The Android Chronicles

This page will be edited via my new htc desire so apologies for typos and errors. A combination of shaky thumbs and failing eyesight will make this a tad challenging.

July 16

For 20 yrs I’ve been a Mac user and assumed that when the time came I’d get an iPhone yet as the time approached I began to have misgivings.

As pleasing as the Apple interface and experience is, I was concerned that it may be limited in my online experience and activity. For someone who lives and works with tech I perhaps paradoxically love paper and my filofax. That said I’ve reached a moment in my life where I want and need to manage elements of my life and work online.

So I made a list

Blog on the move
Take and share pics to Flickr
Use a calendar and address book
Tweet
Have full web experience including flash and video

Not pay for a handset
Pay less than £30 per month
Min 1gb data

And so (no one more surprised than me) I decide Google are more likely to understand the way I want to work and I’ve  gone for HTC desire.

So my experience after 2 days?

It is blooming hard to type accurately and almost impossible to guide the optical track thing to specific part of the text to edit errors. I’ve inserted a pic of the filofax which I took with the phone and it’s a mystery where it will appear on the page.

Positives are:

excellent camera – made even better by the fx app I downloaded today

also downloaded seesmic so I now have a good Twitter client.

I’m using a WordPress app which gives q good functionality for blogging on the go (though i don’t know what this will look like when I publish)

Concerned that apps WiFi Bluetooth and gps would sap battery life I also downloaded task manager which allows me the reassurance that I’m in control of its activity. I don’t think its really needed though as the phone comes with a clear control panel to activate and switch off those functions from the home screen.

@documentally has encouraged and inspired me to try alternative social media and its disappointing that audioboo is too unstable to use at present tho’ they assure me they are working on it.

So this is how much I can type in 45 mins and hope ill get faster. At this moment in time I would say I’m very happy with my choice of device. If I can get a calendar working well and with integration with my work diary I think ill be very happy.

(It took an edit from the macbook to get the youtube embedded. Will look to see if I can do the whole process on phone over the next few days)

17 July2010

These are some of the first pics taken with the camera including some using the FXPhoto app. The pic of the fruit tart shows the results if I hold the camera steady and allow autofocus to take over. The ones in the park are pretty much all taken on the move with little attention to holding the phone steady. Overall I’m pleased with the results as I also have  a Panasonic Lumix for taking higher resolution images.

22 July2010

So I’ve had the phone for about a week and It’s all going very well. I’ve also been on leave this week and this has allowed me to play and explore features and apps and become more comfortable with the device.

I chose the phone so I could greater integrate my work and personal life at any time and place. The hardest part of the process is accurate text entry but its getting easier and at this rate I should soon be a lot faster and my online writing will become more natural instead of the somewhat stilted style seen here!

I am very pleased with the camera and the fxcamera app which allows me to take and share images online with ease.

image

(somewhere on this page an image of the bowls club in the last of the summer light yesterday evening. I’m assuming ill have to change its insertion point manually via my laptop.. I do like this WordPress app tho.) (I did have to move via macbook it as it appeared at the top of this page.)

I’m also very happy with my Google calendar. I’ve used the online version sporadically but now I can sync with the Desire I’m feeling very positive .. especially if I can also integrate my work calendar with it.

When choosing the phone one of the key functions I wanted was affordable and effective web access and in truth I have been happy with this alone. On WiFi the Desire flies around the web. It accesses web pages with speed and the ability to resize parts or all of a page means that I can speed read blogs and news and share effortlessly. On mobile web the device is fine. Tasks like updating Twitter are completed without hesitation and whilst some websites can take seconds to load.. the truth is this access is much faster than many would experience on networks in offices and schools.

Stuff I’m impatient for; audioboo and an easy printscreen function. What would I change? I’d have liked Camera button on the top edge where the tip of index finger rests. It feels unsteady to push the screen or trackpad and I am paranoid I’m going to.drop this bad boy! Which leads me to; I’ve insured the phone, fitted a silicone protective body and also a screen protector. My phone now looks less attractive but it does mean there is more chance the handset will last the length of its contract🙂

23 July2010

Now this may not seem much to you guys but today was a significant moment in the android journey..

I registered for an eventbrite session using the ol’ macbook, ticked ‘add to calendar’ box on the booking page and those excellent google fairies magically made the entry appear in the calendar on my phone – without me having to do anything! Round here we call that ‘life enhancing technology’. Feeling smug as a bug😉

28 July

Two weeks have passed and more than ever I’m convinced the Desire is the right choice for me. I’ve also had a chance to reflect on my own experience of tech and how it has coloured my first experiences of the phone.

It’s occurred to me that I am ‘old skool’ even tho’ I talk about and work with notional ‘cutting edge’ tech on a day to day basis and have done for more decades than I’d like to mention.There are some things I can do with the phone that I hadn’t appreciated are mainstream functionality. My work/personal use of tech is a comfortable blend of traditional and new. I use (d) a paper diary, give real birthday cards and write notes to my kids on Post-Its. I communicate with colleagues and friends via social media, text and VLE.

  • I am genuinely excited (!)that I can use my online google calendar and it updates the calendar and jorte (thanks @tombarrett!)app on my phone.
  • I love taking pictures and uploading them to Flickr
  • Thanks to @documentally I am also using Posterous with a clearer purpose than the previous fiddling about. (oddly altho’ Posterous’s main benefit is post once-post to many, I’ve decided (for the moment) that I will use Posterous as a kind of rudimentary photo blog)
  • The FXcamera effects add a new and interesting dimension to my pics (see http://www.simfin.Posterous.com) which acts as a motivator to ‘blogging’ on a day to day basis
  • I can edit my WordPress blog with relative ease. And here’s an example of my ‘old skoolishness’ – When I created the WordPress blog I structured it as a website, with separate pages as that’s how all my previous websites have looked. I felt uncomfortable with the episodic feel of a blog preferring to produce (almost) carefully crafted pieces of prose. I now realise that this will make writing ‘on the go’ a little more difficult as WordPress for example treats all uploads as blog entries and as such appear on what I would describe as the home page. I will need to think about whether I want to change the look, feel and tone of the blog..
  • My misgivings about the keypad are waning. I’m becoming more adept at text entry and as a consequence, quicker and more accurate. The problems are with me, not the device.
  • I’m looking forward to using AudioBoo when it finally works on the Desire and see this as part of the journey to eventually making video blogs too. Currently I feel a tad shy about broadcasting myself to the world..
  • I will be putting some movies on the Desire – I already have some on my ipod, converted by Handbrake and having tested the process it’ll be a doddle to put a few choice films on for those 3hr train journeys to and from London
  • I don’t see myself adding music on the phone, I have an ipod nano and it seems pointless to use finite storage on the phone when the nano is a great device in its own right
  • I’m really liking how my contacts include flickr and twitter. These downloaded from the sites to my phone and allow me to view and communicate with contacts on an individual level. To me this feels very Apple-esque. Does exactly what the user wants in an esthetic way.
  • I’ve passworded the phone – much to the frustration of my sproggs who can’t grasp the concept of protecting data and digital identity. It may seem tedious but if I lose the phone the person who finds it can edit all my online contributions and identities.. so if you start to see torrents of abuse in my tweets it probably means I’ve lost my phone..
  • I’ve also insured the phone, for free, via my personal banking account with NatWest
  • After initial ‘chatting’ years ago I’d not found a use for Google Talk and yet earlier this week I was surprised to find @iusher ‘chatting’ with me in real time from The US – on my phone – pretty cool I thought.
  • The alarm clock is, again, a lovely piece of design and easy to configure
  • I wish there was a print screen function without having to ‘root’ my phone and take screen shots via a connected pc. I’d like to show you how I’ve customised 3 of the 7 homescreens (I’d call them desktops) the first has calendar, contacts, cameras, internet and power control (for wifi, sync etc). The 2nd is all my socialmedia entry widgets eg, seesmic, wordpress, youtube etc. and the 3rd is a more generic set of downloaded and installed non essential apps like Latitude, mvideo, Shopsavvy, market etc.
  • Yes, I’d agree the battery life is poor, It’s lasts a day but bear in mind I’m fiddling with it all the time, going online, taking and viewing pics etc.
  • And finally, a key factor in my increasing confidence with the phone was fitting silicone cover and screen protector. For the first few days I was hesitant to touch/drop it and now it has some level of protection I handle the device more robustly and this also has helped with text entry (more jabbing than tickling!)

6 August

A mixed week with the Desire. I have no complaints about the phone, it’s now become a comfortable companion and, as I’d hoped, making my life easier.

My previous handset was sometimes described as the first social media phone – the INQ, and chosen for me by my younger daughter. True it was primed for Facebook, MSN et all but wasn’t by any definition a smart phone and uploading images to Twitter was never really successful.

The ability to take good quality images and effortlessly upload to Posterous, Flickr and Twitter has been a delight. I’m using gmail and Google calendar with ease and I’m liking how texts are presented as conversations similar to the way gmail handles mail.

The downside of this week has been the problems with Posterous – which suffered attacks on its servers and Twitter which presented the fail whale on several occasions. Both these events made me realise how much social media and online communications are becoming a key part of the way I manage my life. As my job requires me to work with social media – and I don’t deny I enjoy its random usefulness, I find I’m spending more time online then ever before – and it is thanks to the HTC that I’m able to do this.

I’ve also realised that for once , I’ve found myself in the limelight. I wanted an iphone, thought I needed an iphone yet it was logic, budget and sound advice (and, oddly, I listened to!) which led me, somewhat reluctantly to the android. No one was more surprised than me to find that inadvertently, I’ve moved to android and the Desire  just at the moment when it’s very possibly cooler to own an android than the ‘restrictive’ ‘overpriced’ ‘reception’ issues iphone.

So, this is a first for me, right moment, right time – and I’ll enjoy it for the brief moment it lasts.

17 August

There’s been changes. I’ve been on leave, had a Big Birthday and the Desire has seamlessly integrated itself into my life to such an extend that I barely feel it warrants a separate section on my blog. I really wanted my next phone to be an enabler, to blog, email, photograph, and speak without any frustration or concerns about cost or process.

The Desire is far more intuitive than I expected. I’d had real concerns that I’d spend most my time feeling that I’d wish I’d bought an iphone and curse the clumsy routines to use the functions and apps I need to communicate with my social networks. Instead I can simply take pictures, with/without filters, record video, search web, check my blog, participate on Twitter and read and send email.

You know when someone on Twitter asks for folk to suggest their all time killer app, the one program you can’t live without? Well, I’d say Posterous. It’s transformed the way I think about recording and commenting on my waking hours. One simple email sends my pictures and text to Twitter, Flickr and Posterous (and in the case of video, YouTube and Blip.tv). It’s also made me realise that whilst this blog on WordPress is a useful vehicle for my more considered reflections on Education matters, I’ve also wanted a more observational, ironic and personal platform – and my Posterous is proving to be an ideal medium.

And as an endnote to this entry – on Saturday I found myself in a department store using shopsavvy and bar scanner to check the prices of things I was thinking of buying. This is one of those (small) life changing things that I simply couldn’t have imagined possible a few years ago. Not so long ago we used to drive from shop to shop to find the cheapest product such as washing machines, TVs etc. In more recent times a bit of research on the web before leaving home meant we were better prepared and now I can compare prices world wide simply by holding my phone near the product in question. So far I’ve struggled not to giggle like a child when the prices appear and Shopsavvy tells me it’s cheaper at Tesco 1.6 miles away.

Good times.

22 August

I’ve added Retro Camera to my Desire to enable me to create even more interesting pictures. The dangers of over using effects ofcourse is that the pictures simply become the sum of the effect rather than the subject of the picture.

I’ve also got myself a Moleskine notebook to go with the Polaroid PoGo I got for my birthday from my sproggs. The PoGo is a nifty retro piece of kit. It uses Zink technology, which, put simply, means there’s no ink in the device but works by heat to print on the special polaroid paper. PoGo communicates with the Desire via bluetooth, making printing as easy as sending a file and for the more serious work I can connect my ‘real’ camera via a usb cable. The results or okay/good and I’m aiming to record events physically as well as digitally and annotate by hand. It would appear that one way or another, regardless of the tech, I will be a user of pen and paper forever.

13 Sept 10
I’ve been pondering why I’ve not felt the need to update these chronicles and then it hit me. The Desire is nothing special.

What??

I know. After all the fuss and excitement I’ve realised that the Android has become so much a part of my everyday activity that it’s no longer a ‘special’ piece of technology. It does what it’s supposed to do – seamlessly adding value to the way I live my life.

I record the day’s events with the camera and a choice of effects apps. These pics are effortlessly uploaded to Flickr, posterous and twitter.

I follow links to blogs from the good people of Twitter and save to delicious to be shared with colleagues and friends around the world.

The challenge is the calendar. We’re in the process of changing email provider and learning platform at the office and until final.decisions are made I won’t be sure that I can integrate work calendar with personal Google calendar. I don’t anticipate problems but I’ll not be satisfied until it’s sorted.

Having haggled with 3 to get 1gb data allowance I’m finding I’m barely using any data at all. The Desire is easy to configure and as WiFi takes priority over mobile network connection I rarely find myself having to rely on the phone’s data connection.

What next? I want to start trying some audio blogs and perhaps video too. Audioboo for Android is still flaky I think but when I get confirmation it works I’ll see what I can manage.

And finally text entry is getting easier though I do find random.fullstops appearing mid sentence.

At the risk of sounding an Android bore.. I love my phone🙂

image

19 September 2010

Brief update. Work calendar now integrated with my personal calendar on phone. I can choose to view my personal, work or both overlayed. Brill!

Email too is also sorted. I can switch between personal gmail account and work email within the same email client.

However – None of our Blackberries are syncing with Outlook Calendar and the Blackberry is proving to be a bit of a pig to sync. If things don’t get sorted soon then I think my next update will be to say that Android should be the platform of choice for business. I know, surprised me too.

23 October 2010

I downloaded Froyo the latest major android update last week and despite some warnings, by some poor souls who lost data, about needing a factory reset, it was all a bit underwhelming..

..and then I discovered that now I can use the phone as a Portable WiFi Hotspot.

I found myself in a meeting later in the week with no internet, my macbook and a need to show some resources on our website to the other members of the meeting. In a flash of persperation I whipped out the Desire, ticked a box in the wireless settings and seconds later I have very passable web access, as if by magic. The other people in the room looked suitably gobsmacked. Now I understand that the uber geeks among you probably think this a bit lame but  the good folk in my meeting found themselves staring at my phone rather than concentrating on the web page on my macbook!

Little triumphs people, little triumphs.

1 Nov 2010
Brief update: have been concerned that I don’t really know how much data I’m using on a day to day basis. I have a 1gb allowance and so far haven’t exceeded it each month but do anticipate using more data in future.

@olliebray has encouraged me to look at geocaching and this requires constant data transfer possibly for hours on end. To this end I installed 3G Watchdog to provide data usage info. It’s a cracking free app and kicks in when I use 3g but hides in the background when I’m using WiFi which is handy.

So far my current usage sits around 8 to 12mb each day and predicts that on current usage I’ll only be using 20% of data allowance per month. As most my activity is around twitter, following weblinks to pages and uploading images to Flickr and posterous it is clear that I’d probably have been fine with the 500mb I was offered by 3 but with more ambitious use of the phone in future I’m pleased I haggled for the full 1gb.

Smashing.

21 Nov 2010

Sad Android

Friday nite and I had a problem with the Desire. I use the Mail app to manage and access my personal gmail account and also my work emails. It’s usually a seemless activity to switch accounts however on Friday evening when I tried to switch from gmail to my work account the following message greeted me:

process com.htc.android.mail force close


I figured it was a temporary glitch so tried again.. and again. So I moved on to the ubiquitous computer fix; I turned it off and on again.

No better.

Harrumpf.

Next we move on to battery and sim card removal etc.

Nada.

Okay, it would appear that I had a problem. A swift search on Google showed that I wasn’t alone. In fact a shed load of people seem, over the years to have had a range of similar issues with other apps. My main concern was a consensus of opinion was around re setting the device.

Not funny

Really didn’t relish setting everything up again and repopulating contacts etc.

Another suggestion was to delete the mail account and, on doing this, the problem was fixed immediately.

So what do we know? Deleting the work account was of no lasting consequence for me as all my emails are archived in Outlook on the work laptop. I only use the Desire to keep an eye on what’s happening out of hours. I might have had a different view if the Desire was the only device storing my emails. In the event, the account repopulated with contacts and recent emails, so I have nothing to complain about.

The broader lesson learnt is a useful reminder for all of us; any computer device, regardless of operating system, will at some point, stop working temporarily..or permanently.

Our conclusion? What most of us have always known; backup.

Backup

..and backup your backups.

End of lesson.

16 Jan 2011

Brief update. It hardly feels relevant to keep this page updated as I simply reiterate my early posts. The Desire is, in my view, almost faultless and does what says on the tin.

My initial concerns were that I was buying a cheaper, poorer imitation of the much coveted (by me) iphone and I needn’t have worried. The calendar, twitter client, mail, camera (still and video) all work flawlessly – in terms of my needs.

The good news is; Audioboo is back and working so when I find something to say I’ll start to post audio blogs and join the Audioboo community.

I’ve installed the Posterous app but I’m struggling to see its advantages over posting via email. I cannot speak too highly of Posterous. It has given me a socialmedia ‘voice’ and the images I post on Posterous are also sent to flickr providing me with a useful ‘belt and braces’ back up of my images.

I’m probably the last person to have realised this – I can view Powerpoint presentations in my Dropbox folder via the Dropbox app I installed a few weeks ago.

I confess to not really fully appreciating the benefits of Dropbox. I tend to use it to move big files between computers and recently myself and @iusher worked on a presentation updating and sharing via a communal Dropbox folder. It hadn’t occurred to me that I could view the contents of a Dropbox folder on my phone and I’m now thinking it’ll provide a useful aide in some of my presentations.

I caught sight of something on BBC Click today which may (if it works on Android) answer one of the niggling issues I have with my current tech gear. I have a great little 10mp Panasonic Lumix camera which takes better pictures that the Desire, but it has no other socialmedia functionality. I’d like a simple way to get the images off the camera and onto the phone when I’m out and about. I think Click showed an SD card that functioned as a wifi hotspot and allowed users to transfer images to the phone and use the phone’s mobile connection to post to the web. If this is available, and affordable, then it may be my next purchase. Which would be nice.

Stop Press: it’s called the eye-fi more info here: http://www.eye.fi/press-releases/great-images-and-instant-gratification-with-eye-fis-direct-mode-the-mobile-solution

30 Aug 2012

I should have mentioned this sooner.. I have a new phone, the Samsung Galaxy S3.

The Desire contract with 3 expired in June and I was very tempted to move onto a sim only contract with all you can eat data for £15 per month. However the device hardware was beginning to let me down.

I’d used the phone all day every day for 2yrs so it’s been remarkable that it essentially worked without any faults. The battery died earlier in the year and unlike iphone, I was able to order a replacement and was up and running within 48hrs. More seriously the usb connector on the device was worn and refused to firmly grip the power cable. This meant that some days I would wake to find it hadn’t been charging at all. This became an irritant and so, with some reluctance, I decided to invest in a new handset.

I could say that after huge research and indecision I selected the device but in truth, it was a simple choice between the HTC One or the Samsung.

It’s a great bit of kit. Almost twice the size of the Desire, more memory, better screen and .. All You Can Eat Data. After over a month of using it I still can’t get used to the idea that I have no need to limit my data use – or search for free and lame wifi. I fall asleep listening to live streams of TV and radio, watch youtube videos and upload pics to Dropbox, Posterous, Flickr etc, like there’s no tomorrow.

So, this is probably the last post on this page. My conclusion from 20yrs of Apple/Windoze and 2yrs of Android? Android. Android every time. It was made for using the web and all its opportunities. What’s not to like?

17 Responses to The Android Chronicles

  1. Nate Otto says:

    As a Motorola Droid user, I was pretty slow typing at first. Try out the Swype keyboard though, which you can find here and there around the web. It boosted my speed a lot, though you have to be careful to look for bad guesses that are nothing like the word you were aiming for. It’s still not in the same ballpark as using a real keyboard, but it’s passable. Also, adding words to your dictionary is a snap: just longpress the text box just after entering a new word you want to save and it’s in the menu.

    I love how the apps work together well and can tap into the core of the system to replace built-in functions (like making Swype usable in any text box and sharing content through so many different paths).

  2. James Clay says:

    Another vote here for Swype, a great way of using the keyboard.

    The other solution is to use a real keyboard via Bluetooth.

  3. Dale Jones says:

    Keep an eye out for Dasher for Android too – Dasher’s great for entering text on a non-keyboard interface.

    Dasher for Android

  4. Thanks for keeping this narrative going Simon, it’s a great read and some useful insights into Android.

  5. ffolliet says:

    Another vote for swype (other stroke type data entry apps are available) and also for tweetdeck too. Battery life needs a bit of setup but can be significantly improved by various tweaks.

    But overall, the hip factor IS there-you WILL want to comment the 1st time you see a fellow Desire user

  6. Dianne Spencer says:

    Thanks for writing about your phone in such depth. Really interesting and clearly I have much to learn! As a BBstorm2 user – my first smart phone I still don’t use it to anything like it’s full potential. Am already thinking about my next smart phone (as you do) and thoughts about the iphone seem to be disappearing into the ether….. I have just started delving into google docs and have been amazed at how useful they are! I’m a complete *dinosaur* when it comes to such technology and objective posts such as yours are really helpful! Thanks.

  7. All very illuminating as always Simon. My additional problem is that I’m not sure I need a device that is any more than a mobile phone any more….. I think if I did you’d have a pretty convincing case here, but now I have an IPAD (truly my can’t live without device) I seldom use my 3G Iphone for anything other than as a phone….. or camera.
    Hmmm, £15 per month for a sim to run on my Iphone 3G is pretty good for someone who hardly uses the thing and currently is forking out £45 a month…..

  8. John McLear says:

    +1 Android. I don’t use my android much because I’m pretty much tied to my desk writing apps for the damn things so it’s always great to read other peoples experiences.

  9. simfin says:

    Thanks matey:)

  10. Steve Pace says:

    +1 Galaxy S, with Android – Needed a phone to do stuff on, that might connect to a corporate network too – Kies is a naff piece of software for most things, but does enable Exchange sync. Surprise, surprise, Corporate IT let it connect – now my world is complete! Android on the move, a Mac when I’m sitting and a link to Corporate IT. Now, if only Froyo could walk the dogs in the rain for me, I’d be “exstatic”…
    This is convergence in a good way, enabling work use and personal use in 1 device, but I think that may be a bad thing for my work:life balance!

  11. Jon Farley says:

    Thanks for this post which I found very interesting as I too chose a desire after contemplating getting an iPhone. I’ve found it very useful for personal & work use as I often on the road. I’ve found the wordpress app very useful but the ability to sync email and calendars vital. What has surprised me is how much I’ve used it for web browsing.

    • simfin says:

      I agree and thanks for the feedback. I like how I can see both work and personal appointments in the same calendar – or choose to view on or other.

      • Pam says:

        That’s what I’d like to do as I have 2 google calendars – 1 for school & 1 personal. It would be great to see the appointments/events in both at the same time but I haven’t quite worked it out yet. Any advice gratefully received🙂

  12. John McLear says:

    Some great updates! Nice one matey

  13. bcbailey64 says:

    I too was shopping around for an iphone last summer, having previously relied on a blackberry and a sony-ericson smartphone. The salesman said he would buy an HTC Legend over an iphone and they had a good deal on so I said OK, I’ll try it and if I don’t like it I’ll bring it back. Similar experience – LOVE it and I think that the Android Marketplace makes it a superior product to the overpriced iphone4. As you said, it works seamlessly in a social media oriented world. Kudos!

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