Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tasker - Can you help?

Okay, I'm hoping someone out there who knows Tasker fairly well can help me out. I'm trying to create a profile to have WiFi calling automatically turn on when connected to one specific WiFi point, but turn off once I leave that area, and not turn on for any other hotspots. Here's what I'm using, and while it will work when I force-test it, it doesn't work for normal use, so I'm not sure what I'm missing. Any help anyone can send my way would be appreciated!

If WiFi connected to SSID (name of network), then:
Load App >WiFi Calling
Input > Dpad > Down
Input > Dpad > Press
Go Home

The exit task is the same thing, trying to turn it back off when I leave that WiFi SSID. Anyone have any ideas why this isn't working, and/or have suggestions on either how to make this work, or a better way to enable WiFi calling when connected to a specific hotspot? I've been Googling it (and will continue to do so, and will post an update if I figure it out) but so far I'm not finding exactly what I need, only profiles on turning WiFi itself on and off at certain times.

UPDATE: Hmm, well, today it seems that the entrance task is working - it did exactly what it was supposed to do. No idea why it didn't do it yesterday. And the exit task yesterday evening didn't shut it off - I had to manually turn off WiFi calling when I got home. Very odd. Maybe today it will shut off the way it's supposed to. Or do I need to add something to the exit task? Curiouser and curiouser.

Monday, April 11, 2011

It's official!

The official release version of cyanogenmod 7 is out now! I just installed it, and I'll post here if I find anything "hinky". I didn't have any problems with RC4 once I stopped messing with it, so hopefully this stable release version will be smooth. I haven't poked around too much yet, but it doesn't seem like too much, if anything, has changed from RC4 to the stable. If I find anything, I'll update here!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Android music player?

Reports are starting to surface on the Internet that a new version of Android Music Player including some streaming options is to be found in what will be the next version of the Android Market. I don't have all the details yet, but I just have to say - I am really, really, REALLY hoping someone, be it Google or someone else, will give me a decent amount of space to store my music online and stream it directly from whichever device I choose, thus cutting out iTunes and the need to take up gigs of hard drive space, and then not have access to said music when I'm anywhere except in front of my laptop or in my car where the iPod lives.

I don't want to store the music on my SD card, I don't want to have to pay a fee to access my own music, I just want a reliable, frills-free space to store and stream, with some security to ensure only myself or someone I specifically authorize can have access to it. I know this is the Impossible Dream of most of us techy music lovers, but I'm hoping this is one step closer to making it a reality. I'm even willing to pay for a little extra cloud storage space if the extra could be used to store other types of files as well.

A note to the Recording Industry who is holding back this dream: I don't buy music from you anymore. I don't pirate it either. I just listen to what I already have because I am so fed up with your BS. I have more than 10,000 songs in my personal collection, so there is no fear about getting bored with it any time soon. You aren't losing money because of technology. You are losing money because you are pissing off an entire generation of techy people who would rather listen to oldies than support your draconian beliefs and practices.

Monday, April 4, 2011

SMS Programs

When I was installing Go Launcher this past weekend, I noticed that the developers also had an SMS program, appropriately titled GO SMS Pro. So, since I was feeling adventurous, I decided to try it out.

I had finally caved a few months ago and installed Handcent SMS since, which the default messaging program is adequate, I text a lot and I was finding I wanted a few more features and customization options. I haven't had any problems with it, so trying something new wasn't because I was unhappy. I really like all the options Handcent offers, and to be honest, my only gripe with it is that the theme I'm using doesn't have a background for when the phone is rotated. All my fonts are set up for a light background, but when I rotate the phone, I can't see anything since it's now against a dark background. It's a minor issue that isn't Handcent's fault so much as me just not getting around to fixing it, so I don't hold it against the program.

GO SMS is, for all intents and purposes, the exact same program. It has some different themes since it's from a different developer, but honestly, I felt like I was using a clone program rather than something different. Even the menus for customizing felt and acted exactly the same. There might be some minor differences, but if there are, I couldn't find them. However, GO was lacking a few features of Handcent that I like, such as the picture of the person next to each message. I have some long threads, so it's nice to be able to tell at a glance who sent what.

I had already uninstalled the GO contacts manager, which I installed at the same time as the others, because while I LOVE the ability to sort by the groups I have in my Google account, there was just way too much lag. It was taking upwards of 60 seconds to load my contacts every time, even to get into the dialer. So it had to go. And with being unsure if I want to stick with GO as my primary home launcher, to be honest, there wasn't anything keeping me with GO's SMS program. I just felt like it doesn't bring anything new or exciting to the table.

My Verdict: GO SMS Pro is essentially a Handcent clone missing a few features that aren't major, but if you use them, it stands out. If you're not already using Handcent, and you have other GO products, this is something to check out, since I did like that you can theme all your major programs to look alike. However, if you're already using Handcent, even if you are using other GO products, there really is no compelling reason to switch.

No crashing!

Okay, so far so good. After going through the weekend, my phone is still up and running. However, after going the weekend with Go Launcher EX, I was finding there was a HUGE battery drain. I installed Launcher Switcher, and I'm going to play with ADW (which I usually keep frozen via Titanium) since it's part of the CM install package and I have it. If I'm going to play musical launchers, I might as well do all three. So far, LauncherPro Plus is still my default. It doesn't have the customizable app drawer options that I liked in GO, but, to be honest, the calendar widget that comes with the Plus version of LP is still the absolute best I have found. I use my agenda widget as my "heads-up display" for my life, and it takes up all of my default home screen. So it has to be clean, and it has to work well. I have the Android Agenda Widget installed as well for use on the other launchers, but I just don't like it as much. I'm going to keep playing to see if GO or ADW ultimately have enough features that make me overlook that, but right now, I just find LPP smoother and easier to use. Of course, I've played with that one the longest since I've been running it for months now as my only launcher. So that's why I'm going to play when I have the time, and see what I think of the others once I've had time to really figure the others out.

But right now, LPP is still my default.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Spoke too soon...

So, my wireless connection was being a little flaky today too, so I decided to just go ahead and re-flash the radio. Big mistake. All the problems I had before with the connecting-disconnecting loop came back and I couldn't lock on to wireless at all. After flashing the radio twice with no luck, I had to revert back to the backup I made before I flashed RC4. Wireless working again, I'm now on round two of RC4 installation, with another full wipe.

UPDATE: And crap. Getting the same wireless problem in RC4 now. GAH! This is very frustrating. I have nothing but mad respect for the CM dev team, but I really, really wish they would figure out why so many people are having so many WiFi problems with CM7 and get it fixed. Sigh.

UPDATE2: Ah ha! Got Wireless working! (As embarrassing as it is, I had the wrong WiFi password... But it was right for the flash, so that wasn't the problem there! Just for the update above.) So, now on to getting everything installed again!

UPDATE3: Okay, everything re-installed and it seems to be working. This time, instead of accidentally hitting  "yes" to Google asking if it wanted me to restore everything, thus having it try to download every app I had from the market all at once and crash me, I said "no". I just grabbed Titanium from the Market, then restored everything else from my backups. I was actually being a lot more picky this time around with what I installed. For example, I had an App2SD app, but Titanium will do that as well, so why take up the space? I also decided that, while I love LauncherPro, I wanted a change. So I'm giving GO Launcher EX a try. It has the features I liked from LP, but with additions I'm really liking. The ability to organize the app drawer is a serious plus. After I've had a chance to use it for a few days, I'll write a review, so keep an eye on this space!

RC4, Amazon Apps and cell jammers, Oh my!

I installed the RC4 of cyanogenmod yesterday, and overall, I'm really impressed. I had been having some memory problems (in that I had none) with RC3 - I had about 20MB of free memory on RC3 versus more than 50MB on RC2. That 30MB difference was causing the hated "running low on space" message to pop up quite a bit. Now, I can't give all the credit to RC4. Admittedly, I don't wipe my data and cache every time I install a new ROM. Well, I do if it's brand new or major upgrade, like going from 6.1 to the 7 RCs. But between RC versions, I just installed over the top of the current version. But this time, because of the memory problems I was having, I did the full wipe. So I'm honestly not sure if it was that or the new version that solved the problem. But either way, I'm back up to 50+MB of free internal storage, so I can go back to installing random apps to try and play with at will. Whoo hoo!

One thing that is driving me crazy, and again, not sure if this is CM or the app, but even with CM, there are things included in the installer that I don't want. I use the full version of Titanium Backup, which will allow you to uninstall system apps. So I just went through and took out all the stuff I was reasonably sure wouldn't break my boot. However, on the next reboot, there they all are again, back on the phone. This is driving me crazy. I even wiped all the backups of those apps, but somehow, they keep coming back. I actually suspect it's a CM problem and not a Titanium problem because of that. I'm still trying to figure out what's going on, so when I pinpoint the culprit, I'll post an update here. In the meantime, after every reboot, I go in and uninstall those useless apps that just take up space.

In other news, the Amazon App store officially launched! I have to say, I was a bit skeptical, since it now means I have to manage apps in two places. (AppBrain, if you want to put out an update that will let you manage third-party app stores, I'd actually pay for that!) So originally, I was curious and thought it would be good for competition, but I wasn't really planning to get my apps there. Until I discovered that, like for their eBooks, they offer a lot of paid apps for free for limited times.

I am a sucker for free.

Free digital anything I will take. I grab every free Amazon eBook they offer whether I plan to read it or not because I like to have them, just in case. The same is holding true for apps. And while the majority of the offerings so far have been things I didn't keep installed or already had paid versions of, there have been a few notable exceptions. Angry Birds was the first. All three versions. This is the only place Rovio is offering a paid, ad-free version, and until this week, was the only place to get the new Rio version. I hated the ads and they actually caused some lag, so those were snagged on the first day of the store opening for business. Soundhound was another one I enjoyed, although, admittedly, I uninstalled it later. I knew I wouldn't use it enough to make keeping it installed worth it, but I like knowing I can quickly install and use it when I know I want to ID a song. I also was happy to see Weatherbug Elite today, since I've been a user of the free version for a while now as my weather app of choice, I just never got around to upgrading it. Now I don't need to worry about it anymore.

Yesterday's Fruit Ninja, however, has proven, thus far, to be the biggest draw. This is like app crack. I had heard of it, first as an iOS game, and later people talking about it on Android, but I thought they were crazy. I apologize to all those people for thinking there could be nothing fun about slicing fruit. It is like a Zen moment. In fact, I got my best friend to grab it yesterday on her phone, and then went and actually paid for it on my husband's iPod Touch so we could all compete for high scores. In a day, I have become a Fruit Ninja junkie. If you haven't checked it out, do so at your own risk, as it will consume many, many hours of your time. Although, if you're already giving that time to Angry Birds, like I was, then it's not so much losing time and diversifying. And that's a good thing, right?

The final thing I wanted to talk (rant) about today is cell jammers. I have a feeling someone near my house is using one, and it is really pissing me off. I used to get a full, steady signal with no problems, then all the sudden, in the last few weeks, my signal has gotten really erratic. I loose it at the same point driving home every day, and in my house, I fluctuate between a full signal all the way down to none. And then back. And that will happen in the space of minutes. I stood last night, waiting for an important call, and almost missed out on it because the signal choose then to get bad enough to drop the calls, then come back as soon as I had hung up. I love my phone, but I was ready to throw it out a window.

I thought maybe it was RC4 causing signal problems, but then I realize everywhere else I go, there are no problems whatsoever. So either T-Mobile has something going on with the tower in my town, or someone is using a jammer and my house is right on the fringes of the signal range. This makes me incredibly glad I'm buying a house where, I am happy to say, I tested the signal and it works just fine. (More on the house at a later date, I don't want to jinx it since we're in contract, but you never know what could go wrong.) In the meantime, I will just have to live with it, I suppose, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cyanogenmod RC2

Once I got everything working correctly, was I content to leave well enough alone? Of course not!

The second release candidate for Cyanogenmod 7 came out yesterday, and I, of course, had to rush out an install it. I would like to point out that I am learning from my trials, however. Before I did anything, I made a new Nandroid backup, just in case.

Using ROM Manager, I still had the same problem that Google Apps wouldn't download, but since the actual ROM seemed to download fine, I went ahead and flashed the new version.

WiFi and GPS worked fine. My Google Apps, however, did not.

Most of my Google suite of applications were immediately giving force close errors, so I manually downloaded the latest apk from cyanogenmod itself, dated 3/7/11, and flashed the new gapps package. Unfortunately, I was still getting the force close errors on the majority of my Google apps, with the exception, fortunately, being the Market. So before I did a full wipe and re-flash, I decided to try uninstalling all of the Google applications, and re-downloading them from the Market.

Fortunately, that seems to have worked just fine. I opened all my Google apps after using this method, and they all appear to be working without problems. And my WiFi and GPS are still up as of right now as well.

There are some bug fixes in this version, although I don't notice too much of a difference in speed versus the RC1 I was running. I did notice that there is an option now for Profiles in the Cyanogenmod settings menu which I intend to explore and report back on. I use Tasker to automate settings changes for things like when I'm at work or at night already, so we'll see if I prefer the profiles method better once I have a chance to see what you can change and how well it works.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

CM7 Problems...

Hmmm, I wasn't having any problems with RC1 since I installed it, but today it started acting screwy with my wireless. So, although I probably know better, I am going to try flashing Nightly 12 to see if that fixes the problem. Don't worry though, I have Titanium Backups of all my apps that updates three times a week, and I've learned to keep a minimum of 4 nandroid backups from various points on the SD at any time. So hopefully, if the nightly is too buggy, I can reflash and try a prior version. I'll update once I know if this fixes the problem!

UPDATE: Okay, nightly 12 didn't work to fix the wireless, and GPS decided not to work on that one as well. (I didn't go check out anything else other than wireless and GPS on the build, so I can't speak to any other changes/improvements.) I'm trying to restore my nandroid I made just before I left on this trip where everything worked fine. So we'll see if that works...

UPDATE 2: Okay, restoring seems to have gotten my WiFi sort of working again... It's still doing a lot of Connecting.. disconnecting.... routine but it is seeing the networks again, and it is eventually connecting to them. GPS I'm trying to test, but I'm also sitting inside a ballroom, so I won't count that out until I have a chance to test it outside.

Apps for on the Go

I'm traveling this week, and as I type this I'm in San Diego soaking up the warm, fabulous weather. I head back to Long Island tomorrow, but I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you what my top travel apps are.

TripIt - This is my go-to Android travel app. I make sure all my travel details get uploaded either by forwarding them or letting the site pick the details up out of my Gmail account before I leave to go anywhere. I use it to make sure I know where I'm going, when I need to be there, and what the confirmation numbers are if I run into any trouble. I don't have a pro account right now, but I use this app enough that it's only a matter of time before I get around to upgrading.

FlightStats - There are several flight tracking programs on the market, but I've been using FlightStats for a while now, and I have no real reason to switch. It works, every time, perfectly. Usually it knows if a flight is delayed before they get around to updating it at the airport. I also sprung for the paid add-on that allows FlightStats and TripIt to sync, so now I only have to forward emails to TripIt, and all my details are in both apps. A total time saver.

Google Maps/Latitude - Okay, this one comes with pretty much every Android phone unless you rooted and decided to boycott Google applications. But I like being able to use it to check in where I'm at, particularly since it has a history so I can go back and see where I was when. I should note that I only share my location with a few close friends and family members, so it's really more because I'm interested in looking back and seeing my travel history than anything else.

USB Tether - This is built into my Cyanogenmod ROM, but when I travel, it's a must-have. Too many airports want to charge too much money for an hour layover's worth of Internet access. I much prefer being able to tether my phone and just use the data plan I already pay for on there. I do have wireless tether as well, but I find I usually use the tethered variety mostly because I want to get a bit of a charge on my phone while I can between flights while I wait anyway, and that allows me to do both at once. Plus, I don't have to worry about someone else breaking into my signal and siphoning off bandwidth. I have unlimited data, but there are limits.

And those are my basics. I have other apps I use, of course, but those are my travel-specific apps of choice when I'm on the road. (I don't usually remember to use Latitude at home, only when I'm out and want to document it.) If you have any other suggestions of apps you think I should try, leave them in the comments!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Portable Power

I admit it. I travel with a lot of gadgets on a daily basis, but it's even worse when I'm jetting off somewhere. It doesn't matter if it's business or pleasure, in addition to my phone and Kindle, I usually have my Nintendo DS stashed away, and my laptop is always near at hand. But the catch is that while I usually try to make sure everything is charged before I leave to go anywhere, sometimes I forget, or sometimes it's a long enough trip with no plug-in access that I find myself with tech that's starting to die.

For my phone and my Kindle, in particular, this has been a problem. On the phone, when I'm traveling it gets constant use, from checking emails to making calls to checking my schedule and confirmation numbers. My battery is pretty good and lasts all day with normal use. When traveling, however, I'm lucky to still be on and in use by the end of the work day. For the Kindle, it's usually more that I forget to plug it in, or thing it has more charge than it does. The worst was getting on a 12-hour international flight, pulling out the Kindle, and discovering it was completely dead.

However, some of my worries about power on the go are gone now. At a recent trade show, I came across a small company called Chargeology selling portable power packs. I admit, I walked by the booth a few times, tried plugging in my phone to see it if would actually work, and looked for reasons to walk by just one more time. Finally, on the last day of the show, I decided the $100 was an investment I really needed to make.

I haven't regretted it since.

The power packs come in two sizes. The small one is good for pretty much everything except laptops. The larger one will charge laptops as well. Since the bulk of what I wanted to plug in were small electronics like my phone, and I wanted to be able to carry it with me easily, I decided on the smaller version, although at some point I would like to get the bigger one to keep in with my travel gear for use mainly on long flights.

The small charger is about the size of a deck of cards, maybe slightly larger. It weighs about the same as my phone, and it came in a pouch for storage. It also came with a charging cable for the device, and a 10-in-one cable for plugging devices into it. The 10-in-one actually has plugs for pretty much all my gadgets except my DS, which is sad, but they had told me when I bought it that they actually do sell a 12-in-one that has the correct connection for a DS, but they were sold out of them at the show. It's a minor issue, but I'll probably eventually see about getting the 12-in-one. The cable itself is short, which is good since the biggest use for it is to plug in the phone while you're still using it. I just set my phone on top while it's charging and continue to use it as normal.

The unit has one input port for charging itself, and two USB ports for plugging in and charging devices. This makes it nice, since even if you don't want to use the cable it comes with, or you have a device that uses a different type of connection, as long as it's USB you're good to go. I also like that it has two ports, so you can have multiple things plugged in at the same time, such as my phone and Kindle.

It takes roughly 8 hours to go from completely dead to a full charge on the power pack itself. I've never run completely out of power on the thing, however, so I'll usually plug it in to top it off before a trip, which varies based on how much I used it since the last charge. The company says it will last a few days as the primary power source for a device, and I believe them. From what I've seen, I could probably run my phone off of it for close to a week without any issues. I have noticed, though, that it doesn't give as much power as you could get plugged into a standard type of charging port. Unless the phone is off, I find it tends to hold my current charge steady rather than refill it. I would like to see even a slow increase in the phone's charge over time, but it's a minor issue, since I use it as emergency power when something dies rather than a primary charging source.

All in all, this little device has become something I don't leave home without. There's a great deal of peace of mind knowing I won't be stranded somewhere with a dead cell phone, or on another long flight with no Kindle, ever again. It lets me work and play how I want, without constantly having to adjust my behaviors for a battery. If you do any kind of traveling, and you carry any kind of gadgets, this is an investment you need to make.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jetblue Update

I am happy to report Jetblue did the right thing. I got a letter in the mail yesterday that they're going to settle my claim for pretty much what I said the laptop was worth. It was a little lower, but not enough to make me scream. It was actually about $20 more than I thought they would give me, honestly. So I signed the agreement form, and it's going back out to them today so they'll cut me the check. Once it comes in, I'll use it to pay off the new laptop I had to put on the credit card. The new one is about $200 more than what they're reimbursing me, but that's okay. It wasn't a huge upgrade, but I did get the best I could afford when I replaced it, and I'm willing to put the little bit of extra into it. I'm just glad they didn't try to deny the claim, or offer me an insulting amount. Jetblue, you have just earned another chance! You'll continue to be one of my top two airline choices because you did the right thing by me!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Brand New Car!

Okay, other than my horrible Price is Right impression, it's been a good day overall. Last night, I got a new car! I upgraded my 2008 Hyundai Tuscon to the 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe. The Tuscon was still working great, but Hyundai had some great trade-in incentives, and the Santa Fe had some great upgrades.

I won't go into all the "car stuff" here, since that's not what this blog is about. I'll just say it's rides great, and I really do like having that little bit of extra space upgrading models got me. But why I'm posting about it here is the tech upgrades.

First of all, the new models come with Bluetooth integration, which is amazing. I live in NY where it's now not just a fine, but points on your license if you get caught talking on the phone while driving without a headset. I have a headset, but it's dead more often than not. So this is a huge one for me. I have to say, the integration with my phone address book isn't as strong as I would have liked, though. In Gmail, I have all my contacts sorted by last name first, although it's sorted first name first (don't ask me why, ask Google). When the listings transferred to the car, they went last name first, and require you to say it that way. Which is really, really weird. I switched how Gmail sorts my contacts this afternoon, and I'll re-sync it tonight before I drive home, so we'll see if it's as simple a fix as that. If not, my OCD over data organization will probably require me to just program the numbers I use regularly directly into the car so I can avoid having to find people backward.

The second major upgrade for me was the actual iPod integration. I was one of those people still using an FM transmitter to use my iPod in the car, and, especially here in NY, finding a clear station was a challenge. I actually unscrewed the antenna off the Tuscon to cut down on the number of stations I could get, which drove my husband crazy when he took the car. It helped, but I still got a lot of snap, crackle and pop, and it wasn't in my breakfast cereal. So major, major points to Hyundai for that option, which wasn't available on any of the models when I got the Tuscon three years ago. My only real beef with it is that the ability to shuffle songs resets every time you do something like take a call or turn the car off. I always have my playlists on shuffle, so it's a minor annoyance to have to constantly turn it back on, but it's not big enough to make me want to hurt anything.

In addition to the iPod connection, I am digging the steering wheel controls. The car came with Hyundai's iPod cable, so I didn't have to buy it separate, and by using theirs, I can take full advantage of the steering wheel buttons, including changing tracks on my iPod and volume control. It also has all he Bluetooth buttons and cruise control, all right there in reach. Again, this wasn't available on any of the models I looked at in 2008, so I was pretty excited to find them in my new car.

The car also has more power plugs than the Tuscon did, which is always nice. I not only have my iPod, but I also charge my phone whenever I'm in the car (I have the phone set up to automatically turn on bluetooth when it's plugged in there, so it makes it convenient). In the Tuscon, that required having a splitter for the one power/lighter port I had in the front dash. Now, I have the usb/aux port for the iPod, a dedicated power plug for the phone, and a lighter/power plug there if I need it. Plus a few others scattered around the car. So next year, when I go on that long road trip to Florida, I can bring my laptop and watch movies! I already have the car charger for it, I just didn't have any spare plugs when I tried to use it. I still have my splitter, too, so if my husband decided to use his GPS on that long trip, we still have plugs for all.

There are other things I love about the new car, but I wanted to share my thoughts about the new tech here. I sat in the car too late last night playing, and I was out there again at lunch today messing with settings. Lets just hope I don't find a way to root the car, since I'm pretty sure bricking that would have far greater consequences than it would if I break my phone or computer....

So far so good with CM 7RC1

Well, there are a few small hiccups, but overall, I'm still really liking CM 7.0RC1. I did have to find and flash the newest radio for my phone to fix a wifi and gps connectivity issue, but that's been the biggest bug. I am also experiencing a bug that has supposedly been fixed in a later nightly version where my rotary lock screen and the gingerbread buttons both appear over one another on my call screen. Not a big deal since it hasn't caused any problems yet, but it's not enough to make me want to flash a nightly to fix it. I'll be content to wait for RC2.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cyanogenmod 7 - First Impressions

With the release of the official RC version of Cyanogenmod 7 this week, I figured I would post my initial impressions of the new Android ROM for those of us who eschew carrier ROMs for those of our own choosing.

First of all, installation wasn't as smooth as I would have liked. I first tried ROM Manager (I have the premium version) to apply the update like I did to go to other versions of CM6. I found it installed CM7, but not the latest Google Apps (gapps) package. After a few tries and restores to a backup I had made before starting anything (always do a Nandroid backup before mucking about with anything!) I finally decided to stop trying to use ROM Manager. I downloaded the files for CM7 and gapps, and put them on my SD card before booting into Clockworkmod's Recovery mode. From there, I applied the ROM, and then gapps, then rebooted.

Still not working.

So after a fresh restore, I tried it again, this time clearing the cache and factory wiping the data before applying the updates. This time I got everything installed, but my wireless was flaky. I was getting an error that, if you do a little poking around, comes up from time to time, where WiFi goes into a Scanning > Connecting > Disconnecting > Scanning loop. I rely heavily on my Wifi, so that was a problem.

Getting frustrated, I restored back to CM 6.1.1, and set it aside for a bit. Of course, I couldn't leave it there, though, so I went looking for solutions, and found a suggestion for a previous version of CM with this problem to try restoring the WiFi Access points from the TItanium Backup version, since it could just be the file getting corrupted somewhere along the line. So I made sure my Titanium Backup (again, I use the pro - I like to support the devs of apps I use a lot) was up to date for that file, then did the manual wipe and install version again.

I have no idea if the Titanium fix might work - because of course, my WiFi worked perfectly fine this time.

So on to my actual impressions. First of all, whether it's a point for Gingerbread or CM7, I LOVE that everything, absolutely everything, can be moved to the SD card now. Even the Google Apps. Before, anything deemed a "system" app would return an error if you tried to move it. Now, there are no problems at all, and I just freed up a TON of space on my phone hard drive. Yay! I also like that some of the things I don't use, like QuickOffice, that were part of CM6, are no longer part of the install. Overall, it's a much more streamlined package, so you can just install the things you want, rather than having to deal with extraneous stuff hogging the drive space.

Second, I love the new overall look of CM7. I use LauncherPro as my home replacement, which I like over ADW because One: I paid for it; and Two: I live and die by my calendar, and LauncherPro's agenda widget rocks. So some of the look and feel is the same on my phone simply because I'm using the same skin over the top. Where I notice the biggest difference is in the notifications bar. It's now black with white text instead of the reverse, which actually makes it easier to read. I've never been a big fan of darker themes, so I was skeptical about that, but it really does make the little icons stand out much more, making them easier to see at a glance. The bar has also tweaked the icons themselves, making them smaller, with a uniform grey/green color scheme that I actually like.

The overall performance so far on CM7 definitely feels much more responsive and zippier. I never had much lag to begin with, but now it just feels like it's flying. I'm looking forward to playing more with some of my more processor-intensive apps to see how they work, but just basic performance boosts is a nice little treat.

I'm a Tmobile customer, so part of the ROM for my phone (MyTouch 3G Slide) is the ability to very easily enable/disable WiFi Calling. I get pretty much no reception at my desk at my day job, but I have a full WiFi signal, so the fact that I can now, with one toggle, tell my phone to use the WiFi network to route calls means I won't have to worry about missing important calls at work ever again. It's a small thing, but a big one, for it to be so seamlessly built in to ROM.

Another nice upgrade is the overall look and feel of the UI. The fonts are cleaner and crisper, and the whole thing just feels more slick and polished. I'm a font junkie to begin with, so seeing them make what to most would probably be a minor or unnoticeable change makes me very happy. I don't think people always realize how big a different fonts make to how you perceive a UI.

That's all for now, but as I play with it more, I'll update here about the pros and cons of CM7. I have to say, right now, I can't see any cons to upgrading other than a few installation hiccups. If you're a root user and/or a Cyanogenmod lover, this is definitely going to be an upgrade that makes you happy!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Still no update on the laptop...

Jetblue is telling me that they have 45 days to resolve my claim. They have all my documentation, so now it's just a waiting game, which is annoying. I had to use the credit card to buy a new laptop for work, since I couldn't wait that long. I'm really hoping they wrap this up more quickly than a month and a half so I can pay off that bill. Grrr.

And as an update on the Android situation, I've figured out what I did! I just can't leave well enough alone, so one of the applications I'm trying to uninstall to make more space is what's causing the boot loop. I've figured out it's not a completely broken root, however, and I now have automatic ROM backups once a week so when I inevitably do something stupid again, I'll be able to restore a fairly recent version of an OS that worked, along with three-times-weekly updates of all my apps and data. So at most, I'll only have a week-old ROM with data that's a few days outdated. Not too bad, and the piece of mind was worth paying for the premium version of ROM Manager. That's the version that comes with automated backups, as well as easier finding and installing of new ROMs. Whoo hoo for phone tweaking with confidence of a restore when you mess it up!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I haven't meant to neglect you!

Okay, things have been absolutely crazy the last few weeks, both in my regular life, as well as in my tech life.

First of all, my FitBit got lost. I was wearing it at an event I was attending in the Dominican Republic, covering the grand opening of the new Hard Rock resort for my day job. I had it in the afternoon, but when I got back to my room that night, it was gone. Given how I gush over it here, it's no surprise that I was pretty upset. I went to lost & found on the off chance someone might have turned it in, but no dice. There was a happy ending, however. I wrote to FitBit, and, while it's not normally their policy to replace missing units, in exchange for some detailed feedback on everything from the device to the Web site to the mobile login, they agreed to send me a new one! Just another reason to seriously love not only the product, but the company as well. I won't say they're perfect, but they are seriously good people who seem to love their product and believe in it, and they want to make it better and make people happy.

Seriously, go buy one. Now.

Now, the second major tech malfunction was on this same trip. Getting on the plane to head home, I dutifully turned off my phone. Understand, I have a tendency to just put it in airplane mode and forget it, but my battery was low, so I decided to shut it off this time. I carry a portable power pack for just such an emergency, so I plugged it in to charge, stuck it in my bag, and forgot about it until about an hour out from landing. I had been reading my Kindle, and I finished my book, so I thought I'd turn my phone back on to check the charge and maybe play a little angry birds before it went back into airplane mode for landing. Instead of booting up as expected, though, it hung on the loading screen. And hung. And hung. About 10 minutes later, I pulled the battery, and thus started a frantic effort to get my phone back up and running. I even went so far as to try and put it into recovery, but got nothing. Nada. Zip. Just a black screen with a little red triangle and exclamation point. When I landed, I couldn't call anyone to let them know I was safe, I couldn't even get to my GPS to tell me how to get home from the airport. Fortunately, I remembered sort of how to get home, and the road signs got me the rest of the way, but it was a lot more nerve wracking than it needed to be.

So, I get home, no phone, FitBit gone, a frantic husband and mother both worried since I had promised to call them when I landed but they hadn't heard from me. I reassure everyone, get sympathy for my sad phone, and decide to pull out my laptop and do some research to see if I can figure out what might be causing my phone to be fubar, and better yet, how to fix it from the basic recovery menu which is all I could get to. I open my suitcase and... no laptop.

It had been stolen.

I just wanted to bang my head against a wall at that point. I pretty much never check my laptop when I fly because I'm a paranoid person when it comes to stuff like that. However, in this particular instance, I had been warned that getting through security in the Dominican Republic was a pain without electronic toys, and having them would just make it worse. So I decided, just this once, to let my laptop out of my sight.

Yeah, big mistake. Won't do that again.

So now I'm on the phone with Jetblue and JFK airport, who are bouncing me back and forth between them, for half the night trying to get someone to take responsibility and reimburse me for my laptop that wasn't even a year old yet. Whether it was stupidity on my part for checking it or not (it was) the fact remains that their security was so lax somewhere along the line, someone was able to just help him or herself to my bags. What's to say they couldn't slip something in while they were at it? Why am I forced to practically disrobe and submit to a full body search every time I get on a plane if the baggage people are getting free reign to do whatever they want? Yeah, no.

Finally, I get passed along the line in Jetblue to a case worker in their lost baggage department. I had to file a lot of paperwork and provide receipts and proof that I actually did own a laptop and proof of how much it cost me when I bought it. As of writing this, the last I heard it was in processing, and I'm still waiting to hear back as to when they're going to reimburse me for what they allowed to be stolen, and for how much. Once I have a resolution there, you can believe I will post about it here.

Now, I found myself with basically no technology whatsoever. I really didn't sleep well that night and woke up twitching.

At work, where there is a computer and blessed Internet access, I came in a little early and was able to run some Google searches to determine that, for some reason, I was missing a file in my boot sequence. Once I got that put back on the SD card, I was able to actually get the recovery to work, and booted back into the phone. As a stock Tmobile, unrooted Android. Somewhere in fixing it, the stupid thing had lost root.


So, then I had to go find instructions on how to re-root my phone, this time from a Mac, since that's what I use at work (I'm a staunch PC girl. And don't tell me it's because I don't know any better. I use a Mac all day at work, and most days I want to throw it through a window before all is said and done.) It took a few tries, but I finally managed to get it re-rooted, and then get my Cyanogenmod 6.1 reinstalled as my ROM. Fortunately, I also run Titanium Backup on a regular automatic schedule, so other than some lost Angry Birds save game files that didn't get backed up for some reason, everything else was restored. At least I had a phone again.

That was all several weeks ago, and I'm still waiting to hear back from Jetblue. I really can't afford to buy a new computer without compensation for the one I had stolen, but this week, something came up that I had to be able to type out a document from home. Not to mention, I just picked up a new blogging freelance job this week that sort of also requires me to have a computer at home. So off to Best Buy and more money on my credit card that I really shouldn't spend. With luck, Jetblue will do the right thing and send me a check for the cost of the laptop I lost. If that happens, I'll pay off the credit card balance and praise them forever. If not, they're going to have one very angry journalist on their hands....

So that has been my journey over the last few weeks. It's been something of a surreal Murphy's Law of a time, and I really hope nothing like this happens again. I can't begin to describe how horrible it feels to realize you are completely cut off with no computer or cell phone. I'll update here once I get some final resolution from Jetblue!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Taking some time for myself

After the last post, I realized how little time I actually spend just on me. I give all my time an energy, mostly, to my husband and stepson, and then my friends and family. But I really never take any time or effort for myself other than what I spend on my phone.

That needs to change.

You know I've been wearing my fitbit since the first of the month, and now that I have a few weeks of data, it's really interesting to see my patterns. First of all, I work at a desk job in front of a computer writing most of the day, so my little pie chart of activity is mostly "sedentary". I'm trying to remind myself to get up more often during the day, even if it is just to take a lap around the office, or go job in place in the bathroom where no one can see me.

Second, I sleep really poorly. Well, I knew that already, but now I have hard data! Admittedly, the geek in me just loves to log on every morning first thing to see my pretty statistics, but it has brought to my attention that while I'm in bed for 9-10 hours a night, I actually sleep closer to 5. No wonder I'm always tired when I get up! I'm hoping being more active will have an impact on this, too.

Third, I can eat good all day long, doing the right things, and not too much. But as soon as I walk in the front door at night, all bets are off. I usually get home ravenous, and I don't tend to track my evening meals until the next morning, and that needs to change. If I have to go to my computer or phone and write it down every time I eat at night the same way I do during the day, I think I'll be a bit less inclined to munch my way through the evening.

As I gather more data and statistics on myself and my habits, I'll continue to update here. I'm debating paying for fitbit's premium package to get access to even MORE beautiful data, but for now, I'm still trying to establish my baselines. I find it incredibly appropriate and amusing that it is technology, in the end, that is really starting to allow me to change ingrained habits and attitudes I've had all my life. The siren song of data and technology - I can't resist.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Addicted to my phone

Does anyone else grab the phone to check email before they even get out of bed? I do. My phone is my alarm, so it's the first thing I grab anyway - yay snooze! - but it goes beyond that. I check my email and clear my morning inbox, run AppBrain to check for any app updates, and read my daily Bible verses before my eyes are even fully open. I also like to check the "Hot Today" list on AppBrain to see if there's anything new I want to install. When I finally roll out of bed, I've probably spent 5-10 minutes on my phone already.

It seems to me this is probably the sign of an addiction.

In the car, I have a mount for my phone, and I use it as sort of a heads-up display. I DON'T text and drive, or check emails while the car is in motion, but I freely admit that when I'm at a stoplight and know I'll be there a few minutes, I'll do a quick check.

At work, my phone sits right in front of me all day. Partially because that's when I charge it, and I like to keep an eye on it to make sure it's unplugged when the battery is full, but I won't kid myself - I'm doing it because I like to check my phone. I have no idea how many times I day I check AppBrain (that, in and of itself, is an addiction). I keep an eye on the notifications bar to tell me when I have new emails or texts. And then I go on my computer to respond to said emails, although I'll text back from the phone.

My calendar is also on my phone, and is the only widget I use. It has both my personal appointments as well as my work calendar, so I'm checking it constantly to make sure I don't miss an interview, or to ensure I get to where I need to go after work.

When it's not sitting on my desk at work, my phone is usually in my pocket. Going potty? Stick the phone in the pocket. Going out to lunch? Pocket. Walking around the house? Pocket. Although at home, if I'm sitting on the couch, I will put it on the coffee table in easy reach.

In short, I have a serious phone addiction problem. I get anxiety if I don't have it where I can get my hands on it. My entire life, it seems, it organized and controlled from my phone. I cut back a while ago on checking work emails on my phone since my husband was tired of me constantly doing it, but at the same time, I've just transitioned to doing other things in place of it. I should probably cut down, but even the thought makes me twitchy. What if there's a new app I must try! What if there's an update that brings unicorns and rainbows to my dull world? What if someone sends me a link to a funny video?!

Yeah. I know. It's bad. But while I recognize the problem, I'm not sure I'm ready yet to do anything about it. After all, I still have a lot of levels of Angry Birds left to 3-star...

How about you? Are you addicted to your phone? I'd love to hear some other examples and ways you beat the addiction, or, alternatively, why you refuse to give up the habit!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fitbit Update

Well, it's been a few days now, and so far, I'm really liking the fitbit, a lot. Having the little flower that grows and shrinks as I move around or sit is surprisingly motivating. Unfortunately, I have a desk job that requires me to be in front of a computer in the middle of an open floor all day, so getting more active is challenging, but I'm trying to get up and move around more, and even pace a bit while making my (healthy) lunch in the afternoon. It's still just a start, but we all have to start somewhere, right?