Work picked up two tablets so we can dev against them

We got a 16gig iPad and a Motorola Xoom (Android).

The first day I had access to them I whipped up a quick web page that took your name and company. My lappy is the server and I have a label printer plugged in. Using the tablets, we can now print out name badges instantly. So cool!

The iPad simply has a better feel all the way around. It's thinner and slicker and the UI has fewer buttons to press and yet it takes fewer taps to get to settings somehow.

Charging is a fail for both. The iPad obviously needs it's funky charger but the Xoom is an epic fail not charging on the USB. I plugged my samsung charger and the Xoom said it can't charge over USB. That one fact means I won't be buying one for myself. I have lots of USB laying around.

Editing text on either is a pain. Trying to place the curser between an apostrophe and a bracket is nearly impossible. Neither has the ability to provide a low-gain curser to move the curser to the right or left one character.

Even with these drawbacks, they are pretty cool. I think I shall enjoy working against the tablets.

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Android Crash and Burn

So, today, I was catching up on my web-development news, and saw that Google reader had an android version of Google reader that came out. So, I was trying to update that at the exact same time I got a phone call.

Now, my phone’s been running slow for a while now. I have it full to the top with all sorts of useful apps.

Well, the phone must have decided enough’s enough. It slowed down right to a crawl. I told it to power off, as many times this helps a little.

It never restarted.

Plus, I start getting tons of error emails from my webserver. So, I work on figuring out why my webserver is freaking out, while watching my phone reboot, over and over and over again. This means I am freaking out. My phone’s been bricked! Turns out the server thing was something trivial. I tweaked the logging code so it is more self evident why it’s going nuts, and finished up my work day.

I tried to reboot the phone, I tried to soft-reset the phone. I ended up hard-resetting the phone. This sucks.

Well, it had been getting pretty slow as of late.

The phone comes back up with a clean slate and just doesn’t want to work. I set it up on my WiFi. ┬áIt can’t seem to connect to anything, no authentication to my Google account, nothing. I cross my eyes and reboot the phone. It comes up and seems to work better now.

I delete all the crap apps off my desktop that Sprint put on there. (Why can’t I DELETE these dumb things off my phone? I don’t have room for them on my device!)

I open up the Marketplace app, and to my immense joy, it remembers all my installed apps! So, I get to installing all my ‘necessary’ apps. The ones that make my phone useful to me.

  • Google Maps (update)
  • Street View for Google Maps
  • Google Reader (what I was trying to install when this all started)
  • Square
  • iTriage Mobile Health
  • Handcent SMS
  • Lookout Mobile Security
  • Where’s My Droid
  • First Aid
  • Twitter
  • Radar Now!
  • Google Voice (totally killer app for the android)
  • MomentFlash
  • PdaNet
  • SMS Backup
  • Wifi Analyzer
  • Barcode Scanner
  • Facebook for Android
  • The Weather Channel (update, I wish I could uninstall this)
  • Compass

The amazing thing is that it took only 20-30 minutes for all my contacts to be back on the phone, my core applications that I use every day re-installed, and my life back. Sure, I have some more time getting things tweaked just right, like the background screen. But that’s trivial. I don’t feel like I am missing my right arm or something, just a finger or two. This is how setting up a new phone (or rebuilding a crashed one) ought to work. Automagically.

Google Android is a flipping awesome OS as far as I am concerned..

PHP programing on Android

I regularly give presentations for Fox Valley Computer Professionals and gave one on Tuesday. I’ve been meaning to post the slides here for a while.

Tuesday’s presentation was on programming for the Android platform. More specifically, using PHP with Scripting Layer for Android (SL4A).

Being that the crowd is mixed, I try let people know something exists and highlight it’s capabilities and any gotchya’s it may have. There is little actual code, as that can be pretty boring if the presentation isn’t what you are interested in.

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Android

My wife got me a new phone for our 1 year anniversary. She got me a Samsung Moment which is an Android Phone.

Let me say. I love this thing. It’s basically a small computer that can make phone calls. Probably in that order of functionality too, as I have trouble answering calls.

It has a slide out keyboard, which is good as I get to use the whole screen to view instead of half of it being tied up with a touch screen key pad. There are two issues with the keyboard. The shift key is one key too high – it needs to be switched with the ‘fn‘ key and there is no real tab key to tab through form fields. There is a little optical pointer thingy, but I’ve not figured that thing out yet. I am typing this post on my phone if that is any indication of the keyboard usefulness.

The phone syncs up with my google account. This is pretty good as I heavily use google services. I had my old phone contacts copied to my new phone. I had to merge a bunch of duplicates as the phone contacts synced into my email contacts. But know I have about everyone I’ve ever contacted in the last 3-4 years on my phone. (No jokes about making it into two digit numbers please)

The signal reception seems to be fairly poor. I think my old phone was a good reception phone, so I may notice the step down more than some.

Text messaging is a blast on this thing. Adding photos is a bit cumbersome, but I quickly adapted. I just installed Handsent SMS which made texting even nicer.

The web browser is quite good. About as good as I could expect. Flash doesn’t work on it, but I’ve only been to one website where that’s a problem rather than a good thing – breaking all the ads. A few big sites like facebook detect that I am on a touch screen phone and give me a different version of the site.

YouTube videos work great on this phone. I kinda feel a bit like Neo in the Matrix, being able to learn how to do anything on the fly. Heh, tonight our waitress was Turkish, so my wife and I looked up turkey on wikipedia.com right there in the restaurant.

The Android Market is quite functional. After an initial hiccup with it refusing to download apps that a phone reset and a few hours trolling some forums to find a fix, I haven’t had a problem since. There are a ton of free and paid apps to be found. I’ve downloaded ssh and vnc clients which allow me to connect to my computers and run them from my phone. I have a couple of contraction timers – for when the baby is ready to come. There is a lot of sudoko games – a lot!

I think my favorite thing is ASE which allows me to program the phone right from the phone. My first script allows me to take a photo of a barcode on a book and look it up on LibraryThing.com and see if I have it already or add it to my library.

I think you can expect more posts about my new phone in the near future. Probably much to my wife’s chagrin..