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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Photo Blog: Beautiful Day in San Francisco

This weekend, we flew up to San Francisco along with Ashley's grandma Carol to meet some friends from Italy (Stefania and Danielle) for the weekend. We weren't sure what to expect weather-wise since it changed throughout the week; but we had resigned to the fact it was going to be cloudy.

On Sunday morning after we woke at the Westin St. Francis right in the heart of Union Square, we were surprised to see the sky to be clear and blue -- and it was nice and warm outside.

We ended up spending the most of the day walking throughout the city with friend, of which the Google Maps Distance Calculator showed that we walked at least 3.906 miles for the day.

I'm guessing it was closer to 4.5 miles, but we still had a great time. Here are a few pictures from the day...

From 2009_06_San_Francisco
Stefania, Danielle, Grandma Carol and Ashley enjoy a laugh while walking down Market Street.


Ashley and her Grandma catch up in front of the Farmer's Market.


Eating your way through the Farmer's Market is always a good thing!


After lunch at the Fog City Diner, we headed to Pier 39...


Fun photo with Alcatraz in the background at Pier 39.


Posing in front of Alcatraz as the sailboat goes by in the background.


Ashley and her Grandma watch the Sea Lions at Pier 39.


The scene at Fisherman's Wharf.


Ok, so the cable car trolley broke. Bang, followed by the conductor shouting...what was that. The cable car was off the track and we decided to instead take a taxi.


After the Zombie Art exhibit opening, nothing like a dinner at the Cheesecake Factory at the top of Macy's in Union Square!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How to Download Telenav GPS Navigator for Blackberry

Every since I picked up my Blackberry 8800, I have enjoyed and enabled the TeleNav GPS Navigator at it's $9.99 or so per month fee. Not only was it with me all the time, but it saved a ton of cash since I find myself in Hertz vehicles at least 4 days a month with the $9.95 per day price tag.

Having become dependent on the TeleNav GPS Navigator, you could imagine my surprise when it was not included on my new Blackberry Bold 9000 Series. Checking the Blackberry App Store, I noticed it was not included there.

I figured I could just browse to the TeleNav website and that would make it easy. After about 4-5 minutes of searching for an easy download link -- I really started to wonder, "How do you download TeleNav GPS Navigator for Blackberry?" Specifically a download that would work with Cingular / AT&T.

So, I then turned to Google and after a couple of minutes I came to forum page which had a link to the direct file where you can download the file. Hopefully, in order to save you some time -- I figured I would publish this link in order to make everyone's life easy, so here it is:

http://ota.telenav.com/ota/tnatt/


All you need to go to is the Internet Browser, or the AT&T MediaNet Browser, enter the address and you can easily download the TeleNav application...

For other providers, here are some additional links:
Sprint / Nextel: http://ota.telenav.com/ota/sn/

Cingular/AT&T: http://ota.telenav.com/ota/tnatt/

AllTel: http://ota.telenav.com/ota/al/

Verizon: http://ota.telenav.com/ota/vz/

T-Mobile Blackberry 8100: http://ota.telenav.com/ota/tn/


Once I hit the link, I was able to download and install the application easily! Even better, I noticed a new upgrade to the TeleNav GPS Navigator version 5.5.31 -- which has a new UI, here are a couple of screen shots:

How to download TeleNav GPS Navigator for Blackberry - Installed on Blackberry


How to download TeleNav GPS Navigator for Blackberry - New Interface on version 5.5

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Hidden Mickey: Disneyland: Tomorrowland: Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters: Ride Building Block

Welcome to another Hidden Mickey post from Disneyland, California! In this particular post, we'll show you both the location (including GPS coordinates!) and a picture of the block Hidden Mickey on the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride in the Tomorrowland section of Disneyland in Anaheim, CA.

As a reminder, we used Steven M. Barrett's book, Disneyland's Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Disneyland Resort's Best Kept Secrets to help us on our adventures. You can buy it at the park, or if you want to go prepared, click here to purchase from Amazon.

For the full list of Hidden Mickey's we've found in Disneyland, click here.

To find this Hidden Mickey in Buzz Lightyear, once you get on the ride and enter the first show room you will have to look quickly to identify this hidden Mickey. To the left of the vehicle you will want to identify the block located just past the rotating wheel and left of a target of batteries. On the bottom of the block you will see a classic Mickey etched into the decoration with three different color circles.

Here is a picture of the Hidden Mickey:

Hidden Mickey in the Buzz Lightyear ride at Disneyland in Tomorrowland in the first room on the left with the building blocks

Here is a Google Map with the exact GPS location of this Hidden Mickey in Disneyland, 33.81242° N, 117.9177° W:


View Larger Map

Good luck in finding it! If you've found it, please let me know with a comment!

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hidden Mickey: Disneyland: Tomorrowland: Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters: Green Squadron Mural

Welcome to another Hidden Mickey post from Disneyland, California! In this particular post, we'll show you both the location (including GPS coordinates!) and a picture of the Green Squadron Mural in the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters in the Tomorrowland section of Disneyland in Anaheim, CA.

As a reminder, we used Steven M. Barrett's book, Disneyland's Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Disneyland Resort's Best Kept Secrets to help us on our adventures. You can buy it at the park, or if you want to go prepared, click here to purchase from Amazon. But, this may surprise you...this Hidden Mickey is not in the book!

For the full list of Hidden Mickey's we've found in Disneyland, click here.

To find this Hidden Mickey in Buzz Lightyear, keep your eyes open looking at all of the murals and decorations while you are waiting in line for Buzz Lightyear. On the right wall just after you pass the FastPass check, you will see a Green Squadron mural. If you look in the lower right hand corner of the window you will see a set of double clouds that form the top part of a classic Mickey with the ears and top of the head!

Here is a picture of the Hidden Mickey:
Hidden Mickey in the Green Squadron Mural on the Buzz LightYear Ride in Tomorrowland at Disneyland

Here is a Google Map with the exact GPS location of this Hidden Mickey in Disneyland, 33.81225° N, 117.9179° W:

View Larger Map

Good luck in finding it! If you've found it, please let me know with a comment!

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

FiOS TV: Early Adoption Pains

It's been almost two years since I first signed up and installed Verizon FiOS TV in my home to compliment the FiOS Internet service along with standard telephone. It was a pretty easy decision as I had been unhappy with the service and television lineup that Time Warner / Road Runner Cable (previously Adelphia) was providing.

Since some initial problems, the service and reliability as well as the Motorola HD / DVR QIP6416-2 boxes have been great. Generally, I was pretty happy with the service and price.

But, about a year ago I noticed a few changes when Verizon FiOS went to a new channel lineup. The biggest one was that there were a whole bunch of new high definition (HD) TV channels that I did not have access to; basic ones like ESPN NEWS. (Doesn't everyone want to watch the NBA Finals after game interviews in HD?) However, I was too busy (lazy?) to call and find out the deal.

Still, I kept noticing that the Fox HD (FXHD West) channel had a bunch of decent movies on and I would go to it without realizing...I didn't get it. So, with some time on my hands one night I logged onto Verizon.net and tried to see if I could find out the details.

The first thing I noticed was the plan I was on, FiOS TV Premier -- was not even in existence anymore. That should tell you something...if you're ever on a plan that has disappeared, you're likely not getting a good deal, at all. Then I identified a plan that I thought I would like, the Extreme HD Package which added the missing 41 HD channels that I was interested in.

I clicked on the button to change my plan and found a bunch of error messages that ended up at a screen telling me to call the customer service, regardless of the path I took. Now having spent a total of 2 hours on the phone with Verizon FiOS, I now understand why.

I called on Monday of this week and found there were some great new "bundles" that would not only give me the Extreme HD Package, upgrade my Internet from 5MB down / 2 up to 20MB down / 5MB up, and add some features to my phone...but would also save me $30 a month. Call me crazy, but yes -- I'll definitely sign up for that, even with the one year contract commitment -- that's $360 in savings for the year.

The agent placed the order and I hung up...pretty happy about my discovery and savings. But then 48 hours later...no new channels. I called technical support and there was no record of my order. Uh-oh.

I then called back Verizon and spent the next 90 minutes on the phone with the agent. Apparently they were bumped out of my order three different times. And "Object not defined" error -- my account must be really old -- need some coding help to fix that one. It was escalated to a manager that was supposed to call me back. Of course, they didn't.

But then, last night I called back again and got a hold of "Sandy" a great service representative that submitted my order problem to technical support, called me back, tried again -- failed again -- went back to technical support -- called me back -- until it was fixed and right. Now it looks like Monday (and I have gotten subsequent email updates confirming my 20/5 service) I will finally have an updated package along with the great savings.

The message to me is pretty clear with Verizon FiOS like it is with most cell phone providers -- make sure you check in on packages and savings once a year -- if not, you're likely not getting a good deal. More likely, you are getting a very bad deal. Don't expect that because you were an early adopter of their service that they'll be looking out for you.

At least now, I do not need to worry about it for another year.

If you are interested in one of the Triple Freedom packages, the info on the one I choose is below...

Verizon FiOS Triple Freedom - Better Bundle with Phone, Internet, and TV:

Verizon Freedom Essentials
Unlimited calling combined with three great calling features.
Call anywhere in the country, Canada and Puerto Rico, and talk as much as you want for one fixed price. Includes Home Voice Mail, Caller ID and Call Waiting.

Plan Includes:
* Unlimited local & regional calling
* Unlimited long distance calling across the U.S., to Canada and Puerto Rico
* 99.9% Verizon phone network reliability
* Three popular calling features:
o Home Voice Mail (where available): Answers your phone calls while you're away or on the line.
o Caller ID: Displays the name and number of incoming calls.
o Call Waiting: Notifies you of another call when you're on the phone.

Verizon FiOS Internet - Faster (up to 20/5 Mbps speed plan)
The Network Built for Ultimate Speed.
Craving even more speed? Only Verizon FiOS brings fiber to your home with an all-digital, 100% fiber-optic network with 99% reliability, delivering the fastest Internet speeds available on the market today. Offering connections of up to 20 Mbps download/5 Mbps upload, Verizon FiOS Internet – Faster allows you to download full-length movies, videos and large photos, song albums, and email files in a flash.

Verizon FiOS Internet is the top-rated broadband service in America, offering a 100% fiber-optic network with 99% reliability. This plan includes:
* 9 email accounts with 4 GB of storage
* 10 MB of personal Web space
* Free email forwarding with TrueSwitchTM
* Remote email access to check Verizon email accounts from any computer
* 24/7 live technical support
* Anti-virus and spam protection
* Option to choose Verizon FiOS Internet with Windows Live, AOL or Yahoo!
* Online entertainment with sports, news and more
* Professional installation with the white glove treatment from a skilled technician


FiOSTV Extreme HD
Tomorrow’s Technology. Here Today For Total Entertainment.
Only Verizon can deliver the best HD experience, because FiOS is the 100% fiber-optic network built for HD, offering stunning picture and sound quality with virtually endless programming options. Get up to 348 digital channels and up to 55 HD channels (53 more digital channels and 41 more HD channels than FiOS TV Essentials.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

MPT V5 Communicate Wireless Internet Dial-Up

Another great feature of the Motorola Phone Tools software is that it will enable you to use your phone as a modem for connecting to the Internet. Depending on your phone and your plan, you may be able to connect to the CDMA, GSM, GPRS, EDGE, or 3G networks to get broadband speeds through your Motorola Phone -- although charges might apply, so make sure to check out your plan.

This is the description from the help:

With the Internet option, you can connect to the Internet using your phone. To perform this feature, your phone has to be connected and turned on.

Within the Internet Connection Manager window, you can also:
Manage your connections (create, delete or edit your connections).
View in real time the connection information (Operator, Network, Connection time, Data received or sent).
View your connection logs.


This guide will help you go through the process of setting up the Wireless Internet Connection so that you can use it. Here is the step-by-step guide on how to set it up for your phone.

1. Under the Communicate tab on the left hand side of the screen, click on the Internet link at the bottom to open the Internet Connection Manager in MPT.

Under the Communicate tab on the left hand side of the screen, click on the Internet link at the bottom to open the Internet Connection Manager in MPT.
2. Click on the Create a New Connection link and the tradition Internet Connection Wizard with the Motorola Phone Tools (MPT) skin or look to it.

Click on the Create a New Connection link and the tradition Internet Connection Wizard with the Motorola Phone Tools (MPT) skin or look to it.
3. Click on next and the wizard automatically creates the ATT wireless High Speed Internet connection for you.

Click on next and the wizard automatically creates the ATT wireless High Speed Internet connection for you.
4. From there you can open the properties and see the customer Cingular / AT&T settings that were put in the Internet Conncetion Wizard to fine tune if you like.

From there you can open the properties and see the customer Cingular / AT&T settings that were put in the Internet Conncetion Wizard to fine tune if you like.
5. AT&T / Cingular provides you with the warning I mention above about being careful in regards to your service plan as extra charges may apply -- data charges can add up quickly!

AT&T / Cingular provides you with the warning I mention above about being careful in regards to your service plan as extra charges may apply -- data charges can add up quickly!

Now just go back to the Internet Connection Manager and click on "Connect" to use your phone as a modem -- and connect to the Internet!

Here is the list of phones this guide and the Wirless Internet Connection feature may work with:
A1200 Bluetooth
A1200 Edge
A1200 Edge Bluetooth
A1200e America
A1200e America Bluetooth
A1200i
A1200i BT
A1200r
A1200r BT
A1210
A1600
A1800
A732
A780
A780 BT
A780+
A780+ BT
A810
A860
A860 BT
A910
A910i
Aura
C305 Asia
C363
C381
C390
C698p
E1
E1000
E1070
E1070r
E1075
E2
E375
E378
E378i
E6 Bluetooth
E6 USB
E680
E680 BT
E680g
E680g BT
E680i
E680i BT
E690
E690 BT
E6e
E770
E770v
E790
E8
E815
E815m
E816m
E825
E895
EM325
EM35
K1
K1c
K1cm
K1m
K1m Asia
K1m-Sprint
K1mk
K1mm
K1s
K1t
K1v
K2
K3
K3m
L2
L6
L6e
L6i
L7
L71
L72
L7c
L7cm
L7cmm
L7e
L7i
L7v
L9
M800
M900
M930
M990
maxx K3
maXX V3
maxx V3 i-mode
Ming
Ming BT
Ming Edge
MS 600
Pebl U3
Pebl U6
QA30 (Canada)
QA30 (USA)
U6
U6c
U6c Asia
U9
V.
V1050
V1050 BT
V1075
V1100
V190
V191
V195
V197
V230
V235
V260
V262
V262 BT
V265
V265m
V265m BT
V266
V266 BT
V266m
V267
V276
V276m
V280
V3
V3 CTP
V3/p
V320
V323
V323i
v323im
V323m
V325
V325i
V325xi
V360
V360i
V360m
V360q
V360v
V361
V362
V365
V367p
V3a
V3am
V3amf
V3b
V3c
V3C Asia
V3c Rev2
V3cm
V3e
V3i
V3i EDGE
V3ire
V3iv
V3m
V3m refresh
V3mm
V3r
V3re
V3t
V3v
V3x
V3xR
V3xv
V3xx
V3xxi
V3xxR
V3xxv
V501
V560
V6
V635
V635i
V6maxx
V6v
V6vb
V6vc
V710m
V750 (Canada)
V750 (USA)
V8
V8 2GB
V9
V950
V975
V975 BT
V980
V980 BT
V9c
V9cC
V9m
V9mm
V9mS
V9s
V9x
VA76r
Ve
ve20
VE20 (Canada)
VE20 (USA)
ve20 Canada
VE240
VE465
VE66
VU204 (USA)
vu30
W315
W360
w385
W385m
W385x
W450
W490
W5
W510
W750
W750 (Canada)
W755
Z1
Z3
Z3i
Z3mS
Z6
Z6c
Z6m
Z6mm
Z6tv
Z6w
Z9
ZN200
Zn4 (USA)
Zn5

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

MPT V5 SMS Message Inbox Send

In Motorola Phone Tools V5 (MPT) you can use the tool as a complete SMS mailbox to send, receive, and create SMS text message. This is great if you're sick of typing or just want to keep a record of all your inbound and outbound text messages. Additionally, you can also create a number of messages when your phone is not connected to the network and send them at once.

In this guide, I'll briefly describe the feature of the Motorola Phone Tools V5 SMS Message manager and show you how to use it.

Here is the step-by-step guide.

1. First access the SMS mailbox by clicking on the SMS word on the left side menu bar under communicate. This will open up your message box.

First access the SMS mailbox by clicking on the SMS word on the left side menu bar under communicate.  This will open up your message box.
2. This is the settings where you can modify a few items including the number you specify for a callback. Some of the other key features you can changes are: Delivery Reports, Message Retention, and Call back number.

This is the settings where you can modify a few items including the number you specify for a callback.  Some of the other key features you can changes are: Delivery Reports, Message Retention, and Call back number.
3. When you attempt to create a message, it is just like any other email where you can specify the TO in the form of a mobile / cellular number, and up to 158 characters that make up the SMS message. Then click on send to deliver the message to your recipients through Motorola Phone Tools and then your phone.

When you attempt to create a message, it is just like any other email where you can specify the TO in the form of a mobile / cellular number, and up to 158 characters that make up the SMS message.  Then click on send to deliver the message to your recipients through Motorola Phone Tools and then your phone.

Here are the list of Motorola Phones that this guide may be compatible with:
A1200 Bluetooth
A1200 Edge
A1200 Edge Bluetooth
A1200e America
A1200e America Bluetooth
A1200i
A1200i BT
A1200r
A1200r BT
A1210
A1600
A1800
A732
A780
A780 BT
A780+
A780+ BT
A810
A860
A860 BT
A910
A910i
Aura
C305 Asia
C363
C381
C390
C698p
E1
E1000
E1070
E1070r
E1075
E2
E375
E378
E378i
E6 Bluetooth
E6 USB
E680
E680 BT
E680g
E680g BT
E680i
E680i BT
E690
E690 BT
E6e
E770
E770v
E790
E8
E815
E815m
E816m
E825
E895
EM325
EM35
K1
K1c
K1cm
K1m
K1m Asia
K1m-Sprint
K1mk
K1mm
K1s
K1t
K1v
K2
K3
K3m
L2
L6
L6e
L6i
L7
L71
L72
L7c
L7cm
L7cmm
L7e
L7i
L7v
L9
M800
M900
M930
M990
maxx K3
maXX V3
maxx V3 i-mode
Ming
Ming BT
Ming Edge
MS 600
Pebl U3
Pebl U6
QA30 (Canada)
QA30 (USA)
U6
U6c
U6c Asia
U9
V.
V1050
V1050 BT
V1075
V1100
V190
V191
V195
V197
V230
V235
V260
V262
V262 BT
V265
V265m
V265m BT
V266
V266 BT
V266m
V267
V276
V276m
V280
V3
V3 CTP
V3/p
V320
V323
V323i
v323im
V323m
V325
V325i
V325xi
V360
V360i
V360m
V360q
V360v
V361
V362
V365
V367p
V3a
V3am
V3amf
V3b
V3c
V3C Asia
V3c Rev2
V3cm
V3e
V3i
V3i EDGE
V3ire
V3iv
V3m
V3m refresh
V3mm
V3r
V3re
V3t
V3v
V3x
V3xR
V3xv
V3xx
V3xxi
V3xxR
V3xxv
V501
V560
V6
V635
V635i
V6maxx
V6v
V6vb
V6vc
V710m
V750 (Canada)
V750 (USA)
V8
V8 2GB
V9
V950
V975
V975 BT
V980
V980 BT
V9c
V9cC
V9m
V9mm
V9mS
V9s
V9x
VA76r
Ve
ve20
VE20 (Canada)
VE20 (USA)
ve20 Canada
VE240
VE465
VE66
VU204 (USA)
vu30
W315
W360
w385
W385m
W385x
W450
W490
W5
W510
W750
W750 (Canada)
W755
Z1
Z3
Z3i
Z3mS
Z6
Z6c
Z6m
Z6mm
Z6tv
Z6w
Z9
ZN200
Zn4 (USA)
Zn5

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Second Look Part II: Eye-Fi Explore Video 4GB - Wireless and Geotagging

After I posted my update on the Eye-Fi Explore Video 4GB over the weekend, I was able to get in contact with the folks at Eye-Fi and work more closely with them on the main issue I experienced (link here) with the uploading of the files.

First off, would like to start by saying that the root cause had nothing to do with my suspicion that rolling over the "rolls" of pictures were contributing to the lack of geotags on a number of pictures.

After working with Eye-Fi, it was purely coincidental that it seemed to align with the upload time spanning over the days. After looking through the upload log, it was clearly not the case -- the tagging was working exactly as expected.

And while my uploads spanned over the end of the day it was not until 12:31am that the pictures started showing geotags, as shown in the partial log below.

10303337 IMG_3613.JPG 2009-05-27 00:28:42 2009-05-27 00:29:25 NULL NULL NULL
10303342 IMG_3614.JPG 2009-05-27 00:29:14 2009-05-27 00:30:16 NULL NULL NULL
10303353 IMG_3615.JPG 2009-05-27 00:29:54 2009-05-27 00:30:43 NULL NULL NULL
10303360 IMG_3616.JPG 2009-05-27 00:30:35 2009-05-27 00:31:04 NULL NULL NULL
10303363 IMG_3617.JPG 2009-05-27 00:30:54 2009-05-27 00:31:40 38.8970299 -77.0253372 Washington
10303369 IMG_3618.JPG 2009-05-27 00:31:30 2009-05-27 00:32:17 38.8970299 -77.0253372 Washington
10303374 IMG_3619.JPG 2009-05-27 00:32:06 2009-05-27 00:32:41 38.8973389 -77.0251160 Washington
10303380 IMG_3620.JPG 2009-05-27 00:32:31 2009-05-27 00:33:12 38.8973389 -77.0251160 Washington
10303388 IMG_3621.JPG 2009-05-27 00:33:01 2009-05-27 00:33:36 38.8973503 -77.0250702 Washington
10303397 IMG_3622.JPG 2009-05-27 00:33:28 2009-05-27 00:34:17 38.8973465 -77.0250854 Washington
10303407 IMG_3623.JPG 2009-05-27 00:34:02 2009-05-27 00:34:38 38.8973465 -77.0250854 Washington


This is good news on a couple of fronts...first, I really appreciate the effort in getting the by the team at Eye-Fi in digging into the details and answering my questions. The second piece of good news is that there was not any bugs in the system and all was working fine.

But, as I mentioned in my conversations with Eye-Fi, it's a mixed blessing to find both of those things. I still logically cannot explain why pictures taken from the same location on different days did not acquire a WiFi signal and why there the first 150 or so pictures did not pick any up and then it started working for the rest of them. Despite my inability to explain, in may be entirely coincidental and the fact remains that the data is the data and you cannot argue with facts. Maybe it had to do with the Lincoln house where it first started picking up signals. :-)

The bottom line is that my Eye-Fi Explore card was not in the range of a WiFi signal when those pictures were taken regardless of the reason and thus the pictures themselves could not be tagged. Something that cannot be blamed of course on the Eye-Fi card, but could have to do with a number of factors.

That's always the case, even if Skyhook Wireless shows great coverage for the area, like the below shot. No wireless connectivity, means no geotagging.

Skyhook Wireless Coverage at the Washington Monument in Washington, DC:
Skyhook Wireless Coverage for Washinton, DC

Which brings me to the expectations I have for the card. I was expecting given the general downtown nature of my visit to Washington, DC -- with the exception of the Arlington National Cemetery -- that the majority of my pictures would end of with tags. Since that was not the case, I need to do some more testing on additional trips to see what occurs.

The good news is that I have upcoming weekends in San Francisco, followed by Las Vegas. We'll see what percentage of geotagging success I see there so I can update my experiences. Hopefully, Washington, DC was just an aberration.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Geo-Tagging with your Blackberry Device with GPS

Lately I have become a lot more interested in geotagging (assigning GPS coordinates) the photos I take. Primarily because I think It's neat. Recording exactly "where" you took that photo is a great addition to both the picture and the "when" (date & time) information seems to complete the image itself.

But, for most digital cameras -- it is not easy -- since is not a standard feature...yet. But, if you have a Blackberry or similarly capable GPS tracking device, with a little ingenuity and patience you can easily geotag your photos.

The first step is install software on your Blackberry device that will create a tracklog, or a time recorded log of your various GPS locations that we'll use in a later post to associate with your photos.

After trying out several different utilities, I settled on TrekBuddy -- an open source, free utility application that runs on your Blackberry -- that in my experience uses very little battery while tracking your "treks" or basically where you journey to. It's a J2ME application for GPS tracking and also supports smart GPX as well as raw NMEA logs. You can learn more about it and download it from here: http://wiki.trekbuddy.net/index.php/Main_Page -- the current version as of the time of this post is 0.9.83.

Here is the application configuration and setting you'll need to make in order to get it to work properly on your Blackberry device and then use it later to associate with the photos to geotag the photos.

1. The first time you run the application, it will ask you to create a directory for TrekBuddy to store your GPS log files on. Choose yes to create the directories, which in my case was on my Micro SD Card.

The first time you run the application, it will ask you to create a directory for TrekBuddy to store your GPS log files on.  Choose yes to create the directories, which in my case was on my Micro SD Card.
2. Initially, no location is set in the application -- this is because the device has not been granted access to the GPS system on your Blackberry mobile device. Go to the menu and click start to request GPS access. Alternatively, if you are on the 4.6 version of the Blackberry OS or higher, at the time of installation you have the opportunity to grant TrekBuddy "trusted application" status which will give it access to the GPS location information.

Initially, no location is set in the application -- this is because the device has not been granted access to the GPS system on your Blackberry mobile device.  Go to the menu and click start to request GPS access.  Alternatively, if you are on the 4.6 version of the Blackberry OS or higher, at the time of installation you have the opportunity to grant TrekBuddy trusted application status which will give it access to the GPS location information.

3. If you have not granted trusted application status to TrekBuddy, it will ask you to grant application permissions to access the GPS location information. I selected yes and clicked the "Do not ask again" option in order not to be pestered further.

If you have not granted trusted application status to TrekBuddy, it will ask you to grant application permissions to access the GPS location information.  I selected yes and clicked the Do not ask again option in order not to be pestered further.
4. Now we need to configure TrekBuddy to track and record your movements properly. In order to do that, click on the "settings" menu and select either "Ask" or "Always" depending on your preferences and click the options for "log only valid" and "log GSM info". Save the settings.

Now we need to configure TrekBuddy to track and record your movements properly.  In order to do that, click on the settings menu and select either Ask or Always depending on your preferences and click the options for log only valid and log GSM info.  Save the settings.
5. Now just click start from the menu in an area where your GPS can reach a satellite (for example outdoors). You should here a chime, see the green circle in the upper right hand corner to record your movements.

Now just click start from the menu in an area where your GPS can reach a satellite (for example outdoors).  You should here a chime, see the green circle in the upper right hand corner to record your movements.

That's it, you're now setup to record your GPS locations on your travels. So, before you start a trip, a hike, or photo shooting sessions, all you need to do is start and stop the TrekBuddy logging. From there, I will show in an upcoming article how to associate the logs with your pictures.

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Monday, June 08, 2009

Motorola Phone Tools: 5.17d Version Update Available

While continuing some experimenting with my Motorola RAZR Phone, I ran my Motorola Phone Tools version 5.0 and noticed that there was an update available for the application. It took my version from 5.13b to 5.17d -- with a 4.64MB download which just took a couple of moments to install.

As usual, no release notes or details of the changes in the Motorola Phone Tools (MPT) application from Avanquest. It is rather frustrating that such a standard development and release process is not followed by Avanquest to keep their users informed of the application. However, a cursory review of the application does not reveal any new features. My assumption at this point is that there are just additional phones now supported in the application.

Here are a couple of screenshots of the updates:

1. The Motorola Live Update software shows the availability of the download of the upgrade for Motorola Phone Tools (MPT) 5.17d from 5.13b.

The Motorola Live Update software shows the availability of the download of the upgrade for Motorola Phone Tools (MPT) 5.17d from 5.13b.

2. The Motorola Live Update downloads and installs the update from Avanquest on Motorola Phone Tools for the 4.17d upgrade without issue.

The Motorola Live Update downloads and installs the update from Avanquest on Motorola Phone Tools for the 4.17d upgrade without issue.


According to the Avanquest Support site, below are the current list of phones supported by Motorola Phone Tools. Alternatively, you can turn to the Avanquest support site here: http://mptlookup.avanquest.com/

Here is the current list:
A1200 Bluetooth
A1200 Edge
A1200 Edge Bluetooth
A1200e America
A1200e America Bluetooth
A1200i
A1200i BT
A1200r
A1200r BT
A1210
A1600
A1800
A732
A780
A780 BT
A780+
A780+ BT
A810
A860
A860 BT
A910
A910i
Aura
C305 Asia
C363
C381
C390
C698p
E1
E1000
E1070
E1070r
E1075
E2
E375
E378
E378i
E6 Bluetooth
E6 USB
E680
E680 BT
E680g
E680g BT
E680i
E680i BT
E690
E690 BT
E6e
E770
E770v
E790
E8
E815
E815m
E816m
E825
E895
EM325
EM35
K1
K1c
K1cm
K1m
K1m Asia
K1m-Sprint
K1mk
K1mm
K1s
K1t
K1v
K2
K3
K3m
L2
L6
L6e
L6i
L7
L71
L72
L7c
L7cm
L7cmm
L7e
L7i
L7v
L9
M800
M900
M930
M990
maxx K3
maXX V3
maxx V3 i-mode
Ming
Ming BT
Ming Edge
MS 600
Pebl U3
Pebl U6
QA30 (Canada)
QA30 (USA)
U6
U6c
U6c Asia
U9
V.
V1050
V1050 BT
V1075
V1100
V190
V191
V195
V197
V230
V235
V260
V262
V262 BT
V265
V265m
V265m BT
V266
V266 BT
V266m
V267
V276
V276m
V280
V3
V3 CTP
V3/p
V320
V323
V323i
v323im
V323m
V325
V325i
V325xi
V360
V360i
V360m
V360q
V360v
V361
V362
V365
V367p
V3a
V3am
V3amf
V3b
V3c
V3C Asia
V3c Rev2
V3cm
V3e
V3i
V3i EDGE
V3ire
V3iv
V3m
V3m refresh
V3mm
V3r
V3re
V3t
V3v
V3x
V3xR
V3xv
V3xx
V3xxi
V3xxR
V3xxv
V501
V560
V6
V635
V635i
V6maxx
V6v
V6vb
V6vc
V710m
V750 (Canada)
V750 (USA)
V8
V8 2GB
V9
V950
V975
V975 BT
V980
V980 BT
V9c
V9cC
V9m
V9mm
V9mS
V9s
V9x
VA76r
Ve
ve20
VE20 (Canada)
VE20 (USA)
ve20 Canada
VE240
VE465
VE66
VU204 (USA)
vu30
W315
W360
w385
W385m
W385x
W450
W490
W5
W510
W750
W750 (Canada)
W755
Z1
Z3
Z3i
Z3mS
Z6
Z6c
Z6m
Z6mm
Z6tv
Z6w
Z9
ZN200
Zn4 (USA)
Zn5

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Blackberry Bold: First Impressions

It's been a little more than 6 months since the official release date for the Blackberry Bold, but I finally have my first hands on impression of one. This was after 2+ great reliable years from my Blackberry 8800 -- until it finally started failing a couple of weeks ago. First it was the USB connection -- it started getting loose and having unpredictable charging connections. Then it was the ringer -- started having intermittent ringing problems where it would work one day and then not work the next. Those problems, not to mention important missed calls meant it was time for a new Blackberry.

So, you might be wondering -- why not and iPhone or Android device for my next phone? The simple answer is corporate connectivity, support, and security. While the iPhone and Android may continue to have better support and security; they are still not recognized by most corporations as viable devices either from an integration or security perspective.

With Blackberry being the really only option -- and focusing on the larger form factor devices which I prefer versus the Pearl and Curve -- and being on the AT&T (Cingular) network, I had only two options. Either the updated 8800 series offering of the 8820 or the Blackberry Bold -- which given that the 8820 is just a "refresh" of the 8800 I easily choose the Bold 9000.


Blackberry Bold 9000 Series - First impressions

Once it arrived, I was pretty happy with how easily the change-over to the new device occurred. No SIM card swapping or configurations -- just calling the in box provided 800 number, enter my cell phone number and the Bold was activated.

Soon there after, the Enterprise Activation for the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) kicked in and I experienced something that had not occurred since I "hacked" my Blackberry 8800 about 8 months ago -- true wireless synchronization. When I dropped the V4.5 operating system on my 8800, I traded great wireless synchronization for phone and application stability and performance. Now with the Bold, I had both again along with the familiar yet enhanced keyboard that made typing even faster than on the 8800.

Here are my first impressions from my earlier experience with the Blackberry Bold:

  • The first call I was on, while listening on my Bluetooth wireless headset, I noticed an inbound message came in. What a welcome surprise...the Blackberry Bold 9000 can do voice AND data on the 3G network at the same time. Updated meeting invites and notes, important emails, and more can be worked while you are on a call.
  • Camera -- great to finally have one, now I can take some decent pictures and upload them directly to Facebook or TwitPic.
  • I had to pull out the quick start manual a couple of times. The interface and feature set is different enough that I had to get used to the new layouts and behaviors. Here less than a week later -- I am caught up and comfortable. The one thing that I still need to figure out is that when the phone goes to "sleep" the clock comes up on the screen. If you hit the trackball, it starts to change the alarm settings. Not really the behavior I want...what if I accidently enable that alarm for 4:00am?
  • WiFi support is great...now when I arrive home in the evenings, I operate off of the WiFi signal instead of the 3G network. Quicker, more reliable access to the Internet and email. I wonder if it can be used via Bluetooth or USB to connect a desktop or laptop to a WiFi connection....
  • The updated browser is great -- No more of the 400 errors for objects too large or not able to connect messages. Most sites are now usable -- but still Bank of America says that Mobile Banking is not supported on my device / browser. Bummer.
  • Battery life is poor, at leat in my brief usage. I would expect the WiFi to chew up a little more battery life -- but with it turned off, going much more than 24-36 hours just in normal business usage would be an stretch. Especially if you charge via USB -- which appears to charge much more slowly than via the wall plug-in charger.
  • Blackberry App store -- similar to the Apple store, but many of the basic apps I have used in the past are not there like Opera, TwitterBerry and TrekBuddy. Still, I was able to find WeatherBug and a couple of other apps -- still greatly disappointing -- mainline offerings like Gmail, Google Mobile Maps, etc are all missing.

All-in-all, a great few days with the Blackberry Bold -- looking forward to getting to used to it. A great upgrade from my Blackberry 8800 series!

Here are the features of the Blackberry Bold:

Email and Messaging

  • BlackBerry Enterprise Server® for corporate email
  • BlackBerry Internet Service for personal email (included with every BlackBerry data service plan)
  • Multimedia Messaging—send/receive messages, pictures, and short videos*
  • Mobile Instant Messaging—send/receive messages in real time using AOL® Instant Messenger, Windows Live™ Messenger, or Yahoo!®*
  • Text Messaging—send/receive short messages*

Software and Connectivity

  • Free Wi-Fi** use at 17,000 AT&T Hotspots with BlackBerry® data rate plan
  • Bluetooth® 2.0 with stereo A2DP support
  • USB port
  • MicroSD™ expansion side-loading slot
  • Laptop mobility/tethering support
  • BlackBerry Desktop Manager Software with Roxio Media Manager in box
  • Works with BlackBerry Enterprise Server—supported by: Version 2.1 or higher for
  • Microsoft® Exchange, Version 2.0 with Service Pack 2 or higher for IBM® Lotus® Domino®, Version 4.0 or higher for Novell® GroupWise®

Camera and Video

  • 2 megapixel camera with up to 3x zoom and built-in flash
  • Video recorder

Personalization and Entertainment

  • Cellular Video (CV)—watch streaming video on your device*
  • Media Player (music and video)
  • Supported audio formats: .3gp, MP3, WMA9 (.wma/.asf), WMA9 Pro/WMA 10, MIDI, AMR-NB, Professional AAC/AAC+/eAAC+
  • Supported video formats: DivX 4, DivX 5/6 partially
  • Ringtones, preloaded games, and graphics
  • Vibrate mode

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Saturday, June 06, 2009

Second Look: Eye-Fi Explore Video 4GB - Wireless and Geotagging

In a recent post, I detailed my initial impression with the Eye-Fi Explore Video 4GB Wi-Fi and geotagging SD-Card. Eye-Fi makes a couple of other cards know as the Eye-Fi home and the Eye-Fi Share, which are slightly less feature-rich versions of the card I had.

Just as a quick review, the card has built-in Wi-Fi technology which allows it to grab the GPS location thanks to Skyhook, and also uploaded your pictures wirelessly either via a Wayport WiFi or other open or authorized wireless networks.

Now having completed a couple of trips with my Eye-Fi Explore Video 4GB, I feel like I am little more qualified to speak about my experiences out and about with the card. In some ways, it feels like two very different stories to tell. I'll start with the good and go from there.

First off, one of the trips I recently took with the family was to Disneyland for Mother's Day. I packed my camera and included the Eye-Fi Explore 4GB card as I have been considering it my primary card and just switch it out between my point and shoot and DSLR camera.

Frankly, I did not have super high expectations for geotagging success at Disneyland because I had no idea of what the WiFi coverage was there. However, I took a number of snapshots throughout the day, hoping that their GPS location would be captured by the Eye-Fi explore card.

When I arrived home, I turned on the camera and saw the pictures uploading from my Eye-Fi card to the network. After a few minutes, I was very pleasantly surprised that all the photos had a geotag associated with them. This was a great surprise, in fact -- below is a photo taken at the Dumbo ride at Disneyland, geotagged fairly accurately. Overall, a great experience with the Eye-Fi Explore card.

Eye-Fi Explore Video Geotag card identifies photos at Disneyland near the Dumbo ride with their correct GPS coordinates.

Then there is the other experience I had in Washington, DC which is on the complete other end of the spectrum, ending with a lot of disappointment. In fact, for one of the items below -- I submitted a technical support incident almost two weeks ago and have yet to receive any sort of response other than the automated acknowledgment that I will receive a reply within 1 business day. Which unfortunately, I have not. Here are the two issues I experienced...

First, I have found it impossible -- at least in the city of Washington, DC and anywhere else I have been for the Eye-Fi card to connect to either public or Wayport based Wi-Fi hotspots -- one of the main highlighted features of the cards. I've been to McDonalds, Starbucks, Hyatt Hotels, the Washington Dulles Airport (IAD) and at not one place has the card successfully either connected or uploaded photos from my camera or with it docked into the USB connection on my computer. Hugely disappointing given one of the features and reasons for the $99 cost was for this "Hotspot" access. But, it really has not worked for me anywhere other than home -- which I found most frustrating on the recent trip to DC.

The second, is there appears to be a bug or issue with uploading photos if you span days. For example, when I arrived back from the Washington, DC trip -- I started uploading the 250+ 12 megapixel pictures I took to my computer via the wireless at my home. Unfortunately with that volume, the upload went past midnight and I encountered a strange behavior. The Eye-Fi Manager software first split my upload "roll" as it is called midway through the upload and the outcome was pretty negative. All of my photos that were in the 2nd roll (~85 or so) were geotagged properly, but all of the pictures in the previous roll did not have geotags associated with them.

Update: After working with Eye-Fi, I've found this not to be the case. Please see the update here.

This is currently the item I have open with Eye-Fi support, and is critical from my perspective. I know now that I need to watch for this when I upload, but I really want to recover the geotags for those other 150 pictures -- and have not used the card since this occurrence for not wanting to eliminate the geotag information. I am hoping I hear back soon and will update when I can.

If I am to summarize where I am at with the Eye-Fi card, I would consider myself neutral at this point. The geotagging seems to work pretty well, assuming I can work around the upload issues. The wireless support thus far has been really disappointing, especially when I have been traveling. Something I will try a couple of more times -- in San Francisco in a couple of weeks and then Las Vegas -- to see if I can find something more reliable. Still, for $99 -- or about $95 more than Fry's Electronics had a Class 6 4GB SD Card in their advertisement -- Eye-Fi is a little on the expensive side if it does not deliver the expected experiences or outcomes. As convenient as it may be, it has not lived up so far -- I hope it improves as I continue to use it.

As a way of suggestion, there are a couple features that would really increase the value of this card that I would recommend (outside of some of the bugs with the Eye-Fi Manager, and spotty or non-existent Wayport working coverage). They are:

1) The fact that you cannot connect to networks that have any sort of splash screen type authentications. For example, with T-Mobile I have access to all T-Mobile hotspots in Airports due to my United Airless Red Carpet Club membership. If I can just use that screen or share with the system how to navigate it and enter the information, that would be a huge win and unlock tons of networks for me -- including many, many free ones that require a similar type of authentication.

2) The ability to join ad-hoc networks. If my Laptop has an internet connection, why not enable me to use Microsoft Networking and Internet Connection Sharing to give the WiFi card access to the Internet? This would be a great additional feature that would allow me to connect my Eye-Fi card for uploading wherever I go.

For now, I am implementing a temporary solution for this problem by going with a Mobile Router that I just purchased on eBay. My desire is to drop my Sprint Mobile PCS card for the EVDO network into the Linksys Router and setup both my laptop and the Eye-Fi card to connect so that I will never be without an upload connection. Still, this is rather bulky to add to my travel gear -- given I travel a couple of times a month. I wonder how airport security is going to like this....

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Monday, June 01, 2009

iPhoto 09: On The Mend, Faces Feature Actually Works

A few months ago, I was a pretty vocal critic of the buggy feature of the iPhoto 09 system. With the faces feature crashing on me every 5-10 minutes or so, the application was basically useless.

After I posted my last article (link here) I even contacted Apple's support to try and resolve the issue. Even after a bunch of cache and temporary files were deleted, and even trying a different user, the problem still persisted.

I ended up giving up and walked away from iPhoto for a couple of months. That was until the iPhoto 8.0.1 update came out. Once I saw it, I scanned the release notes to see if the problem I reported a million times was fixed. Unfortunately, the notes were extremely ambiguous -- so I tried out the update anyways.

After the update, and subsequent update to 8.0.2 (402) and hoped for the best. To my surprise, an even better outcome than I initially expected. I clicked on Faces completely expecting it to crash since I had not deleted the faces.db file that kept getting corrupted. Instead, faces came up almost immediately and still retained all of the faces information from my previous run. This was great news!

iPhoto faces crashing and corruption fixed in iPhoto 8.0.1 and 8.0.2

Still, I was not fully convinced. I spent the next 25 minutes tagging and confirming names to the 6,000 or so photos in my library and could not reproduce the crash. For me this was great news and once again, iPhoto was usable for me.

But, I cannot same that iPhoto is my "complete" photo organization solution. While there are a ton of neat features, including automatic upload to Facebook -- I still find myself having to use Picasa for some of the basic organizing and photo optimization before importing into iPhoto. The "I'm feeling" lucky feature often tunes the photos for the most part how I like them. iPhoto missing that feature is a huge gap.

In addition, major piece of usability that bugs me about iPhoto is the naming feature in faces. When a face is not identified, rather than me creating a box around the face -- similar to how Facebook does it -- iPhoto plops usually a very large box in the middle of the page and then forces you to resize it. If they would allow you to start the box and create the size of it with the mouse, it would make it a lot more user friendly and save time.

My last complaint (for now) is with how iPhoto stores the Library (which is an option), in that you import your photos into iPhoto 09 with its own proprietary organization scheme. Unfortunately, if you combine "events" from your library to consolidate, iPhoto 09 only performs this in the database. It would even be nice...especially when you're sharing a library with other programs for it to mimic those changes in the file system.

In summary, for now...iPhoto 09 is definitely a step ahead from iPhoto 08, but still has a way to go to be my top choice. I am still hoping to see some drastic improvements either in upcoming point releases or with the iPhoto 10 launch.

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