January 7, 2013

Surface Tip: How to put your pictures "in the cloud" and share them

Filed under Surface

Prerequisite: Your must have a Microsoft Account setup. See how here.

 

  1. Download SkyDrive app from Windows Store
  2. Start SkyDrive app
    • NOTE: You will find the newly installed SkyDrive app at the far right of the Start Screen
  3. Click on “Pictures” folder
  4. Select app command “New Folder”
    • image
  5. Give folder a name that makes searching helpful
    • For example: 2013-01-04 Texas A&M vs OU Cotton Bowl at Monaghan’s
    • I use the above XXXX-XX-XX format so that I can easily sort all my photo albums by the date they were taken
    • I put keywords in the title that will help me find the folder later
  6. Select the folder
  7. Select app command “Upload”
  8. Choose pictures to upload
    1. Connect your camera to Surface via USB port
    2. Click “Files”
    3. Select “Computer”
    4. Select location representing the camera, Example: Removable Disk (D:)
    5. Select pictures you want to upload. You can select multiple pictures or choose “Select all”
    6. Select “Add to SkyDrive”

Now your photos are “in the cloud”. That means you can access them from many places, not just your Surface.

You can access your photos from almost anywhere via:

To share your photos or folder of folders with others:

  1. Open SkyDrive app
  2. Select the folder or pictures you want to share
  3. Select the Share Charm
    • Touch: by swiping from the right, select “Share”
    • Mouse: Put mouse pointer in upper-right and move down or lower-left and move up, select “Share”
  4. To share to
    1. Facebook/Twitter (assumes you added Facebook/Twitter support):
      1. Select “People”
      2. Select Facebook or Twitter
      3. Optionally type a message
      4. Click “Send”
    2. Email:
      1. Select “Mail”
      2. Add email addresses
      3. Optionally type a message
      4. Click “Send”

Add Facebook to Surface

Filed under Surface

When you add Facebook support…

  • Contacts in Mail app and People app will have pictures provided by Facebook profiles
  • Facebook pictures will appear in the Photos app
  • Facebook events will show in Calendar app
  • You can see Facebook status updates in the People app
  • You can post Facebook status from the People app

To add Facebook support:

  1. Open People app
  2. Select “Connected to” in upper right
  3. Select “Add an Account”
  4. Select “Facebook”
  5. Fill in you Facebook account information

Add Twitter support similarly.

January 1, 2013

Surface Tip: Use a Microsoft Account

Filed under Surface

image

There are two types of accounts in Windows 8

  • local account
  • Microsoft account

A local account is the old way of doing things. You want to use a Microsoft account to take advantage of new features in Windows 8 such as using the cloud to keep your data synchronized. Learn more about Microsoft accounts here.

A “Microsoft Account” is an email address that ends with:

  • @outlook.com
  • @hotmail.com
  • @live.com

If you don’t have a Microsoft Account, then I recommend getting one via outlook.com. Click here to setup an account.

When you login to Surface for the first time, use your Microsoft Account.

If you already setup an account on your Surface without a Microsoft Account (a “local account”), follow the instructions here under the section “Convert a local account to a Microsoft account”.

Surface Tips and Tricks

Filed under Surface

1244685-microsoft-surface

My family has 5 Microsoft Surface’s now. I’m going to write several posts to help them get started. I will publish all the articles here so they can help others as well. You can see all of posts at: http://www.davidlenihan.com/surface.

Enjoy!

March 14, 2012

Windows 8 Brown Bag

Filed under

I did a brown bag talk about what’s new in Windows 8 today. Here are the slides.

June 11, 2011

Comparing the Big Three

Filed under Gadgets, Software, Web, Xbox 360

Apple, Google and Microsoft are the the only companies that have the products and services to go head-to-head. There are many components to consider for this next-gen battle. I threw together a table to see how they match up. There is no clear winner: this is going to be fun to watch over the next few years.

 

Apple

Google

Microsoft

Smart Phone OS

iOS

Android 2.X

Windows Phone

Smart Phone OS Market Share

26%

36%

1%

Number of Apps for Smart Phone

~400,000

~200,000

~20,000

Tablet OS

iOS

Android 3.X

Windows 8

Tablet OS Market Share

73%

22%

0%

Number of Apps for Tablet

~100,000

~30

0

Phone/Tablet Programming Language

Objective-C

Java

C#/Visual Basic/any .NET Language

Phone/Tablet Programming Language Owner

Apple

Oracle

Microsoft

Phone/Tablet Programming Language is "write once, run anywhere"

No

Yes

Yes

Desktop/Laptop OS

OS X

Chrome OS

Windows

Desktop/Laptop OS's market share

7.4%

0%

86.3%

Number of Apps for Desktop/Laptop

Few

0

Many

TV OS

Apple TV

Google TV

Xbox 360

TV OS's sold

2 million

? (sales are lower than expected)

55 million

Number of Apps for TV

Few

Few

Many

Web Browser

Safari

Chrome

Internet Explorer

Web Browser Market Share

(from Wikipedia)

6.3%

14.6%

43.2%

Search Engine

None

Google

Bing

Search Engine market share

0%

64.42%

30.0%

Instant Messaging

iChat

Google Talk

Windows Live Messenger/Skype

Instant Messaging market share

Low

~4%

~70%

Web Mail (includes calendar and contacts)

None

Gmail

Hotmail

Web Mail Market Share

0

16.2%

24.6%

Desktop Word Processor

Pages for Mac

None

Word

Desktop Word Processor Market Share (not based on  data)

Low

0%

High

Desktop Spreadsheet

Numbers for Mac

None

Excel

Desktop Spreadsheet Market Share (not based on data)

Low

0%

High

Desktop Presentations

Keynote for Mac

None

PowerPoint

Desktop Presentations Market Share (not based on data)

Low

0%

High

Web Word Processor

None

Google docs

Word Web App

Web Spreadsheet

None

Google docs

Excel Web App

Web Presentations

None

Google docs

PowerPoint Web App

Mobile Word Processor

Pages for iOS

Google docs for Android

Word Mobile

Mobile Spreadsheet

Numbers for iOS

Google docs for Android

Excel Mobile

Mobile Presentations

Keynote for iOS

Google docs for Android

PowerPoint Mobile

Music/Video Store

iTunes

None

Zune

Music/Video Store Market Share (not based on data)

High

0%

Low

Music Subscription

None

None

Zune Pass

Maps

None

Google Maps

Bing Maps

Cloud Storage

iCloud

Google Docs

SkyDrive

 

 

Key

  • Competitive Advantage
  • Competitive Disadvantage

 

Technorati Tags: ,,,

April 17, 2011

Upgrade to SSD

Filed under Computers, Gadgets

The best thing about electronics that break: replacing them!

My hard drive hard drive was starting to die. I don’t like the idea that the device I count on to store my data is not reliable.

I decided to try something new this time: a solid-state drive (SSD). I bought an 250GB Intel Solid-State Drive 510.

Here is my Experience Index before installing the SSD.

Original Experience Index

Here is my Experience Index after installing the SSD.

After

November 21, 2010

Windows Phone First Impressions

Filed under

image

It has been almost 6 months since my last new smart phone (an HTC Evo).

That means one thing: time to jump ship and get a new phone.

I was very happy with my Evo. But the gadget lover in me and my reputation as being a “Microsoft shill” required me to get a Windows Phone (WP).

For a good review of WP, see Paul Thurrott .

I picked up a Samsung Focus that runs on AT&T. I chose the Samsung Focus because it is super thin/light and has no keyboard. I have changed my view on smart phones and keyboards. I once thought a keyboard was a requirement. Now I tolerate the on screen keyboard in exchange for a thin phone that fits better in my pocket. The Super AMOLED display looks amazing, too.

My favorite features in Windows Phone:

  • The UI. It is beautiful and feels "next generation.” It makes the iPhone and Android UI’s look dated in comparison. I love to study new UI’s and this phone is loaded with them.
  • Zune. I used a Zune HD for music before, but now I use my phone instead. Since I use the Zune Pass, I can access almost any song I want without worrying about purchasing. I like how I can use Shazam to discover a new song and immediately add it to my collection via Zune.
  • Wireless Media Syncing. I *never* plug my phone into my computer, yet the phone always has the same media content as my computer (and vice versa when I add music to my phone). How? I setup wireless syncing. As soon as my phone detects my home Wi-Fi network, it automagically connects to my computer and synchronizes:
    • Music
    • Videos (Movies and TV shows)
    • Pictures
    • Podcasts
  • Xbox Live Games. I love getting achievement points on my Xbox 360, and now I can get more via my phone. I’m definitely going to be playing more video games on this phone than I did on Android. Right now I’m playing ilomilo and Flight Control
  • Developer Tools. Here is another area where Android and iPhone look really dated. The free toolset (Visual Studio 2010 Express, XNA Game Studio, Expression Blend) make building beautiful apps easy and fun.

Here are some neat changes to how phones normally work

Quick access to camera

What do you normally do when you want to take a picture with your phone:

  • Turn on phone
  • Unlock phone
  • Find camera icon and launch
  • Take picture if moment hasn’t passed

To take a picture with Windows Phone:

  • Press and hold the camera button (all Windows Phones have a camera button) to turn on the phone and enter camera app (phone remains locked, but camera is usable)
  • Press the camera button a second time to take a picture

Fast startup and shutdown

33 seconds to startup.

8 seconds to shutdown.

Status Area

Most phones lose the top line for status (battery, signal strength, GPS, time, etc.)

Windows phone only shows you the status that is relevant to what you are doing. On the home screen, the only thing you can see the time. Press the time and all the other status information drop down. The icons are overlaid on top of the home screen so you do not lose any screen real estate. The battery only shows when the battery is low or is charging. The network strength only shows when you have no signal. It is a nice touch that simplifies the UI.

Automagically Stores Pictures/Notes in the Cloud

As soon as I take a picture, Windows Phone will upload the picture to a private folder on my SkyDrive (like a disk drive you can access from any web browser). Same is true when you take notes in OneNote (which I’m starting to really like.) I started typing my notes for this post in OneNote on the phone and now I’m looking at them via the web version of OneNote on my PC.

Animation

*Everything* is animated in the Windows Phone UI. It looks cool, but it also leads your eye to what you should be looking at and gives you and idea of where you came from. The animation makes using Windows Phone more entertaining than other phones.

Final Thoughts

I lost a lot of features (wireless hotspot, video conferencing, large app catalog) moving to Windows Phone. Did I make the right decision? Yes. The UI, Zune access, and games are worth it. I really like this phone.

September 13, 2010

SIGGRAPH 2010: Pixar Walking Teapot

Filed under 3D, Animation, SIGGRAPH

Pixar Walking Teapot

Pixar’s walking teapot is always the best swag of SIGGRAPH. Every year it is a different theme. This year is Mr. Potato Head in honor of Toy Story 3.

Why a teapot? Because it has become the standard model for showing off computer rendering techniques.

The line to get the teapots was ridiculous this year. They give out a batch each of the 3 exhibit days. I stood in line on the first day and they ran out by the time I got close.

The next day, I got in line over an hour early, and I was still several blocks from the start of the line. I did get one, though.

Based on the certificate of authenticity, they give out 1,500/day.

Here is a nice video clip showing how long the line was.

August 16, 2010

Comic-Con 2010 Day 2

Filed under Travel

P1030624

The bags at Comic-Con are ginourmous. Bags were bigger than some of the attendees.

P1030625

Big ad for the sci-fi movie Skyline.

 

P1030626

Patrick Duffy: Man from Atlantis/Bobby from Dallas.

 

P1030627The cast from The Guild…missing one very important member…

 

P1030630

…my nerd crush Felicia Day. She’s so cute!

 

My buddy Trey asked me to get his book Ramayana: Divine Loophole autographed by the author/artist Sanjay Patel (has worked for Pixar for 13 years). Sanjay was very nice and spent time making each autograph a unique work of art.P1030633

Gil Gerard from Buck Rogers talking to the original Boomer from Battlestar Galatica.

P1030634

 

Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi!

P1030636

Then I saw a large orange windup fish…

P1030639

I knew exactly what this was for…Rango! I asked the girl working at the booth, “This is for Rango, right?” And she gave me a puzzled look. “This is for Mr. Timms.”

P1030640

Ok, whatever. I know what is going on. They had Mr. Timms shirts and I wanted one. To get one, you get three ping pong balls. Throw them into Mr. Timms mouth and the balls will come out one of 4 tubes that determine what prize you get: a shirt, a windup Mr. Timms, a pen with a floating Mr. Timms, or a Mr. Timms coin holder. Get all three balls in and you get to pick your prize.P1030654

I said, “Ok, I’m ready.” The girl replied, “Then you need to go to the end of the line against the wall.”

There was a line about a block long for Mr. Timms! I spoke to people in the line…nobody knew about the connection to Mr. Timms and Rango. The little girl behind me was jumping up and down because she was so excited about Mr. Timms. Amazing.

While we were waiting in line, a guy told us that he is introducing Mr. Timms to America and how amazing Mr. Timms is.

When I finally got to try my luck with the ping pong balls, I got 2 of 3 in…no shirt! I said “I have to have a shirt!” They said I would have to wait in line again. I said, “I will stand in line all day…I’m not leaving until I get a shirt.”

I guess it helps being loud, because when I got back in line, someone from the booth came to talk to me. She saw that I worked at ILM (I had an Iron Man crew shirt on). She said I wasn’t the first person from ILM that was determined to get a shirt. Rather than make me wait in line all day, she said she would see what she could do.

I said, “While you are seeing what you can do…”large” would be nice!”

She came back and announced, “I’m giving out a shirt to a random winner in line…and it goes to…*YOU* sir!” Very cool! I got my shirt!

 

P1030645Not sure what she was supposed to be…but it works.

 

I am a huge LOST fan…so I had to get my picture with a cast member: Nadia.P1030646

Seeing bare ass gets my attention…I didn’t know who she was at the time. It’s Cammy White from the video game Street Fighter.P1030649

Nvidia had a setup where you could get your picture taken with some World of Warcraft girls in 3D. I think seeing the picture in 3D was supposed to be the draw…but I doubt anybody cared about the 3D.

DSCF0161 DSCF0162

I wanted to get was a TRON shirt. I asked at the TRON booth if they had any. They said the shirts they were wearing were the only TRON shirts available, and were exclusively provided by a vendor on the show floor. I picked one up on my way out.

 P1030655

While walking back to my hotel…guess who I ran into? The Old Spice Guy!P1030656

 

Comic-con was a blast. For me, two days was the perfect amount of time. Any more and I would have OD’ed. It was a good time…would definitely go again.

August 11, 2010

Comic-Con 2010 Day 1 – part 2

Filed under Celebrity, Movies, Travel

I found out the Flynn’s Arcade would not open until after 1, so I went back to the convention center for a bit.

It is amazing how many costumed cute girls there are at Comic-Con. It may be the best people watching ever.

P1030498 

 

Fox promoted the October 26th Alien Anthology Blu-ray release with a working(?) hibernation chamber from the Nostromo (from the original Alien).

P1030501

 

Lucasfilm had 30 slave Leia’s on display…always a crowd favorite.

P1030502

 

Ran into my pal Mary Franklin at the booth…the only time I see her now because she is always traveling.

P1030508

 

Impressive Iron Man costume…not so impressive Black Widow.

P1030510

Big ads are everywhere around the convention center. Movie Battle:Los Angeles and video game Red Faction: Armageddon below.

P1030512

 

Scott Pilgram vs. the World

P1030513

To get into Flynn’s Arcade, you had to wait in line for a ticket…

P1030514

 

Yes! Got a ticket!

 P1030517P1030518

…which lets you wait in line to get in.P1030519

Once inside, I was given a bunch of token with logos from various TRON video games.

P1030614

P1030615

I figured you would use the tokens to play the games in the arcade…nope. All the games were on free play (and super easy mode). The vending machine was giving out free Cokes, too.

The place was loaded with games from the early 80’s…

P1030526 P1030525 P1030535 P1030533 

 

I got first place on Ms Pac-Man.

P1030542 

There were a few “Space Paranoid” games (from the original TRON). Play Space Paranoid online here.

P1030524

 

There were some Xbox 360’s, PS3’s and Wii’s showing off upcoming TRON: Legacy video games.

P1030550 P1030546 P1030520

 

I heard there were going to be clues inside to something special. I noticed many of the neon signs were partially lit so I took many photos just in case I needed to recall which letters were lit. They did an excellent job of decorating this place (which is only temporary…completely cleared out after Comic-Con).

P1030568 P1030563 P1030562 P1030561 P1030560 P1030559 P1030556 P1030555 P1030554 P1030552 P1030544

 

One video game wasn’t playable…

P1030536

 

The TRON game eventually slid over to reveal a walkway to Flynn’s lab.

P1030539  P1030569

 

And a digitizer…facing the desk? Seems like that might be a problem.

 P1030540

Here is the digitizer in action.

After the gun fired off, we walked down a hallway to enter the world of TRON - The “End of Line” Club. It was amazing…best moment of Comic-Con.

A bunch of videos of the bar to help capture the moment

The music by Daft Punk was so powerful. I’m definitely picking up the soundtrack as soon as it comes out (heard November).

A light cycle suit mannequin on display.

P1030579

The real/live TRON girl was stunning. She actually lit up!

P1030596

 

I had to get a photo with her.

P1030606

How do you cap an experience like that?

Watch the late night screening of “Mega Piranha” hosted by 80’s pop princess Tiffany and my geek crush Felicia Day.

P1030622

Mega Piranha is a mockbuster by The Asylum of the upcoming movie Piranha 3-D. It was bad, and not “so-bad-it-is-funny-bad”…just sleep-inducing bad.

August 10, 2010

Comic-Con 2010 Day 1 – part 1

Filed under Gadgets, Movies, Video Games, Xbox 360

I went to my first Comic-Con this year and had a really good time. Comic-Con is HUGE…over 140,000 people this year. Getting a ticket is tough. All passes were sold out in November 2009 (9 months before the show!). Luckily, I’m considered a “professional” and got a free pass just 2 months before Comic-Con.

IMAG0038

I am not into comic books, so I was not sure how much there would be that interested me.

I arrived on Friday morning. On my way to the convention center, I noticed all the gas lamps in the Gaslamp Quarter were decorated with TRON posters for the new movie.

IMAG0034I am a big fan of TRON. If there was one thing I wanted to see at Comic-Con, it would be anything TRON related.

And look what I happen to walk past on the way to the convention center…

IMAG0035 Flynn’s Arcade!

I asked the people in line what was happening. “Press event.” Dang! I really wanted to see what was inside.

I continued to the convention center and saw the “Black Beauty” from the upcoming movie “The Green Hornet.”

IMAG0036

IMAG0037

Once inside, I saw a huge “recognizer” from a distance. First stop: find out what is going on with TRON.P1030480 There were were a couple dressed up in TRON garb working the booth.

P1030481

They were giving away a light cycle toy if you waited in line. I decided to pass on that one due to line length.

There are going to be a TON of product tie-ins with this movie. Some of the products were on display. I may have to get the Xbox 360 controller.

P1030489 P1030488 P1030487 P1030486 P1030485 P1030484 P1030483 P1030482

They also had the Lightcycle from last year’s Comic-Con on display.

P1030491 P1030490

I asked about access to Flynn’s Arcade. I was told Flynn’s Arcade would be open to the public after lunch. You could get tickets later in the day at the booth, or just go to the Flynn’s Arcade directly.

Some neat new Star Wars Lego kits coming out.

P1030492

Slave 1 with frozen Han Solo

 P1030494

TIE Defender

P1030493

Imperial Shuttle

I stopped by the Xbox 360 setup at the Hard Rock Hotel so I could try out Kinect.

P1030495

I tried out “Dance Central” in front of a group of people. It was fun, but you can’t help but feel like a big dork…especially as you learn the moves. I’m definitely getting this when it comes out.

Here is a clip I took of a guy playing Dance Central. There is a kid that is running around and it doesn’t mess up the tracking.

P1030496 The other game that really stood out was LIMBO. It looks like no other game I’ve seen. I picked it up as soon as I got home and have already finished it. Read my review here.

Next up: Heading to Flynn’s Arcade.

August 5, 2010

Game Review: LIMBO

Filed under Reviews, Video Games, Xbox 360

image 

LIMBO is a new game for Xbox 360.

This is a special game. It reminds me of the original Prince of Persia in terms of the fluid animation and puzzles.

What I liked:

  • Unique look
  • Looks as if the game was filmed with an old black and white camera
  • Impressive puzzles
  • Great sound and effects
  • Dark theme
  • Not 3D for a change

Check out this video to see what LIMBO looks like.

I really enjoyed this one.

Highly recommended. 5/5 stars.

Technorati Tags: ,,

July 4, 2010

iTunes Hacked!

Filed under Computers, Gadgets, Music

image

 

iTunes: Hello, I'm iTunes.

Zune: And I'm Zune.

iTunes: I think somebody stole my wallet!

Zune: How could that happen?

iTunes: Someone must have hacked my account.

Zune: You should call someone immediately!

iTunes: I wish! There is no support phone number for iTunes.

Zune: So what are you supposed to do?

iTunes: Email.

Zune: This is urgent! How quickly will they respond to email?

iTunes: Within 48 hours. You know how it is.

Zune: Actually, I don’t.

iTunes: Oh, you get a better response than an email back in 48 hours?

Zune: I can contact support via phone 7 days a week, from 6am until 10pm.

iTunes: Well you better contact them now!

Zune: I’ll be fine.

iTunes: Don’t be a hero, Zune! iTunes has been hacked!

Zune: iTunes…but not Zune.

 

 

Source: http://thenextweb.com/apple/2010/07/04/app-store-hacked/

Technorati Tags: ,,

June 25, 2010

2010 ILM Cinefex Credit

Filed under Work

Cover

Like it does every year, ILM took out a two page ad thanking its employee’s in the July issue of Cinefex magazine.

To skip to the good stuff (my credit), go to the right page, 1st column, 25th down. For some reason, almost everybody in Research & Development has a middle initial listed…weird.

Left page…

left 

Right page…

right

 

Technorati Tags: ,

June 13, 2010

Recycling Done Right

Filed under Travel

Saw this in the Atlanta airport…

P1030479

Here is the concept: You put garbage in a trash can. Then someone goes through the trash and sorts it into recycling and landfill.

  • No confusion over what goes where…only one trash can.
  • Everybody recycles…you can’t opt out.

Unfortunately, it does not do composting.

More info here.

Technorati Tags: ,,

June 7, 2010

Android First Impressions

Filed under Gadgets, Reviews

I picked up an HTC EVO 4G on Friday.

image

One year ago I bought a Palm Pre. I *love* the Palm Pre. My biggest issue with the Pre is a lack of new products (still no follow-on announced) and the lost developer momentum.

Android, on the other hand, is doing very well in those departments.

What I like:

  • Voice search – just press and hold the search button on the bottom right, then say what you are looking for and the phone gives you the Google search results for what you just said. I’m shocked how accurate it is, especially considering there is no voice training involved. This is definitely easier/quicker than typing and it has already changed how I use a smart phone.
  • Similarly, the on screen keyboard has an option to let you speak instead of type. I’ve used it for a few text messages and find it useful. I’m curious if I’ll use this more than the actual keyboard for txt messages…if it saves me keystrokes, then I will.
  • Google Maps has Street View! Maps is a killer app for mobile phones…and having access to Street View makes it even more so. I really like how you can rotate your body in order to spin around in Street View.
  • Google Scoreboard app: This app tracks your favorite teams, and tells you what time they are playing (in *your* time zone), where they are on TV/radio, and can notify you with score updates at start/end of game, or after every quarter, or score. It works great, it is free, and it has no ads.
  • EVO uses the same Micro USB port that the Pre uses, so I don’t need new charging cables for home/work/car.
  • Facebook app…written by Facebook. Automatically populates your phone’s contact list with information (email, phone numbers, address, etc) and profile pics.
  • Twitter app…written by Twitter. Like the Facebook app, the Twitter app integrates with Android so that any contacts you have that don’t have pictures associated with them can get their profile pics from Twitter. App has fun cloud/bird animations that give it a unique look and feel.
  • Foursquare app…written by Foursquare. Unlike the Pre version, this actually works well.
  • Gmail. The Android version of Gmail is is more full featured than the Pre mail program (supports labels, collapsing conversations to a single message).
  • Animated wallpaper.
  • Shazam. Ever hear a song and wonder who sings it? Shazam can listen to just a few seconds of a song and tell you what it is. This *is* magical software.
  • Phone kickstand. You can see a metal bar on the back on the phone in the image above. That metal bar extends so you can place your phone in landscape mode on a table for easy viewing. Useful when you use your phone as an alarm clock, watching movies, or a mini computer. Just add a wireless keyboard and you have a *very* portable computer, except the screen may be too small for heavy usage. Which brings me to…
  • HDMI out. The phone can output to a TV via an HDMI cable (video/sound). If you want a much bigger display than the already ginormous 4.3 inch screen…just plug it into your TV!
  • Mobile hotspot. You can use the EVO as a Wi-Fi access point for up to 8 devices! Finally…I can connect my laptop to the internet via my phone. My Pre could not do that (but my old Windows Mobile 6 Palm Treo could).
  • Web browser. I found that more web pages load correctly on the EVO than they did on my Pre.
  • I haven’t really thought about the performance of this phone, mostly because I haven’t had to wait for anything. I guess that means 1 GHz Snapdragon processor is fast.
  • Android has a lot of momentum now, I only expect it to grow. It is nice to have a phone that developers are targeting instead of being an afterthought. There are a ton of apps to play with…much more than what is available for the Pre.
  • Big 4.3” screen makes everything better: more details visible on maps, on screen keyboard has large buttons even in portrait mode, video more enjoyable to watch.
  • HTC’s custom software is actually useful and not crap ware like I was expecting. I like the home screen big clock, weather, alarms, timer, and stopwatch. You can turn on a low light clock that stays on at all times if you want to use your phone as an alarm clock. The pinch to zoom for access to the 7 home screens is very fast/useful.
  • Front facing camera for video chats. Not sure when I’ll use this, but it is nice to know I can.
  • HD video recording at 720p.
  • 8MP camera with 2 LED flashes.
  • Supports 32 GB microSD card.
  • Adobe Flash! It isn’t here on this Android release (2.1), but it should be when 2.2 come out…which won’t be long.

What I don’t like/miss:

  • Keyboard. I still prefer the confidence of typing with actual keys.
  • Notifications. They are handled *perfectly* on the Pre. Android needs some work. Android email notification only says you have a new message. Pre tells you who sent it and the message subject. Notifications on the Pre could be selectively deleted. So far, I’ve only been able to delete all notifications at once with Android.
  • Task management. Pre has this done right, too. On the Pre, you press the “home” button and you instantly see small “cards” representing all the running applications. You swipe an app up to send it off the screen and kill it. You can rearrange the order of running apps. You can use the swipe left/right gesture to quickly move between running apps without going to a home screen/task switcher dialog (like pressing/releasing Alt-tab). With Android, I don’t see a way to kill an app (Android is supposed to manage this for you). Android appears to only support switching between 6 apps via a dialog that comes up when you press and hold the “home” button. It’s not terrible…but not as slick as the Pre.
  • The Pre uses a universal swipe to the left or right to delete an item (like a mail message or a notification). Once you learn this, you expect you can do it anywhere…which is true on the Pre. Android doesn’t support the swipe to delete gesture…but I wish it did.
  • The Pre has the touchstone charger that lets you charge your phone by simply laying it on a “puck”…wireless charging. If you get a call, you lift the phone off the puck and the call is automatically answered, just like the way a traditional phone works. Also if you start a speaker phone conversation while on the the puck, lifting the phone off the puck will switch speaker phone off. EVO just plugs into a micro USB cable. :(
  • The battery life is about the same as what I was getting with the Pre…I have to charge a minimum of once a day, or more if I really use the phone. I keep it plugged in overnight and have a charger at work as well. It’s not a step back from the Pre, but I’d like to get back to the days when a cell phone only needed charging once a week.
  • On the Pre, you can slide your launch icons where ever you want. If an icon is already in the location, it will slide out of the way to a new location allowing for easy insertions. Android, on the other hand, won’t let you do this. You must first make an empty space before you can drag an icon to a location. Not a big deal…but not as slick as the Pre.

After using the EVO for a weekend and getting used to Android…I’m hooked. The EVO isn’t perfect and I do miss some of some of Pre’s niceties. Overall, the good almost makes you forget the bad.

I would recommend the EVO and Android to anyone.

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May 3, 2010

My Bro and Nephew: ManBabies of the Day!

Filed under Family, Funny

Check out ManBabies.com…my brother and nephew are featured!

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We need more votes! Click on the “VOTE!” on the bottom right.

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April 4, 2010

CityCenter’s Aria

Filed under Reviews, Travel

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The past weekend I stayed at Vegas’ latest super casino: CityCenter. The hotel we stayed at in CityCenter is called “Aria.”

CityCenter is made up of 5 towers and a mall called “Crystals.” imageThe 5 towers are:

  1. Aria: hotel and casino
  2. Vdara: hotel and condo
  3. Mandarin Oriental: hotel and condo
  4. Harmon: hotel
  5. Veer: condo

Aria’s rooms are the best Vegas rooms I have ever been in. First of all, the key card to open the door works by being close to the door…no need to insert it in a slot. That means you can just leave the card in your wallet and wave your wallet in front of the door to open it.

When you walk in for the first time, the room is completely dark with the curtains drawn. The lights thoughout the room slowly ramp up to full brightness as the curtains automatically pull back to reveal an amazing view. Then the HDTV turns on with your name written on the screen. There are two remotes: a standard remote and a touch screen that stays by your bed. Both remotes use RF instead of IF, so you don’t have to aim them. The remotes lets you control:

  • TV
  • Music
  • All the lights
  • The curtains
  • Alarm clock
  • Temperature
  • Privacy indicator outside your door

It is very slick.

The room has audio/video inputs so you can easily hook your laptop/mp3 player to the TV. Two powered USB ports allows you to charge your devices without using an AC adapter…nice!

Here are some pics of our room on 54th floor…

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View outside our room…

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The sports betting area of Aria is amazing. It has the best/biggest HDTV I have seen (actually, two) if you take the one at Cowboy Stadium out of consideration. First drink is on the house here! I would *definitely* come back just to watch a basketball/football game here. Here is some video to give you an idea how big (and bright!) the screens are.

The next smaller TV’s are ~60”…and they look great, too.

Overall, I’m impressed with Aria. It is very different from typical Vegas casinos…but I enjoyed the change. The food was great, but our service at The Buffet and Cafe Vettro were sub-par. For example, I finished my meal and left The Buffet and never got the Diet Coke that I requested *twice* (the first request was before I went to get my first plate of food).

I still enjoyed my stay and would go again. It is an amazing structure and worth checking out.

Some photos from around Aria…

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Mandarin Hotel @ CityCenter…

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Crystals Mall at CityCenter…

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March 13, 2010

Goodbye Tabbed Browsing

Filed under Software

I really like the new taskbar in Windows 7.

One of the byproducts of the new taskbar: tabbed browsing is obsolete.

Tabbed browsing was great when your window manager was overwhelmed with large numbers of internet browser windows. However, the Windows 7 taskbar works great with large numbers of open windows.

Tabbed browsing is actually worse than Windows 7’s taskbar application management. Why?

  1. With each browser window in a separate application, you can quickly ALT-TAB between the last two important apps. With tabbed browsing, you cannot use ALT-TAB to move between web browser sessions because all the tabs happen in a single app.
  2. Similarly, holding down ALT-TAB shows you thumbnails of all the open applications so you can quickly go to the application you want via a mouse click. This doesn’t work with tabbed browsing for the reason above.
  3. Tabbed browsing takes up extra screen space for the tab row. You can disable tab browsing and see more content.
  4. Windows 7 makes it easy to see applications side-by-side via Aero Snap. This works great if you disable tabbed browsing, doesn’t work at all with tabbed browsing.
  5. With tabbed browsing disabled, you can adjust the window size per browser session. Only use the screen space you need! Also, using different sizes for different session makes finding a session easier via Aero Peek.
  6. If you change Windows 7’s default taskbar setting to “Combine when taskbar is full”, you can glance down at your taskbar and select the browser session you want by the title text, just like you can with tabbed browsing. To change this taskbar setting (which I recommend changing): right click start button->properties->taskbar->taskbar buttons: [Combine when taskbar is full]
  7. For developers: You get Aero Peek for free if you do not use tabbed browsing. If you do use tabbed browsing, you must write a Windows 7 plug-in to make Aero Peek work for all the open tabs (IE had to do this, all web browsers that support tabbed browsing *should* do this if they want to function correctly in Windows 7).
  8. To quickly open another web browser session, just middle mouse click on any browser button in the taskbar. This option is available even when you are not currently working in a web browser (i.e. no need to switch to web browser and find the “open new tab” button).
  9. To quickly kill browser sessions, just hover on a browser button in the taskbar, then middle click on any thumbnail. As a visual queue, you get thumbnails of all the open browser sessions. Once you mouse over the session you want to kill, you see the web page in its entirety before making a decision to kill it.
  10. Tabbed browsing is partially duplicating what the taskbar already does…why learn two different ways of doing essentially the same thing?

To disable tabbed browsing in IE: Tools->Internet Options->General->Tabs->Settings->[ ] Enable Tabbed Browsing (requires restarting Internet Explorer)

For Firefox, use: Tools->Options…->Tabs->[ ] Open new windows in a new tab instead

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