Wednesday, December 31, 2008

After the First Full Week

We've had our first full week with the Instinct, and are still thrilled.

Stocking stuffers included belt cases for each of us. I'm surprised that members of the family who previously laid their phones on the entry way table when they came in from outside, now sometimes keep their phones on them in the house. Increased use of text messaging with friends is one cause.

And yes, we have been known to call each other, even text, from within the house.

My son made his longest solo drive this week to a place he'd never been, and did so without any missteps using the Navigator. That in itself is worth the price paid.

Newest application added just today : Google Maps. It has satellite view but not yet street view. I can see this being a big help. Recommending without extensive testing. Go to Getjar.com on your phone, and input code : 36398.

Things I'd like to see in Instinct

TV - playback of sideloaded could have bookmarks and better forward/reverse.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The First Application

Following the advice of both a knowledgable friend / Sprint sales person, and the users on the forums, the first thing I did after opening the phones was to invoke updates of the Operating System and email application.  I knew from following the forums before buying that a major, long awaited upgrade had occured in late November and and the email application had been updated in early December.  The update allowed the phone to use some Java applications that needed a keyboard, and view Office and PDF documents when attached to an email.

And again, following the advice of the forums, I installed my first application.  Opera Mini.  The built in browser is okay, and apparently a lot better than it used to be, but Opera Mini has a better reputation.  I downloaded from here.  

One nice thing, you can download the PC version of Opera and synchronize bookmarks between your desktop and mobile.  I don't want all my desktop bookmarks on my phone, but having my phone's bookmarks on my desktop makes it easier to edit them and add new ones.

The Instinct

Okay, today was day three with the Instincts. If you are a long user of the phone, the posts that are going to follow in the next days will make me seem like Captain Obvious.

On the other hand, if you are new to the phone, or to smart phones in general, what follows is what I would have liked to have found when I began researching smart phones.

Blogs like I wanted to find likely exist, I just didn't find them. Feel free to leave your suggestions in comments.

When I began researching phones, and more or less settled on the Instinct, I found some excellent forums for the Instinct. They include Sprint's own forum, Buzz about Wireless (from here on, BAW), Sprint User, Instinct-Users.com, and even a Yahoo Group.

I've spent countless hours learning on those forums, and the users have been generally very helpful and informative. A lot of the tips & tricks you'll see here are from those excellent sites. Be sure to check them out and contribute if you are thinking of, or become, an Instinct user.

Warning though : there are some negative Instinct users there. That is for a lot of reasons. Foremost is happy users aren't motivated to go to a forum and express their feelings. Unhappy users do.

Why they are unhappy could be a post unto itself.

eBooks from Google

From JKontheRun I learned tonight that Google has a new mobile page where you can read 1.5 million public domain books. I tried it just now on my Instincts and it works great. Go to http://books.google.com/m .

I've already bookmarked a couple books I've wanted to read.

As long as you have a web connection, you'll always have something to read.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Instincts have arrived

This family of simple flip phone users moved up to smart phones yesterday.

At first blush, we are thrilled. We've been out running errands all day today, and have made test runs using the Navigator, found dinner with Live Search, web surfed while out to learn something we needed to know and of course, phoned and texted.

I can see this as another life changing gadget, just as the PC and regular cell phones once were.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New York Times-Mr. Obama’s Internet Agenda

The editorial concludes :  'Restoring America to its role as the world’s Internet leader could be an important part of Mr. Obama’s presidential legacy."

It also has this pithy quote :  “This is the Eisenhower Interstate highway moment for the Internet,” argues Ben Scott, policy director of the media reform group Free Press.  

I couldn't agree more.




Saturday, December 13, 2008

Google Chrome

Google this week took their Chrome web browser out of Beta.

I primarily use Firefox, although I use Internet Explorer too for some specific things.

During the work day I tend to have a lot of tabs open in Firefox. My company uses web based email, CRM, and calendar. Plus there is the companies own Intranet site to keep open, and the company website. I was noticing memory use of Firefox growing a lot through the day. It might start up using about 330K and grow to over 500K. That could bog down my system. I could exit Firefox, restart it and all would be fine again for a while. It was like using Windows 3.1 again!

And it may be worse on my system. I suspect my PC could benefit from a wipe and reinstall of Windows and all the apps, but man, that would be a huge job now.

Chrome uses a different scheme for memory management. You can see the memory usage for each tab by typing "about:memory" in the address box. I am going to try it out for a week and see if it bogs my system down like Firefox did. Based on the first day, I don't think it will.

Another nice feature in Chrome for multi-monitor users like myself, is you can move a tab out of the main window, and onto one of your other monitors.

One downside of Chrome is the absence of Add-ons. I've been doing some thinking about my add-on use and realize I use most for specialized tasks I don't do every day. I use Firebug when programming a javascript application I am working on, but I work on it rarely. Those times I can use Firefox.

The only add-on I use very day is a signature program from Wisestamp. My solution for now then is to have a Firefox open with just my work email in it so I can use Wisestamp. I have Chrome open with all my other tabs open. We'll see how that goes.

Google has announced they will soon support add-ons, and I've already emailed Wisestamp encouraging them to move their add-on to Chrome when possible.

I'm sure add-on developers will support Chrome as enthusiastically as they have Firefox. And of course, Firefox will continue their great efforts. If they lick their memory issues, they may win me back.

I suspect though, I may be a Chrome user for a long time. I use a lot of Google products: mostly Calendar, and Reader for now, but may make Gmail my primary email soon, and starting using Notebook more too. I suspect the first add-ons will be from Google and support those products.

Chrome will soon be on their Android platform and the browser for mobile phones. We are planning as a family to go with the Sprint/Samsung Instinct, but that is a stop gap until the Android phones become more available and affordable. The temptation to use the same browser on my two primary platforms, PC & Phone, will be great.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Government Meddling in Broadband could be good

The always good Gigaom today suggests three reasons government should meddle in broadband : Education Access, Medical Care Improvements and Telecommuting.

I've always thought the best things Congress ever did involved infrastructure.

Transcontinental Railroad
Land Grant Colleges
Rural Electrification Program
Interstate Highways

And you could argue the Space Program of the 60's helped trigger the technology boom that started in the 70's and continues today.

I consider a national aggressive broadband program that puts the goods of the citizenry ahead of the telecommunications company to be worth doing.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Smartphones for the Family

Since our family is now three adults, my wife and I and the > 18 yo son, I can't get away with just buying myself a SmartPhone. It has to be three or none.

A smart phone is not very good without unlimited data and unlimited text messaging. Pricing out 3000 minutes for the three of us to share is an eye opener.

Best I can figure, AT&T wants $300 a month, Verizon (our current provider) wants $350 a month, T-Mobile $215 a month and Sprint wants $190 a month.

So that leaves Sprint & T-Mobile as my candidates. Verizon has the better coverage in our area, which is why we switched from T-Mobile to them two years ago. But paying $135 more a month (or $160 more if we choose Sprint) is way too much of a premium.

And I want the Android phone over the iPhone anyway (that's a future topic). Right now, the only Android phone in the US is the G1 from T-Mobile.

Problem is, we left T-Mobile because their coverage of our street is abysmal. With the carriers now offering street level coverage maps, I can tell Sprint is as bad.

Sprint has an ace up their sleeve. Their Airave basically creates a mini-cell site right in our home. It takes our cell signals, and channels them out through our Broadband to Sprint and thus to the phone / cell networks. The equipment cost is $99 and the service is $5 a month.

And the G1 has some flaws. There will be more choices in two years. I have a habit of not buying the latest & greatest, but instead buying the affordable "good enough" choice. So it is good that Sprint has something that is "good enough", and affordable and will hold us for two years until the choices of Android phones are plentiful and hopefully cheaper.

I think we'll go with an Instinct.