Wednesday, November 10, 2010

the Samsung Galaxy Tab

Well it is finally here. The ipad alternative is available, is it any good?

You could read here:

Now the long and short of it is that this device is a success. The ipad is a formidable device, one that has been in development for over 5 years. Apple's engineers have worked out the UI for this device even prior to including it in the iphone and the ipod touch. It is definitely a hard act for competitors to follow. That said Samsung has done a very good job with the Galaxy Tab.

Remember that Samsung is an LCD screen manufacturer and this device does not disappoint. Screen quality is phenomenal according to the reports above. As a piece of hardware, it runs quickly, not lagging like the other poor android implementations in other android tablets. Screen quality is arguably better than the ipad for the same reason that the iphone itself is better than other smartphones right now - the pixel density of the display is higher. This alone makes the experience remarkable.

Finally, I like the fact that Android presents itself as an platform affording great levels of customization. This may not be for everyone but I think a lot of users will prefer this level of control.

While the ability to make voice calls has been blocked by all the cell carriers in this first version of the Galaxy Tab for the US, no one can deny that having the dual cameras for both photo/video recording and live video conference calling via Qik makes this a a truly wonderful device.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

wifi Hotspot warning

For some time now I have been telling customers to be cautious about using wifi networks in public areas. Of course most people thought I was wrong to worry about this.

Today on the Marketplace Tech report, news is that there is a canned solution which potentially can mine the website cookies out of your browser while you are in a coffee shot/airport/other public place with open wifi.

The way this works is that the "cookies" which your browser saves are there for a few reasons. Primarily, the first purpose is that the cookie makes the loading of a web page which you go to regularly load faster. This is because it sets the content based upon what you have viewed previously. This also serves to aid marketers by collecting behavioral information to allow marketers to shape their campaigns in a way which is more effective.

Another way this saves you time is that it can store your log in and password information which makes your web experience simpler. This is however how the exploit works. This new exploit which is called firesheep, goes out into the open network and connects to your browser looking at the "cookies". By obtaining this information, there is a possible way to gain the access to your Facebook account, Hotmail email account or more.

Luckily for my customers, Gmail has this year been transitioned to HTTPS log in to create an encrypted session which prevents these sessions from snooping.

Additionally, there are some new plug ins for firefox which will slow the penetration into your computer while you log into these websites.

We are at the beginning of securing this problem so contact me if you need help with this.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

another round of security updates from microsoft!

Today is Super Tuesday update day for the month. There are many security patches that rolled from Redmond today - make sure you install them!

There are 7 remote code execution fixes and 2 elevation of priveledge fixes. These are important ones and should be loaded right away.

In addition, remember to keep up your advanced system care as new modules have been rolled out for that application as well!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New patches from Microsoft today

As an addition to the security issue I was posting from Sunday, Microsoft has a large barrage of security updates which have just rolled out to curb the Trojan attack which is plaguing many windows users who have been using streaming media.

Please install all patches today and run scans to test for penetration on your computers...

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Let's try to avoid listening to radio stations on the PC ok?

**Update - this information includes streaming audio from Pandora. I tested this today and had 7 intrusion attempts which were partially stopped by NOD32 4.0. Upon running my super antispyware, I found trojan.agent/Gen-CDec[X] had been installed. You have been warned!

Well I am back. It has been an interesting summer to say the least. The top issue I am covering for my clients seems to be the fake antivirus scanner trojan/exploit.

What this is: Your computer has been penetrated with a malware product which tells you that you are being hacked. It itself is fake, in that it is a multistage exploit with the intent of having you click through many things to get the final target payload of malware installed on your computer.

Even if you do not fully launch this nefarious app, it will cause a lot of problems as the code will disable your tools to fix your computer including:

a) your antivirus program will be degraded - often just removing it from the toolbar so you cannot see the warnings from it

b) your malware tools will not launch properly or if they can, will not update

c) your IP traffic will be rerouted (via proxy server) so that the next rounds of malware can be sent to your computer without your approval

d) possibly since a proxy server has been set - your computer will be using someone else's internet path, thereby allowing them to see the traffic going through your browser. This will allow password mining while you log into your accounts (especially bad)

e) your task manager will be impaired, as you launch it to view what is running, it will close immediately making visual checks of your system impossible.

My advice - seek help. There are many ways to cure these problems but really, the nature of exploits is user acceptance of the next stage of installation of these malware apps, that is the clicking inside the box where the pop up will occur. This includes clicking the red "x" which in most operating systems means cancel, or stop. These hackers have made that command the same as the "ok" button.

You see when you use a modern operating system, the console actions of an internet session require user acceptance of a code installation. That is good. But, these hackers have manipulated the interface where the red "x" acts like "ok" and not stop.

What this means is that when you suspect that you have a fake pop up, you should try to look at it and see if it is one from your operating system or your antivirus program. The problem with this advice is that the current problem I am fixing these days is trying to pretend that it is your antivirus program.

When this happens, if you first were to shut off your computer, and not click on any area on the screen you may have stopped the app from loading. Problem is that since the pop up occurred you probably have some level of breakage.

If you follow the instructions on the internet - you will find ways to fix these items but really what you need to do is have a security specialist evaluate your computer to see that you have properly locked all the ports on your system, have a functional antivirus program, believe me many of them most popular ones don't work. Plus you need to be using tools to work on your OS to cleanse potential malware from taking root in your system.

There currently is not a single application to ward off this latest round of malware. I have identified this week's problem as coming through local radio station webcasts of streaming audio. This means you go to your radio station. You click on listen to live stream. You start listening. It plays for a bit and loads the malware through banners which are on the web page. Bam, in a matter of time, your computer is showing popups indicating that you have a virus and you need to launch something to clean it.

If you launch this first round - it will open up a blue bordered window which shows the program scanning your computer. This is of course fake. It will ask you do click some more things to identify the problem which is when the IP traffic is rerouted and the security apps are shut off.

Go seek advice on this one to see how to reinforce your computer after it has been fixed of course.

Or better yet - use a radio instead of your computer to listen to the radio...

Shoot me an email if you have questions generide(at)yahoo(dot)com

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Are you using Facebook? Better look at this....

We are all in love with the the constant connection benefits of social networking because it makes staying connected so much easier. It broadcasts to my sphere of friends or family quickly the family news both good and bad.

But, like other things modern, do you ever wonder if there is a downside to this constant connectivity?

An interesting read is Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich (also known for his book Bringing down the House) although fictional, it is based on the real story of Zuckerberg. He is described as an aloof character who did get the idea for Facebook from the Winklevoss brothers while at Harvard and eventually pushed them and others who helped him out of the way.

That said, on Monday, Gizomodo released this blog page:

which basically is written to alert the uninitiated about the perils of using facebook.

Now I am not here to tell you not to use Facebook, but given the set of circumstances outlined here, I would advise you not to go deep into the information streams of the application or participate in the downloadable content or the activities such as farmville or mafia wars which provide advertising means for Facebook which solicit you to attach your friends and family to your account.

I am reminded of this when I performed a repair this past week and the client tells me that she is getting requests for friending from all kinds of people who she does not know and is now bothered by the use of the application.

Like all things, if it does not help you, don't use it. I think it is still more meaningful to have a conversation with someone you care about rather than spilling it out on media for all to see.

Take it for what it is worth and consider tightening or removing sensitive data for your profile. Then, use subscription email accounts (make other email accounts) for these purposes to separate the general public from knowing what your real email accounts are. I would recommend locking down your data for friends only so that whatever you have in your profile is viewable to accepted friends.

Avoid using any applications which can be downloaded to your computer via the Facebook application. I once tried an application which would allow me to digitize my photo for a custom Avatar. Well, that software provide who was not Facebook, pushed malware into my PC which required a large amount of repair to correct. My experience supports the number 5 reason in the Gizmodo post: your private info is shared with the applications on Facebook.

Finally, the general application is not made to be efficient to use. That means that it is designed to cause you to browse further and spend more time on it which lowers your resistance to using their supporting apps which then create their marketing opportunity which allows them to benefit directly. Since this monetization is surely their goal, it would appear that they are taking on more and more networking schemes from 3rd party software providers in their efforts to sell more and generate more profit.

I am not against these kinds of businesses but the sad thing is that Facebook is viewed as a social contact site and not so much of a marketing environment which it is. I think it would be nice if Facebook would separate their user community into two different zones, one for commercial use and one for private use. But hey, that would be stupid because you would not be drilling into the full population of the Facebook community to propagate your products or services.

Anyway, be careful out on the internet..

Friday, April 16, 2010

which browser to use?

Thanks to Jason Calacanis via his buzz today, there is actual evidence to indicate which web browser has the chops to take the prize.

Many have told me that they prefer Firefox, but I think that is due to them having familiarity with it. I will tell you that Firefox has the greatest amount of plug ins and additional features. One of my associates typically has so much turned on in Firefox that his computer grinds to near halt when he opens the 'fox'.

Nevertheless, I say you try using Chrome if you have not yet because it really does a nice job of running quickly on your computer whether it is mac or pc. There have been times that some renders of websites were not formatted correctly, that I would say is due to the developer of the web site not coding specifically for Chrome but the speed increase and the stability advantages are there.

One distinction is that the separate tabs (in tabbed browsing) are kept as separate processes in the OS so that if one window crashes, it does not take the whole browser down.

Give it a try if you have not already!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wifi Setup

Please do participate in my poll on the right - I am guessing that the majority of you are using wifi at home and a portion of you are not happy with it. The reason for this? Wireless anything is going to be subject to interference in your home or office.

The use of consumer electronics has added quite a bit of radio interference in your home. Microwave ovens, televisions, bluetooth headsets and accessories, some remote controls like garage door openers, cordless phones all project radio waves which can interfere with constant use radio transactions like WiFi.

To get the most out of your internet use, it is important to use the best equipment for the job. Since being in telecom, I have noted that ISP's are not to be trusted for the the critical role of determining the WiFi Access Point hardware. Often this process leads to the lowest priced device mentality.

Instead, it is important to consider that you want to have the ISP - cable or dsl service provider offer you a Modem to terminate their service to you and you should go and buy a quality router/access point for your home to ensure quality connectivity and safety from neighbors snooping into your network.

Most of the better manufacturers will have a good wifi router/access point in the $75 - $160 range. I would suggest Linksys, D-Link, Trendnet, Netgear and Buffalo. If you have wifi N computers or access cards, by all means get an N router as these perform much better by offering greater range and wall penetration. The higher end ones will perform on the secondary 5 Ghz band in addition to the 2.4 Ghz band.

This router should be installed behind your modem and of course your desktop computers can be plugged into this as well as your network enabled printer.

In setting up this device, it is best to perform a site survey to find out what channels your neighbors are using for their wifi now. In general, the central channels of the 9 channel wifi range are by default used by other devices such as Cordless phones and other items.

I have had good luck setting up wifi networks on the channels 2, 3, 4 7, 8 since they are not as heavily trafficked. If you live in a multi address building, often it is necessary to try these different channels to find out what works best unless you have access to a channel sniffing device to assess this.

In the setup of your router, you can define this setting as well as the network security.

Next, you need to select your network security protocols. The most secure methods are WPA2 or WPA as these methods are not susceptible to brute force password hacks like WEP. The only reason anyone would use WEP security is if there are older devices which need to use this standard.

Then choose a password over 8 characters long and enter and save your settings. That should do it.

Please comment if you have questions and let me know it this helps.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Ok we have had Buzz for two days now. The comments I have seen in this are typical of a new service of this type.

"I am at xxxxxxx Taphouse"

"riding bus northbound on xxxxxxxxx Ave for daily grind"

"WTF is this buzz for"

"Are you going to this party"

"XXXXxxxxx said if I go to this lunch then he is going to punch me in the face"

Well this all is very humorous and makes for good fun when it is not you. However there is a mild furor over the manner in which Goog Buzz starts you off with a list of individuals who you commonly communicate with. These may be your good friends, your work colleagues, potential customers or employers, etc.

Some caution here, it would be a good idea to check the privacy settings in your goog Buzz to limit your exposure. This blog was forwarded to me by Bill who has some insight click here.

So, think about how much or how little you want to open up your profile and Buzzing and enjoy this new service!

Here is an UPDATE - the Silicon Valley Insider has instructions to follow for limiting exposure to your list and editing the people on it. Click HERE for the step by step

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

google's new internet

So you have tried Buzz by now right? How about Google Reader? I love Google Docs and of course use an android phone so I am entrenched in googles services. What next for Goog?

Well today, they announced that trying to topple twitter is not all they are up to. Now, a trial is being launched to deploy Gigabit internet connectivity. Most Americans enjoy internet speeds typically from 256k to 25Mb for copper and a few select locations have FIOS internet which promises up to 50Mb of internet speed. That makes Google's attempt to push 1000Mb service a big deal. Pricing is not available for this service as of yet.

I would say that the roll out of Chrome OS in future will require a high speed connection to allow the 'cloud' data backup to feel anything like a typical computer of today where the data is stored locally. If this is something that can happen, then to the delight of consumers, the higher cost of internet access is offset by the lower cost of computer hardware and likely servicing of such.

Here is the video describing it:

This is very more here

Sunday, February 07, 2010

for Mac users

Ok so the previous post covered some windows maintenance so this one covers Mac maintenance.

Just because you don't have to contend with the malware barrage like the windows users face does not mean you are home free. Remember that if you use boot camp or VMWare Fusion (love it) or Parallels virtualization with windows OS installed you still need to heed my advice to keep 'ol Windy happy.

The primary thing to be concerned about with a MAC OS is the directory structure of your hard drive. Luckily there is a tool for this. Both in Leopard and snow, you have Disk Utility. If you go in there and perform a disk Verify and then a repair, you can clean out all the potential misalignment in your directory. Now I myself would be concerned about making the mistake of erasing the hard drive which is a mere button away from repair so what I suggest is this:

onyx - after clicking that choose the version to match your OS

This software app provides a simplified tool to manage maintenance on your mac. It does the trifecta of repairs needed to clean and maintain your Mac in one tool although it is multiple steps.

First after you install this, when you run it you get the disk verification step. It will check your hard drive's S.M.A.R.T. status. This is the monitoring method which is used by hard drive manufacturers to indicate when the HD is failing. Let this SMART finish and then you will be promted to "Verify Startup Volume". Go ahead and do that followed by a period of time....should say "verifying startup volume ".

When this is done you will see "volume verified" at which point click ok and enter your system password. Then continue to the tab marked maintenance..

The first thing you see is the Permissions button clicked. Go ahead fix the permissions by clicking the execute button on the lower left. This will take awhile (maybe 15 mins) and you will get a box full of gibberish and hopefully at the end of the text you see "Finished verify/repair permissions on disk0s2

Now, provided it finished repairing the permissions, go to the 'Cleaning' tab and execute the system clean. This should only take a few mins as it cleans the system components. Leave the check boxes on default. Once this is done, it will ask for a restart, go ahead and do that - you are finished. Your system should be healthy.

Hack Me

Well it has been an interesting couple of weeks, my friends and some customers have found something quite concerning.

Once the result of wading through porn or clicking through spam emails to assist some poor African soul who just needs a small investment, the malware exploits are now coming to website near you.

One of my customers was the first to be blighted by this problem. This nice artist was merely searching a website to view some artists when they were confronted with a pop up window which came up centered on the screen notifying her that there was not any Anti Virus Software installed on the computer. In trying to close this window, a full screen browser window popped up showing a view of the computer being scanned with a bar showing the degree of completion of the scan which the computer was going through.

My customer called me and and asked for help, as this was early in January, I did not know how pervasive this exploit was in the wild so visited their home to try to help with this problem.

I looked at their computer and could not find any traces of true malware, but likely the security solution that I had installed helped to ward off the intrusion. They remarked that clicking anywhere on the window did nothing - which was good because the ports of entry for the exploit were probably blocked and the offending site was not able to penetrate the computer.

Subsequent to this issue, I have have had others come to me with a description of the same thing. Actually my girlfriend went to a local site to view the manicure pricing at a salon and got the same thing. Popup windows which indicated that the computer needed additional security software to make it run properly.

I then tested this exact site with our Macbook Pro, which runs snow leopard and indeed received the same popup. This would indicate that the hack is not related to specific operating systems, instead it is a browser exploit.

Last year I remember cleaning our Mac because a site was viewed when we used firefox on the mac and it was jacked.

So here is what I am recommending for base level security:

For Windows: use an anti virus program. This is the first step, although nearly unnecessary due to the way that malware is introduced to your computer today, the scanning functionality is helpful if you do get penetrated. My top favorite now is Microsoft Security Essentials which is a free application from microsoft if you have a legal version of windows (XP, Vista or Windows 7).

Install that as long as you can remove your existing anti virus program. If you have Norton or McAfee or AVG - you will need to uninstall using the tools which those manufacturers have on their websites as standard uninstall procedures will not remove all the tools that are packaged within.

Alternatives which I like are Avira, Avast and AVG. These are all free and seem to work pretty well. For the pay to use AV programs, I suggest Nod32 and Bit Defender. I have been able to be free of virus with these two programs but I am not sure that for most people it is necessary to buy these.

Secondly, you need a utility which will secure typical ports of entry for known malicious sites. My favorite there is Advanced System Care by IOBIT software. You can download this free from This fabulous tool has the ability to secure the aforementioned ports, clean your registry, clear your internet cache and history, defragment your hard drive and finally offers a suite of admin tools one of which, the start up manager is very helpful.

They make a pro version for around $20 but again for most users I find that the free version is all you need. This software will find basic worms, tracking cookies, and more, making it a very useful tool for typical windows users.

For Mac users, the typical exploits are more a nuisance and there does not exist much in terms of tools to eradicate malware. Snow Leopard (OS10.6) does offer malware resistance and likely this all that Mac users need.

Finally, it is necessary to update your security solutions regularly because the way they catch malware is by comparing known signatures (traits) and flagging them in your system. Also, update your operating system files as needed (pertains to windows, Mac as well as linux)to allow the OS patches to be applied.

Finally for Windows, make sure you have your firewall turned on. Typically this is a biggest defender for you that you have.

If you have any questions or need service let me know!

Friday, January 29, 2010

more iPad

Ok so this thing is more in the news than Obama is. To get a full perspective of this phenomenon known as ipad, first view this:

That sets the tone for the likely rub which will occur from the naming of the new apple tablet. Next view the range of humor which is possible:

Now you see what I am talking about. This thing is going to be a laughingstock right? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps in the new era of branding, Apple is trying to hook you in by paralleling the product next to the potential parodies possible. Perhaps this is genius. Perhaps this thing will sell 4 million units before 4th quarter.

Many techno bloggers have panned the device for a variety of reasons which mostly center around missing features, lack of Verizon, lack of multithreaded apps, you know the drill.

What a bunch of complainers. This thing is going to smoke the Kindle Deluxe out of the water. It is only $10 more than the KinDLX. That alone should give this product legs.

But for those who really are interested in the future of the product, I have it on good authority that the next gen will have the capacity to run multiple apps at the same time. I believe it will be called the ipad 2. It is pictured here:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

whose iPad is going to win?

Well the controversy starts. After the marketing event of the year so far, the release of the Apple iPad, there follows a potential conflict with the Fujitsu "iPAD" which has been in existence since 2002.

The fujitsu version is an interesting retail store, warehouse device which allows a user to scan barcodes while processing orders. The device offers a mag card scanner, bar code reader, bluetooth, 802.11 b/g wireless and VoIP. The OS is Windows CE and price is over $2000.

This makes the $500 to $830 price point of the Apple ipad a relative bargain right? Thus, I would say that Apple is going to have an easy go of selling these against the Fujitsu iPAD. Well that is if people would want to replace their inventory management tool with a consumer tool which offers ebook reading and mild computing power.

That makes the trademark infringement case between Appl and Fujitsu less tangible but an interesting fight.

Both devices by the way, do not have Adobe Flash plugin..Adobe says it is Apple's fault.


The New iPad from Apple - news coming - you can't buy it yet anyways. For now read here:

or here:

Here is the Apple spiel:

More opinions later...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Nexus 2?

Is this the next version of the Nexus One??

Ok, I know I was saying that the Nexus One is green lighted and gSpin approved but only a week later, news of the Nexus Two? Yes indeed, it would appear that the development motion is ongoing. The new Nex 2 has a form factor like the Droid, and has been tagged as having the next gen Snapdragon processor, a 1.5 Ghz. Too tempting I know, and a delight for the text input addicts. Specs are a guess right now, so it may not have the new processor but for sure it would appear the keyboard is there..

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cellular Phone Safety

Look at the sweet Fender version of the T mobile My Touch..

I think the fact that the scientists/new age hackers have beaten the GSM voice and now the data encryption is a parallel with how people choose Macs over PC's.

The groundwork: Israeli researchers report that the technology which encrypts the GSM (the cellular technology which is used globally and by AT&T and T Mobile in the US) has been hacked and it is theoretically possible for eavesdropping on Cell voice calls on GSM networks to be perpetrated. Well this is not good I guess, I know that apart from when I order my Pizza on the phone, I don't have any secure conversations which would warrant concern. But this is a big deal as hackers look for new ways to entertain themselves.

Just today, I see that now GSM 3G data is now at peril because the "geniuses at Israel's Weizmann Inst of Science" have broken the 128 bit algorithm which secures 3G connections in two hours time.

I say that this harkens to the situation which Apple has leveraged, that the hackers will go for the giant not the flea, thus PC's receive more hackery attention than MAC OS. Well I am hoping that these unlocking of GSM will not lead to the unlocking of CDMA for the same reason. The majority of the cell phone carriers globally use GSM vs. CDMA. That plus I use CDMA.

look here:

Monday, January 11, 2010


Who doesn't know about the iSlate?

One of the big announcements for consumer tech is going to happen on Jan 27th. This is the date that the most notable technology brand reveals its newest product, the new form factor tablet PC with constant connection, its predicted name: iSlate.

Some would say it is a solution for a problem which does not exist. Others would say it is a stroke of genius, another chapter in a story of ongoing product development successes.

I wonder how this product will perform in the marketspace. The pricing is a key to the sales performance or potential for brand stratification. On one hand if the tablet is priced below the floor pricing of Apple's laptop lineup, it would induce new Apple loyalists. However, this kind of product release should create a new niche of computer power into the lineup. The differentiation is large enough from traditional laptops and desktops while providing an entirely new way to obtain web content and maintain information connectivity.

This kind of opportunity is just the kind of product which Apple can hit out of the park.

I think that the price will be north of $1000 and drift toward $600 by the 4th quarter and Holiday 2010.

More notes from Gizmodo

Nexus One

Everyone is talking to me about the Nexus One. People who are not typically tech connected or tech savvy or tech friendly have heard of this and wonder if it is good.


Various sites are now indicating woes with 3G usage with Nex 1 on T-mobile. This is to be expected. The kind of data usage that the typical customer of this product will use is much higher than typical blackberry users. Of the PDA toting population I would say that iPhone users are a high data usage bunch whereas the blackberry toting brood will be using much less data as the prime usage is email text. Of course there are variations of this but clearly TMo will face the same challenges that AT&T faced with iPhone users.

Based upon the comments from the last 48 hours, users with HTC G1's and Nex1's have commented that the G1 will show high signal strength 3G whereas the Nex1 right next to it will show no 3G service, only edge. This leads me to conclude that TMo has now partitioned the network for the new Nex1 which is probably a good strategy unless you are a Nex1 user. This is a parallel to the set of circumstances which iPhone users face on AT&T's network, a strategy which contains the bottlenecking of the network to one segment of the user community.

That said, it is expected that with the new 1700 Mhz spectrum which TMo uses in US being of low contention, there should be resolution to this problem quickly as opposed to the conditions which AT&T us facing with their 3G spectrum. Read one for the original comments...

Well, here is what I think:

For the typical phone users - mostly talking, small amount of SmS, hardly ever use the camera, etc. score: -5 (you don't need to carry a phone this big if all you do is talk on your phone)

For the average cell phone user - voice calls, SMS savvy, light web browsing, camera user. Score: 5 (you probably don't need a phone with all these features)

For the tech lover - voice calls, SMS savvy, Email accounts, moderate to heavy web browsing, facebook photo uploading, installing applications or iphone users: Score: 60

That's right, if you are a feature user, the HTC Nexus One is a great choice. I can't score higher (max is 100) because the T-Mobile 3G is not certain with this device. Currently there are complaints from users regarding the availability of "3G" service with annoying switching between edge/3G causing slow data connections.

This said, I am sure that T-Mo will fix this problem, HTC is a very good Smartphone manufacturer so resources for correction will be good and finally, Google will want this product to function with strength.

Main issue: Highly popular network devices which use a lot of bandwidth will cause challenges to the carrier. Kind of like the issues the iPhone has caused for AT&T in population dense NYC and SF. You guys/gals in MPLS don't have issues with connectivity with your iphones right?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

winter commuting - cold and ice

Winter has been a treat this year. I have taken to the roads to ride for commuting and errands and it has been quite challenging at times. With temps well below 20, road chemicals have not been effective to clear ice off the streets. The greenway and other bike only trails have been nice without the exhaust of cars to glaze layer on layer of ice on the roads.

Still, a cold and slippery ride is better than sitting inside right?

*credit for photo to Freewheel Midtown Bike Center

new phone HTC Hero - CDMA version

well it was time to try out Android. The Pre was a good tool for the past 6 months and it was highly usable. My customizations included installing homebrew (rooting) and adding a couple of the free apps.

As for the Hero - I love the larger screen. The battery is larger, than the Pre so it lives longer between charges. I recently disconnected from my exchange server account and it would appear that this alone has improved battery life greatly.

The sense UI makes this OS work well. The flip clock on the home screen is a welcome addition, nothing clearer than this. Having 5 home screens to position shortcuts and widgets is a nice touch.

The visual voice mail feature is nice as well. Makes one of the most archaic parts of cell phone use disappear. Just go into voice mail and all the voice mails appear on screen with the caller identified so you can listen to the voice mails in any order you want. Not a surprise for iPhone users but a nice addition compared to the other phones without this feature.

On a disappointing note, the capacitive screen does not have multitouch features natively enabled. This is rectified in websurfing by using Dolphin browser instead of the android browser. Just like the Motorola Droid and the HTC Nexus One - no multitouch. The Dolphin browser solution in addition to adding multitouch pinch to zoom adds tabbed browsing which is very handy.

The touchscreen keyboard is predictable. It took a bit for me to get used to typing without the buttons but the haptic feedback helps a bit. The word completion is pretty good, and helps on probably 80%+ of the time when typos are made. This is much better than other word completion systems I have used.

As for the applications management, coming from the Pre it is a weird thing to not be able to easily close apps. With the "card" interface of webOS on the Pre, it is very clear what you have running and closing applications is very easy to understand. Just swipe the card of the app that is up and the application is closed. No need for a task manager. With Android though, there is not an equivalent indication of the apps that are running.

Trust linux....well the advice from others who are Linux gurus is that it is not necessary to use a task manager, just close the apps you do not need, leaving the OS to manage RAM and keep the device running well. So far, I have not felt that it is that critical to manage the tasks as I have not had any lockup although there have been moments of slowness when I keep the NFL app up while the AFC playoff game is on right now. Closing the NFL app brings all the speed back.

Quality of the Radio - The voice quality of the Hero on calls is great. No problems there. While using an Aliph Jawbone bluetooth headset, no problems or lag on calls or hang up. While using a Jabra 700 bluetooth speakerphone, great audio with again no lag so that bluetooth stack seems very good.

Compared to the Pre, I would say voice calls are better with the Hero. Now, on to the data service. For some reason, the Pre just does not seem to run at full speed on the 3g service with sprint. With the speed test on both the Pre and the Hero here is what I observed:

Pre 1 Mb download: 307Kbps
Hero 1 Mb download: 1,162 Kbps

Some of this may be due to the PRL file for both - the Android PRL is apparently 60658 whereas the Pre's webOS PRL is currently at 60657. This should not cause such such a difference so it is likely that the radio in the HTC Hero is better.

Finally, the entire idea of using Gmail and the google apps is fantastic with both of these devices. With Google calendar, and contacts, the data set is not fully downloaded into the phone so that reliability of this data is high since this data is stored in the cloud. There is a slight advantage to webOS right now because the Synergy feature which ties the access of contacts into one interface is really a marvel. The simplification which this offers makes using a smartphone easy for everyone.

The Android implementation of contacts and the methods of connection are not horrible but not as seamless as it is with webOS. Likely there will be improvements to Android to enhance this simplicity.

I did a previous evaluation of these two phones and felt that the Pre was better back in October when the Hero first was released. Now after using the Hero for a week, I would say that both have advantages, but I am more impressed with the developments which are occurring with Android and the likelyhood that it will continue to improve with the amount of different devices from various manufacturers. This should in time create a large environment of devices deployed which will offer software developers a bigger target to sell into than the webOS base of customers.

This may change when the Pre and Pixi are released on Verizon and AT&T this year but the momentum of the Hero worldwide (was more in demand globally than the iphone) as well as the success of the Motorola Droid define a large amount of phones in use. Additional devices from Samsung, LG, Dell and others shows more potential growth.