collection. The new version of Siri is pretty slick but to me seems nothing more than a slight upgrade of what people could already do on their android devices. And when did the iCloud service become a social network (Google + much?), plus they made a huge deal of auto updates from the app store which again android has been doing for a few years now, except we also have the option to not auto update if we want, however I am not sure if iOS will offer that as an option too ( they really should and hopefully will).
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Like I said not a whole lot of originality but they did tweak things enough to not only make them their own in a way but as I stated at the beginning of this blog very, very pretty.

The few things that they did do that seem very original are the calendar and photo organization. The calendar looks really cool and has some good short cuts but I’m sure third party calendar apps have done most of this before, apple just seems to have a way of taking other ideas and making them look awesome.

The photo organization was one of the things that really looked cool to me though. It will automatically organized my “moment” which is pretty cool, in theory. The fact that it will not only take the date but also location into account when organizing is pretty cool but my big question is what happens when I don’t have my GPS or data on, will it still work via cell tower triangulation?

Another cool idea that actually I would love to see on Android is being able to filter the app store by age. That is a brilliant idea and as a father I would love this on my android tablet for my son so he could choose his own apps and games.

The last thing that was pretty neat was the activation lock theft deterrent. Basically when someone steal your phone and tries to wipe it it won’t activate again or do anything really until you type in the Apple ID and password originally associated with the phone. This is really a great idea but I hope they have a way to get around this if someone wants to sell their device otherwise they are stuck with it for life, which I’m sure Apple would be okay with anyway.

So really this update to me is more cosmetic and full of tweaking other peoples ideas than the innovation we have come to know from Apple. I guess what will make this new iOS shine though is the new Apple mobile devices that will most likely debut this fall ad pet their usual schedule. Until then I say way to rip everyone else off, make it prettier and say its yours Apple.
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Richard
@riche613

Well E3 has come and gone and with it we are all left with the massive desire to play all those amazing games and get our hands on the new hardware as soon as we can.

I know that by the time I post this almost a month will have passed since E3 but I thought that I would give you my thoughts on both the major press conferences.

I ended up watching both Sony and MS conferences in full so yes, that’s almost 4 hours of video. I watched the Xbox one(no pun intended) first since I’ve been more of an Xbox person before and after their reveal that’s the one I was most excited about.

After the full hour and a half long video I have to say while the graphics looks good, I wasn’t completely sold on the One. I honestly expected more. The games looked good but there wasn’t a major wow factor for me. Sure they showed a 30 second clip for a new Halo game, ya we didn’t see that coming. But it just didn’t woe me like I expected. Though I was kinda happy that Killer Instinct is back.

For the Xbox I have to be honest after the reveal and the E3 press conference I’m more inclined yo buy it as a media center. And until they show more of what the kinect does I’m not shelling out five hundred dollars for it. And I know that they have now retracted their policy on always being connected and not being able to resell used games without a fee, but I think saying that in the first place will hurt its sales no matter what they have said or done now.

As for the PlayStation 4, I have to say for me, its the console I will most likely be buying. not only did the games get me more excited but the graphics, to me, looked more polished than the Xbox One. And the fact that its a hundred dollars cheaper and has basically all the same system specs is definitely a plus for the console.
I think for both these consoles, as with any it will come down to the games available at launch as well as the price. So Sony may have the upper hand on price but is Microsoft can get more exclusives out the door at launch, or even have more games that at least look better they may just come out on top at launch. Though I mist say that that one hundred dollar price hike for the Xbox one will make a difference no matter how many or how good the games are so I’m hoping Microsoft can find a way to drop the price to be inline with the PS4.

Richard
@riche_613

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A few days ago rumors started coming out that Verizon Wireless, the largest wireless carrier in the US, wants to buy Wind Mobile for upwards of $700 million. On top of this there are also talks of Verizon being in the early stages of talking to Mobilicity, another stand alone Canadian mobile carrier, as well about a buy out.

Canadians have three main mobile carriers, Rogers, Telus and Bell. Unfortunately they have monopolized the mobile industry and basically killed all possibility of competition. Sure we have a lot of smaller carriers, but most if them are subsidiaries owned by “the big three” anyway so again, no competition.

However if Verizon was to enter the Canadian mobile space it could and would be a game changer for the Canadian mobile space. They could, in theory, come to the Canadian market and, with their mass amount of money and influence, buy more spectrum and increase the size and area of the Wind infrastructure to the point where it could be a national network. Even just the rumor of this shook the Canadian mobile market with stocks of “the big three” falling upwards of nine percent.

If they were able to do something like that and maintain the prices and plans Wind has now, they could take a vast percentage of customers from other companies and essentially cripple them until they lowered their prices or increased the value you get for said dollars. I know in the states there are a few truly unlimited plans and beyond that the value for your dollar is a lot better from what I hear from friends there.

So I must say that this news makes me very excited for the possible future of Canadian cellular companies.

Richard
@riche_613

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So a few weeks ago I was listening to The Atomic Geeks Podcast and they were talking about a new Heineken beer bottle that had LED lights in it that would light up when you “clink” or “cheers” another bottle or glass and could also be set to respond to music by flashing with the beat. While I commend Heineken for trying something new , albeit dumb, to roster up some attention, I think that their product will only be popular in clubs and bars and even then I don’t think people who don’t like or drink their beer will buy it just because the bottle lights up.

Enter the “Buddy Cup” by Budweiser.

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The buddy cup is a new social media device to help you make new friends on Facebook. The cup has a chip in it that, once you “clink” or “cheers” cups with another persons buddy cup, will automatically make you and your new pal friends on Facebook. I actually think this is interesting and can make meeting new people, or rather making sure you are able to remember who they are or keep in contact with them, easier.

The cup works by scanning a QR code on the bottom of the cup with an accompanying app and pairing the cup with your phone and Facebook account. Then when you knock buddy cups, a confirmation LED lights up and viola! New Facebook friend.

Definitely an interesting concept. Don’t know when or if it will come to North America as the article I read said it was developed by Budweiser Brazil, but one can hope I guess.

Richard
@riche_613

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For the lovers of webOS the above statement which was a dream has finally come to fruition. Early last year there was talk of bringing Open Mobile’s ACL software to the TouchPad. For those of you who need a refresher course, this is essentially where android apps run on the webOS ecosystem.

For all of this to happen took a lot of pestering, multitudes of email and conference calls for all of this come full circle; and my friends it has come back around to you. The Open Mobile ACL software is up and running on a TouchPad and now our friends at PIC (Phoenix International Communications) are ready to bring it to the masses. The team at PIC has put its talons into the TouchPad and has pulled it from the ashes.
The history of the TouchPad as you know has been through many trials and tribulations after a certain CEO killed the hardware and almost webOS. Then HP hired Meg Whitman as its new CEO and there were plans to keep it going. Perhaps to give us a tablet with the hardware and apps we all had been crying for. As it turns out they would not or could not make it happen. Then they started the tedious task of breaking up the webOS division through various layoffs and moving them around, they creating a new division: Gram.
Gram is comprised of a group of whip smart developers and engineers that had the job of carrying the torch of webOS and Enyo. Alas, webOS became a lonely tumbleweed rolling through a deserted western town. Although the folks at Gram were still using its inner workings and marketing it with Enyo, it was a way to build apps on any platform. Forward many months later and that idea of something new belongs to LG. So look for your webOS toaster or washer and dryer soon.
You’d think we’d lose hope after this. Balderdash! Not if you are a true webOS fan. Because out in the distance among the twisted wires and cracked gorilla screens, there were still people who believed it could happen.  Miraculously it has emerged from all that from the digital clutter in the universe into the hands of the Phoenix (PIC).
A few hard webOS fans who felt the big corporations could not give us what we wanted and they thought hey, we’ll do it ourselves. Phoenix International Communications was started up by a small group of determined webOS fans, who were then joined by developers, engineers, marketers, designers, and others from practically any occupation you can think to make this unfold before your eyes. PIC in the beginning was thought of a joke, a lot of people thought they could never produce this, but who’s laughing now?

Click the link below to their Kickstarter Campaign for exclusive video. That is a HP TouchPad running the Open Mobile ACL software; and it’s real. The ACL software on the TouchPad is in its alpha stage and from what I have seen it’s a pretty good alpha, but they want to go further and that’s where you come in.
Starting today PIC has a Kickstarter campaign that requires donations to develop products and services further with Open Mobile. Their goal is to have this have this running on every TouchPad; and this is just the beginning my friends. Head on over to the PIC campaign page and look at what they are offering and developing. You’re welcome 🙂

TeckieGirl 🙂

Over the past few years as smart phones and tablets have taken over our lives and connected us even more to social media we have seen more and more gadgets that not only help us with our daily activities but also post about these activities to sites like Facebook.

One great example of this are devices like the Nike armbands and the fit bit bands. Sure they track how many steps you take and when you sleep and give you all sorts of stats and graphs and that’s all well and good. My question is why we need to post our stats to our social media sites. And now we have all manner of gadgets that will post stats for you. But what takes it too far? Is it the fridge that posts when you bought milk, or the washer and dryer that tell people how often you do laundry and how much water you use, or even the WiFi enabled scale that tells people how much weight you lost last week.

For my money its this.

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I ran across this device on Popsci.com today. Its called the Bactrack Mobile. Its basically a hand held breathalyzer that has Bluetooth to connect to your smart device of choice to show your blood alcohol level and then can post it to Facebook or twitter. This definitely goes too far. Why do I care if my friend “John Doe” on Facebook has a blood alcohol level of 1.9? I don’t, so what’s the point in adding this functionality? I’ll admit that some of the feature might be cool to use and some of the data could be fun to see while drinking with your friends. But it doesn’t need to be posted to a social media site. NO ONE CARES!

I might be alone in this so please if you have a different point of view on this or similar product please let me know in the comments below. And if you want to read more about this device here is the link to the article I read on Popsci.com

http://www.popsci.com/gadgets/article/2013-04/broadcast-your-drunken-data-all-over-world-smartphone-breathalyzer

Richard
@riche_613