Thursday, 17 November 2011

What Is The Point Of The Kindle Fire?

What exactly is the Kindle Fire for? It seems to be a low spec Android Tablet. Cheap, yes, but low spec. Why not just get a proper Android tablet and run the Kindle App? I just don't get it. It's not a full on tablet. Nor is it an e-book reader - with a battery life of eight hours I can't call it an e-book. What good is that? If you go into the wilds on holiday, you can only read for eight hours before you're back to buying paper books. Not good. Not good at all.

Now the idea of an e-book, that pretty much acts like a book, doesn't do anything fancy but has a battery life of a month? Now there's an idea...

Me, I'll be keeping my Asus Transformer with the Kindle App. Mind you, having slagged off the Fire, I am actually quite interested in getting myself a kindle e-book reader - and by that I mean their e-book reader not the 'it's not an e-book reader nor is it an Android tablet' Fire.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Google Plus? Is It Ready For Prime Time?

Don't get me wrong I think Google Plus is a brilliant concept. 'Circles', the very core of the concept, is an excellent idea. I like the way you can target photos and 'tweets' to certain 'circles'. The associated Android app is cool too. Photos instantly uploadable - if you choose. No hassle, they just appear in your 'plus' ready to be shared to your circles. I like the 'clean-ness'. No fuss. No clutter. Just easy to access, easy to share, social interactions.

I can't see my folks ever getting on Facebook and to be honest, I'm not sure I'd want them there. Some of the stuff I post is.... only postable beyond the watershed. Now, I know there are ways - at least I think there are -  of limiting the publishing of stuff to certain groups of friends and family but - and this is quite a big butt (which I do indeed like, and I cannot lie), coming from someone who is decidedly on the geeky side of life -  I'm not really sure how and as it's not straightforward and in your face, I can't be arsed to find out how. So I avoid friend requests from the inner sanctum of family as I don't think they can't take what I post. Only the cool members of the family are allowed in.

Google Plus and its circles is, on the other hand, simple and I could see my family coping with it. Sharing photos of special occasions. Arranging get togethers. I can see that working and the ability to simply post certain things to certain circles is fantastic. I hope it works, I really do, but do I think it will? Sadly, no - but I really really do hope I'm wrong. What it needs. What it really really needs is API access. The ability for developers to hook into allowing posts from there software is absolutely crucial. I want to post once - write many. When I post, I want it to disperse to all my social streams in one shot. At the moment I have to make a special effort to post to Google Plus by itself, having already posted (possibly) to Twitter and Facebook. That inevitably means not all my posts go to Google because, well, I can't be arsed - which is a shame for Google. I want this thing to work, so come on the big G. Pull your finger out...

Thursday, 7 July 2011

New Blogger?

Well it looks like Blogger Dashboard has gone and got itself a Plus style update - didn't see that coming. Looks tidy. I've always felt the Blogger dashboard looked like a bolt on to the rest. Now it has some of the panache of the Plus and the rest of the updated interfaces. Not sure it's completely on the button but certainly headed towards the unified look and feel of the 'new' Google. So far so good and I like it...

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Plus Or Minus

The news has been awash - or should that be aBuzz - with Google Plus, the new social ecosystem from Google and I'm looking forward to seeing how it hooks in with all the other Google services. I do have one fear that all my eggs are finding there way into one super large basket. It's not a big concern but it does need consideration.

I like the idea of a simplified interface verses the bloat of Facebook. The recent updates that Big G has been effecting across it's services look clean, uncluttered and uniform. Google Plus promises that same uncluttered look. Facebook, on the other hand, has too much bloatware going on. What is it with all the 'apps' ? Is it me or is all theat bloat just total crud? I want to use my social network to connect to friends, chat, message, post up the odd photo from an event and arrange the odd night out. End of. To that effect the Google experiment, from what I've manage to glimpse - and admittedly, that ain't much - ticks the boxes.

The big problem as I see it is, can we all really tempt our friends, our networks of interlinked social streams off Facebook into Google+ quickly enough? To be effective you need to be able to interact with your social groups in a single interaction. It's no good having to post once to Google+ and then again to Facebook. That just won't work. I'm sure someone will come up with some way to link the networks but I'm doubting it'll be easy.

Having said all that, if Facebook simplified their offering, stripped out the chaff and left the wheat there'd be no market for Google to try and break into. As it is, there is and I for one hope it works. The main question - will enough of us move across quickly enough to make the whole thing work? - once plus comes out of beta, of course, for those of us still waiting for an invite...

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

I Love My Transformer

Quite simply, after spending a few more days with the ASUS Transformer, I'm loving it. The keyboard is the key. I can go off piste with the pad but to be able to dock it and type at near full speed is glorious. Total tops.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Couldn't Hold Off Honeycomb Any Longer

For the most part I've been happy with my Archos 101. I knew it was never going to be the ultimate tablet - you don't expect that for the price I paid - and after the initial couple of firmware upgrades the responsiveness and usability of the device was sufficient for simple browsing from the sofa. There were always a few instances, when I wanted something done where I knew the Archos just wouldn't cut it and I'd fire up the netbook to get the job done. Primarily this related to areas involving typing - or rather the requirements for lots of it. The other area where I found myself reaching for the netbook was major browsing sessions. Sometimes when I needed to fire up lots of pages and multiple searches I just found it plain quicker - and therefore easier - to get the job done on the netbook. Now I like my gadgets but I just didn't feel I could justify an upgrade to one of the new bread of Honeycomb tablets. I didn't feel they offered enough advances over what I could do with my current Archos to warrant spending so much. Then one day all that changed. The Transformer had caught my eye and I couldn't resist its charm...

Now this isn't going to be a big review. Barely a review at all really. More a statement that the usability of the ASUS Transformer - packaged with the keyboard dock - is a logarithmical improvement over my 101. For the last two days I've not needed to reach for the netbook. Ive not even been close to needing to. The usability in its pure tablet form is great. I don't think Honeycomb has huge changes as compared to Froyo but the sum of all the little things add to give a massive improvement in usability - and it all works silky smooth. Yes, there's the odd force close and there aren't a huge number of Honeycombed apps just yet but that will no doubt improve rapidly. Video performance is cracking - and I'm not comparing this to other Honeycomb tabs just my old 101. Just to say Youtube stuff plays jerk free.

Then, of course, we come to the keyboard dock and this is where things step up a notch. Attaching the tablet into the dock is painless and then cue netbook style typing. It's not a full size keyboard but you can get a decent enough type rate going. Once docked, the browsing experience is truly laptop like and there in lies the reason why I've not needed to reach for the netbook. A word on the stock browser, it's good. The ASUS mod to allow setting the user string thing to 'Desktop' without requiring the about:debug effort is a real boon. I almost can't tell the difference between browsing on the Transformer and using Chrome Browser on my netbook. (Although to be fair I have installed Dolphin HD for the tabbed interface - my mistake, the stock browser does indeed have tabbed browsing - but not when you turn on the 'quick control' options from the labs menu - but I still somehow prefer Dolphin).

All in all I give it 10 out of 10 and flushes away all my guilt from spending the money when I already had a Android tablet. The Transformer is light years ahead of the Froyo experience. It'll get an 11 once there are a few more Honeycomb purposed apps out there in the market...

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Still A Long Waze To Go

I decided to give the Android navigation app, Waze, another go. I came away sadly disappointed. It has improved little - at least here in the UK. The map, which is pretty much key to the product, is massively lacking. Yes, I can see improvement in the large urban areas and yes, it does now manage to route me close to point to point, however, due to the poor map, unconnected roads still lead to '10 mile trips' to drive half a mile down the road. That means you just can't use it for navigation and thus the main feature of the product is a big fat fail.

It is a such a shame the developer didn't use OpenStreetMaps. So blinkered on getting their own map. At the rate it's going they will never have a sufficiently complete map of the UK for it to work. It's classic chicken and egg. You need users to build the map but if the navigation doesn't work people will just use Google Navigator instead, and the map won't improve. It's been over a year since I last tried Waze and it hasn't really got any more usable.

It really is a crying shame. The concept and way traffic data is crowd source is genius. Real time traffic is just what you need to optimise the commute. Sadly it just doesn't cut it as a navigation solution. If only they'd used OpenStreetMap.


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Looks Like Ordnance Survey Is On The Microsoft Payroll

It's a shame government bodies opt for the dark side and join the Galactic Empire. Just once I wish they would join the Rebel Alliance. Alas Ordnance Survey have sided with the Sith as their new - and initially very exciting looking - Getamap online service relies on the niche MS Silverlight plugin. A low cost subscription based service that allows you plan routes and print them, including itinerary etc.

What's wrong with open web standards. Hello, HTML5? Have you not heard about it? Silverlight is so last decade. I guess the men at the top are on a finders fee direct from King Bill - nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more. Why else would you close down your product and exclude non-microsoft operating systems....

Sadly, another opportunity missed, and I find it a crying shame. For a few moments I was really excited, it looked a great tool - they even had the cheek to send me an email telling me all about it. As an Ubuntu user I'm basically f*&ked. The token gesture of Moonlight won't cut it.

So it looks like a rename might be in order - 'GetAMap But Only If You're A Microsoft User, The Rest Of You Are Screwed' - guess that's not quite so catchy.

On the brightside I suppose I'll be saving myself the £30 subscription fee - so it's not all bad...

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Joli OS

Haven't posted in a while so I thought I'd give a brief review of my experience with Joli OS. And before we begin, the one thing I don't really like is the new name but I'll let that slide.

Joli OS's new Google Docs connection in the File Browser is quite simply brilliant. OK, so it doesn't provide anything that viewing Google Docs in the browser doesn't but the interface is great. The unified way you access cloud storage in the form of Dropbox and now Google Docs really refines Joli OS into what I consider is the best Cloud OS of them all. The ability to run native apps if required together with a simple install, single login and bam, there it is, all your apps synchronised, access to cloud storage and all with no configuration required. One account. One cloud OS to rule them all. And since the last update to version 1.2 even the access through the browser (and I can only speak for Chrome) is seamless.

Prior to finding Joli OS 1.2 I used to go through a bit of a long winded process to configure DropBox using a series of soft-links to my SD card on my netbook just in case I needed a re-install the operating system, which has been known once or twice. Now I don't need to bother. I don't download and sync to my disk at all since it's been integrated into the Joli OS file browser. It works great. And now with Google Docs added to the mix the process of access to files and docs is becoming evermore seamless.

When I need to setup a new machine - or reconfigure/install my current one - I just install Joli OS. Login and bam, there it is. All my links are just there. Google Docs, DropBox... ready to type and go. Simples.

Can't wait for the next step - drag and drop between DropBox and Google Docs. Joli OS will be awesome when that happens. As it is I find it pretty bloody good. I reckon they should rename it JoliGOOD.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Joli-well Failed

I've been really pleased how responsive Jolicloud has been on my Acer AspireOne but the last month has been FAIL. I upgraded to version 1.1 without issue but a month or so ago I released I'd had no updates. Normally ever week or so there would be the odd small update but for over a month, nothing, nada, zip.

So I decided to click the 'update' button manually and there in lines the problem - or part of it. None of the top bar icons did anything except pop up the 'Waiting for' message in the bottom left corner and then nothing would work. Doing a refresh - pressing F5 - would get me the apps back operational but each time I clicked on any of the top icons - including the 'shutdown' icon - up would come the 'waiting...' where up on the only option to recover would be an F5 refresh.

The browsing works OK and the speed is probably as good as it ever was but it is annoying that I can't keep the thing up to date. I'm sure there have been updates. Using apt-get shows no updates either. Can't believe there's been no updates. So in an attempt to cure I am re-installing. Fingers crossed...

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Android Tablet Pricing - Are They Mental?

Blimey, I've just seen some early rss, blog and news feeds suggesting the prices for some upcoming Android Tablets from the likes of HTC and Motorola. Are they stark raving mad? Who the balls will pay 600 notes for an Android Tablet? Oh my god, a tablet is meant to be an easy to use device you use to read the news, read a book, go on your social networks... It won't replace a laptop or desktop, become your main machine. Unbelievable. Think what 600 notes get you as a laptop? They need to be low(ish) cost. A quick bit of browsing, news and move one. With six hundred notes you'd be mad not to get an iPad and go out partying with the change. I can't believe the big boys are so stupid.

And HTC, what is with 2.4? Why not wait a month and give it Honeycombe? Mental, truly mental. And don't get me started on HP and Web OS - what the hell is the point of that? FAIL...