Category ArchiveMobile Phones

Hardware &Mobile Phones Steven Kippel on 18 May 2013

Fail: Repair of smartphone glass goes wrong

Fail: Repair of smartphone glass goes wrong

I’ve seen so many different videos walking through the replacement of a broken screen for a Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone. Enough that I felt I could succeed. I did not.

A couple months back I was taking my phone from my pocket and it fell in just the right spot that the protective case didn’t stand a chance; perfectly on the corner at an angle where the case wasn’t covering it. The cracks were unsightly and spread from that corner up about a quarter inch into the display area, but mainly obscured the permanent soft buttons. I put a membrane on the screen to avoid finger tip irritation and researched how to replace the glass.

It seemed so simple.

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Entertainment &Mobile Phones Wes Novack on 08 May 2013

It’s not a podcast if you don’t offer a subscription URL

It’s not a podcast if you don’t offer a subscription URL

I have been on a bit of a podcast kick lately, subscribing to a multitude of shows and then listening to them from my Android smartphone while I am on the go. I use the Google Listen app, which is no longer supported, but there are many free alternatives out there if you are looking for an Android podcast app.

One of the most annoying problems that I have been running into while searching out good podcasts is that many of the shows that I am interested in make it extremely difficult to find their subscription/feed URL, or they don’t even have a subscription URL at all! In the latter case, I argue that they should not even be called a podcast.

Let’s define podcast

The Wikipedia page for Podcast currently leads with this sentence: “A podcast is a type of digital media consisting of an episodic series of audio radio, video, PDF, or ePub files subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device.” Emphasis mine.

Merriam-Webster defines podcast as “a program (as of music or talk) made available in digital format for automatic download over the Internet.” Emphasis mine.

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Mobile Phones &Software Wes Novack on 05 Nov 2012

Update Android contacts with Facebook contact Sync

Update Android contacts with Facebook contact Sync

One of the first things that many Android users discovered after upgrading to Ice Cream Sandwich (version 4.0.x), much to their dismay, was that their phones would no longer associate their friends’ Facebook photos with their Google contact records. Previous versions of Android would automatically associate a Google contact with their Facebook profile photo & details, when using the contact sync feature of the Facebook Android app.

I was so disappointed to see that this feature was no longer available on my brand new Galaxy Nexus. It really bugs the hell out of me to have contacts in my phone that do not have an associated photo or image.

The break-down appears to be due to continued rivalry and feuding between Google and Facebook, who no longer want to allow each-other the competitive advantage of being able to export/import/sync contacts from one service to another. Fortunately there are a few workarounds to help you out with this issue.


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Entertainment &Mobile Phones &Software Steven Kippel on 25 Sep 2012

Wi-Fi Alliance debuts Miracast wireless video streaming

Wi-Fi Alliance debuts Miracast wireless video streaming

For the more advanced home media consumer, streaming content from a computer or mobile device to the living room home entertainment system isn’t anything new. DLNA has been providing this service for several years. But when Apple introduced AirPlay, the consumer consciousness of home media sharing exploded. Now even more companies are going to be providing simple video streaming to the living room with Wi-Fi Alliance Miracast technology.

Miracast will allow viewing pictures or video from a smartphone on a big screen TV, or a presentation from a laptop on a conference room projector. And unlike AirPlay, Miracast will enable content such as live television to be streamed to a tablet.

The Wi-Fi Certified technology used Wi-Fi Direct, so content can be streamed directly from one device to another without the need for a shared Wi-Fi network.

The first devices certified for Miracast are the Samsung Galaxy S III and LG Optimus G smartphones, and the Samsung Echo-P Series TV. Wi-Fi Alliance is expecting over one billion devices to be compatible with Miracast by 2016.

Mobile Phones Steven Kippel on 16 Jul 2012

Introducing Google Now

Introducing Google Now

Google has just started shipping the Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone loaded with the latest Android 4.1 operating system, code name Jelly Bean. This update is a marginal upgrade to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which has also just recently begun to ship on mobile devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S III and the HTC One X. Included in the upgrades are Project Butter, making the whole operating system run more smoothly, interactive notifications, an improved voice search which has been compared to Apple iPhone’s Siri, but most intriguing of all is Google Now.

Google Now is a notification layer on the operating system which customizes itself to your activities, locations, and interests. From notes and appointments to sports scores and traffic conditions.

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Google Now uses what they call “cards” which appear with a swipe of the finger. There are ten cards included to start, and more cards will be added later. These ten cards include:

  • Traffic
  • Public Transit
  • Next Appointment
  • Flights
  • Sports
  • Places
  • Weather
  • Translation
  • Currency
  • Time at Home

It appears that Google has focused first on items which will help you out throughout your day where you are before moving on to entertainment features. This is certainly for the person on the go. It tracks weather, buses, trains, airplanes and traffic. It provides currency exchange, language translation, and what time it is at home. It helps you find a place to eat, and even what to eat.

It also does sports.

Hardware &Mobile Phones &nob &Software Wes Novack on 15 May 2012

Online file sharing now ubiquitous thanks to cloud storage services

Online file sharing now ubiquitous thanks to cloud storage services

Online storage, file sharing and data backup is all the rage these days. While perusing the latest tech news, you can’t go for long without reading all about the cloud, cloud, cloud! Cloud solutions! Cloud backup! Cloud storage! And while the term “cloud” might be the latest catch-phrase for storing data online, the concept has existed for quite a long time.

One of my first encounters with this type of service occurred back in the early 2000’s, when I signed up for a free Xdrive account. This now defunct service was one of the initial pioneers in online data storage, offering consumers free online storage space to house their data. Xdrive provided software that integrated with Windows Explorer, allowing for a seamless user experience. The online storage simply showed up on the PC as an additional drive letter, the X drive. It was easy to use and worked relatively well.


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Mobile Phones &Software Wes Novack on 10 Mar 2012

Convert virtually any audio file to MP3, WAV, OGG or WMA format with

Convert virtually any audio file to MP3, WAV, OGG or WMA format with

I use my personal mobile phone for receiving pages text messages from work, as I’m required to be available 24 x 7 in case of issues and I also work a rotational on-call schedule with the rest of my team.

When you REALLY need a text message to get your attention, the stock “bling”, “beep” or “bloop” sound bytes used by most mobile phones just won’t cut it. Due to this, back in my Windows Mobile phone days, I would set the WakeupAlarm.WMA file as my text message audio notification when I was on-call. This is a really obnoxious and loud alarm clock sound byte, and that is sure to get your attention when a new text message arrives.

When I moved over to Android, first with the T-mobile G1 and then with the Motorola Droid, I kept using this sound clip by copying the WakeupAlarm.WMA file over to my phone. And why not? It was a proven, effective, paging alert sound.

Unfortunately, my Stand Operating Procedures (SOP) were thwarted once I upgraded to my Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Apparently Android 4.0 does not support WMA files, unlike previous versions of Android, which did so with no problems whatsoever. To continue using this sound file with Android 4.0, I had to convert it to a new format.

Enter is an online audio file conversion service that allows anyone to convert virtually any audio file to an MP3, WAV, OGG or WMA audio file, all for free. As of this posting, the site also has zero advertisements and a very clean interface (see above for a partial image of the webpage).

I was able to quickly and easily convert my WMA file to MP3 format thanks to There were no artifacts, distortions or any other problems found in the resulting MP3 file and I am now once again happily using the WakeupAlarm sound byte on my Android 4.0 smartphone.

I have tried using many other audio file conversion apps in the past, including some freeware found on CNet. None of the other apps that I tested were able to successfully convert a WMA file to MP3 with good quality. Many of the apps would do the conversion, but the resulting MP3 file would be static laden or contain other audio artifacts.

Huge thanks and many kudos to creator Johann Burkard for creating such a useful, effective and totally free audio file conversion service.

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