Tuesday, February 02, 2010
After many MANY years of loyally supporting Blogger despite there being other solutions that may have fit better it seems that Blogger has given up on me. Why? Because I use FTP to publish my blog to my own site without using Google Hosting, etc. Google/Blogger has announced that they will be stopping support for FTP in the near future and this has left me in a position where I need to move... and move quickly it seems.
Reference: Blogger deprecating FTP publishing
I am very disappointed that after being a user of Blogger since September of 2003 that Google has decided to leave me no option but to find another solution. I feel that I've grown and changed with Blogger and Google and now am just abandoned by them because they have a user base and no real need for those that have stuck by the product.
In the future I will have to be making changes to both notepad.bobkmertz.com and http://blog.bibleboy.org. It is my hope that I will be able to keep these domains with another solution but that is undecided at this time. I will try to update everyone as soon as I have more information.
(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
T-Mobile G1 Review (HTC Dream)
Yesterday it came... my T-Mobile G1. After having used it for a little over 24 hours now I have to say that it definately is worthy of all of the hype. I had the phone fully set up in less than an hour. The interface was extremely easy and made a lot of sense. I had never touched the android emulator and I didn't even open the instruction book -- it just was all extremely natural. I'm just going to go through this one thought at a time.
A lot of people had been saying that the G1 looked too flimsy and unattractive. To be honest, I really saw that point -- until yesterday when I held one in my hands. It's true that its plastic but the phone is built extremely solid. It doesn't feel like it's going to crack on you and the sliding screen is smooth and well built. I also have to say that the phone really does not look as bad as people had been saying it did. I think maybe the photos didn't do it justice?
I was a bit concerned leading up to the delivery of my G1 that I would somehow have to route my IMAP accounts through my gmail account (which I don't even use). I was very pleasantly surprised when I found that that is absolutely not the case. It's true that things like your contacts sync with your gmail contacts but the email is an actual real client.... oh, and it's TRUE IMAP unlike what BlackBerry calls an IMAP solution. I am able to access all of the folders in my IMAP accounts and I can use my own outgoing SMTP server which is yet another thing that BlackBerry can't do. There are only 2 things that I miss from my blackberry and these really aren't drastically important. The first is I liked that BlackBerry pushed the email to the device. Now, in using IMAP on BlackBerry it wasn't always an instant push because the BlackBerry servers would only check your IMAP account every 15 mins but the advantage this did have was saving on battery life. When setting up an IMAP account on the android platform, you are given the option of having it check every 5, 10, 15, or 30 mins. This is really the normal way email apps on phones work so its not that this is a bad thing but it does take a toll on your battery life which is important on a device like this. The other option that you had in the BlackBerry email system is the ability to set different alerts for each email address that you set up. This is actually something that I really miss but something I can live without. In all honesty, it's probably something that will have a solution once more and more developers get on board.
Battery Life / Power
This device consumes a lot of power, no doubt. I drained my battery last night in about 4 or 5 hours of using it -- but that was, of course, constant use. That is a lot less than my BlackBerry Pearl but definately within range for a phone like this. The iPhone doesn't do any better than this. Oh, did I mention that the G1 has a replaceable battery? Carry a few spares and laugh at your friends with iPhones that either run their phones dead or have to walk around connected to an external brick battery.
One thing about this phone that is, by far, one of the MOST important things for me in a phone is the USB charging. This phone can be charged anywhere with a standard mini-USB plug. This also means that you do not have to buy 5 new chargers to replace the 5 chargers you had for your BlackBerry.... If you had a Nokia phone, well, sorry.... Welcome to truely open charging. MiniUSB cables are about $2 online and you can find chargers (AC and car) for less than $10. No need to buy specific HTC or T-Mobile chargers.
Another thing worth noting is that, as of yet, I haven't been able to locate a place to buy an extra battery. I'm sure that with the 1.5 million units that T-Mobile pre-sold, HTC is putting emphasis on getting the phones out the door. I'm sure extra batteries will be readily available soon. I did see a link on Google Shopping for a battery for $49.99 but it was the only place and I wasn't totally sure if it was the correct battery.
Today is the official release of the first Android phone and I've ALREADY installed all of the applications that I need. An SSH client is the most notable need and that was filled by an SSH client called ConnectBot. It does it's job just as well as any mobile SSH client. On the same token I also saw a VNC client (and server!) that is in development. Apparently they work fine already but don't support authentication yet which rules out the usefulness for me at this time.
Ready for the cutting edge? There are 2 applications for the Android platform that is straight out of sci-fi... well, sort of. These are Compare Everywhere and Shop Savvy. Both of these programs do essentially the same thing which involves using the camera on your phone to read UPC bar codes off of products and then return a list of the prices it finds for that product both online and locally! Now when you're in a store and see a "too-good-to-be-true" deal, all you have to do is scan the bar code and see what the REAL price should be. This one will DEFINATELY save you some serious cash -- and it's just oh so cool to use too. There is also the option of building wish lists and shopping lists in the same fashion.
What about Twitter? Of course! I'm currently using an Alpha release of a program called TwitDroid which is phenomenal. It even has the ability to post photos built right in to the application. It's really just like Twitterific on a whole lot of steroids. As far as stability goes, there is some room for improvement but it IS an alpha release. It definately fills the need.
Any Cut .... This is a program that you NEED to get. It allows you to put lots of features and shortcuts on your desktop that are not options built into the operating system. I was able to put 2 icons on my desktop, one for Twitter and one for BrightKit, that open up a window for me to type a text message directly to that service. This is insanely convient.
Ready for more Sci-Fi? There is an awesome program called Locale which allows your phone to configure it's self based on where you are, what time it is, and a whole list of other scenarios. The program even has a built in ability to post to Twitter. You can let the phone read your location based on cell towers and/or GPS and have it automatically change your ring tone, your network, and a host of other amazing things.
There is an extensive list of applications that are available in the Market (Google's App Store) and available online. Installing applications is simple. We're only in the beginning of Android and there are already enough applications to meet your needs and even some that meet needs you didn't even know you had.
The interface for SMS and MMS is really awesome. Messages are threaded by contact which is really nice because you can easily go into Messaging and click on the entire conversation rather than having to click through messages from other people as well -- this is really important if you use Twitter via SMS. A huge step up in moving to this phone from my BlackBerry is that Android is smart enough to realize it doesn't have signal and it will queue messages to be sent whenever it does. This is a HUGE thing for me since I work in a data center that has spotty coverage inside not to mention I drive I66 through an extremely rural area where signal drops frequently.
I don't have any hard data on this yet but I have definately noticed that the fringe areas that I drive through are a lot smaller with this phone than compared to my BlackBerry. For example, there is one notable area near my house where I lose signal and with this phone I was able to drive a lot further into that area before I lost signal. I've also noticed that it seems to have a much stronger signal inside buildings than most GSM phones do. In short, this phone definately has no shortage of radio strength.
The browser that comes with the phone is unbelievable. It's true browsing and it supports a lot of extra languages that very few mobile phones do. I was, at first, a little sad that there wasn't a Facebook application for Android but after visiting the Facebook page (not the mobile -- the real one) I realized that there really isn't a need. In fact, Facebook loaded much faster and I was able to do things much quicker than I could on my desktop machine! If speed and real browsing isn't enough to get you it has multiple windows! That's right -- you can now browse multiple web pages at the same time and swap between them effortlessly. This is one aspect of browsing on mobile phones that I always thought was missing.
People said that the iPhone had them at scrolling.... well it's true... The android interface is very easy to use, much like the iPhone interface, but that addition of a keyboard was a much needed improvement. The screen is very responsive and very precise. There is no need for a stylus and moving icons and rearranging things is just as easy as on a desktop computer. The interface is very intuitive and it doesn't take a lot of figuring out, if any at all. It's also very customizable. There is nothing not to love about it!
When I started using Compare Everywhere and scanning barcodes with my camera I noticed something interesting.... my phone was making some clicking noises. I eventually realized what was going on. This phone actually has the ability to focus on objects and the clicking was coming from the camera when the application was refocusing the bar code so it could read it. I don't know that I've ever seen anything like this in a phone before. The quality is more than what you would expect from any 3 megapixel camera and it also does quite well despite my nervous hands that always seem to shake when taking pictures. I think about 50% of the pictures I took with my BlackBerry were blurred but that isn't the case so far with this phone. Absolutely no complaints about the camera. I haven't yet seen a way to capture video but I'm thinking that may be an application that comes later.
There isn't really too much that can be said about this because it's something that you just have to experience. Street view is extremely awesome on this phone and the new compass view is really cool. It's extremely stable and fluent (even on EDGE, which I am). It really is bringing the full version of Google maps to the mobile arena. The Google Maps experience on this phone is really something that you need to see -- it's that good!
I think the T-Mobile G1 and Android is taking us closer to the place where we can replace most functions of a laptop computer with a cell phone. The power of this phone is unbelievable.... it is extremely fast -- faster than any phone that I've used before. It's surprisingly stable for all the crap I threw at it last night. I did have 2 spontaneous reboots but that was after I was mucking with an application that obviously had some serious issues. What I think is extremely impressive is that Android seems to deal quite well with faults in applications. It seems to have a real solid ability to kill processes that go nuts and, therefore, prevent the entire phone from crashing. The sound quality is great and it seems to deal with echo and background noise extremely well. From what I've seen of the iPhone and of this phone I would take this one over the iPhone any day (and that's excluding my dealbreakers of being stuck with AT&T and not having a keyboard). I am totally in love with this phone and can't wait to play with it some more. I honestly find it hard to believe that we are only on the horizon of the Android platform. It's truly exciting to see what the future brings.
(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Maybe T-Mobile does care
After all of the stuff that happened today I decided about an hour ago that I was going to call T-Mobile and cancel my order for the G1 and then when my contract was up I would get the Android phone that should be hitting sprint soon and move my service over to them. I went ahead and called to do just that and customer care transfered me to the customer loyalty department. I pleaded my case and we talked for about 30 mins and, while she explained her point, I still was not happy about the fact that the press conference promoted the $179 price. She looked into a lot of things and said that because the G1 is a pre-order it actually isn't even in their system and they can't do anything with that phone as far as ordering..... so we got creative.
The end result? Let's say I'm pleased as punch (whoever said punch was pleased.... anyway) at the arrangement. Currently I have a $49.99 myFaves plan with 600 mins so we played with that. She switched me over to a $39.99 myFaves plan with 1000 mins and she also deleted my blackberry internet service and readded it with a 30 day free option. So how does this work out. Well, the blackberry internet swapping is getting me about $20 off my current bill and then if you figure the 2 year contract that I am now in and I'm saving $10 a month on that then that comes out to be $240. Over the next 2 years I will have saved $260 because of a phone that I paid $300 for..... So basically I'm paying $40 for the T-Mobile G1.
I think I can honestly say that I heart T-Mobile again!
(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved
T-Mobile G1 = Good / T-Mobile = eh?
With all the anticipation of the T-Mobile G1, formerly HTC Dream, formerly the "G-Phone" and I couldn't wait for the press conference today. While watching it I was completely floored by how intuitive this phone was. I became more and more pumped about it and finally, it was time.
About 20 mins ago I completed my order for my G1 and I got my confirmation and the invoice that would be charged to my next bill.... $333.... What?! They said in the press conference that the price for existing T-Mobile customers would be $179. Why was I being charged $299?! I called customer service and they told me it was because I was not eligible for a full upgrade until Feb.... Huh? Oh, it was because I signed on to a 2 year contract in April of 2007. But wait... I didn't. When I went into the T-Mobile store I SPECIFICALLY paid the extra money for my phone in order to get only a 1 year contract. Now the burden is on ME to prove that. This isn't all that shocking because the store that I dealt with (In Dulles Town Center, Sterling, VA) were complete idiots. They screwed up every single aspect of my account and apparently they even snuck something else shady by me that is now costing me more than $100. I've always dealt with T-Mobile customer service rather than going to stores since that time but just setting foot in the store as my first experience is STILL haunting me.
But here is the kicker.... A friend of mine is being charged $299 for her phone as well.... and she is only a couple months from her 2 year contract being up. To me I think this is an EXTREME mis-representation. If a company "gives" you free phones when your contract is up in order to renew you with them then what percentage of T-Mobile's customers are actually NOT under a contract. So when you say in your press conference "T-Mobile customers" you are incorrect because really you should say "A small percentage of T-Mobile customers" since that is the better story.
I'm upset on a variety of levels with T-Mobile. Last night I considered not getting the G1 simply because I was concerned about locking myself into a 2 year contract with T-Mobile.... and now I have to be worried that maybe I made the wrong decission? Don't get me wrong, I am excited about the phone and can't wait to get it.... but each month that goes by I get less and less excited about T-Mobile.
UPDATE: I'm now hearing rumors that NEW customers are ordering the phone and getting the $179 price..... But according to the press conference ONLY existing customers are able to order the phone now.... Way to treat your CURRENT LOYAL customers! This is very upsetting and they had BETTER fix it.
(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Thoughts on Viacom
A friend of mine, @edroberts, posted his thoughts on Google and Viacom to his blog and subsequently received a comment from Viacom. I added a reply to that comment that I wanted to also post to my blog. You can view Ed's post at http://edrobertsblog.com/?p=66
Actually, there are quite a few of us that know it's out there but we are unable to use it in a way that we would enjoy. There are times that we want to take shows on the road or watch them on a machine that may not be compatible with your website. We also don't want to have to go to a website to see if a new episode is available but we want to be able to use an RSS feed and download it into our network so that when we sit down to watch something it's there ready for us.
Let me share my story. I never knew who Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert was until the Net Neutrality debate arose and I caught Jon's clip on youtube regarding that issue. I instantly became a fan and over the next few weeks I became addicted to those shows. I use MythTV for watching shows and I set it up to record every show. A couple months ago Comcast really screwed their subscribers in my area over and as a result I dropped my cable TV service. I've since switched to watching shows off of sites like www.revision3.com because I am able to program my mythtv system to look at their RSS feed and download the show. When I sit down on the couch I grab my remote and can see all of the shows that are ready for me to watch.
Your viewers are all very unique people and they have different habbits and different preferences. The one thing that we all have in common is that we want to enjoy your shows in the way that we like to enjoy TV in our own ways. Requiring someone to watch your show at their computer reduces their attention span and, quite frankly, causes many of them to bail out as soon as the first commercial hits. Now if you put that in a video stream that can be downloaded to a PVR or other device that can be connected to a TV, people are more willing to watch the commercials. I certainly know that I am. The answer is not tying people's hands and telling them how they are supposed to enjoy your content but it's allowing them to enjoy it - period. Three years ago I knew a lot of people that had the stance that music piracy was wrong but after the treatment that we have received from the RIAA I now don't know a single person that respects the legal rights of the music industry simply because the RIAA has abused those rights.
Now, I am not saying that you should not pursue the lawsuits that you think you need to but you have to understand that these clips are introducing your content to people who then start watching the full shows. The majority of the clips on YouTube are just that -- clips. I can certainly understand you fighting full episodes being put on YouTube but the majority of these incidents are not full episodes. Allowing people to view your content in ways that they enjoy only provides you with more viewers.
Another thing that I want to add is that it may not be Google's fault that people don't know about your sites. In fact, people may very well know about the sites and totally despise them. I run MacOS and generally use the Opera web browser. Your sites do not work for me. Occasionally I can open up Safari and watch a show but the performance is less than desireable. The rarity of my visits to your sites are not the result of me not knowing about them but that they just frustrate me more than what I get out of them. Also keep in mind that Google is NOT the internet. Google has shown a good effort in controlling copyrighted material and, in fact, may be doing the best job of any company I've seen so far. Their methods aren't perfect and I can understand your desire to have them strive for perfect but please keep in mind what happened when the music industry shut down Napster -- it pushed everyone somewhere else to get what they wanted and now instead of it being one place that needs to be policed you've got numerous sites devoted to doing exactly what Napster was doing. The closing of Napster encouraged pirates to be more innovative. This is the internet that you are dealing with and no matter how hard you fight there will be people that will continue to break the law. It's a sad truth but its still the truth. Instead of pushing these people more underground why not look for a compromise?
Ultimately it is your copyrights and you are entitled to control those -- that is your right. I would just encourage you not to alienate your viewers by forcing them to play by your rules and watch things the way you want them to be watched because you'll ultimately end up pushing many viewers away and many of us already have a very sour taste in our mouths from the RIAA.
(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved
(C)2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved
BibleBoy's Blog by Bob K Mertz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.