Pixelbook Review: First Impressions

 

 

Pixelbook Review: First Impressions
Thank you Device Fund supporters! http://go.tagjag.com/devicefund

  • Screen flashes / changes when “too much” white appears suddenly? Unsure if it’s hardware or software, but insanely jarring
  • Some button styles during the setup wizard are styled differently than other ones (like, legacy buttons that haven’t been tweaked yet)
  • Both video and scrolling are relatively smooth, but there seems to be a blur at times – as though pixels aren’t able to keep up (one video seemed to exhibit frame drops at times with high speed object)
  • Generally, items are responsive when interacting with them on the screen. There’s still quite a bit of jank, but not nightmare-scenario.
  • Screen wobbles pretty badly when touching in “laptop” mode.
  • Android apps don’t like the touchpad as much as they like your finger for interactions (Instagram)
  • Keep tripping the Assistant key accidentally (while trying to use the
  • Alt key for shortcuts, remapped to work like MacOS Command)
  • App manager can be a bit confusing – mixed between Chrome apps and Android apps, sometimes unable to tell which is which (Google Play Music)
  • Awesome to see Chrome extensions working
  • Worried about silicone palm rests wearing down / getting dirty
  • Backlit keyboard ONLY useful in VERY dark rooms
  • Touch input lag with Android apps
  • Lap play is just fine, balanced
  • Tent mode will prove to be quite convenient
  • Trackpad is taking some getting used to compared to bring accustomed to MacBook trackpad
  • Bonus: 2 Years worth of 100GB on Google Drive
  • Bonus: 3 Months of Play Music (Saving me on YouTube Red, Family)?
  • Kinda starting to feel like a $500 experience, not a $1,000 one
  • Battery life seems to be okay – so long as brightness isn’t at full power
  • Seemingly wanting to use it more than iPad – but I have to consider when, how, why I would use it

Why Are Edward Snowden and NSA PRISM Scaring Us?

Why Are Edward Snowden and NSA PRISM Scaring Us?
The NSA: Are “they” out to get you? Unless you’re horrible, I would almost be willing to bet not. [Image shared by Will Hart via Flickr]
Coming off of Edward Snowden’s release of documents that showcase what theorists have already been touting for decades now: a government “need” for our personal records from both phones and Internet. There are banks built from the ground up with the intention of housing broad sweeps of our personal records and they’re utilized whenever there’s a requirement for the information. The NSA (National Security Agency) is spying on us all!

Welcome to the New Age.

Is the NSA Violating Our Constitutional Rights?

People are either enraged or terrified; I sit in neither camp and, trust me, that’s a weird place to be. The angered lift their pitchforks high and recite the Constitution as if that slip of paper will stop a damned thing. I can promise you that nobody lifts their chin during Congress hearings and says “But, but guys… the Bill of Rights. The Constitution! Justice! Freedom!” because it’s not about that. Nobody is going to protect your browser history in the name of freedom, ladies and gentlemen.

Then there lie the scared and the skittish folks who worry about everything being massively controlled and those rights that they banked on being taken away from them.

What Dirt Does the NSA Have on You?

Those are the ones I worry about, to be honest. With a palm to their shoulder, I wish I could kindly whisper in their ears that the NSA doesn’t give a good goddamn about what you’re doing. If you fear that your privacy is being invaded, and you fear the intrusive eyes of Big Brother, you have more to do with it than you think — and perhaps that’s just as much on you as it is on the government. I need you to wake up now, okay? Take your iPhone out of your hands, stop tweeting about your lunch, and listen up.

The masses are already live and direct; you’re feeding the machines and downloading everything at an incredible rate. With wristbands that tell the Internet your every step taken and just how high your heart rate goes up, phones that can tell anyone where you are at any time, and computers becoming portable enough to access the Internet from anywhere, you are without restrictions. You tether your phone to your laptop, your laptop to your brain, your brain to the Internet, and then you want to know why they have an interest in your information?

But You Already Invited the Vampire into Your House…

Without going all Fight Club rhetoric on the lot of you, you’ve given everyone your information freely in order to… give everyone your information freely. You signed up for those websites that give you access to being social with strangers, but you’re worried about strangers looking over your shoulder? You practically handed them the keys to the castle already, but now you’re worried?

It’s time to wake up.

Check it out: at the end of the day, the lot of you have nothing to worry about. Unless you’re up to something, and then, you know what? That’s on you. I don’t get scared about transparency because I have nothing to fear. What I know is that the President has no need for my Internet history. There is no war that is hinging on finding out from what local farm I ordered honey, and there’s no congressional hearing that would be started by finding out what I’ve been watching on RedTube. None of it matters. I’m inconsequential in these debates.

And so are you. Hurts to hear it, I guess, but let’s be honest. If you’re enraged, you’re possibly not seeing the big picture or even what it means to the rest of the country. I’m no terrorist, folks. The authorities don’t want what I’ve got, and so they’re not going to come near me. Why would they? Why would they come after you? Why would they want to know what you are doing? Are you a threat? Bet you’re not. And if you are? I hope they find you.

It’s a revolution, I suppose.

How Will the NSA Use All of This Information?

We have seen such massive, massive tragedy in the past 20 years; some of it comes from foreign soil, and some of it is coming from our own backyard. This is the reality of it, and if we want protection from these tragedies, we have to accept that the authorities charged with preventing them are going to make some new rules. I cannot tell them to do everything in their power to protect my child and me and then, in the same breath, tell them they better be ethical and held accountable to outdated standards. That’s impossible and irrational thinking. Those are the same people who send ricin envelopes to the President when they imagine up a gun recall.

Take a breath and move forward, people. This is it. Yes, your email providers and your cell phone company will deny-deny-deny, and video games will come out that point out just how real it all is. We’re all plugged in and live.

In my world, there is just so much more at stake, and being safe is more important to me than someone wanting to know what I did on my phone or what is in the contents of my laptop. You can have it. If it means you can get to the bottom of these mass-scale tragedies by seeing how much time I spent on Steam, have at it. Any means necessary, you guys. This is life.

I’m sure a lot of you are completely in disagreement with me and I’d love to hear about it. What do you think about the NSA PRISM discussion and the news coming out of whistleblowers from around the world? Are you angry? Are you afraid? Let me know. Tell me what you think I’m not taking into consideration; give me something to ponder! I welcome it.

How to Resolve Problems with Android Gingerbread

How to Resolve Problems with Android GingerbreadFor those of you who are using a smartphone powered by Google’s Android version known as Gingerbread, you are most likely aware of some of the issues that may plague this older operating system. Gingerbread was first introduced several years ago by Google and is still being used on some of the low end models that are still being sold today. if you currently own a smartphone that is still using Gingerbread, this article is directed toward you.

I currently am using a Samsung T679 Galaxy Exhibit 4G smartphone that comes with a 1 GHz processor with 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB ROM. I bought this from Walmart in January of 2012 as a prepaid phone that works with the T-Mobile phone service. T-Mobile, in conjunction with Walmart, offers a $30 a month plan that includes 100 minutes of talk time, unlimited text, and 4G service for the first 5 GB of data, after which the system reverts over to Edge services.

Compared with the newest smartphones that now come with dual core or quad core processors, plus 2 GB of RAM, these inexpensive Android phones powered by Gingerbread can be down-right pokey. Performance at times can be sluggish and would drive me nuts. This became even more apparent when I started to use the new Nexus 7 tablet with Jelly Bean, which is smooth in function and quick to respond to all applications I have installed.

About four months ago, I began experimenting with different applications with one goal in mind. I wanted to get my low-powered smartphone powered by Gingerbread to perform better by tweaking applications I had installed on the system. The unfortunate reality of buying a phone from a particular carrier is that the carriers load the system with applications that most users do not need, want, nor use.

I installed a 16 GB SD card onto the system for storage. I also wanted to use this extra storage to load as many programs as possible and keep the main storage area on the phone as empty as possible. I installed a program called App2SD, which did exactly this and moved 11 applications over to the SD card.

My next goal was to free up as much memory as possible by using only the applications that I felt used the least amount of memory. This turned out to be a matter of trial and error until I found the programs that worked best for me and my system.

I first started with my browser. The default browser that comes with Android 2.xx is not very good, in my opinion. My browser of choice on my Windows boxes and other Android devices is Google’s Chrome. but unfortunately, Gingerbread is not supported. I eventually settled on Maxthon as my browser of choice. Maxthon was the only browser that did not affect my system when I surfed heavily or closed the browser.

Next I took a look at task-killing applications. In my personal opinion, these applications are a waste of time and if you are using Gingerbread, have little or no value to your overall experience. With this being said, I have found one application called Fast Reboot that you may wish to try. Whenever my phone seems to start to slow down or become sluggish, I just hit the Fast Reboot icon and all is well. It works for me and I hope it works for you as well.

I also wanted to employ some type of security on my system and eventually settled on Lookout as my prime protection. I chose Lookout because it seems to work well and requires the least about of resources compared to other applications I tried.

The best suggestion I can make is just plain common sense. Uninstall what you don’t use. I had four pages of applications, plus the garbage that T-Mobile put on my phone, that were dragging the performance down. I spent about an hour cleaning up stuff, just toys, that I never used. Once I cleaned up the system, my phone sprang to life. It is just that easy to do.

I hope this helps. Gingerbread is a fine operating system, for the most part, and is still being employed today by some carriers. By using some common sense tips, you can get your older Android system running well and get the best possible performance.

Comments are welcome.

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Saad Irfan

Why I Am Ordering a Google Nexus 4

Why I Am Ordering a Google Nexus 4Google is working at a rapid pace to stay ahead of the pack by introducing new hardware and improvements to its Android operating system. Of course, we all know that in the field of smartphones, tablet computers, and laptop systems, speed in releasing new products to the marketplace is mandatory and that those who lag in ideas and / or improvements are often left in the dust. But Google’s unusual and brilliant strategy to join ranks with industry giant Walmart may have been its best move yet. In fact, it is this partnership with the low-price leader Walmart that could well allow it to stay competitive against the likes of Amazon and Apple.

However, we all know that without new product releases, even this linkup would be worthless without Google’s innovative products. One of the first products that introduced Google to the tablet market occurred when it introduced its Nexus 7 tablet computer. Since that time, the Nexus 7 has been well-received with Google claiming to have sold approximately one million units of its tablet computer in a month. With its success, though, came increased competition from the likes of Amazon, which was forced to improve its already popular Kindle Fire model, and from Apple, which has now entered into the 7″ tablet market. This, in turn, resulted in Google introducing a new 10″ tablet branded Nexus model.

For consumers, these innovations are both good and bad. On the one hand, it means that more choices are available and perhaps price competition will make the tablets more affordable for the average consumer. However, it also means that making a decision as to which tablet is best for you could become even more confusing.

So, with this being said, it is obvious that I can’t cover all of these choices in one article; my main focus will be concentrated on Google’s newest smartphone: the Nexus 4. The Nexus 4, at a price point of just $299, is — in my opinion — a steal, and has an impressive list of features including a quad-core processor. However, it also has a major drawback in that it does not support LTE (Long Term Evolution). This major shortfall is notable since LTE is considered, by many, to be the future of 4G.

Does this mean that you should look to other tablets to meet your needs? Of course not, but this is one reason that I started to look at the Nexus 4. For me, it could mean changing from my current T-Mobile service that uses the HSPA+ network, which works well for me. I am not sure that I am willing to do that. Of course, how well even this service works will be dependent on where you live.

As of now, I have chosen to use a prepaid plan from T-Mobile that costs me $30 a month. The plan includes an amazing 5 GB of data a month and unlimited text, but is limited to only 100 minutes of talk time. Since I rarely talk on the phone, this plan is ideal for me. However, this plan did not work for my wife, who requires more talk time minutes than I do, so she chose a different T-Mobile plan. Her plan, also a $30 per month prepaid plan, gives her a combination of 1500 texts and/or talk time. She is limited, however, to only 30 MB of data usage, which is often used up quickly through automatic updates. Together, our two plans allow for almost any situation in which we may find ourselves since we each have a separate phone and, if I need to talk for any length of time, I can use her phone.

Our phones are older, though, so let me go back a little. My first experience with a quad-core processor and its Android Jelly Bean operating system was with the Nexus 7 tablet. The Nexus 7 has been a great tablet computer that runs extremely smoothly. In fact, I have never had the system — which I received a few days after the device was released — freeze up on me.

So for me, this is a no-brainer. I will just purchase Google’s Nexus 4 and then buy my SIM card from T-Mobile. However, I know that what is right for me and my situation may not be the best for you. If that is your situation, here are three other prepaid plans that are offered by other carriers:

Solavei offers mobile prepaid services starting at only $49 and includes unlimited voice, text, and data.

Straight Talk offers mobile prepaid services starting at $45 a month and includes unlimited voice, text, and data. I used Straight Talk services for over two years and was very pleased with its service. My only reason for changing to T-Mobile was the fact that T-Mobile had 4G with 5 GB of data for less.

Simple Mobile offers its prepaid plans starting at $40 a month. Its plans include unlimited voice and text, but limit you to 250 MB of data at 4G speeds.

So here is the bottom line: The Nexus 4 offers an outstanding smartphone with the latest Android operating system for a reasonable price. You can keep the carrier that works best for you, which means that I can keep my current T-Mobile plan. If you don’t already have a carrier to which you are loyal, I would highly recommend that you check out all of the services listed above to see which works best where you reside.

Comments are welcome.

Source: Android and Me

Source: Google Nexus 4

Google Field Trip is a Must Have App

Google Field Trip is a Must Have AppDuring the past decade, my wife and I have been fortunate enough to have traveled to both coasts of the United States. In our travels, mostly to visit with our children who keep moving, we have noticed that all of the various cities are unique in their own way. Every city has different restaurants (minus the traditional chain restaurants), different shops, and precious landmarks for those who are from out of town to explore. However, without a guide to direct you to points of interest, how would you find them or the places that natives to the city aren’t willing to share? Fortunately, there is now an application called Field Trip to help guide us to those secret spots and mom and pop restaurants favored by the locals.

This application is currently only available for Android users, but the developers have stated that an iOS application is in the works. So, if you are an Android user, what will this application bring to the table that would make you want to pay for it? Well, the application works in conjunction with other sources to bring users such things as locations to architectural styles of interest (like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco), historic places, and theater locations. It will also guide the tourist to examples of outdoor art, to special events of cultural interest such as luaus, and help in finding information about obscure places and happenings.

However, there are times when you may find that you are receiving too much information. In this case, the application can be fine tuned so that you will only receive the notifications of your choosing and not become overburdened with extensive texts. This feature was important to me because I believe that too much information can cause just as much confusion as too little information. I enjoy having the opportunity to choose if I want to receive the full gamut of information, just a few nudges to direct me to interesting sites, or no notifications at all.

In addition, this application will even let you choose how to view the information. One selection allows you to receive information on a map of interests or activities near where you are standing; another selection can be set to only notify you when you are near a specific location. However, for the more daring, this application can act as a GPS and provide a driver with the needed trip information. Not only that, however, but while driving, the vehicle’s passengers will be able to learn facts about the area around them that might otherwise have been missed.

My favorite part of this application, though, is its price. It is free and to use it; you simply have to download the application to your device.

This seems like a great deal to me since last year my wife and I had the opportunity to visit Boston on a day trip. As our time was so limited, we opted to take a bus tour and since we had our two grown children with us, it cost a whopping $72. Reflecting back on that, I wonder how those funds would have been spent if we had availability to this application. I know that my wife would suggest that we return to the Italian section of Boston and spend a large portion of it on the best cannoli that we have ever tasted.

While a little off the point, I have to let you know that the cannoli at this establishment cannot be compared to any other — in texture or flavor. In fact, by the time we got back to Connecticut, we really wished that we had bought extras for the following night. I do know which is better — Mike’s or Modern — but I plan on revisiting them on my next trip to Boston. I would definitely recommend that you do the same since the only thing you have to lose is a small amount of cash even though you will most likely also gain a few pounds and a couple of inches around your waistline (none of which should be avoided when it comes to cannolis).

Anyway, something as simple as finding the best cannoli can be accomplished by using this neat little application. I know that if I had installed this application before my trip, I would have been intrigued and sought the establishment out. Now, however, there is no way that I wouldn’t hunt hill and dale to find where I could purchase another cannoli that lived up to this gastronomical delight. So, if you want a heads up on such special treats, it will be worth your time to download this application to your Android device. Stay tuned, Apple users; there could come a time in the near future when it will be offered for your devices, as well.

Source: Field Trip

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by nats

Google Android: 10 Things Newbies Need to Know

Google Android: 10 Things Newbies Need to KnowLast week I was roaming about the Internet, looking for something to write about, when I discovered an article over at Mashable about Android for newbies. As I read through the list of some 20 pieces of information, I thought to myself that I could improve upon this list. So I decided to take that list of 20 items, trim it down to 10, and provide a more in-depth description of what I believe a newbie to Android would need to know.

What is Android?

Android is basically an operating system that takes the place of Microsoft’s Windows or Apple’s iOS operating systems. Google produces the basic operating system and the companies that choose to use Android may modify it (within limits) to personalize the operating system. As an example, if you purchase an Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, you will get an Amazon-modified version of Android that maximizes Amazon’s vision of its tablet and makes it easier for the consumer to use with the company’s products.

Where do you get your applications?

On most Android-powered devices, you will get your applications directly from Google Play. However, this is not always the case, because some companies — such as Amazon — limit the applications that you can install on their devices. In the case of the Kindle Fire, Amazon wants you to get your apps from Amazon and Amazon, alone. Do not panic, since both Google and Amazon offer a tremendous amount of applications that should meet all of your needs.

Why are there so many different versions of Android?

Google has been improving upon Android, just like Microsoft has improved upon Windows, over the years. To add to the confusion, Google likes to use code names to describe which operating system you are using. Gingerbread, which is currently on most smartphones, is being replaced by Ice Cream Sandwich or the latest and greatest Android operating system called Jelly Bean. Currently, Jelly Bean is the preferred Android version of choice and comes pre-installed on the Google Nexus 7.

If I buy a device using Gingerbread, will I be disappointed?

I don’t believe you will. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but over all, Gingerbread will work fine for most of your everyday activities and you won’t be disappointed. Don’t get me wrong; I really like Jelly Bean since it runs exceptionally smoothly with few problems or issues. But I also use Gingerbread on two smartphones that I own as my everyday operating system with few issues.

Are paid applications better than free applications?

This all depends on the application you are thinking about using and what you wish to accomplish on your device. Most of the applications I use on my Android phone and tablet devices are free. However, I also have purchased some paid applications, courtesy of Google. When I bought the Google Nexus 7, I received a $25 credit for the Google Play Store. I opted to purchase some applications by using the credit to supplement what I wanted to use my device for. As an example, I purchased a program called GrooveIP so that I could make calls over the Internet via Wi-Fi.

What is the best email program to use with Android?

I personally like Gmail as my email mail client since I can synchronize all of my contacts and emails from one single account. This makes my life much easier. I can receive emails on all of my devices by using just one account. I also have my primary email from my ISP and another account from MSN, and all be filtered through Gmail. For me, this system works great and I highly recommend using Gmail.

What is the best browser to use with Android?

If you are using Gingerbread, I would recommend installing the Dolphin or Opera Web browser. Either of these two browsers work better, in my opinion, than the default browser that comes with Android. If you buy a device that comes with either Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean, the choice of browsers is extremely simple. I recommend you get the Chrome browser, which can also be synchronized with your other Android and iOS devices and computer system of choice.

Can I access my Facebook and Twitter accounts using Android?

Absolutely. Both of these social networks can easily be accessed via your browser and by installing applications that support Facebook and/or Twitter with ease.

What are widgets?

You are going to love widgets and how they can help to simplify your use of Android and the operating system’s many features. Picture widgets as miniature applications that reside on your home screen. Widgets can be used to display snapshots of applications without having to open an entire app. As an example, I use a widget to view my Gmail, a widget to control my power savings features, another widget for magazine subscriptions, and the list goes on and on.

How do I use the Application Drawer?

At the bottom of your home screen, aka your main window, is a panel. The Applications Drawer is simply what Microsoft calls a Taskbar in Windows. You can access any application — or other item of your choosing from the Application Drawer — from any home screen. Think of it as a shortcut to access your stuff.

If you are an Android user, and I know many of you are, share with us what features of Android you use using. Remember that there are always people who are new to Android who can use all of the help we can give them.

Comments, as always, are welcome.

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Saad Irfan

Source: Mashable

Google Android: is It Open or Not?

Google Android: is It Open or Not?Google last week challenged a Chinese firm on the way that the company had modified the Android operating system. When this information became public, some of the first comments posted on the Internet criticized Google for the action that it took. Google later responded that the action was taken to protect the Android operating system from becoming fragmented. So what is Google worrying about, and what, exactly, is this fragmentation of Android that everyone’s talking about?

The basics of what Google is trying to do is to offer developers, companies, and consumers the exact same experience across all of the Android platforms. According to Google, all companies that wish to use the Android operating system have joined what is called the Open Handset Alliance. Acer, according to Google, is also a member of this alliance. Because of this agreement, Google has chosen to block Acer from using an Android operating system from a Chinese company that Google says has violated the terms of the alliance agreement.

Compared to companies such as Apple, Google has a more difficult task since its operating system is functioning on numerous devices. Apple has one single operating system, called iOS, that the company uses for all of its mobile devices. This includes the popular Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod products. Google is finding itself in a position similar to the one faced by Microsoft in that its operating system needs to support the hardware and software of various manufacturers. Google is now attempting to rein in these rogue Android operating systems to make them more compliant with the alliance agreement.

What is surprising to some in the technology industry is what appears to be an extremely strong stance by Google in protecting the company’s prized Android operating system. But there is more to this disagreement than meets the eye. Other Chinese companies are reducing systems that sit on top of the Android operating system, and prohibit the use of any of Google’s other services. But what is surprising is that Amazon, which also uses a system that sits on top of the Android operating system, has done this on its successful Kindle Fire tablets. So why does Amazon get away with this while Acer does not?

The answer to this question is actually very simple. Acer belongs to the alliance that Google has started while Amazon does not — which, when one thinks about it, makes no sense since both Acer and Amazon are doing the exact same thing. One is being punished while the other is not. One would be hard-pressed not to think that Google is playing favorites between an American-owned company and ones that are owned in China. It is no secret that Google has had problems with Chinese companies and the Chinese government in the past. One would hope that this is not the case and that Google is merely exercising its rights under the alliance agreement.

What do you think? Is Google in the right, or is it playing favorites between an American-owned company and a Chinese-owned company?

Comments, as always, are welcome.

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Aray Chen

Source: The Next Web

Google Search: Are Consumers Tired of Technology?

Google Search: Are Consumers Tired of Technology?There are times in our lives when we draw odd conclusions from the information to which we are privy. This could span a whole gamut of different issues from politics to which car we decide to buy. The same is true when the issue is one where we are influenced through an illusion of reality. An example of this was provided by Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic, who concluded that the user’s ability to look up certain computer terms with the Google search engine was giving way to consumer apathy in technology.

It was interesting to note that the direction for search terms that users were encouraged to choose was dependent on the term’s order of descent within the search engine. So how is this determined? The descent itself is decided by how many other people have looked for the same term. This alone, as the author was to learn, was not the only variable that could explain lower search results over the years.

Given these ideas, I began to question just how accurate search results are and if the results are inconsistent with the true picture.

In Terms of Technology Questions, Are People Questioning the Validity of the Results Provided by Google’s Search Engine?

For explanation purposes, let us take a look at the word “computer.” A decade ago, the term was usually applied to a laptop or desktop system running an operating system created by Microsoft, Apple, or one of the Linux flavors out there. Today, things are a bit more complicated, meaning that the word “computer” could be referencing any of the following:

  • Smartphone
  • Tablet
  • Netbook
  • PDA
  • Notebook
  • Laptop
  • Desktop
  • Game console

This means that, when you enter the word “computer” into your search engine, you can get results that vary and might include information about any of the above. For me, this often results in absolute frustration as I seek how to ask a question in a way that will ensure that I get the desired result.

Are People Changing Their Search Behaviors?

I know that I am not alone in feeling this frustration, but in using the word “computer” I unwittingly complicate my choices by choosing a term that is rarely used today. Knowing this, one can simplify their search by using the correct terminology. An example would be Apple’s iPad. Though an Apple iPad is a computer, per se, one considers the Apple iPad to be a tablet. Therefore, if one were looking for information about an Apple iPad, the word “tablet” would be used before “computer.” Another example is the cellphone or smartphone, which is basically a miniature computer, but is rarely referenced as such. This again means that, if you enter the word “cellphone” into a search engine, articles about cellphones and smartphones will be referenced before another site that uses the term “computer.” So, based on this criteria, users must alter their search program input to get the desired results.

Is Google Doing a Better Job at Search?

While frustrating at times, there is no doubt that, during the past decade, Google has vastly improved on the search results that are being returned. To make these improvements, Google has opened a significant number of new data centers that have dramatically improved the way that results are displayed for our perusal. In fact, not only are the results more relevant than they were in the past, but access to them is also a whole lot quicker.

How Relevant Was the Article About Search?

I think fellow Lockergnome writer and contributor Harold Johnson says it best:

Since the writer of the Atlantic article seems to have interpreted the data with their own opinion, you could do the same. I’m supposing the shift has to do with more people online and using devices that aren’t perceived (by the general consumer) as being computers.

I know that I rarely think about how ingenious my smartphone is and the fact that it is really a mini computer. Yet, given its size and all that it can do, this device is phenomenal. Why? Because this powerful little piece of technology has more processing power, works more smoothly, and has fewer issues than laptop or desktop computers. In fact, it can do just about everything (minus the word processing or video editing options), that laptops or desktop computers did just 10 years ago. Yet, on the flip side, I still manage to look at the device as a telephone rather than a computer.

What about you? How do you look at your new toys?

Comments welcome.

Source: Geek

Source: The Atlantic

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Arey Chen

Why the Google Nexus 7 Has Become My Go-to Device of Choice

Why the Google Nexus 7 Has Become My Go-to Device of ChoiceLike many of you who spend your time reading the informative articles here at LockerGnome, you most likely have a large assortment of devices at your disposal. I know that my personal arsenal is extensive, including three laptop personal computers, one desktop personal computer, two Android-powered cellphones, an Apple iPad, an Amazon Kindle Fire, and now a Google Nexus 7. However, I should clarify that the Apple iPad is actually my wife’s prized possession and the only time I get to use it is when something of mine doesn’t work right.

From the onset of this article, I must admit that I am biased when it comes to the 7″ size factor. My bias began when I first purchased the Amazon Kindle Fire, which was first released last year. At that time I became immediately mesmerized with its lighter weight and found the 7″ size fit my needs better than the smaller screen of a cellphone or the larger bulkiness of a 10″ tablet. However, even when other devices offer the advantages of a 7″ size, I find that there are two things about the Nexus 7 that other tablets will find hard to beat:

  • The 7″ Nexus is the perfect size to slip in the back pocket of a pair of jeans, making it a breeze to transport.
  • Price, price, price. At $199, the Nexus 7 is 50% less than the Apple iPad 2.

What I Like About the Nexus 7

When I bought the Nexus 7 I thought to myself that it would just be a replacement device for my Amazon Kindle Fire: no more, no less. However, this all changed in a hurry when I received my device. First, surfing on the Amazon Kindle Fire was painfully slow. In fact, I noticed it most when I used applications intended to assist me in searching for article ideas that I could write about here at LockerGnome. One of the problems with these searches using my Amazon Kindle Fire was that, while it was okay to read a book on the clarity of its screen, when it came to websites, it was less than optimum — and this is where the Nexus 7 shines. In fact, the quality of the Nexus 7 makes reading anything and everything easy due to its screen clarity.

How Did the Nexus 7 Become My Go-to Device of Choice?

First, surfing was enhanced since the Nexus 7 is available with the Chrome browser that syncs seamlessly with any other browsers you may have installed on other devices or computers. Unfortunately, however, the Chrome browser is only available for installation on Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean powered devices. This is a selling point to me as my devices use both Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean themes, and I have always found the Chrome browser to be fast and easy. In fact, it actually mimics what I do on my desktop computer, relieving me of the need to maneuver my large laptop when I wish to browse the Internet while watching the evening news.

The next advantage that I find in using the Nexus 7 is that it is great for streaming media from applications like Netflix. It shines in this area because, no matter where I am, the screen is big enough and clear enough to make streaming enjoyable. Of course it helps that my 4G-enabled smartphone allows me to connect even if there is no Wi-Fi connection available.

Next, I found a case/keyboard (see links below) combination for $12 that has converted the Nexus 7 into a full-fledged typing machine. Even when I am away from my laptop computer, I can log onto Google Docs to either start a new article or edit an article in progress, thus freeing me from the restraints of being strapped to the hefty weight of a laptop computer. This unique little case/ keyboard also works to provide ample protection for the Nexus 7 unit itself.

But the greatest benefit as far as I am concerned is that Google and its newest Android OS, Jelly Bean, is a pleasure to use. In fact, this innovative OS allows me to read my email, surf the Internet, listen to audio, or stream video using a powerful device that is small enough to carry in my back pocket or, if I choose, within the protection of a case/keyboard. Amazing as it may seem, I have actually found that in recent weeks I have been using my Nexus 7 more often than I have been using either my laptop or smartphone.

If you own a Nexus 7 device, share your user experience with us.

Comments welcome.

Source: SANOXY USB 2.0 Female to Micro USB Male OTG(On-The-Go) Cable Adapter

Source: 7″ Tablet Stand with USB Keyboard — Black Faux Leather Carrying Case

You will need both the case/keyboard and OTG adapter to work with your Nexus 7. Prices for these products are subject to change. When I purchased both products, the pricing was $12 for both and included free shipping. Today (August 21, 2012), when I looked up the price for the products, pricing for both was under $10.

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by johnbiehler

How Google Has Helped America’s Brick and Mortar Businesses

Surprising statistics indicate, according to Google, that Internet searches are actually contributing to the bottom line of brick and mortar businesses around the globe. In fact, Google’s statistics suggest that the average American alone will spend some $2000 a year, contributing to some $500 Billion in annual sales at an offline marketplace after first researching the desired product or service via the World Wide Web.

How Many People Who Look Online Buy Offline?

It is estimated that this strategy, which I have occasionally favored, is used by approximately 97% of Americans. However, in my case, I buy from brick and mortar businesses only when it is cheaper, faster, or the business offers an incentive. In other words, when it comes to my personal choice of when and how to make a purchase, it all depends on what we are looking to purchase. For example, my family has taken advantage of Groupon deals. These deals are offered online by local businesses, for limited time periods, in an attempt to promote their products or services. In addition, we have also researched and/or ordered many online products through Walmart.com and, while some of these could have been shipped to our home, there have been many others that we had to purchase or pick up at our local Walmart store. In fact, this happened just this last week when I wanted to purchase a Samsung II Exhibit cellphone for the T-Mobile network. As I surfed the Internet to find the best deal, I discovered that, while Amazon wanted $198.00 for this particular phone, I could purchase the same cellphone at a brick and mortar Walmart store for $175.00. It was enough of an incentive to get me into my car and make the five-minute drive. However, my shopping preference, in most cases, is to buy using my Prime account from Amazon.

How Will the Internet Change by the Year 2016?

How Google Has Helped America's Brick and Mortar BusinessesSince the first domain was registered back in 1985, the Internet hasn’t stopped growing. In fact, it is predicted that, by the year 2016, the following additional changes will take place:

  • There will be three billion people using the Internet, which is about half of the entire world’s population.
  • The Internet economy will have expanded, with the G-20 countries ranking as the fifth largest economy in the world just behind the US, China, Japan, and India.
  • The expansion of the Internet could be the biggest global explosion in individual consumer and business wealth since the Industrial Revolution.
  • Mobile devices will account for about four out of five connections to broadband Internet services.

If one were to read into this last prediction, it could prove to be a death knell or, at least, a nail in the coffin of a dying PC market.

How Easy is It to Get Your Business Online?

So, as people scurry to find the most cost-effective means to market their products and services, how difficult is it to get your business set up with an online site? To address this issue, and to make it easier for consumers and businesses to get online, Google has set up a website in conjunction with a host of other businesses to get you up and running quickly. In fact, after studying what GYBO (Get Your Business Online) had to offer, I can see no reason why any business would be unable to get online, especially when made aware of how it could potentially help to increase foot traffic at a brick and mortar business.

Here is what GYBO has to offer for business owners:

  • Easy-to-follow instructions.
  • Free Web hosting.
  • A free custom-designed domain name.
  • Free training and free tools for you to use.

However, before you just dive in, you need to know some of the ins and outs of what is required in order to get these freebies. Here is some of what you will need to set up your free website:

  • You must either register for or have a Google account.
  • You must provide a valid credit card number. This is set up to identify who you are in case someone tries to pirate your domain name.
  • After the first year you will be charged $2 a month for the domain name and $4.99 a month for Web hosting.
  • Only the first 30 days includes free email support.

As I glanced through all of this information, I decided to see what percentage of businesses were not currently represented by an online presence. To do this, I went through the business directories, provided from a dozen different states, and was surprised to learn that over 50% of businesses have no Web presence. This truly amazed me, since one would think that any business in today’s economy, even the mom and pop variety, would recognize the importance of offering products online. In fact, it seems to me that not to have this presence tells consumers, albeit by omission, that the business doesn’t need them. Remember, especially in a larger town, these consumers may not even know that a business that chooses not to have a website even exists. If a business isn’t listed, it could very well lose the opportunity to make a sale or to provide a service.

I do understand that cost and training is always a concern, but if you own a business and you use GYBO, you should be able to market your product and perhaps increase your sales enough to afford the future cost.

Comments welcome.

Source: Google Blog

Source: bcg.perspectives

Source: GYBO

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by SEOPlanter

Google Nexus 7: How Accurate Are Defect Reports?

Google Nexus 7: How Accurate Are Defect Reports?Are the reported defects surrounding Google’s new Nexus 7 true, or just something being rehashed for lack of something better to write about? This is the question I posed to Chris last Sunday afternoon when I suggested writing this article. My premise was that, if a search is made on the Internet referencing the topic, one finds a slew of reports concerning the same seven issues. Suspiciously, however, many of the reports/reviews that have been written appear to be just a rehashing of information that can be found on the Internet and don’t support the claim that an author has any personal experience with the product. With this in mind, what are the complaints on which these reviewers are agreeing?

The seven main issues being reported are:

  • It appears that there is a screen separation accompanied by a creaking noise when one pushes on the screen.
  • There is a backlight bleeding issue that one doesn’t usually see on tablets costing more than $100.
  • There are charging problems due to an apparently faulty micro USB charging port.
  • There are touch screen detection issues that usually occur when the user is involved in extreme game play requiring multiple screen gestures.
  • There appear to be areas of the screen that are unclear due to dead screen pixels.
  • The screen flickers — a problem that is being blamed on the light auto sensor.
  • The microphone is DOA.

When I spoke to Chris on Sunday about this article, he informed me that his Nexus 7 unit was experiencing the screen flickering issue. He had not decided as of this writing whether to return the unit or not.

In reference to the first issue of screen separation, the xda-developers forum has provided a fix. However, the fix requires the user to pry off the back of their brand new Google Nexus 7 and tighten all of the screws. This is something I can’t wait to do to my newly purchased unit, especially since two problems immediately jump to mind. What happens if:

  • I accidentally break something inside the case while applying this fix; would I void the warranty?
  • The fix doesn’t work or if the problem recurs?

The unit I purchased displayed this issue and I chose to return the unit rather than take a chance at voiding my warranty. I am now patiently waiting for a replacement.

Due to my own experience, I was interested in an unscientific poll that the xda-developers forum put out asking its readers if they were experiencing screen separation. To date, the poll has received 355 responses with the following results:

  • No: 209 (58.87%)
  • Yes: 146 (41.13%

However, like with all polls and/or reports, the problems with the Google Nexus 7 may be exaggerated. It could also be that other competitors are allowing their sales representatives to write articles in an attempt to discourage consumers from buying the product. These writers, as well as those who just enjoy throwing a monkey wrench into the buying process, are known throughout the Internet as trolls. These trolls intentionally write either glowing reviews about a product for financial gain or they can write inaccurate or negative reviews about a service or product to the same effect. With this in mind, a purchaser who is really scouting for the perfect product must first determine the truthfulness of the reports.

So, in order to follow my own advice, I asked my fellow Gnomies if they had experienced any problems with the Nexus 7. Here are a few of their responses:

Williams R. Reynolds Young: No problems here. Not being a huge tablet fan, I wouldn’t say that I am in love with the device, but I love the form, factor, and price — it’s a no-brainer!

Chris Pirillo: Mine was flickering — the company has offered to replace it. Unsure if I wanna go that far.

After reading his comment, I made mention that he could try to go into the settings area and turn off the Automatic Brightness, to which I received this response:

David Di Franco, Jr.: I did this right away. It makes a huge difference.

Unfortunately, however, while David was pleased with this improvement, he found another issue that didn’t have such an easy solution.

David Di Franco, Jr.: The left side of my bezel sometimes makes a slight clicking noise. You can feel it moving a bit. However, it’s nothing too bad — just slightly disappointing.

As you can imagine, after reading all of the complaints, my immediate reaction was that I regretted buying the Google Nexus 7 so soon after its release. Perhaps I should have waited a few months until Google and ASUS got the bugs worked out of this new system. However, I have purchased products before, like the Amazon Kindle Fire, that were new to the market and had some bugs that resulted in consumer complaints. For example, the Fire has been labeled as clunky, heavy, and poorly designed, without Bluetooth, a USB port, or a volume switch. Some users also complained that they had trouble getting onto the Internet via Wi-Fi, and still others took issue with the Kindle’s picture quality.

However, Amazon had been producing various Kindle products prior to the release of the Kindle Fire; as a result, the company had the know-how and experience to quickly repair some of these issues via updates. One cannot help but recall the famous Antennagate in which the Apple iPhone 4 was problematic when it came to connecting to various carriers. For this issue, Apple provided all owners with a free bumper case to fix the problems.

With that being said, we all know that no company is infallible. Remember, ASUS (the manufacturer of the Nexus 7) as well as Google have a lot riding on the success of this new tablet. Knowing this, one would have thought that most, if not all, of the design flaws would have been worked out. I hope, for Google’s sake, that the problems being reported don’t turn into an epidemic of complaints resulting in the Nexus 7 becoming a pariah in the tablet computer market. If this happens, and if Amazon does come out with the rumored five or six new Kindle Fire 2s, or if an Apple iPad mini becomes a reality, Google can forget about tablets and give up any hope of competing in the tablet market.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

PS Yesterday afternoon, a replacement Google Nexus 7 arrived. I will be checking it out during the next week and will do a follow-up report on whether I discover any issues or not.

Source: PC Magazine

Source: xda-developers forum

Source: xda-developers poll

Updated Google OS: Why You Will Like It

Updated Google OS: Why You Will Like ItOn April 16, 2012, I wrote an article, New Google Chrome OS: Admission of a Mistake? in which I stated that it appeared that Google had given up on the idea of a browser-only operating system. At the time, I also mentioned my disappointment with Google for not offering the new OS to those of us who own the Cr-48 laptop systems. However, I did understand that, since Google had graciously given these computers to us for free, it had no obligation to keep them updated with additional free software. Nonetheless, at the time I was disappointed. Then, approximately three weeks ago, it appears that Google had rethought its decision and did a flip-flop, offering me a new updated operating system. However, there was one restriction in order to receive the new update. I had to select the Developer build at the time from which I chose to try out the beta (aka test) versions of the OS.

Knowing that this was a test version, I found myself somewhat leery and thus reluctant to install the update since, for the most part, the original OS worked OK. When I say that, I mean that it was OK for surfing the Internet, checking emails, and doing an occasional article here at LockerGnome using the Google Docs software. To me, the plus of the Cr-48 is that its lighter than my 17″ laptop, and I am able to take this unique little computer with me when I travel. However, in my opinion, the Cr-48 and, I would guess, most Chromebooks in general, have one major flaw. This flaw revolves around their filing systems, which are just about non-existent, or, if in existence, are difficult to use. The latter was evident with the Cr-48 that came equipped with a card reader slot. However, the process required to copy to or from the disk was a major chore and a pain in the rump.

What I found with the new OS, however, was how much Google has fixed on the original beta version. First and foremost, this is how the new Google Chrome OS (Aura) looks today:

Updated Google OS: Why You Will Like It

For those of you who are viewing this for the very first time, you may wonder why this is such a dramatic change. To understand the difference, you have to realize that prior to this update, the user only had a browser as an interface; there were no other options available. Now, as you can see from the screenshot above, the Google Chrome OS now resembles Windows, complete with a taskbar, desktop, clock, Internet connection icon, and settings icon.

But there is more. Here, you can clearly see that the new Chrome OS also has a bit of Android on board:

Updated Google OS: Why You Will Like It

So what makes all of this so sweet?

  • The entire operating system is now more intuitive and easier to grasp.
  • There is a hint of Microsoft Aero Glass.
  • The translucent features, both on top and bottom, are a nice touch.
  • Google has also borrowed the Windows snap feature.
  • The Title bar has an X button to close the window and a square button to maximize the window. Sound familiar? It should, since all of what is being made available has been around for Windows, OS X, and Linux for years.

So why am I recommending the new Google Chrome OS, when previously I thought it was just a gimmick?

First and foremost, Google has improved its file transfer system so that it no longer poses the nightmare scenario that previously existed. For display purposes, I am including a screen shot of files that I have copied over to an SD card or USB drive, which can now be moved to Google Drive with ease. With this improvement, Google also updated its software, making it possible to open documents in Google Docs and photographs in Picasa.

Updated Google OS: Why You Will Like It

Over all, with the improvements made to the new Aura interface, you will find that they are a vast improvement over the previous limited abilities of the originally released Google Chrome OS. So, while it took Google 18 months, it may surprise some to realize that all it did was to make the new Aura a simple emulation of Windows, OS X, and Linux. Is this change just a little too late to enable the company to catch up with the tablet craze or even Microsoft’s new Windows 8?

Here is my personal opinion of what the future is going to hold for consumers.

  • Tablets will continue to be favored by consumers over other devices.
  • Apple will continue its domination of the tablet market.
  • Windows 8 is being made for the enterprise sector in an attempt, by Microsoft, to keep others like Apple away from its cash cow.
  • Google and Microsoft must accept the fact that (whether it be Windows 8, Google Chrome OS, or Android), they can only expect limited success in the consumer market when introducing tablet products.

This further means that, if Apple actually comes out with the rumored 7″ Apple iPad (as some rumors suggest), it can only expect to further strengthen its hold on the consumer dollar. An additional marketing tool would be if the company could reduce the cost for this mini-computer to the $25 range, thus making it more affordable for the vast majority of consumers who would wish to own one.

Just my two cents. What do you think?

Comments welcome.

CC licensed Flickr photo at the top of the page shared by michperu

KegDroid: Google’s Answer to the Self-Serve Beer Dispenser

KegDroid: Google's Answer to the Self-serve Beer DispenserOver the years, Google has used its technology to change the way that we perceive the future. As a result, it seems that Google, with its introduction of new technology and experiments in futuristic ideas, is constantly finding itself newsworthy.

One of these noteworthy experiences occurred when it opened its Mountain View campus where, instead of using fuel-based lawnmowers, it brought in a herd of goats to keep the grass cut. While at this campus, the company’s out-of-the-box thinking quickly turned it into the leading search engine on the Web. However, it wasn’t satisfied with remaining stagnant and has expanded from merely being a search engine company to becoming its own software developer (think Android and Chrome). Google continues taking the world by storm.

One of its newest software programs is called KegDroid. It was invented by Paul Carff, one of Google’s technology staff. When I first looked at the information provided by Google for this app I was curious how this beer dispenser could be used outside of the home. I determined that for those of us who drink domestic beers, such as Bud or Bud Light, the KegDroid could be used to verify identity in states that require verification before alcohol can be dispensed. I am not referring to areas where law requires the showing of ID to determine one’s age, but rather states like Texas that require you join a club before hoisting a cold one.

My first experience with this concept occurred one evening when my son-in-law and I stopped at a local drinking spot for a burger and a beer. Upon arriving and placing my order, I found that this particular area of Texas required that I fill out a club membership card and present a valid ID prior to being served. Needless to say that, being a Californian, I found the system odd; it had been a good many years since anyone had asked for my ID before allowing me to down a cold one. With that being said, most of you can understand how a technology guru like me might wonder why, in this modern day of computers, anyone would rely on such an archaic system to simply let someone drink a beer with their meal. Bars could find the KegDroid a real asset as it would take the responsibility of identity verification out of the hands of the bartender.

So what is KegDroid and how does it work?

KegDroid is basically an automated beer dispenser that works by identifying you through an ID card system of your choosing. The beer dispenser operates using the Google Android OS and comes complete with a Xoom tablet system.

KegDroid

Once you have cleared your identity with the KegDroid, the machine, which is filled with beer and has a microprocessor, controls the dispensing of the beer. Under the KegDroid is a refrigerator that holds the chilled beer containers and other associated hardware. From the video below, it appears that the KegDroid is fairly straightforward, allowing you to select the type of beer you wish and the size of container you are using. After that, you just pull the handle and the beer is dispensed into the container.

Some suggestions to improve the KegDroid:

  • Include an IF chip right on the glass.
  • The reader should be in front of the handle.
  • Increase the size of the refrigeration unit to hold more brews.

I realize that these modifications may have already been thought of since the KegDroid is a prototype and that means that additional improvements will be forthcoming. Given that, I can see where the KegDroid could become a fixture at any busy bar for the self-service members of the crowd who wish to help themselves to a glass of beer. If this were made available, it would prevent bar lines and/or the need to  stand around for a wait-person or bartender during those times when a bar may be packed with patrons. It would most likely also increase bar profits since people wouldn’t get tired of waiting and leave. It is also feasible to assume that the bar would be able to cut the number of waitresses needed to care for patrons, thus reducing overhead costs for the owner.

Futuristically, I can further envision a KegDroid or similar device being equipped with an ID scanner and credit card reader to make your purchase of a beer even more hassle-free.

Is this farfetched? I don’t think so. After all, we have all become accustomed to serving ourselves and an automated beer dispenser will be just one more self-service option to add to our lives. I personally believe that this approach to beer dispensing is not only novel but also one that, with its cool, feature-rich appearance, would be easily accepted by the public. Over all, I think that the KegDroid is something that would attract customers and one that I believe could easily be adapted for use in any pub.

I have to note, however, that the KegDroid does have some competition. Its competitor, also in the prototype phase, is called the KegBot Project. This beer dispenser also uses Android technology to operate the beer dispenser. This project, however, is just that. It appears to be a do-it-yourself type of project for which you can order parts and plans to build your own fully functional computerized keg dispenser.

Is a computer-operated keg going to be part of your life?

Comments welcome.

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Greencolander