Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I've Been Captivated

I've been getting hand-me-down phones from my son-in-law until he upgraded from his iPhone 3GS to an iPhone 4. He gave the 3GS to my daughter!

I never wanted an iPhone anyway. ;)

I had been watching Android phones. AT&T was slow to get Android phones, perhaps because they had the iPhone. They finally got the HTC Aria and the Samsung Captivate (a Galaxy S variant).

My rationale was to wait until these devices were upgraded to Android 2.2. The reason was that I wanted the newest Gmail and Google Docs applications and tethering (really unlikely due to AT&T).

Then the battery in my BlackBerry Bold started to get less and less capacity. And the holster broke. I needed some kind of excuse!

I thought I wanted the Aria until I touched the Captivate. It's so slim and light and the OLED screen is so bright!

Just before Christmas I discovered that AT&T had refurbished Captivates on their web site for $9.99. Yes, the decimal is in the correct place.

Compared to the iPhone 4 the Captivate is lighter with a bigger screen. And it doesn't need iTunes. Did I mention that it's cheaper?

There's a great comparison here.

When it arrived, I had never played with an Android. I spent the next 12 hours playing. It's amazing.

I use Google Hosted Apps to host the e-mail for my domain so I was able to use my domain e-mail as the Google account. I expected everything to work smoothly but I wasn't prepared for how well integrated all the Google services were.

I was used to the BlackBerry BIS e-mail being quick to deliver but it was really a copy of my Google e-mail. So when I deleted an e-mail from the BlackBerry I still had to dispose of it on my Google e-mail. On the Captivate, I can archive an e-mail on the phone and when I look over to my web Google e-mail, the e-mail has disappeared.

The calendar is the same. Today I created an event on my web Google calendar. As soon as I saved it, the phone buzzed. That was the notification for the new event.

I have been challenged by the battery life. I did all the suggestions I found in the forums with little success. AT&T exchanged the phone for me and the new one seems to be some better but still erratic. Most days I have 50%-60% at the end of the work day but then some days it'll be 20% and complaining. I can't discern a pattern nor cause. I've just laid in microUSB cables at strategic locations to recharge but I really haven't needed them.

I use Wi-Fi (802.11n) heavily at home and at work. The work network uses 802.1x authentication and with a little fiddling it works great.

The original phone's GPS was good. This is apparently a problem area with Galaxy S phones. The new phone's GPS is Ok but not as good as the original phone. I guess I'd rather have better battery life than a quick GPS.

I'm not an app hog but I've installed a number of apps from the market. AT&T has restricted the Captivate to only Android Market apps but that hasn't been an issue.

Here's what I've installed:
I'll write additional posts on several of these apps.

I haven't rooted it like I did the NOOKcolor and don't expect to. If Samsung and AT&T don't ever deliver Android 2.2 then I'll have to reconsider this.

Not Your Mother's Flip Phone

I'm sold on smartphones, particularly my new Samsung Captivate.


There's always a "but" isn't there?

Smartphone users obviously benefit from the tremendous capabilities of their new phones (really a handheld computer). The latest smartphones have powerful Internet access, applications, still and video cameras, etc.

But they aren't as capable phones as they used to be.

I came across this blog post that got me to thinking.

This poster mentioned his three "biggies:"
  1. Blackberry Messenger
  2. BB Holster Magnet
  3. Security
I hadn't enumerated my "biggies" but my experiences recently inspired me to write this.

The battery cable came lose on my car and reset my radio so I had to find and enter the radio's security code. That isn't a phone issue except that it triggered havoc with my Samsung Captivate.

I put the security code in and thought I was done. Ok. That's "easy." I set the input to "Aux" to get the signal from my BlackBerry Remote Stereo Gateway. Then I fired up Car Cast to resume listening to my podcast.

But wait, that's where I got the Android equivalent of a Blue Screen of Death. It said that the Car Cast app had been Forced Closed. Ok. That's "easy." Just go to the home screen and restart it.

But wait, it crashed again. And I noticed an alert in the notifications area. Ok, That's "easy." Just pull it down and it said that the external microSD card was now unmounted. I hadn't done anything with the menus and hadn't dropped or bumped the phone. I opened the back of the phone and removed and reinserted the microSD card.

But wait, that got me a message that the "mount point was invalid." I wouldn't call that very user friendly. Ok, that's "easy." So I powered the phone down and rebooted it. That got the microSD recognized. And now Car Cast would run.

But wait, now the phone wasn't connected to the BlackBerry Remote Stereo Gateway's Bluetooth. Ok. That's "easy." Navigate on the phone to "Setting," "Wireless and network," and "Bluetooth settings."

But wait, there were NO Bluetooth devices listed. Ok. That's "easy." Click on "Scan devices."

But wait, it didn't see the BlackBerry Remote Stereo Gateway. Ok. That's "easy." Just turn off "Bluetooth" and turn it back on then "Scan devices" again.

But wait, the BlackBerry Remote Stereo Gateway shows "Paired but not connected." Ok. That's "easy." Click on the device entry for BlackBerry Remote Stereo Gateway and in a few seconds it connects.

Try explaining that to your mother.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Rook Is Nooted

I finally gave in and rooted my NOOKcolor.

It was sooooo easy. I simply followed the step-by-step instructions here. The biggest problem I had was that my first USB SD adapter didn't work.

I used the Auto-Nooter variation. There are more details here. Auto-Nooter also:
  • Installs su and Superuser.apk
  • Installs Busybox
  • Installs Calendar and Calculator
  • Installs and enables Android Market, Gmail, Youtube
  • Enables Multi-touch for Android Apps
  • Enables Live Wallpapers
  • Enables Android Market and Gmail
  • App Auto Install (automatically install apps that you drop into the sdcards /data/app folder via USB)
  • Installs Soft Keys 3.0
  • Installs Genie Widgets
  • Installs Droid X Multi-touch Keyboard as an option
  • Adds a removable Custom Boot Animation
In addition to the basic rooting instructions, I also followed these to enable my Google Apps account. While this all worked fine, read through both of these posts a couple of times to see how they fit together.

I installed ADW.Launcher. I had gotten a recommendation for LauncherPro but I discovered that on the Nook you have to really hack at changing the apps in the dock bar.

I had one spontaneous reboot but it's been rock solid since then.

The latest root process even enables the Android Market so you can download whatever apps you'd like. I have downloaded ADW.Launcher, Home Switcher, Dropbox, greader (Google Reader RSS), Titanium Backup, Klondike Solitaire, and Angry Birds.

I used Home Switcher to make ADW.Launcher the default launcher. I changed the grid size on ADW.Launcher to 6 x 6. I'm not sure that's the "right" size but it's a good start.

The root process installs SoftKeys which lets you bring up the equivalent of the normal 4 buttons on the bottom of an Android screen.

To get youtube working, I had to use Titanium Backup and "wipe data" for youtube.

Pretty nice Android tablet for $249.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Good Job AT&T

We're all too quick to whine and complain about service, especially me. And who better to complain about but TPC (The Phone Company)?

I have AT&T's DSL XTreme promising 6.0 Mbps (and delivering pretty much that).

Starting last Friday evening, I began noticing my Internet speeds stalling every now and then. I logged into my D-Link DIR-655 router and looked at the log. It didn't show any problems. Then I went over and looked at the statistics. I refreshed the screen every 1-2 seconds. When it was running good I could see that I was receiving 100-200 packets every time. I was attempting a youtube upload at the time.

But every 30 minutes or so, the receiving rate would drop to pretty much nothing. The symptoms were that pages wouldn't load and my youtube upload would fail.

I reset the modem and reset the router with no change.

Saturday I finally gave up and called AT&T's DSL support. I was prepared for the worse but I was pleasantly surprised.

After the obligatory chatter about modems and routers I asked the representative to check for problems in the area. He reached out to the technical support team. We went back and forth on hold for 30 minutes or so.

At one point I noticed all my instant messaging clients drop and restart. A few seconds later the representative came back and and said the technical support team had reprovisioned my DSL service.

It's been fine ever since.

Good Job AT&T!

Friday, January 07, 2011


You get an "atta boy" if you know what DKIM stands for.

DKIM - DomainKeys Identified Mail. This is a technique for signing outgoing e-mail messages so sent mail is less likely to get caught up in recipients’ spam filters.

Google has added this to all Google Apps users. Administrators can enable DKIM signing in the “Advanced Tools” tab of their control panel.

Once you get this text string, you have to go create a TXT record in your DNS.

Here's what mine looks like:

It took 20-30 minutes for the DNS updates to propagate.

There's a nice tutorial here.

Nice job Google! And the price is right: FREE.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Browser Share III

I didn't realize it had been so long since I looked at and shared my browser statistics.

A recent exchange about file sharing tools got me looking at the distribution of operating systems visiting my web sites. I specifically looked at and DeSotoNet is more of a general purpose site and gets non-techie visitors. My blog gets the geeks (like you).

The exchange that triggered this was with a Microsoft representive. His comment was "Yeah, XP is gone - wasn't happy about that, but it's so old and antiquated now." When I shared that with a manager at a Fortune 100 company his response was "And XP is not gone. Probably on >50% of the home and work machines that are active."

Anyway here's what I found on operating system share on my web sites. I threw in browser share just for fun.

I use 2 different statistics tools so some interpretation is necessary.

Here's the operating system view on

XP is practically 50% of the Windows visitors. The Vista share surprised me. I'd guess that "Windows 2008" is Windows 7. I suspect that a large portion of the "Others" is some kind of Windows as well. Web crawlers would show up there also.

Here's the browser share on

Internet Explorer dominates. This isn't the techie crowd.

Here's the operating systems on my

My Windows 7 shows up as "Windows NT." None of the techies are running Vista!

Here's the browsers on

Thankfully IE 6 is pretty much gone.