Category Archives: Gadgets

The Infamous Verizon Galaxy Nexus

It’s real! It’s really real!

Of course I got one the day it came out, like there was any question I would. I wanted to write a post immediately, bragging to the interwebz about my awesome new phone, but I figured I would wait on it a bit to really get a feel for the phone (not to mention my incredible ability to procrastinate instead of writing posts). Oh but don’t bother looking for another unboxing video, I think there are more than enough already.

Some more clever than others

Really after coming from an OG Droid (do…do I owe Lucas Films money for writing that?) could anyone imagine me not adoring this phone in comparison? I doubt it. In almost every way this phone is spec’d twice as good, if not more so than the hardware on the Droid. Not to mention it’s the Nexus device to showcase Ice Cream Sandwich, so I’m sure Google has tweaked everything to hell to ensure the experience is a smooth one.

As much as I adore this phone, and the shiny new Android experience, it seems to be getting mixed reviews all over the place. With people making some very valid points. The main gripes being: camera, speaker/speakerphone, battery, and the phone’s gargantuan size.

Most of the time when I hear about the camera, it’s about Samsung going with a 5 Megapixel camera instead something like the 8 Megapixel from the Galaxy S II, which everyone seems to adore. Personally I have been pretty impressed with the camera on the Galaxy Nexus, though it might just be the awesome zero shutter lag courtesy of ICS. Sure, the auto-focus sometimes has trouble keeping up and the low light can be hit or miss, but for what it is (and compared to the 5MP in the Droid) I am usually impressed overall.

Santa seems to like the camera

 

The speaker, I will admit, is pretty piss poor. If you don’t have a bluetooth headset, or want to use the phone as a boombox, then you should look elsewhere. Thankfully my car is bluetooth enabled, and I prefer listening to music through headphones while I am out and about, so personally I cannot find much of a use for the speaker making this a non-issue for me.

battery

Battery Life

Now the battery, oh the battery, the eternal bane of my gadget filled life. As you can see by my handy little screenshot here (thank goodness for ICS) during normal use for me, I can squeeze between 12 and 15 hours out of the battery. This of course doesn’t include heavy navigation usage, where you will probably need some supplementation (non referral) to keep you going. Frankly for the awesomely huge screen, heavy 4G data, and for some damn reason Words With Friends usage, I think 12-15 hours is pretty good considering current battery technology.

I can deal with a 12 hour battery life for speeds like this

In regards to the size of the phone, I don’t think I am the best person to speak to that since I am a big guy with big hands. To me, unless I want to type one-handed in landscape mode, I have no trouble with the size of the phone. Reports from other Galaxy Nexus owners who have smaller hands have told me that the thinness of the phone helps with the overall feel, stopping it from seeming overly bulky during use.

I have run into some minor issues since I have gotten the phone, most of which I can safely chalk up to being on the bleeding edge of Android OSs; semi-frequent apps crashing and such. On one occasion the front-facing camera failed to turn on for facial unlock, but restarting the phone fixed that. I should also mention the issue some are having with the 4G data connection on Verizon’s network cutting out until they switch airplane mode on and off, or even restart the phone. Thankfully I haven’t run into that problem myself, unless we are counting the nationwide 4G growing pains.

Beyond all that, using the Galaxy Nexus for the past few weeks has been a great experience. The UI always seems smooth and responsive, and no matter what game I play or app I use, there is no stuttering or performance lag. Who knows what the future will hold for super-phones, but for now I am more than satisfied with latest Nexus phone and ICS.

Verizon Galaxy Nexus RANT

Saw this on reddit, felt it was appropriate.

Verizon Really Grinds My Gears

I have to admit, I cycled through a lot of titles for this post that were far more… colorful, but in the end I decided to try and keep it classy.

What am I pissed about this time? Two words: Galaxy Nexus. More to the point, where the hell is it?! There have been more than a few rumors flying around, enough to the point where lot’s of the fanboys I know waiting for this blasted phone (myself included), are getting burned out. The newest batch, pointing to December 8th or 9th, promptly got debunked right after they managed to rekindle my hope I would actually get this phone before 2011 was out.

fffuuu

Curse you Verizon, curse you and your torments

I have always been one for gadgets, I understand the hype machine that all of the companies subscribe to. Though as I am sure most who have been following this phone’s development would agree, this instance has seemingly “jumped the shark.” The worst part being the phone has actually been released, it is tangible, and has been in the hands of Android fans in Europe for months. Yet we still wait, with no word as to why, goodness knows Verizon isn’t saying anything. All we know is that there have been mysterious “delays” halting Verizon from getting this damned phone into my/our patiently awaiting hands.

galaxy-nexus-aliens

Who is *really* to blame for the Galaxy Nexus delays?!

Conveniently enough, these mysterious delays have been followed up by some unsettling rumors about the phone, and more importantly, how Verizon is screwing with it.

That’s why it’s so sad to see Verizon block people from using Google Wallet (Verizon Galaxy Nexus users won’t see the Google Wallet app in the Android Market). Especially on a reference phone like the Galaxy Nexus that should represent the purest Android experience. Plus it’s a dick move, presumably because Verizon will eventually be pimping its own phone payment service, ISIS (which Verizon is working on with AT&T and T-Mobile), over Google’s. ISIS sounds promising but it hasn’t launched yet and, well, when was the last time carriers did something good for you?

To me this stinks as one of the reasons for the delay, Big Red hard-balling Google into letting them disable the ability to use Google Wallet, then having to figure out how to do it while still allowing for ISIS to work in the who-the-hell-knows-when future. The Nexus line of phones is supposed to represent pure, untampered Android: Google’s vision for the OS and cutting edge hardware to show off how it’s meant to be experienced. But that’s not what we seem to be getting here.

…the Verizon version of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus will indeed have two bloatware apps. Both My Verizon Mobile and Backup Assistant will come preloaded…

Sure these are only two apps, and fairly utilitarian ones at that, but that doesn’t matter to me. I just want a clean slate! This leads me to my next theory that I have been toying with during this maelstrom of rumors: further delays are being caused by Verizon having a tough time with the new app disabling feature in Ice Cream Sandwich. Sure this phone will only have 2 Verizon apps on it, but will I be allowed to remove them? Will I even be allowed to disable them? If not on both accounts, then where does that leave us on future ICS handsets? Right back where we started, stuck with either having a bunch of apps we don’t want cluttering our devices or having to root the phone and go with a custom ROM. All just to make your phone actually yours!

Really I just hope above all else that this post was all for naught, Verizon finally pulls their collective heads out of their collective asses, and I can finally get a new phone!

Just release the damn phone!

FreeNAS, An Experiment In Awesomeness

For the longest time, I have had an old computer running Ubuntu with your typical samba setup so I could keep my music, videos, and backups stored in one spot, in a RAID 1 array of course. Where this setup sucks is when you want to handle using that share for Time Machine or to stream videos to your PS3/360. Sure there are ways to do it, I have tried a few with limited success, but nothing as simple as what I just experienced with FreeNAS.

This isn’t a setup guide, not really, I just wanted to point out how blindingly easy it was to get everything I have wanted out of my central storage server for a long time. Want to have Time Machine backup to your new NAS?

That was pretty hard wasn't it?

BAM! Done! One drop down and you now can use the machine for a central Time Machine backup location. Next up on the list is to be able to stream video and music to a game system. What does FreeNAS have for us?

Too damn easy.

You really can’t ask for more here, just another drop down and you are all set to go. Just make sure to enable the web user interface, or it won’t show up as a server when you power up your PS3.

Like I said, you can’t beat how easy this was, no weird hacks or spending hours on forums. Just a few drop downs after the initial setup and you are golden. True I already knew what I was doing so it may not be as smooth for others, but I think if you follow this LifeHacker guide, you will be fine too.

Rami’s Guide To Setting Up Your New Computer

Now that you have your new computer, what the hell are you supposed to do? I am so very glad you asked!

confused

Otherwise I have no idea what I would write about.

Something that most people might not realize, is that when you buy a (non-Apple) computer, you are not actually paying for what the computer is worth. Both manufacturers and retailers themselves will sell computers at a “loss” in an effort to be competitive and increase overall sales. Sounds crazy, but of course these devious bastards aren’t stupid, they make their money back one way or another. Manufacturers will, as anyone who has bought a computer in the last… ten years will know, load up all of their machines with all kinds of trial software. They make deals with the software companies to subsidize the cost of the computer, either getting paid to pre-install the software, or more likely to get kickbacks on any people that buy or subscribe. The retailers then bet on most customers buying accessories with the machine. With things like cables, cases, and flash drives all carrying huge markups around 50-1000% ($30 for a $3 ethernet cable hurts me), they can easily make up for any loss.

Of course Apple is immune to this because their machines cost an arm and a leg, leaving plenty of profit margins. Not that they still don’t make a crap-ton from accessories and such themselves on top of that.

They always find a way.

My point is you now probably have a computer all bogged down with crap software that you don’t want or care about. The first step is to download and run The PC Decrapifier, a very handy piece of software that will step you through the process of removing all the pre-installed junk on your machine. A warning though, make sure you pay attention to every step and what the program tells you, especially when you are selecting things to uninstall. Last thing you need is to uninstall all the drivers you need for your computer to run properly and ruin the whole experience. If you are not sure about something, google it or just leave it alone, you can always just remove it later if you find out it’s garbage. The most common things to look out for in this process is any anti-virus/anti-spyware and Microsoft Office (you know, Word, Excel, Power Point, etc.), these are always trials and the last thing you need is multiple versions chewing up your system. Also do yourself a favor and remove adobe reader, you don’t have to, but I highly recommend it and will offer a better alternative later.
Now that your system is all clean and shiny, time to make your recovery DVDs. Please, please, PLEASE, I implore you to look in the start menu and find the “Recovery Disc Creator” or “Recovery Manager” and burn the damn discs. It is typically three DVDs and they will make your life worlds easier if something goes wrong. Otherwise you will be stuck calling who-knows-where hoping that you don’t get stuck on hold forever, all so you can now pay for something you could have had for free and wait the week for it to arrive. These discs will allow you to re-install Windows if it is corrupted or your hard drive dies; your local repair shop will not have copies, your local retailer will not have copies, no one will have copies other than the manufacturer. I’ll conclude this rant with the fact that these discs are also make and model (at least series) specific, so you can’t just ask your friends or neighbors if they were responsible people.

Every time someone is too lazy to burn their recovery discs, a puppy goes unadopted and unloved.

Okay you’re back, that was a fun three hours starring at a progress bar right? Be happy though, we are almost at the end of this long, annoying tunnel!

Our next step is to install all the goodies we are going to need, and the best tool for that? Ninite: the best site you can never remember! My preference for apps to get by category:

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
    • Firefox (for the few sites that hate chrome)
  • Messaging
    • Pidgin (the actual AIM client is for suckers)
    • Skype (if you like to video chat)
  • Media
    • Hulu
    • VLC (for all your random file playing needs)
  • Runtimes
    • Silverlight (yay netflix!)
  • Imaging
    • Picasa (best photo manager in town!)
  • Documents
    • Foxit Reader (here is your Adobe Reader replacement)
  • Security
    • Microsoft Essentials (surprisingly good anti-virus)
    • Ad-Aware
  • Other
    • Dropbox (everyone needs some cloud storage)
    • Evernote
    • Steam
    • KeePass (now you have no excuse to have strong passwords)
  • Compression
    • 7-zip

Of course I get a few more things needed for my geek toolkit, but if you need those things I am sure you don’t need this post to help you. Now that you selected what you want, just hit the big green “Get Installer” button, run the file that downloads and let Ninite do it’s magic. Then restart the machine and you should be all good to go!

happy computer users

Now off with you! Go be as happy with your new computer as this stock photo model is with hers!

 

Then again, you could always say screw it, erase everything and install Ubuntu. But I think this post is already long enough…

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