Category: Technology

A sea of apps…. I’m drowning!

I’ve literally spent the last 2 hours going through the Windows Phone Marketplace (iTunes for Microsoft phones if you don’t know) and have come to several conclusions:

  1. It’s a terrible waste of time to “browse” looking for something interesting.
  2. There are thousands of apps to review (and this is the smallest store, iTunes is hundreds of thousands).
  3. Some developers have real large balls charging for an app that has a free equivalent from another developer.
  4. The thought process that goes into developing an app needs to be revisited.  A flashlight app, really?

I feel cheated out of the two hours I spent looking for an app that I didn’t know I needed.  You’re saying right now…

“How many apps did he download and install?”

Short answer is one.  Long answer is I downloaded an app that looked interesting, got reviewed well by fellow downloaders, and it was free to try.  I figured what do I have to lose, right?  So I did it, downloaded it.  I got so excited to click on it and see what it was all about and guess what happened?  My phone crashed.  Literally, screen went black.  Was this what my two hours culminated into?  It certainly was a moment where the word “F**********%%%%%%%%%%%%%%kkkkkkkkk!” was more than relevant and dare I say, required.

I’ve had the phone for 8 months now, and up until this moment of offending crash-i-ness, I’ve never rebooted or turned the thing off.  Probably the most stable phone I’ve ever owned (a post for another day though).  I took off the case, unclicked the batter cover, and did the battery pull that I hoped would return my phone to the living.  It worked, thankfully, but as soon as the it returned to life, I promptly uninstalled the cancerous app.

Were all those people wrong?  Was it the reflection of my face in the screen protector that made the app decide it didn’t want to be on my phone?  I didn’t know what to say on the feedback…..  would I dare be the first person to say the app sucked?  I decided to keep my comments to myself, as I truly didn’t know if the app sucked or not, it never ran for me to form an honest opinion.

What I did instead was download the Microsoft Developer SDK 7.1 for my phone, paid $9 for a dev unlock code, and unlock my phone for what will certainly be a time sucker hobby.  I decided in that moment of battery pulling and stewing over the app failure that I would learn how to develop apps that make sense for me, and if they worked, throw them up on the Marketplace site for others to use.

After all, there have to be others that use their phones like “its a tool that makes my life easier to live” rather than people that use their phones like “look at this, my phone lets me see in the dark”….  it gets me every time people showing me their flashlight app and I pull out my LED flashlight with the comment “this didn’t cost me $300 and a 2 year contract.”

Change at the speed of technology

I think the hardest part for most people to cope with when it comes to technology in general is the speed at which it changes.  Take my obvious change of template design.  Small potatoes when you consider the ground breaking work being done right now at most companies, but my Mom would have an issue.

“I liked the old design” she would say.

“I got tired of it” I would say.

And it would go back and forth like that for about 5 minutes until I got bored with it and moved the conversation onto something else not related to the design of my blog.

As I sit here typing on my Core i5 laptop that barely has a scratch on it (still newish), I think back to the very first computer I ever owned.  When I say owned, I mean the first computer I purchased with my own money that I earned on my own without anyone elses help in purchase.  A whopping $3,000 garnered me a 486 DX2 with 4MB of RAM and a 250MB hard drive.  Had a color VGA monitor and a dot matrix printer, both purchased separately.  Yeah, they did that back in the day…. annoying.  Anyway, that little purchase kept me working well for about 8 years before I sold it to a friend for a fraction of what I paid for it and they used it for 5 more years.  Now you ask how is that possible?  I’ll tell you.

Computers back then were built much better, designed to last for years, and had components primarily made in the United States.  The computers now are the polar opposite of that.  I think they woke up and took a queue from light bulb manufacturers where they make stuff to last only 2-4 years before you need to purchase new stuff.  When have you ever picked up a 5+ year old laptop and said “this thing still works great”?  Chances are, if you use computers like I do, its not too often.  Once the shiny newness wears off, I treat computers the same way I treat any other tool.  My old workhorse Dell Inspiron 1200 lasted several more years than it should have and the poor keyboard paid the price.  All missing keys and stuff, it practically cried when I would open it up and start using it.

My new laptop hasn’t seen that type of punishment yet, but I’m sure when it does its mostly Chinese parts will not bear the brunt of my hammer fingers and rough treatment in and out of the backpack.

Mango, mobile phones, happy geeks everywhere!

Anyone with a Windows Phone right now knows EXACTLY what the title means.  For those of you who currently sport an iPhone, Android “something”, or a Crackberry, here’s the short of it.  Mango is the code-name for Windows Phone 7.5 and it was just released to the owners of Windows Phones.  I would have put a picture of my own phone here, but it actually is surprisingly difficult to take a picture of a phone screen with another phone…..  weird.

Windows Phone 7 “Mango” (aka WP 7.5)

I opted instead for a picture of a phone and a disturbingly small Mango next to it.  Seriously, the guy that mocked up this picture couldn’t find a larger picture of a mango, like this one?

Sweet Succulent Mango

See, that’s a Mango that I’d eat provided I could scrape off the symbol and lettering.  Technically you don’t eat the skin, so as long as its not deep, I’d probably eat it.  Ok, enough pictures….

It took me almost 2 hours to update my Samsung Focus (highly recommend it) from crappy v7 to the new hotness v7.5 today.  I’ve been tweaking it ever since it was done after deciding that I needed to reset my phone to take advantage of the 8GB microSD card I’ve had installed in the phone since I purchased it.  Reset was required supposedly because it mirror’s or RAID’s the internal memory to the microSD card (another post, very geeky content).  What was once only 7GB of internal memory is now a glorious 13GB of internal memory.  Now I don’t need to be so picky what portion of the music I copy to it from my growing 50GB music library.

(soapbox) I’m always impressed with someone who decides that a “dumb phone” or “feature phone” isn’t enough of a challenge and decides to get a smartphone instead.  What isn’t impressive is the person that gets a smartphone for any of the following reasons:

  1. All their friends have one
  2. See the first reason

Tell the salesperson to bugger off (british slang!) and let you try out each phone.  Any Verizon, AT&T, and most T-Mobile stores have live demo phones on the floor.  Send a few random text messages, make a phone call, really give the phone a “once over” before deciding what is RIGHT for YOU. (/soapbox)

Sorry for the stray there, back to my original topic.  I won’t have a real handle on the 500-ish tweaks and updates that make up the .5 added to the 7 for Windows Phone, but you can bet that I’ll be writing about it.  If anything, I like to share, and perhaps make a few people more geeky in the process 🙂

LEDs are the wave of the future, really

Personally, I’m generally not a subscriber to fads unless they’re backed up with indisputable proof.  There are certain laws of science and mathematics that need to be factored before something is truly too good to be true.  The tornado air intake attachment for a vehicle air-intake is one that isn’t true; like swirling the air into your engine gets better gas mileage, please!

But take LEDs for example, there is a measure of proof that can accompany them that is rooted deep in the science of electricity and science.  Basically, they just take less power to produce the same amount of light.  Here is a simple expression that anyone can understand:

(1) 100 watt incandescent uses 100 watts of power for every hour of illumination

(1) 6 watt LED fixture uses 6 watts of power for every hour of illumination

The surprising thing is that both of these lighting sources put off around the same amount of light.  The footnote is that the LED light would need to be in a configuration to provide 360 degrees of light and require anywhere from 50-100 LEDs on a single fixture.  I won’t bore you with all the details, but the number of LEDs required generally make them more expensive up front.  Their several thousand hour lifespan makes the investment about the same over the same period of time though.

I for one would pay more for an LED light replacement because the savings resulting from having to replace them less often coupled with the savings in my electric bill over the lifespan of the LED light outweighs the up front cost.  The U.S. is also phasing out standard incandescent light bulbs by 2014-ish, so we really won’t have a choice anyway.

What made me want to post about this in the first place is the fact that I personally saw my first LED that was as bright as a standard headlight.  Striking in the light output from a single LED, and using 1/8th the total power of a headlight, it was brilliant.  I realized at that moment that this one LED, once mass produced and made cheaper simply by a greater supply, would help revolutionize how we light our lives.

This really is impressive technology!  The street lights in our development were recently replaced with drop in replacement rings of LEDs that plugged into the socket of  a standard Sodium Phosphor lamp (those yellow lights that we see on all our Interstates) but use only 1/4 of the 600 watts the old lights used to use.  So I turned my A/C down 2 degrees to use up the energy savings!  I’m kidding…

Unfortunately I get stuff like this stuck in my head and need to get it out or I can’t get to sleep….  🙂