“One day, I went to work — I live in SF and I have to commute to Mountain View and there are these shuttles — I went to the shuttle stop and I saw a line of not 10 people but 15 people standing in a row like this,” she puts her head down and mimics someone poking at a smartphone. “I don’t want to do that, you know? I don’t want to be that person.”

Glass 300 use

On using it: First you have to touch the side of the device (which is actually a touchpad), or tilt your head upward slowly, a gesture which tells Glass to wake up. Once you’ve done that, you start issuing commands by speaking "ok glass" first, or scroll through the options using your finger along the side of the device. You can scroll items by moving your finger backwards or forward along the strip, you select by tapping, and move "back" by swiping down. Most of the big interaction is done by voice, however.

via “I used Google Glass: the future, with monthly updates”

The difference is, of course, I can put the phone in my pocket the second you start talking to me. It is not part of our conversation and there is no screen alerting me to a new message or enticing me with some video. Putting the phone in my pocket is a way to say, “Okay it’s just you and me talking now.” But wearing that computer on your face is a reminder that, well, you have a damn computer on your face.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I would love to play with a Google Glass! I would love to put it on and walk around the city. I would LOVE to write software for it. I just think it’s claiming to be a replacement for something it is not.

All that said:

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When Apple bought the biometric security company Authentec I decided to buy one of their USB fingerprint readers to see what Apple saw in them and maybe learn a little bit about some tech that might be showing up in future Apple products.

In the time I bought it to when it was delivered to me they stopped selling them on the site. Also, the store and developer site were taken down so I wasn’t able to write any of my own software to use it, and even if I could, nobody could buy a device of their own. But I could still install the tools that integrated with OS X’s security system and that was still interesting to me.

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Since I rarely take my laptop out of the house, it’s not too big a deal to have this nub of plastic hanging off the side. Plus I wanted to see what it’d be like to use my fingerprint to unlock and perform administration functions.

Sliding your finger along the scanner takes some time to get right. Even after using it for a few weeks I still only get about a 75% hit rate, but it can still be quicker than typing my ten character password.

In the past month as discussions about password security and authentication crop up, I keep thinking about how great it feels to not even think about a password when using the device.

I use 1Password for 99% of all my passwords and while I still would recommend using it, I can now see a future when 1Password is no longer needed.

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Leonard writes the sort of update I wanted to write after my time with the Android phone. Unfortunately, I didn't make it that far with the Android G1, but now I'm thinking of giving the Pre a chance.

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I had switched to a Google G1 "Dream" phone for a month. I felt like writing about it.

I give up. I thought it'd be fun to see what life was like on a different platform but I think I've seen more than enough on this hardware. The device is definitely too slow to get anything done and I have found myself not going to the phone when in a situation where I used to check my mail and catch up on Twitter. I stood in line at the ATM and just didn't bother.

On Saturday my family was here to visit and I found myself reaching for the iPhone to check on a restaurant, map some directions, and to check on an order. Given a choice between the two I just could not keep flipping that thing open knowing there were other perfectly good computers nearby.

I took the G1 into work today but I came home knowing what I had to do. I switched the SIM back to the iPhone. I'm going to keep installing apps and carrying it with me, but the SIM stays in the iPhone. When I get my hands on a Hero I can really put Android to the test. I think the G1 was just not ready to be the hardware for Android. And I'm not ready to interact with people when presented with opportunities to tune them out.

Some Links And Other Items You Might Be Interested In

  • Alex Payne wrote something that just nails what drives me to want to see what else is out there. In 1999 I switched from Windows to Linux on my desktop for a year while I contracted. The fallout from that was horrendous. Lost files, corrupted Word docs, one dumb weekend where I worked in 640x480 because I hit "Okay" instead of "NO, NO, NO, GOD, NO" on an update and was clueless about how to fix it without wiping and re-installing. I switched to OS X in 2001.
  • Ed Chang wrote in and told me about TouchPal which does some really good stuff as a replacement keyboard. I used it for a bit while i searched for a podcast manager (BeyondPod seemed to be the best but did not actually work when I tried subscribing to feeds).
  • There is a Foursquare App for Android that looks very promising! I will definitely be testing it out.
  • Buzz writes from experience what it takes to ship a well polished app and why he does it. Coincidentally I bought Birdfeed on Sunday.

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I have switched to a Google G1 "Dream" phone for a month. I feel like writing about it.

My friend Omar pointed me to an excellent review of the iPhone and Android keyboards side-by-side. It's a great examination of the differences and the conclusion is spot on.

Because I find the Android virtual keyboard pretty useless I find myself switching to the physical keyboard which is almost as bad. On one hand I'm happy to see physical keyboards disappearing with the next HTC phones coming out, on the other hand Android really needs to fix their virtual keyboard to be as useful as the iPhone's. I'd say it's absolutely the most crucial thing for me to keep using this operating system.

Last night I did find some software that I actually liked. It's a todo list application called Astrid [review] and I was surprised to find out this morning that it's an open source project. I could see myself using this on the iPhone if I hadn't paid for Things.

Astrid has a feature that is not even possible on the iPhone. Using a Locale plugin, you can assign tags to task items that trigger alarms when you are in certain situations. For example, you can have a task to "buy batteries" and assign it a tag of "store". Then in Locale you connect the tag "store" with a situation in which you are near your local hardware store. Or simply maintain "home" and "work" task lists with reminders.

Here's a real example I am now using this for: I have a task called "buy muni pass" which is only available a few days before the end of the month and only from certain retailers. I walk by a place that sells them, but I always forget to buy them during the window and I usually remember when I'm nowhere near the store.

Finally, I think I've decided that many of the major problems I have with this phone (aside from the virtual keyboard) is the hardware. It's just too slow, it's too thick, and the need for a dongle to listen to music is ridiculous. There is only one reason why I have hope for Android and it's called the HTC Hero.

Tell me you don't want to just eat this phone. Still a shade too thick, and far too many buttons (both physical and on the display) asking for attention, but it's definitely getting there. Look at the virtual keyboard!

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I have switched to a Google G1 "Dream" phone for a month. I feel like writing about it.

One thing I didn't anticipate having with the G1 and Android was the ability to run arbitrary applications in the background. The iPhone runs a few select applications behind the scenes: email silently synchronizes, your calendars and contacts can synchronize with Mobile Me, and of course there's the new feature in 3.0 that allows applications to push data to your phone in the form of alerts. Really good stuff, but it would be nice if some of my most used iPhone applications didn't have to unpack their previous state every time I switched to the app.

Android does away with those work-arounds and simply lets applications hang out while you do other things. I think this contributes to the noticable battery drain, something I have never been concerned with on my iPhone.

But the benefits of this feature is up-to-date Twitter counts, switching to applications and seeing they maintained the state you left them in, and the best thing so far: an application called Locale.

In short, Locale checks what it calls "situations", and then changes settings according to rules you provide. Here are some of the screens to give you an idea about what you can do. I've set up two situations, "Home" and "Work" to adjust ring volume, brightness levels, and vibration. There is also a plug-in architecture so you can write your own settings or conditions to cause changes in your own applications, or even post information to services not on your phone.

I still need to tell Locale which applications I don't need running in the background all the time to help with battery life. But I will say, coming into work today and hearing my phone beep for attention after a full night of being quiet was pretty cool.

How awesome would that be on the iPhone? I KNOW!

Since I'm on the subject of applications, it is really obvious after installing a few apps and replacing my most used iPhone applications (Tweetie, Foursquare, Mail, Safari, iTunes, Things, this is from memory, I am sure I forgot something) that I miss the iPhone equivalents dearly.

The Twitter app to use on Android, I'm told, is Twidroid. It's okay but one of the benefits of using an application versus a browser is the ability to provide functionality you can't do on a web page. Twidroid is a little chunky when scrolling, offers lengthy menus you have to scroll through when the phone is turned sideways, and generally feels rough to me. There is a "delete" option for every tweet, not just my own, but every tweet. When you push that option you are told, "You may not delete another users (sic) status". They shipped that. Later tonight I'm going to file two bugs I found within a day of using the thing. Very obvious, repeatable bugs that I uncovered while riding the train into work.

That's not just a comment on Twidroid, that is nearly[1] every application I've used so far. The Android SDK needs an Apple HIG-style document. And like, uh, a review board. Uh. Yeah. Hmmm.

[1] I am being kind. I actually can't think of one application that works as well as the average iPhone app. I need to keep looking.

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I have switched to a Google G1 "Dream" phone for a month. I feel like writing about it.

Before the iPhone arrived I was a very happy Ericsson k750i user. It was fast, I was pretty good with the number pad, and Google Reader worked really well on it. The coolest thing it did was in-camera photo stitching (example 1, example 2) and the damn thing had a 2MP camera that also shot video. Oh and computer tethering worked right out of the box. This was early 2007.

To say the least, at that point in time I was very much a mobile phone enthusiast. I researched the latest phones. I bought unlocked phones from Amazon for hundreds of dollars just to have the latest and greatest. People laughed when I told them what I paid for my phone, but I didn't care because I was commuting by train and my phone was pretty much my computer for the hour or so it took to get to work.

Of course, we all know what happened in June of 2007. The iPhone arrived and it was wonderful. Sure, I had to lose Internet tethering, in-camera photo stitching, the 2MP camera, the video recording, the removable SD card slot, and the drag/drop mp3 loading, but the iPhone was just so good without any of those features most of all because it promised an experience that I was used to on my desktop: regular updates. And possibly, fingers crossed, an SDK.

The Ericsson software was woefully out of date. There was a patch you could load to get some new features, but it was at least a year old, and I had to jump through many hoops to get it installed (the least of which was get the phone to show up in Parallels as the updater was Windows only). When I finally did install it, I found newsreader software that seemed to be written by people who didn't really know what a newsreader was.

So I think, looking back, the thing that sold me on the iPhone was knowing the software in 2007 would be updated by 2008. That was a very big deal for me back then. More than the features I listed up above—regular updates and the promise of a reasonable syncing workflow (without installing conduits and drivers and god-awful phone PIMs) was so much more attractive than a removable battery and drag-and-drop mp3 playlists.

Now we're in 2009 and despite the CEO of Palm saying[1]: "PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in." The "PC guys" did just that. They walked right in and made some very cool devices you could (pretty much) install your own software on[2] and call your mom.

So it's only been two years but I've gone from absolutely loving Apple as gatekeeper to my device's software to just flat out hating it. The past few months have been a parade of sad stories of developers getting bit by app store policies, or us, the users, losing out on software that would have been great to have[3]. Google Voice, for example, has been something I've been eagerly waiting for every since I was invited to use the service.

Add in the $600 price tag for a new 3GS (I was told to check back in July 2010!) and I started wondering what my next phone would be. Somewhat randomly as this was going on I was given a new, unlocked, G1 developer phone which arrived at my office today. I decided to give it a month and see how it goes.

So far I have to admit to liking it a bit more than I thought I would.

The hardware itself is flexible in all the wrong places and almost nothing lines up like its supposed to. It reminds me of the predecessor to the k750i, the s710a. The Ericsson s710a was a swing-out phone that took massive (at the time) photos and had a large, pretty screen, but was a bit heavy and you could use it like a roll of quarters if you needed to punch someone.

I'll write about the software later. For now I can say I won't have a problem using it for 30 days. I am sure I'll miss a few games, but most of the apps I use are simply front-ends to web services like Twitter or Google Reader. Google Voice is EXCELLENT. The whole Google Account integration "just works". I launched maps for the first time and the system knew who I was and signed me into Google Latitude. Also, my calendar is updated and synced as are my contacts pulled over from Google Voice.

I think tomorrow I will write about my least favorite thing about this phone: the audio player and dongle.

[1] Seriously, I fucking love that quote so much.
[2] I realize Blackberrys existed at this time and many people used them, loved them, and wrote software for them, but they were just so comically huge! I still don't understand that device. I will never understand that device.
[3] I'll never jailbreak my phone. That road just leads to heartache and pain and I can't bring myself to do it.

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Finally, a cotton candy machine for your home! I have no idea how cotton candy machines work, but this one takes hard candy and spins it into cotton. Unbelievable. [via ohgizmo]

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While packing for our trip I found my Lomo squashed between two books. I do carry an iPhone and can take thousands of 2MP photos, but I want another film camera simply because I still like using film. I enjoy taking a camera out specifically to go take photos, though, I'd happily switch to digital if I could find one as utilitarian and durable (mostly) as the Lomo. It just felt nice to use.

I would never drop $5k on this Leica, but I'd definitely go digital for something similar to that.

Related: Justin pointed me to the White Stripes branded Diana+ and Holga cameras. Eh?

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Michael reviews some gel pens. I was a G2 user for a long time, but recently bought a big box of Zebra Sarasas and have been pretty happy with them, though they do tend to randomly give a little too much ink sometimes.

Add me to the list of people who gets happy when they go to an office supply store. I have more paper, pens, tape, and office doo-hickeys than food in my fridge. I may not survive the weeks following an earthquake but I could supply a small government agency for a year on my supplies.

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Don't get me wrong, I love my iPhone. I take it everywhere. I use the alarm to wake up in the morning and while the shower warms up I scan my work email. I hit the news reader on the bus and devour podcasts like nobody's business. I cannot imagine using another phone/mobile computer any time soon.

That said, my god look at this beautiful, simple phone. It's the Motorola F3 (MOTOFONE) and it's not your typical mobile phone. Check out the Wikipedia entry to find out about the "electronic paper" display, the fact that its original target is developing markets, and that it runs a Linux variant.

The limitations are plentiful, but I can think of tons of people who would absolutely love this phone. If this was Apple's first entry into the phone market I wouldn't have been surprised.

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Picture 3.png While trying to register on Translink's site, the iPhone conveniently sensed the field was named with "phone" and replaced my keyboard with a number keypad. A number keypad with no dash. A dash that the Translink required on their end to know it was a "real" number.

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Who is buying all these green lasers?

Is there some sort of secret drug manufacturing step that requires green lasers? Ick... is there such a thing as Laser Play? Does it have to do something with DRM/DMCA/BluRay? Are they about to be banned or something?

Everywhere I turn for Christmas I see lasers. Lasers! Buy a Green Laser! It's green! It's brighter! Was my old laser weak? Who is buying these green lasers?

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Cameron's post about Multi-Tap comes with a neat script.

Since moving to San Francisco I'm actually using all those phone features that used to be kind of pointless when you're commuting in a car. My phone has an RSS reader, so I can keep up with the news*, I have a huge number of bookmarks, and appreciate when people add accessibility headers to their sites. Google also provides these helpful "landing pages" which seem to show up at random.

I've grown so used to using operating systems that allow customization (real customization, not themes and colors) that it's frustrating to have to use someone else's idea of a good text entry system. Sony's idea of "predictive word suggestions" is when I'm typing a word like "the" it scans the last time I used the word "the" and offers up the word I had used after it last time. Not very useful... I'd actually pay for a better SMS app on my phone.

*BBC's feeds are better than anyone in the US, which is probably due to the desire to maximize pageviews/adviews, so I have to read the occasional story about Manchester United (?) trading someone for someone. Anyone got a good RSS news feed with a real summary?

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Unlike the Zune I actually shelled out for this one. $350 puts this in the serious GAS (gadget acquirement syndrome) range. Call me crazy but eBooks are one of those technologies that I lust for. Some people get hot for LEDs or overclocking their computers. Me: eBooks. Way hot.

Buying It

Apparently, the only place you can buy a Sony Portable Reader, besides the Sony store, is Borders books. I am not sure I fully understand this reasoning as it's a bit like selling cars at a scooter store. Yes, we like to read, but are avid book buyers actually going plunk down one hundred times the cost of a book for a gadget like this? I don't think so.

I walked into a Borders for only the second time this year and asked to see the device. The clerk said he had been waiting for someone to check it out as he wanted to see what it looked like. When he brought the box out from behind the counter it was small. Really small. From photos of Sony's previous reader, the Libre I had thought it'd be just a bit smaller than my 15" Macbook. Instead this thing is roughly a bit taller than a paperback book, and about 3/4ths as thin. Opening it up I was put off by that awful Sony purple. But that faded as soon as I started it up...

The Display

I think the clerk and I both said "woah" when it first booted. All reviews say it looks like paper and they're right. Though not the sort of paper you're probably thinking. It does not look like book paper, instead imagine if there was a mockup of a video screen printed up on cardboard and taped to the screen of your laptop. It would look too crisp, too clear, almost like you're holding a demo model of a laptop instead of an actual laptop and then you hit a button and BAM! a new page just percolates in...OMG YOU'RE A WITCH STONE HIM!

So basically, the paper thing is true. Totally readable. Totally awesome...unless you are trying to read something with line breaks inserted. Why do people do this? I had to put together a quick and dirty ruby script to fix all the Project Gutenberg pages because some joker thought to add line breaks in the plain-text (example). Cory's books don't do this so I can read them at any resolution. But people who aren't fortunate enough to make a script will be SOL and have to read jagged lines. PDFs are great if they bleed to the outer edges of the page, most of the eBooks I own have big margins which is great for printing, not so much when reading on a small screen.

Another oddity that has to do with the technology of the display's refresh. Let's see if I can explain this in one sentence: The display is made up of millions of tiny balls which are dynamically magnetized to show you their black or white side. This takes a bit of time (about a half second) and it's a little weird to get used to, but once you do it's no more distracting than actually turning a paper page. If you time it right you can hit the "next page" (there are three next page buttons and three previous page buttons, take your pick) button just as you finish a paragraph.

I wasn't able to read my Ruby On Rails PDF book, my Ruby PDF book, or an old Objective-C PDF book I had been wanting to read. I was able to output a .pdf that was readable on the reader, but that took a lot of time, and I realized plain-text was good enough. 

The Controls

Not the best part of this gadget. There are some weird things about it that I am not sure if it's Sony trying to be clever or they had an intern do it. No device needs over 20 buttons on it if it's not a keyboard. This thing has 10 buttons labeled "1" to "10" so you can skip around or select menus (which I suspect is because using the joystick and waiting for the screen to refresh takes a lot of time, hitting a button corresponding to some percentage of the book is easier. It's so sad watching people come up with alternate iPod interfaces when the iPod interface is so elegant.)

The Store

Hah, yeah right, I'm never going to use that store. Total waste of time and money. There are just too many free Gutenberg books to read.

The Verdict

If you are an eBook geek, get this thing. If you take a lot of trips, get this thing. It's easy to read, I carry around about 20 books at all times, and it takes Sony Memory Sticks so you can probably carry a few hundred around without a problem.

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I've given up completely on the Zune and am giving it away. There are a number of reasons why I decided to stop using it: being a Mac user, not wanting to boot into Bootcamp just to use it, unable to easily get movies onto the device (I never actually did get one on there, it'd fail every time), plus it was pretty damn big.

This isn't to say I don't think people should buy it. I could imagine being a Windows user and wanting that bigger screen, and possibly the ability to share songs with a friend. Plus it's a new device to hack away at. I mean, iPod security seems to be all sewn up, but there are already tales of hacking the Zune to rip files and stuff. If I was a Windows developer I'd be on that device trying to build the next iPodRip or something.

One thing though, I bought an original XBox and was less than thrilled with it. It seemed dated from the day I bought it. The games mostly sucked and the HD was pretty much just a giant memory card. Games don't need giant memory cards.

Fast forward a few years and the XBox 360º is an outstanding product. XBoxLive is nicely integrated. We buy TV shows in an iTunes-like fashion and get to see them in HD. The friend features are light years ahead of anything you can realistically buy (yes, the PS3 has those features, good luck getting your hands on a PS3 any time soon).

You can't count MS out. They fail (spectacularly) and have enough money to come right back. I can't wait to see what they do with the Zune 2...and I'm not even sure if I won't own one when they do get it right.

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Picture_3 Due to some luck I happened to get this Zune a day early. Not sure if I'm allowed to thank the person who let me have it early, but it's a review model, so it came fully loaded with music, videos and movies. It also comes with a 3 month membership to the market-place where I get free access (I think) to download whatever I want. I'm not totally sure if normal consumer Zunes will come with so much music and videos, but if it does, that's pretty sweet. They picked some good stuff.

The letter that came with it says, "The setup on this device is exactly what a typical consumer purchasing Zune will experience." That could go either way, I think. They could just be talking about the volume settings.

Packaging

I'll start with packaging because it's something the iPod and Apple excel at, and it was on my mind while opening Zune. There's really nothing going on here, it's just a box you slide open to find a bunch of stuff inside. I couldn't find the earbuds at first. That's about it. There's a lot of brown. The earbud covers were in one of those little ziploc bags you'd expect a couple of crack rocks to come in if you're the sort of person who cares about what his crack rocks come in. I am I guess.

Enough about packaging. It kept the Zune from getting wet while I walked in the rain, I suppose that's all that matters.

How Does It Feel?

I was trying to come up with a suitable example about what a Zune feels like. It's not quite an iPod—that solid, dense metal feeling you get when you first put one in your hands. It's actually a bit like holding a MacBook vs. a MacBook Pro. If you've never held a MacBook, it seems heavier, a bit cheaper, a bit more plastic and empty space lurking just underneath the plastic shell. There's also the sense that not all the seams are tightly held together. So if an iPod is a Macbook Pro, the Zune is a MacBook at best.

The seams are indeed a little off, giving you the feeling that if you dropped it you'd get to see inside the Zune. The buttons are a little squirrely and move around a bit if you rub your finger on them. I hate that.

How Are The Controls?

Weird. I find myself rotating the thing back and forth because the menuing is all portrait, and the videos are landscape. Right now I'm still just playing with the thing, and even though it's not an iPod wheel I am not having problems getting around. The only thing that's already become annoying is seeking forward and backward with the button disc. It just doesn't work and I find myself skipping around too much, finally giving up and just watching the bit over again.

What Does It Feel Like To Push An Acorn In Your Ear?

Not fun. Maybe I have tiny ear holes, but both Apple + MS need to get away from this hard plastic, one size fits all earbud thing and get with what is becoming more common. Soft-rubber earbuds with three sizes for small, medium, or large ears. Maybe nobody really uses these things. Either way, my ear already hurts.

I switched to my daily earbuds and the audio was actually pretty good. I will have to look into what the bit-rate is, but it seemed to sound as good as my work computer through an amplifier. I'm guessing they ripped everything at a pretty high rate for the review models.

I'll see how the thing does on my trip to work tomorrow. I've already tried installing the Zune software on my Parallels install: no dice. It crashes Parallels so this Zune experience will probably get cut short if I can't get anything onto it. I am excited about the radio, it means I'll be able to listen to NPR again.

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