Category Archives: technology

I’m Using Google Drive and Dropbox Together

Rather than choose one over the other, I found a pretty cool way to use them together. It suites my needs and preferences perfectly.

What did I do? I put my local Google Drive folder IN my local Dropbox folder. So, things added to Google Drive (from web, phone, desktop, etc) are automatically synced to Dropbox too.

For now, everything in Google Drive is backed up in Dropbox, but not the other way around. I still have all of my videos, pictures, and music on Dropbox only as I paid for extra storage and don’t want to pay for extra Google Drive space too.

The way I’m visualizing it is Google Docs is for everyday things, new uploads, etc, where “Dropbox only” files are not frequently (or ever) edited files.

This solves several things for me.

  • I like having a double backup
  • I like things synced automatically. Very little setup.
  • I like multiple ways to access and interact with files.

Samsung Galaxy S 4G Review, Part II

I had the phone for almost a week now. I wouldn’t say buyer’s remorse kicked in, but the things I mentioned in the previous post are holding true.

The lack of a LED indicator light stinks. It seems like such a minor feature to add. I wonder why they made a decision not to include one. The indicator is a feature of Android that they are ignoring.

The bloatware continues to stay on my nerves. Especially since they run in the background and use up memory. I want none of it. Not one of them I found helpful or I’ve found better apps in the marketplace already. Let the customer decide for crying out loud!!!

For the longest time I didn’t really understand the http://damnyouautocorrect.com/ meme. The G1 used Android’s standard keyboard. It would suggest words, but not automatically change or insert any. The basic keyboard was brilliant in it’s simplicity. Therefore, I found nothing but a headache with both the Swipe and Samsung keyboards. Son of a @$!^#! I finally found that turning off almost all of the AI crap works best for me. I spent more time correcting the auto-corrections than doing anything else. Chalk this up to another instance of Samsung insisting on things rather than giving the customer the choice!!!

There is a bug with the browser bookmarks. If you import bookmarks with apps like GMarks, they don’t get added to the browser bookmarks tab, rather they are added to the “most visited” tab. I don’t know if this is another instance of Samsung monkeying around with the base Android browser or not, but apparently importing with GMarks is not an issue for other Android phones. The reason I suspect they did monkey around with something is because the bookmarks preloaded on the phone could not be deleted from the browser. I needed another bookmark manager app to delete the bookmarks that I DIDN’T WANT!!!

Another issue is with the music app. Again I don’t know if it’s another instance of Samsung monkeying around with the base Android app. But the music app is inaccessible to other apps like CardioTrainer. One of the beauties of Android is having apps work together harmoniously. Here I found two cases where they don’t at all.

Bottom line is create the hardware and leave the operating system alone. Offer your own enhancements via apps, but don’t force them on customers.

All of that said, I’m still happy with the phone’s performance and storage space. I can live with the above, but I expected more. I know what to look out for next time. Next time I might splurge and get the latest Google endorsed phone (e.g. Nexus)–with no third party monkeying.

Initial Samsung Galaxy S 4G Review

I finally decided that my 2+ year old G1 phone needed to be replaced. I loved that phone. It was simple usability wise and after the kinks were worked out of Android, it was very reliable. But as newer and more powerful apps came along, I spent too much time deciding which apps I want vs. ones I REALLY want as the internal app space wasn’t big enough.

I went to the T-Mobile store with 2 phones in mind; the G2 or the Motorola Cliq. I thought I needed a physical keyboard since my accuracy using the G1’s virtual keyboard was abysmal. I really didn’t like either the G2 or the Cliq’s physical keyboards.

So I played around with the Samsung Galaxy S 4G for a little bit. I had no trouble at all with the virtual keyboard. I guess the processing speed and the screen’s sensitivity made a real difference.

I dismissed the Cliq pretty quickly given that I didn’t like the keyboard at all and I didn’t like the way it flipped open either.

It came down to the Galaxy S vs. the G2. The G2 was $50 more and had a slightly smaller screen. So I decided on the Galaxy S.

I think I’m still in the happy stage of the purchase and buyer’s remorse hasn’t had a chance to creep in yet… So here is my initial review.

Pros:

  • It’s incredibly fast. Not just the 4G speed, but fast in loading webpages, apps, etc. The sales guy said that 4G vs. 3G isn’t very noticeable, but I’d notice the processing speed. That much is very true.
  • It’s crisp and clear.
  • It has Android 2.2–which I think all other “pros” can be attributed to.
  • The keyboard is responsive and accurate.

Cons:

  • No LED indicator light!! Had I known this before, this little detail might have been a deal-breaker. So I have to actively check the phone to see if I have new texts, e-mails, etc. whereas almost all other phones have a blinking LED light as an indicator.
  • To wake the phone up, you need to do 2 separate actions. First, hit the power button, then swipe the screen. I much preferred the G1 where you simply hit the menu button twice. I like to judge the usability on how easy it is to use and navigate the phone one handed. This complicates that a little. It can be done one handed, but awkwardly. Also the power button is on the side, so if you have the phone on a desk, it’s a little awkward to hit the button on the side, then swipe the screen (whereas the G1’s menu button was on the face of the phone for an easy 2x tap if it was on a desk). I remember I bought Keyguard Disabler a while back, so I had to go and install it on this phone.
  • You have to swipe the screen to answer a call. I much prefer a physical button.
  • It’s loaded with a ton of bloatware that can’t be uninstalled. I HATE this. Let me get rid of stuff I don’t want!!! To make it worse, these apps can’t be moved to the SD card (feature of Android 2.2).  And to make it even worse, they run in the background and pop back up even after killing them. Needless to say I’m looking in forums to see if anyone had any luck removing them (without any crazy hacking).
  • I don’t know if this is a feature of the phone or Android, but the auto-brightness feature was utterly useless and highly annoying. I had to shut that off. I don’t know what triggers it uses to brighten or dim, and I don’t think the programming did either. It was all very random.

By the looks of it, there seem to be a lot more cons than pros. But the speed, amount of space (internal and SD card), and Android 2.2 are keeping me happy at the moment. I haven’t been able to test other things out fully. I know the camera doesn’t have a flash, but I knew that I don’t really care. If I want to take better pics, I use a real camera.

More to come…

Password Realization

Having posted at Lifehacker one single time, I was one of the many who had their login information made public as a result of the Gawker hacking.

Smartly, I always use unique and highly obscure (with numbers, symbols, caps, etc) passwords for my highly valuable accounts like banking and Google.

No so wisely, but for ease, I used the same e-mail and password for a lot of other sites and services.

I knew there would come a day that I’d have to fix this.

I got wind of the hack fairly early and prioritized and started changing all of the logins I use regularly and are of high value (like LinkedIn). I’ve even started to close accounts and services I never use anymore–although I don’t think this is 100% safe either as the info is probably never completely purged from their systems. I’ll probably re-prioritize and redo this again at some point.

This was a real eye opener. I probably have hundreds of accounts set up on sites I have long forgotten about, which I signed up out of curiosity and never went back. Of course those don’t have any critical info whatsoever, but still…

Do you have a hate on for Microsoft?

I have to admit, I fell for it myself. Microsoft is so big and powerful that it’s hard not to point a finger at them whenever something goes wrong with the computer or when a security hole is found. I went into a Vista rant a while back.

I do have an undying love for MS Office though. Excel never ceases to amaze me. I just needed to get that out there…

Fair? Maybe. BUT a ton of other companies are given a free pass when things break, crash, or don’t work quite as well as they should. Granted Gmail is free, but it was down last night and is having problems this morning. I’m a big fan of Google’s offerings, but a lot of them have plenty of room for improvement.

The G1 phone has plenty of bugs (albeit minor), and even a security flaw, but they are given a free pass by fans. Actually, what’s funny about the G1 is that their uber-fans’ hatred is directed at the IPhone, not Microsoft per se.

Macs can’t do EVERYTHING, yet some shortcomings are ignored. The Microsoft hatred is blinding I guess.

There are a million and one products and services out there that are good, but not absolutely perfect.

What’s my point? Microsoft’s products aren’t THAT bad.

Tech Fanboys, Workarounds, and Lay Users

Is it too much to expect things to work correctly? I’m often aggravated to no end over technology that’s almost there, but not quite. I blow my lid when I visit support forums, where people are cool with the bugs and where people offer workarounds as solutions.

Case in point… For over a year I had Google alerts set up to search for terms, then e-mail my Gmail, which I had set up a filter to send to my work e-mail. I had the rule for said alerts set so it forwarded the e-mail, then deleted it. Nice and clean. Then suddenly in November or so, it stopped working. I didn’t find this out for a while until I noticed I stopped getting the alerts. So I visit Goolge’s help forums. Many others had the same problem and were as frustrated with this as I was. This is where the tech Google fanboys dismissed this as not a bug (working correctly). And the “solution” is to take out the delete part of the rule. Um, NO, this is not a solution. It WAS working. Now it’s NOT working.

I see this more and more. Which brings me to the lay user, which is me. I’m not going to hack into registry files and what not to fix stuff that shouldn’t be broken. The SOLUTION is never a workaround. Especially complicated ones. If the thing isn’t working right, fix the damn thing.

That concludes my rant of the day.

Thoughts on Producing and Marketing Complex Products

Lately I’ve been perusing message boards and blogs on the G1 phone. There is a tremendous debate among users as to their satisfaction levels. This, along with my own dissatisfaction with Microsoft Vista, led me to do some thinking. I think it might be impossible for companies with complicated products to produce products that will satisfy every one of their customers.

Take for example Vista. I hate it. Why? Because XP was easy to navigate and find files, folders, programs, etc. So why mess with it? I think, and I might be wrong, that Microsoft modeled Vista and produced it with a heavy slant towards users who want a {buzzword alert} rich multimedia experience. I think the casual user, like me, was left out. And my frustrations are some very basic things, like folder structure. Suddenly I had to click 3 times where it used to take me one click.

Now take the G1. I’m a Google addict. I use almost every one of their products and services. So going with the G1 was a no brainer. In my opinion, Is the G1 perfect? No. But it met my basic expectations.

This brings me to the message boards and blogs. It seems G1 users are divided into pretty distinct camps that range from the extremely technical to the very casual. You have Android fans that don’t mind using the phone with a beta mindset to more casual users who demand a finished product.

Who’s right and who’s wrong? Can Google/HTC/Tmobile produce something to satisfy everyone? Consider the phone is being judged by the following:

1) Phone service
2) Text messaging
3) E-mail client
4) Web Browser
5) MP3 Player
6) Camera
7) Everything else from GPS maps to games, the list is endless.

I do take exception to a few notions. The phone is/was marketed to the general public, so the notion that customers should put up with bugs/annoyances to me is an unreasonable response to complaints. Also, a LOT of advice on both the G1 and Vista require technical modifications. This does not suit a less technically savvy user or those who don’t have the time or desire to tinker.

How does a company take all of these considerations and produce a product that’ll be widely accepted? Do they just aim for the middle?