Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A segue from the Segway...

I don't really know how helpful the Segway has actually been to modern civilization... perhaps a step closer to the future as told by Pixar in Wall-E?  Maybe we really don't need our legs anymore?  But I guess the boys at Honda thought the Segway wasn't stylish enough.

Who needs a Porsche???

Imagine you and your date taking a roll down the beach in a pair of these...

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Kind of LEGO!!!!

I love Lego!  I loved it as a kid, and I still love it now.  The blocks themselves haven't changed, all Lego blocks from way back still interlock with the current kits.  There are Lego sets for all ages.

Duplo is for toddlers, they have larger blocks and fewer pieces.

Regular Lego for kids, these would also include the franchised Lego such as Harry Potter or Star Wars blocks

Technic for teens and young adults, consisting of more complex kits and moving gears and more interactive pieces.

and the latest Lego line is Mindstorms... a robotics line complete with programmable CPU, various sensors, and mechanical parts for... well... people that know what to do with it:

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wondering What To Get Your Folks For Christmas?

Still wondering what to give your folks for Christmas? Why not send them a Tech Support Care Package? From the wonderful people at Google comes 'Teach Your Parents Tech'.  A website that's dedicated to make tech simple to understand via a bunch of instructional videos.

I think this is a great site!  Quite fun to use too! Hehehehe!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Recharge! A Momax Portable Battery review

I use Barnacle Wi-Fi on a regular basis.  At a mall, cafe, in my car or in areas of my building that don't get wifi, I use my X10 Mini Pro to tether my laptop, iPod Touch and iPad with Internet.  This does take its toll on the battery life of my little Android.

Although my battery can last me a couple of days with regular use, tethering is a huge battery drain.  Lugging around a charger is of no use if I can't find a power outlet to plug into, and not very pocketable.

Enter the Momax Portable battery.  There are a lot of other battery solutions out there.  And this review is more of portable battery packs in general.  Pick the portable solution that is suited to the device(s) you have.

What I likes about the Momax battery pack was that it had a micro USB plug, which can charge both my phone, or Bluetooth headset.  This also means that the chargers of my X10MP, Jabra Stone, and Momax are all interchangeable as well.  Big convenience for field/travel use.

It provides approx 1200mAh of power, which is a little over a full charge for my phone effectively doubling my battery life.  This gives me 8 full hours of tethered surfing or about 4 days of power with regular use.  Why not just carry a spare battery?  Portable battery packs allow uninterrupted use.  And having a standard charging tip, allows use on more than one device.

iPhone users may like the battery jackets instead that wrap around the phone.  These may make the phone a lot bigger but offer more usable power for the larger iPhones, and are more convenient to use since they act as a case for your iPhone.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Safe To Touch. A Capdase Soft Jacket 2 Xpose Review

I'm not a fan of protective jackets.  Never had one on any of my mobile phones, iPods, or laptops.  I do have protective pouches or bags, but I take my device out when I use it.  So far, the only 2 protective jackets I own are the original Apple iPad case (but I only use it when I'm out... my iPad is out of the case when I use it at home) and my recent purchase of the Capdase jacket for my iPod Touch.

The only reason I've been looking for a case for my iPod Touch is for video viewing and FaceTime.  I needed something that could serve as a stand in both portrait and landscape orientations.  I found the perfect solution in the Capdase Soft Jacket 2.

Although I'm still not fond of having a protective jacket on my iPod, I like the fact that it's not bulky.  It's quite simple in design and the integrated kick stand works well and folds flat when not in use.  My only complaint is that the stand is a bit offset (dunno why) so it's slightly off balance when in portrait mode.  Not a big deal as long as the surface you're resting it on is sturdy.  It also comes with a screen protector (which I didn't bother installing either) and a soft neoprene pouch.  If you're looking for a simple stand solution for your iPod Touch 4, this is one of the sleeker solutions I've found.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Home Theater Computers (and an HDX 1000 review)

Hooking up a computer to a TV or big screen isn't a new concept, but it's not a very popular setup just yet.  I recently tried the HDX Media Jukebox and was less than impressed.  It got rave reviews and all.  But I think the implementation, specially with the torrent system is very clumsy.  My dad decided to get one because he didn't like watching videos on his computer monitor and he didn't like having a keyboard and mouse by the big screen LCD TV.  So he asked me to set it up in their house.

The HDX1000 is not a new product.  The idea is that the media jukebox is an external hard drive and can play all the media (video, music, photo) you have in it on an external display via HDMI or Component out.  Theoretically it's a nice idea.  But the network system and torrent capabilities are less than stellar.  It's not for the average person looking to replace their DVD/BluRay player for ease of use.  The menu is a bit slow and can get frustrating at times.  Image quality and HDMI audio pass thru work great.  Only if you're watching HD content.  But if you're watching just random AVI or MPEG downloads, image processing is just OK.

It's not all bad though... for techies that have a dedicated home theater room, it is a better solution for "viewing only" situations.  The remote is fairly straight forward and works like a regular DVD remote.  It offers more functionality than your average DVD/BluRay player and has way more playback capabilities.  It functions as network storage and a torrent client (but the torrent files must be downloaded using a computer then transferred to the HDX before it can start downloading the file for you) so you can leave it on the whole day to download for you instead of leaving your computer on.  Rear connectors are also standard so connecting to your LCD, plasma, projector display and your surround processor isn't a problem.  Full connections for composite, component, HDMI (w/ HDMI audio), digital coax, and regular RCA line-outs are all found at the back.

Would I personally use it?  No.  I prefer having a full blown computer.  Image processing is much better, response is faster, and it's just more functional over-all.  But you do need a mouse and keyboard to run a HTPC like this.  And hiding all the wires and adapters can become a challenge.  I ended up designing a prototype TV cabinet specific for my rig.  It houses my Mac Mini, 4TB HDD, iPod dock, iPad dock, hidden USB hubs, M-Audio Firewire interface, UPS, DSL modem, wifi router, power strips, AV receiver, center speaker, and LCD TV all in one neat cabinet.

As for my dad, I had to set everything up and write down a list of instructions on how to operate the thing depending on the video source he wants to play.  It's not quite as easy to use as the Apple TV, but it is way more flexible.  Quality playback for HD content is excellent, specially since it supports HDMI Audio so it's a one-cable setup.

What about you guys?  Do you have your computers hooked up to your LCD TVs?  Send me photos of your rig as well! :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Do You Hear What I Hear?

It's almost Christmas!  The next few posts I'll have will be some small gadget gift ideas.  Let's begin with gift ideas for the ever popular iPod or digital music player.

I've been noticing more and more people using circumaural headphones (full-sized) out in the streets.  I really do prefer how these sound over in-ears, although for travel and convenience, there are a lot of good in-ears nowadays.

The main advantage of upgrading from the included iPod earphones is almost like going from an AM radio to a full sized stereo system.

My personal fav are my AKG K240 DF mated with a Corda 2Move amp, although it seems that Jan Meier (no relation to John Mayer) no longer has crossfeed built into his smaller portable amps)  But for traveling, I bring my smaller AKG K324P or K81DJ (aka 518DJ) ... although I'm personally partial to AKG, there are many brands that are excellent, like Sennheiser, Grado, Etymotic, Shure, and JBL to name a few.  Some of the newer brands like Skullcandy, Monster and Urbanears sound decent as well, and have very funky designs too!

Seeing as how a music player is almost as common as having a mobile phone, it does make sense that the earphones, which are the most visible part of the gadget, look good aside from sounding great.

If you're planning on giving a set of earphones to a girl, they have very nice and classy designs as well.  Swarovski crystals, Lady Gaga designs, pastel colors, smoother shapes and designs and color coordinated wires/cords all help remove the industrial look that earphones used to have.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Mobile Office

Seeing as how most of you have Android or iOS devices,  I'd like to hear from all of you.  Take a photo of your mobile office IN ACTION... no "gadgets lined up on my desk at home" photos.  In a cafe, while walking, at the beach, in the woods, on a boat, by the pool, strapped to your MTB ... any place except at home or a traditional office.

Photos can be taken with any camera.  Hi-res is preferred but not required.

I want to post photos of how people use their gadgets around the world.

Photos will not be used for commercial purposes or sold, just for fun.  By submitting, you give me permission to post the photo on my blog for entertainment purposes only.  (No obscene photos please)

Please indicate the gadgets in use in the photo, type of internet connection if any, and how you use them.   And let me know if you'll allow me to use your name and country when I post the submitted photos.

ONE PHOTO ONLY!  So make it a good one.

All faces of people and plate numbers will be blurred out for privacy purposes (unless you want your face seen, then indicate that in your email as well)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Android App of the Day: Textdro

Have you ever wished you could type out SMS on your computer and press enter and have it sent via your phone?

There are a few apps that allow you to use a full-sized keyboard on your phone which I find a bit clumsy.  A more elegant way of handling SMS while at your computer is to use an app called Textdro.

The free version only allows manual connection via WiFi so you have to enter the IP address of your phone (the app shows the IP).  The paid version allows Bluetooth, and auto-wifi search.

How it works is you install the app on both your Android phone and computer (Windows, Linux and OSX).  Once installed, any new SMS coming in will pop up on your computer screen much like an IM client like Yahoo or MSN.  Simply reply and click send.  All incoming and outgoing SMS sent via Textdro is still kept on your phone.  It's as if you sent it from your handset so no worries about not having a copy of the SMS on your phone.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Supplemental Review: X10 Mini Pro Eclair (2.1) Part 2 (Camera and Battery)

Ok, more noticeable improvements in 2.1.  Somethings I hadn't noticed earlier: Significant improvement in the camera's 'Twilight' setting.  Although still not as sensitive as I'd like it to be... way better than 1.6 which almost had no difference between 'Auto' and 'Twilight'.  Unlike with Donut, the Twilight Setting now actually does something significant.  Shutter speed slows down, so moving subjects will be blurred. But there is a big jump in exposure.

Automatic Setting

Twilight Setting

There also seems to be a very significant change in power management.  Although I still need Juice Defender to manage my 3G/HSPA settings, I can now leave wifi, gps and bluetooth on all day and still get the same battery life I did with them all off in 1.6.  HSPA and PUSH services though still eat up a lot and can kill your phone in under a day.  Juice Defender handles mobile data quite nicely and can give you 2-3 days of average use.

If you're always within a wifi area, you can leave your wifi on the whole day (no sleep) and it won't drain your battery as much.  I never could do this with 1.6.  This is a big help now since I can leave my phone connected over wifi whenever I'm home.

GPS can also be left on since the chip only seems to draw power when an app needs it.

Currently, with the exception of my 3G services which are scheduled every 15min by Juice Defender, I have all my background data services and all radios on all day.  By the end of the day, I still have over 50% power.  It's not a marathon battery life, but the fact that I can leave all the features of my phone on now and it'll still last a day is a significant improvement in how I can now use my phone.

*Dec 10, 2010 - Battery experiment update*

I decided to try just switching off mobile data and wifi for a couple of days.  All other settings are the same.  No Task Killer, no CPU underclocking, and no power management.  After 33 hours straight... I still have 50% battery left.

***December 20, 2010 - Momax Portable Battery Review***

Thursday, November 25, 2010

RIM: Do Not Pull Kik From BlackBerry – An Open Letter to Kik Users

Shortly after going viral (1 million users in 2 weeks - Facebook took almost a year to reach their first million), Kik Messenger was pulled from the Blackberry Appworld.  This is a sad day for Blackberry users, since it seems that RIM is feeling threatened by Kik.  For those that don't know, Kik is a cross-platform messenger that allows instant, real-time chat between Blackberry, Android, and iOS (both the iPhone and iPod Touch) devices.

I'm not fond of having so many messengers.  I have MSN and YM... then there's Google Talk, and Facebook Chat.  I'm hoping for the next big messaging app to come so I can ditch the rest.

Maybe Kik can merge or sell their tech to Facebook.  Considering how lame Facebook chat is, maybe a Kik merger would help stabilize Facebook's system and allow a much cooler Facebook Mobile experience!

Supplemental Review: X10 Mini Pro running Eclair (2.1)

Since the update came out, SonyEricsson has finally decided to let it's X10 family out of the stone age running Android Donut (1.6) into the 20th century to join the rest of the herd running the current Android Eclair (2.1)...  I'm still wondering why SonyEricsson didn't just skip over Eclair all together and hit the latest FroYo (2.2) version of Android instead.  Oh well.

Anyway, how different is it?  And is it worth the wait?  Well, yes and no.  Don't get me wrong, it's a GREAT update... but starving your customers to release a non-earth-shattering update doesn't win SE any points.

The update itself is relatively painless.  Sony Ericsson has a great internal back-up and restore function that saves all your messages, missed calls, etc so you can easily restore most of your phone after the update.  Apps that are not compatible with 2.1 have to be replaced with alternate apps all together.  No big deal though.

First up, it is faster.  Not by much, but on the Mini Pro, it's a welcome upgrade.  Running 600MHz, any speed increase is a blessing.  Had the update been to FroYo, the tiny CPU on the Mini Pro would've really been given a well needed boost.  But I'll take what I can get.

Rooting... Since I don't primarily run Windows anymore, I'd rather not have to hook up my Mini Pro and root it through a computer.  UniversalAndRoot no longer works, but Z4 does the same job... one click root and unroot.  It's just a lot slower to root now.

Barnacle Wifi works a lot better and way more stable.  For those that are still experiencing drops when the phone goes to sleep, enable WEP security.  This, for some reason, lets your device bypass the need for re-association with Barnacle even after long periods of inactivity.

Although not a new app... I wasn't fond of Launcher Pro running on 1.6 and preferred ADW... but Launcher Pro is waaaaay faster and more responsive than ADW is, running 2.1.

Apps that can now run well on 2.1 and the Mini Pro:

  • Skype
  • Kik (so much better than Pingchat)
  • Official YM (a bit battery hungry but it does work quite well)
  • Gmail!!!!  Yes, Android's own app is actually usable now.  I was able to ditch K9 Email all together.  One gripe, you can't change font sizes, something that K9 could do.  Very useful on the small screen of the Mini Pro.
  • Official Twitter app

Things that have changed in Eclair:

  • Official Send Via Bluetooth!
  • Multiple Google Accounts, full contact, email, and calendar sync between multiple accounts.
  • Power widget looks better, as does the Settings Menu
  • Auto-brightness is now permanent.  No more setting to disable it.
  • Automatic contact list integration between Google, phone, Facebook, and Twitter.  Although it looks like there are double entries, there aren't.  You can join contacts and consolidate all your addressbooks easily and automatically.  This is a big deal for me.
  • Timescape is a bit faster now and more integrated into the Contacts app... not perfect, but getting there.  SE should move faster on developing this app.
  • Unlock screen is new... annoying that you can't disable the haptic feedback of the unlock screen... I think it's a useless feature that wastes the little battery that the Mini Pro has.
  • As much as I like the 4-corner UI of SonyEricsson, the app drawer is too cluttered and difficult to organize over LauncherPro or ADW.  I really do love the 4-corner approach.  But the app drawer is just a deal-breaker.
  • Camera response is a lot faster, but start-up time is still slow.  No additional functions have been added, nor has picture quality and low-light sensitivity been improved.  Too bad.
  • New signal indicator differentiating 3G and HSPA connectivity.
  • Live Wallpaper.  This chews up battery like crazy specially if not properly coded.  Cute and fun, but not very useful.  Specially on the limited battery life of the Mini Pro.
Over-all great, but its a LONG OVER DUE update, and quite frankly, I can't understand what took SE so long to bring it to their products.  Let's hope they don't abandon a FroYo update soon because the only thing holding back their sales is poor software support.

Part 2 (Camera and Battery)

Monday, November 22, 2010

...and the countdown begins...

iOS 4 for the iPad!!!!

I'm so happy... first, the long awaited 2.1 on my X10 Mini Pro
and now iOS 4 on my iPad!!!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Instant Messaging...

Today's Tech Gospel is about mobile instant messaging.

Yahoo! Messenger is my preferred IM for the computer because it has nice emoticons.  The problem with YM is that it's not a cloud-system.  Messages are not stored online, and there are a lot of dropped messages when switching devices.

BBM has the advantage of global messaging and is almost as fast as chatting.  But you're stuck with RIM's BlackBerry devices.

Now, you can get YM on your mobile phone, but that's extremely slow and unreliable, not to mention is chews up your battery in just a few hours... so I've been looking for much better mobile solutions...

The two I've tried are Pingchat and Kik.  Both work across Android, Blackberry, and iOS. 

Pingchat is great, low overhead, video, photo, audio capable messenger.  It has 2 problems though: it's quite slow, it's more like texting than chatting.  Another is that Pingchat is tied to your device, not your account.  That's a problem for people like me who have multiple devices.  My phone has a different account from my iPod, and another account for my iPad.  Not useful for chatting if you forget your device, but handy if you're trying to find your device by pinging it! Hahahaha.

Kik seems to be the best of BBM and YM!  It's light, fast, and can be installed on multiple devices.  I'm not so sure how it handles off-line messages, but there doesn't seem to be a function to save previous chats. But it is real-time chatting.  You can see if the other party is typing... there are sending, delivered, and read reports.  And it doesn't seem to eat up that much battery.

So far, I'm preferring Kik more.  I'll be asking my friends on BB to install it to see how well it works across platforms.  But so far, so good between iOS and Android.  Both can be downloaded from the App Store and Android Marketplace.

Android: by Giorgio Armani

I've always liked Armani stuff.  Stereotypical, but ya, I'll admit, I do like their designs.  Hahaha.  Although I still prefer the styling of my X10 Mini Pro, the new Giorgio Armani Galaxy by Samsung looks pretty sleek!  I wonder if it comes free if you buy a suit...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Keeping up with the iPad...

How do e-readers keep up with tablet technology?  The promise of longer battery life may not be enough.  Thankfully, the guys at e-ink, have come up with the next gen of e-paper... in COLOR.

As LCD tech reaches its full maturity, and flexible screens come into the picture, colored e-paper is a very promising tech for extremely low-power, semi-static displays.

I wonder when Amazon's Kindle will adopt this display...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Elementary, my dear Watson

A phrase mistakenly credited to the fictional character Sherlock Holmes... may now be given a new meaning by the blue boys at IBM.

Watson's task is to compete (and eventually beat) the World's best Jeopardy champions.

Now, most people might be thinking that chess is a more difficult game than Jeopardy, considering that a computer can access all the information that it could need to compete in Jeopardy.  True... but access to information isn't the goal of Watson.

It's understanding human language.  For those of you who have been using voice-recog apps, you know how frustrating this can be...even through Google's network, it doesn't quite understand simple queries.  And usually, only key-word speech is understood well.

Unlike Deep Blue that had a human operator tell it what moves Kasparov made, and in return Deep Blue told it's human operator what moves to make in return, Watson will have to listen, understand, buzz in (yes, buzz-in), and give the correct question (using the proper syntax) in order to be awarded the points.

The fact that Watson has to listen, buzz, and speak is a big step forward for computer evolution since it effectively makes the machine adapt to the human, rather than the other way around like typing, gesturing, clicking, swiping, etc.

Consider what this means in principle.  Currently, when we do a search, we are presented with hundreds of thousands of results.  In the end, we still have to sort through it all and select the answer that is relevant to our search. (or Ask Jeeves for those that reached him) was the first crude attempt at automated language comprehension.  Although not much more than a keyword analyzer, it was an important step in computer-human interaction.

In Jeopardy, Watson will have to understand the topic, then the Jeopardy answer, before sorting through all its information, then giving its final response.  And take note, even for humans, recognizing context isn't as easy as it looks... hehehehe...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

LIVE! On Tek Tok TV

Ok, this is only a test broadcast. This entry has been posted automatically to test if I can broadcast from the Tek Tok TV studio.

If you don't see anything between 10:30am and 12:00noon GMT +8 time, try refreshing... If not, then that means I couldn't get signal inside the studio.  For those viewing from their iOS devices, click here for a direct link to the video instead.

This webcast aired live on Nov 3, 2010 10:30am - 12:00nn GMT + 8.  You are watching an archived video.  I was using my Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro and Bambuser to do the live webcast

******update Nov 15, 2010******

Stay Tuned!!!

I've been given a fantastic opportunity to be a guest on Tek Tok TV ... a tech show on GNN (Channel 21 on Destiny Cable TV)

In 12 hours, the show will be live on GNN.  I'm hoping that I can get decent 3G reception inside the studio...

If I do, I will hopefully be able to do a simultaneous webcast behind-the-scenes.  I will try to embed a live webcast tomorrow (signal strength permitting).

Stay tuned!!!!  (12 hours til broadcast)

Monday, November 1, 2010

SonyEricsson X10 Android 2.1 update begins...

One of the last to adopt the Eclair 2.1 version of Android's OS... SonyEricsson FINALLY starts rolling out their 2.1 updates in select markets.

Nordic countries, like Sweden, have already gotten it... shockingly, Japan hasn't gotten the update yet.

So far, no news on the Philippine update yet.

Impatiently waiting...

**Update Nov 5, 2010 - Official response from SonyEricsson Philippines**
Hi John! The 2.1 update for the X10 and X10 mini pro will be released on the week of Nov 20. The 2.1 update for the X10 mini will be released in the week of Nov 27. You will receive a notification on your phone once an update is available. Thank you! :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's Not Too Late...

...To grab a copy of C! Magazine's October issue!!!  I was given the great opportunity to be a guest writer.  This is my first printed article, and I had a lot of fun writing it.  Thank you again to C! Magazine for allowing me to be a contributor!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tech Trivia: Transparent Aluminum? That's So Yesterday!

Today's Tech Gospel is about Graphene.  Made up of carbon... you know... that thing that makes up all known living things... diamonds... and your #2 pencil?

I don't know how many geeks actually read my blog, but to the few that do... I'm sure you all know the famous scene in the 1986 movie, Star Trek IV, that shows Scotty 'inventing' the formula for "Transparent Aluminum".  A fictional future material that is supposedly as transparent as glass, but as strong as aluminum.

Fast forward to 2008 when the US Military was experimenting with ALON, a transparent aluminum ceramic that is used as military armor and can withstand 50 cal anti-tank rounds.  Due to cost restrictions (I think it costs about $20,000/m²), the military has decided against this amazing armor plating.  ALON exhibits very similar properties to the fictional "futuristic" material in the Star Trek movie.

Fast forward a little more to 2010, when Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov win the Nobel Prize in Physics for Graphene.  (It was actually discovered in 2004, but the recent breakthrough was in its fabrication process.)

This wonder material is hundreds of times stronger than steel... 97% transparent... exhibits better electrical and heat conductive properties than copper... is flexible... and is virtually indestructible (although this is a slight exaggeration, it has a Velcro-like property that allows it to pseudo-heal itself on a molecular level so quickly that it appears to not be damaged at all) ... and unlike the former ALON, Graphene is cheap to produce.  And this is not a It-will-be-cheap-sometime-in-the-future... it's actually cheap to produce NOW.

It's applications include everything from military armor, low-cost/high capacity batteries, computers, solar cells, flexible touchscreens, high-strength windows, and recyclable lighting.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just Looking...

Have you ever wished shopping on Amazon was easier?  Have you ever visited Amazon and thought, "Oh, there absolutely nothing I want to buy from here.".  For those of you that think "Oh, Amazon isn't doing a good enough job of showing me stuff I want to buy."* ... well, your prayers have been answered.  Just when you thought that new iPad would tie your shopping urges over...


Because wasn't tempting enough.

*Sarcasm intended

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Goodbye iChat... Hello FaceTime!

Today's Tech Gospel is about the FaceTime for Mac Beta.  Finally.  I think everyone found it odd that the iPhone 4's FaceTime app couldn't make video calls to Apple's iChat Video system.

Thankfully Apple reacted quickly and has released a crude FaceTime Beta for Mac.

Now, understand that this is still in Beta, so a lot of features are still a bit buggy, and there is a known security flaw.  Not a big deal unless you frequently allow other people to use your computer.

This, however, is a Snow Leopard only program.  If you haven't upgraded yet, now would be a good time to do so.

For those with Mac Minis, or a Mac Pros, you can use Apple's LCD monitors w/ the built-in camera, iSight camera, or any Firewire video camera lying around.  If you want to buy a webcam, make sure it's the newer UVC compliant webcams.  But I prefer using a proper Firewire video camera w/ a boom mic to eliminate room echo and much better audio quality.

My FaceTime rig is my old Canon DV cam w/ a Rode shotgun mic connected to my Mac Mini.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Do Not Disturb

Today's Tech Gospel is about call and SMS filtering.  I don't know how it is in other countries, but here in the Philippines, we get a ton of ANNOYING telemarketing calls and SMS on our mobiles.  Mostly from real estate agencies, quick loan companies, and credit card companies.

One Android app I've found very handy is EasyFilter.  Although there are  a whole lot more out there, I've come to prefer EasyFilter's particular set of features.  **iOS users can use iBlacklist, although this is only for jailbroken iPhones.  Symbian UIQ users have a basic filter built-in already.**

EasyFilter is very simple to use, you can create a blacklist using existing call or message logs and just select the calls you want blocked.  It can also work in reverse as a whitelist, allowing only the numbers you select to be allowed through.

**Just a note, for those running a Task Manager/Killer, make sure to add EasyFilter to the exception list**

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


A while back, I posted an entry on the possibility of FaceTime for Android in the form of Apple's new iPod Touch.  Finally got to test and confirm it using Barnacle Wifi Tether and an iPhone 4.  Signal is fairly stable although it's more dependent on your provider's 3G/EDGE network... GPRS is too slow to give decent performance and will most likely drop the call all together.

Barnacle's only shortcoming is the inconsistency of it's connection to the iPhone/iPod Touch.  Hopefully those running 2.1 Androids don't experience dropped signal when the screen saver kicks in.  So far, those on the Sony Ericsson X10 Mini/Mini Pro will need to run something in the background to keep Barnacle from switching to standby.  Some users have reported firmware updates fix this, but not all regions have the same firmware.  In this case, the screen saver/power saver is usually the culprit since it disables the wifi antenna to conserve power.

To make a FaceTime call, go to your contact list, tap on a contact and scroll all the way down and click on the FaceTime button on the bottom left.

A menu will pop up to show the possible ways to connect to the contact via FaceTime.  A caveat, just because FaceTime will attempt to connect, doesn't mean that contact has FaceTime.  You have to know which phone number or email that particular contact is using for FaceTime, and that contact has to already be online when the call is being made.

The iPod Touch has effectively given FaceTime to Android.  Although those with a 2nd jailbroken iPhone and tethering should also be able to use FaceTime on their iPhone 4 while on the move.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mobi Wars (android vs. iOS vs. RIM)

Today's Tech Gospel is on the on-going Mobi Wars.  I've been getting a lot of inquiries on which is the "best" phone to get... unfortunately, the answer is, like always, 'it depends'.

This is just my personal take on the mobile wars.  For the sake of simplicity, I'm just going to focus on the 3 most popular ones... iOS, Android, and RIM. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. I wouldn't be able to recommend ONE of them for everyone. Simply because not everyone has the same needs.  I'm not including Symbian since they dropped UIQ.  Their Series 40/60 feels more like a feature-phone than a PDA-OS.  UIQ was my favorite (honestly, more than Android), and I used it exclusively for the last 7 years and I really liked it.  S^3 is still to new, and I have no personal experience with it yet.

The oldest of the 3 is RIM. The Blackberry has been around for a while. It has (had?) a great idea. A global messaging system... kinda like AIM/YM for phones. And the ever famous push e-mail. The problem with RIM was that they stuck to a proprietary system... locked to proprietary hardware (which isn't that great to begin with) the strengths of this system, however, shine in an enterprise setting. Where business people can communicate globally via the BBM service. It's great at what it was designed to do..keep business people connected... anytime...anywhere. Now, whether or not this is a good thing for your boss to be able to find you anywhere in the world, at anytime... that's entirely up to you to decide.

Next up... the loudest of the bunch... iOS (the iPhone) ... with people lining up at 3am in the rain to get one... Apple has done what it does best... SELL. Now, a lot of my friends are surprised that I never kept an iPhone. Tried the 1st and 3G one... was never impressed. I'm not against it. I just think it falls short as a phone and SMS device. Hence, I've owned and used an iPod Touch as my primary PDA since it first came out.   I love iOS.   The refinement of the execution is just ... well.. Apple. Simple, easy, sleek. Tons of apps for almost anything you need. "There's an app for that!".  And although the iPhone falls short as a phone. It is improving. A lot of basic functions (multi-tasking, MMS, cut and paste, and Bluetooth) were just recently introduced... so it is evolving.

I would recommend an iPhone for anyone has outgrown the functionality out of a regular phone, but doesn't really want to take the time to tweak and fiddle with the OS.

Enter the new kid in town... Android. Google's FREE mobile OS. Now how does this benefit the consumer? You can have branded (HTC, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson) Android devices for about $200, SIM-free! No 2-year contract, no BS... with pretty much the same features as their larger, more expensive siblings. (I say pretty much because you still do get what you pay for in terms of hardware... even if Google is giving the software away)

Android... picked up where Symbian's UIQ dropped the ball. Because it syncs with Google's online services, it pretty much is compatible with any computer that can view Gmail. That is also Android weakness. Although cloud computing is the near-future, it's not quite here yet... so if you don't have an unlimited data plan, or don't intend to get one... I really wouldn't see the point of getting an Android device. It's still a great phone... but you feel like you're running the thing in 2nd gear if your not online 24/7.

Widgets also increase the over-all functionality of Android devices.  Something iOS doesn't have yet.  Not having to launch your calendar app just to see your appointments for the day is incredibly useful.  As is being able to have your phone automatically switch modes depending on the time of day, or day of the week.  Wireless iTunes syncing is also a nice feature to have...something iOS (oddly) doesn't have yet.

Even with no official app for something, a lot of Android apps can be strung together to do more complex tasks than they were designed to do.

Being the youngest of the 3, Android is still not as refined as iOS or BB.  Not quite ready for prime time, Android is still the weapon of choice for early adopters.

To sum it all up:
Blackberry: Great for corporate communications, specially the global BBM service.  Without BBM, it's kinda useless.  Best way to keep in touch with colleagues, friends and family around the world.  Apps are limited.  Easiest to deploy and secure in a corporate fleet setting.

iPhone: Fun, sleek.  There's an app for almost anything you wanna do on it.  (Except download dive computer data straight from your dive computer... if someone from Suunto or Mac Dive Log is reading this... please make a dock that interfaces directly with an iPad or iPhone!)  Great games.  Mature and stable OS and Apps.  The inability to hide all icons from the desktop is still something that personally bugs me about iOS (iPhone, Touch or iPad)  Apps controlled by Apple, this minimizes security and virus risks, but also limits apps to developers that Apple wants.  Apple operates on a white-list system.  Only apps Apple wants get approved.

Android: Fully customizable.  True multi-tasking.  Tweakable.  Widgets.  Higher learning curve, but more advanced communication capabilities are possible.  Next best thing to having a phone OS built just for you (this is already custom Linux territory, people at this level do not bother reading my blog to get help on which phone to buy... hahahaha)  Google operates on a black-list system.  All apps are welcome until reported malicious or illegal by end-users.

**Personal note, ELSE looks like the most promising mobile OS... if backed properly, this is a new company that has the potential to overtake all 3 if they play things right... **

PS: I'm not mentioning Windows Mobile because that would just be sad (sorry MS, but you know it's true) ... hahahaha... let's see if they can raise the dead with Windows Phone...

This is far from over... with iOS 4, Android 2.2, and BB6 just coming out... this is only the beginning.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Point and shoot... in HD (ZS3 continuing review)

Today's Tech Gospel is about point and shoot cameras.  A while back, I posted a review when I got my Panasonic ZS3.  I'm still quite happy with it, and it's pretty much the equivalent of the Leica V-Lux 20 and the newer Panasonic ZS7 (12.1 MP + GPS vs 10MP)

I had initially posted a few sample shots of what can be done with the simple scene presets and the Intelligent Auto function.

Now I'll post a few sample HD videos I took, one was at a recent John Mayer concert here in Manila, and the other when I recently purchased the DMW-MCTZ7case to go with it.

I'm generally a Canon fan with my primary being a Canon DSLR and all Canon lenses, and my first UW cam being the Canon A80...  but I have to say, the Panasonic ZS line has really impressed me spcially with its 25-300mm focal range, it's more practical to have out of the box.  Along with it's low $300 price tag (for the newer ZS7) it's really a great bargain for everything it can do.

If I'd have any complaint against the ZS3 (or ZS7) it would be the general flimsy feeling of the scene selection wheel, and zoom rocker... this follows for Panasonic's UW case as well, the buttons and rocker arms feel flimsier than Canon's over-all build quality.  But the wide focal range more than makes up for that short coming.

John Mayer, Live in Manila 2010

UW test video, Anilao Philippines

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Ever hit "Send Mail" a little too soon?  Notice a typo just a few seconds after you click send?  Or forget to attach a file to an email you just sent?

Today's Tech Gospel is about one of the many features in Gmail Labs.  It's a feature called Undo Send.  It gives you a few seconds to undo sending an email.

When enabled, you can still stop an email from being sent a few seconds after you click SEND.

Very easy to use, eliminates the hassle of resending the same email in case you forgot to include something, or decide to not send the email at all.

There are a whole lot of other features available in Labs, and I encourage you to try them out to see which ones you find useful.

Some are still in the experimental stage so they may cause a few glitches, if that happens, Gmail has a "Disable Labs" emergency feature for cases where Labs features cause problems.  So no need to worry.

Past Tech Gospels

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