Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Omnia Ground Zero reboot

I'm not quite finished with this list yet, but I'm going to post it anyway.

As previously posted, my Omnia was hosed last night, so Verizon gave me a new one. This is the process I followed today when reinstalling, hacking and re-configuring the phone.

Can I just say that Microsoft does a damn fine job of making it REALLY fucking hard to get things done? There's no way it should take a person five hours to simply get his phone functioning as it should in the first place. Bastards.

These are the steps I've taken so far:
  • installed MyMobiler (control phone from PC)
  • switched to Today screen (deselected crappy Samsung Widget)
  • installed Paul from Modaco's .NET configuration CAB and .NET 3.5 update*
  • installed CeRegEditor CeRegEditor is nice, because it automatically uses an interface from your PC (not the phone itself), but it is only for RegEdits, as opposed to Total Commander which is a RegEditor, file explorer, and editor for any type of file
  • installed Total Commander
  • turned of motion rotate
  • assigned camera button to rotate
  • RegEdit - disabled keyboard auto deploy for SMS and MMS
  • RegEdit - enabled Today 2
  • updated Opera cache and download folder to utilize My Storage
  • switched dpad to optical mouse
  • set upper side "menu" button to Task Manager
  • updated and merged all my contacts on the Windows Live website then downloaded Windows Live to sync contacts (this step took an eternity)
  • setup NuevaSync.com exchange server to sync Google Calendars
  • installed VITO Audio Notes Touch
  • installed iDialer
  • installed GreenButton
  • installed PocketCM contact manager (took a good, long look at iContact, but it didn't offer all the goodies of PocketCM)
  • installed PocketCM themes
  • installed SoftKey Manager
  • mapped left key to PocketCM
  • created program screen .lnk file and mapped right soft key to it
I've said it before and I'll say it again: the fact that Microsoft names all their services ALMOST the exact same thing is fucking infuriating. Live Search? Windows Live? Live.com? Windows Mail? Windows Live Mail? Yes, none of those things are the same (seriously... none of them... they're all something different). What... the... FUCK?! Not only that, but to make your phone work to its full potential, you have to install them all (well, not Windows Mail, because Windows Live Mail replaced it). WHY NOT JUST INCLUDE THEM IN THE FUCKING FIRST PLACE?!

(why is it that my blood pressure shoots through the roof whenever I have to make major changes/upgrades to anything PC/Microsoft related?)

In the end, I still think the offerings of WinMo and the Omnia are superior to the Mac alternatives (iPhone), but it sure is a freaking mess trying to get to the point where you can actually function.

*In case the .NET updater thread ever disappears, here are the steps:
  • Download and install both CABs (to internal memory!)
  • Run .Net Configuration from your Program Menu
  • Navigate to the 'Device Policy' tab and select version 3.5
  • Selecting 'Apply' then 'OK'

Omnia i910 Frozen Like a RocketPop (or, When is a Mobile Phone a Hose?)

what's playing: "The Wrong Band" by Tori Amos

Last week, the night before I got on a plane to LA, I powered down my Omnia after recharging was complete (wanted to retain full juice for the flight). When I woke up in the morning and powered on the phone... it was frozen. Once the phone was powered up (after going through the boot up animation and the WinMo green screen), it would freeze with either a blank screen (just tiny icons up top) or the screen as it should appear (but not functioning) or somewhere in between (sometimes almost there but missing, say, the calendar).

I tried the soft reset and I tried holding the soft reset, but the phone would always freeze after reaching the Today screen. The power button didn't work at all (wouldn't power down the phone). The only way to power down was to remove the battery. So once the phone was frozen, I had two options: soft reset button or remove the battery.

After trying various combinations of things for about an hour (holding soft reset while removing battery, removing battery, soft reset held for different amounts of time, etc.), I finally got the phone back to functional condition by removing the battery, plugging the phone into my laptop, reinsterting the battery, and powering the device up.

For those of you looking for a solution to your frozen Omnia problem, don't get too excited by my find.

Last night my phone froze up again, and this time, nothing I did would fix it. I finally took it into the Verizon store this morning, and they simply replaced the phone. They were going to just swap it, but I was all like "Um... that phone has my bank passwords, website passwords, and a bunch of other stuff on it." They didn't seem to think that was an issue, but I made them look up the Hard Reset key combo so I could wipe the phone before handing it over. I assume somebody who REALLY wanted to could probably still find some stuff on there, but I'm hoping Verizon does at least a DECENT job of wiping the phone before it reaches it's next phase of life. Plus, I didn't really have all my bank and web passwords on there, just my Gmail and Ebay... so not too terribly critical.

Now I have to load the new Omnia with all my hacks and mods again, so that will be kind of a pain. It does give me the opportunity to install only the things I want though, so I'll be putting together a "this is what I loaded onto my phone now that I know what I'm doing" post. Keep an eye out for that one in the next couple of days.

Also, the previous Omnia had a Zagg Shield on it. I've heard good things about Zagg's policy for replacing the shield, so I guess I'm about to find out first hand how that goes. It's also kind of a pain to have to spend another hour installing the shield.

I'll keep you posted.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Goodbye DSL, Hello Cable

I know there are all kinds of horrible things to be said about Comcast as a company. However, my DSL seems painfully slow, and is INCREDIBLY expensive (sixty freakin' bucks a month). The only way Qwest will let me have their "good" prices is to sign a two year contract (screw you, Verizon).

I got a card in the mail saying I could get high speed internet through Comcast for $20 a month for six months. I know it goes up to $43 after that, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it (it's still almost $20 chaper than Qwest).

If that weren't enough, check out the number I got running speed tests over both services today (I've currently got two high speed connections running into my house).

Are you freaking kidding me?!

$60 a month (Qwest)

$20 a month (Comcast)


Monday, March 16, 2009

UPS Can't Find my Fifty Year Old House

what I'm listening to: "Waiting for the Winter to End" by Jeff Caylor

This happens so often that I'm going to start documenting it.

My house was built in 1955. That's more than 50 years ago. It's always been in the same place. Nobody has ever moved my house.

So why is it that UPS can't seem to find my house? My blood pressure goes up when I know I'm supposed to receive something from them. About 80% of the time I'm supposed to receive something from UPS, this is the scenario:
  1. The sender e-mails be the tracking number.
  2. I watch the package move through UPS tracking system.
  3. The day arrives when it goes through Commerce City and is reported "out for delivery."
Next, one of two things happens. The package is either marked delivered, when it clearly hasn't been, or the website reports "no such address" or some such nonsense.

I then call the national UPS line (800.742.5877 --it's actually on my speed dial) and talk to someone far, far away about the situation that happens all the damn time. They verify my address ("...yes, that's correct... house has been here since 1955...") and then they say they'll have someone call me back. Sometime they do, most times they don't, and I have to call them.

Today I called four times over the course of five hours. The first time I verified the address, and gave them ultra-specific directions to my house. A supervisor finally called me and told me they had delivered the package.

"No you didn't."

"Yes we did. The driver said the gate was locked, so he tossed it over the gate."

First of all, why are they throwing my packages? Second of all, there is no lock on my gate. I do have a neighbor almost half a mile away with a lock on his gate. There is NO number on his gate posts. My gate posts are CLEARLY marked with my house number.

Why would a UPS driver toss a package over a LOCKED gate with NO ADDRESS marked anywhere? Especially after I've left really, really specific directions as to where my house it.

And it's not like I live out in the boondocks. My house is quite easy to find.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

So today is probably around the twentieth time this has happened in the two years I've lived here. From now on, I'll be sure to post an update each time it happens, if for nothing else than to have a good idea of the actual number of times it's happened.

The local supervisor, Ron, whom I'm on a first name basis with at this point, says he's finally going to PERMANENTLY put the information in their computer... but I don't believe him AT ALL. They've told me that before. I even drove all the way down to Denver once to get my package and try and convince them to put the information into their computer.

Even though they said they were, they obviously didn't.

keywords: UPS sucks, multiple complaints against UPS, why I hate UPS, what the hell is wrong with UPS, why can't UPS tell north from south, is UPS allergic to GPS?


Retractable Headphone Cord Winder

what I'm listening to: "Close to Me" by The Cure

It kills me that there are thousands of products available with retractable cord winders (see photo to right), but NOBODY sells just the winder itself. There's a company somewhere in Asia (the address is Shanghai, China, but the site is in Russian) that sells what I'm talking about, but I'm not about to give my credit card number to them.

I've purchased several mobile headsets from Jabra with retractable cord winders... why not sell just the cord winder? I would just take one of the Jabra units apart, but they're all put together with "welded" plastic, so they disintegrate if you try to disassemble them to put in your own headset. I'm to the point where I'm about to go to T.J. Maxx and purchase one of those iPod accessory kits that include the "bud" earphones with the retractable cord, snip off the buds, and solder my own (superior) headphone earpieces to the cord.

If anybody knows of a place you can actually purchase JUST the retractor so that you can use your own headphones, please post a link in the comments!

And please don't post a link to any of those crappy winders that you have to manually wrap around a stick, disc or "core." They suck.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Move Opera Mobile cache to "My Storage"

This tip has of course been added to the main Omnia how to post.

Here's a great little trick to free up some device storage from xsrx over on the Modaco forums:

Something not mentioned, but that I assume is a good idea: clear your old cache first. Open Opera, click the little arrow in the bottom right, go to History, click the trash can and affirm that you want to delete all. If you don't do this first, you'll need to delete stuff from your old cache folder at Application Data\Opera9\cache. Now...
  • Close Opera.
  • Create a folder on your storage card where the cache files will go. I chose \Storage Card\Program Files\Opera\cache4, but I don't think the folder structure or folder name matter.
  • Open \Application Data\Opera\opera.ini in a text editor. [note: this directory was "opera9" not "opera" on my phone; "opera" is just help and skins]
  • In the [User Prefs] section, add the following line: Cache Directory4=[full path to folder on storage card].
  • Save and close opera.ini.
  • Restart Opera. Your cache is now being written to your storage card.
Here is an incredibly helpful post from Downloadsquad on some other really useful Opera Mobile tweaks. For instance, it shows you how to change your default Download directory, which I did. You can also move help files, etc... to My Storage to free up even more space.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Portable Minority Report Device is REAL!

The future is now... well, maybe for mass-consumption in a couple of years. But the future is at least being demoed now!

Check out this video of a presentation by Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry demoing a device she calls "The Sixth Sense" at TED.

It's basically a portable version of the ultra-cool device that Tom Cruise used in Minority Report... except it's actually waaay cooler, and... REAL!

The video was sent to me by my buddy, Mike D. He found it on the TED website in an article touting the device as "game-changing wearable tech."

"Game" changing?! How about life changing? How about society changing.

This thing has all kinds of crazy potential. And while pico projectors are already astounding me, as they get smaller and smaller, this device will be incredibly convenient when it can simply be embedded into a pair of glasses.


Yea, science!


Monday, March 9, 2009

24 Samsung SSD's in RAID: Yes, please.

As we get ready to edit 90+ hours of Leading Ladies' film footage shot on a RED One, I must say:
"Yes, please. Yes, please. Yes, please."

Thanks to Michael for sending this video over from Engadget.

Some highlights that make me all tingly:
  1. Ripping an entire DVD faster than you can throw it out the window.
  2. Holding the entire array like a dead cat and jumping on a trampoline with apparently no issues whatsoever.
  3. Opening everything in the start menu (53 programs on the video's particular computer) in 18 seconds.
Ohhhhh... I can't wait for this to become actually affordable!


Friday, March 6, 2009

Google Reader for Mobile Devices SUCKS

The default RSS Reader on my Omnia (default WinMo RSS Reader) is fine, but I'd like to have something a little more robust. I'd at least like to be able to "star" certain things to come back to them later... better yet, I'd like to be able to mark them and have that mark integrate with my main computer RSS Reader so I could later take a look from my computer.

You can e-mail a link from the default RSS Reader, but it's a many-step pain in the butt, so not the best solution (takes over a minute just to send yourself a reminder about whatever you want to remember to revisit).

It would be excellent if the reader functioned with my Google Reader. I'd be able to star the item, and then when I returned to my computer I could simply check my starred items via Google Reader on my Google Homepage.

So I decided to see if there was a mobile version of Google Reader. I went to http://m.google.com/reader and was pleased to find a link called "Get Google Reader for your phone" with a form field to fill in your mobile number. I typed in my mobile number and expected to receive a cab file from Google.

Instead, they send a freaking link to a web page. I don't want to visit a web page; I want an app so I don't have to open my browser and get on the web. It pretty much defeats the purpose of having a mobile RSS Reader in the first place.


Not only that, but in order to "star" something, you have to scroll to the very, very bottom of the page and click a link.


Furthermore, there is no option to add Google Reader to your mobile iGoogle page. What in the...? When you select "Add stuff" from your mobile iGoogle page you find a list called "popular" where you can add the "Betty Crocker Recipe of the Day," but not your Google Reader. There don't seem to be any other options from that location to find (actually useful) things to add to your iGoogle mobile page.

Again: stupid.

Bad job, Google.

[update] If you're using Opera Mobile 9.5, you can "trick" Google into thinking you're not actually on a mobile device. This will allow you to see Google Reader on your iGoogle page (you can look at your real iGoogle page, not just the extremely scaled down piece of shite that Google redirects you to when your on a mobile device).

Just following these steps:
To change the user agent in Opera Mobile 9.5 type the following into your address bar:

Scroll down the page to the item "User Agent" and click on it.
It will say "Spoof user agent ID"

1 is Opera Mobile 9.5
2 is firefox
3 is IE 6


Wednesday, March 4, 2009