Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Android 201: clearing settings

A little more advanced tip over at androidcentral.... if you have a mis-behaving app on your android phone, the solution is to often clear cache or data.... here's how to do it.

Read more after the break...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Monkey Simulator Reproduces Shakespeare

When I took simulations, I just wrote a program to simulate running a bank of elevators in a high-rise building (I can't wait for an elevator now without contemplating what the control software was having that elevator car do based on the time of day).

Anyway... this guy decided to write a simulator to simulate a monkey typing on a typewriter.... then ran millions of them until he successfully reproduced Shakespeare.

He's hoping to keep running until he reproduces all of Shakespeare's works.

Of course, once their done... what's he going to do with all of those virtual monkeys. Maybe it's time to start seeking new funding for the Super Monkey Collider (I'm sure scientists would be equally interested in the effects on virtual monkeys as on real ones).

Read more after the break...

Epic Touch 4G Useful tips and tricks

As some of you may know, I picked up the (completely unreasonably named Sprint Samsung Galaxy S II, Epic 4G Touch last weekend after my Sprint Epic 4G suddenly refused to boot while I was travelling.

I had been looking forward to the Epic 4G Touch since before the name was known (anybody else recall the "Within" code name?), but I wasn't really planning to rush out and buy it... I was thinking I would at least wait a month, but I guess all I needed was a little nudge.

Read more after the break

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

More Android 101: Bluetooth

Android Central offers up tips on pairing bluetooth devices. I'll have to agree with their synopsis... it's pretty easy but not all phones and devices are created equal.

My first phone routinely had Bluetooth problems and my second phone (A Samsung Epic) would sometimes fail to negotiate A2DP. Restarting Bluetooth on the phone and reconnecting to the device would usually solve it.

Read more after the break...

Patents: What are we doing to ourselves?

Please read this excerpt and shake your head.

Amplify’d from

But anecdotal evidence is one thing. Data is another. Three Boston University researchers have produced a rigorous empirical estimate of the cost of patent trolling. And the number is breath-taking: patent trolls ("non-practicing entity" is the clinical term) have cost publicly traded defendants $500 billion since 1990. And the problem has become most severe in recent years. In the last four years, the costs have averaged $83 billion per year. The study says this is more than a quarter of US industrial research and development spending during those years.


Monday, September 19, 2011

RSS TiVo for the Internet.... for better and worse

In the ultimate irony, as the last story I'm sharing tonight before going to bed.... I offer you an article on the problem of RSS feeds. I'm doing this after clearing out my own personal RSS backlog which peaked recently at around 700 articles.... I saved this article for last.

I love RSS and I love Google Reader and I'm not sure I agree with the author, but I can agree that RSS can become a problem. Lately I've been deploying Yahoo Pipes to filter feeds for me to select just the articles I want (Previously I was manually scanning updates and marking all but select articles as read and just reading the key ones), but in spite of this.... I was way behind on things I actually wanted to read and share.

I titled this article "TiVo for the Internet" because that's how I really feel about RSS (I've been saying this for years so if you know me personally you may have heard this rant before).... before I had TiVo, there were shows that I "had" to watch (meaning I would watch every episode unless some higher priority life event came up.. .and ins one cases maybe I would record the show that conflicted with the real world... but more often then not... I would just miss it). Then there was the vast majority of shows that I watched.... clearly I liked them (otherwise I wouldn't have watched), but if I missed them... I missed them. No big deal.

Then I got TiVo.

Now I don't miss anything. My TiVo records any and every show that I like whether or not they are a priority. That means I never have to miss anything. And I don't. It's a blessing and a curse. I find myself now reluctant to start watching a new show, because once I start watching... I feel committed to watch each and every episode until the series goes off the air. My "season pass list" often has at least 40 (and typically more like 60) different programs its seeking out.

I'm not proud of this.

Using an RSS feed/reader for me is similar. Before RSS I would check (and a half-dozen other sites) a few times a day (or maybe just once a day) and read whatever I found... but if I was offline for a few days... it wasn't that big of a deal. Now that I have RSS... I don't miss those articles... they sit and pile up... and the more that's there... the more pressure I feel to clear the backlog.

I supposed this is the "Hi, My name is Alan and I have a problem" moment.

That said, I really have no desire to change either of these habits. Maybe that's just sad. However, I've been focusing on the negative above. The reality is... I spend less time filtering out garbage because I only record/subscribe to shows and/or sites that interest me where before I was randomly surfing and wasting time searching for content I cared about. Also, marking articles as read doesn't take much time at all. In the case of TiVo.. there's nearly always something I want to watch ready at the click of a button.

Anyway... It's an interesting perspective and I'm not even going to suggest that the author is wrong, but at the same time... I love RSS and I don't plan to stop.

Read more after the break....

if this, then .... whoa!

I've had an account on for about a week now but I haven't had a chance to play with it. As someone who only recently found the value in yahoo pipes and then immediately discovered its limitations.... ifttt holds a lot of promise.

That said, I haven't had the time to play with it or an idea that called for it. All the same, I'm bookmarking this one because I have a feeling I'll be coming back.

Read more after the break...

DCUO Going Free to Play

I was incredibly intrigued about DC Universe Online. The idea of creating and playing my own superhero (or villain) in the DC universe seams interesting to me. I had even downloaded the beta at one point, but unfortunately it was released right before I was going out of town on vacation and the beta period had ended by the time I came back so I never got a chance to check it out.

However, I couldn't stomach the idea of paying a monthly fee to do so.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one.

Sony today announced that DCUO is going "Free To Play" next month. Which means you can download the title and play completely for free... but there will be "enticements" that you can purchase (with real money). The "Free To Play" model has been successful for several smaller MMO games and I think DCUO fits this pattern.

I'll definitely be checking this out at some point, and I'm more than willing to give them the $5 to get "Premium Access". (although the $15 per month Legendary tier is right out).

Read more after the break...

My 10101001th post

Revolutionary idea: Let's give the really hard puzzles to the puzzle solvers...

fold it promises to let you "solve puzzles for science"... looks like they have a pretty significant win already.

I made the title a bit sarcastic, but I'm honestly, incredibly impressed. This is an incredibly powerful idea.... take a challenging problem... make it into a game that a "layman" can understand and then open it up the masses.... somebody might just beat the game.

Read more after the break...

Google+ API now available

It's a shame Google didn't have this in the first week (or even month) of Google+. Google+ growth has really stagnated and I think a lot of that can be tied to the lack of 3rd-party support for the site. Hopefully we'll see some neat things soon.

Read more after the break...

Sprint Premier... Going... Going...

Gone. :(

If you haven't heard, some recently leaked internal Sprint documents show that Sprint has decided to do away with the Sprint Premier program.

As a long-time sprint customer (nearly 12 years continuously) this bothers me, but not enough for me to jump ship. I still get good coverage in the areas I care about and Sprint's rates (for me) are still way better then the alternatives.... I thought it was a shame when the changed the program last year and now to see it go is just sad.

I buy their justification, but all the same... Sprint Premier was a big "plus" in Sprint's favor on my comparison chart. It's one more thing that no longer differentiates them. Hopefully Sprint will keep their unlimited data and aggressive pricing, but if those were to fall by the wayside... I would definitely have to consider a switch.

Read more after the break...

There's a limit to driving to get cheap gas...

Click on the comic and hover your mouse over it for the comment... most people that I know that talk about driving across town to get gas don't bother to do the math. You can quickly wipe out your "savings" just by driving further.
Read more after the break...

The man who produces art in his sleep

See the link before for an interview the BBC did with a man who is a sleep-artist. He doesn't draw at all when he's awake, but in his sleep he's making art that selling for upwards of six figures.

What does it feel like to fly over planet Earth?

With 1.3 million views already... you've probably already seen this. If not... here you go.

I highly recommend watching this at the highest resolution your monitor can handle. Click the third button to the left from the bottom right-hand corner.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Android 101 Backlog

Anyone that follows this blog closely (I kid, I kid... nobody follows this blog closely) might notice that I've dropped off in posting recently. I've been rather busy of late, but I'm digging out of my backlog.

Anyway... rather than a ton of individual posts... here's the most recent "Android 101" articles posted at androidcentral. Lots of good tips here for android newbies:

Friday, September 09, 2011

<Ring>... so I keep trying to email this file and it says undeliverable...

This one is too, too true. Big files for the not-technically-inclined are hard. However, I'm a pretty big supporter of the last suggestion, dropbox. (Yes, that's my referral URL).

If you don't have an account, you can upload files to dropbox and then access them via the web or via your phone (there are native apps for android, iphone, I know). If you have multiple computers, you can even have dropbox automatically sync the files to the computer... so as soon as you upload a file on one PC it starts downloading on the other. Super convenient. You can even share files with people that don't have a dropbox account... so in the example below... only the cousin has to sign up the send a link to the person on the phone.

Anyway... if you sign up via the link above... I get more space. Thanks if you do. Not offended if you don't.
Read more after the break...

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Google Music (Beta) Invites up for grabs

So I have a few Google Music Invites available that I can hand out if anyone is interested. I believe they launched a web interface that works on the iPhone today, but the native android app is probably the best way to go.

If you aren't familiar with Google Music... you can upload your music collection to Google's servers and then play it back from a web browser (or phone) anywhere. Google Music uses a small app (Music Manager) that can upload your tracks from a PC, Mac or Linux to their servers. Music Manager even supports iTunes so as you and to your library songs are upgraded automatically.

I was always conflicted about the iPod (or really any MP3 player) because my MP3 collection is about 40GB and I never wanted to try and figure out which part of my collection wasn't going on it. With a service like Google Music... I don't have to pick... my entire collection is available to me at any time.

Obviously, this is similar to Amazon's Cloud Drive and Apple's soon-to-launch iCloud, but Google Music is free (for the time being anyway) and it's available now.

To be clear, Google has stated that Google Music will be free during the Beta period, but they were obviously intentionally vague about what will happen after that point. Personally, I think they are watching the market to see what happens with the other services in order to see how to compete. In the meantime... I'll take advantage of it.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Well, I guess Lenovo was listening...


Now, androidcentral is speculating that this Tablet probably won't ever the "current" Android release for tablets, Honeycomb. It's not entirely clear why they say that, but I think it's mostly due to the size. Honeycomb was not designed for screens as small as 7".

However, Ice Cream Sandwich, the next release of android, is supposed to merge the Honeycomb and Gingerbread forks back into a single release that can run across both phones and tablets. I certainly can't assume that the A1 will ever get ICS, but I think it's a possibility.

Regardless, a functional tablet for $200 is right what I was talking about. More interesting, according to cnet, is that it actually has GPS hardware.... I wonder how many car/computer enthusiasts will end up using one of these as a basis for a car computer.

Read more after the break...