Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gardens

Cricket in The Gardens
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.5

Monday, November 15, 2010

Liam and the stones




Or see http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/0Whe2LjM_AAQMpnFSyGo3Q?feat=directlink

Sent from a Motorola phone

Friday, November 05, 2010

Hello Android, goodbye Blackberry!

Like leaving Facebook, many say that ditching one's BB is unthinkable, undo-able. At least changing phones isn't a Hotel California-type experience.

My move wasn't done consciously - I was interested in several BB models, but having been offered a deal on a Motorola Milestone (Android), and liking the reviews, I made the move. And I'm glad I did. While it's not the latest of it's kind (the Droid 2, and Android 2.2, have been out a while) it's a brilliant phone, for many reasons.


The Motorola Milestone runs the Linux-based Android operating system.



Pros
As you'd expect from a system owned by Google, it's tightly integrated with all Google products. (Hint: clear up your Google Contacts before using your phone for the first time!). Gmail and Google Calendar, obviously, but also Picasa photo albums, Google Maps, GTalk, YouTube, etc.

It also has it's Apps Market - around 70,000 applications to enhance your phone. And this is one of the exciting things about the phone, thousands for free apps. I was never enamoured of the Blackberry AppsWorlds. What's more, I can write my own now!

I love the 'massive' screen - at 3.7 inches and 854x480 pixel resolution, using the phone is a real pleasure.

While I do like having a slide-out keyboard, I've no complaints about the on-screen keyboard and rarely use the physical keyboard.

This is the first phone I've had with wi-fi, and combining this with apps that can tell when you're close and connect to a preferred wi-fi spot is a awesome ability. Not unique to the Android for sure, but powerful all the same.

Cons
I was surprised by a battery life considerably less than my old Blackberry. On the other hand, this is less a phone and more of a micro-netbook. So you could look at is as 2 days battery life for a netbook is pretty good. This is for sure the first phone that I would use to replace the laptop on non-business trips!

The 2.1 version of Android has a few issues with it's camera - a long delay between pressing the shutter and actually taking the photo is annoying, as is a 7-pixel wide streak down the edge of landscape photos. Otherwise, the camera (and camcorder) is fine, and the Vignette App (see later) is wonderful.

Tips
A good document for new users is PC World's Android guide. A simple overview article has a link to a value-for-money (US$12.00) 'Power Guide'.

There are several good apps listings/review sites; I'd recommend http://www.appbrain.com (why use it? http://lifehacker.com/5686385/why-you-should-use-appbrain-to-install-and-manage-your-android-apps).

Must-have (and free) apps

There really is 'an app for that', from eye-candy to utilities that leverage the power of the phone. And so many are free. While the official App Market won't let you buy paid apps in all countries,some apps let you buy their app via PayPal outside of the AppMarket.

Above: my alternate home screen with apps 'LauncherPro', old-fashioned digital clock, and custom wallpaper.

Recommended Apps:

LauncherPro - home screen replacement
Barcode scanner - great for traditional line barcodes but also awesome for the newer QR Codes
Astro file manager
Lookout - anti-virus, find-lost-phone app
Vignette - great photo effects app. Free version's only limitation is images are saved at a low-resolution.



Vignette app photo

And one must-have paid app: Tasker
While there's often an application especially for system tasks, you can end up with a dozen apps to tweak your system.  Tasker is a easy-to-use scripting app. that will replace many task-focused apps. For example I use Tasker to turn the ringer down between 7pm and 7am, or to mute the ringer when I flip the phone face down.


The Motorola Milestone is available from Digicel.

Monday, November 01, 2010