Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Tech for the trek

I’ve spent the past week prepping and test-driving some of the gadgetry for my upcoming road trip:

The Droid continues to impress me in everyday use, and the applications I’m likely to be using over the next few weeks seem to be running smoothly. The pre-installed Google Maps and Navigation systems have done a near-perfect job during some errand-running and visits to new friends’ homes, and my mom has loaned me her Magellan, just in case – though I haven’t messed with it yet. (Of course, I also have, you know, actual maps.)

Now, it’s not my intention to use the Droid for long-winded blogging, but the WordPress app has proven to be another quick and intuitive install, as has TxtPad Lite, although I admit I haven’t had much cause to use the latter yet.

Another nifty grab: Promptu’s ShoutOUT speech-to-text application. It defaults to messaging format, but it didn’t take me long to figure out it’s pretty easy to create a message with no recipient and then just copy the resulting text into a file or directly into the WordPress application. I can’t say how much use it will get – so far I’ve used it mostly to respond quickly to text messages from Jenn & Kelsey – but I’m thinking of those times when I’m driving and a sort of babbling idea springs to mind and I can’t jot it down. We’ll see.

For entertainment purposes – I’m hoping that the rental car comes with a CD player, because I haven’t digitally saved my Star Wars radio dramas yet – I added the Pandora application, and I’m looking forward to putting the very, very cool Google Sky Map (another fun and free download) to good use out under some hopefully clear Western skies.

Probably the most crucial app so far was the highly-recommended PDANet, with which I’ll be tethering the Droid to our Acer netbook for internet access during stops. Worked like a charm during a run to the store this morning.

If there are any other recommendations in this department, I’m open to suggestions!

June 10, 2010 Posted by | Current Affairs, geek, Travel, Web/Tech, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Insert a Star Wars / Droid joke here if you must – but even the “Bocce” ones have been done.

Partly in preparation for an upcoming extended trip, and partly because I’ve wanted one for awhile, I finally picked up a smartphone in the form of a Motorola Droid.

Starting points: I will admit that iPhones are incredibly nifty and I have been impressed every chance I’ve had to work with one. However, my daughter’s iPod Touch, while a super-fun device to have around, has only reinforced my preference for physical keyboards. And the iPhone pricing & AT&T service pretty much kept it from being a serious contender, though I’ll admit that it certainly shaped what I was looking for in a phone.

Our first choice – because we try to avoid hassle like switching cell providers, although anymore, since you keep your number and all, that’s much less of a pain than it used to be – was to see what I could get from T-Mobile, since we’ve used them for awhile and were largely happy with them, even with the lack of coverage when visiting my mom’s house down near Atwood Lake. Probably the biggest thing the company had going for it in my book was customer service – which goes a long way with me – at the local store. Wonderfully courteous and helpful people there – yes, seriously.

But for our household, T-Mobile had two things weighing heavily against them in the end: First, I have been eyeing the Motorola Droid since its launch because of my anti-Windows bias and the Droid’s non-Windows OS as well as its big screen and its full slide-out keyboard. Thing is, Droid’s a Verizon-only phone, and while this initially kept me from considering it at all, it turns out that my wife gets a significant employee discount on Verizon service through her workplace. That was the second factor in my opting for the Droid – and pretty much the knockout punch in our case. (Which made me wonder, not for the first time, and not without some frustration, why this whole “locking certain devices to certain networks” is supposed to make for a good consumer-friendly marketplace.)

A third factor was the firsthand recommendation of a friend whose opinions on technology and gadgetry I value, and who’s also a former journalist with a good grasp of the sort of things I’m likely to be using my phone for. In fact, I had all but settled on a T-Mobile phone which happened to be on back order when this guy offered a ton of advice and reference in support of the Droid and prevented me from making a purchase I probably would have regretted.

Because it turns out this really is the phone I wanted.

Having had the phone a few days, I’m enjoying the interface and the keyboard and the camera and the connectivity and speed and yes, even celebrating that I now have service in the backcountry of Carroll County. Battery use is holding up nicely. Yes, I’m still learning and have sent one accidental gibberish Tweet; and yes, I have experienced the strange WTF of the Droid’s “One day later: What happened to my home screen rotation?” but since I’m not a virtual keyboard user, I really don’t care.

I’m looking forward to seeing how it keeps me company on this trip I’ve got planned and how nicely it plays with the computers in the house, and a bunch of other stuff I’m sure I haven’t thought of yet.

And yes, every time I turn it on, I do think it really should say this:

June 1, 2010 Posted by | geek, Ohio, Web/Tech, writing | , | 3 Comments


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