Saturday, August 28, 2010

Archive migration ongoing...

My previous gadget and tech reviews were done on my personal Multiply site.  This blog included my movie reviews, and other interests I have other than tech.  It took me a while, since Multiply didn't have a migration tool to Blogger... so I had to do this the old fashioned "cut and paste" way.
All entries prior to this year, are all from my older reviews found on my Multiply site.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cut the cord, but stay tethered...

**This is just a warning, the following review requires rooting.  I do not encourage those that don't know how to root to blame me for anything that may go wrong with your phone.  Google the proper procedure for rooting, and understand the risks.  Now onto the review...**

"Blistering Barnacles!!!"  Don't worry, this isn't another iPad review.  You can find a billion of those on the web.  This is a review about Barnacle Wifi Tether for Android phones.

Now, what exactly is 'tethering'?  It's usually the process of sharing the internet connection of one device to another.  In the past, this was done via Bluetooth (in prehistoric times, this was done via USB cable... hahahaha... dinosaurs had such a difficult time since they had no opposable thumbs)

Granted, Bluetooth tethering is probably the most efficient way to do it, not all manufacturers (cough... Apple... cough... cough) enable Bluetooth tethering.  Bluetooth tethering is still my preferred method for 2 reasons, low power consumption, and connection stability.  I've rarely had any problems with BT connections to my laptop in the past, and given the low power drain, I'm willing to take a performance hit while on the move to conserve battery.  Although the bottleneck is rarely with the BT connection, and more often with your HSPA, EDGE, or GPRS connection.

Enter WiFi tethering.  Although rumored to come standard with FroYo (Android 2.2), wifi tethering is still a mod for Donut and Eclair models.  What this does is it turns your Android phone into a pocket wifi router.

So as far as your wifi devices are concerned, they think your phone is just a regular hotspot and connect with no fuss...well...minimal fuss.

Barnacle Wifi is a pretty simple app to use.  It's got a big START/STOP button and an ASSOCIATE (you press this in case your device can't find your phone) button.  The menu is quite simple, you can leave everything on their default settings and it should work 80% of the time.  With other phones, you may have to do a few tweaks to get it to work.  You can rename your hotspot ID (I renamed mine DOPPLERAUDIO in this review) and your device (iPad, iPod Touch, laptop, etc) should see it in their list of available access points.
Just connect like a regular hotspot and you're good to go!  Well... there are a few hiccups for now.  Depending on your phone model, you may have to play music in the background and turn down the volume.  Some power management systems on some phones will shut down wifi when the phone goes into standby.  Another option is to just keep your screen on the whole time but this will kill your phone in a very short time.

As you can see from the test photos, you can get respectable speeds using this app.  And it works quite well considering it's currently an unsupported app.  I'm betting things will just get better in a few months when the official Android tether option is released.

Now, some of you may wonder why go through all this trouble?  Why not just get a 3G iPad and a data SIM?  Well, quite simply, because I don't like having duplicate services.  Specially when I can't maximize both of them.  I don't bring my laptop, iPad, and iPod Touch with me all the time.  I also don't like bulky phones anymore.  My X10 Mini Pro is now setup to be the heart of my mobile communications, and that includes mobile internet.

Instead of having a separate SIM for each device to use, Barnacle Wifi acts like my mobile hub to all my devices wherever I am.  It maximizes my data plan, and I don't have to bring around a separate MiFi router or pay for another data plan.

Download Barnacle Wifi!  It's a great little app.  It's free.  You just have to root your phone.  It's not as difficult as it's sounds, but just know the risks and potential dangers.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What am I syncing about? I'm syncing about your Facebook...

App of the day: SyncMyPix

I'm not good with names.  When the first batch of camera phones were out (Ericsson T68 w/ Communicam) I was so happy cuz I could now take a photo of someone I was just introduced to and match it with their number.

I pretty much continued this practice over the last 8 years and almost everyone on my contact list has a photo (funny or otherwise) attached to it.

Since getting my Android phone, I've found a much better way to keep everything neat and tidy.

SyncMyPix (aka Facebook Sync in it's earlier days) is an app that pulls the photos from your Facebook account and matches them to your phonebook contacts automatically.

Although it's not perfect (unless your contact list spelling is identical to your Facebook friends) it is quite easy to link a Facebook account to a contact account.

Updates can be done automatically... ie; when a contact updates their photo on FB, your phone updates the phonebook photo as well.  Or manually.

Although in its current form, it only syncs photos... I'm quite happy with the results... I've found that people don't really keep their contact info on FB up to date and I wouldn't want FB changing my phonebook automatically.  In theory it's fine but in practice...I still prefer having control over my contact list info.

So to all my facebook friends... a request... keep your profile pics cropped in a square if you wanna look good on my phone when you call! Hehehehe!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

MORE space... the final frontier...

In relation to an earlier post I had regarding online storage... I just wanted to add a third new fav of mine, Dropbox.

Although my personal favorite is still Wuala, Dropbox works on mobile devices as well... Android, iOS, and very soon, Blackberry as well.

But even as is, online storage is very handy to have (regardless of the service you choose)... commonly used files such as brochures, sales presentations, blank forms, etc... can all be stored, retrieved, and emailed from almost anywhere... even without your computer.

Click on this link to get Dropbox!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Weakest Link

The Tech Gospel today is about online safety...
(bear with me, I'm trying to come up with a witty way to start my posts... hahahaha) 

Please be careful when clicking links or adding apps on popular social networking sites.

Since the "I Love You" virus, hackers have found a new vulnerability in today's internet heavy systems... the users.

Just because a link is named "Click here if you love Jesus" ... doesn't mean that it wasn't written by a hacker to gain access into your system... and no, I doubt heaven's qualifications are linked to whether you joined the "I love Jesus" fan page. Unless you're sure that these are valid and credible invites to links or apps, please take a little time to research on the link... some anti-virus programs have link examination and can minimize (not eliminate) the risks.

Social engineering is a serious threat to a lot of internet users because it exploits the user.

Please be cautious!!!  If the same link/post/tweet starts showing up on your social networking wall from different friends... send them a private message and confirm if they really sent it, it may just be a virus pretending to be a contact.

And that's today's Tech Gospel.  (Hahahaha...rofl)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

*just a thank you*

When I first started this blog 6 months ago, I was happy to see that I was getting 10 return visitors (most likely my friends who just do courtesy clicks on my facebook guys know who you are...hahaha! Thanks for the support!)

My personal blog, Cooking For Juan, which is where I blog about what I had for lunch, got an average of 50 return visitors a month... which led me to believe that blogging about how to clean your apartment, was more interesting that tech tips and trivia.

I wanted this blog to be more of an intro-to-technology, for those that may just be buying their first computer... or wondering what all the fuss is about having a "Smartphone".

But since I started writing my review about Android, and the X10 Mini Pro, I've been getting a lot of emailed inquiries (would be better though as comments on my blog though! hehehe) about the phone, and Android in general.

THANK YOU. To the 500 new readers, and 100 returning visitors! I hope to be able to keep you all interested in the months to come!

Please don't hesitate to write comments or suggestions on this site as well!

I'm looking forward to hearing from you all! Thanks again for visiting!!!!

*BTW, I posted a poll on the upper right corner of the blog, so you guys can let me know what you'd like to read more about in the future!*

Thursday, August 5, 2010

...Pour mes visiteurs fran├žais...

Prises en main des Sony Ericsson X10 Mini et Mini Pro

... the continuing X10 Mini Pro battery saga...

As per my previous post, there have been reports of users getting well over 4 days of standby time from the X10 Mini Pro. I have yet to experience over one day of use with it.

Ok... aside from not using the phone... I've tried to find a combination of apps that will help maximize battery use, without sacrificing too much of the capabilities of the phone.

For people that do not have unlimited data plans, then you're over half way there... having unlimited surfing capabilities really takes its toll on your battery... mainly because you're always surfing... hahahaha... and background sync does drain a lot as well. Leaving it on 3G doesn't, but data polling and push services (if you get a lot of email and facebook updates like I do) does drain a lot.

So far, I've tried a ton of power management apps... and so far... there are 3 that look very promising together.

Juice Defender shuts off cellular data services when your screen goes on standby, and turns it back on when you use your phone. This prevents apps and widgets from connecting to the net and draining your battery when you're not using your phone. Free version logs in every 15 min so email and MMS can come in during those intervals... it might be worth getting the paid version if you want more control over time and scheduled log-ins.

SMODA Widget, a small 1x1 button to shut off data services manually. Can over-ride Juice Defender when you're screen is on and you don't want to surf.

Timeriffic allows you to control and trigger wifi, ringer, screen brightness, vibration, volume, and airplane mode using user set times and days. Like you can have the phone automatically go on silent at 10pm and turn all sounds back on at 6am. Or completely cut-off using airplane mode during Sundays. I personally only use this to control my screen brightness during the day.


There's also an app called Power Manager that enables wifi when you plug in your phone, and disables it when you unplug your phone. This runs in the background, and you can always over-ride it manually.

There are a ton of other apps that can help you manage and save battery life... so far, for my use, Data on Demand seems to be the one with the biggest difference since all I give up are push messages. So it has the least impact on my use, without me giving up too much functionality or convenience (I don't like having to turn things off and on all the time)

What battery savings apps do you guys have running on your Android phones?

***August 7, 2010 - Juice Defender has a widget that performs the same function as the SMODA widget, so if you like Juice Defender (I'm hoping to get the full app when it's available here in the Philippines) you don't need SMODA anymore... but if you just want a simple widget that shuts off your data transfers, SMODA is the way to go***

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

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Android apps...

Finding the right app takes time. There are dozens of apps that perform the same task, but all slightly different from one another. Mash-App is a site for Android users to share apps they have installed on their devices.

Monday, August 2, 2010

X10 Mini Pro battery review: supplemental entry

Two words: Car Charger... hahaha... I need to buy the official car kit for the Mini Pro.

Some users have reported (with proof) up to 4 days of battery life.

Rated capacity for the X10 Mini Pro is approx 6 days of standby or 4 hours of use (I do really use it for 4 hours straight, at least now that I'm still experimenting with the phone)

This translates to about 1.5 days of standby lost for every hour of use.

So to get about 4 days worth of charge, you have to use the phone as little as 15 min per day, total ... this includes calls, composing and reading SMS, email, surfing, etc... inclusive of background/push activity.

3 hours of use will give you about a day of power...

3.5 hours of use will yield only half a day total...

and 4 hours... is well... just 4 hours.

Rated standby time on the X10 Mini Pro is 12 days, and 4 hours of use... someone on Esato was able to get 8 days... I barely get a day... hahahaha...

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

Past Tech Gospels

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