Thursday, December 17, 2009

Call Me Windows, Call Me Nuts!


Let me first state that I'm impressed and generally satisfied with my Windows 7 64-bit experience. It is indeed a much better operating system than we've seen from Microsoft since DOS....

Now that the honeymoon is over, I see some of the same unstable behaviors of Windows past. I'm convinced Windows has multiple personality disorder. Has the constant inbreeding finally caught up? (All in good fun, folks)!

  • A little over a week ago after a reboot forced by an OS update, my media card reader went belly up. The infamous error 43. Though it is well discussed in forum after forum, I was unable to solve this problem. I spent over two hours working through solutions found on forums and Microsoft's support site. No joy. I had accepted the fact that the 7 media card reader built into my PC had been rendered useless and that I would have to purchase an external reader and burn another USB port. Hold on this this thought...
  • About 3 or 4 weeks ago my system experienced grey screens of death. Nothing on the screen but a dark grey color and no response from the system. The only solution was a hard off and reboot. This problem only happened twice during a week period.
  • About 3 or 4 weeks ago I started experiencing a problem where my network connections would fail after about 3 days of uptime. Disabling or diagnosing the network adapter would not revive connections. Even command line updates to the connections were of no use. A reboot was always required to clear up the problem. 
  • This morning the network connection issue occurred and I restarted Windows. Well, I tried to restart - it hung shutting down. I was patient, waited 10 minutes, then did a hard kill. Here is the crazy part.... while it was booting Windows now decided "hey, you have a media reader. let me install device drivers for that"! So after almost 2 weeks of having a disabled media reader Windows has decided that it might be a device that was important to me. I plugged in a media card and, holy cow, it worked!
The media card issue is puzzling since it had been working for months in Windows 7. I can't say it was a MS problem but the USB device stopped working after a recent Windows update. During the time it was disabled, I've booted 6 or 7 times but it was not until this morning during a failed shutdown, hard kill, and reboot that Windows 7 decided to reinstall drivers.

If I acted this way around friends, family, and colleagues they would have me locked up for being nuts and rightly so. As a developer, I understand the complexity of the systems we work on but these behaviors puzzle me. Especially the inconsistency of it all. Again, I'm relatively happy with Windows 7. The types of applications I run are wonderful under a 64-bit OS.

When you're around nuts it is best to grin, bear it, and enjoy the ride.

(photo by Pink Sherbet Photography)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Droid and iTunes


Just watched this video and learned a few things about copying iTunes music over to the Droid. Watch the video for more details but here are some things I learned:

  • Add the "Kind" column to a view to quickly determine what in your library is protected by DRM. If you see Protected AAC then you know it will not play on the Droid. Note: There are illegal ways to unprotect but another is shown below.
  • Once you connect your Droid to your computer, you can drag songs directly from iTunes into the music directory on your Droid. Didn't know about that one...
  • iTunes has an option for removing DRM from music you purchased from iTunes. If you click iTunes Store, then on the top right click iTunes Plus, that will open up a page that will provide you with the cost for iTunes to remove DRM. I knew you could purchase non-protected music but I was not aware you could purchase an option to remove protection from an existing collection.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

How My Droid Does


A number of friends that are considering buying a Droid have been asking me about the applications that I use and would recommend. To save myself some time I thought I would just create a blog post on what I'm using rather than repeat the discussion over and over. How's that for efficient collaboration!


I spent some time with weather widgets/applications from both The Weather Channel and Weather Bug and I've gone with WeatherBug. I think WeatherBug has the best UI of the bunch and the widget is awesome. It is free and more information can be found here.

Blog Reading (RSS)

I use Google Reader for all my blog aggregation and though Google Reader works perfectly in the Android browser I found one particular UI issue to be troubling. You can read about that experience in my earlier blog post "Uh Oh, Bad UI Design?"

I found an Android application that provides blog aggregation and does so by hooking into your existing Google Reader account. Perfect! It provides an Android tuned UI while interacting while keeping Google Reader in sync. It is called NewsRob and is free.


Again, the built in Facebook application is fine for most but it is lacking in some areas. It seems that most people are very happy with an application called Bloo and I gave it a whirl. It is working very well for me and I'm amazed at how frequently the application is updated. Especially being that this is also a free application.


There are a number of good twitter applications such as twidroid and the new Android application from Seesmic. I tried twidroid first and gave Seesmic a try but my personal tastes lean toward twidroid and I'm very happy with it as an application. It also provides a fast pace of updates including new features and fixes.

Those are my list of go to applications and are used most frequently. Others that I use and would recommend include:
  • TripIt - if you have a TripIt account this is a very nice application for travelers.
  • Google Sky - a lot of fun for the wow factor!
  • Quickpedia - An application that provides wikipedia in a more Android friendly format.
  • ShopSavvy - too cool! Just scan a bar code of something you are thinking about purchasing and it will provide you a listing of best prices either locally or on the internet. For local finds you can then use Google Navigation to take you there :-)
  • Places Directory - uses your location to help you find places such as coffee shops, banks, places to eat, etc.
  • Pandora - for those of you that use Pandora for music listening this will hook you up on the Android.
  • WiFi Buddy - to manage your WiFi connections
  • PhoneFlicks - manager your Netflix queue on the Android

I'll update this over time and provide more details on some of those other applications.