Thoughts on your new TV

According to “Your New TV Ruins Movies“, we should all buy plasma TVs and for our LCD/LED displays, we need to turn off the motion smoothing function.  We have a Samsung LCD/LED TV.  And to be quite honest, I never liked the look of motion smoothing to begin with.  I’m not sure how the pro’s describe it, but to me, the picture “looks so real, you can tell it’s fake.”  What I mean is that the lighting, makeup, CGI, etc. all seem to become more apparent.  Not sure how else to describe it, but perhaps the article accurately captures the reason: it ruins movies.

I do have to say that the color on the sample Inception screenshots looks pretty awful.   Leonardo DiCaprio looks more like Hellboy than Jack Dawson.  However, I really do like the sharpening and brightness.  The buildings in the background are significantly sharper, and the columns in the mid ground are more 3 dimensional to me.

The NY Times Agrees with Me

Yesterday, I wrote a brief post expressing my incredulity at the name of Apple’s latest product: iPad. Brad Stone of the New York Times seems to agree with me. Stone wrote an article about the iPad in the Technology section today. Apparently, the name of the product is causing a lot of buzz.

The first sentence of the second paragraph sums it up:

Many women are saying the name evokes awkward associations with feminine hygiene products.

But perhaps there’s a bright side to this story. Fujitsu, STMicroelectronics, and MagTek all have products with the trademarked name of “iPad.” If they decide to put up a fight with Apple over their apparent trademark infringement, Apple may be forced to give it up.

A similar situation happened a few years ago between Apple and Cisco over the “iPhone” name. By the time Apple released their iPhone, Cisco had already registered iPhone as a trademark. A brief fight ensued, with Cisco ultimately agreeing to let Apple use the name. There were some vagaries around a future partnership, but I never heard anything further about it.

In this case, it might behoove Apple to let Fujitsu, STMicroelectronics, or MagTek win any battle they choose to fight over the iPad name. Then they could “lose” the rights to that name, and go with a much better name like “iSlate”.

Steve, if you or someone in your company is reading this, I highly recommend you leave the “menstrual” name to those guys and choose something that’s more provocative than it is evocative. And it might even be a good idea to find a guy like Michael Cronan to help you out in the future.

iPad? Seriously?

Of all the names Steve Jobs could have come up with to describe Apple’s newest product, he and his marketing team chose “iPad.”  Are you freakin’ kidding me?  Of all the other cool names floating out there: iTablet, iTab, iSlate, etc. the number one winner was iPad?  What’s next, iTampon?

As my boss pointed out today, “that sounds strangely menstrual.”  He further went on to joke:

I think I’m going to start a web site that will help people get the most out of their iPad. It will help them to get maximum usage from their iPad. I think I’ll call it Max iPad.

Anyone care to guess the domain name for such a site?

Steve, I know you were sick and needed a liver transplant because you nearly died. But seriously, if that’s the best you can do post-op, it might have been a better idea to leave the naming up to Phil.

Update: According to Twitter, Apple didn’t even have to release an iTampon in order for their current product to be castigated as such.

Apple Event Today

Apple’s expected to unveil a new device today. The consensus seems to be that it will be some form of tablet computer: iTablet, iSlate, etc. There’s nothing new on the Apple home page this morning, but I’m sure it will be updated later today:

Apple Home page

Transformers at ILM

This post isn’t very timely, as it pertains to the summer 09 release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but I still thought it was an interesting read.  It details the incredible depth of detail ILM had to create when working on the movie’s visual effects.   Here’s a short rundown of their numbers:

ILM’s render farm has 5700 core processors, the newest of which are dual processor and quad cores (eight cores per blade), with up to 32 GB of memory per blade. In addition, the render farm can access the 2000 core processors in the artists’ workstations, which ups the total core processors to 7700. As for data storage, the studio’s data center currently has 500 TB online. Transformers 2 sucked up 154 TB, more than seven times the 20 TB needed for 2007’s Transformers.

Give it a few more years, and I’m sure these numbers will be insignificant, but right now, numbers like this are pretty much unfathomable to me.

Android 2.0.1

My Droid updated itself this morning with a copy of Android 2.0.1. Verizon has some documentation (pdf) about the update, but frankly, I can hardly tell the difference. The two differences I noticed are that the unlock screen looks a bit different, and the way I answer phone calls has changed in a very slight manner. That’s about it.

But I must say that I’m glad to see Google, Motorola, and Verizon working quickly to update the software on this phone.  I’ve had it all of two weeks, and already they’ve seen fit to update it for me. I can only hope that Android 2.1 isn’t withheld from us Droid users.

Droid Additional Impressions

I posted my initial impressions of the Motorola Droid a few days ago.  With a few additional days to think and write, here are some further impressions in the same Pro/Ambivalent/Con format as before:


  • Ringtones: I love that I don’t have to pay extra for ringtones, I use any audio file I currently own.  My current ringtone is Sea Of Faces, and my alarm is currently It Is Well, both the title tracks on their respective Kutless albums.
  • It’s super easy to add ringtones, notifications, and alarms:
    1. Just plug the phone into my computer via the micro-USB to USB adapter.
    2. Pull down the notifications area and tap on the “USB connected” notification.
    3. Tap the “Mount” button.
    4. Open My Computer and find the removable drive associated with the Droid.
    5. Create a folder with the appropriate name “ringtones”, “alarms”, “notifications”, etc.
    6. Drag the desired audio files to the appropriate folder.
    7. On the Droid, pull down the notifications area again, and tap “Turn off USB storage”
    8. Navigate to the desired ringtone, notification, alarm area, and select the desired audio file.  That’s it!  There’s no need to import, or convert the files, they show up automatically. It couldn’t be easier or more cost effective.
  • Keyboard: The virtual one is very similar in functionality to the iPhone, it also has a pretty good suggestion/predictive word engine.  The physical one is nice because sliding it out automatically change the phone to landscape mode (helpful for the times when the orientation sensor bugs out, which it does.  Additionally some applications have Windows-style shortcut keys that can make some operations much more efficient.  The Gmail app allows you to use the physical keyboard to type the same shortcut keys you’d find in the web version of Gmail (“C” for compose, “A” for reply to all, “R” for reply, “J” and “K” to navigate between messages, etc.)
  • Google Navigation: I have no reason to pay $99 for a navigation app from Tom Tom or Navigon, much less buy a $200 stand-alone device because this service is so well done. It gets me where I’m going, and makes sure I don’t get lost.  If I make a wrong turn, it recalculates the route, and still shows me how to get there.
  • Voice Search: I can tap the microphone icon on-screen tell the phone what I’m searching for, and in a few seconds, I have a list of search results.  Additionally, there is a dedicated search button on the phone, which allows me to perform contextual searches.  So if I’m in my contacts or e-mail and tap the search button, it performs a search on my contacts or e-mail, respectively.


  • Pattern Security: I’m rather used to the 4 digit pin of the iPhone, so the pattern security is new to me.  The good thing is I can have more than 10,000 (10^4) possible combinations available on iPhone.  The bad news is that because my finger must be dragged across the screen from point to point and no point can be used more than once, it wouldn’t be hard for a would-be-thief to pick up the pattern by looking at my greasy fingerprints swiped across the phone screen.  See the Cons below for additional information.
  • On a related note, the default behavior for the phone is to visually connect the dots for you as you drag your finger across the screen.  I would recommend turning that off for additional security as anyone looking over your shoulder would have an easy view into your unlock pattern.  There’s no sense in making it easier for them than it has to be.
  • Emergency Calls when locked: When locked, you can still make emergency calls.  This is good because if it’s an emergency, and someone grabs my phone, I want them to still be able to call 911, even if I’m unconscious or unable to unlock the phone for them.  The down side as noted below is that you could conceivably pocket dial an emergency number without knowing it.  But the flip side to that is you actually have to dial “911” to make a call as opposed to just hitting the “Emergency Call” button.  I suppose the odds of actually hitting “911” in your pocket are relatively low (1:1000?).  But it could still happen.
  • Battery Life: If I make a few phone calls, I can go an entire work day and have about 30-40% battery left.  If I do some serious conference calling, I’m hitting the red at less than 10%.  I think this is generally to be expected from a smart phone, but pales in comparison to my KRZR with the extended battery which would literally go 5 days between charges when the battery was brand new.


  • Locking: Like the iPhone, the Droid has a power button on the upper right corner.  Once this button has been pressed, it immediately goes to the pattern security screen.  The unfortunate consequence of this is that if the power button is pushed in your pocket, and it bumps around enough, your pocket will end up entering the pattern wrong too many times.  If the wrong code is entered a few times, the phone will tell you need to wait 30 seconds before trying again.  If it continues to bump around, the phone locks up for good.  It requires that you enter your Google Username and Password, but apparently that feature is buggy because no matter what you won’t be authenticated.  This is one area the iPhone has Droid solidly beat.  Fortunately, it’s just a software issue that shouldn’t be too difficult to fix, but for now it’s a definite con.
  • Alarm Mode: I had a phone once—I can’t remember which, but it might have been the KRZR—that had a specific volume level for “Alarm Only.”  It was great because it meant any ringing other than my alarm was silenced.  No phone calls, no text messages, nothing.  Just the alarm.  This was perfect for using the phone as my alarm clock because I could set my alarm and the only noise I’d get from my phone was when the alarm went off.  And of course, if I put the phone on silent, the phone didn’t make any noise no matter what happened.  The Droid doesn’t have an “Alarm Only” mode unfortunately.  It has something of an opposite but similar functionality where the Alarm will ring even when the phone is silenced, but if I’m in an environment where I want the phone silenced, I want the phone silenced.  I don’t want to “silence” my phone in church only to be embarrassed by having my alarm go off.  As with the above, it’s just a software issue that shouldn’t be too difficult to fix, but for now it’s a definite con.
  • Physical Keyboard: The physical keyboard is offset to the left side due to the presence of a D-pad.  This is unfortunate because it means my right thumb has to reach much further than my left thumb in order to type.  This makes it uncomfortable to type sometimes, and just doesn’t seem like great industrial design.  Of course, I have no idea where else they could have put the D-pad to resolve the issue.  But it is an issue.
  • No way to edit contact groups on the phone: I discovered a feature whereby I can select “Display Options” and choose from a list of Contact Groups to display.  Eager to shorten up my contact list, I logged into the web-based Gmail, created a custom group called “Droid Phone List” and started adding people to it.  The phone synced over the air, and then I was able to choose to show only those 28 contacts while still maintaining access to the other 472+ if necessary by changing the checkboxes around.  But over the last week of using this system, I’ve discovered that if I want to add a new person to the Droid Phone List, I can only do it through Gmail’s web interface—on desktop browser no less.  I can’t do it through the Contacts on my Droid; I can’t do it through the mobile browser version of Gmail, and I can’t do it through the “desktop” version on a mobile browser.  None of these allow me to edit a contact’s group.  Only the desktop browser version of Gmail allows this.  This is really a bummer.  It would be great to edit the contact groups right on the Droid.  I see no reason why this is not currently enabled.

So all in all, this is a great phone.  As I mentioned previously, this is better than any Blackberry I ever tried.  And it’s a serious contender that gives the iPhone a run for it’s money.  Of course, the hardware issues are here to stay.  I think the thing that gives me the most hope is that the vast majority of the issues I have with the phone are software.  That can be updated/changed fairly easily.  And since Android is an open source operating system, there’s hope that even if Verizon, Google, or Motorola choose not to fix the issues, someone in the community could release a fix.

In fact, there were rumours floating around that indicated Verizon was already sending out an over-the-air (OTA) update for the Droid.

Here’s to hoping they’ll fix the three software cons above…

Initial Impressions: Droid

I’ve had the Motorola Droid for about a week now (I bought it on Black Friday), so it’s about time I posted some initial impressions.  I’ll follow this up with more details later.

Overall, I like it a lot.  I think it’s  a great device, and it’s light years ahead of the Blackberry Tour and Storm I had back in July and September.


  • Nice, big, bright LCD screen.  It’s got a 3.7” touch screen, and at 480×854 it has the highest resolution of any smartphone I know.  It’s certainly higher than the iPhone at 480×320, and the Tour and Storm which both weigh in at 480×360.
  • Amazing integration with Google Applications: Gmail, Gmail Contacts, Google Calendar, etc.  I just entered my Google Account username and password, and it automatically synced all of my mail, contacts, and appointments.
  • Ringtones, alarms, notifications, etc. can all be created from MP3, WAV, or AAC files.
  • It’s nice to have both a physical and a virtual keyboard.
  • Google Navigation is amazing.
  • Voice search works very well and is contextual.
  • The Shortcuts and Widgets feature is pretty cool.  I like that I can do a direct dial right on the home screen to anyone I choose.  (As you might expect, Charlene is right there in the corner.)
  • The browser is very good.  Right up there with the iPhone, if not perhaps a bit better.  It’s certainly better than any Blackberry browser I’ve used.
  • The hardware is fast.  Faster than the iPhone 3G (I don’t have a 3GS to test against), and faster than the Blackberries.  The screen refreshes very quickly, and both keyboards are fast.  They don’t leave me waiting like the iPhone does.
  • The network is fast.  Dragging my finger around a map doesn’t leave me hanging as I wait for the map to reload.  Pages load faster over WiFi than they do on the iPhone.  Using the Speedtest app at home on WiFi I was able to get download speeds of 5 mbps and upload speeds of 2mbps with a 45ms ping.  Even on 3G, I got 2172kbps/701kbps with a 99ms ping the other night.


  • Pattern security works, but is overly sensitive.
  • The Android Market is still relatively sparse.  It doesn’t have a few of my favorite iPhone apps like Dropbox, WordPress, and Gasbag, but I figure it’s only a matter of time before the developers migrate to Android.  Of course, the other way to look at it is there’s plenty of room for up-and-coming developers to fill those voids with their own products.
  • I haven’t figured out a way to organize the applications on screen.  It appears that they are organized in alphabetical order, but unlike Blackberry, I don’t believe there’s a way to relegate unused icons to a folder or hide them.  Maybe it’s just my own ignorance.
  • Battery life is just OK. I go about a day between charges.
  • It auto-imports everything from Google.  This is good and bad.  It’s super convenient, but if I didn’t want everything imported, it’s a pain to undo.


  • At night, the LCD is almost too bright, even at the lowest brightness setting, so I wish it went down a few more gradations.  I’m not sure if this is a hardware or a software issue.
  • The phone is prone to locking itself, and the only resolution is a hard reset.
  • When viewing e-mail in the Gmail app, there are three big buttons on the bottom for “Archive”, “Delete”, and “Older.”  I wish those were buried in a menu or customizable.  I don’t use Gmail’s Archive function (maybe I should?), so that button is really unnecessary for me.  On more than one occasion I’ve unknowingly hit the Archive button and wondered where an e-mail disappeared to.
  • No “Alarm Only” mode.

Those are my first impressions of the Droid. If you have one, what do you think?


I got a Motorola Droid on Black Friday (Thanks Charlene!). This phone is so much better than the Blackberry Tour or Storm, it’s ridiculous.  I don’t have time to post my first impressions tonight as I did with the Blackberries, but if you’re looking for reviews, BGR (formerly Boy Genius Report) has a great Droid Review. And Mobile Crunch has a great Part 1, Part 2 series on the Droid vs. iPhone.

So hopefully those tide you over until I get to post my thoughts.