Posts Tagged ‘#android’

Java, anyone?

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis June 9th, 2012

“What IS Java?!” my customers often ask.  Besides coffee, Java is a programming language, and since 2006 has been licensed and handled by the GNU open-source project.  It’s original intent was to make a streamlined, object-oriented language that would work on any platform.  So you’ll find Java on all kinds of devices from PC’s to smartphones.  Android is a fine example of Java-based software, although Google  broke away and created their own version of the platform.  The language has a rocky history, with Microsoft initially helping Sun Microsystems (now Oracle) push the standards, then later becoming the villain in a dramatic turn about.  When Microsoft was sued by the DOJ for anti-trust practices, Java was part of the lawsuit.  The claim was that they were implementing Java with the intent of eventually destroying it.  Microsoft (MS) settled, and stopped shipping Java with Windows.  Nowadays you have to download it yourself.  Meanwhile MS started pushing .NET as a competitor language.  It’s all based on the C# language core, but the big argument is about open vs. closed source.  MS doesn’t like open-source software.  After all, that’s how they make their money.  So ANY open-source software is a threat to their livelihood.  Meanwhile Sun Microsystems/Oracle has helped foster and grow the Java platform to be one of the most popular and stable languages in the world.  For you, the end users, what’s all this mean?  Well, now you know what Java and .NET are all about.  They help bring your devices to life, with cool apps that are often web-based.  And YES you should update these two whenever prompted.  Sometimes they find security or other glitches that are fixed with updates.  BUT watch out!  The Java install often tries to add some other junk software, like the ASK toolbar for example.  Keep your eye out for a check box to disable this. 

Sync Madness

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis May 9th, 2012

Sync or Swim, I always say.  :-)   With all the smartphones and tablets out there, lots of folks are “sync’ing” or synchronizing, their emails, songs, photos, etc. from their computer or web accounts.  It’s fine when it works, but it can be a real headache if it misfires.  How do you track down the problem?  First of all, know your apps.  You need to be aware of all possible culprits that made the mistake, and it could be more than one.  For iPhone users, for example, iCloud can sync, but so can  i-TUNES when you plug in to your PC.  For Android users most apps are pretty specific to one type of object, like Picasa for photos, Google Calendar for appointments, Soocial for contacts, etc.  But for Android THE LOCAL app (on the phone/tablet) may not be so obvious.  Calendar is the one to check for your appointments, gallery for your photos.  Keep digging around until you figure out this second half of the issue.  Now, BEFORE YOU GO MUCH FURTHER… is your stuff backed up?  You don’t want to accidentally change something and have all your files disappear.  Ok, the next step is to start looking at the settings for the app.  You may also need to log in to your online account and check the settings there.  If you can’t find it, try Googling the problem to see if there’s an article.  I just had a friend who DID NOT want her Picasa photos all dumped to her phone.  With a little searching I found this article.  (Thanks TricksWindows!).  Be aware that occasionally a Rogue App may be involved.  Facebook users were taken by surprise last year when the Android Facebook app suddenly added all their friends to the contact list on their phones.  Grrr….

Android update

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis April 23rd, 2012

I’ve been using the Samsung Intercept for about 8 months now, along with Virgin Mobile’s (VM) pre-paid service.  I still like it, mostly for the price.  This Android phone (and service) have issues that make them both mediocre at best, but I feel like I’m taking a stand against outrageous fee practices with the other “mainstream” companies.  If you’re interested in cutting your monthly mobile bill in half, VM has several new Android phones available that are getting much better reviews.  The one I’m eyeballing is the LG Optimus Slider.  My wife bought the Optimus V, and it’s better than mine.  But I REALLY like having a slide-out keyboard, so the new slider phone fits me to a tee.  (See it here)  It has a faster processor than most of the other offerings, which will be a much-needed improvement.  The only other (repeated) gripe I see is about battery life.  I’ve said it before, but just a reminder:  On ANY smartphone, you will greatly improve your battery time if you’ll disable the GPS and WiFi features.  Just turn them on when you need them, and you’ll get hours instead of minutes of phone time.

Tablet Stats

News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis March 15th, 2012

There are new numbers out regarding the sales of I-pads and other tablets, showing Apple with a major lead over all competitors (see graph).  BUT LET’S GET SOMETHING STRAIGHT HERE folks, Apple DID NOT invent the tablet!  They just did a much better job of marketing, and making it all seem “Fun”.  Tablets have been around since the 1990’s in various forms.  You can read the complete history hereThey became popular business tools when Windows developed a tablet edition with XP.  These early versions were more like a laptop, but you could swivel the screen and close it, then use the PC with a stylus (kinda like a pen that doesn’t have ink).  This allows for a lot more accuracy than plopping fat icons around with your finger, and it’s cleaner.  Alas, these were mostly high-end business tools, so the average Joe never got to use one.  The latest numbers from the IDC are showing that Android will give the tablet market a run for their money over the next few years.  Meanwhile the Kindle Fire is coming on strong.  I think if Google will get their …umm… ACT together the Android tablets may take over this market sooner than projected.  You can read the complete article from CNET here.

Notes, Android to PC

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis March 10th, 2012

Ever since the rise of PDA’s (Personal Data Assistants) it’s been handy to take notes.  “Notes” are a way to scribble ideas, grab pictures, web pages, etc. and group them.  This can be VERY helpful for projects, meetings, or anything else that might have lots of different types of files/info associated with it.  I’ve always wanted to use Microsoft OneNote, since it ties directly to the Office suite, but I just never saw the appeal or “EZ” factor.  I gave it one more shot yesterday when I got an email that offered the new Android version for free.   Wrong.  It only allowed 500 notes before you have to buy it.  ROFL.  Surely they know that we Android users want it free, or not at all.  Besides, they are WAYYY late to the game with this software.  Turns out there are LOTS of apps like this already available, and one of the most popular is EverNote.  So I tried it.  Installed on Android, check.  Installed on PC, check.  Set up account, check.  Capture ANYTHING… YES!  Pictures, sounds, links, locations, YOU NAME IT.  Any of it can be tied to a note, and then grouped in notebooks.  SWWWEEEEET!  But here’s the REAL kicker:  I then installed Meshin Recall (same company that makes EverNote) and BLAP I had a really eeeasy way to tie notes to my calendar!  This is paramount to me, because almost any note I would want is tied to an appointment or some kind of event in my calendar.  For example, I often have jobs that take longer/shorter time than expected.  I needed a quick way to note my hours directly on an appointment.  This does it, with ease.  For those of you who want a PDA app to tie with your PC, this is a great solution.  Any notes that you take on the PC show up on your phone, and vice-versa.  It has a lot more add-ons and features that I haven’t even tried yet.  These are available for iphone, Android, and Blackberry.

Android Tablet update

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis March 6th, 2012

Rumors have it the i-pad 3 will be unveiled tomorrow.  For the rest of us, there are some REALLY cool tablets on the market that use Android (A-tabs).  We bought a Sony 10.1″ Tablet S last Christmas, and I’ve been VERY impressed.  The graphics are stunning, and it’s very ergonomic and easy to use.  Performance has been great except for a Wifi issue out-of-the-box.  I keep watching the latest, greatest releases and I’m puzzled about one thing;  WHY isn’t ANYONE releasing a 12″ Android Tablet?!  Asus is up front with a commanding design lead in this market, yet even their newest release (the Transformer Prime) has a 10.1″ screen.  It seems to me that Apple hit the nail on the head with the size of the i-pad.  It’s perfect.  So I REFUSE to buy an A-tab for myself until someone releases a good 12″ version.  (there are currently some really odd 12″ off-brand A-tabs  coming from China that I’m avoiding).  Meanwhile, Google is REALLY going to push A-tabs in 2012 according to a statement they recently made at the MWC conference in Spain.  The number of new Android users each day is staggering, and with new versions named Ice Cream Sandwich and Jellybean (coming soon), it makes us hungry for more.  Thanks to Android Authority for their timely reporting and great articles.  (Note: we coined the term A-tab in this article… let’s see how fast it spreads across the web!) 

3G vs Wifi

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis November 30th, 2011

Ok, so there’s a LOT of confusion out there about 3G vs Wifi.  (I’ll ignore 4G for now, since not all cities have it yet, but it’s just a step up from 3G).  You can buy tablets right now, including the i-pad, that have either of these.  ALMOST ALL OF THEM have Wifi.  But if you want 3G, you pay extra.  First you’ll pay more for the device, but THEN you ALSO MUST have a cellular provider, like AT&T or Verizon, connect the device.  It’s just like setting up a new cell phone, and costs about the same.  It allows you to use the device wherever 3G is available, even moving down the road.  The speeds are just mediocre; that’s why everyone wants 4G instead.  But Wifi is already much faster (up to 300 Mbps).  The problem with Wifi is that it is localized.  It depends on having a wireless router.  So you can have it at your house, for example, and the library, and the airport, etc. as long as you are within at least 300 feet of the router.   But each time you move, you must reconnect to a new network.  If it’s secured, you also need the PASSWORD for that network.  Lately it seems like there are less and less free Wifi Hotspots available.  I was really ticked off the last time I stayed at a nice hotel and they wanted to charge me extra for Wifi.  :-(  Anyway, I hope this clears up some of the misconceptions. 

Cyber Monday

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis November 28th, 2011

Black Friday.  What a nightmare.  Seriously, you couldn’t PAY ME enough to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving.  After what I saw on the news, and the people I asked who DID brave the shopping madness, it’s just not worth it.  Most people didn’t get the deals that were promised.  The only way you got those were to camp out and be the first in line.  See, it’s a bait and switch game for retailers.  They just want you in their store.  So they stock a few items for a great deal, but those disappear quickly.  Then you’re stuck buying what’s left.  On the other hand, I LOVE online shopping.  I can compare prices in minutes, and have the stuff on my doorstep within a few days.  Right now I’m eyeballing the Sony SGPT112 Tablet.  I’ve been watching these devices for a long time, hoping that one will rival the i-pad 2.  This is the one, I think.  I’m going to bite the bullet and try it.  Looks like the wife will be getting a new tablet for Christmas!  (SHHHHH…).  The tablet is on sale at Target for $500, but it’s the 16 Gb version.  For this price they are throwing in about $100(?) worth of accessories.  But I like the Amazon deal better.  I can get the 32 Gb version for $514, with no accessories.  I’ll buy those later.  You can’t add more internal memory, so I want the most possible.  Meanwhile this swanky little unit ships with Android Honeycomb.  Since we’re both used to the Android OS, it will make it a cinch to drive.  I’ll keep you posted on how this turns out.

Great Android Protection

Helpful Hints | Posted by Dennis October 2nd, 2011

Ok, so this time I tested BEFORE I spouted off about a program.  :-)  I’ve been running Lookout for Android for about two weeks now, and I REALLY like it.  It’s quiet, unobtrusive, and has some of the top ratings for protecting your phone.  It’s available for  Android, Blackberry, and Windows phone.  The BEST thing about it is that it not only gives you antivirus, but also a backup option (to the web – you must have an account) and a FIND YOUR PHONE feature, all for free.  The program has run flawlessly on my phone since I installed it, and has given me some great piece of mind.  You get even more features if you buy the full product, but I haven’t tried it.  You can download Lookout here.

More on Android Virus protection

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis September 9th, 2011

This is an update from a previous post.  I’ve been running the AVG Android virus protection for a couple of weeks, and I DO NOT recommend it.  Since I’ve installed it, I get VERY sluggish behavior, lockups, and other bizarre stuff.  I’m removing it because my phone acts like it did before I updated to Froyo (Android 2.2.2).  It could be that my phone, the Samsung Intercept, just doesn’t have enough muscle to handle the software, but in any case I’m going to look for a different solution.  I’ll keep you posted.