Category Archives: Hardware

Dimming the insanely bright LED’s on a Motorola SB6141 cable modem

Motorola SB6141 cable modem
Blinding LED’s which fill the room with cool blue light.

A few weeks ago I decided to upgrade an aging
Motorola SB5101 cable modem to a new Motorola SURFboard 400 Series SB6141. After the obligatory call to Comcast to register the new MAC address everything was going swimmingly until I turned off the lights and suddenly landed in the world of TRON. The entire room was basked in cool blue light from the “stupidly, ridiculously, blindingly bright” LED’s. Seriously, they’re that bad and more, blinking incessantly and with a case full of holes it nearly filled the room. Continue reading Dimming the insanely bright LED’s on a Motorola SB6141 cable modem

Buy a Nikon D7000 with or without the kit lens?

I’m looking at buying a Nikon D7000 and I’m curious if I should simply forego the kit lens for an alternative? Alternatively, I’m thinking of getting a good 28mm lens for candids of the family/kids. The kit lens is a NIKKOR 18-105mm DX VR Lens and adds roughly $200 to the price tag.

My D70 finally died after “someone” pulled the CF card out, jammed it back in getting it stuck then leaving it sticking out sideways. While I managed to straighten the pins out and reseat the card I can’t get it to read successfully even though I’ve tried reformatting and another card.

Update: Dec 8. Ordered it without since the kits were out of stock.

Leaving Android for an iPhone 4S

I’m eligible for a device upgrade and as much as I’d like to stick with Android I can imagine myself feeling like James Kendrick in his piece After the iPhone 4s Android Just Feels Wrong. The Android experience for the last 18 mos. on my original Droid has been terrible to the point of laughable. This next round will be Apple iPhone 4S. Adios Android.

For the record I have the original Droid but I’ve also used an HTC EVO and my wife has an HTC Eris. We’re both switching to the iPhone.

A week in New Orleans on the HTC EVO

HTC EVOAll this week I’ve been in New Orleans at TechEd 2010 using the Google HTC EVO phone that I got while at Google I/O in May. The phone is on free service through Sprint for 30 days and is an incredible piece of hardware with an huge screen, very fast processor that’s been an absolute joy to use even though there are a few UI features/apps from the Droid I prefer. It’s going to be really sad to return to the Droid once the service ends as it runs circles around it.

The Falafel team here with six people has two Motorola Droids, two HTC EVO’s, one iPhone 3GS and one HTC Tilt 2. We taken tons of photos, many of which ended up being immediately posted to Facebook or sent via email. I’ve posted live streaming video to, photos and status updates to Facebook and Google Buzz, listened to podcasts, found directions to restaurants, coffee shops and all sorts of other locations, posted to Twitter read the news, posted updates to the Falafel team on Yammer, sent tons of free SMS messages via Google Voice, identified landmarks using Google Goggles, instant messaged via Meebo, tracked my travel via TripIt, connected to the web via Sprint Hot Spot countless times, scanned barcodes, installed apps and oh yeah, even made a few phone calls!

In fact, this afternoon I was working at a Starbucks connected via the Sprint Hot Spot feature sharing my connection with Falafel’s President John Waters while he was dialed into a GotoMeeting call with other Falafel employees located both here in New Orleans as well as back home in California.

Last night, we were walking along the Mississippi and caught Anderson Cooper filming AC360 where we watched the show streamed over a Slingbox to an HTC Tilt 2 located in Amarillo TX! It’s really amazing what these pocket devices can do and how close you can get to replacing a PC with one.

With Android you can literally pick up a new phone, log in with your Google account and be off in running with your contacts, email and lots of other goodness in minutes. I can’t wait to take a look at the new iPhone though I can’t imagine a case where I’d switch from Verizon to AT&T because at the end of the day I want/need to make phone calls.

As fun as all this has been, I’m ready to go home and see my family again so now it’s time to go to bed because I have to be up in a little over three hours to catch a 5:25am flight home.

Heading to Google I/O with free Motorola Droid

I’m going to Google I/O this year and this just landed in my Inbox (highlighting mine):

Hi Steve,
  This year’s Google I/O is less than 2 months away, and we’re very excited that you and over 4,000 other developers will be joining us in San Francisco. During the 2-day conference, you’ll have over 90 sessions to choose from and the opportunity to meet with developers from over 170 companies that will be demoing their apps and talking in-depth about their use of Google technologies in the Developer Sandbox.

As you might have guessed, Android will have a big presence at this year’s event. To make sure you’re equipped to make the most of your Android experience during Google I/O, we’d like to mail you a Verizon Droid by Motorola before the event.

Interesting they didn’t want to sponsor a Nexus One though kudos to Motorola. I’ve installed Eclipse and played around with creating an Android application an experience rather reminiscent of the old Win32 development days.

So now, what to do with an extra Droid? 🙂

iPod Touch home screen now on my Motorola Droid

I’ve mostly duplicated the functionality found on the home screen of my iPod Touch on the Motorola Droid though I think it’s fairly evident in the screenshots that, out-of-the-box, Android rather lacks the polish of Apple’s OS. I don’t really find that to be a big deal because one of the things I like about Google is their iterative approach to development and I expect things will incrementally improve at a much faster rate then the iPhone though time will tell. Btw, the images below approximate the actual screen sizes on my 17” Macbook Pro monitor at 1900×1200.



There are a few things about Android icons I don’t quite get:

  • The spacing is too large with too much whitespace
  • The icons are too small
  • They don’t appear to support dynamic content like the Calendar on the iPhone or icon overlays like on the iPhone’s mail application (refer to the email, Byline and Facebook apps on the Touch)
  • The phone defaults to only three screens of icons and the center screen is the “home” screen

I understand there are themes for Android but IMO it seems that some of these things should be the default not where you have to find and install a theme to improve usability.

[Updated: Jan 14, 2010] Nexus One, iPhone and Droid: Which Is Brightest? Long story short, Droid won. 🙂

Google’s Android web browser versus Safari on iPhone

I’ve been using the web browser on Android for a few weeks now and while I still really like the Droid there are a number of things the browser doesn’t do as well as the iPhone. I thought I’d start a list and as I find things I’ll add onto it.

  • The double tap zoom is missing and the –/+ buttons are inconvenient
  • Text doesn’t zoom when tilting the device to landscape
  • Does not allow for modifying/updating a previous search request
  • Pinch zoom is not enabled even though the droid does support multi-touch
  • In some cases setting focus to a textbox on the page fails to zoom the control so you end up typing using about a 4pt font, not very easy
  • The keyboard doesn’t appear automatically and requires you to tap the focused edit box (not true for my wife’s HTC Eris based on Android v1.5

Motorola Droid replacing my iPod Touch

Motorola Droid home screen After several years fence sitting my wife and I rather impulsively replaced our existing cell phones with $g(Google Android) powered phones though I’ll admit this helped us along. She got the $g(HTC Eris) and I the $g(Motorola Droid). We’d had the same phones for a few years now and personally I’ve been carrying both a phone and my iPod Touch as an alternative to a smart phone. That combination worked well and I didn’t mind having two devices especially considering the subscription free iPod Touch gave me nearly all of the iPhone’s features sans AT&T nation’s worst cell phone service.

The Verizon rep we talked to was very helpful and upgraded both phones for free even though mine wasn’t eligible for an upgrade until April. In fact, we even kept our old Local Family Share 1000 plan which is no longer available and just $39.99/month (sans the data plan which we’ve now added) though no texting and no nation wide calling. The clincher really was the fact that the Eris was on sale if you bought a Droid so the price for both phones was pretty good.

The first thing we did on these phones was to enter our Gmail accounts and things just sort of start working such as contacts, calendars, email which is nice considering there isn’t any software or anything to sync with on a PC and everything is fed to the phone via the “cloud”.

I really like the phone it’s fast and does a bunch of things I’ve wanted on the iPod Touch for a long time and has lots of Google features which I like not to mention it supports Google Voice really well. I’ll post more about the things I like (and some that I don’t) when I get a chance.