First picture

April 30, 2010

image

The first picture taken with my Incredible.

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An Incredible Review

April 30, 2010

It’s only day 2, so I’m clearly in the honeymoon period with my new phone. And for all the iPhone users out there you have to remember that I am moving from a dying Blackberry Pearl, so I had nowhere to go but up. So here are my early thoughts.

Phone Size: Very sleek. The one thing I liked about the Pearl was how tiny it is. The Incredible is actually thinner and only a tiny bit bigger. Very happy with the size. It seems thinner than my wife’s iPhone, but I think that’s just because I haven’t bought a case yet.

Screen: Fantastic. The clarity is stunning. I was happy reading eBooks on my Pearl, you can imagine how ecstatic I am now. No Kindle for me, thank you.

EMail: This, of course, is where Blackberry shines, so I wasn’t expecting an upgrade here. But most of my email is GMail based, so some parts of the experience are better. The best thing that my Blackberry did was have a single inbox that consolidated both Gmail accounts and Hotmail. But there was some weirdness. For my Hotmail account, reading an email on my Blackberry marked it as read on Hotmail. But with Gmail (via IMAP) the read/unread marks did not sync up. That was annoying.

On the Incredible, the annoyances have flipped. GMail is totally in sync and totally the way GMail should be (with conversations). Everything syncs perfectly. My only gripe is that my work and personal accounts are in separate inboxes (same app, different lists). But the seamless way that notifications work on the phone make that a fairly minor issue. My Hotmail account has to be in a separate app entirely. That’s annoying. And since it is POP3, it does not update the read/unread marks.

So this is probably a wash.

Camera: I haven’t used it enough yet. Seems good.

Video: Haven’t tried it yet.

Browser: Very nice. I’ve tried a couple of the other browsers, but the default one works very well. All the pinch and zoom stuff works very nicely. I also like the cut and paste implementation. Very effective when dealing with small print.

HTC Sense UI: Here I can’t really compare it to the regular Android home page since I’ve never used it. I’m comparing more to the look of an iPhone. I like this a lot. HTC created some nice widgets to give the phone a cool look. If you’ve seen pictures of the Incredible you’ve seen the big old school clock at the top with local weather integrated. Very nice. And the customizable pages are very iPhone like.

And, though totally pointless, I’m a fan of the Live Wallpaper. When your screen is largely covered with apps, the wallpaper isn’t that important. But I like the "Grass" Live Wallpaper. Your background is basically the blue sky with a few blades of grass at the bottom. Nothing fancy. But the sky changes color with the time of day (you get tiny stars at night) and if you look carefully you notice that the blades of grass are swaying slightly in the breeze. Again, totally pointless, but I like it. I still need to see what affect it has on the battery.

Sense UI comes with FriendFeed, which consolidates Twitter and Facebook. This I don’t like, because it automatically posts updates to both. I really use them differently so I wouldn’t want to post the same thing in both places. Though it does consolidate them nicely, I’ll be using the separate apps.

Battery: This is still the big unknown. Today is the first day starting with a full charge and I’m still not using it normally. I’m playing constantly. I’m also always around WiFi so it is constantly using WiFi (better performance, more battery drain). I’m downloading apps right and left and I’m constantly tinkering. So I doubt the charge will last the day. HTC has a nice WiFi on/off widget, so if battery life seems to be an issue, I won’t leave WiFi on all the time.

Ah, I just found a place where the phone will tell you what apps are using how much battery. Nice. I had one rogue app eating battery so that one is out of here.

Phone quality: Well, I’m still on Verizon so it’s excellent. I’ve done multiple work conference calls with no issues.

Music: I’ve always used my iPod for music, so having it on my phone isn’t a big deal to me. But it is nice to have. Clearly if you buy a lot of music from iTunes and you want that music on your phone, an iPhone is the best option. But since iTunes has started using iTunes Plus as their standard, all of those songs will copy over fine. I tried out doubleTwist, which functions like iTunes for Andriod. It worked great, synced my iTunes playlists onto my phone.

Apps: This is the big deal, of course. I’m sure the iPhone has more and better apps. But the things I really care about I have:

  • eReader – for eBooks. Links with Barnes and Noble
  • AIM (there are IM aggregators, but everyone I chat with is on AIM)
  • SportsTap – very nice app with all sports scores.
  • Seesmic – Twitter client
  • Facebook
  • Google Sky Map – Can’t wait to use this in Cape Cod.
  • Shazam
  • WordPress – can update this blog
  • Yelp
  • Documents to Go
  • NewsRob – RSS feed that links to your Google Reader settings
  • Pandora
  • PdaNet – Phone can act as modem for my PC
  • and a bunch of games

I haven’t paid for any apps yet. ZipCar has an iPhone app that would be nice to have, but it isn’t available for Android yet. There’s a cool iPhone NYC subway app and I think it’s available for Android but not free. I’m sure there are others, but right now I’m good.

So far it’s a great phone. Now, if the iPhone was available on Verizon, would I get the Incredible? Excellent question. The Incredible is probably second best, but I’m pretty disappointed in Apple’s closed approach. So I’d be pretty conflicted…


Incredible

April 29, 2010

I’m posting this from my new phone, the Incredible, using the WordPress Android app.

So far, so incredible…


Open Source White House

April 21, 2010

Regardless of what you think of the current administration, I think the government releasing open source Drupal code that they developed for WhiteHouse.gov is pretty cool.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/tech


Proud Papi

April 20, 2010

There have been two occasions recently when I’ve been proud of Danielle. I try to avoid the overly proud parent blogs, but what the hell.

The school she goes to publishes these "math challenges" every two weeks. One is geared for K-3 and the other for 4-6. I’m a math geek so she’s been doing the easier ones for that last year and a half (she’s now in first grade).

The last one had story problems that introduced the concept of combinations. Say you have six markers and you have to do a picture using only two colors. How many combinations can you do?

Obviously there’s a formula for that, but in first grade we’re working on addition and subtraction. So this is more about logical thinking and being organized. So I suggest to Danielle that first she take the first color and count the possible combinations. She sees that it’s five. Then I say, "ok, now take the second color and see how many combinations you’ll have. Remember that you’ve already combined with the first color".

Her response was, "well, I just had five, so now it’s going to be four then three then two then one". Seeing patterns and concepts is the key to math, and I love math, so I pretty much did back flips.

Then tonight we were reading a wonderful book, The Apple Pip Princess. The basic story is a kingdom where the queen died and the happiness and prosperity died with her. The earth became barren, etc. There are three daughters. Before the queen died she let each daughter pick a possession to keep.

The oldest picked some fancy shoes that made her tall and important. The middle child picked a beautiful mirror so she could see herself and how beautiful she was. And the youngest picked a box of stuff her mother had collected so she could remember her mother. Seven things:

  1. A tiny apple pip
  2. A scattering of raindrops
  3. A splash of sunlight
  4. A fragment of rainbow
  5. A starbird’s feather
  6. A spider’s dewy web
  7. A burst of nightingale song

Time passes and as the father the king is getting old he decides that he needs to decide which daughter will rule the kingdom when he dies. So he sets a task where each of his daughters has a week to do something to make her mark, and he will judge them at the end of the week to decide.

The first daughter decides to build a tall tower so people will be impressed by how important she is. So she commands everyone to bring her wood to build this tower.

The second daughter is not so original, so she decides to build a tall tower out of shiny metal so people will remember how beautiful she is. So she commands everyone to bring her metal to build this tower.

The youngest gets the wonderful idea to use her mother’s gifts. She plants the apple pip, uses the scattering of raindrops, gets more seeds from people, keeps planting and using the rest of the gifts (one each day) and makes the kingdom blossom again. You can figure out who wins the test.

We’ve read this a few times now, and tonight as I’m reading, Danielle says, "I know why Serenity (youngest daughter) wins the contest". And I say "because she has the smartest idea?". And Danielle says, "well yes, but also because she’s the only daughter who actually works".

Double, triple, quadruple back flips…


Beer is Good

April 15, 2010

My wife got invited to the Yankees game tonight (OK, I’m the Yankee fan, but she’s sitting behind the dugout – how is that fair?) so I decided to get an early bite at my favorite bar/restaurant.

They always have good beer on tap, and they pretty much always have one of my favorite wheat beers on tap, Weihenstephaner.

But I was in the mood for something different. They always give tastes and the Harpoon Celtic Ale was the beer of the day. I asked Jerry, the bartender, how it was and he responded, "it’s ok". (Jerry is always honest – a good trait in a bartender – plus he buys free rounds, an even better trait). And it was fine, but not great.

Then I noticed that there was a new beer from Brooklyn Brewery on the menu. Brooklyn Dark Matter. Now, I am more of a wheat beer guy. I also like hoppy ales. I’m not a huge stout guy (of course I like Guinness, but it’s not my first choice). So I asked Jerry what Dark Matter was like, was it a stout?

He got this look on his face. "It’s really, really good, want a taste?". So I tried it. Again, not my usual style, but oh my. Not a porter, more like a German dark with amazing flavors. So I ordered it.

After a few sips, I turned to Jerry. "This is really, really good". A little later in the beer, I turned to him again, "damn, this is one of the best beers I’ve ever had". And he just kept agreeing.

It’s also strong. Two was my limit. Oh, I wanted more, but I also wanted to walk a straight line on the way home.

Not sure how many folks outside of Brooklyn will get a shot at this brew. If you ever see it, try it. Unless you are a Bud fan, you won’t regret it.


The Best Places to Live in NYC

April 12, 2010

Nate Siler is a statistician who used to crunch baseball numbers and now runs fivethrityeight.com, probably the best statistical political analysis on the planet.

He’s a recent New Yorker and did a project for New York Magazine analyzing every neighborhood in the five boroughs of New York City.

This is one of those great articles that will mainly start a bunch of arguments among New Yorkers. For the record, my neighborhood is fourth and Brooklyn has 5 of the top 7 (Brooklyn’s Park Slope got the top slot, which will annoy everyone in Manhattan).

There is also a cool, livability calculator that lets you play with the various ratings to find your perfect (or at least optimal) neighborhood. If you crank the restaurant importance up, our neighborhood, Boerum Hill, can rise to the top.

Fun stuff. Let the arguments begin…