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Monday, December 12, 2011

Polaroid T7 Internet Tablet (7 inch Tablet)

I recently purchased a Polaroid T7 Internet Tablet.  This was My second attempt at purchasing a cheap Android powered tablet.  Luckily, I am very pleased with this purchase, finally. 

(Quick Background:)
The main thing that I am losing is the multimedia aspect of a tablet.  I had originally purchased a Pandigital Planet with only 256MB of internal RAM and because it was so severely limited in the internal memory aspect I could never take advantage of the Front or Rear Cameras or the Micro HDMI out. 

Even after resolving to just use the Planet for email and surfing the web, I still found that it lacked the ability to run apps at speed. 

Wanting a cheap Android Android Tablet that actually worked, I returned the Planet and picked-up a Polaroid T7 Internet Tablet from Kohl's.

Polaroid T7 Internet Tablet (PTAB7200) 1st Impressions:
The Polaroid name is apparently licensed, as the tablet is actually supported by Southern Telecom.

The Specs:
  • High Res 7" Touch Screen
  • Android OS 2.3.1
  • 1 GHZ RockChip RK2918/ARM CORTEX-A8 w/Neon 512KB L2 Cache
  • RAM: 512MB DDR3
  • 4GB Internal Memory (Expandable with Micro SD card)
  • 802.11 b/g/n wi-fi network capable
  • USB Host feature allows the ability to connect a Flash Drive
  • Rechargeable LI-ion battery (lasts 5-6 hours with wi-fi on in normal use)

The T7 Package Includes:
  • The PTAB7200 7" Tablet
  • Mini USB to USB Cable
  • Adapter Cable for USB Memory Stick (Flash Jump Drive)
  • AC Power Adapter/Recharger Cable Unit
  • PTAB7200 User Manual

This item is advertised right on the box with HD Digital Video 1080P but I cannot see how in the world they could get real 1080P HD Digital Video into that tiny 7" screen when the resolution is reported to be only 800 x 480 pixels.  HD aspect ratio, yes, but HD it is not.  What the hell has happened to truth in advertising, folks?  And no, there is no HDMI output to make this HD capable in any respect.  But, I didn't know they were advertising HD 1080P until after I bought it and knew I was getting an 800x480 screen with no HDMI.  C'mon Man!

Despite the false advertising, the thing has so far proven to run like a champ.  I did have to poke the reset hole with a paper clip after leaving the unit on standby for over a day, once.  But it runs surpisingly fast for only a 1 GHZ processor.

I left the protective cling-plastic screen protector on it, the touch screen works well and does a better job than my planet did, but is not near as good as my DroidX.  But as this is a cheap tablet, I am quite happy.  My son would like a better touch screen to play his games, and therefore still prefers my DroidX for games.  But otherwise games run fine.  Angry birds and Greedy Spiders all seem to be doing quite well without any problems.

I cannot log into NetFlix, but I couldn't on my Planet and I can't on my DroidX, either.  I think my login email address is too long for the mobile platform.  Netflix works great on my PC, Laptop, Wii, PS3 & Blu-ray players.  Video is clear and crisp, even at 50% brightness, though.  The audio could be a bit louder, sometimes (usually when people screw up the audio levels while recording).  Video also streams well with a good signal.

I am still looking for my ear buds to try out the headphone jack.  The speaker sounds OK, but needs to be all the way up to hear alarms as it is not real loud.

A word on the Wi-Fi: OK.  That's all, just OK.  Not as good as My PC, Laptop, Wii, DroidX, My son's iPad & PS3, etc... but definitely a little better than that old peice of crap Pandigital Planet, making this new T7 internet tablet usable downstairs (where the Planet wasn't even able to connect).

The printed user manual unfolds like a map and walks you through loading Amazon AppStore which works well.  I have apps I have licensed through Google Market that I miss, but I don't want to be running BOTH the Amazon AppStore licensing system and the Google Market licensing system when My apps check to see if they are legal.  So right now I am doing without Kuffs Password Safe or Unified Remote, etc., which is a big loss that I do feel daily.  So I have to deal with that.

Although 6 sensors are reported, it doesn't seem to support Bubble Level.  There is no GPS, and I have set it to use network locals, but Google still can't tell where I am.

No Bluetooth, although I want to try my USB Bluetooth adapter and haven't, just yet.

I haven't found if it can be rooted, yet.

I am especially happy with the battery life.  The Planet was done in a couple hours.  I don't think I've had to worry for around 5 or 6 hours with the Polaroid T7.

I love that it comes with some extra cables.  Not just a USB cable to connect the device to your computer, but also an adapter cable to plug in a USB Flash Jump Drive (Memory Stick).  This makes transferring files manually an easier option from friends computers (especially when they don't want to set you up with their Wi-Fi settings and install something on their computer to exchange files with).

Although the buttons are in different placements (back, menu & home buttons), I like the setup very much because it works out as logical when I have to hold the thing upside down in portrait display position because of the omnidirectional wi-fi which has a stronger signal through the bottom end, and it makes sense in any landscape position, as well.

When held, the T7 feels very solid (the Planet squeaked all the time).  It doesn't feel cheap.  I like it so far.  I like it a great deal better than the Planet.  But I still hope to one day be able to grab a Toshiba Thrive.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pandigital Planet - 7" Android Tablet

Hi All...

I just grabbed a Pandigital Planet from Kohl's.  They have it on sale for $189.00 this weekend (you can find it cheaper online, about 170 to 175).  I grabbed it at the sale price with a 20% off coupon they sent Me by email and my wife gave Me $90.00 Kohl's cash.  So I only paid 84.79 with the tax and everything and I'll actually get another 15% off with my employee discount. 

I wanted to wait for the Nova, but we don't have that one in the store yet, and the Kohl's cash we had was only good until today.  They may well have the Nova when I go in for work tonight, though.  Oh well.

So far I can see that with only 2GB I have to get a big microSD card and be very conservative with the applications I install.  On My DroidX I have a 5GB memory bank for apps and I have lots of cool looking apps that act crappy and like to stay in memory and run absolutely all the time.  That's just not a possibility with a 2GB Planet.

What's there:
7" 800x600 resistive TFT LCD touchscreen tablet device with...
MiniUSB port (not MicroUSB like on a Droid X, but MiniUSB like most cameras).
HDMI port (accomodates DTV as well as 720p & 1080p HDTV playback to TV/device).
microSD Card SLOT (no card included) will accomodate up to 32GB cards.
Wi-Fi (The 802.11 B/G/N is very cheap and doesn't have much range).
Mini Stereo Headphone Jack.
Forward and rear facing cameras.  NOTE: NO Flash.
Power button.
Volume Up/Down buttons.
Android buttons.
Dedicated DC port (a dedicated power adapter port that doesn't use the miniUSB port).
Uses a rechargeable Lithium Ion Battery.
AC wall outlet power adapter (for recharging).
MiniUSB to PC USB cable.
Tablet miniUSB connection is compatible with Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7 and MacOS X computers.  Although not stated, it should be compatible with properly configured Linux computers as well since android is Linux based.

The 7" Planet uses a proprietary market place.  When searching at Google's App Market from the device, Google won't even acknowledge that you are on an android device. Apparently there is a hack for this, but you need to be careful with piling on some of the less memory friendly apps that never shut down from most developers out there (android has a big problem with this no matter the device, perhaps this may be pandigital's attempt to stop crappy apps from infecting everything with constant memory loss and consistent device reboots?).

After getting it and playing with it a bit there was a firmware update.  After the firmware update, parts of certain screens, such as the drag-down notification window and menu shrank in parts to a phone-sized screen.  Very unusual looking, but the thing still works just fine.

The 800x600 display is a little different from My Droid X in that it uses a 5 x 5 icon layout, as opposed to the 4 x 4 icon layout.  The Droid X has 3 additional screens on either side of home, where the Planet only has 2 extra screens to the left or right of home.

That said, I really like the bigger display.  I can read the 800x600 pretty well without My reading glasses, as opposed to the tiny screen on My Droid X device. 

Touch seems responsive until trashing or otherwise moving icons around.  Then, it just plain bites because I am not a real patient guy.  You have to pause quite a while once you select the icon and it grows, before you can move it somewhere else.  I am told that there is an issue with how the wi-fi antenna is positioned.  Moving it to a side location apparently helps touchscreen sensitivity.  Someone also says that using aluminum tape to do so has increased the wi-fi signal on theirs.

I really like that they switched the Home and Menu buttons around, and that they are physical buttons (when compared to My Droid X button positions or the lack of real buttons on My friend's Droid Incredible). 

I have downloaded an app, Nimbuzz, to use it for skype, but it seems that they only support skype on a phone?  Curious that these guys aren't supporting tablets, yet.  Maybe I'll find one that will.

I understand that the Planet can be rooted, now.  I'm surprised.  Glad, but surprised, as it hasn't been out long, has it?  I'm going to have to do that once I grab a microSD Card so that I can back it all up for reinstalling it all. 

The 7" Nova will have more memory (4GB), so some might want that one, instead.  As mentioned, we don't have it just yet in our store, but I might grab a Nova, or maybe wait for Pandigital's flagship tablet due out in September.

Monday, May 23, 2011 Sold at Sedo Auction for 510.00

I sold sold for a mere $510.00 to the highest bidder at auction on May 5th. I transferred the domain name upon Sedo's request that weekend and then verified that the funds had hit my account by May 12th, 2011.  Although I find the winning bid unusually low for such a valuable and trending domain name, I am glad to have the sale.  Sedo is a great place for quick domain name sales when both parties are on the ball.

The blogger blog address has been changed to

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Moving Content (Posts) Here

I have received an offer to buy  As I have a blog there at, I have decided to move a couple of my posts concerning Android "Business Apps" that I have made there, to this blog.

My Android app review posts are being copied here as the is going to be sold at and is currently up for auction to the highest bidder right now (as of this writing, there are 2 bids and the current price is $210.00).  Then, when the domain is sold and the new owner re-points the name servers to another address, those posts will disappear and this blog will become their new official home.

The following posts which will be moved here:
  1. Business Apps: Password Safe
    (Originally posted on 3/7/2011 at
  2. Google Voice Takes Over
    (Originally posted on 4/20/2011 at
Both are good pointers.  The Google Voice issue is an ongoing one that has become a pain in my voice mail as it refuses to give-up control even though I have made all sorts of attempts to correct the issue and get Verizon's Voicemail working again.  Nothing is working there, so I do plan on blogging the heck out of that issue.

Just want to retain my authorship as well as save my original content.  As it turns out, this is pretty easy to do with Blogger sites, just export the old blog and then import the posts you want in the new blog.  Cool.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Google Voice Takes Over

The other day my friend showed me how he had setup Google Voice on his Droid Incredible.  He even had a widget that displayed what was transcribed after voice recognition tried to interpret his voice mail messages.

Eventually, I thought that it was a good idea and I thought I'd give it a try, thinking that I could always revert to my Verizon Voicemail if Google Voice didn't work out for me.

To my surprise, I was getting a great deal more hang-ups and fewer voice mail messages with Voice than when using Verizon's voicemail.  On top of this, it appears that Google's voice recognition technology, which works well on my DroidX for short sentences, is often fooled or stumped when interpreting any other message left me, probably due to its longer length.

That said, the voice recognition for Voice is at least attempting to do something when it comes to those longer messages which would stump the android 2 device, but it does seem that the longer the message left, the more silly that the Google Voice transcript became.

However, because of all of these extra hang-ups, I decided to to revert back to the Verizon default voice mail system.  Unfortunately, Google Voice seems to have hijacked the answering system.  Although I have used the Settings menu to set my Call Settings  for Voicemail Service to "My carrier" and I am using the *86 number which is the default for Verizon's Voicemail Settings.  And Google Voice is still answering every single call that I miss.

I can't find any other Voicemail settings in my DroidX.  I even went down to my local Verizon store where I bought the phone and they can't tell me what's wrong.  So now I have to call Verizon's support line (which is what they were going to do at the Verizon store, but I didn't have enough time to hang around at the time).

Verizon Support:  Uninstall Google Voice.
I uninstalled Voice.
Verizon Support: It still goes straight to Google Voice.
Me: "I didn't know it was going straight to voice."
Transfered to a new Verizon tech support guy who took off call forwarding.
Me: "I had call forwarding?"

OK, now my voicemail is working again.  If you are a business, you might want to stay away from Google Voice, but if you don't like it, stop the call forwarding.  That might require a call to a tech.  I was told that I can always put call forwarding back on if I want it.

I'm glad this Verizon tech knew what was going on.  Glad its over with, as well.  ;)  I'm not so sure that Google Voice is a good idea for business after all this.  At least you know what to do after reading this should you not like it.  But taking some calls straight to voicemail without ringing?  That indicates a problem in the business world.  Not so sure I would like it doing anything like that for a personal phone, either.

Always something.  I'm glad this little dilemma is over.  ;)

This issue has never been over, to date (May 23rd, 2011).  Check the comments for my continuing struggles with this issue, still not resolved.  Thanks for nothing, Google Voice!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Busines Card Reader

If you have ever wanted a Business Card Reader (BCR), I just bet that it would have to be something handy.  This is one of those cases where, if you were offered a program that you would install on your computer that would scan in business cards, you probably wouldn't even bother with it unless it was free, am I right?

Well, the reason is simple, it just isn't convenient.  Having to take a business card home and scan it in just to have it available with all its contact information is actually more like a huge chore.  But now-a-days we are all walking around with smartphones and finally, the convenience we require is available as a little app for our Android or iPhone!

Check out my article which covers the Android based version of the CamCard - BCR (western) which I absolutely love on My DroidX.  But note that there is also a version for the asian market (Chinese/Japanese/Korean characters), another version for business, and that there are also alternate versions of each for the iPhone market as well.

With the convenience of hand held devices, the Business Card Reader has finally become a reliable and useful reality.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Need to Squirrel Away a Contact's Info in your Droid Quickly and Easily?

Like to Collect Business Cards Like I Do?

Wouldn't it be just great if everyone had electronic business cards you can simply feed into your phone?  Actually, smartphones do have those, but usually business men simply carry business cards.  How low tech, right?  Well, just turn that paper copy into an contact entry in your Android based smartphone!

I downloaded and wound-up purchasing "CamCard (Western)" (since I'm not an Asian).  I've also seen it called "CamCard - BCR (Western)". The BCR stands for Business Card Reader.

It is an awesome app because it uses character recognition technology (aka: OCR) to grab all the info from a business card.  You can then save the card and all the info into your contacts.  It works well and requires minimal corrections (usually any errors are the cause of fancy fonts & italics) and it trims the card down nicely if you put it on a high contrast surface and corrects perspective and all, and then saves the image and all the contact info.  It even will straighten out the card edges.  It really works great with my DroidX.

This was a Chinese developed app and only cost $6.99.  If that's too heavy duty for ya, there is a free version that scans in 8 cards initially and then will allow 2 more business card scans per week.  I do assure you that the app is all in good English and is easy to read (as if dome by an Englishman), though.  And of course, there is a Chinese & Eastern version.

There are actually a few versions...

And of course, you can find it in the Android market place.

You do realize that we have it made in the Android market because professional applications are still reasonable, right?  This is truly a good buy and well worth the price.  It has saved me considerable time staying connected and allows me to show-off my DroidX and make others drool.  ;)

I'll be checking out their document scanner, "CamScanner" as well, soon.  

See Ya!

What's the Very Best Password Safe?

The best Password Safe?

I finally have entered all of my passwords into my DroidX. It took a long time to find just the right application, and it was quite an adventure, trying so many different apps along the way. But I am certain that I finally settled on the very best of them all... Kuff's "Password Safe Pro". I was trying out all the free versions and this one definitely was the best. I bought the license key (3 euro) because it was so good and because I got tired of seeing the ads very quickly. ;)

There is also a lite version (Password Safe Lite) without network support for 1 euro which doesn't show ads and has no network back-up or sync features (because of the lack of network connectivity feature in this one). It will, however, back up to the SDCard . I wound-up getting both, but that's because I was a bit foolish and didn't find the license for the pro version right away, mistaking the lite version for the license. I wrote the developer and heard back from right away, he's going to refund the money I spent on the lite version for my Droid and we will definitely get another lite version for Maria. She'll then have one and she doesn't need the networking backup/sync features (she or I can manually back it up from her SDCard to her computer, anyway).

I am very happy with this software package. It acts like an app should.

Both versions are very secure and use 128bit AES encryption by default with a 256bit AES encryption option setting.

You can setup the item data fields the way you want, organize them the way you want. Your control over your data is total. You can even setup templates for items, though I have yet to experiment with that.

Nothing else comes close to these Password Safe apps. And you can sync the full version (the one w/backup/restore/sync networking capabilities) with your PC using DropBox, too! The Windows version of the program is free (until the end of this month, anyway). And there is a WiFi backup/restore/sync version available, now. My license is for a lifetime. I am just starting to test the WiFI capabilities, that's a new feature.

Cool program. Works well, too. Very reliable. No complaints (and the few I had were addressed by reading the docs). You can have all sorts of nested folders so that you get everything organized just right. And there are all sorts of skins you can use on it, as well. Even more skins in the Windows version. It was developed by a bloke in the UK.

I honestly am glad I waited to get such a great tandem act for a Password Safe with Kuff's. I should also mention that it's full of features that I will probably never use, but are important to such devices, such as an optional wipe feature that will kick-in upon so many failed login attempts. A remote wipe feature, incase of phone theft. These are important matters of security for the secure obsessed. And there are other security features such as a configurable "shake to show" option, as well.

I will say this, I had a little trouble finding the license key because I kept searching for terms using "kuff's" (with the apostrophe) and eventually found it just searching for "kuffs". So be sure to search for kuffs to see the 2 versions of Password Safe and the license key for the full featured version. It's always the little things that hurt us the most. LOL.

There are some tiny UI issues that I had which were all addressed in the new update by the developer before I could even shoot off an email to him... this guy is sharp!

Thanks, DAz!

Amendum: DAz is the developer and his responses have all been immediate. The purchase of Password Safe Lite was refunded to my credit card within minutes of the request. I am extremely impressed by his professionalism and immediate service to accomodate all my needs. You're just not going to find a better Password App anywhere, and possibly not a more well made app, either.

Oh, I should mention that the Windows version is pretty slick. I'm sure he'll start charging for that one soon, so get it (the Pro version for the android and the Windows version for free) before the end of the month while the Windows version is still free with the Pro license (only 3 euro for both, that's great!).

Links: - for Kuff's Password Safe - for Drop Box file sharing & sync

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Finally, I have an Android!

After all kinds of anticipation for getting myself an Android smartphone, my wife Maria finally helped me out this past Christmas and bought me a Droid X! ;)

Of course, I anticipated getting one ever since the original Droid was announced by Verizon. It's why I named this blog "Widget Droid" and grabbed the domain name (which I hope Google will allow me to mount as the home address for this blog, eventually, since they allow that with Google "Sites").

Anyways, I have had all kinds of fun with it since Maria bought us each one the week before Christmas. I've discovered a great deal of really neat stuff. I've also discovered a whole bunch of "What were they thinking?" type of crap.

I am planning on using this blog to both celebrate the android platform, as well as criticize it for its transgressions. I am hoping the result will be that we are able to make the platform better.

There are some real idiotic things that developers are doing that need to be addressed, as well. And I understand why they happen, they happen because developers are way too busy making their stuff better and miss how others use their devices or how their applications work in the field by real users.

As an example, I think that it is criminal what most applications are doing... they think that they have to be running all of the dang time and therefore even if I force quit ("force stop") an application, it just relaunches itself, immediately. There are too many applications that are doing this.

It is a pathetic excuse for a software developer to assume that any user wants any application running all the time, no matter how vital they think it is. Unless the developer adds a setting for us to configure the app to allow it to run all the time, it should not. Not ever, no matter how important it is.


There is 16GB for apps on a stock DroidX SDCard and 6GB storage internally. My phone usually only shows around 300 MB of usable memory, and the system is usually using near half of that. After I installed all sorts of neat stuff, I had to go through and uninstall anything that wouldn't behave correctly (anything that would relaunch after a force quit). That was a whole heckuva lot of stuff! I couldn't believe how many great programs were acting like crap, running all the time, slowing down the system, even though they were never needed unless I had just launched them. Some I had never launched, or barely ever used. Some I wanted to, but were persistent memory hogs. Hey guys, there is a very limited amount of RAM here. Get real.

The following are a few examples of apps that should NOT run all the time, and why:
  1. The TV Guide does NOT have to run all of the time, TV Guide! I only need it running when I access it, not 24 hours a day. How many times do you think I don't know what to watch? Even if I did watch a lot of TV, say a couple of hours a day,I would probably be watching my favorite shows as scheduled and would only need to reference the TV Guide once every other day. So why does it stay in memory once I am done with it? Furthermore, why does it relaunch after I have force quit the app? Don't get me wrong, I like the app, Digital TV compression makes it impossible to flip through the channels quickly now (what is up with that, Television industry? That just plain Sucks!). So I love having the TV Guide available through the phone, it's a necessity. But I am now only installing it each and every time I need it, and uninstalling it when I am done. And I do consider myself a videot (a slang term I like to use for videophiles or "addicts of the boob-tube"). C'MON, MAN! Really? Yeah, RIGHT... my wrinkled butt that's a well behaved app.
  2. Twitter. I suppose if you are an extremely active telemarketer spamming all the social networks, you would want Twitter to run all the time. But Twitter was over commercialized from the start. Yes, I would love to have the app on my phone if it would just quit when I am done. Who in his/her right mind wants Twitter running when they aren't using the phone, when they are in a different application, when they are using the phone or when they are listening to music? It just doesn't take that long to load and we all know that Twitter's servers are well over-burdened in the first place. It is a huge app that does nothing good for me when I'm not using it, and it still relaunches itself after a force quit? Why? Because Twitter thinks we are all need to be spammers instead of real people with real lives. C'MON, MAN! Really? Yeah, RIGHT... my wrinkled butt that's good.
  3. Yahoo Mail. Sure, many people want such email programs working all the time, informing them of new messages, keeping them apprised. But the point is, I have always used GMail since Yahoo betrayed my trust and allowed spammers to swamp my inbox full of scams and advertisements; most of the ads being for pornography. I signed-up with Yahoo way back in maybe 1995 when I was young and dumb and didn't understand anything about internet security and all the spammers grabbed my email address from the usenet groups I enjoyed frequenting. Since then, I am deluged with spam. The username itself is from when I was less mature and they don't allow me to change it without wiping my account. But my point is that although I do want to check it from time to time, I don't want to be annoyed with all the constant email updates because it is almost all spam. Or if I used that address for work, I would only want to access it during times when I am working, at my willingness to do so. Being updated constantly is just adding all sorts of noise to my world, even if I have notifications silenced. It still updates. We have to be aware that technology is often a distraction and behave appropriately. You would think that Yahoo would understand this? No, they have to be the distraction that I wind-up shunning? C'MON, MAN! Really? Yeah, RIGHT. This is irresponsible behavior by a tech giant that should know better. It should want my attention, not continue to push me away.
  4. Quickoffice is a free app that consumes well over 5MB of my memory even though I've never used it beyond checking it out after installing. It refuses to quit and I am anxious to find a replacement. Once uninstalled how useful will it be to me? Absolutely useless and the developer will lose market share in a hotly contested space for word processing and document management. C'MON, MAN! Really? Yeah, RIGHT. There are no excuses!
Those are just the ones off the top of head because I had just uninstalled them. They are among at least 2 dozen other android 2 applications that just don't cut the mustard. Heck, they fall so short that I personally perceive them as crap applications.

Not every application acts persistent enough to run all the time like this and there are responsible applications out there, thanks to alert & considerate developers. But I only have one example at the moment:
  1. Kruff's Password Safe & Password Safe Lite. These are the best two password safes on the android market. Of course, this is also a feature of it's security. But once you back out from the home screen of the program, it will ask you to click again to assure that you want to exit the application. When it quits, it will release its memory, as almost every single application should. Both of these programs are fine examples of how a Droid app should behave. You can press the home key to get to another app to look something up, and as long as you don't take longer than configured in the settings, once you return and renter the proper password you will arive exactly where you left off in that app. As it should be.
Unfortunately, there aren't many examples of programs that are so well behaved. I cannot figure out why...
  1. UPS Mobile works well, once you back out of it, it asks you if you really want to exit. Still, upon exiting, it remains resident in memory. Luckily, a Task Killer or a Force Quit works well on it.
  2. The AIM & ICQ messengers almost get it right. Obviously, we want our "smart" phones to "multitask" so that we can get to other apps in a hurry and get back to what we were doing before, like chatting with a friend and grabbing a URL for him from somewhere, and then pasting it into a chat. So, upon backing out of the app, the app remains live (unless force quit), so that such things can be accomplished. But in the menu there is an option to "Sign Out". Upon signing out and backing out of the app, these apps both still remain in memory. At least they will stay shut down after force quitting them or using an App Killer, and they won't relaunch again thereafter, or upon a boot-up.
  3. The Silver Edit code editor has the option to Exit in the menu, or it will ask if you want to exit when you hit the back key. Remember that you can leave the app while leaving it running when you hit the Home key, as any android app should do. So why doesn't the menu's Exit selection release the app from memory? Why doesn't the Back key exit and release the program from memory when you are sitting at its home page, especially when the Home key leaves the application to go to the home screen while leaving it in memory? Has Google missed something? I think so. These are UI issues and unfortunately, Google's android is plagued with many such goofs.
  4. When you exit SBMX (Autodesk's SketchBook Mobile eXpress) you simply press the back key and the app asks you if you want to exit, exit & save your work, or cancel the act altogether. That's great, but it still remains in memory.
It's obvious that we have to do some inconvenient things in the name of what, laziness in development? We either have to force quit nearly every app after using it, reboot our phone once in a while (and I suggest that we might have to do that more than the once-a-day that Google recommends we have to do it, if we are avid android users), or keep an "App Killer" or "Task Killer" running in the background and poke it often (after configuring it to allow the few programs we need to run in the background to do so).

I am sure that Google will defend its nonsensible UI steadfastly, as it is not like them to make mistakes in design, and this is especially embarassing in terms of how a convenient and usable UI should present itself. Still, the problem is not completely in the navigation. It is in the lack of vision to not allow applications to terminate normally. And this is both the fault of the platform and the application developer him or herself.

If Google has gone Microsoft, I imagine that Google's answer may just be to throw more active memory at the problem and ship new versions with more RAM, but that doesn't address the real problem which is still a complete and utter design flaw.

When should an app relaunch upon force-quit?

There are very few applications that should run all the time. The bulk of these came on your phone as a part of the android system. Obviously, there is the Android OS and its required system files. But unless you are a developer for the OS itself, there are very, very few third party applications that should always run. That list is very short...
  1. Dialer App
  2. Contacts App
  3. Calendar
  4. Alarm
  5. Blacklist
  6. Caller ID
  7. Maps
  8. Weather
  9. (An active) Live Wallpaper
  10. App/Task Killer
  11. Antivirus
  12. Antispam
  13. Sync Service
  14. Network Connection Manager
  15. Updater
  16. Input Devices/Gizmo Apps
  17. Home/Skin/Folder/App/Icon Managers/Organizers
  18. Widgets
Every other application in the android app world should ALWAYS include an option in the settings to remain persistent in memory as an option and NEVER, EVER continue running after a force quit unless it is a vital system level task that is required to run in the backround. Even the stock Google android Calculator doesn't quit after backing out of the application, but at least it doesn't relaunch upon a force quit or boot-up. No application developer should EVER make the assumption that his/her program is vital to the operation of a smart phone unless they can handily prove that would be the case for absolutely everyone who installs it and no one would ever uninstall that app because it remained persistent in memory. Not ever.

Oh, and one more thing... no application should ever run in memory fresh after installing until the user has accessed it at least one time.

C'MON Google! C'MON App Developer Man! Get real.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Finally Grabbed the DroidX!

I am very lucky. My wife was having a hard time finding for a Christmas present for me and finally gave up and asked me what I wanted. I asked for a card, but then I also stated that a DroidX would be nice, as well.

Well, for the 2nd year in a row, my wife hasn't gotten me a card (for Christmas, Valentine's Day, either of Our Anniversary dates, or my birthday). But this year she actually did get me a present, a present so good it pretty much makes up for all those years when she didn't get me anything... she actually got me the DroidX!

We wound-up getting a couple of DroidX's at the local Verizon store just down the street on 41st Street (here in Sioux Falls, across from Shopko) just before Christmas. We talked deals with the guys down there and walked out with a couple of DroidX smartphones using a BOGO offer and a $20.00 discount.

I have been busy with mine, as well as configuring other electronic Christmas gifts for others. My son got an iPad, my mom got a new laptop and Maria bought herself a new laptop just before Christmas when hers died. So I have really been busy installing software and synchronizing account data since well before Christmas.

I can't believe how useful these little devices are. I used to use one of those little make believe smartphones with Tracfone, but there was no way to get the photos off that thing. It worked as my phone and alarm clock, but that's all. We gave that one to my son since it was still activated for another year and had minutes on it, but he is only going to use it for emergencies and will use the speaker phone (held away from his head & face) or a wired handset, just in case.

So while I am glad that I used Tracfone for a while, when I found out from Tracfone support that I couldn't get my 200+ photos off of the thing (the SMS/MMS picture messaging function never worked and since it doesn't do email or file transfers there is absolutely no other way to get the photos off the Tracfone LG phone), I was extremely disenchanted. I had some great snapshots of my son growing up on that phone.

So what if that pay-as-you go phone had some cool stuff. I used it for all sorts of things besides a phone; SMS messenging, camera, remedial web surfing, as a calculator, clock, alarm clock & calendar (which the Tracfone could also do). But as I can't get the damn photos off the thing, it had become not only hopelessly worthless, but a complete waste of time for me. I have actually lost years of photos and memories from the thing.

But my little DroidX is phenomenal. The DroidX can also do... email, real web surfing, call blocking, voice recording, mp3 playing, bluetooth/USB media & file transfers, file & data synchronization, business card digitization, OCR, coding cheat sheets, reference material, magazines, books, encyclopedias, dictionaries, foreign language education & translation, local movie times guide, local TV times guide, voice search, talk to text, text to speech, spell checking, doodling, simple image adjustments, ftp (it can even become an FTP server), blogging, social networks, media sharing, networking, maps, routes & alternate routes, a turn-by-turn GPS, a compass, a level, tip calculation, currency conversion, measurement conversion, it can even be a flashlight, a credit card swiper, a best deal discount/coupon shopper, it can even act as a PlayStation 3 or PC remote control!

And it can do all that above for free! Sure, the iPhone has more applications available, but I don't think that they have near as many free apps. Plus, when my wife and I were shopping, iPhones weren't available in our state. AT&T's coverage is so just bad here (in South Dakota) that it is notorious for dropped calls and internet connectivity interuptions. AT&T recently bought Alltel, but the state of South Dakota didn't allow AT&T to acquire all of Alltel's cell towers, which is actually the reason that AT&T bought Alltel for in the first place, better coverage. So even now, AT&T's coverage, through Alltel, is still spotty at best.

Of course, after Christmas it was announced that Verizon would finally get the iPhone. I think that made Maria wonder if she had done the right thing, or not. After all, you could video chat in real time on an iPhone. But real time video chat requires a 4G network.

Unfortunately, it will probably be another couple of years before Sioux Falls gets any 4G coverage from the national carriers. Local internet carriers such as Redwood Wireless and Bridgemaxx have already had 4G connectivity in town for some time, now. But Sprint and Verizon have very few cities offering 4G availability, and these are large metropolitan markets.

To top that off, of the two, only Sprint has a 4G phone ready, the Evo. And although that one does have a forward facing camera for video chat, like the iPhone, it will probably be a long time before Sprint makes 4G internet access available here. As it is, the standard Sprint cell towers only cover the parts of the state that are close to the interstate, leaving the rest of the state without true Sprint coverage. This was always a problem whenever I visited Yankton (one of South Dakota's largest cities) when we were on Virgin Mobile (and confined to the Sprint network towers), originally.

So, when we look at the networks, Verizon has the best wireless network coverage, statewide. Sprint mostly uses Verizon's towers throughout the state to cover gaps in their own towers, by agreement. AT&T's coverage of South Dakota has improved from nothing to pathetic. Tracfone has no real smartphones and no real network, they have licensing agreements with Verizon & Sprint. And although T-mobile has emerged offering cool 4G video calling phones, I believe that they don't have their own network either, they also seem rely on the major network carriers for coverage and therefore will rely on them for 4G, as well. And Virgin Mobile only has agreements with Sprint to use their towers, so coverage in Yankton, Vermilion and any small town off the beaten path just plain doesn't exist.

Certainly, when we look at the phones I might have gone with the Sprint Evo. But the Evo's forward facing camera for video chatting feature probably won't be available to us for a few years, until we get 4G. Verizon has a new DroidX coming out that will have a forward facing camera, but that one isn't ready, yet. It should be released soon, though. The iPhone is cool, but Apple gets a cut of everything from calls to apps, which I find especially greedy. And the Verizon iPhone will lack the ability to be used as a world phone in other countries.

But I always have preferred an open platform as opposed to the closed proprietary platform model of companies such as Apple and Windows. Which is why I still like to play with Linux and my old Amigas.

But when we take into account the network, no one took South Dakota's wireless network as seriously as Verizon, and it will require a major push just to match it. Verizon's push to 4G LE seems a bit more active and on-target for faster nationwide coverage, which seems to give us a better shot at 4G sooner, in the future. If I did get an Evo, I would probably wind-up waiting for 4G coverage much longer. And the forward facing camera would be more of a reminder of what my phone can't do (video conference with others who are capable of it).

I always knew I would get a Droid, which is why I started this blog so long ago. I am very enthusiastic about the Android OS platform. It allows great opportunity for those of us who see it and can harness it and take advantage of it.

Now that I have a DroidX, I'll try and keep this blog updated regularly. I hope to share with the Android community at large what I consider to be the best apps and widgets available on the Android market. Maybe share some tips and life experiences with my DroidX, too.

I certainly love the 8 megapixel camera, it has come in very handy while mine and Maria's cameras turned-up missing this Christmas. ;)