Review Self-described “street cred builder for bad-ass developers” Now I’m not a developer but I sure am a geek so I jumped on this when I first heard of it a few weeks ago when they launched their private beta. I would have to describe it like twitter for geeks and their adventures, of course with a slant for web developers.

You sign in with your Twitter account and you(at least now, it was a gradual roll out of features) have your profile page, cards, micros, and pings. Profile page is self-explanitory, put some links and some bio info. It will show your recent activities and your cards.

Cards are best described as major accomplishments you’ve achieved such as proclaiming you just built a site using node.js. You can also attach to cards other members as collaborators for that card as well as micros(more on that later). Other users watching the Discovery feed, which shows site wide activities, can then “high five” your card/micros.

Micros are like the twitter posts of They can be stand alone or attached to a card and again can be “high five” by users. Like tweets, they are more for proclaiming things in the now.

I haven’t used pings, but they look to be like the poke from facebook. Though since I haven’t tried it I could be wrong. So like their description goes, Its a fun way as a geek to say what you are working on to a crowd of geeks. Good work guys, I look forward to the future.


Android App Review: Smartr

Smartr, as parent company Xobni describes it, “Make your address book smarter,” which it certainly does, though with a few caveats. First you have to give it access to your email and social networking, which today is something that is becoming very common(I love SwiftKey and it reads your email/texts/social networking to get a better understanding of your typing style). With the power of the “Cloud” (quotes and capital since its magic!) Smartr compiles all the people you’ve ever contacted, links names, emails, numbers, and social accounts into one contact listing. Nifty but you’ll end up with hundreds of contacts you probably don’t care about. That one off mailing list that had 50 emails in the To: field, that gets added.

Though for those you do contact a lot, it does some rather cool stuff. It will show an infographic(and what geek doesn’t love a good infographic?) of your “Relationship History” including a description of that relationship in plain English. Very nicely done, so points for that. Now considering this is an Android app, I wish there was a way to filter the contact list to those just on the phone. Within your contact list on Google, you have the “My Contacts” list, which for me is whats on my phone. I don’t necessarily need the hundreds of other emails I’ve ever sent to show up in my contacts. Also the interface itself is very sleek and nice, though sluggish when you edit a contact. Overall I like the idea of it, might keep it around for a while, but not sure if it would ever replace the standard contact list on Android.

Testing the GPS on the Samsung Vibrant

Its been mentioned that the Samsung Vibrant has some gps issues and I have also heard that Samsung and Tmobile are aware of this and should hopfully put out a fix. When, who knows. People complain about Samsung not pushing updates but when you think about it, how long does it take other phones to get an update? It was my impression that even the Nexus One didn’t just go and poof update the day they released Android 2.2. In fact it took several leaks and a few official updates before they were happy. Talk about quality control people! So dont go boo hoo when an update it taking along time. These companies have been making phone software for a long time and know they need to get it right. Google on the other hand loves the beta tag.

Anyways back to the GPS(sorry for the rant). I tried the fix mentioned where you change the GPS settings and I still couldn’t get it to work. Even did a factory reset and still no go. I did read of this ‘optional’ fix where you delete the gps data and let the phone sit there till it locks on. This I did and yes it worked. One then I remembered in all this was the weird readings I was getting from the GPS Status app. The compass or better yet the magnetometer readings were way off. Basically it was acting like it was on top of a large metal object, which would mess up the compass reading.  After letting the phone sit on the balcony, I was able to get 7 gps sat locks and get a good enough reading. And the magnetometer reading went to something a bit more reasonable.

So its my opinion that due to some either software settings or the coding of the gps itself, the phone isn’t a) using the local network to help get a location fix and b) not cleaning up after itself after failed attempts leading to weird readings.

I’ll have to test the navigation app and see if its able to work now.

Further thoughts on the Samsung Vibrant

Or more like I forgot to mention a few more things. The SuperAMOLED in sunlight. Any display in direct sunlight will wash out some, but this thing, when set to max, will shine right on though. Walking to my car under the full Texas sun, I could see what was on the screen rather clearly. Of course this is with the phone at a proper viewing angle.

GPS oh how thee fail. I tried the GPS fix, but can’t seem to get it to work. I’ve played around in the LBSTestMode menu, but no go. I’m not a heavy user of navigation, so no big there. But I am glad to hear that Tmobile and Samsung know of this issue and hopefully we’ll see an update.

I love the Write and Go app, a great way to update both twitter and facebook. Though for some reason the facebook integration isn’t updating, but twitter is workin just fine. I’ve heard some issues with that, but again nothing major.

One rather cool feature, under Settings > Sound and Display is Puzzle Lock. Whats cool about this is if you have any unread messages or missed calls, they will show up as a puzzle piece on a wireframe jigsaw overlaid over the top portion of the lock screen. Swipe the puzzle piece to where it says to go and it will take to directly to where you need to go. Instead of pulling down the notification bar, etc. Very cool, again this only works if you dont have the unlock pattern set. Ok enough for now.

My impressions with the Samsung Vibrant

I received my Samsung Vibrant yesterday and I am always surprised at how small the boxes are. Then I was surprised at how big the phone is, but not too big. I think its the perfect size for me, without getting that jaw dropping gape a friend gets when she uses her Evo. It fits well in my hand, that ‘chin’ is hardly noticeable. I chose to go with the purple backing, I felt it was just more. Once the battery is in, I feel the phone has a good weight to it. Some talk about it feeling cheep, but I dont think so. Its very thin and light, just what I would expect of a nice high end phone. One thing I have to get use to, is the location of the volume rocker. My fingers think it should be a bit higher up on the phone then where it is.

Next I turn on the phone and wow. This thing boots up very fast. I love the fancy Galaxy S boot animation, very nice.  Once on, the first thing I tried was the Avatar video. It opens very quickly and again this display is wonderful. Its something that you have to see in person, the same goes with the body of the phone. The pics and vids show this shiny chrome band that goes around the phone, kinda giving it the impression that it looks like another phone out there. But once I had it in my hand, it looks nothing like the pics. They must have had them under very bright lighting, as the band is much more subdued and takes on a different color compared to bright chrome.

Anyways back to the software. Like any Android phone, had to go into market and download my apps again. No biggie, but something they need to work on. I cut down the seven home screens to two, one with some of my fav apps, and the other running the Feeds and Updates widget. I’m not sure how much utility I’m getting out of that. There is a good and bad news, from my point of view, on the default messenger app. The good: they allow you to turn off notifications which allows you to use other messenger apps. The bad: they no longer allow you to set repeatable notifications on text messages. That was my favorite feature since I’m not always aware I got a text message, but as long as it kept pinging me, I would find out soon enough. Not a deal breaker, but kinda sad.

The phone comes with some decent in-ear buds which have a built in mic with single button control. With this plugged in, pushing the button launches the music player in the background and starts to play. Whats a nice touch is they integrated player controls into the slide down notification screen and into the phone lock screen. Though it only works from the phone lock screen if you don’t use the unlock pattern. Trade off I suppose. Sound quality was decent and puts off my ideas of getting a stereo bluetooth dongle, though they show one on the accessories paper in the box.

Played with the camera. Very nice and plenty of features. Just what I was expecting as I came from the Behold II, which also has a wonderful camera. Now there is all this noise about it not having a flash. Well from my experience, if its not a true xenon flash, its not worth it. The LED flash can wash out your photos big time and give them that blueish hue(though if you are good in photoshop, that can be fixed). I tried out the night mode in a darkened bedroom and was able to take a shot. Nothing spectacular, but then this is a phone. If you really are concerned about photos, invest in a real camera. In my opinion, the only phones with cameras worth anything were from Sony Ericsson. My K850i took great pictures and came with a true flash. In fact the thing looks like a camera with a phone slapped on the back. 

Thats about it for now. Oh I really love the Gallery app in Android 2.x. Very fluid and pinch to zoom is like wow. I haven’t rooted the phone, nor I have applied that lag fix. I haven’t noticed the lag that they speak of. Maybe later at some other point I try that out. I can confirm that gps is having some issues, but I have heard that Tmo and Samsung know of the problem and so there will be an update. Don’t know if it would be a stand alone update or be including in an update to Froyo. As to when thats coming, I dont have any idea. I hope not too far away.