Monday, September 8, 2014

Moto 360 - Finally a good looking Smartwatch (Updated)

 Picture Source : Slashgear

   

The Good Stuff

Circular LCD - Looks way better than most other smartwatches
Thin Bezel - Few missing lines at the bottom (this is where the driver, etc sits) means a thin bezel
Small lug-to-lug distance - (35 mm), which makes it feel just right on most wrists.
Autobrightness
Water resistance -IP67
Dual Microphones
Great viewing angles


The Bad Stuff

Old (2010), inefficient hardware
Questionable battery performance
Largish size - 46mm case diameter and a 11.5mm case thickness
Inaccurate Pedometer and  heart rate monitor
Android Wear is still in its baby years, although this also means the watch will get better with newer versions of Android Wear


Sources


Specs

Stainless steel case & leather band
Case diameter - 46 mm
Case thickness - 11.5 mm
Pixel Density - 205 ppi
Weight - 49 g
Battery - 320 300 mAh
RAM - 512 MB
CPU - 1GHz TI OMAP 3
Storage - 4 GB
Wireless Charging
Pedometer
Optical heart rate monitor
OS Android Wear 4.4

Alternatives

Pebble Smartwatch
LG G Watch
Samsung Gear 2

Yet again.

So. I am back, yet again!  All this while (last odd 2 years) I have been thinking, what should I post about and never really came up with an interesting answer.  Back when I posted about the Android 2.1 upgrade guide, android was still a baby and I thought that is what I wanted to do.  But alas, I missed the bus and now there are thousands and thousands of amazing people writing about all things Android.  Nevertheless I am still an Android fan boy and have been keeping a tab on all things Android.  Although not on an obsessive level.

Cutting a long story short, came home early today from work, and while lounging on my bean bag,had a flash of brilliance.  I think I (finally) know what I want to do with my blog.

So here is what I am going to do starting today.   Out of the tons of gadgets being released every month, a few catch my fancy and I will scrounge the www (so that you don't have to) and find out the best reviews out there and aggregate/condense/tabulate them into a short and sweet The Good and The Bad, if you may please.  I hope I do a decent job.

Coming up : Moto 360

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Posting

Have been very busy off late.. but I hope to get back to posting very soon.. good to see people are still visiting my Tutorial page(s)!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Must have Android apps

AppMonster (99KB) - The very first app I install, use it to create a backup of all the apps installed.  Unlike other apps this one only appends the new/updated onces.  A great little app for installing/uninstalling apps.  Especially useful for installing apps after a flash/format quickly.  Remember to run the backup after your apps have upgraded.

Helix Launcher (1MB) - After installing about 4-5 different 'Home' replacement apps I have finally settled down for the HelixLauncher.  It has a nice light design and is very smooth.  The best thing I like about this are the quick launch buttons which can be customised and the fact that double tapping gives you a preview of the screens you are running.


Advanced Task Manager (FREE) (356KB) - Simply the best out there, the "Press to End" widget is god sent especially on a phone like Samsung Galaxy with its meager 128 MB RAM.  After install ensure the required apps are put in the "Ignore" list and then just use the "Press to end" widget shortcut to free up memory whenever you feel the phone is sluggish. Works great.


Handcent SMS (2MB) - Although very similar to ChompSMS, I think it outshines the ChompSMS by a slight margin because of the some extra goodies. Definitely a 5 star application.


Battery Life (115KB) - Beautiful widget which changes color according to the battery level.  A must have for any android phone.


ThickButtons (BETA) (911KB) - A pretty accurate keyboard which predicts the next key you will press and enlarges those keys. Can be a pain when typing non standard words though.


Swype (BETA) (2 MB) - A unique keyboard.  Definitely worth a try.  Although my beta is working in reduced support mode after I reflashed :-(.


SMS Backup (661KB) - A nifty little utility which will backup your text messages to your gmail account ! Needs IMAP enabled for gmail though.


3Banana (548 KB) - Brilliant Note taking app which syncs  with an online snaptic account.  You can use your google account to sign in.


Color Flashlight (221 KB) - A simple yet very useful app.  Love the various effects you can use. :-)


APN Backup & Restore ( 143 KB) - Does what it says.


Other Apps : 


twicca BETA (1 MB) - One of the best UI of all the apps I tried for twitter.  A gorgeous widget to go with it.


Bloo (581 KB) - for all the facebook fans out there.  Although I haven't compared it much to the other apps, I find it better on the face of it.


Colordict (820 KB) - A unique implementation of dictionary, thesaurus, and Wikipedia all rolled into one app.  Best part is that after the installation it copies the data to the SDCard after which you can uninstall the addons.


Others worth a mention : Barcode Scanner, Metal Detector, Better Terminal Emulator, Unit Convertor, Gesture Search. Astro FileManager


The one thing that influenced my selection of apps is the ability to backup the data in the cloud.  That way I don't have to worry about losing my phone or taking a backup before I flash and reflash again.  The other most important thing is the size of the app.


Hope this helps, please share your favorite apps in the comments.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rooting & other goodies on the Samsung Galaxy SPICA I5700 (2.1 Firmware) - Updated


(DO NOT use this guide with the 1.5 firmware)
for Rooting the Galaxy SPICA 1.5 Firmware click here.


Pre-Requisite : Basic knowledge of windows and linux commands (DO NOT try this if you are uncomfortable with the command line interface)


Step 1 : Download Android SDK from here.
Step 2 : Extract the SDK to a folder.
Step 2 : If you are using windows, right-click on My Computer, and select Properties. Under the Advanced tab, hit the Environment Variables button, and in the dialog that comes up, double-click on Path (under System Variables). Append the full path to the tools/ directory to the path (for eg if you have extracted the SDK under d: drive add ;d:\android-sdk_r04-windows\tools Path variable).

for other OS follow the steps here.

Step 3: Download init.spica.sh from here. and copy it to the /tools folder under the SDK.
Step 4a: Enable USB debugging mode : Settings > Applications > Development > USB debugging.  (forgot this step.. thanks to yudha.)
Step 4b: Connect the phone using the USB cable and run the following commands using the command prompt.

adb devices > it should list your device with a serial number,if not the phone is not connected properly.





then run the following commands : 
adb shell mount -o remount,rw,codepage=utf8,vfat,xattr,check=no /dev/stl5 /system
adb shell rm /system/xbin/su
adb shell ln -s /xbin/su /system/xbin/su
adb push init.spica.sh /system/etc/
adb shell chmod 0550 /system/etc/init.spica.sh
adb shell reboot

The phone will reboot at this point and after it reboots you should have root access to the phone.

To check 

adb shell
su
the prompt should change from the $ to a # ..thats it now you have root access to your android kernel :-)
Type "exit" to get back to your windows command prompt.

Alternatively you can download an application like Better Terminal and try running the commands from your phone itself.

Once you have gained root access you can remove pre-installed applications you do not like or want or install files like the LiveWallpapersPicker.apk

Backup System Files : 

Connect phone on USB
Backup all system files before making any changes by running the following command
adb pull /system/app < path the backup folder >

Mounting the system: 

adb shell mount -o remount,rw,codepage=utf8,vfat,xattr,check=no /dev/stl5 /system (this mounts the system and allows you to modify system files)

One easier way to do this is by adding the Remount script to the system/xbin
Download Remount and copy to /tools folder under the SDK
mount -o remount,rw,codepage=utf8,vfat,xattr,check=no /dev/stl5 /system







adb push remount /system/xbin/
adb shell chmod 0755 /system/xbin/remount

Now you can type "remount rw" when you want to mount the system in read/write mode and "remount ro" when you want to put it back as read only.

Remove files you don't need : (for eg myspace.apk)

cd /system/app
rm myspace.apk

Please make sure you have a backup before you try to remove any apk file.

Install Live Wallpapers (Just like the Google Nexus One)

Download LiveWallpaperPicker.apk and copy to the tools/ folder under the SDK

Open the command prompt and type :

adb install LiveWallpapersPicker.apk

You should now have an option for picking a live wallpapers on your phone.
There are a lot of nice looking live wallpapers on the market for you to download and try.

Thanks to mrJohn and Mallik_Raj @ samdroid.net

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Samsung I5700 (Galaxy SPICA) Android 2.1 Flashing Guide (Updated)


***** USE THIS GUIDE AT YOUR OWN RISK !  *******
***** DO NOT BLAME ME FOR BRICKED DEVICES ******


What you need : 

The firmware : I570EDDJB2 in my case. (Unreleased Android 2.1 (Eclair) firmware from Samsung).
Multiloader application and Spica OPS (Odin_v4_03.exe + spica.ops) : Odin_v4_03.zip
*** Please use the new spica_jc3.ops file for the firmwares I5700XXJBA, I570EXXJC3 I570EXXJC5
Drivers for I5700 : drv5700.zip
Samsung USB Cable

Before you start : 
Backup your data !
Remove the SIM lock if any.
Create a folder and extract all files listed above + the firmware (do not extract the tar file from within the firmware)
Ensure your phones battery is sufficiently charged (and your laptops battery too if you live in a country like ours lol ;-))
Shutdown any service/software which could be using the USB port, especially the Samsung PC suite. - Very Important

Flashing :

Edit : You should probably do a hard reset before you start by punching in the following code on the phone *2767*3855#

1. Shutdown your phone and remove the SDCARD and the SIM 


2. Put the phone in "Download Mode" by pressing Volume Down + Camera + Power button.
Image Courtesy : samdroid.net
3. Connect the Phone to the PC using USB
4. Install drivers using the drv5700 files- A lot of guys are going wrong here.  Open your device manager and ensure the two Samsung devices are shown properly before you go ahead.(circled in red) - see image below :


4a. Disconnect phone from the USB. *** (Very Important), thanks to Srikanth Kapa (For all you guys having problems with "Setup Connection"
5. Open Odin Multi Downloader v4.03.exe and then reconnect the phone, you should see the a COM port number with a yellow background.
6. Select the files as shown in the image below : 

Image Courtesy : samdroid.net
If you are using some other firmware and there is only one tar file select Option : One Package and load the file under One Package TAB.

Cross check the files and if you need to change anything click on "Reset Files" and select files again.

7. Once you are ready hit the START button. DO NOT DISCONNECT the phone until the firmware download completes.

8.Watch the "Message: window and wait till it shows <1> Close serial port and wait until rebooting.- This usually takes not more than 1-3 minutes.

9. At this point your flashing is complete and the device should be automatically rebooting, once the reboot is complete unplug the USB cable and flick open the Eclair green locking slider ;-)

Congrats !!! Welcome to the delicious ECLAIR club :-)

Issues : 

Google Maps seems to be a bit temperamental (Upgraded to ver 4.0.0 from the new 2.1 Market). Phone has hung a couple of times but nothing really serious.

New Features : 

Multiple Accounts Support
Exchange Support - No Calendar support or GAL lookup.
Camera now has Scene mode, White balance, Color effect
Search across the device including SMS/MMS
HTML5 Support in the browser.
Live Wallpapers
Refreshed UI


Hopefully Samsung will include pinch and zoom in the final release version :-)

Thanks to the guys at : 

Screen Shots : 


  

 
  
  
 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Samsung i5700 Running Android 2.1 (Eclair)





I bought the Samsung I5700 on Friday which was running the stock Android 1.5 (Cupcake).  By Saturday I was scourging the internet forums for an upgrade to ver 2.x, I had to get it !.  After lots of  broken links, and reading up Russian tutorials translated using google I was finally got myself a copy of the new unreleased eclair firmware (2.1) : I570EDDJB2.


Everything seems to be running fine :-)  apart from a weird issue with my GPS which cant get my location right.


I will post some screengrabs and a tutorial soon... Make sure to check back soon.


Thanks to all the folks @ SamsungFirmware, SamDroid

Monday, November 23, 2009

Question-Box

I read about this ingenious project called the Question Box in the Indian Express this Sunday.  It is a great example how simple technology can help people around the world (especially the 3rd World).

It relies on a simple cell phone put inside a durable metal box and provided with two buttons - green and red.  When you want to ask a question just press the green button and the cellphone connects you to one of volunteers, he or she then looks up the question on the internet or a database to answer the query.


I think this device is a great way of putting information in the common mans reach, where most people in rural India/Africa can't even read and write, let alone use a computer.

The people at OpenMind have even developed an open source software which can used to start your own Question-Box project.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Buying a domain and more..

I was fooling around with the settings of my blogger account and impulsively ended up buying a domain of my own ! It wasn't hard to choose the domain name though, it had to be "Greaky".  For the better part of my online life I have always loved using the word greaky for various things, be it a nickname for my Quake III matches or just a userid for various websites I used to sign up for.  When people asked me what did it stand for - I used to say it is a mixture of Geek & Freak which incidentally now appears in the urban dictionary as a word !! I even have a gmail account by that name the days when gmail was by invitation only.

More about the domain : Well since this blog is hosted on www.blogger.com, when you buy the domain you get a google apps account linked with it where you can go and create your own email address like mail AT greaky.com, contact AT greaky.com or whatever you like.  You can create upto 50 such accounts with 7GB (and growing) of mail quota each.  All this for just $10 (Rs. 450).  I guess very soon I will be thinking about changing my email address to mail AT greaky dot com and stick with it for the rest of my life..

Monday, October 26, 2009

Know your digital camera

Most people have a digicam nowadays, but very few actually know or use the features they offer.  Here is a simple tutorial explaining the basics of any digicam and how to use them.  You will be surprised how good your pictures can look if you follow these basic steps.  Afterall who does not like good pictures.


Here is one simple Microsoft utility which can be used to resize images especially when you want to email them or just save valuable HDD space.  After installing the utility all you have to do is the right click the image file(s) and click on "Resize Pictures" - Select "Large (fits a 1024 x 768 screen)" and voila you have a file that is not even 1/10 of the original size.  Printing these resized images is not recommended though. I personally keep the originals for pictures I might want to print someday.  If you are just going to view these images on the computer the resized image is good enough.

Don't Own a digital camera yet ?

Here is one great resource for reading up on the hundreds of models on offer and which one of them is the best for your needs.  The author makes it simple to choose a camera based on your needs - Just click on Dave's Picks and choose from the categories listed like "Long Zoom", "Pocket", "Budget", "Enthusiast" etc.  He has carefully reviewed the best models which fit the intended usage and neatly categorised them.  Certainly better than wading through tons of reviews or worse still buying a camera which your salesman thinks is the best !

Thursday, September 3, 2009

How we mess up our education system in India.

I have been a student of Kendriya Vidyalaya, and I know for a fact that our curriculum was much better than the state boards.  In fact till the year before I passed out of the X class (1991) we were given 5% extra on top of the percentage we scored in the board exams if were to cross over from the CBSE schools to the state board (In Maharashtra atleast).  We were also required to furnish a domicile certificate if we wanted to get admitted to a state board affilianted Junior College (class XI), I never really understood why were we given such a treatment.  On one hand the state was acknowledging that our study pattern had been better and on the other hand we needed to prove we were Maharashtrians enough !

I wondered why could we not have one single curriculum across India so that students could easily cross over from one school to another.  What is the point have every state have their own bodies which create their own curriculum ? Why not draw the best talent from all states and make them run the National curriculum program?  All we would need are some translators for the vernacular schools.   Guess we just like to give every state the opportunity to spend money on the exact same thing which the NCERT has already worked on.  Also it would give the regional parties a chance to introduce 'customised history' lessons. So much for a 'forever developing nation' which is short of funds !

I feel there are a lot of simple answers to the big questions India faces as a country, it just needs some common sense and a bit of political will to set it right.  Maybe they just don't want us to get smart, that way they can keep exploiting us and milking the country & filling up their already overflowing coffers.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Test Your Site in Different Browsers Using Adobe BrowserLab

Cross-browser testing has been one of the biggest challenges for Web designers because it is such an arduous and time-intensive task. Now with Adobe BrowserLab, designers have a simple solution that enables comprehensive browser compatibility testing in just a matter of minutes,The bad news is that the service is free for a limited time.
Another way to test your site is to use online services like BrowserShots, which generates screenshots for a web page in more than 80 versions of the most common browsers used in Windows, Linux, and Mac. The process takes time and you may have to wait up to an hour to see the screenshots.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lesser known features in GMAIL

Almost all of us have been using GMAIL since its launch. It can do a lot more than you think..read on..
Well here some of things I have come across which are just too good not to be used.
The fastest way to work with computers is using a Keybaord, Period.
you better learn the keyboard shortcuts, not just on gmail but otherwise too.
to enable them go to SETTINGS>GENERAL>Keyboard Shortcuts On
Turn on wild and whacky features in GMAIL
Go to SETTINGS>LABS> enable/disable features you like
I personally use - UNDO SEND, Offline, Old Snakey (you can actually play snakey from within game!!), Sender Time Zone, Forgotten Attachment Detector.
Offline Gmail
Did you know that you can now use your email account in an offline mode ? which means you can read all your emails even when you are not connected to the internet right from the browser.  You can even send mails and they would be sent out whenever you have a connection.
Just follow these steps to get started:
  1. Click Settings and click the Labs tab.
  2. Select Enable next to Offline Gmail.
  3. Click Save Changes.
  4. After your browser reloads, you'll see a new "Offline0.1" link in the upper righthand corner of your account, next to your username. Click this link to start the offline set up process and download Gears if you don't already have it.
You have multiple email addresses !! :
When you choose a Gmail address, you actually get more than just "yourusername@gmail.com." Here are two different ways you can modify your Gmail address and still get your mail:
  • Append a plus ("+") sign and any combination of words or numbers after your email address. For example, if your name was santasingh@gmail.com, you could send mail to santasingh+friends@gmail.com or santasingh+mailinglists@gmail.com.
  • Insert one or several dots (".") anywhere in your email address. Gmail doesn't recognize periods as characters in addresses -- they just ignore them. For example, you could tell people your address was santasingh@gmail.com, santa.singh@gmail.com or sa.nta.sin.gh@gmail.com.
  • You could use santasingh+bank@gmail.com when you sign up for online banking and then set up a filter to automatically star, archive or label emails addressed to santasingh+bank.
  • You can also use this when you register for a service and think they might share your information. 
Happy Gmailing :-)