This Help Desk

  • The alternate Android keyboard Swype is now in open beta!

    If you own an Android phone, you must try Swype. Between Swype and voice recognition (especially post-Froyo), the input methods of Android are fantastic. Check out this vid, then head over to Swype’s site to get Swype onto your phone today!

    [via Jake of The Web]

  • By Way Of Explanation

    GOOG-411 was, in my opinion, the last great innovation of the phone age. Back before I had a phone with a data plan, there was no better way to find out information while on the go.

    JC’s “Brewvies” experience is directly taken from an experience my brother had. In a car full of chatting people, he tried to find what I consider the trickiest business name on the planet. I don’t know if he actually ever found it or not…

    I was initially surprised when Google announced they were discontinuing GOOG-411.  I considered it quite a success, but I suspect two reasons for Google axing GOOG-411. First, people were probably using it less as the popularity of smartphones was replacing GOOG-411’s function. Second, was that Google only created their 411 service in the first place to create a large amount of data with which they could improve speech recognition and text to speech abilities.  Google Voice, with their automated voicemail transcription, has provided what I suspect to be a much larger and certainly more diverse pool to draw from.

    Despite any cynicism about how well it worked at times, I look back with fondness at the days of GOOG-411’s heyday.

  • It’s a shame to see people peak so early – how could this kid possibly ever top this moment?

  • Angry Birds

    This week I installed the Beta of Angry Birds for Android.  Now I know what all the buzz was about.  The premise is well-worn, but the execution is fantastic.  What a fun game.

    Even better, this morning I hear that Angry Birds for Android is out of Beta and a full, free (ad-supported) version is now available.  The developer, Rovio, has decided to release it outside of the Android Market.  This freedom is one of the many great benefits of Android.

    Of course, there are downsides to it too, because every possible location from which to download the full version is down this morning because of the great demand (even the DropBox accounts of nice people on internet forums have been overwhelmed).

    All in all, I think this just speaks of the growing popularity of the Android platform and, yes, the heretofore lack of decent games for it.  As for me, the importance of a powerful mobile platform is (mostly) not about gaming, but communication, planning, and doing what you need – no matter where you are.  My ability to takes meeting notes in Evernote on my phone and then search through all of my meetings after the fact.  Or checking my calendar, my wife’s calendar, and the group calendar of all of my gaming friends and making appointments while I’m out and about.  Or updating this site from my phone while I sit on the can.

    These are the important functions that Android can provide us all.

  • By Way Of Explanation

    Some of you may have noticed the title, “Piking Lot“.  It really should say “Parking Lot”, but I’ve got an old inside joke about the pronunciation of the word “Park”.

    Trust me, it’s hilarious.

    That’s right, I’m not going to explain it any more than that.


  • In Your FaceTime

    I’ve been on quite an anti-iPhone streak since the release of iPhone 4.  I didn’t want our most recent comic to be a tear on the iPhone 4, per se, but rather on the sometimes lonely world of an early adopter.  I could actually imagine people Facetiming strangers they meet, just for the chance to use the feature.  Still, some will see this week’s comic as strictly anti-iPhone.  The perils of being an iHater, I suppose…

    I’ve seen reviews that have given the iPhone 4 mega props for its front-facing camera, but that have failed to mention that at the time of release, only people with an iPhone 4 could use FaceTime, and then only over a Wi-Fi connection (which our comic fails to mention as well – I like to imagine one of the characters is also carrying an HTC Evo, Steve Wozniak style, and using it as a mobile hot spot).

    Still, since I learned that FaceTime is more or less an open standard, I haven’t hated on it as much as I hoped I would get to.  That’s OK.  Apple will do something soon that will infuriate me, and I’ll quickly get over the disappointment of kind of liking FaceTime.

  • Testing. 1,2,3

    Well,I did it! I took the plunge and got the Droid X. I am typing this on my phone using Swype.

    My initial thoughts about the phone are that it is beautiful and the screen is HUGE. In all honesty, it may be a little too big, even for my hands, which I would like to think are bigger than average. During most uses of the phone, it’s fine, but if I attempt to use it with one hand, I can’t always get to the whole screen with just my thumb. That was a chance I was willing to take, and it hadn’t proved especially problematic.

    Man, Swype is awesome! I’m astounded at how good the predictive text is. Even when I mistype, it can usually tell what I was going for.

    the speech to text is also really good this paragraph has been entered using speech to text with no modification for me i simply talk the phone listens and types out what i say

    Another impressive function is the free turn-by-turn navigation. I went up to a cabin yesterday that was well off the beaten path, and was able to get there quickly and effectively without checking a map beforehand.

    More to come later, but I thought I’d give you my first impressions for now.

  • Silent No Longer

    I am actually getting ready to get a new phone, and I really do suffer from Tech Paralysis.  Not only about the phones, but even the underlying technology that gets data to my phone.  There was a point where I was considering postponing an upgrade of my phone until I could get a Verizon phone that was 4G capable.  I live in Salt Lake City; who am I kidding?  Salt Lake is not going to get an upgrade to 4G until after the next presidential election.

    Tech has always improved over time; and in my lifetime at least, it has improved at an ever increasing rate.  Is there going to be a point where humans can’t handle the speed of progress?  I’ve already read online forums (a frightening cross-section of humanity) where people are naming frequently upgraded handsets as a negative against the Android platform: “I like my progress like I like my lovemaking.  Once a year.”

    Rather than expect the improvement of tech to slow down so we can be more comfortable with it, we are just going to have to get used to progress.  Certainly, continue to be informed in your purchases.  Be aware of what is coming down the pike and take that into account, but there’s a time to bite the upgrade bullet.  Embrace the fact that your hardware is better than its predecessors, but don’t worry if something better comes along until you’re good and ready to get something new. Because although every new piece of hardware will be surpassed quicker than we may be comfortable with, an incremental improvement in the latest gadget over previous tech does not make our current hardware obsolete.

  • OK, maybe not “Jake was right all along”, but they do agree with the point I made last week that  the iPhone 4’s signal issues are indeed a hardware design problem and not something that can be fixed by a software update.

    The best part?  Suggesting (facetiously, I hope) that iPhone 4 owners use a piece of duct tape to isolate the trouble part of the phone and prevent signal loss.

    Here’s the NY Times article that I got this report from.