Kyle Maxwell

Just me.

Archive for the tag “google”

Thoughts on a tablet purchase

I’ve wanted to replace my Dell Mini 9 for a bit. As an Ubuntu netbook with decent performance, it got the job done for me when it came out. Now, though, I’ve had it for over a year and a half, so it probably can get passed on to a family member. And a tablet form factor would fit my use cases much better: lean-back computing, generally at home or a third place such as a coffee shop or book store.

This has led me to set up a few criteria for the device I’ll eventually get.

  • Android device. I’d rather not get an iPad and thus delve further into the Apple ecosystem at this point. (Though as I look at the probability matrix for the rest of the year, certain family events could cause me to re-evaluate that position.) Still, for my own needs, I’d like to stick with Android to the degree possible.
  • Hackable device. Specifically, I’d like something I can jailbreak. The idea of flashing the tablet with a custom OS appeals strongly to me, especially for running Android Honeycomb.
  • WiFi only. I vacillate a little on this particular issue, but given that I primarily expect to use it in locations that provide WiFi, the extra expense of 3G or such doesn’t really appeal to me. (And it should make the previous requirement a little easier to match.)
  • Decent quality hardware. Bargain-basement knockoffs with flimsy casings and low-quality touch screens don’t appeal to me. Not that I want to go drop USD 1000 on the device, but I don’t have to go get the Wal-Mart special, either.

I’ve started to look at my choices, but mostly in ruling some of them out (e.g. the highly expensive Motorola Xoom).

Maybe I should get the Honeycomb SDK in advance, too, so I could mess around with some “Hello, World’ stuff. Mostly, though, I want to prepare myself for the inevitable moments where I tell myself that I can’t find an app that meets my needs and decide to roll my own.

Any recommendations from my friends?

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Staying mobile

Lifehack says:

[W]eb apps can make you truly mobile. It will no longer matter if you forget to bring your flash drive with you.

Understanding this is key to understanding cloud computing and where the mobile web is taking us now. That is to say that with the continued expansion of wireless networking (both 3G cellular networks and wifi everywhere), you really don’t need too much in the way of portable storage. Sure, you might want to carry around some larger files with you on a flash drive or iPod, but storage out on the web is so cheap that there’s no need to carry much around with you. Dreamhost, my web host, offers half a terabyte of online storage to new users. That’s not even counting Files Forever. In fact, I’d say a useful hosting service is just as key as many of the other (highly useful) apps they list, particularly if you are a UNIX head. It’s almost as important as a good wireless phone and unlimited data plan.

Of course, Lifehack misses the biggest of them all: Google. Yes, they list Google Documents (and Google Talk in a very quick and passing mention), but what about Notebook? Also, Checkout looks like it could be useful in some circumstances, though maybe not for web freelancers. The list of Google services I use grows weekly, and the novel uses people find for their services grows far more quickly.

Mobile Google

Google totally gets the Mobile Web.

After my recent Toolbox post, I was looking into freshening things up a little bit. I started digging around a bit with Google Documents and email uploading. It wasn’t entirely reliable, but since I use Gmail anyway, I can always open any attachments I tried to send directly into Google Docs.

That led to me discovering Google Docs Mobile, which was really welcome. But they didn’t stop there, no. Google Notebook also has a mobile version where users can post notes and review existing notebooks. Between those two, almost all of Backpack is easily replaced for me, so I downgraded that last night. The home page (for tracking next actions) and reminders are still handy; Google Calendar isn’t really a reminder service.

So let’s review what they’ve got so far:

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Toolbox

I spent years fiddling with my personal toolbox, trying to optimize my work flow and make endless changes to become more productive. Then it sort of dawned on me a few years ago that I was obsessing more about the cup than the coffee I put in it, and I learned to deal with the tools I had available and was using.

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