The tablet in my life

A few weeks ago, woot was having a very good deal and I broke down and bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab.  Although i am a huge gadget whore, I had successfully resisted the tablet craze, unable to explain to myself what gap it would fill. I have a netbook. I have a laptop, an android phone and an ipod touch. A tablet felt like an indulgence that was inexcusable.

The siren call of a really good deal broke through that barrier, and it has revolutionized my approach to mobile and living room computing. My netbook has been shelved. On the netbook, browsing was a constant frustration of infinite scrolling and windows that did not scroll and locked up the browser. About 40% of all online forms have a layout that fails on my netbook. I have not had this problem once on the galaxy. The biggest problem on the galaxy is that i get routed to the “mobile” version of a website, when i would sometimes prefer the regular version. I can see a growing need for  the android os to not always be designated as “mobile”.

I had serious reservations about the lack of a keyboard, I am 6 ft tall and do not have small fingers. Both my Htc Evo, which i love, and my ipod will give me sore arms and finger cramps if i use them for too long. The larger keyboard on the Galaxy pretty much resolves this problem and also significantly cuts back on typos. To switch it up, I also use a fat grip cosmonaut stylus, from a recent Kickstarter project.

The Galaxy is more than a sit and browse machine. With a bigger screen than my netbook, and Docs to Go installed, I recently used it during a work meeting to access some spreadsheets. I have used it for basic photo editing (I got an SD card adapter), and am in the middle of creating a christmas slideshow with the built in movie maker app. While it is not a workstation, I am finding it easier than ever to create web consumable content…and hey, it even broke me out of my not blogging rut!

A Peek inside the 3DS world.

I am slowly collecting pictures of what some of the in-game experiences are like. these are 2D pictures of a 3D experience, so do not translate as well as you would like, but they do show some of the potential, especially with the 3D AR, which we have been enjoying very much. Click on the picture to be taken to the Picassa Album.

I am taking my 3DS with me in my pocket today when we go to the Science Olympiad Award Ceremonies. I figure if I do not have any StreetPass moments amongst hundreds of middle and high school geeks, it is hopeless for me for a while.

I will let you know tomorrow how that experiment goes.

now– back to my Real 3D world and a little Saturday morning chores….

HTC Evo Photo comparison

I have been playing around with the back camera ( 8 Megapixel, dual flash) on my Evo. So far, I have been pretty impressed with what it can do, considering it is a cell phone camera. Low light is a challenge, but the flash does well for objects not too far away. Shade gives a little focal issue,

From Drop Box

but it is so much better than the camera on my BB ( which got used a LOT) that I am stunned and more than pleased. Our household camera is a Kodak Z950, which is a good little all purpose point and shoot for us. the other night, we were goofing around on the deck, waiting for a storm to roll in and so I decided to do some side by side shoots for comparison. All of the pictures are untouched.

This is the shot from the Kodak, no flash at all from across the deck toward the fireplace under construction. You can see it was pretty dark out.

From DeckStormPics

The Evo with Flash manages to light up the area pretty well, but the flash causes some pretty bad washout.

From EvoDeckStormPics

Flash on the Kodak caused less washout.

From DeckStormPics

Rearranging the lantern the boys had inside the fireplace gave better clarity with the Evo,

From EvoDeckStormPics

and even gave pretty good results when zoomed all the way in as far as the Evo could:

From EvoDeckStormPics

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The Zoom on the Evo still can not touch that of the Kodak ( no surprise), so it will not be completely replacing our family camera.

From DeckStormPics

I was pleasantly surprised that the Evo did not give me a complete blur when I shot the boys climbing out of the fireplace from across the deck with only the flash:

From EvoDeckStormPics

All in all, don’t be surprised to see me whip out my cell phone and grab a quick pic.

iTouch and gaming is fun again

A recent WSJ article shows that Nintendo is starting to get a clue that they are under fire, but they are still in denial. From the article:

” Nintendo and Sony say unlike Apple’s products their devices are designed to be game machines. “From the actual game play to the games themselves, we don’t see any real overlap,” said a spokesman for Sony’s games division.”

“If we can’t make clear why customers pay a lot of money to play games on Nintendo hardware and Nintendo software and differentiate ourselves from games on the mobile phone or iPhone, then our future is dark,” said Mr. Iwata at a recent company event.

We are a Nintendo family. We have a Wii. We have a lot of Wii stuff. We have multiple DSs. We have a library of DS games. We have a library of DS games the game chips of which the kids are constantly losing and re-finding (sometimes) despite dollar penalties to replace lost games and family peer pressure from other people angry at the lost game. We have invested a lot of energy ( and money) into the Nintendo platforms.

Then I got an iPod Touch. I have purchased a couple of DS games since the Touch came into my hands. I have been fairly disappointed in them. I hardly play them. My iTouch is rarely far from my hands ( part of that is the fault of Tweetie2.

What are the reasons that I think the Touch is a superior platform?

1) The games are cheap. If a game sucks and I only spent 3 bucks on it, do I care? When I spent 20-30 on it, I am grumpy.

2) I can download the games without ever going to a brick and mortar store. I know Nintendo is going there with the DSi, but I am NOT going to spend 200$ each for 4 kids just to upgrade and get download capabilities. It sounds silly, but in a family and life pressed for time, it makes a big difference.

3) I can load and take MANY games with me without carrying a case of game chips.They can’t get lost, I do not have to keep track of them. I am considering switching our family to this platform, just for the loss of Mom headache of tracking games when we travel.

4) The games and the interface is fun. Nintendo may have a machine designed for gaming, but it does not grab everyone. My second daughter- the rebelliously Anti-Geek in the family who gave up her DS years ago and rarely plays Wii got ahold of my iTouch the other day and started playing games. I had to arm wrestle it back from her.

5) Even the gamers like it. My two stepsons are at prime tween gaming age and have been gaming almost as long as they could walk. They live and breathe games. Getting time on the iTouch to play is a huge motivator for them. They play RPG, they play tower, they play strategy and they play just silly stuff.

If Nintendo thinks that having a device “designed for games” is superior, they are lost. Do they forget that electronic games evolved on Computing platforms? Have they noticed that other gaming platforms have evolved back to computing platforms and do much more than games these days? Time for Nintendo to look around and do an honest assessment or their future is so dark it will be 6 feet underground.

The treo to blackberry transition

I recently had to switch from my beloved Treo 700p to a blackberry when the much used and abused Treo gave up the ghost in the middle of the MESA conference. I was amongst the very first group of Blackberry users ever, when RIM first sold them at a JavaOne conference before releasing them to the general public about 10 years ago. I was more than sold and the blackberry saved my life and got me business more than once. But I am all about the rates, and when I switched carriers for a significantly lower rate, they did not yet support the blackberry and I had to switch phones. I tried to get by on a “regular” cell phone for a while but that did not last long and I soon found my way to a Treo 700p. I was once again in smart phone heaven, but I have to admit there was some glee in being able to return to the Blackberry after all of these years. Even though it is a happy return, no transition is without a little pain and adjustment, and there are a handful of features from my Treo that I will always miss and pine for. The rest are things that I have just not figured out how to do yet, so maybe you can help me with your favorite hack or hidden shortcut.

High on the list of “things the Blackberry was not built to do” is switching SD cards easily. All of my devices use SD cards.. by design. With my old Treo, I could esaily pop out an SD card and insert a new one. This meant that audio recordings or pictures shot with other cameras could still be easily uploaded to flickr or my blog by simply switching around the SD cards and using the Treo to send. The Blackberry not only uses microSD cards ( ugh), but also requires you to pop out the battery to switch cards around. Not exactly an easy or convenient card change method. One of the best Treo features was the sound on/off switch at the top of the phone. Yes, it is easy enough to switch phone profiles on the blackberry to put it into silent or vibrate only mode.. but nothing, absolutely nothing is easier than a physical switch located at the top of your phone. I could reach blindly into a pocket or a purse and turn it off in seconds flat without ever taking it out- a great feature in any crowded place when you suddenly realize that is your phone going off- not some idiot who did not mute their phone. on the side of small, silly but significant, I loved that the video and still picture functions were accessed on the Treo via the same application. This meant that it was very easy to switch back and forth between shooting video and shooting stills. On my Blackberry, I have to switch back and forth between applications, meaning time and shooting opportunities are sometimes lost. Honestly, considering the things I can not imagine how I lived without that my Blackberry does that the Treo could not, this is not such a long or painful list.

Then there are the things that make me scratch my head and think “I know there has to be a way to do this, but I will be DAMNED if I can figure out how…”. Now I am no slouch with gadgets, but either through years of habit or lack of free time to play, I can not figure these out to save my life. The first and biggest on my “how to” wish list is being able to select multiple emails at once in the built in email software and or messaging. I have my emails forwarded from several accounts to my blackberry, which is very handy, but sometimes need to go through, clean it up and delete a bunch at once. Having to click messages one at a time and select delete for each is thumb wearying. Then there is the ability to send photos via the messaging application. I have figured out how to open the media application and send as an email to someone.. but this does not give me the phone to phone photo capabilities that I used to have on my treo. Help?!

All in all, I am settling comfortably back into being a crackberry addict.. and loving most every moment of it.

Cell phone desperation

Well, I have reached a crash point now in my tech reality– my cell phone has well and truly died. It is an old treo 700p which I much much loved and ( apparently) used to death. It has, of course decided to die while I am traveling and at a conference. But that is beside the point. I need to figure out a replacement and Fast. Prefer something I can call and order tonight and get it delivered to the house ASAP. My current carrier is Sprint, but I am not locked into them. My contract is expired, so I have the option of switching carriers if there is a better deal out there.
Here is what we need:

Phone on a network with a fast data connection.
Decent sized screen display for google map usage, web browsing, etc
text
camera
ability to add an application to ssh
good calendar system and able to synchronize with google calendars through some add on
I type on this a lot, so a good keypad for input ( not a number pad mapping and NOT an onscreen simulated keypad, real keys please)
ability to expand storage via SD or mini SD card

carrier need to have a plan where I can put two or more ( by christmas it may be 6) phones on a single plan to share minutes. The first two phones need unlimited text and unlimited data.

suggestions? recommendations? please respond here as my phone is dead and twitter is unreliable. I am hoping to order something tonight.

Strange, mind numbing cell phone withdraw symptoms already setting in….. waiting for the twitching to start…