Monday, March 22, 2010

Teaching My Tether to Get Along With Classic

I posted this guide to Hotsyncing my Pre with my netbook using My Tether as a wifi hotspot in Precentral in this thread. I am archiving it here on my blog because I don't want to have to spend a lot of time searching for it on Precentral's vast forums.

Running My Tether and Can't Hotsync? Use My Tether to Hotsync!

I'm not sure if this post will fall into the "Duh, we all knew that already" category or the "That's just crazy enough to work!" category but it's new to me and I haven't seen it on these forums.

I was thinking about doing a hard reset on my Classic PalmOS installation in hopes of getting it to perform better but wanted to do one final Hotsync in order to back it up. But I had been having a lot of trouble performing a Hotsync. Wifi? Failed. Bluetooth? Failed. Then I remembered reading in these forums that a lot of users of My Tether were having trouble hotsyncing.

So I had what seemed at the time to be a crazy idea. Since My Tether is doing a fairly good job of turning my Pre into a wifi Hotspot, why not tether my Pre to my netbook via wifi and do a wifi Hotsync that way? Since I was having no success in Hotsynching while connected to my home wifi network, this felt like a rather unlikely solution but I tried it anyway. And it worked.

So to summarize:

The Problem: Cannot Hotsync Classic via wifi or Bluetooth.

The Cause: Users of My Tether often suffer this problem and it is widely believed that My Tether is the culprit.

The Solution:
  1. Launch both My Tether and Classic.
  2. Turn on wifi tethering in My Tether.
  3. Connect to your Pre as you would connect to any other wifi hotspot.
  4. Take note of the IP address which your Pre assigns to your computer.
    • In Windows 7,
      1. Click on the wifi icon in your system tray to bring up your wifi network.
      2. Right click on your wifi network (by default My Tether calls itself, AoNet).
      3. Click on Status and then click on the Details button.
      4. Your IP adress will be listed in the Network Details box that comes up.
    • In Windows XP,
      1. Your connection will sometimes put a network icon in your system tray.
      2. Click on it and select the Support tab of the status dialog that pops up.
      3. Your IP Address will be listed here.
        1. If this icon is not in your system tray, open My Network Places instead.
        2. Click on View network connections in the sidebar and click on Wireless Network Connection.
        3. It will pop up the same status dialog as in the above example.
  5. Launch the Hotsync app in Classic.
  6. Tap on Select PC.
  7. The Hotsync app will be unable to find a PC and will ask you to enter your PC's name or IP address by hand.
  8. Enter the IP address that your Pre assigned to your PC.
  9. Tap Done.
  10. Tap Hotsync.
That should be it. You should now be able to do a successful hotsync. Or at least that's what I did to get Hotsync running in Classic.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Snake Oil or Useful Health Supplement?

Links to this nifty infographic have been making the rounds for some time. But there is an interesting discussion about it and the at Scienceblogs that might be worth a look.

An Unofficial RSS for a Web Comic You've Probably Never Heard of...

...or maybe you have but you don't follow it because you couldn't find an RSS feed for it. It turns out that all you(I) had to do was Google it. And there it was and is. And that makes these fragmented sentences worth it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Maybe the Nexus One Wasn't Supposed to be a Hit

(19/365) Do I miss my iPhone? One week of Goog...Image by spieri_sf via Flickr

There has been quite bit of buzz about the Nexus One and its failure in the marketplace. Google's first branded smartphone has sold only 135,000 units, making it a bona fide flop. But I have to wonder if Google needed or even wanted it to succeed. While the Nexus One was Google's first smartphone, it was hardly a unique product. It was only one of a rather long and always growing line of Android handsets being built by a wide variety of cell phone vendors. In fact, I distinctly recall a lot of grumbling that with the Nexus One, Google was going to be competing directly with its own customers, the companies which had licensed the Android operating system.

And this makes the "failure" of the Nexus One fairly convenient for Google and for its licensees. Now Google can reassure its licensees, "See guys, we're not taking away sales from you!" But despite the lackluster sales, the Nexus One did raise the bar putting powerful hardware into an attractive package which handset makers still have to match. And this was likely the point of the Nexus One all along to let competitors like The Droid get the sales while the Nexus One keeps them honest and nudges them in the direction that Google wants them to go. No more underpowered Android handsets.

This wouldn't be the first time that Google has done something like this, putting out a product that was designed more to nudge rivals than to actually succeed on its own. While Google Chrome is growing in popularity and is now the basis for an ambitious new operating system, Chrome's original purpose seemed to be to assure that Google apps like GMail would run really, really fast. As a result, Chrome was a very fast browser with no extensions, no themes, and other glaring flaws. If the history of Chrome is any indication, I doubt if anyone at Google is losing any sleep over the Nexus One's sales.
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Monday, March 15, 2010

'Til Death—Directionless and Less Than the Sum of its Parts

'Til Death originally started out as a fairly generic Everybody Loves Raymond type of sitcom that got by on Brad Garrett's energy and some occasional wackiness by the supporting cast. Fast forward to the present and Garrett's energy is gone, the wackiness level is through the roof, and the show has gone from an overachiever to and underachiever.

'Til Death is probably the most self-aware sitcom on television right now with Eddie's son in law Doug having developed a "mental condition" where he believes that he is on a TV sitcom. As a result, the show trots out every sitcom cliche in hopes that it will somehow be fresh because they are winking at it. The trouble is that TV shows have been breaking the fourth wall for decades; so when 'Til Death does it, the winking self-awareness doesn't feel fresh.

That's not to say that the show doesn't work hard to be inventive. I'm currently watching an episode where the cast is dreaming of Doug and Ally's wedding filmed entirely as a series of cartoons. But ultimately, it all feels like the writers are throwing darts at the wall hoping that something will stick. And right now, not enough is sticking.

While the over the top performances by almost the entire supporting cast do guarantee the occasional laugh, this show used to get more laughs without trying half as hard as they do now. This raises the question of what happened and I think that the answer is that they've essentially taken their star, Brad Garrett, and turned him into a straight man. It reminds me of the "What Up With That?" skit on Saturday Night Live which is an interview show where there are so many ridulous distractions with singing and dancing that the host never gets around to interviewing his guests. At this point in its existence, 'Til Death is a lot like that skit. There is so much over the top silliness that there is little room for anyone to be consistently funny.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Google Reinvents Graffiti

Google has added a new feature to Android which looks a lot like an old feature from another mobile OS. Palm's old PalmOS PDAs had stylus-based input system called "Graffiti" where you would enter characters based on set of predefined pen strokes. It worked very well for years until the emergence of smartphones required Palm and Handspring to adopt keyboards for their devices. Add a long lawsuit by Xerox and Graffiti disappeared into the mists of gadget history.

Sort of. The idea of Graffiti remains popular enough that there is even a version available for iPhones. So it was probably only a matter of time before someone tried to bring it to Google's Android OS. That someone turned out to be Google itself which recently released a Gesture Search application which allows you to run searches by simply drawing letters. This is essentially what you did with the old PalmOS Graffiti.

But Gesture Search is a single standalone application while Graffiti was an essential part of the PalmOS and could be used with every PalmOS application. In fact even after Palm abandoned having a dedicated Graffiti input area for its Treo phones, it was still possible to install an app which would allow you to enter Graffiti strokes directly on the phone's screen.

That has gotten me to think about webOS on my Palm Pre. While there is a virtual keyboard available for webOS, there is nothing like Graffiti or even Gesture Search available for webOS. And that's disappointing because after all, Palm was the company which made this sort of input work in the first place.

And I think that Palm is uniquely suited to make it work again. Palm already has the code to Graffiti and Graffiti II—the successor to Graffiti which Palm introduced in part because of the Xerox lawsuit. And Palm has a its dashboard notification system which would be a convenient place to keep the controls for a Graffiti-style input system. So there really is no reason why Palm couldn't create another version of Graffiti and have it work on the entire operating system.

I used Graffiti for years on Palm PDAs. And I've used smartphone keyboards for years. But I was never really able to get used to using virtual keyboards which is one reason why I never got an iPhone. Now if I could have Palm's old Graffiti writing system back and have it live in my Palm Pre's dashboard, that would be a great alternative to sliding open my Pre when I only have to enter one or two characters.

Official Google Mobile Blog: Search your Android phone with written gestures