Life with Droid

I’ve now had the G1 for a few weeks and wanted to write a little about some of my experience so far.  Previous to getting the G1 I had started to carry my iPod Touch with me on a regular basis, I still use the iPod Touch but I can imagine living without it.

Let’s talk about some of the basics.  I wanted to carry some photos of my family around – this was super easy to do and very Linux friendly.  Simply connect the phone to the Linux machine via USB, then on the phone choose to mount as a USB device. The PC will now detect a USB drive and hook you up.  Copying photos into a sub-folder of /DCIM was all I needed to have them appear in the gallery.  To disconnect, umount on your PC first – then on the phone.  Moving music is similarly easy.

If you’re willing to “go Google” then your Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Contacts will all sync to the device. I’ve previously talked about the state of Linux address books, and the calendar situation seems to be similarly dire. Email I’m still holding out on probably more because I’m stubborn.

A few tips on configuring your Android phone.  If you want to exclusively use wifi (as I do, since I’m not using a data plan) then you’ll want fiddle with the advanced wifi menu.  You certainly want to run CyanogenMod or similar, and when you do that you’ll want to consider using the spare parts option to keep the “Home app in memory” which for me seems to improve overall responsiveness.

Moving from the iPod Touch to the G1 I gained a camera, GPS, a built in microphone and phone functionality.  In general the same types of apps are available, so you aren’t missing out on any function.  The iPod is much slicker than the G1, the browser is faster the gestures and general UI experience is more uniform. I’m still completely sold on the Android path, the ability to tinker with the device is greater and it is possible to use it with a Linux based desktop without standing on your head.

Read on for a comparison between the apps I have on my iPod Touch vs. what is on my Android phone.

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Nokia 5310 Review

Well way back in March of this year I got myself a new cell phone, the Nokia 5310.  Now that I’ve had it for a good part of the year, it is overdue for a review posting. Many of my friends have iPhones, BlackBerries, or Android (HTC) phones – giving me some serious gadget lust.  I’ve read other reviews of the 5310 which put it in the smartphone category, and while it is a good phone and has reasonable performance and functionality – it isn’t in the same league as an iPhone.

Let’s start with what I like a lot about the Nokia 5310: Battery life – I charge my phone once a week, Sunday night. Granted I’m not a heavy user of the phone: I’ll log 15mins of calls during a given week, a few text messages, and this week I listened to MP3’s on it for an hour – all on one charge.  My number two feature is the form factor, this phone is small.  Many do not like the candybar style – but for me, I find it works.  Up third is voice / call quality.  My experience with Nokia phones is that they deliver great voice quality, and the 5310 has not let me down.

Ok, on to a few negatives.  The camera is pretty poor, it feel slow and needs bright well lit scenes to take pictures that don’t totally stink.  The display while nice and readable, even in full sun – seems to have two small dust leaks in the bottom corners.  The result of the dust leak is visible in the photos of the phone, it doesn’t impair day to day use but it is sort of annoying.  That’s it for the negatives really, I might complain a little about the buttons not being very positive feeling but I’ve gotten use to them.

The pictures above shows my iPod Touch and the Nokia 5310, it really puts into perspective how small this phone is.

Other features that I’ve found useful: Bluetooth support, both headsets and data connectivity over bluetooth.  This allows me to synchronize the address book with my computer and move pictures, music, or MIDP (java) to and from the phone.  There is also a USB cable interface (good for firmware updates).  It has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, and it does support MP3 playback (the quality of the music playback was very good).  There is a speaker on the back, and it is quite loud (great for speaker phone calls).  It has a micro SD slot, and I’ve got a 1Gb card in there but it will support up to 16Gb.  The screen resolution is 320×240 and as I mentioned above, it is quite readable in even full daylight.

In summary – it a great little phone.  The battery life is awesome and let’s me taunt my iPhone friends.  I don’t think any of the carriers are offering these anymore, but you can find them used for $120-$175 quite easily (in fact, I purchased mine used).

Now you might have noticed the Apple logo on the screen in the first picture, there is a story behind that.  This specific Nokia 5310 is unlocked, and unbranded (some say debranded).  Read on for the gory details..

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Review: Zipit Wireless Messenger 2


So I must thank my good friend Andrew C for picking one of these up for me at his local Target store and shipping it up to me in Canada.   The device itself is about the size and form factor of the Gameboy Advance SP, however there is a lot more under the hood.  The Zipit2 boasts a 320×240 colour display, 312MHz XScale (ARM), 32MB RAM, 8MB flash, Mini-SD expansion, backlit querty thumb keyboard, D_Pad and music controls, 802.11 B/G, and a 1000Mah LiOn battery. IMG_3034-1 The retail price is $49.99, but as you can see it was marked down to under $25!

For the casual consumer, this device allows for IM with AIM, Yahoo, and MSN.  It appears they also have a gateway to a wide range of US cell phone providers (and one Canadian – Fido) allowing for SMS messages to be sent / received.  It will play music and display photos from the Mini-SD card.  There is also support for internet radio.  While you need to use your own WiFi to connect to the internet, you are reliant on the site for the IM connectivity to the device.  The 1st year of service is free and after that its $29.95 a year.  If you’ve got teenagers and not enough computers, this is a great solution.  Another benefit is a side-effect of the limitations of the device – no malware or virus issues, constrained functionality results in a limited amount of mischief they can get into.

Oh yeah, and it runs Linux.  So of course the hacking community has has its way with this device and you can now get an “open” Linux build for it.  There is also a fairly dated wiki hosted by zipitwireless, however the irc logs seem to be fairly current.  I was particulary excited to see that the ScummVM was able to run Full Throttle – something I plan to setup as I actually own the original game.

I’ll update with another post once I’ve got the firmware modified – you knew that was coming right?