Another year is coming to a close. 2013 has been a great year for me as a consultant, with a lot of opportunities for learning and working with new things.
In my professional life I consult with companies to help them build & maintain managed IT services, specifically around Microsoft Windows server and client environments. It’s a lot of fun, and both large and small clients have unique requirements, technology, and cultures.
On the personal side though, I use a completely different set of technologies. Every year it seems to morph, usually little bits at a time. For example, we all have a desktop or laptop that lasts us for years, maybe a printer, WiFi, storage systems, and entertainment of course. Me too, though the end of this year seems to have taken a bit of a turn for me.
It will be no secret that I’m a heavy Microsoft user, and that I’m also a big consumer of Google services. During this past year, I’ve found myself almost completely using online services rather than local software. I do have an Office 365 account for myself, and having Office 2013 is great, but it’s the online portion of that subscription that makes it really usable.
Google Docs is another service I have begun to use much, much more, to the point of rarely actually using MS Office for personal use. I use Office for work all the time, of course. Along with Google Docs and Office 365, I use Evernote rather than OneNote, self-hosted WordPress for blogging, all the usual social networks, of course, and several other services as they fit unique needs.
What this means, is that I really don’t need MS Windows for personal use any more. So here at the end of 2013, I’m changing the computing tools that I use. Much of this isn’t a surprise, a Nexus 7 (2013, 16GB, WiFi) for a tablet, and a Nexus 5 for phone. I still have my 3-year-old Sony laptop, but that dual-boots Ubuntu 13.10 and Windows 8.1 (spending most of the time in Ubuntu). The big change was picking up the Chromebook 11, built by HP and Google.
I’ve been leaning towards a Chromebook for a year or more, but this one checked all the boxes for me. Small, lightweight, instant on, USB charging (very cool), a great keyboard, very good display (even though resolution is only 1366×768), and stylish. I can literally do about 99% of what I need from a computer from this Chromebook. The only thing I can’t is video editing, and that’s mighty rare for me anyway.
The interesting coincidence, is that all three of these new devices have only 16GB of local storage and, of course, rely very heavily on the cloud to function. For where I live & work, that’s not an issue, so I’ve found a significant boost in personal productivity by having devices that are instantly available, have the same synchronized information a click away, and are in some cases interchangeable. A study source – http://progamerreview.com/ has proven valuable to me, with so much tech advancement it helps to keep up with the professionals.
So for the next year or more, I’ll be mainly using Google hardware and, for heavy lifting, Ubuntu on my “big” laptop. As I said earlier, I’ve been heading in this direction for some time. Now that I’ve moved fully over, I feel more empowered to actually *do* things with the technology I own, rather than having to manage the technology… which is what I do in my professional life.
At least this makes things a little simpler.
Courtesy of Motorola Mobility
I’ve been on the fence for some time regarding whether Google should use Motorola to produce a pure Google Android phone. There are lots of reasons why this would impact the Android marketplace in many predictable ways, but could also bring a number of unknown effects.
However, I’ve been thinking lately of all the so-called fragmentation, and of all the varying user interfaces (skins) that every OEM ships with their phones. Some are great, most aren’t. They all add unnecessary overhead to the Android experience, no matter how good they may seem on the surface.
Maybe I’m simply an Android ‘purist’, or a Google Fanboi – take your pick. Among other things, one of the missing components of the Android ecosystem is a line of true, pure Android devices.
Sure, the Nexus series of phones is as honest an experience that you can find in the Android universe today. I had the privilege of owning the original Nexus One – a phone that still kicks ass for my daughter Brianna and that keeps amazing me with its ability to seem relevant two years later.
To be honest though, what the market needs is a line of true Google devices. While I realize that the Motorola isn’t complete by any means, and that it could still unravel, I think this is what Google needs to use their new division for. When I first heard about the deal, I thought it may affect the Android market in negative ways. That Google recognized this and would work towards ensuring their OEM partners of fair participation in the availability and participation in Android code releases.
What I fear at this point is that Google will stick to this promise and not take the opportunity to clarify what this can mean to the marketplace.
Google needs to set the tone for Android. Period.
They can do this without jeopardizing the Nexus program, releasing their own take on a line of devices through Motorola. Not flooding the marketing with 12 designs in a year, but just three. One candy bar style like we’re all accustomed to, one slider with keyboard, and one BlackBerry style with smaller screen and dedicated keyboard.
This does several things:
- Demonstrate the positive affects of timely, consistent firmware updates across a standardized platform.
- The Android market would have a pure Android option to choose from on multiple carriers.
- OEMs would have a baseline Android device to compare their enhancements to, differentiating their products.
- The Nexus series would continue similar to today as annual examples of state-of-the art, premium devices.
- Google could demonstrate standardization, without mandating blandness across OEMs.
- The Motorola deal becomes more than just a patent purchase, and allows Google to bring some of the best concepts of Apple’s iPhone and Microsoft’s WP7 approaches to leading their ecosystem.
Granted, this is simply my wish list, but is having Google produce their own phone really that ‘evil’?
A longtime staple of many social media professionals is to share what they read, what they find and the resources they use every day. I’m not different, and have been sharing this information for the better part of a decade.
Over the years, I’ve used Google Reader (still a staple), Tumblr, Posterous, Read It Later, InstaPaper, BlogLines, StumbleUpon, Del.icio.us, Digg, and many others that I’ve since forgotten (sorry!). In fact, earlier this year I wrote a similar post pointing out that I had More Resources To Share.
Since then the work involved to share to so many different sources, along with the changing landscape of browser experimentation (my fault for using Firefox and Chrome) with their different sharing plugins takes way too long. To add to the complexity, I’ve added several dozen feeds to my daily reading list, even after cleaning out many non-essential feeds.
I’ve made it simple. Finally. At least for me it is and I hope it is for you as well.
Google Reader is still my mainstay for sharing – everything that I think may be of interest to others is found here. By everything, I mean everything – social media, mobile technology, android stuff, apple stuff, microsoft stuff, and many other topics. If you’re connected to me via Google you’ll see it in your “People You Follow” portion of your own Google Reader. Otherwise, you can find it here: http://www.google.com/reader/shared/rickmahn
Posterous is the main place I’ll take time and post social media related items that I think are very relevant for anyone in the field. These articles and posts might be on business use, marketing, communications, tools, news and so on. You can find this fee at: http://rickmahn.posterous.com/
Finally, I do still bookmark some items at Del.icio.us. There’s really no rime or reason to those, but it may be useful, so here it is: http://delicious.com/rickmahn
Photo credit: ryancr
It’s pretty easy for me to gush wildly about Android phones as I’m a bit of a mobile technology geek. From my first mobile device the Apple Newton 130 to Microsoft Palm sized PC based competitors to the Palm Pilot, to my current favorite of Android based devices I’ve mostly kept on top of the current state of the art.
Of course I couldn’t always afford the latest and greatest, so like any geek worth their statistical prowess I’d read & re-read any materials I could find on my favorite mobile devices. Nowadays, that fascination and passion has turned to social media (sorry folks, you’re stuck with me), but mobile is one of the key technologies in our mobile lives and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t check out new things.
So when an opportunity to check out a new Smartphone or other piece of mobile tackle comes along, I’m all over it. Such is the case with Verizon’s Droid Incredible (by HTC).
The Incredible is an Android based Smartphone with host of great features. I’ll knock out some of the top items a techy geek like me thinks are important. It’s got a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 3.7” 480×800 AMOLED display, 8 megapixel camera with flash, and 1xEVDO rev. A 3G from Verizon. Things I’m taking for granted are here too: Wi-Fi b/g, Bluetooth 2.1, GPS, Android 2.1 (Eclair), microSD (up to 32GB), push mail (Gmail/Exchange), and Micro USB connection/charger.
Personally I’m on my 2nd Android phone (the Nexus One), and have had the opportunity to use many others (Droid, Droid Eris, Hero, Cliq, MyTouch 3G, G1) so I felt pretty comfortable with the device. The phone is a “candy bar” style, meaning it’s basically a slab, and doesn’t have any flip-out or slide-out parts – and that’s a darn good thing in my book. Less stuff to break.
The large screen dominating the face of the phone is fantastic brightly lit and crystal clear, with flush touch-sensitive buttons for Back, Settings, Home, and Search built into the lower edge. An “optical joystick” is a nice alternative to the standard Android trackball, works well, and is intuitive in function.
Performance of this phone is excellent, matched only by the Nexus One, and probably by other phones based on the 1GHz Snapdragon processor. This alone makes Android exceptionally snappy and fun to use. Video streams play without stutters, and audio quality is flawless – either from the included 8GB microSD card, or streamed over a variety of wireless options.
Since this is an HTC device, sold by Verizon, it carries the signature HTC Sense UI. This enhanced interface that rides on top of Android, provides a bit more consumer-centric interface than the default one designed by Google. It also brings a uniformity of usability when you compare your Incredible to your friends Droid, Eris, or Hero and other HTC phones on other networks.
I didn’t use the camera too much, but it worked as expected and I thought the quality of the pictures was perhaps a bit better than on my Nexus One. This is probably due to the 8MP camera in the Incredible, and the ability to upload directly to Picasa was flawless. Below is a sample picture I took out the window.
That brings up another aspect of Android that folks like me take for granted. All Android phones, the Incredible included, are closely tied to Google online services. That’s not to say that you can’t use other services, and tools, but the integration of Gmail, Contacts, Calendar, Talk, Voice, and Picasa is impressive. This is what you’d expect from well planned online integration – something that each of these online services were not originally designed for but have developed into over time. The HTC Sense UI doesn’t break this as much as enhance it.
Here’s a few pics to show how the Incredible stacks up with a few Android phones I had lying around. (From left to right: T-Mobile G1, T-Mobile/Motorola Cliq XT, Google Nexus One, Verizon/HTC DROID Incredible)
Stacked up to show thickness.
(From top to bottom: T-Mobile G1, T-Mobile/Motorola Cliq XT, Google Nexus One, Verizon/HTC DROID Incredible)
There are a couple of personal opinions I want to share, One about the phone and one about Verizon & Skype.
- First, the case on this particular phone is as creaky as an old guy’s knee (I should know, I’m developing one). It’s probably because this is a promotional unit that’s seen several different people over the past couple weeks for review purposes – exactly why I have this one. But if the case gets this loose and “creaky” in few weeks use, what will it be like in year? Like I said, it could simply be this unit.
- Second, the relationship of Skype and Verizon – and my point is directed more at Skype than the big V. I really want to thank Skype for signing up with Verizon to only allow the Skype Android Client to be offered to Verizon customers only – what a bunch of bullshit. There are millions of Skype customers on Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T and pre-paid networks too – thanks for leaving us out in the cold.
To conclude, the Verizon Droid Incredible is a great phone, it’s Highly recommended for Verizon offers. It’s a sister to the much-vaunted and desired Google Nexus One, and is available and supported through Verizon. You can order the phone now, but don’t expect it to ship until May 14th – though I’ll tell you it’ll be worth the wait.
This was a frustrating experience, but in the end worked out like it should. I have to admit that the actual migration by FeedBurner to using my Google account went well, and the existing feeds redirected to the new FeedBurner/Google domain that handles them.
The biggest issues for me were the longer-than-expected reader-count anomaly, and the not-so-exact steps involved to redirect the â€œMyBrandâ€ URLs to the new feed domain.
Finally, nearly a week after move the feeds over, the reader count is approaching where it used to be. One or two days eh? HA!
Also, it took a bit of digging to find out the real trick to re-enabling the â€œMyBrandâ€ configuration for my FeedBurner account. It after getting DNS changes made, and validating the FeedBurner MyBrand configuration, it turns out that you should also disable the service, then re-enable it. Whatâ€™s with that?
Anyway, the feeds are finally redirected correctly, both existing ones that folks were using and the links here on the blog. Sorry for any strange feed behavior in the last week â€“ I totally didnâ€™t expect it to happen.