Represented in my household: Windows Vista, XP, 7, 8.1, Linux Ubuntu 13, Mac OSX 10.9 , webOS 2.0.4, 2.0.5 3.0, Windows Phone 7.8, 8. Android 4.3 , iOS 7. Holy crap.
Now, I’m not posting this to brag. I know most who follow me have at least as much, and some have all that in one drawer they’ve forgotten about in their basement.
What astounds me is that I was just some dumb geek who liked a product demo video on a smartphone OS just 5 years ago (almost to the day).
I have had one hell of a journey since then. Tweeting, blogging, meeting up, all in the name of this mobile technology interest that has quickly grown into an obsession.
Writing for Pocketnow is like the best thing ever. It’s one of those jobs that you hear about that is “Doing what you love” that is typically so out of reach for most people.
My new job at @branchfire, though only one week old, is similar with a great group of people with whom I enjoy spending my time with. Plus I’m supporting multiple mobile platforms = win.
None of it would have happened had I not fallen in love with webOS, the twisted, scarred, beta-OS that never got off the ground for the weirdest and stupidest reasons. To take what once amounted to a hobby and turn it into not one, but two forms of income to me is just incredible.
Thanks to everyone for an epic 2013 and here’s to an even better 2014.
Two years ago, I wrote this.
When the news broke that Steve Jobs had passed away, I found myself sitting at the “news desk” of the now defunct websites webosroundup.com and mobileroundup.com. I’m not the biggest Apple fan in the world, and back then even less so, but since those sites are now gone, I decided today, on the anniversary of his death, to re-publish and preserve the post here.
It’s not often that someone can say they changed the world. Steve Jobs could. AP is reporting Jobs passed away today at the age of 56, confirmed by a statement from Apple’s Board of Directors:
We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today.
Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.
His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts.
Steve Jobs brought the smartphone business to a whole new level of awesome. Arguably, all other mobile OS’s wouldn’t be where they are today if it wasn’t for the iPhone and the impact it has had on the world.
Many feared this day would come sooner than later when Job stepped down as CEO of Apple just 6 short weeks ago. We at webOSroundup express our deepest sympathies to Jobs’ family and friends, and we welcome our readers to share comments below as well.
How I use twitter (and social media in general)
It’s funny, this internet thing. A lot of people use it. Like a LOT a lot. We all use it in different way. Some like to talk about specific topics, others like to advertise their lunch. Neither is necessarily correct, but there certainly are preferred methods. I personally lean more toward the former.
I talk tech. I talk it a lot. MOSTLY mobile tech, but that’s because it’s my job (or one of them at least). So if you’re into smartphones and tablets, you’ll get some juicy content from me. It’s very compartmentalized. I will rarely branch out.
But… I also have friends among the tech community, and there are a variety of other interests out there. So I may occasionally go off-book here and there. Just ride it out - it never lasts.
For the most part, you can expect to see the following from me:
3. Other geekology - Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate, Gadgets, GPSr’s
4. Generally cool or funny things that I come across - this doesn’t happen often.
I also work in tech support. So occasional twitter rants about that are known to happen from time to time.
You can expect my tweets to be rather knee-jerk, sardonic, and generally amusing. I won’t go so far as to say “clever” but I do have my moments.
Will I follow you? Well, the odds are not in your favor. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing personal. But I will generally only follow those who fall into a very specific range of criteria
1. First of all, if you are or were a webOS fan, you’ve got points in your favor.
2. If you tweet mostly about technology.
3. You do not tweet about kids, religion, politics, food, or the like. Frequent check-ins, unless you have a funny or witty comment about your location will also not score well.
If I don’t follow you, please don’t take it personally. If I follow you, then stop following you, don’t feel bad - you’d be joining a long list which includes my brother.
Twitter is public, Facebook is private. Facebook is for family and friends. Remember the compartmentalization I mentioned? There ya go.
If you tweet me, or mention me, and I don’t reply. It’s just because I had nothing to add to the conversation. If you do mention, you will be noticed.
If you ask me to retweet something, I won’t. Retweets stand on their own. If it should be retweeted, it will be.
I will rarely swear on twitter, but it will occasionally slip out. It’s ok. it won’t hurt you.
So, that about covers it. It’s my approach, my philosophy on the use of twitter. If that’s not how you roll, awesome. Good on ya. If you don’t care, then why the hell are you still reading this?
Ahh…didn’t see that coming…did ya?
Geeking it up a little…or, ya know…a lot…
Recently on vacation, I had the opportunity to spread my ubergeek wings and soar. My family was taking a vacation to Disney World in Orlando, FL. For those of you not geographically inclined, Orlando, FL is about 1000 miles away from my home town of Chicago, IL. Plans were drawn, and eventually it was decided that I would drive to Florida while my wife and kids flew.
The reasons for this were varied, most notably because we didn’t want to get raped by the airlines for having the audacity of wanting to take actual luggage with us on the trip. So, with that in mind, my geek genes kicked into overdrive.
I’m a bit of a geography geek. One thing I’ve enjoyed doing since I was old enough to drive was to follow a road from beginning to end. There are several in Chicago that I’ve done, just because. Then I learned something - US Routes that end in zero, such as Route 20, Route 30, etc. all run coast to coast. For example, US Route 20, which passes within 1 mile of my house, begins in Boston, Massachusetts (a.k.a. @Captain2Phones territory) and ends in Newport, Oregon.
To me, this is really freaking cool. So what that means is, while I’m standing on it, this road starts at the Atlantic Ocean, comes to me, then continues to the Pacific Ocean. Another cool point is that for the most part, these routes are labeled sequentially north to south - 20, 30, 40, 50, etc.
So I decided, I wanted to take my picture at every US Route that goes coast to coast from Chicago to Orlando. I would post pics to facebook and it would serve as a count down to my arrival in Orlando.
And I did it. I was very proud of myself for accomplishing what to others is a stupid little thing. But I did it. And my geek cred skyrocketed in my mind. It also got me to thinking, I wonder to what extent other geeks have gone out of their way to geek it out. The more unique, the better.
Tweet to @DeadTechnology or write a tumblr post and link it to me, but I want to know how geeky you geeks are. Wave that flag, and be proud of what you’ve done all in the name of self-geek-adulation. I’m dying to hear what you all have done.
An Essay on Why I Believe @openmobileww Will Finally Deliver Their Innovative ACL Software On a Consumer Product.
A question of <snicker> “fame” and responsibility…
I was at my 6 year old’s recital today and I saw, much to my shock and anguish, a woman filming the affair with….a tablet. And yes, I did die a little inside. I whipped out my GSIII, zoomed in, and took a picture.
Typed out this tweet:
At my kid’s recital, I saw a woman taking pictures with a tablet. I threw up in my mouth a little.
Attached the picture, and almost hit send. Then I didn’t. I removed the picture from the tweet and sent it as text only.
I realized that once something hits the internet, it’s gone. You can no re-cork the genie. I thought, I’ve got somewhere in the neighborhood for 700 followers on twitter (as of this writing, 688), and a bunch of them might be from Chicago, and heck, for all I know, one of them might be this woman’s neighbor.
Granted, 700 followers, is nowhere near my colleague Michael Fisher’s 5,000+, Chris Ziegler’s 18,000+, and not even 1% of Joshua Topolsky’s 100,000+, but still. Tell a friend, and they tell a friend, and they tell a friend, etc. There was recently a big story about a woman on twitter who sent out a picture to her 11,000 followers and ended up getting the subject of the picture fired, and herself soon after.
The point is this. If you have any kind of following, be it on twitter, Facebook, instagram, or just some weird people who follow you around on the street, you need to watch what you post. The Internet makes no apologies, nor does it accept consequences. It just is. It’s what we make of it that matters.
So if you find yourself on twitter - and let’s face it, why would you be reading this if you weren’t - and you’re going to post something - anything that might remotely, possibly jeopardize someone’s anonymity, be it yours or someone else’s just remember - once it’s out there, it’s out there, and for the most part, there’s no taking it back.
So a bunch of peeps have been asking “What’s with this eye surgery thing? Lasik?” No.
For the past 5 years or so, I’ve been diagnosed with cataracts. I’m 36 years old. Yes that is stupid young for cataracts, but my brother had them too ,so it’s a family thing. I’d like to go ahead and apologize to my kids now.
The cataracts caused me to gradually get poorer and poorer vision starting with no longer being able to track a fly ball and going to using a magnifying glass to read a book. In December of 2010, I rapidly lost pretty much all that was left of my vision and for roughly 2 weeks was legally blind.
Not. A. Fun. Christmas.
In early January 2011, I had cataract surgery performed on my right eye. Basically, they cut out my eye’s lens, suck it out, and replace it with a pretty sharp lens that also corrects astigmatism. I needed reading glasses, but I could (and still can) see with 20/20 vision. My left eye - different story. In it, I have been almost completely blind for about 2 years, up until last Tuesday when I had surgery on that eye as well.
Interesting side note - part of the second surgery involved using a laser to make the initial incisions and I believe to cut out the lens - bear with me I still don’t completely understand the process - and after that I WALKED out of that OR, went down an elevator and into a different surgical room where I was prepped, and knocked out (via anesthesia, not a hammer) for the second part of the surgery. Still blows my mind thinking about it. Anyway.
So now I’ve got vision back in both eyes. The problem I’m having now is I haven’t used my left eye for over two years and now that both see correctly, my brain is having trouble getting the images received by both eyes to sync up correctly. Imagine two of the same painting painted on glass, one hanging behind the other and the one in front is on springs. It’s both trippy and disorienting.
Anyway, long story short, I’m well on the road to recovery. While I could probably drive, I’m not just yet. I can generally see things pretty well with minimal “bounce” now that’s it’s been almost 48 hours, but reading a computer screen is still rather dizzying.
But worry not, I’ll be back to 100% - nay even better than that - soon enough. I thank everyone for asking and for your concerns and well wishes!
WOR Radio is back on the air…..sorta.
So, some of you may remember before my current pocketnow.com gig, I used to write for webOSRoundup. Well, recently some talk on twitter brought up the possibility of digging up some old webOSRoundup radio podcasts. Consider them dug up. Here’s what’s been found thus far:
I Made The Switch - Hello Windows Phone…
This article and its companion was written before I started with pocketnow.com. Got put off until now.
In a previous article I explained that I recently left the Samsung GSIII for a Lumia 900 with 7.8 update. And some of you are thinking to yourselves – why in God’s name would you do that? Here’s a GSIII and, aside from his big brother, the Note II, this is the top dog from Samsung. Dare I say iPhone killer?
Be that as it may, there are several good reasons why I made the switch. Here are 5 reasons why my GSIII is SIMless in a SIMful world –
First of all, S-Voice on the GSIII, Samsungs Siri-wannabe doesn’t hold a candle to the Windows Phone equivalent. I call the Windows Phone version “baby-siri”. Baby-Siri is available for reading texts, voice dialing, app initiation, and voice search. S-Voice is available for pretty much the same things. The difference is, I call S-Voice “Siri’s idiot cousin, Sorri” because it gets absolutely nothing right. The only S-Voice command that worked with any amount of consistency was “Navigate to…” Even that only had about a 75% chance of succeeding.
The second thing I will not miss form Android – widgets. But this is more a function of what windows phone does. Live tiles are very handy and very widget like. Especially the resizable live tiles of Windows Phone 7.8 and up. Any live tile that doesn’t update info gets a small tile. Updatable info gets a big tile. Easy peasey. Android widgets offer almost too much information in too many ways. Do you want a 1x1 widget? How about 1x2, or 2 x 1, or 3 x 2 or 4 ½ x 3 3/8?
Say it with me Android – Small, medium, large. Which brings me to the next part of Android that I absolutely will not miss.
I don’t want to have to micromanage my phone. I really, really don’t. Oh, you’re clicking on a link? Well what program do you want to use to open that? Uh huh. Ok great, now how often do you want to use that particular program to open that particular link. Ok very nice. And what about…. JUST OPEN THE @#$%ING LINK!!!!!
I get that Android has a lot of choices. Choices are great. But for the love of Pete can I just have defaults be assumed for me without having to ask me every single time I do something even slightly different from the last time? If I install a new music player – here’s a news flash – I want to use it as a music player. Until such time as I don’t and THEN I will make the effort to tell you.
The other thing I don’t get about Android, and never will – you have home pages, and launcher pages. Both are customizable and seemingly unlimited. Why? If you have multiple configurable home pages, why do you need multiple configurable launcher pages as well? And I know what you’re thinking – “Well it’s all about choice you see”. But I just want to use my phone. Can I please just do that without having to decide on each and every aspect of how my phone is going to look, feel, smell, work. I just want to pick up a phone and have it work. I spent 2 months trying to set up Android so it was just right. And I got there too. I finally got it to the point where I didn’t mind picking up my phone and using it.
It just sucks it took 60 days to get there.
Finally, the last thing I won’t miss about Android is the lack of integration - OS-level integration. This is more a strength of Windows Phone and less a deficiency in Android, but all the apps, and all the choices make it impossible for there to be any kind of deep integration of anything in the OS itself. Even google services have apps when they should just be there. The other day I was trying to figure out how to use Gtalk on my Android (by Google) phone. I couldn’t even search for google talk, or Gtalk. It was an app called “Talk”. Makes perfect sense. But I had just never installed it, but then why should I have to?
Windows Phone on the other hand has OS-level integration for so much – Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skydrive, and that’s just off the top of my head. I know I’m missing some things. But it’s all OS level, meaning you don’t need an app for that.
What it all boils down to is this: the fundamental reason I switched to Windows Phone as my daily driver because I can communicate better with it. Sure Android has more games, more customizations, more apps, but a phone is meant to be a communication device. Whether it’s receiving a call on my Bluetooth speakerphone, dictating a text, sending a group text photo to my whole family, Windows Phone just does that better, in my opinion. I don’t have to jump through hoops just to trick my phone into calling my wife and letting her know I’m going to be late because I stopped for a Geocache on the way home from work, nor to hang up on her when she starts to yell.
I Made The Switch - Fare Thee Well Android…
This is an article and its companion was written just before I started with pocketnow.com. Got put off until now
I made the switch. I popped my SIM into my Lumia 900, switching over from a Samsung GSIII. I was excited about the 7.8 update and now, boy oh boy, I have small tiles. BOOM!
Of course it’s not all wine and roses. There are a good number of reasons why I made the switch, but there are some things I’ll miss too. So I thought I’d break them down for you and maybe, if you’re on the fence leaning toward Windows Phone or Android, this might help you out.
The first thing I will miss from Android is the maps/navigation. Google is famous for their maps, and with good reason. The details, the traffic, the routing it’s all brilliant and works remarkably well. The Lumia, and indeed all Windows Phones, come equipped with Nokia Drive which is also a very good GPS substitute which also offers offline capability. The problem is, Nokia Drive only works as an independent app, and is not integrated with any other software that might want to feed you directions. So, if you’re in Yelp and want to go to a gas station, you don’t get Nokia Drive; you get Maps, which compared to Google are pretty much junk.
Android also seems to play more nicely with Bluetooth. I have a Bluetooth speaker phone in my car and Bluetooth headphones for home/gym. Thus far, the Android/Bluetooth experience has been much more desirable than the Windows Phone experience. To give you an example, when I hooked up my devices to the GSIII, every peep that came out of my phone, came out of the device once connected. On Windows Phone, directions in the maps application, and specifically the Voice control never seems to broadcast the initial voice prompt via Bluetooth. It’s as if it gets lost trying to catch up to the fact that it’s supposed to be connected to Bluetooth. On the whole it’s an odd, but not completely unlivable experience.
And then there’s the apps. The apps to me are more of an annoyance than anything. I’ve grown accustomed to using a number of apps that aren’t available, or just plain don’t run well on Windows Phone. Zynga is a prime culprit here. Neither Words with Friends nor Draw Something run particularly well on the Lumia 900. Now granted, this is not the latest and greatest Windows Phone, but still. They’re just not smooth and in some cases just don’t work. There are also a number of games that I’ve gotten used to playing on the GSIII that aren’t available on Windows Phone.
The app market place is certainly a maturing environment that is growing. But there are certain essentials that are simply not there. Sling is a great example, but certainly not the only holdout. It’s about the only app I can think of that comes close to being a deal-breaker for me.
I’ll miss Google Now. Android’s Jelly Bean app is a pretty cool toy. Since I don’t travel much, I didn’t really dig into Google Now’s prime features – travel itineraries, local points of interest, etc. But two things really stood out for me. Commute times to work and home, and Google remembering your Desktop PC searches and having them listed in Google Now when you accessed it. I remember the first time I used it. I had just googled an auto repair shop. I saw where it was and decided to go there to get some work done. I hopped in the car and went to Google the shop again to get directions, when voila – there was the old search, including a maps and a convenient navigation button. That was some pretty sexy stuff, let me tell you.
And of course what Android vs. Windows Phone piece would be complete without mentioning notifications? Android Jelly Bean has really taken notifications to a whole new level of awesome and interaction. From reading individual email subjects in the notification bar, to replying to tweets straight from the notification, Google has definied what a notification tray should always be.
But, at the end of the day, it wasn’t enough to keep me for reasons I’ll outline in a companion article. For now, the GSIII rides in my pocket as a sort of wi-fi only Mini-tablet, but who knows how long that’ll last. Microsoft is an unrelenting temptress.