We have moved June 1, 2010Posted by David in Uncategorized.
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Brain Sparks has moved to our own domain name. Please start following us at http://www.brainsparks.net
Working on something big May 31, 2010Posted by David in Technology.
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I have always wanted to be a blogger, but have always had issues with the idea of not fully owning my blog. WordPress is great and something I plan to use for some time to come, I am currently in the process of taking this to the next level and moving my blog (still word press) to my own domain.
I am currently waiting for the DNS to propagate and then I will be doing some set up, but look for this blog to be moved to BrainSparks.net
Sushi – An Android app review May 3, 2010Posted by David in Android, App Reviews.
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Sushi from Amazing Droid says it is designed for sushi lovers and first timers alike. And frankly I have no reason to disagree. The has a simple designed meant to help the user learn more about what they are about to put in their mouth.
For the sushi lovers it gives you some background on the dishes that you may not have known and for first time it gives you an idea of what you can expect when tasting the item.
The app boosts a large number of the items having pictures to go along with the information. As well as the ability to search for certain rolls which is invaluable when you sushi partner is trying to get you to try something new. You can also add the rolls to your own favorites list so next time you goto your favorite sushi bar you can order exactly what you want.
- Easy to read guide in the sushi list
- Includes pictures of most the items
- Easy to use
- Doesn’t include some more popular rolls (AKA spider roll)
- Can be a bit wordy
If you have been talked into eating sushi for the first time or if you are a hard core sushi fan this app is good, but if you are more of a casual sushi eater this app wont help you find something new and often times will leave with the feeling that you are missing something. For now I will uninstall.
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Handcent: The replacement message app you have been looking for.
Handcent is a powerful SMS and MMS app that replaces the lack luster stock messaging client. It offers an impressive array of customization options not found anywhere else. With feature ranging from the choice of over 20 notification icons and the option to set custom ringtones for each contact, to some of the best privacy options I have seen. You can also blacklist people so that any message they send you is not sent to notifications or even make it so it is not even seen in your message list.
By default Handcent comes with three font choices; Big, Normal (default) and small. However if you want more choice they do offer four addition font packages you can download for free in the market place, each adding a number of different font styles to choose from.
One feature that I found extremely useful was popup notification with quick reply. This feature makes it possible to read and reply to a text message you receive without opening up Handcent. As with the rest of the app this option is fully customizable and can be turn off completely if you want. Sadly you cannot turn this feature on or off based on each contact without turn notifications for that contact off all together.
Handcent is free but does have ads in the various setting menus.
- Highly customizable
- Widget to show message count included
- Popup can be slow (although there is an option that can speed it up)
- I would like to see a paid version that removed the ads from the menus
- For all the customization it is missing a few like only having some contacts cause pop ups.
Final Verdict: Handcent is what the stock message app should have been, highly customizable and nice to look at. With the price point of free and small ads limited to only the menu, you owe it to yourself to give Handcent a try.
App review – PdaNet (android) March 21, 2010Posted by David in Uncategorized.
Tags: Android, AT&T, Blackberry, Iphone, Nexus One, Palm Pre, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon
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Your internet just went down, but you have to get online right now, what do you do?!?!
Well if you are carrying a Smart phone get PdaNet from June Fabrics Technology, they currently have a version for Android, Iphone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Palm OS plus a few others (sorry Pre and Pixi users no WebOS version right now).
PdaNet enables your phone to tether to your computer via the USB data port or even create a DUN over Bluetooth. I had been looking at tethering since I got my Nexus One and although I was able to find a lot of options only two did not require me to root my phone. PdaNet and Easy Tether. I went with PdaNet simply because I download it first it work and I saw no reason to try the other one. Basically what I am saying is Easy Tether may be as good as PdaNet, But I never saw a reason to try it out.
Back the review
Setup was easy I download the app from the market place and followed the instruction to get the software on my computer. What is great about PdaNet is they understand the chances are you are not going to download the app until you have a need to tether which means your computer does not have a network connection. They solve this issue by giving you the option to download the PC install file to you SD card and give you instruction on how to run it off the card to install it on your computer.
The instruction were easy and although I consider myself computer savvy I felt even a computer novice could set the app and software up taking up only 272KBs of space on the phone something that is important to a Android phone user.
PdaNet claims that they have perfected the process so much that when using the device for USB tether you do not have any lag from the software, my unscientific test seem to support this. I used Speedtest.net on the computer as well as the Speedtest.net Android App running a number of test back and forth between the two and found that the connected of course varied a little, but that the computer was not always slower then the phone. Again this does not prove PdaNet’s claim but it doesn’t hurt it either.
Now the speeds are only as good as your carrier’s coverage where I am located I am in T-Mobile’s 3g coverage and get ok speeds, they don’t blow me away by any stretch, and sometimes it outright drives me nuts. I would not use it if I had a choice, but since I just moved and my internet is not hooked up I do not have a choice, and I am happy I have PdaNet.
As a warning this uses your cell phone carriers data meaning if you do not have unlimited data I would not suggest using it. Since I started the tether session maybe 20 minutes ago I have sent 4.41MB and received 78.2MB and that is been mostly while writing this review. Also keep in mind just because your carrier calls it unlimited, doesn’t mean it is. Sprint Verizon and AT&T cap their “unlimited” data at 5GB which is hard to hit even for Iphone users. T-Mobile caps you at 10GB (which would be next to impossible for a smartphone user to hit) mind you the carriers do not charge you for going over, but they may throttle your speeds or they could even cancel your service. Again even heavy phone users would be hard to hit these caps, but when you start to tether you can easily over run these soft limits. I am also not saying your carrier will cut you off if you go over just that they can you agreed to it when you signed up for the service, just keep that in mind.
Finally I answer the question should you get the app, yes you should you never know when you may need it and it works. Don’t expect it to take out the need for another internet provider, but it is a great back up or a useful tool when you may find yourself in the need of internet without internet available.
Apps you need for your Android Device part 1 March 14, 2010Posted by David in Uncategorized.
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When you get a next generation Smart Phone like the Nexus One you quickly start looking for Apps to make your phone that much better, here are some of the Android apps I feel are a must have.
Barcode Scanner – this simple little apps does exactly what it’s name implies it scans barcodes in the case of a product UPC it will attempt to search for the item online to help you make sure you have the best price, but other apps do that as well and in some cases better. Where it excels is in reading QR codes, which are the boxes you will see through out this post. Although other apps like Google Goggles does the same. Barcode Scanner does it faster and easier.
Advanced Task Killer – Although you can find a lot of app killers on the market place and all are good I went with ATK not because it was better but because it filled my need, in fact I have not even looked at any of the other options out there. I currently use the free one although I have been looking at upgrading for the auto killing feature. Before you start using your app killer I suggest you read Android Central’s article on how to properly use a task killer
Mobile Defense – Mobile defense is like Lojack for your phone. Once you install it you sign up for an account on their website (all free) and it is that simple. If you lose your phone you lock it remotely and using GPS see where you left it. Also the way it runs you can not remove the app without a code from the site. And if the phone was stolen once the phone is used again you get an email telling you the new number and other information about the device. Helping you recover your lost property.
Astro File Manager – Smart phones are like computers in our pockets and all computers have to save the data some where Astro helps you find that image you downloaded last week. Makes it real easy to manage the files on your device.
That is the end of what I feel you have to have. The rest depend on how you use your phone.
Shazam – We have all been there you hear a song you like and have no idea who sings it or what it is called. But now you can simply whip out your phone and let Shazam tell you what it is called. After listening to the song for about 15 seconds Shazam will give you the name and the artist as well as a link to Amazon.com to buy the song. Mind you it will not be able to tell you the name of the song if you hum the song or try and sing it yourself. And it doesn’t do live recording most the time. Still a great app.
I Music – But lets say you are a little short on cash but still want the song I Music to the rescue. I Music lets you search for a song and download it for free. let me say that downloading the song is most likely illegal 99% of the time, support the artist when you can. The free version, which I use, is ad support limits search results and only allows one song to download at a time. The paid version I Music Tao is ad free and supports 3 downloads at once as well as a few other things.
Ringtones by Mabilo – But what if you don’t want the song, but rather the ring tone. Ringtones by Mabilo allows you to search 200,000+ ringtones for your device all for free. The app is ad supported and has more then just music you can get tv catch phrases and other such ringtones. Once you download it you can set it as a call ringtone or a notification sound
RingDroid – RingTones by Mabilo is great but it doesn’t have everything. This is where RingDroid comes in. It can take any sound file on your device and make it a ring tone. Simple to use and with I Music you can easily find the song you want to make into a ring tone.
Pandora Radio – Because sometimes you just want to listen to music, Pandora is your own free personal radio station to stream over your phone. You pick a song or artist it makes a radio station based on that choice. It does require a free Pandora account.
That is it for now. Part two will cover social networking and images and videos.
Nexus One – An owner’s review March 13, 2010Posted by David in Android, HTC, Nexus One, T-Mobile.
Tags: Google, HTC, Nexus One, Owner's Review, T-Mobile
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I am going to take my cues from Anthony Ford and do what he plans to do with his Droid Eris review. First he wrote afirst impressions of the phone and then he plans to write a second review having having the phone for awhile. The second part of this review should be coming soon he tells me.
The ordering process:
I have a confession to make I have never ever bought a phone without playing with it first and until this one I always felt it was a mistake. I think it is very important to know how the phone feels in your hand how it works and if you can be happy with it. I suggest you always goto the local store and play with the device before buying it, this however is not an option with the Nexus One. It is sold directly from google and can only be purchased online at http://www.google.com/phone. The process is easy and straight forward. I went with the 2 year contract option with T-Mobile rather then paying the $529 for the unlocked phone (although I was willing to do just that). During the order process I was offered the dock station for an extra $45 and now they offer a spare battery for $25. I glad they did not offer the spare battery as I would have gotten it and it would have been a waste. I will explain why later. I was then given the option to engrave my phone. My initials in binary on the first line and Do NOT drop on the 2nd. Yea I am a geek and proud. Oddly enough and something that struck me as odd a few hours later I was not given my new T-Mobile number. I didn’t find out what my number was until I received the phone a few days later.
When I got the device I hastily unwrapped it, something I now regret not recording to share with you, although I did get a few pictures from my old phones 3 mega pixel camera, that I will be posting at the end of the article. I really admired the look of the device and was happy that unlike every other phone I have had it felt better in my hand. Although almost an ounce heaver and bigger then then the LG Dare I had the device felt better balanced and more natural feeling. I loved the engraving on the back and felt the Neoprene sleeve with the Android robot on it was something I would be happy to carry my device in. I hooked up the dock and placed my phone on it to charge. The first signs of life a tiny little orange light to let me know it was charging. At this point I had to fight all the urges to turn the device on I knew the best thing I could do right now is wait for the device to full charge before playing with my new phone. (Thanks Joshua for this reminder)
Now a lot of blogs including me have talked about the specs of the phone so I wont right now, but needless to say the device is peppy. It really takes full advantage of the 1ghz snapdragon processor. It is fast with little or no hesitation when moving around the screens and menus. By default the wall paper is set to the loud Nexus One live wall paper with the laser beams shooting around the screen, this was the first thing I changed quickly switching to the much more subtle grass, which updates with the time of day. Having played with a number of Android phones from the G1 to the new Moto Droid and Driod Eris I was already familiar with the basic of the OS, although I feel that even someone new to the OS could use the phone with ease, although not as simple to use as the Iphone OS.
One thing that I have found really nice and surprising about the device is battery life. I use the device a lot often going 14 hours days of consistent usage with only basic task managing (Android Central just did an article on task manager usage that I highly recommend) and most the time when I set the device in the dock to charge for the night I still have around 40%+ battery charge. The draw back of every smart phone is the battery and I am happy with what I get from the Nexus One, which is a lot more then I expected. To give you an idea of what I consider consistent usage. Twidroid checks for updates hourly. Emails are checked every 15 minutes. All radios, but bluetooth are on (I don’t use bluetooth) and I watch youtube or listen to Pandora for about two hours every day during my commute to and from work. I also will read news blogs in the evening while in bed. All this and the device has only give me a 30% battery power warning once and that was the day I started the day two hours earlier then normal.
Overall I am happy with the device. Although it is not perfect (what device is) it fills my needs I knew I had and showed me a few I didn’t know I had. The phone has become my personal assistant of sorts and every day I learn something new about it and find new ways for it to be used every day. I find the few draw backs it may have (the battery door is a pain to get off) and greatly out weighted by the awesomeness that is the Nexus One.
Apple stole the Ipad name! January 27, 2010Posted by David in Apple.
Tags: Apple, Ipad, MadTV
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Break news Apple stole the Ipad name.
Honestly did someone at Apple not do thier job or did they want to get fired after making a fool of the company.
Walmart denies Nexus one rumors January 26, 2010Posted by David in Android.
Tags: Android, Nexus One, Walmart
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As quickly as it was reported it has not been removed. Android and Me is reporting that Walmart is denying that they will be selling the Nexus one blaming a technical error for the information being posted on the lets talk website. Either way we have either a screw up or cover up.
Nexus One to be sold by Walmart for $99 unblocked? January 26, 2010Posted by David in Android, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon.
Tags: Android, AT&T, Nexus One, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, Walmart
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This this story has three parts the first is easy to confirm, Walmart has put up a holding page stating that the Nexus One will be sold through them, kind of nice for those of us that want to play with it before we buy.
The second part of the story is vague. When you visit the holding page and check out the listed Network Technology the site has it listed with T-Mobile and AT&T 3G frequencies as well as the Verizon and Sprints. The big news here is that this is the first time we have seen hints that the device may be usable on AT&T’s 3G. And this would be a big deal. We know that the device is going to Verizon this spring, and since Verizon and Sprint share the same frequencies so the idea of maybe being able to use the device on Sprint has always been there if we could get a hold of an unlock CDMA version of the phone. The reason I say this is vague is because the same specs say that the only data frequencies are UMTS/HSDPA meaning no CDMA data. Which makes no sense what so ever. Clearly the site has incorrect data and if it has one thing wrong it could have more then one.
The 3rd part of the story I personally have to chalk up as pure rumor at this time. Phone Inferno is reporting that the retail giant will be selling the device unlocked for $99, this is $80 less then the subsidized price with T-Mobile when buying the GSM locked version. I personally find it hard to accept that you can get the phone that cheap unlocked with or without a contract.
Don’t get me wrong it would be great if it happened, and I do believe that Walmart will be selling the device. I just don’t think the $99 unlocked price is even remotely possible. Drop a comment tell me what you think.