Posted on March 24th, 2011 No comments
They confirmed the Java VM on the PlayBook will be the same that’s on Android devices allowing Android apps to somewhat natively run on one PlayBook. I wonder if this will create a patch war like Apple and Palm had when the Palm WebOS had native iTunes support and Apple continually updated iTunes to break the support.
The PlayBook will also have native C/C++, HTML5, Flash, and AIR dev environments.
The dev potentials are quite large. I’m interested to see how it competes in the crowded tablet market.
Posted on January 22nd, 2011 1 comment
Unless you have been under a rock this month, you know the illustrious iPhone 4 will be heading to Verizon on February 10. This will be the first time, since the original release of the iPhone in 2007, that the phone has been made available on a CDMA carrier (Verizon and Sprint are both CDMA carriers in the U.S.) This will also be the first time that an iPhone will get 3G data speeds outside of AT&T, in the U.S. (T-Mobile users have been able to use unlocked iPhones, but unable to get 3G speeds).
There is a lot of rumbling that many people unhappy with AT&T’s service issues (that’s phone/data service, not customer service), will likely jump ship from AT&T for the greener grass of Verizon. If you are one of those people, there are a few major considerations you should be aware of before you make the big move.
Posted on January 6th, 2011 No comments
My favorite online streaming music service is Slacker Radio. If you are unaware of Slacker, think of Pandora or Last.FM. I believe the Slacker offering has the best user interface, a great selection of music, nice free (and relatively cheap paid) offerings, and was the first to offer on-device mobile applications with caching of music for offline use. I have my custom Rock Band Radio station over there too.
Today, at CES, the folks at Slacker announced the next generation of their web-based and mobile applications. Most of it has been expected for a while, but good to see that they are pushing the marketing on it. Let’s get into the announcement.
This has been quietly announced on Slacker.com for many months. This is a paid offering allowing users to select any song in the Slacker library on-demand for immediate listening. I have heard that this paid offering will cost users a scary $9.99 per month, which is an extremely expensive cost in my opinion. This new offering will compete immediately with Zune Pass, Rhapsody, Napster, and similar services. It could also compete with iTunes and Amazon’s download services.
Posted on November 30th, 2010 No comments
This month my gadget obsession resurges, as I move on from one device to another. A passing (er, lighting) of the torch, if you will. This past Thursday (that would be Thanksgiving here in the states), I got my hands on the BlackBerry Torch 9800 on AT&T. This post is the intro to a series of articles coming up. The upcoming posts include: first impression, native apps versus 3rd party apps, and more. [Go here for a slew of old articles on previous phones.]
Let’s talk about why I chose the Torch this time around. I use my phone as an enterprise device, for both work and personal use. I guess I’m a “prosumer“. In recent years, we have been limited at work to only BlackBerry devices, due the the centralized management and security it brings. Within this past year, we have been offered the option of iPhone or Android devices, using Good Mobile Messaging software to integrate into our enterprise. Though Good remains limited in digital signing/encrypting of email.
Those limitations kept me looking at BlackBerry devices, and since I’m not married to any one carrier, I knew immediately that I wanted the BlackBerry Torch for AT&T.
The main reason, capacitive and large touchscreen. Having spent years with Palm Treo phones, and about 4 months with the BlackBerry Storm, I really have missed touch screen. The Storm “clicky” screen was not acceptable for me, as I could type faster than the screen could respond. Ultimately creating a brick wall that I could never get past.
The Torch eliminates the click screen, and it’s what you’d expect from a modern smart phone. There is a slide-up physical keyboard and an on-screen (portrait and landscape) keyboard. The typing options are plentiful.
The Torch doesn’t have the highest resolution screen, but is plenty good looking. It doesn’t have the fastest processor, but it’s plenty fast. The new BlackBerry OS 6, is relatively snappy and pleasing on the eyes. [My wife, the resident iPhone user in the house, agrees.]
Other phone options currently available include a multitude of BlackBerry Bold offerings on Verizon and AT&T. As much as I liked the capability of the Bold 9000 and have heard wonderful reviews of the 9700 (and newer), the larger touch screen is the device for me.
Coming up soon: My First Impressions article. Native Apps versus 3rd Party Apps article.
For now, here are a couple accessories I plan to pick up.
Posted on November 22nd, 2010 No comments
Many retailers are getting a jump on the holiday deals this year. Take a look at what Amazon is throwing our way early.
>>>> Black Friday deals <<<< They are here and ready to take all our money. Games, Gadgets, and Gizmos Galore!
Lightning Deals (will be gone very soon):
Current Video Games on Sale: God of War: Collection (PS3) $10, Halo Reach (Xbox 360) $30, Fable III (Xbox 360) $30
The deals are expected to continue through November 27. Then, of course, there’s always the weekend and Cyber Monday. Lot’s of time to spend lot’s of money.
Posted on November 17th, 2010 No comments
Don’t stand in line after your Thanksgiving meal. Instead, take a quick nap, park your butt at your desk and fire up www.MyGGGo.com. I’ll be highlighting some kick ass deals that you will not want to miss.
First off, Amazon is starting Black Friday deals early, on November 22. THIS MONDAY!
The deals are expected to continue through November 27. Then, of course, there’s always the weekend and Cyber Monday. Lot’s of time to spend lot’s of money.
Here’s something to start you grabbing your wallet. How about a 40″ 1080p LCD TV for $399.99 (38% off regular price). This is an Amazon Deal of the Day. Will go fast.
Posted on October 28th, 2010 No comments
Now, as my interest in mobile technology is increasing, I’m getting my programming skills sharpened and focusing first on iPhone development. This is a very new space for me, since iPhone development takes place on a Mac (I’m a Windows purist), and is written in a language called Objective-C, which is heavily based on the C programming language (see my background above to identify the discrepancy). That said, my iPhone skills are getting sharper each day, and I have some projects to work on (which I will announce at a future date).
I may also work on apps for the other devices, including Android, Palm, and BlackBerry. Though, that would take me in a very different technical direction, so don’t expect it soon.
To keep up with my mobile development activities, for now you can follow me @JavaDevelop on Twitter. Sometime in the future, I will revive the website with all that I’m working on.
If you have any app suggestions with the platform you’d like to see an app on, let me know. Maybe I will take community suggestions for future direction.
Posted on September 7th, 2010 4 comments
This post will likely seal my fate of ever working for Microsoft or Harmonix. With that, here’s goes my prediction of Kinect, the great fail of 2010. Though, there will be hope of its redemption in 2011.
Microsoft’s next gaming evolution for Xbox 360 is Kinect. As we all know, that’s the camera-based controller that puts you in the game. Kinect will be available for purchase this Fall for $150 stand-alone or $300 packaged with a new Xbox 360S (4BG hard drive & Kinect Adventures game).
Journalists and gamers have now had a few rare opportunities to try out Kinect; at E3, GamesCon, PAX Prime, select Macy’s and Gamestop locations. The people touting that its a really good peripheral for Xbox 360 are either Xbox loyalists or those who have played Dance Central (that’s Harmonix’ new dancing game). Dance Central is an evolution of Dance Dance Revolution, where gameplay is generally fun and precision isn’t always necessary to have the game score properly. Remember that you aren’t dodging, ducking, shooting or jumping from bad guys in it. It’s the kind of game that works and works well with Kinect.
If you listen to people who have played other games, such as DecaSports Paintball, the calibration has to be set several times, the gameplay is generally not fun, and precision is inaccurate. Here lies a big problem. Gamers are going to expect some action/adventure in their games, and if the precision isn’t there (like in the original Wii controllers), gamers are not going to play games much with it. Don’t take my word for it, listen to Alexander Sliwinski and Dave Hinkle of the Xbox 360 Joystiq Fancast.
As recent as last week (PAX Prime), Kinect developers were telling gamers that the Kinect software they were using at PAX was not the final version. I think that’s crazy to know the final build is not yet on the Kinect just a couple weeks away from launch. In one respect, it scares me that there are still glitches being ironed out. On the other hand, it gives hope that calibration and precision may be fixed by software patches.
Other than Dance Central, there is the use of Kinect for navigating menus on the Xbox Dashboard, Netflix, and other similar applications. This is another area where Kinect works well, and can be a great add-on for Xbox users. Though, a great (and I mean great) dance game and dashboard navigator is not going to get anyone (other than loyalists) to pay $150 for Kinect, plus $50 for Dance Central. Would you pay $200 to add a really cool dance game to your Xbox library?
Kinect will not sell well for the 2010 holiday season. You might hear some big buzz as it launches, but when the dust settles, it will be a flop. I expect for every 3 out of 4 Kinect purchases, Dance Central will also be purchased. As for all the other Kinect games, they will sell as well as 3rd party Wii games (aka not sell).
There is a potential saving grace for Kinect though. Remember, the navigation system is very good and there is one solid game available at launch. The saving grace is Microsoft reducing the price of Kinect by 2/3, yes to $50. Fortunately, Microsoft is already selling Kinect games for the same price as Wii games, which makes the games a compelling price point. Would you consider a $50 peripheral to allow you hands-free dashboard navigation, with some limited gaming capability? I might. What about trying out some sub-par hands-free games for a price lower than the typical Xbox 360 game retail price. I might go for that also. To get Kinect and Dance Central for $100, I could see that as compelling. Though, until the Kinect pricing drops by 2/3, this new evolution for Xbox will flounder and ultimately fail.
Posted on August 17th, 2010 2 comments
I have used the BlackBerry Bold 9000 as my primary all-in-one converged phone/media device for 18 months. It’s about time I put this device in its place. Let’s get into the issues: keyboard, no touch screen, Gmail integration, limited internal/application memory, and more.
Don’t get me wrong, as longtime user of smartphones, the Bold 9000 has some excellent features, but I’m going to be the grumpy old man today. Remember, my smartphone history is: PalmOne Treo 650 (Verizon), Palm Treo 700p (Verizon), BlackBerry Storm 9530 (Verizon), iPhone 3G (AT&T), and of course Bold 9000 (AT&T).
Keyboard: This keyboard first is just too wide for me. The width needs to be trimmed down a smidge. My former Treo devices had the perfect spacing of keys making typing a breeze. With the Bold 9000, my thumbs need to travel further than necessary. “Click, click, click”, says my keyboard as I type. These keys are ridiculously loud. Just try to type on this thing when you are in a meeting without disturbing everyone in the room; or worse, try checking your email while sitting on a public loo. The guy in the stall next to you is bound to count your clicky keystrokes.
Lack of Touch Screen: There’s not much to say about this. It’s 2010, get with it. Granted, the phone came out in 2008, but still, combined hardware keyboard and touch screen smartphones (Palm OS, Windows Mobile) have been around since 2005. What’s taking RIM so long to get touch screen phones, with a physical keyboard on it? Yes, we can now get our hands on the BlackBerry Torch 9800, but it astounds me that the flagship BlackBerry devices of 2008 and 2009 did not have touch.
Gmail Integration: Gmail has 26 million user accounts. Presumably, many of them are using BlackBerry to read/send Gmail. So, how is it that the BlackBerry operating system still does not support 2-way synchronization? If I archive a Gmail message on the Bold, it will automatically archive when displayed on the PC’s web browser. Though, if I archive a Gmail message on the PC’s web browser, the BlackBerry OS is not smart enough to automatically sync. In fact, there’s no way to force a synchronization, which requires me to archive the same message twice.
Also, if using the BlackBerry’s integrated “Desktop” email client, it displays messages from all integrated email accounts; Exchange, Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, etc. Though, when using Desktop to display messages, there are none of the expected Gmail features, like Archive and Add Star. If you want to use the Gmail features, you have to leave the Desktop and open the Gmail icon to get those features. Simply, it’s a poor and inefficient implementation of Gmail integration and support.
Application Memory: This device has a whopping 128MB of memory reserved for the OS, installed applications, and running applications. What this means is if you install more than 10 apps, get ready to run out of memory and have the phone lock-up forcing a reboot. Also, if you have more than three 3rd party apps running simultaneously, same story…out of memory, forced to reboot. Even though there is 1GB of on-board storage and up-to 16GB of microSD storage, you are still limited to 128MB for all apps. That’s just crap.
Media Playlist Syncing: If you have playlists on the computer in Windows Media Player (WMP) or iTunes, the playlists will only sync to the Bold with the PC installation of the BlackBerry Media Sync application. If you were to use the native WMP or iTunes syncing; music, video, and photos will sync, but no playlists. Stupid, just stupid that RIM cannot use the WMP or iTunes API to get playlists to sync.
On a good note, that’s about all I can complain about. The Media app is sub-par to iPod or PocketTunes (Palm OS), but it’s usable. The screen resolution is great. The phone, speaker, Bluetooth, and other features are great…but this is my Debbie Downer rant.
Posted on August 13th, 2010 No comments
Let’s start with the install. It all began with Windows 7 prompting me with a BlackBerry icon in my system tray. Clicking on the link brought up the BlackBerry Automatic Update dialog. Being a “bleeding edge” tech guy, I grabbed a screen shot and clicked “Install”.
The install was seamless and painless. Basically, sit back and watch. I may suggest grabbing a cup of coffee, as the install took my system about 5 minutes to complete the installation.
The first bit of interesting change, no longer do we call this BlackBerry Desktop Manager. Now, it’s BlackBerry Desktop Software. I wonder how much time in R&D was spent on that change.
The actual layout of Desktop Software is considerably different from the 5.0 version. You now get a navigation pane on the left side, versus icons covering the entire app. What’s great about this change is, you always have visibility into all your navigation opportunities at all times. Previously, once you clicked an icon, you’d be brought into a completely new screen, with no visibility back to your previous options. Also, take a look what is in the new navigation area, “Media Sync”. For the first time, it looks like we will get a decent integrated media sync application. I will explore this in much more detail.
Initially upon connecting my BlackBerry (Bold 9000) to my Windows 7 computer via USB, Desktop Software did not recognize it. The initial startup screen, “Connect your BlackBerry device”, remained.
After a minute, my USB port recognized the BlackBerry and so did Desktop Software. It recognized it in the home screen, followed immediately by a pop-up about adding a new BlackBerry device, following immediately by another pop-up screen about discovered music on my device. Having all this automatic discovery is nice and all, though maybe they could have let me complete one activity before bringing up the next pop-up window.
The media sync capability appears to be better than what existed in the past. I will explore it further and see if it compares at all to using iTunes or Windows Media Player for syncing. As of recently, the only reason I have been using BlackBerry media sync is to get my Windows Media Player (WMP) playlists on my Bold. Using WMP to sync, only brings over the songs, not the playlists. It’s odd, because with the BlackBerry Storm, it would sync playlists with WMP.
For now, my first impression is overall positive. The left navigation gives the user a way to easily get back to home or any other place within Desktop Software. The integrated media sync is a great add, plus the media sync screens have a new look to them, giving a sign that RIM is trying to get serious in the multi-media space. Plus, the ability to adjust the size of Desktop Software is a great add.
Be sure to check out Craig Johnston’s book, “My BlackBerry Curve” at Amazon. Why? He’s on the CrackBerry Podcast, and knows his stuff.
My Gadget, Game & Gizmo Obsession …blogging about mobile stuff, gamer stuff, and other stuff since 2007 (MyGGGo.com)