November’s Done, Bring on December

Happy NaBloPoMo 2009, y’all! As happens every year, I’m likely to go back to less-frequent posting starting tomorrow.

This year’s stats:

  • total posts: 30
  • by category: knitting – 1, friends – 2, hockey – 4, food – 4, the dogs – 5, tech – 6, life – 7
  • total comments: 46
  • posts with substantive photos: 16

So all in all, a pretty normal blogging month (if you actually blog every day, which I don’t normally do).

I’m really happy that December is tomorrow. Yesterday was the end of the long Thanksgiving weekend here, so I pulled out the Christmas decorations and got them up. I’m ready for Christmas to come! Yes, that is a penguin on the top of our teeny, tiny, fake tree. I love it. 🙂

Our Christmas Tree

My goal for December? I’m going to try to make an Advent calendar. I have some ideas (like this, this, this, this, this, or this). Should be fun!

The Eris Update

erisAs promised, I’ve used my new Eris for a couple of weeks now and want to report on the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The good

See my post called Eris to the Rescue. Seriously – the location-aware stuff is supremely useful. I can’t wait until the Eris gets updated to Android 2.0 so I can download Google Navigator!

A bunch of apps, including:

  • Apps Organizer – organize my apps into folders (the mornings, talk talk, locations, google, tools, and camera icons on the main screen on the right are all folders created in Apps Organizer)
  • Seesmic – best Twitter client out there for the Android OS, as far as I’m concerned
  • FxCamera – mess around with your photos, apply fun effects
  • Google Maps – where are you? where do you want to go?
  • Google Sky Map – what stars are in the sky tonight?
  • GeoBeagle – integrates with, haven’t used it yet but looks very promising
  • Places Directory – fire it up and it finds banks, bars, coffeeshops, gas stations, parking, restaurants, shops, and more near your location
  • wpToGo – lets me easily update my WordPress-based blog from my phone

The Android Forums. Pretty much every question I’ve had about the phone I’ve Googled and the Android Forums always comes up at the top of the search results. So I just created an account on the forums and have been poking around there to find out more about the phone.

Phone call quality is as good as it was on my non-smartphone. Not as good as my landline, but no cellphones have ever been that good.

The bad

The camera quality isn’t great, most noticeably in low-light settings. It’s much better in brighter, natural light. This means I’m still tied to bringing a camera with me when I go someplace where I want to take photos. Fortunately, though, I don’t need to do that on a day-to-day basis, which means my bag now weighs about .3 pounds less.

The battery doesn’t last quite as long as I’d like. I’m hoping that a few more cycles of charge-discharge all the way-charge will do the trick. If that doesn’t work, there are a million threads in the forums on how to increase battery life (one of which may be: bring my USB cable with me to work and plug the darn thing in during the day).

The ugly

I have a really, really hard time with the touch-screen keyboard after having used the more sensitive and accurate iPod touch keyboard for over a year. Does anyone who is an Eris/Droid/etc. user have a recommendation for a better on-screen keyboard, preferably free? Do I need to get rid of the screen protector?

So many notifications! I should probably uninstall a bunch of apps (hello 4 Facebook and 3 Twitter apps anyone?), which would definitely help in that regard. But I’m still trying to figure out which apps I want notifications for, and which I’d prefer to not know about. I also think the notifications are probably feeding into the afore-mentioned battery issues… So it’s mostly my own fault, but still. No centralized place where I can manage ALL my notifications is causing me some frustration and confusion.

Overall assessment

I’m happy with the Eris. Apparently there is going to be some big update on December 11 (rumors are about an upgrade to the  Android 2.0 operating system), but in the meantime I’m quite pleased with this phone on a whole lot of levels. If you’re new to smartphones, this is a good entry-level machine. If you don’t want to go to AT&T/iPhone, this is a nice choice. For those of you who have used the iPhone and/or Blackberry, I’d recommend going to someplace that sells the Eris and the Droid and comparing them and selecting the one you like best.

Storm vs. NH Blue

Storm Logo Aw dang, we lost tonight, 2-6. We were missing 2 skaters, so Amy played up and Jill and I were defensive partners. As it turns out, we played really well together despite me being beat about 30 times up the right side by one of the Nighthawk players. Thanks to our goalie Angela for saving my butt… Speaking of my butt, I didn’t use it to block her view this week like I did last week, which I consider to be progress. Actually, I think overall we all played better than we did last week. We’ll see what the coach has to say about it at practice on Wednesday, but I know I certainly felt better about our team’s performance tonight compared to last week!

We had quite the cheering section too. My folks, Amy’s folks, friends of the team Sue and Elaine, Laura’s boyfriend Sam, and Nancy were all there. We usually have 3 or 4 people, so it was nice to have a bit larger of a cheering section. And tomorrow we don’t have a game – we get a rare Sunday off, which means Amy and I can head into Cambridge to hang out with my folks before they head back to Minnesota. It’s been a great week with them here.

Eris to the Rescue

Two weeks in and I’m in pretty deep like with my Droid Eris.

Unlike on my iPod Touch, I haven’t downloaded any games yet. But unlike my iPod Touch, I’ve got all-the-time internet access plus GPS capabilities, and oh what a difference that makes!

Case in point: today we had to take 2 cars in to the city (6 adults do not fit in either a CR-V or an Outback, so 2 cars it was). First we needed driving directions. Google Maps – there’s an app for that, and it plots your location on the map while you drive. As soon as the Eris operating system gets upgraded past Android 1.5, we should be able to get turn-by-turn driving directions as well. Then we ended up getting out of the orchestra earlier than we thought we would, so we got updated driving directions to my folks’ hotel and sent Amy and her folks to our restaurant. While my folks were checking in to their hotel, Amy called and asked me to find them a bar by the restaurant that was open. I opened up the Places Directory and found a bunch of things, all of which appeared to be closed. Alas. Fortunately, they found a place. Phew! Then I needed to text Amy to let her know that her car had a dead battery and that we were waiting for AAA. When she called me back, she told me the magical secret to de-deading the dead battery. Yay Amy! If she were an app, she’d be number one on the popularity list, I’m sure of it! Then we got good driving directions to the restaurant, were able to get Amy and her mom headed home in the right direction, and were able to send me and my father-in-law back home incredibly efficiently.

Yeah, yeah, I know this is all pretty standard fare for your average smartphone (or GPS, for that matter), and probably not all that exciting to most folks who have one. If a couple of my favorite iPod Touch apps would get ported over to Android (I’m looking at you, LoseIt, Sportacular, iBird Explorer, Dropbox, and Stanza) and if I ever took the time to figure out how to get music onto the Eric, I’d be off the iPod Touch for good. But yeah, I’m pretty happy thus far.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thank god there are people here who know what they’re doing with a turkey. You may notice that neither Amy nor I are in this photo, of the turkey that’s currently cooking on our grill.

Basting the slightly charbroiled turkey

Potatoes need mashing, stuffing needs baking, beets/rutabaga/brussel sprouts need roasting, and the feast needs eating. The dishes need washing, pies need warming/baking, cream needs whipping, and dessert needs to be consumed. Then napping needs to commence.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!