TwitPic Image Previews for Twitter Posts on my WordPress widget.

I was looking for a way to incorporate my Twitter tweets into my blog in a way that the TwitPic.com photos are displayed as images on my blogs instead of links. I looked over a ton of plugins and even installed a few.

In disappointment at finding nothing useful ‘out there’, I decided to come at the problem sideways. I started to look for unobtrusive javascript scripts that would do what I wanted. Again, nothing.

But, I did find a jQuery example that does something similar. It will create an image of a website’s favicon as part of the link. This is pretty cool, so I added it to my blogroll in the side menu of my site. This is also functionally what I am wanting to do, so I used this as the base for creating my TwitPic.com image linker.

The author of the CC favicon script is Andreas Lagerkvist and his work can be found at http://andreaslagerkvist.com/jquery/favicons/

I did a little bit of tweaking to his script and came up with exactly what I needed. I edited the footer file of my template to add the javascript code. If you view the source of this page, you should see something that looks a lot like:

<!-- http://andreaslagerkvist.com/jquery/favicons/ -->
<script type="text/javascript">
jQuery.fn.favicons = function (conf) {
var config = jQuery.extend({
insert: 'appendTo',
defaultIco: 'favicon.png'
}, conf);

return this.each(function () {
jQuery('a[href^="http://"]', this).each(function () {
var link = jQuery(this);
var faviconURL = link.attr('href').replace(/^(http:\/\/[^\/]+).*$/, '$1') + '/favicon.ico';
var faviconIMG = jQuery('')[config.insert](link);
var extImg = new Image();

extImg.src = faviconURL;

if (extImg.complete) {
faviconIMG.attr('src', faviconURL);
}
else {
extImg.onload = function () {
faviconIMG.attr('src', faviconURL);
};
}
});
});
};

jQuery.fn.twitpic = function (conf) {
var config = jQuery.extend({
insert: 'appendTo',
defaultIco: 'http://twitpic.com/favicon.ico'
}, conf);

return this.each(function () {
jQuery('a[href^="http://twitpic.com"]', this).each(function () {
var link = jQuery(this);
link.attr('target','_blank');
var faviconURL = 'http://twitpic.com/show/thumb' + link.attr('href').replace(/^(http:\/\/[^\/]+)(.*)$/, '$2');
var faviconIMG = jQuery('')[config.insert](link);
var extImg = new Image();

extImg.src = faviconURL;

if (extImg.complete) {
faviconIMG.attr('src', faviconURL);
}
else {
extImg.onload = function () {
faviconIMG.attr('src', faviconURL);
};
}
});
});
};

jQuery('.blogroll').favicons({insert: 'insertBefore'});
jQuery(document.body).twitpic();

</script>

So, now I have my TwitPic.com image previewer and it works anywhere on my site, whether it’s on a blog post or in a widget. I am quite happy with the results..

Parent Powered Vehicles

A friend of mine from college and her husband have created a pretty unique website – Parent Powered Vehicles. This site is unique in that it’s all about baby strollers and is targeted for the geeky dad type. There is a balance between the his/her viewpoint which is really cool, as it helps us ‘guys’ relate to what ‘she’ may want in a stroller.

On their website, they discuss different types of strollers and accessories and go over the pros and cons of each model. They are in New York City, and target that area specifically, which I found pretty interesting, because I didn’t realize how different stroller usage could be between a city like that and where I live.

They offer a Stroller Consultation Service where they learn about you and help you pick out a stroller that suites your needs. We spent about half an hour on the phone, and came up with a few recommendations during the phone call. Let me tell you, these people can totally get geeky with you if you want – we discussed force body diagrams when talking about Stroller Geometry!

About an hour after the phone call, I got an email with a specific model that was in my price range. My parents got us a model very similar to what was recommended, and I would have preferred the recommended model over what we got, now that I have used the stroller a few times.

If your looking into getting a stroller, check out Parent Powered Vehciles before you make a buying decision!
.

Android backup tools

I did a operating system upgrade on my Samsung Moment this week. Before I did the upgrade I backed up some of the stuff on my phone like my text messages.

First, the Android phone syncs to my gmail account, so much of the “stuff” on the phone is inheriently backed up, living “in the cloud” as they call it these days. Also, much of the ‘other stuff’ like photos are saved to the SD card, which the upgrade didn’t touch, so they are safe as well.

This left the actual applications, texts, and call history on the built in memory to get erased as part of the upgrade.

I had 60 different applications installed on my phone. About a third are great, gotta haves, a third are used when I get bored, want to show the phone off, whatever, and the rest are duplicates, trying to decide which one is the best, which I would keep. Now I could write down all the app’s names and search for them again one by one. However one of the apps I have is Astro File Manager, which has a built in app backup utility. So, I simply did a select all and backed up everything. The restore process was just as easy. A few apps need to be reconfigured such as WordPress (which I am using to write this) which is a mild annoyance, but the same as setting up email on the phone again.

This left the phone call and text messaging history. The phone call list isn’t a big deal. I use google voice so all the important calls are automatically stored already. This leaves text messages, which tend to go to my cell directly instead of google voice.

I used two apps to backup my texts. ‘SMS Backup’ and ‘SMS Backup & Restore’.
SMS Backup syncs your texts to your gmail account. You can define a tag that they are labeled as so they are easy to look up. They are handled in batches of 200 at a time, so if you have lots of texts, it can take a while. The coolest part of this tool is now all my texts are searchable along with my email. How cool is that?

The other tool is ‘SMS Backup & Restore’ which copies all texts to the SD card and then loads then back into the phone. It took a couple of seconds to backup over 1400 texts to the SD card and a few times longer to copy them back. Its nice having my text history.

Both of these SMS tools have an autobackup feature in them, which I have turned on in case my phone bites the dust..

Android 2.1 upgrade for my Samsung Moment

Last night I finally got my cell phone operating system upgraded.

Let me tell you, it was a challenge.

The new update came out last Friday I think. It’s a 100mb download, and some hoop jumping.

I first tried to do the upgrade on Sunday morning. I downloaded the file (tip, click ‘more details’ to make the download link appear), tried to un-install the Samsung USB drivers – I didn’t have them, but I uninstalled some Samsung CDMA modem drivers from my previous phone for good measure. I reboot my computer. I start the installer, and it gives you the steps to take to do the update. Take the battery out of the phone, put it back in, do some funky 3 finger start on the phone to get it into ‘download mode’, plug it into the computer. Now it says to unplug the phone from the computer and repeat the steps in the previous sentence. Okay… Ah! Now it wants me to update. I press Start Update.

It was rather anti-climatic. It didn’t do anything. I wander off, do things for an hour and a half come back to check. Nothing.

The phone says “DO NOT UNPLUG TARGET” in letters that are not warm and friendly. So, I unplug the target (phone) and cross my fingers. Take the battery out, restart the phone. It’s all in good shape. Sweet! I didn’t wreck my phone.

Last night…
I try this again. I reboot the computer. Close all the auto-start applications. Kill services that use the USB ports like the ipod utilities thingy. I start upgrade software, follow the plug it in, unplug it, plug it in – I tossed in a ‘turn yourself around’ for good measure.

This time it did something… for about a minute, than it errored out, saying it can’t connect to the phone. This is after I had seen it issue a ‘format()’ command to the phone.

I tried this about 3 times, and gave up. So I pull the battery, restart the phone, and OH OH.
“Unable to locage .jpg or .png” in red letters across the top of the screen that are most certainly NOT notoriously large and famously friendly letters.

Crud. (fill in your favorite explicative here… repeatedly) I just bricked my 2 month old Samsung Moment doing the Android 2.1 upgrade!

So, in a last ditch effort of heroics and utter despair, I wander my depressed little self to the office to do an hour’s worth of work and try the upgrade on my work computer.

It worked! I managed to save my phone. Work was a bust, but my phone no longer is!

Enough of that little sob story. Well, besides the fact that the update completely wipes the phone clean. You have to reinstall and re-setup everything. I did use some backup utilities which I will talk about in a later blog post.

Android 2.1 feels a little bit snappier on my Samsung Moment. The letters seem to show up on screen just a little bit faster then before. There doesn’t seem to be that slight hesitation in pulling down the Notifications window.

The first thing that is noticeable is the new ‘sleep screen’ for lack of better terms. It has the current time and date in notoriously large and famously friendly letters which looks really sharp. It also has 2 sliders, one to unlock the screen, the other to toggle the volume.

I can turn off the lock on the phone as you now turn on the screen using a swipe, which is nice. The first thing I had noticed when I got the phone is that it liked to pocket-dial. I had to turn on the screen lock just to prevent this.

The camera app is a little bit better. I was always fighting the old one over the flash. It was about 3 seconds to turn the flash on or off. The new version is about a second, plus there is now an ‘auto’ mode, which is nice. I wish you could just tap a button to toggle the flash mode or something.

The only other thing that the update has done for me that I have seen is allowed me to use some of the cooler applications – like Google Goggles.

Two apps do seem to be broken – Google Voice and Listen. I use Google Apps for your Domain, and that seems to be messing with both of these apps while using Android 1.5 it worked fine. I use both of these quite a bit – especially Google Voice, so this is a major bummer for me. I mean, roll-back level, if I had the option to.

So, overall, the upgrade was a wash, and I lost more then I gained in it. Hopefully I can get Google Voice working soon, which will put the upgrade at a mild success in my book.

UPDATE 2010-06-03 Added links to http://shop.sprint.com/en/software_downloads/pda_smartphone/samsung_moment.shtml as people are coming here to find out how to update a Samsung Moment from Android OS 1.5 to 2.1..