Thursday, January 31, 2013

Google: Give Me a Nexus TV, and Take My Money

At my current residence, cable and internet are included; cool. However, I will be moving in August to a place where utilities are not included, and the only option is Charter. Charter's service starts out at $90 a month for the first year and goes up to $110/mo after that. That is for Basic (oh soooo basic) Cable and 10 Mbps Internet (the internet by itself is $39.99).

I want to "cut the cord."

Google TV looks like a product with so much potential. Full Web Browser on my 50" tv? Hell yeah. Playing games, running apps, watching streamed content for 1/4 the price of cable each month? OK! Letting me download full seasons of my favorite shows for about $15 per show/per season (there are like two I care about that are not available via live streaming). Sounds like you have a deal.

But here is what I want. I want to spend less than $200 on my hardware. I want it to be reliable, not freeze, not reboot, not lag. I don't want to fight my TV like I used to fight my HTC Hero. Here is the issue: no matter how much you spend, there is no gTV product on the market today that has this. Not the Logitech Review, not the Vizio Co-Star, none of the Sony garbage that is out there. Nothing. And the future does not look great, I was not wow'd by the Asus Qube.

And Google TV does not offer every service I need. If I'm spending money, I want:

  • Full Web Browser
  • HBO GO
  • Netflix
  • Hulu Plus
  • Amazon Instant
  • Crackle
  • Games would be fantastic
  • Need to be able to purchase seasons of shows for < $20
  • Smooth (holo based) UI
  • Good Remote Control

Now without a current Google TV device that fits the bill, I could look to other options, but here is the problem

  • Xbox 360/PS3 - new generation of systems is right around the corner, controllers are made for gaming not TV navigation
  • Apple TV - limited content, very locked down, apples DRM kills me
  • Roku - No Web Browser, no option for games (games are not a deal breaker)
  • Boxee - No HBO Go, No Hulu
  • XBMC - Not Plug and Play, building a powerful enough rig is too much money

We need Google to put something great in our living rooms and change the game, just like with phones, and with tablets, the platform will not improve until Google forces it to, and sets a standard with the Nexus Program. Google has all the tools they need to make a $99 set top box, and give dev's incentive to make great apps. Google would make a killing off of the ads they would be putting in the center of our living rooms rather than just our computer monitors and cellphones. I just don't know what their waiting for. If they don't release real Nexus device soon, I get the feeling they never will.

If Google made a "Nexus TV/ Nexus Q^2" would you buy it?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Historic Day; Blackberry's Final Kick

Remember today as one of the more definitive days in technology history. Even with Blackberry's (RIM?) face-plant over the last few years, they have the best shot at being a major player in the mobile space with the likes of Google and Apple. 

Today is the day the pull out all the stops, and throw ALL of their cards out on the table. There is nothing to hold back, there is no "well....maybe Blackberry 11 will be good." If their software isn't perfect, their hardware of "Apple like quality" and their app store packed with great content over the next few months, then Blackberry will be gone, forever.


Today they are "Officially" announcing 2 new devices, the z10 and the q10. The hardware looks pretty good, with industry standard high end specs.

The Hardware looks good overall. The q10 looks like the Blackberry's of old, while the z10 takes on a simple design. The z10 is basically an all black slate, with the word Blackberry at the bottom. It takes some design from the iPhone, with the flat squared off edges, flat level back, and rounded edges. Its like an iPhone 5 and Nexus 4 had a baby.

The z10 will compete directly with the iPhone 5, Optimus G, Nexus 4, Lumia 920, and Galaxy SIII. It is an all touch screen phone, running blackberries new BB10 OS.

The z10 specs include:
  • 4.2-inch touchscreen (no physical keyboard here)
  • 1280 x 768 resolution, and higher pixel density than apples latest "retina display" on the iPhone 5
  • Dual core TI OMAP 4470 processor; 1.5GHz
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 8-megapixel rear camera.
  • 2-megapixel front camera.
  • MicroSD slot (has 16GB on board storage)
  • NFC
  • LTE on supported carriers
  • Removable battery
  • mHDMI Port
The q10 is going to be for the Qwerty loving BB die-hards. Its more or less a new and improved Bold Touch 9930. This device is all about what Blackberry does best.

The q10 specs include:
  • 3.1" touchscreen
  • 720 x 720 resolution (330ppi)
  • 2GB RAM
  • Expandable storage
  • 1.5 GHz Processor
  • Full Qwerty Hardware keypad

The software looks good from the reviews I have seen online (credit Android Central), though I'm not lucky enough to have played with one myself. The OS uses a blend between "Cards" (similar to what palm uses), that transform into "widgets" or "live tiles." It's like Blackberry took everything we like about all the current smartphone OS's, threw in some Blackberry flavor, and put it on a couple of good looking devices. 

There is also BBM (remember that?) that looks to squash anything iMessege can do, as seen here in a hands on from Gizmodo.

Seems like things are looking up for Blackberry. They have made some mistakes in the past, but they cant change that, they are truly bringing their best foot forward.

I like what they are bringing to the table. I like how all US carriers will have the device's at some point, Hardware looks good, and software looks easy to use and smooth. If they can get some apps (Android emulated apps don't count), I really think they have a chance. There are a lot of loyal BB users out there that have been waiting a long time for this. 

Do you agree, do you think Blackberry has a chance? Or is Windows Phone 8 destined to be number 3? Let me know in the comments below.

Image Source: Gizmodo

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Top things to do after installing Ubuntu 12.10/12.04

So you installed Ubuntu, perhaps you've played around in the software center a bit, become familiar with a few features, but now what?

1) The first thing to do is upgrade and update your current software. To do this you can open the "terminal" app, then type in the following command and your password: 
  • sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

Its a good idea to reboot after doing this, the process may take a bit if its the first time...

2) Then install restricted extras, because of copyright's Ubuntu does not come with a lot of things you need like flash support. Rub this command in terminal:

  • sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
3) Now its time to enable full DVD play back, type the following command into terminal:
  • sudo apt-get install libdvdread4 sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/
  • sudo wget --output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list$(lsb_release -cs).list && sudo apt-get --quiet update && sudo apt-get --yes --quiet --allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get --quiet update
  • sudo apt-get install libdvdcss2
4) Now lets update your kernel to the newest version. right now its 3.7.5, this will soon change and a quick google search will get you to the right place, or this website keeps up on the latest linux kernel and how to install it.

5) So your all up to date, now its time to get the most important tool on Ubuntu, "Ubuntu Tweak." With this tool you can install great apps like Google Chrome, adjust your theme, clean up your system set "hot corners." its great, to get this enter the following commands, or go to
  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:tualatrix/ppa 
  • sudo apt-get update
  • sudo apt-get install ubuntu-tweak
Ubuntu Tweak

6) Get Netflix Instant to work (credit Erich Hoover using several apps and using wine to get this to go) Just enter the following commands in Terminal:
  • sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ehoover/compholio 
  • enter password 
  • sudo apt-get update 
  • sudo apt-get install netflix-desktop 
  • Read and accept the terms and conditions
Now open the newly installed Netflix app, and follow on screen instructions.

7) Setup online accounts. Open the online accounts application, and enter any accounts you may use. Ubuntu will integrate these into the desktop!8) For advanced users, check out other desktop environments I like Gnome-Shell, which can be found in the software center, but there is also XFCE, Cinnamon, KDE, and others. Unity is the default D.E. and I find it Clunky and slow.

Gnome 3.6 Desktop
9) Look into Google Drive. It is not just going to replace Microsoft Office, its going to upgrade the way you create documents.

10) Install "Wine" from the software center, it is an emulator that will allow you to run native windows apps, like Spotify and others.

11) If you are going to keep unity, turn off Amazon suggestions by entering the following commands in terminal:

  • sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping
12) lastly disable bug reports. This is a little more complicated, so I will link you to someone else's post.

That's it, you should be up and running now! If you can think of anything else leave it in the comments.

So You've Installed Ubuntu, Now What?

Ubuntu Software Center

Take to the Ubuntu Software Center

To actually use Linux you have to throw what Microsoft has crammed down you throat for the past 20 years, that you need to use their products. Can you get Microsoft Word? No. Do you need it? No. You need to understand that there are alternatives for everything.
  • Microsoft Word - Use 'Google Drive' or 'Libre Office'
  • iTunes - Try 'Banshee' or 'Rhythmbox'
  • Internet Explorer - 'Firefox' or 'Google Chrome' (I recommend this on windows too)
There is a ton of great software in the Software Center, so start there, then see my post on what to do after installing Ubuntu. Ill walk your through some tweaks and tricks to make your experience top notch, enough to make Mac users jealous.

You will find there is a learning curve, perhaps a week or so of frustration... but you will be a happier computer user in the end.

If your stuck feel free to shout me out on Google+ or take to the Forums and ask! Next see my post on what to do after installing Ubuntu.

Installing Ubuntu, the Easy Way

So you have decided to ditch windows, and try out a new, free, fast secure operating system...but how do you get started? It can seem pretty overwhelming at first.

Things you will need. Computer with internet connection and some free hard drive space, 4GB USB flash drive, a brain.

Consider this; it is your responsibility to make sure you have important data backed up. When messing at around with sensitive components on your computer something may go wrong....that is on you.

I will mainly show Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 users how to set up a dual boot, which I think is the best option. (Let's you boot up windows if you HAVE TO). This is not much of an option on Windows 8, but keep reading

First you will want to defrag your Hard Drive. On Windows 7, just open up your start menu and type "defrag."

Run the program, let it do its thing (may take a while, go grab a snack).

When it is done. Download Ubuntu 12.10. From here (if you have 64 bit use that...if you don't know what 64 bit is, download the 32 bit version.

Now download live USB creator. The one I use, I get from here. Its actually made for another version of Linux, called fedora, but it works great!

Now Plug in you 4GB USB flash drive, open it up and delete EVERYTHING in it, every single file. Once you have done that open the "live USB creator" we downloaded earlier. Click the "browse" button, and select the Ubuntu.iso you downloaded. It is likely in your "downloads" folder.

Now hit "Create live USB" 

The program will do it's thing, mine usually takes about 2 min.

When it is done, your ready for Ubuntu! Make sure to leave your USB flash drive in for the next few steps. 

You will need to turn off you Computer. Now when you turn it back on, you will see a splash screen you see every day, mine is black and says "Acer." Yours will more than likely show the brand of you computer, and stay lit for about 2 seconds before windows begins to boot up (if windows boots just restart and try again). When at this screen you should see a few options at the bottom. For example "press F10 for boot options, press F12 to change boot device." It may take rebooting your PC a few times, you gotta be quick!

If you have the option to simply change boot device, do that, and select "Usb drive xxx" and hit enter, that will boot up the Ubuntu installer. If your only option is "boot options" you will select that, and change your boot order around. 
Usually it goes like this by default:
-HDD 1
-HDD 2
-Network boot
You will need to move USB to the top and save changes using your on screen instructions, this part is very model specific, I have seen this hard to do on some newer Gateways, as they use a graphical BOIS.

Once in the installer you can either "Try Ubuntu" or "install Ubuntu." You are welcome to try it, but we are going to "install alongside of windows." Windows 8 users won't, at this time, be able to choose this option without issues, so for you folks you will need to completely ditch Windows, and loose everything previously on your machine. Please make sure this is actually what you want before proceeding.

Next you will pick how much space you want for Ubuntu to have, I select as much as possible. You will get to a point where you have the option to "install third party software" and "Update system when Ubuntu installs." i recommend choosing only the former, the latter takes to long. 

Now you will need a reboot, and your good to go. You're now a Ubuntu user. You if you changed your boot order you will have to go put it back now (HDD up top!). Also, look for my post on "things to do after installing Ubuntu" that's coming up!

For advanced users, you can make your own partitions using the instructions from audiomick here. Its basically a how-to guide for advanced users, the goods start at the bottom of page one, and onto page 2.

Now Check out my posts on what do do after installing Ubuntu:
So You've Installed Ubuntu, Now What?
Top Things To Do After Installing Ubuntu

Monday, January 28, 2013

Google Wallet, and Why You Should Use It...

Screenshot from

So who uses Google Wallet? Show of hands.... no one? Does any one know what it is....? My guess is most of you don't, and if you bought an Android device on Sprint in the last year, you probably have it. Just check your app Drawer.

Google Wallet is an app that uses NFC, a short range wireless signal, to transmit data. Many of your credit cards have a "fast tap" "paypass" or "blink" feature where you can "Tap to Pay."

The Problem with "Tap to Pay" credit cards is that they are insecure. Someone can easily steal all of your credit card information, and make a fake copy.

Whats great about Google wallet is that by default, phones do not transmit data when the screen is off, so the chance of someone bumping into you and taking all of your credit card info is slim to none. Also, the app itself is PIN protected, and you can password protect your phone as well. If you loose your physical wallet , well then all of your cards are in the hands of a stranger, but if you loose your phone you can keep a thief out with these features

As an added security feature, you can download the Lookout Mobile Security App from the Play Store, and take a picture of the jerk who took your phone, AND track him down.

The set-up of Google Wallet is simple, just enter the credit card info into the app of any card you want to use, verify it...and that's it.

Using the app is even easier, just unlock your phone, tap it on the credit card machine when checking out at a participating retailer (around me McDonald's  Meijer, and Rite-Aid all have terminals). The app will launch itself when you tap the phone, just enter your pin and voila! payment made!

Check it out for yourself.

What Microsoft should have done with Windows 8

Windows 8 Metro UI
Windows 8: The most game changing Desktop OS since Apple released OS X Leopard.

With the growth of touch screens, the new tile based "Metro UI" will be the future of computing. Especially with full fledged desktop replacement tablets like the Microsoft Surface Pro (that will be the demise of the iPad if Apple does not soon merge iOS and OS X). But on the traditional "mouse and keyboard" desktop, Windows 8 simply sucks.

It's just too hard to navigate. Having the traditional "desktop" and the Metro-based UI both running in the same session is hard and confusing to use, even for the tech savvy. When I ran it it was very "I just had this open....where did it go?"

Even more common, users will have 2 versions of the same app open, the metro version and the desktop version, this happens to me a lot in the browser. By default pages open in the "Metro" version of Internet Explorer, but when I'm working in the desktop, I open the traditional version. Then if I jump to another app, I have to go back and hunt for my's just to sloppy.

Microsoft should have...given traditional desktop users the option to choose at the log in screen weather they wanted to launch "desktop" mode or "metro" mode. Upon setup on the first boot the setup wizard should ask you (or detect) if you are using a touchscreen or not. If you are it would run as is. However, if you are using a standard desktop is should ask you at the log in screen which GUI you would like, Desktop or Metro. Similar to how Ubuntu gives me the option to use different Desktop Environments, like Gnome or Unity, right at the log in screen.

Hopefully next time around (which could be fairly soon), they will hear users complaints and make it more user friendly for us mouse using folk. Maybe they will take the Apple route, and just force us to adapt to what they want to sell us (touchscreen only devices, ie, Microsoft Surface Pro). Only time will tell.

If your using Microsoft Windows 8 I will suggest to you what I suggested to my tech illiterate mother. Either abandon/avoid the Metro UI at all costs. Or, for the time being, look to another OS that better handles traditional desktop users needs, like Apple's OS X, or a Linux distro.

I have nothing against Windows 8 as an OS, like I said on touch screen devices it is beautiful...but not on a traditional desktop. You can read my post on Linux, and Install instructions

I'm sure many of you have found ways to avoid the UI hangups, and confusion I discussed. If so please post in the comments!