Archive for January, 2009

The Best Technology 2005 Had to Offer: The G1’s Camera

January 14th, 2009 No comments

At 3.2 megapixels, the G1’s camera certainly doesn’t set any records–the Samsung Omnia gets 5 megapixels, and apparently 10mp models are on the way. However, 3.2mp is not half bad for a phone which doesn’t cater to the avid photographer. Besides, I remember when 3.2mp was the state of the art for digital cameras. My Nikon Coolpix 3100 still takes great pictures, dammit!

So far, I’ve found the quality of the G1’s photos to be excellent. Since the phone has no flash, the shutter slows down a lot in low-light conditions, but the colors stay true and there’s almost no grain. Outdoors or with good light, the camera performs even better.

Using the G1's camera

Using the G1's camera

Getting photos from the G1 to a computer is relatively easy as well–since the pictures are stored on the microSD card, you just have to connect the USB cord to your computer, mount the phone by going to the Notifications screen, and navigate to the resulting removable drive on your operating system of choice. Photos are in the “dcim” folder, just like with a digital camera.

My one gripe with the phone is that the photos are saved as 72 dpi by default–too low for a good quality print. Changing the resolution to a more realistic 300 dpi in Photoshop, however, still yields a 6.8′ by 5.1′ image–certainly big enough for a good 4 X 6 print. Thus far, my images average 357kb, certainly small enough to email or send using MMS.

Security Through Pretty Pictures: The Unlock Pattern

January 13th, 2009 No comments

Once you’ve got all your contacts, personal emails, embarrassing party photos, etc. on the G1, it’s nice to have a way to keep everything nice and secure in case the phone gets lost. Luckily, the G1 has a very Googley solution that allows you to avoid typing a password each time you go to use the phone. It’s called the Unlock Pattern. You enable it by going to Settings–>Security and Location and selecting Require Pattern.

G1 Require Pattern

You’ll be promoted to draw a little pattern by connecting a series of dots. From now on, when your phone is sleeping and you press the Menu button to unlock it, Android will ask you to repeat it.

Draw Pattern to Unlock

You then simply redraw your pattern to get access to the phone. As an aside, I still haven’t worked up the courage to press the Emergency Call button…

If a thief were to find the phone, it’s unlikely that they would be able to guess the pattern. Also, after a few incorrect attempts, the phone shuts you out for 30 seconds, preventing thieves from using brute force to break in.

Draw Picture to Unlock, Wrong

If you’re afraid of your friends seeing the pattern, you can avoid the little green circles by unchecking the Use Visible Pattern box in the menu where you turned the feature on.

Good Touch, Bad Touch: The G1’s Touchscreen

January 10th, 2009 No comments

Clearly, the Multitouch capable touch screen is one of the better features of the G1 phone. Although I’ve found it to be somewhat less refined than the iPhone’s touchscreen (for example, the inability to zoom in and out by “pulling” and “pushing” with two fingers is consistently maddening), it’s effective.

Since, as a rule, I don’t read product manuals, I discovered most of the extended features of the touch screen by accident:

Moving An Icon and Killing the Analog Clock: Go to the Home screen. Touch and hold the icon or offending widget for about 2 seconds. The phone makes a reassuring “buzz” to let you know you’re moving something, and the application slider becomes a trash can. Drag the icon/widget there and let go to kill it. Drag to a different part of the screen to reposition.

The Lauded Copy/Paste: A true iPhone killer. If the text is in a text box (as with an online form), touch and hold for 2 seconds. Choose “Copy” in the resulting menu. Repeat elsewhere to paste.

Double Click: I find that, when the screen is being difficult, it helps to do a fast double-tap. This seems to work especially well for opening apps.

Selecting Text: Android seems to pull the following bits of information out of emails, websites, etc: street addresses, URLs, and phone numbers. Touch these and hold to add to contacts and whatnot.

Moving Around Within Text You’ve Written: Say you’ve written something, like an email, and you want to make changes. Ideally, you’d want to be able to click somewhere earlier in the email and use the delete key, like with a word processor. I’ve found that the touchscreen is consistently bad for this–it’s hard to get to the right point in the text. Instead, I’ve taken to using the little scroll ball–you can move around much more accurately and kill offending typos far faster.

Android Screenshots

January 8th, 2009 No comments
Android OS

An Uninteresting Android Screenshot

What’s a tech blog without pretty screenshots, eh?

Unlike with the iPhone, taking screenshots in Android is a somewhat involved process. One needs to download the Android SDK, install everything correctly, enable debugging on the phone, and jump through loads of other hoops. However, the results, it must be said, are excellent.

To simplify matters, Download Squad has a great article on the topic here: Taking Screenshots on an Android Based Phone

My Android Experience Begins

January 8th, 2009 No comments

Welcome to the blog! Recently, I received a T-Mobile G1 as a (solicited) Christmas present, equipped with Google’s new Android operating system. It took about 5 minutes to discover that Android is everything a nice piece of open source software should be–extremely capable yet endearingly temperamental. My first interaction with it–attempting to crop a photo for my wallpaper–yielded a comically huge enlargement of my forehead, plastered across the G1’s lovely Multitouch screen, with a nice friendly-looking analog clock smack in the center of it. This had neither the polish of an iPhone, nor the ruthless efficiency of a Blackberry. I was delighted–it was like carrying Ubuntu Linux around in my pocket!

Ever since, I’ve been experimenting with the G1. In learning about its features, I’ve found other blogs and websites extremely useful. For that reason, I decided to document what I discover, in case other people are Googling for the same things. Enjoy, and please comment!

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