Wednesday, October 31, 2012

5 Things I've Learned About Android Tablets

It's been a week since I took the plunge and it's been quite telling.  I've learned a lot about being an Android tablet user this past week.

1.  Android Without Google Play Just Sucks

Sorry, but it's true.  If you're not on a Google approved device it'll come without Google Play.  What's worse is it comes without other cool Google apps like Maps, Talk, Gmail, and *gasp* YouTube.  It gets worse.  There are some apps you can only install through Google Play.  You can't even sideload them by downloading the apk file externally and running it though your file browser app.  A notable example is Firefox.  Granted, adding Amazon Appstore did fill SOME of the void I longed for a simpler time.  So I ended up rooting that bad boy.

2.  Android Tries REALLY Hard To Keep You From "The Good Stuff"

Not sure if this was a function of the tablet in general or Android but the native file explorer sucked moose balls.  It's weird because ES File Explorer works so well on my rooted Cyanogenmod phone.  Then I found out why it doesn't work as well: The app itself doesn't have superuser privileges by default.  I ended up installing two other file managers before discovering this so now one of them has to go (sorry FX File Explorer).  Turns out that ES is paranoid for a very good reason: messing with the system files can totally screw up your system.  Honestly the only reason I wanted access to the root directory is because on this device that's the only way to browse to the microSD card and it's a pain that I needed to go so far just to do that.

3.  Big Screen = Big Fun

I'm not really one for games, but I have to admit that Android games are way more fun on a bigger screen.  I've only got a few installed but I'm on the lookout for more.  Want to play something really addictive.  Try TripleTown (only available in the Google Play store).  It's also available for Apple devices.

4.  Unless You've Prepared, Tablets Are Useless Without WiFi

I'd say that about 75-80% of the things you really want to do with a Tablet require that you be online.  That's probably why most people say screw it and get 3G/4G enabled devices.  Without a WiFi hookup you're pretty much stuck with the content you've previously downloaded or put in place.  If you've got music and movies and games (that don't need WiFi) set up you can pull out your tablet and entertain yourself anywhere.  But forget about checking email, looking for new apps, viewing online videos or browsing the web.  I see myself looking into ways to share my phone network connection with my tablet sometime in the near future (too bad FoxFi doesn't work on my phone).

5.  I Miss Productivity

I hate to say it but I miss the productivity that one can get from a computer.  It's not that you can't do things with an Android tablet.  You just can't do them better than you can on a computer OS.  Programs like CamScanner for creating PDF documents using your camera and Olive Office Premium for handling MS Office docs get the job done but they aren't my preferred methods.  They're quick and dirty.  It's also not convenient getting files on and off of the table since it lacks a USB port (still waiting on that mini to USB attachment).  On the plus side though it's lightweight and can do actual work in the right hands.  It's going to take some more use from to to decide how well it fits into my day to day routines and how it can be useful to me.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My (Semi) New Tablet

Yep, that's my (semi) new tablet.  It's a Coby Kyros MID9742 and as far as tablets go these days it's decent.

Here's the story.  One of my techie friends who's new to the mobile and tablet market wanted to get his feet wet and for him the price of this Coby was right (personally I STILL think he overpaid for it).  I gave him a proper scolding for buying it (as proper as you can get after downing a couple beers that is).  Last night I catch him at our usual spot and he's had it with this thing.  He wanted to ditch the thing and move up to some of the more robust tablets coming out these days like the Nexus or the Galaxy Tab.  So I took it off his hands at what I thought was a pretty fair price.

Let me say it right here and right now, this isn't the tablet I was looking for (damn Jedis).  With the price of tablets dropping and their power increasing I was waiting for the right time to spring for one.  However, at the moment I'm lacking a powerful mobile device since mom has been using my Acer Aspire lately.  In that respect, the Coby's a decent substitute.

First thing I noticed right of the bat though was it didn't have Google Play.  I even went as far as just downloading the Google Play apk file and installing it but it won't even run.  What it comes with is a link to GetJar that doesn't have a whole lot of app options.  Good thing I remembered that Amazon has an Appstore too.  Best part is they offer a paid app for free everyday.  That alone is worth checking it out.

Back to the tablet though, the review I linked earlier is spot on.  If I was shopping for a tablet, the Coby Kyros wouldn't have even made my list.  At the MSRP I'd be better off buying a Kindle Fire.  The almost 10 inch screen, its saving grace, hardly makes up for its other failings.  But hey, if you bought this I doubt you were in it for the performance.  You just wanted a low cost tablet that works reasonably well. 

Chances are somewhere along the line I'm going to root this thing so I can sideload the Google Play apk but I'm in no rush.  I'll keep you guys posted if anything new develops.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Josh Cell Softwares

I was searching for an easy way to make a bootable Windows USB drive and stumbled upon Josh Cell Softwares.  Their WinUSB Maker was simple and did the trick for me (you may need to disable your antivirus for a bit so it'll work properly).  Take a peek.  You might find something you like there.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Evil Toddler

I know you guys haven't got your fill of "binders full of women" and "horses and bayonets" yet, but this meme was just too good to pass up.  You can make your own Evil Toddler meme at

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Harry Potter vs. Lord of the Rings

This was a category last night for Tipsy Tuesday Team Trivia (those of you wonder what my TTTT posts mean, there it is) at Jack's Bight.  TTTT is a raucous, shot infused good time that exposes the audience to things they probably never knew before.  However, there are questions that inspire debate.  You could say this was one of them (if you count just me as the debate that is).  Here was the question:

Fred and George Weasley is to the Harry Potter series as what is to Lord of the Rings?
Now at the time I protested the answer this question. That was until I saw the source of it and realized it was a case of paraphrasing gone bad.  Now don't look at it yet but here's the source.

Given the question what would you guess the answer is?  My answer was Faramir and Boromir.  It was judged wrong.  The answer was Merry and Pippin (or Meriadoc Brandybuc and Peregrin Took).

Now I admit I have not read The Lord of The Rings.  I have however ready every book in the Harry Potter series and my pride as a geek could not allow the question to stand as is.  Here's the original question from the source mentioned which would have cleared all doubt:

In my opinion, "Harry Potter" wouldn't be quite complete without Fred and George Weasley, who just make the series that much more fun to read. In the sense of them liking a little bit of fun every now and then, the fact that they are almost never separated, and their undying loyalty to each other and to the main character, who are Fred and George Weasley most easily likened to in "The Lord of the Rings?"
Aahhh context, sweet context.  Perhaps this would have made it too easy but given that I was the only person there familiar with both series I doubt it (not boasting, I checked around after).

The question asked reminds me of analogies we used to get on the SAT.  Essentially the question is worded:

Fred & George Weasley : Harry Potter Series :: _________ : Lord of the Rings Series

In this context given nothing else you work with what you know about both series and because analogies demand at their core that you find common relationships the most obvious one is glaring:  Fred and George Weasley are brothers (identical twins actually).  Given this I went for the only brother pair presented in Lord of the Rings: Boromir and Faramir.

However, had the question been worded the other way around the answer presented would have been much more palatable:

Merry & Pippin : Lord of the Rings Series :: ___________________ : Harry Potter Series

In this comparison we have a pair of fun loving troublemakers who were inseparable (until The Two Towers that is).  Given what I know of the Harry Potter series Fred and George Weasley were the obvious answers.

So fellow geeks, nerds, fanboys, what say you?  Granted whether I was right or wrong about this wouldn't have affected the outcome of the game anyway.  I just want your opinion on this one.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Foxfi - Free WiFi Hotspot for Android

I bumped into a friend this weekend and he recommended Foxfi as an option for mobile Internet use.  Personally I've been using EasyTether successfully for a while now but the option of an easy WiFi connection appealed to me regardless.  That it supposedly works without rooting your phone makes it doubly appealing.

So I downloaded it on the spot and it seemed to start ok.  Sprint users, you should be warned that your built in browser may try to redirect you to the Google Play store where you will unceremoniously be told you can't download the app there.  You guys should follow this link instead.  I got around this by having an alternative browser on my phone (namely Firefox).

Sadly, it seems that it doesn't work on my phone.  I use a Motorola XPRT which is essentially a Droid Motorola model the app specifically doesn't work on.  Just my luck.  There is an option for Bluetooth Tethering that also doesn't work on my end.  You feel free to give it a try though. The user interface is really easy to use.  My advice: name your network FBISURVEILLANCE. :)

The user interface

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Why The Plot Twist in Dark Knight Rises Got Everyone

Ok "everyone" is a bit strong but many seasoned comic fans familiar with the source material really didn't see the twist coming...but we should have.

This is my first spoiler blog so if you haven't seen the movie yet you should probably stop reading right about now.

You gone yet?

How about now?

Ok, just to really REALLY give you time to not get to the spoiler here's a random Batman video to keep you occupied and kill space at the top of my entry.  Y'know, just so that any major details don't show up when this gets posted to Facebook and Google+.

Hehehe, that should do it.  Now I'm certain the people who really want to read this are still here (and to those of you that endured that and are still here you're a stronger person than I).

Now, topic at hand.  It was revealed as Batman took down Bane and is screaming at him to tell him where the bomb trigger is that Miranda Tate was actually Talia Al Ghul.  She was the child that escaped the pit and Bane was her protector.  The collective "oooohs" I heard when this happened let me know that the twist hit the mark.

Anyone familiar with Batman and his story is well aware of Ra's Al Ghul and Batman's relationship (yeah, they totally did it) with Talia.  It was kind of an obvious lead up since there was all this talk of Ra's Legacy and the League of Shadows.  Not knowing much about Bane's history Batman was led to the conclusion (in the movie) that Bane was Ra's Al Ghul's son.  You heard that right.  Apparently the scheme was so masterful even Batman, the world's greatest detective, was fooled.

Here's my reasoning why the twist actually worked. We're currently in the Golden Age of comic book movies.  There was a time where any movie based on a comic book was a guaranteed flop.  The reason they flopped: Hollywood Spin.  Every time they got their hands on a really good character they'd add so much crap in order to shoe horn the whole thing into an hour and a half the end result was a jumbled mess that would win the revile of every true fan of the source material.  Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy is a standout piece of work and thanks to Marvel producing their own movies they've been able to save a ton of their beloved characters.  The younger audience has no idea the stuff that came out of Hollywood before the days of Spider-man (going with the Tobey version here).  The really sad thing is it happened almost exclusively with DC and Marvel characters.  Point being we're too used to having crazy change ups that Hollywood make to our favorite characters just to make a story flow or to fit a wider audience (remember the organic web shooters?).  That's why up until the moment of the reveal we were all comfortable with Bane being Ra's son even though we know full well that he had a daughter in the comics.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

My Hero-ic Effort

A while back I blogged about possible uses for my old HTC Hero.  I had decided to refit it into a standalone media player.

To begin I rooted my old phone and installed the sleeker Cyanogenmod Android OS.  Then I plunked down $12 for an 8 gig microSD card.  Today I capped it off with a new battery that I bought from eBay for $3.99.  I've charged the battery to 52% and had it playing music for an hour straight.  It hasn't budged from 52%.

I would declare success but there's one small problem.  Apparently my OS has trouble playing long videos.  It's minor in my book but there's I'm looking into it.

Technology rocks!

Friday, October 5, 2012

You're Probably Tired of Gangnam Style But...

See what happens when the geeks take hold of a craze.  You SkyRim fans well especially enjoy the ending.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Manga List #4

Time again to update my list of stuff I'm reading.  I've added five new manga to my list.  I'm caught up on Girls of the Wild's but I'm only just started reading Gintama.  I used to read Detective Conan quite regularly but took a break because it was so hard to find.  I'm slowly catching up.  Konjiko No Gash Bell is better known as Zatch Bell in the US.  I was a fan of the anime but Cartoon Network pulled the series before it was finished.  The same goes for Yu Yu Hakusho. 

Naruto Bleach Beelzebub The World God Only Knows History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi Ratman
Cage of Eden Fairy Tail Noblesse Bartender Holyland (Finished) The Breaker: New Waves
Hajime no Ippo Hunter X Hunter Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to Karate Shoukoushi Konihata Minoru Medaka Box Toriko
Freezing Sekirei Gamble Fish Liar Game Zen Martial Arts Academy The God of High School
Rave Master (Finished) Eyeshield 21 (Finished) The Breaker (Finished) Veritas (Finished) Defense Devil (Finished)  RRR (Finished)
Katekyo Hitman Reborn! My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute Simon Sues
Girls of the Wild's Gintama Detective Conan
Konjiko No Gash Bell (Finished)
Yu Yu Hakusho (Finished)