Ahh, so my phone just downloaded and installed Android 2.2 (code name Froyo) the other day. Not only does Froyo update enable native USB tethering and getting faster system performance With Android 2.2 loaded on my Droid, You are now able to start playing with Adobe’s Flash 10.1 Player. It’s not as simple as going to Adobe’s website and downloading the beta version of their Android-based Flash player, but within a few minutes even a novice can have flash up and running.

Here’s the deal. You have to have Android 2.2 OS installed on your phone of choice in order to install the Flash player. Finding the Flash 10.1 Player download link was the hardest part for me. That’s linked from the bottom of this post, you have to have to download the installation file to your handset. After downloading the .apk file, you can install the Flash-playing software directly from the phone itself. Alternatively, you can download the .apk file to your desktop and transfer the file to your Motorola Droid.

In order to install flash 10.1 You’ll also have to configure your Android 2.2 Froyo system to accept installation files from “unknown sources.” Do this by navigating to Settings > Applications and check the box for “Unknown Sources.”

If you’re ready to make the upgrade, simply download the Flash 10.1 Player apk file below you’re on your way!

Adobe Flash 10.1 Player beta installation file

[via: intomobile]

I woke up this morning and saw amongst the emails I received overnight that Slingbox for Android has launched. This is very exciting news. When I initially looked into switching to a new handset I saw only a short list of features that the Motorola Droid would not do which my current Windows Mobile phone (while a bit clunky) was fully capable of. Finally I made the switch figuring it would just be a matter of time until the Android Market caught up. I seem to have been right. After recently seeing the LogMeIn App released (for beta, which I am a tester) Slingbox was really the next big thing on my list. Initial reviews of the app say that the folks at SlingMedia have done a good job and released a truly quality (albeit late to the market) app. My biggest complaint is the app’s $29.99 price tag. I understand that this app has been out for the iPhone and other platforms with the same price; however when it comes to the Android Market, this is quite a bit higher then the average price of an Android app which TechCrunch says is around $9.00. So where do I go from here? I hold. I’ll wait for them to get with the program and drop the price or until I find myself so bored that I just can’t be without the app a minute longer.

x-ipod-rip-1I’ve always wanted to be able to work with my music when away from my desktop, and until recently I haven’t been able to swing it. It always made more sense to me to manage my music over the weekend for example, in the middle of a ski weekend. They say that an iPod will only sync with one computer but really one iPod will only sync with one iTunes library. So I set out to make this work. It was a bit annoying trying to work out all the bugs in the process, but the concept is really quite simple.

The first step in the process is to move all of your music files onto an external hard drive, one which runs from USB without an extra power cord is ideal. You’ll need to change the lettering of the drive. I recommend calling the drive “M:/”. Short for media, this is probably a letter higher then any you’ll see unless you plug in 10 thumb drives. The process for changing drive letters is a relatively simple process. After changing the location of your library you’ll need to setup iTunes. If you install the same version of iTunes on both computers and make sure iTunes is loking for the media on the M:/ drive. iTunes will still be looking for the library files at “My DocumentsMy MusiciTunesiTunes Music.”

Now close iTunes & make a new folder inside your iTunes folder and throw your old library files into there. After creating this backup you can begin copying the files from your former “iTuenes master computer” into the iTues folder. After this is done your music should open on the new computer. You should also notice that your iPod will sync. If this is the case go ahead and delete your old files from the newly added machine. Download Windows Live Sync and 1st set this up on the new machine. add your iTunes folder as the sync location, tehn repeat this action on the Master computer. Give the computers time to sync and then try playing music on both computers, and connect the iPod to each computer and they should both sync.

After being on the market a week I figured it was finally time to go & look at the Motorola Droid.  Initially I was very impressed.  I’ve got a laundry list of demands from my handset & this is the first phone to even come close to date.  The Droid is a relatively compact device, filled with lots of features.It’s got a very speedy response time and it just simply very well polished.  The calendar & contact management seem to be pretty good, & the camera looks as clear as the digital camera I carry with me next to my phone.  Google maps with built in GPS navigation is really cool, and the phone copies & pastes.  (This feature was a big deal to me.)A lot of people are going to really like this phone!I was however a bit underwhelmed.

While my current phone (Verizon XV 6800) is a bit buggy it’s got a lot of features, a number of which aren’t available on the Droid.(Not yet anyway.)  First foremost is a tethering app.Verizon says tethering is coming in January, but unfortunately they’re making customers double down in paying for this feature.Programs such as Joikusoft & WMwifiRouter offer this feature, turning the phone into a mobile internet hotspot while using the existing data plan.(The question of whether or not it’s right to use these programs & not pay Verizon for the additional functionality can be debated in another blog post.)  The browser on the Droid is nice.  It renders pages really quickly, & well, almost making you forget you’re on a handheld device.  I did however notice 2 major short comings in the browser.  First off it’s lacking flash support, & secondly it does not load the LogMeIn interface.  I have since researched & I see that there is not yet any sort of app that runs LogMeIn on Android devices.  I use LogMeIn a lot, and missing this will greatly effect how helpful this phone is to me.

My overall assessment of the Droid is this; I’m quite impressed.  Droid seems like the device that will finally bring Android into the mainstream.  I realize however that I am a power user & this phone just can not accomplish what I need from a device.  Not yet anyway.  I’ll keep my ear to the street waiting for the features I want & hoping for Android’s success.  In the meantime, it looks like no Droid for me.  In this case, my current phone might have it’s fair share [strike that:A LOT] of issues, but I’m not in the habit of getting a new phone unless it’s an either an upgrade or I,’m replacing a broken phone.While the droid does a lot of thing better then my current phone theres still things it doesn’t do.  That’s not an upgrade.

I didn’t intend to make a follow up post to my previous phone post right in a row, but as I started writing this, I realized what I was writing was a post very similar to another I had just written. I’m talking about cell phones again. Or am I? Maybe I’m talking less about cell phones and more about PDA’s. That’s really what smartphones are. It’s no big surprise really. Computers started the size of a Uhaul truck, and have just gotten smaller and smaller. Suddenly computers the size of the mac mini, the mac air, and netbook computers. Thought these computers are amongst the smallest computers on the market, are smartphones really so far off from them? I can do almost all the same stuff on my smartphone that I can do on a computer. Why, just last night I logged into my server at work and modified a playlist, starting a new program playing to over 50,000 cable subscribers right out of my pocket.

So while I was out with some friends last night I looked up at the TV screen and saw the new commercial for Verizon’s flagship Android phone: The Droid – hitting the market on November 6th. This seemed to start a friendly argument across the bar between 2 phone geeks like myself. One touting the iPhone and another with T Mobile’s new myTouch. I had to quickly run over and represent the Windows Mobile camp (even though I’m not it’s biggest fan.) Lately I’ve been more of an Android fan. Android is open source and that really is where I think the future of all computing is. Having proprietary anything is a hindrance to getting things done. No one wants to rely on Microsoft or Apple to support a particular type of document or software, and nor do people want to have to search for a specific style of plug just to charge their phone. But open source is so much more then just standardization of hardware, it’s also allowing open development of software creating nearly limitless potential for what can be done from the device. In this discussion, both users (Android, and iPhone) were comparing apps. This was pointless, and I finally just walked away. The fact is any application can be ported over for use on another operating system. The key (and the entire reason that Android is great) is that while an iPhone application would have to be created by someone at Apple or another developer who will later sell their application online or at the app store (without sharing the code, allowing for others to improve it,) Android applications can be created, edited, & shared by ANYONE. While the iPhone was on the market first and hooked a lot of people, the future looks very bright for android devices.

In June of 2006 I bought a Palm 700w smartphone. Having just upgraded from a Nextel flip phone my mind was completely blown. This new phone ran Windows Mobile 5, synced my calendar & my contacts, gave me access to Microsoft Office mobile, and could run all sorts of applications. I really liked it but had a lot of technical difficulties with this phone. Finally in December of 2007, after at least 3 replacement Palm 700w replacements from Verizon I decided to try a new phone.

My new XV-6800 arrived just before Christmas and it was truly like a Christmas gift. This device even further expanded what I could do from my phone. With Windows Mobile 6 a larger screen, slider keyboard, built in wifi card, & GPS capability; I was now able to do lots more from my phone then I had imagined. I could now remotely control my computer through LogMeIn.com mobile, emails & texting became much easier with the larger keyboard, and best of all I could now use this phone as a WiFi modem for tethering with my laptop. I really loved this phone! Unfortunately however there was also a lot to hate. This phone has turned out to be even more unreliable then the phone it replaced.

As time went on however the biggest problem turned out to be the Network. Verizon? You might ask how I could have a problem with their network, since they have the largest network, with the most coverage.” This is true. However my issue is actually their business practices. I’ve learned that if there’s one thing Verizon does it’s nickel and dime their customers to death. The most glaring example is GPS functionality. The phone I purchased included a chip set which will receive GPS satellite data from satellites launched & run with my tax dollars. Instead of allowing customers to use the equipment they’ve already paid for they make them pay for it, and not just with wit h a one time fee, but rather with a monthly access charge. While the company seems to have realized they were wrong (thanks to a class action lawsuit) and opened up GPS functionality on select handsets, mine of course isn’t one of them, since they haven’t released an update. There are also similar problems with proprietary charging cables and jacks.

This peaks my interest in the Open Handset Alliance, and Google’s Android. The Open Handset Alliance (formed by Google when Android was released in 2007) is a collection of companies and standards which promote a better experience to users through open standards. While I’m afraid that Verizon would never embrace Android due to the seemingly 180° difference in how they conduct business, it seems the users are asking for devices which run Android, and the rumors seem to indicate that Verizon’s listening. I for one am waiting with bated breath, although if not, it my be my last breath, and a carrier change may be eminent.

Nearly a year ago I signed up for a beta of a new web browser for my phone. Everyone makes a really big deal about the iPhone’s browser, but this application looked to me like it could potentially be as good or better. Recently I finally got the text message I had been waiting for. It was an official invitation to download the Skyfire beta. I was psyched! So I download Skyfire & let the beta testing begin. On first loading I remember one of the reasons I was so excited about this browser; it’s fast! It actually runs the website content through an off sight server and sends a “down res’d” (squeezed) version to your phone. That’s great, this allows your phone to give a full web experience while leaving the “heavy lifting” to be done by a more powerful computer. I suppose this brings up concerns of who else is seeing what you are, but as long as you’re at least aware of this you can use the program accordingly.

One of the main features which brought me to find this program was it’s native flash support. Once I had downloaded and installed the program I headed over to YouTube and was greeted with the full web version including videos that played right from the website without using any sort of external playe. There’s still lots more testing to be done, but this is quite a nice program. If you have a Windows Mobile phone I would highly recommend checking out this great piece of software.

Link: Check out Skyfire

For about 4 years now I’ve been posting images onto my website. It’s really not that hard to do, and I really love having access to photos anywhere in the world! It’s really pretty easy to set up too so here’s some tips on how to get started.

Personally, I’d recommend checking out Google’s Picasa. It’s really easy to use program for simple photo editing such as red eye, contrast, or brightness adjustments. It’s also the easiest way I’ve found to manages my albums, & it can export smaller versions of photos. When necessary I use Photoshop to make more complex image edits. Once the images have been shrunk, I run them trough jAlbum to create the web album. (It’s not as hard as it all might sound.) I just tell jAlbum where my photos are located and where I want the finished product to go. I specify what skin I want to use, hit go. Then I get up and go make a sandwich. By the time I get back to the computer, everything’s done. I may actually over-complicate the process, because jAlbum might actually have a feature to automatically shrink your images down, I’ve just never looked.

Once everything is created it is all output into a new directory on your computer. You can simply take the contents of that folder and upload them to your website. Most web space providers will tell your ftp address, but it usually “ftp://www.YourDaminName.com”. Input your ftp address into the destination and set the source as your newly created album folder, and start the transfer. There’s tons of free ftp programs out there to make this easy. If you can’t find one you can even use internet explorer. just navigate to “ftp://www.YourDaminName.com”, and drag the files from your new album folder to the internet explorer window.

Here’s how it all looks when your done. I’ve used an XP theme so it looks like you’re browsing through a folder on a Windows PC. I know It’s not the most visually appealing look, but it accomplishes what I want it to. jAlbum does have a number of skins available to customize how it looks of your website.

As summer begins winding to a close, hurricane season is just getting started. The folks at the Sarasota Herald Tribune have created a sweet map and data mashup for tracking hurricanes at Ibiseye.com. It uses Google Earth imagery and maps. You can even choose to overlay it with the latest satellite image. You can track Fay, or any other storm in the archives. All of the current weather advisories from NOAA are on the site as well. In addition to hurricanes and tropical storms, this site also keeps track of all current weather advisories like flood warnings, heat advisories, thunderstorms, etc.

The site gained it’s namesake from the Ibis, which is said to be the last bird to leave ahead of a storm and first to return; ibisEYE.com gives a similar view of all hurricanes to hit Florida from 1851 to today.

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For about a year or two now I have been using my HP DVD940 and been pretty happy with it. Then all of a sudden it decides; no more. You forget how much you rely on a CD/DVD drive. Problem with a program, try to reinstall. Oh wait, broken drive. Want to access that back up of pictures from a few years ago. Nope sorry, find another way. Well today I write this blog not to complain about my drive, but rather about the company who makes it. HP. Again, I really liked the drive, but now that it’s broken, I’d like to try and update the drivers. That shouldn’t be hard, I’ll just check the HP website.

Ok, there’s the drivers section, this shouldn’t be too difficult. Let me just search for my drive. What’s this? Apparently they never made my drive. No, wait, here it is… no, that drive is external, that’s not it. So I figure, I’ll just give HP a call and explain the situation. It’s 11:00pm, and I’m feeling really productive. It looks like the cal center is open 24 hours a day, so I figure I’ll give them a try. After waiting on hold briefly, I give my name, email, phone number, model number, story, and the representative tells me I should call this other number. I write it down and call them after hanging up. They’re closed, and why not. It’s 11:30pm by now, and I was lucky to even get anyone in the first place.
The next day I call the number I was given the previous night and go though all the same standard stuff. Hold, give my name, email, phone number, ticket number, etc. Then I find out that the number I was given wasn’t even HP. It was some company they did business with like 5 years ago who makes mice and keyboards. They basically tell me that HP customer support is a bunch of morons, and I should call them back at the original number and make sure to get connected to the right place (carefully checking against the wrong number had dialed.) I call back HP, to make a long story short I repeated the entire story I just told, and ended up connected to a different number, but with the same mouse/keyboard company. Back to start again. Call HP, give all the info, they ask me for my serial number, I start to give it, but they want the one off the computer. The problem is, I built my own computer, there is no serial number. So the operator says she’ll connect me with their DVD specialists. I say “wait a minute, you keep connecting me to a company you used to do business with and it’s a wrong number.” So then what do I hear? “Well, what do you want me to do about it?” Are you serious?!? How about support your product. How about acknowledge that the product I am holding bearing your brand even exists, how about even knowing how to get in touch with the departments in your own company? Here’s a better question; “what do you expect me to do?” I hang up in a fit of rage. This person is useless. I figure I’ll call back after after cooling down.
Finally I give HP a call back. I’ve calmed down a bit, and I’ve decided not to solve the the problem any more, but rather just speak immediately with a supervisor. I don’t want to discuss the issue, or how to fix it. instead, I just want to complain about the quality of service I have received. Impossible. As soon as you ask to speak to the supervisor, the rep immediately commandeers the conversation and tries to solve your problem again (which they lack the ability to do.) Eventually he says “I cannot put you through to a supervisor because your product is more then a year old.” I explain I am not complaining about a product, rather it’s a customer service issue; but he assures me he can not, and will not put me through to a supervisor.
So there you have it. It’s a long post, but buyer beware. If you buy a HP product you might as well move to a desert island, because your going to be on your own. I would recommend avoiding this company and their terrible customer service at all costs.