Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Digg this...

Just noticed how uncool digg is.

Not to remove the submission and comments ... yeah, I get that... Would sort of break the networking/social aspect of it.

But only through the contact form and no direct action in the account settings to close it?

That's bad.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Keyword Search on Google Chrome

I discovered this one by accident (i.e. I must have hit the tab key at the right time in the location/search bar), so I did some (re)search and found an awesome - somewhat hidden - feature on Chrome that I was missing all the time.. mainly because I'm using it a lot in Firefox.

Keyword search

i.e. you just type a keyword for your search engine / site and the browser will do the rest for you.
In Firefox you just type the keyword for the search engine followed by the search term and then hit enter.
In Chrome you type the keyword for the search engine, then tab, and then the search term (and enter):

As soon as you hit the tab key the label of the location bar will change to the search engine/provider you associated with the given keyword like this:

You can configure those search providers in the Chrome options; the fastest way is to right-click into the location bar and then select "Edit search engines..."

There you provide the name, keyword ans search URL (with a %s for the keyword, like in Firefox).

And that's it.

I still have to get used to the tab thingy...

PS: turns out the tab is not necessary, space will do as well - just like Firefox... so even better.

Monday, March 19, 2012

New Gadget in Town

No, not the new iPad... I'll stick to my (original) iPad for the time being.

It's about something different.
Just a month ago I decided it was time for a new car radio, because the old one we had (from 1998!) was just that... a car radio (with CD player).  This is our old 1998 Audi... so no fancy stuff that came with the car...

Since we have all our music and podcasts in iPods or our smartphones, the radio did not do much good anymore.

I opted for a Blaupunkt Toronto 410 BT (as in bluetooth), and it is fantastic:

  • bluetooth hands-free... finally
  • bluetooth streaming ... so I don't have to cable-connect my phone for a short ride.
  • iPod (or others) via USB
  • SD slot for the permanent car collection :)
Actually I took my old iPod mini with a battery that only lasts for about 1 hour - so totally useless in the wild -  loaded it with music and put it in the car... Since it gets the power over USB there, the dead battery it no longer an issue, and I have more music in the car now, than I ever had on CDs there before.

So on my next trip alone, like my bimonthly trip to Ljubljana, I can listen to podcasts without end... without any of the in-ear headphone nonsense.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On Mobile, Apps and the Cloud

The other day I heard about a bartender app for Android that seems to only have a lot of drink recipes and some tips&tricks.
So basically this is a book(let) made into an app.

Why are so many phone and tablet apps just stupid books or references?

Dear developer, you have a full phone/tablet at your disposal, meaning:
  • you know where you are (location)
  • you have the time, date, durations, ...
  • you have (more or less) full internet connectivity
So, e.g., for a cooking app, don't just tell me to do something for 5 minutes, start a freaking timer, and tell me when those 5 minutes are over!

With internet connectivity  you have unlimited compute power, currently called "the cloud". 
So please use it.
And not just by providing storage in the cloud (as cool as the HTC/DropBox deal is), use it for real computing.

Also, while we are at it: I venture a prediction:
Within less then 12 months, we will not only get free cloud storage with our phone, there will also be offerings for a free cloud-hosted virtual machine with your tablet.
So then, you'll get your Windows 7 or 8 PC as a VM and just use it from your tablet.
I'm pretty confident on this.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

HTC got it

Kudos to HTC.

In Barcelona they announced that with each of their new Android smartphones - of the HTC One series - customers get 25GB of storage on DropBox.

They did not go for an HTC Cloud Storage, but decided to cooperate with DropBox. Good. Because DropBox has apps, users, APIs, ...

I wonder how the HTC internal IT guys fought this decision ("we can do this ourselves").

Good for you, HTC.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Back to the basics for my phone

As much as I love my HTC Desire Z (or Vision for the US guys), it had one major flaw from day 10 or so.

For about 90% of the incoming calls, when I answered them (drag, or click on the <Answer> button), the phone would not really answer the call, it would keep ringing... and the other party would continue to get the ringback tone. After 7 or 8 or so rings, it would finally put the call through. Sometimes it would take too long, and I'd lose the call.


Very annoying.

Well, my dear friend V. noticed this behaviour the other day on my phone (granted, after a couple of beers) and told me there was one of those creepy #*codes that would switch of some networking stuff and make it work normal.

So while he was searching his archives to find this code, I also did some googling myself and found this behaviour described like this:
If you sync your Facebook contacts (on an HTC Desire)  this could happen; and the solution -   delete the Facebook contacts - seemingly did help a couple of users.
Well, it was a convincingly high number of users that reported both the problem and the success through removing the Facebook contacts.
So I gave it a try, removed all my Facebook contacts, had a co-worked call me (a couple of times) and it seemed to work.

3 hours later, V. sent me the code.

Enter the following code in the dialer screen. *#*#2347#*#*
So I did.
(and got a "CFU query when camp-on is off" message... talk about non-cryptic :))

It still works fine.

Only problem now is, ... Against everything I learned and preached when I was working in software support decades ago, doing heavy problem determination work... never ever change two parameters at the same time, when you want to get to the problem source... never ever ... you understand?!

Well I here did... So I still don't know what made the phone work, removing Facebook contacts or V.'s cryptic CFU-query-when-camp-on... code.

So if anyone else runs into this problem, please try only one of them, and report back here.

Anyway... my phone is now back to its basic functionality, taking calls.