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Friday, October 12, 2012

Farewell, and Thank You For Everything!

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Thoughts Media Status Updates" @ 11:59 PM

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." - Dr. Seuss

Twelve years ago today, when I made my very first post on Pocket PC Thoughts, I couldn't possibly predict the journey I was taking the first step on. What an amazing, fulfilling, character-defining dozen years it's been! I'm so deeply indebted to all the people along this journey I've befriended, talked with in our forums, and yes, even gotten into rip-roaring arguments with. It all brought me here. So where is "here" exactly?

Back in September of 2011, I shared that I had taken a job with HTC, was moving from Canada to the USA, and was selling the Thoughts Media Network. Over the past year, I've had a truly amazing time working at HTC. It's a wonderful job - it's really amazing the things you learn/realize working on "the other side" of the blogger/OEM equation - but it's also all-consuming. My multiple attempts to sell this network all failed, partially due to my lack of time to really follow through. I won't bore you with the details, but let me give some advice to any business owners: when someone offers you a nice chunk of money for your business, and you're ready to sell, don't drag your feet on the paperwork - you never know when that offer will vanish! Oh, and sell when your revenue and momentum are at their peak; don't hold on too long. Evidently these are lessons I needed to learn the hard way. Lessons to teach my son I guess. :-)

So where are things at now? This won't come as a surprise to anyone who has watched what has happened to most of the sites in our network over the past year: all six sites across the Thoughts Media Network will go into a permanent state of hibernation effective tonight. This is the final post you'll see on all of them. I care deeply about all of the amazing content the Thoughts Media Team collectively created over the past dozen years, so my plans are to keep the sites online for as long as possible. One week from now, I'll shut down the forums so no new posts can be made. Right now only comments can be posted if you already have an account that has posted in the past - we've had to lock things down in that way to prevent spamming. If you have a message to share with me but don't have a forum account, please send it to me directly.

I'd be remiss if I didn't give one final thank you to the amazing team of people I had the honour of working with over the past twelve years. I don't want to list names, because I'll doubtless forget someone. Suffice it to say though that I've been humbled and blessed by the generosity and effort people put into this community. From the words you've read, the videos you've watched, the spam-free forums you've read through, to the designs of the pages and the code and server loading them when you visit - none of that could have been done without the gifted volunteers who collectively helped me create everything that these sites were. I'm deeply indebted to literally hundreds of people who walked with me on this awesome journey over the past decade. THANK YOU!

Also, a big thank you to the community itself. All you who came back here, day after day to read and watch our news and reviews, rants and raves. Thank you for your comments, your clicks, your shares, your views. None of this would be possible without you. Remember too the part you play in the success of any Web site: you matter, so support the sites you love so they can keep doing what you want to see.

And so, this is the end. If you'd like to keep in touch with me, please reach out on Twitter (@jasondunn) or check in on my personal blog now and then. What an amazing journey this has been...thank you!


Dark Once More

Posted by Jon Westfall in "Android Thoughts Site Updates" @ 09:27 PM

In June 2003 I bought a T-Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition and began frequenting Pocket PC Thoughts. The highly knowledgeable and personable community drew me in, and one of the most satisfying days of my career came in early 2005 when Jason Dunn invited me to join as an editor. In the 7.5 years since I've been proud to serve these communities. While commitments have kept me away from active duty over the past months, these sites have and always will be filled with fond memories and Thoughts.

Until we meet again!

Tags: update

Monday, September 24, 2012

High-End Android Smart Phones, What's Here and What's Coming!

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android Talk" @ 02:00 PM

One of the best things about Android is you can pick the phone with the features you want and there are plenty of choices. Size, weight, battery life, processor type, display type, display size, connectivity, and upgradable storage are just some of the options you have to choose from. In this article I'll explain what some of the differences are and hopefully help you choose a phone that best meets your needs.

I'll start by talking about some of the technologies in phones, grouping my thoughts by component. Then I will list some of the new high-end phones available now and expected to be released later this year. I'm not covering phones with pen input, like the Galaxy Note 2, because there are only a few of those to choose from. What are you looking for in a smart phone? I would love to hear your thoughts! Read more...


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mobile Devices on a Plane Revisited: Yea or Nay?

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad" @ 12:00 PM

http://articles.cnn.com/2012-08-27/...line-passengers

"Will the familiar warning for airline passengers to "discontinue the use of all portable electronic devices" become a relic of the past?

Perhaps."

Every so often the FAA reviews its policies limiting mobile device usage on airplanes. They're at it again, but it must be mentioned that this particular study does not include the use of mobile phones while in flight - that's the FCC's domain. The FAA claims (in a study performed "last year") that they have 75 documented cases of consumer (passenger) electronic devices interfering with on-board systems, and the new study group aims to either confirm or debunk the current conventional wisdom that mobile devices can interfere with instruments, specifically during takeoff and landing. Skeptics point to the fact that tablets and laptops may be used by the crew, during these critical times, but not used by passengers. The study goal is to determine the what, where, when and why for the existing rules and regulations. While I do think that the rules are a bit one-sided in favor of the airlines, I'm not really that inconvenienced by having to turn off my laptop/phone/tablet during takeoff and landing. Safety trumps convenience in my opinion. How about you?


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Monday, July 23, 2012

Notes from an iOS User: My Week with a Google Nexus 7

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Android Slates/Tablets & Accessories" @ 01:30 PM

"My first Android experience has been very, very positive, thanks to Google's Nexus 7 and Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). I received my tablet a week ago, and also received a $25 Google Play credit as an early purchaser. My initial thoughts were that I'd use the tablet primarily as a reader - but it's much more than a Kindle (Fire) replacement."

As a longtime iOS device user, and like most modern device users, I have my biases, and have kept them firmly in mind when using an Android device for the first time. But, maintaining objectivity has been easy with this tablet. I'm guessing that skipping the earlier Android releases have saved me from some amount of frustration, just as skipping earlier iOS versions would have in the iDevice world. The bottom line is that so far I'm not finding much missing from Android.

I have several "must haves," including Banking, Browsing, Calendaring, Contacts, Dropbox, Email, Facebook, Foursquare, Kindle reader, LinkedIn, MS Office-type apps, PDF reader, Search, Skype, Text editing, and Travel apps. All present, and arguably equal to the iOS versions. Not as many app choices from Google Play, but all I need is one of each.

Things that I like so far, in no particular order: Android 4.1.1 - already one patch automatically downloaded to Jelly Bean; Battery life is very good; Customization is as simple as the iPad - the home screen is easy to configure; the display is very, very good - not quite up to the new iPad, but excellent for much less money; Sound quality is good; Security is good - face recognition login authentication can be configured to require a blink, making security stronger; Performance is excellent - I haven't noticed anything crapping out or any lags in performance, at the app or UI level; Shutting down running apps is a breeze, much simpler than iOS; Removing apps is easy; Reading is a breeze on this form factor - no more carpal tunnel holding and reading an iPad. Comfortable to hold and use. Many pros to this device!

Things that are less than stellar (and I admit freely that maybe I just don't know enough about Android yet): Apps on the home screen cannot be ordered or arranged for a whole screen - must be dragged and bumped individually; Setup options are not as rich as iOS; iCloud mail is handled a bit better in iOS, as one would expect; Google Play Store doesn't seem to have an easy way of selecting "tablet-only apps," aside from Staff Picks for Tablets. A pretty short list of cons.

Overall, a very positive experience so far, and, while I'm not dumping my iPad, my Nexus 7 is already getting more use than my earlier small tablets, a Nook tablet and a Kindle Fire, both of which were too restrictive for me, and were sold pretty quickly. For the money (I got the 16GB model), this is a superb tablet, and the Android experience is a pleasure. I like the fact that it is not "carrier specific," so it has none of the bloatware associated with subsidized devices. The Nexus 7 is a keeper!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Google Improves Android Security with Jelly Bean

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 09:30 AM

http://arstechnica.com/security/201...ard-to-exploit/

"In an analysis published Monday, security researcher Jon Oberheide said Android version 4.1, aka Jelly Bean, is the first version of the Google-developed OS to properly implement a protection known as address space layout randomization."

Diagram showing attacker overwriting a return address with a pointer to the stack that contains attacker-supplied dataWikipedia

It's great to know that Google is taking mobile security seriously and working to improve it. This sounds like a large step in the right direction. I was also surprised this was the first I had heard of this change being in Android 4.1, Jelly Bean. Another feature new in Jelly Bean I heard of recently is a "Safe Mode" to make sure a problem you're having is not app related.

What's your favorite new feature in Jelly Bean?


Friday, July 13, 2012

Samsung Galaxy SIII Review

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android Talk" @ 10:00 AM

http://www.droid-life.com/2012/06/1...laxy-s3-review/

"Are you ready for 2GB of RAM? How about a phone that lets you and your friends share the world with a couple of clicks? Do you want to be a part of the next Android global phenomenon? This is the phone that is supposed to bring all of that – let’s see if it did."

It's almost old news now but the Samsung Galaxy SIII is a hit and still a phone people are talking about. I figured there are probably many who are thinking about buying one but haven't made the move. Check out the review after the break.

This phone is well future proofed (assuming Samsung supports it well) with the excellent performance of the Snapdragon S4, 720x1280 3.8" SuperAMOLED display, 2GB of RAM, removable battery, and MicroSDXC. It's one of the first phones that has MicroSDXC as opposed to MicroSDHC. This means instead of being limited to 32GB of MicroSD storage the theoretical limit is 2TB! They advertise 64GB since that's the largest that's available right now. The 2GB of RAM was a smart move too. Many phones have been limited being upgradable to the next version of Android (whatever it was at the time) due to not having enough memory. That will not be a problem with the North American version of the Galaxy SIII for a while.

I have a few friends who bought it and are very happy with it. The battery life seems to be excellent and the performance is awesome. I think the screen looks great on it too even though it is PenTile. Did you buy the Galaxy SIII? Which carrier do you have? How has your experience been with it so far?


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Word Lens Augmented Reality Translation App Released for Android

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android Software" @ 09:30 AM

http://www.androidpolice.com/2012/0...eptic-hands-on/

"The beauty of an app like Word Lens is it is really fast to use since it uses the camera and updates the image live. It also completely replaces words it sees instead of just adding overlays, all while trying to match the same font, color, background, and text size."

This looks like a pretty amazing app to me and one of the most practical uses of augmented reality I've seen. Watch the video above and see what you think. It actually replaces text you would otherwise see through the camera of your phone with the text in the language of your choice. Right now they offer Italian, Spanish, and French. Everything is done locally so no network connection needed. You basically pay $5 per language pack.

Check out the Hands-On mini-review after the break for more demonstrations and information.


Friday, July 6, 2012

The ASUS Google Nexus 7: A Performance Beast

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 09:00 AM

http://www.wired.com/reviews/2012/0...y-number-7/all/

"Note to all tablet makers not named Asus: This is how you make a 7-inch tablet.

The Nexus 7, the first tablet to wear Google's Nexus brand, sets a new standard for smaller slates, proving that just because it isn't as big as Apple's iPad doesn't mean it can't be just as useful, as fast, or as fun. If you've been on the fence about Android, or tablets in general, this is the tablet you've been waiting for."

Most of the initial hands-on reviews for the wifi-only Nexus 7 are positive, and this one is no exception. The biggest complaint so far has been the lack of tablet applications for Android, so, for example, the user can be "stuck" with up-sized phone apps for popular apps like Facebook and Twitter. The near-IPS quality 1280x800 screen, at about 216ppi, is superb, and the quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 coupled with 1GB of RAM and either 8GB or 16GB of storage, is, as the author puts it, a beast. The first Android 4.1 Jelly Bean tablet screams, with none of the earlier OS hiccups, and the price is right, at $199 for 8GB, and $249 for 16GB. Out of the box, the tablet is obviously Google-centric, but can be tweaked, and the full Google Play store is available. Early purchasers (I was one) receive a $25 credit for the store, so I'll be able to add my obligatory "MS Office" equivalent. Shipping is scheduled for mid-July 2012 (I hope) so check back here as we review more real world experiences with the Google Nexus 7 from ASUS.


ARCHOS ELEMENTS 97 carbon Tablet Announced

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 12:00 AM

"ARCHOS, an award-winning innovator in consumer electronics, is pleased to introduce the ARCHOS 97 carbon, the first of its new tablet range called "ELEMENTS", an entry-level line up of 7, 8, and 9.7 inch tablets that combine ARCHOS design and engineering with full access to Google PlayTM and a full suite of Google apps at an affordable price."

Interesting to see the new tablets coming to market at consumer-friendly prices. This 9.7-inch tablet sports an IPS screen, plays 1080p HD video, weighs 21.8-ounces, and is 0.45-inches thick. With a 1-GHz processor (no further processor details were available), 1GB RAM, and 16GB storage, the Carbon 97 is running Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) 4.0 and is set to debut this July (2012) with a price of $249.99 or less. Interesting to also note that the carbon 97 supports expandable memory via SDHC cards up to 32GB and (or?) USB flash drives from a full-sized USB port. It'll be interesting to see if ARCHOS can crash the tablet party, and give the bigger players some competition at this price point.


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