Ocdgeek

Calorie Tracker by LiveStrong.com for Windows Phone

Posted in Windows Phone by Greg Mackay on March 11, 2012

If you have a need to track your diet and exercise you cant go wrong with this application for Windows Phone.

LiveStrong.com has done an excellent job developing this application. It takes full advantage of the metro user interface and live tiles. It is easy to use and makes it simple to track your diet and activities. It is also backed by the Livestrong.com website. You can log into your account at their website and get detailed charts of your activities. Best of all the app and the website are totally free.

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The application pulls it data from the Livestrong.com site so it has a great deal of nutritional  data already and you can add custom foods. You can of course also track activities such as walking, jogging and running. It also allows your to track you weight.

 

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Get the application here.

Microsoft Windows 8 Preview

Posted in Tech News by Greg Mackay on June 4, 2011

 

Looks pretty exciting, not sure how it will work via a mouse and keyboard but it should be great on touch platforms.

Windows Phone 7 Mango

Posted in Uncategorized by Greg Mackay on May 28, 2011

NoDo Update Finally Arrives

Posted in Tech News by Greg Mackay on April 21, 2011

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My AT&T Samsung Focus has finally gotten the NoDo update!

Windows Phone 7 Thirty days in.

Posted in Tech Reviews by Greg Mackay on April 5, 2011

With Windows Phone 7 Microsoft has completely scraped its old mobile operating system and started over from scratch. The new operating system is a major improvement over Microsoft’s old system. It is based on their Metro OS on the Zune. Its all about simplicity and ease of use. I’ve been using The Samsung Focus running Windows Phone 7 for thirty days. I am more then pleased with it so far. The phone is super lite and the Super Amoled screen is beyond brilliant.  I think Microsoft has really gotten off to a great start with their new smart phone OS. The operating system is brand new so of course it is missing some features and still needs a little fine tuning but all in all its pretty rock solid.  If Microsoft stays committed to the new platform I believe they have a solid chance of getting back on top in mobile.

 

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Hardware Review:

The Samsung Focus has a super lite build. The form factor is solid and very slick. It fits nicely in your hand and in your pocket. The 4” Super Amoled screen is crisp and bright. It may even be better then Apples new retina display. In my opinion it is but that depends on your perspective. Text is crisp and clear on the screen. Games and videos look great also. Some people have reported issues with the back panel fitting on properly but I didn’t have any issues. The camera is great. It takes great photos indoors and out. The video camera works great as well. With Windows Phone’s hardware camera button taking pictures quickly is also easier then on any other smart phone. All in all the Samsung Focus is a solid phone with a great feel.

 

Software Review:

Core Operating System: The core operating system is fluid and very responsive. Its intuitive and just makes since. It only took me a few minutes to fall in love with Windows Phone 7. It is without question the best mobile OS I’ve ever used. Having been a former Blackberry and iOS user I think that is saying a lot. Microsoft has really hit a sweet spot with their new OS.

The user experience is centered around what Microsoft calls hubs. Instead of needing separate applications for each function things are combined into central hubs. For example the peoples hub contains all of your contacts and their recent social network statuses via Facebook.

Hubs:

Hubs are the heart of the OS. You’ve got one for just about everything you regularly use on a smartphone. Hubs included are the Peoples hub, Pictures hub, Music and video, Office, Games and Market Place.

Live Tiles:

The home screen is where the live tiles live. You can pin almost anything to the home screen as a tile and applications that are written to take advantage of it will live update. For example the messaging tile updates as you get messages. You can even pin a contact to your home screen and when they update their Facebook profile picture the tile will automatically update as well, pretty cool if you ask me.

Email:

Email functionality on the phone is excellent. The UI is very clean and functional. Email is separated into  All, Unread and Urgent columns. You’ve also got access to a folder tree that includes inbox, sent items and deleted items. Threaded email and a unified inbox aren’t supported yet but hopefully it will come soon.

Calendar:

The calendar function is very good. It has all the basic functionality you’d expect from a modern smart phone. The only function missing is the ability to sync with multiple calendars. It syncs with your Windows Live calendar via the cloud but only recognizes the main calendar.

Internet Explorer Mobile:

Microsoft has greatly improved their mobile version of IE. It performs well and looks good. It is lacking HTML5 support currently but Microsoft says its coming in IE9 mobile later this year. Pinch and zoom works great and responsiveness is great. Text is crisp, clear and easy to read on Samsung’s Super Amoled screen.

Maps:

The maps application is outstanding. It has all the functionality you’d expect and its very responsive. Maps render quickly on 3G and GPS on the Samsung Focus is very accurate. Searching and direction work very well also.

Pictures Hub and Camera:

Windows Phone 7 has without question the best picture taking functionality of any current smart phone. The pictures hub is very intuitive and easy to use. The Samsung Focus takes great quality images. It is very easy to quickly snap, view and share images on this phone. Microsoft added a dedicated camera button to all its Windows Phone 7 devices. All you have to do is press and hold the camera button and the phone quickly switches to camera mode and snaps a picture. Even if the phone is currently locked. Another key feature is the ability to automatically back up your pictures online for free. If you use your phone as your primary camera you wont be disappointed with Windows Phone 7 on the Samsung Focus.

Peoples Hub:

The peoples hub is pretty slick. It makes it simple to check in on your friends and family. It can be directly linked with Facebook and Windows Live. You no longer need to open a Facebook application to see what people are up to. In the peoples hub you can just navigate to a contact and see their current wall posts on Facebook. The only thing lacking from it currently is a good way to separate contacts into groups such as family, friends and business contacts.

Xbox Live:

Xbox live is where your games live. Gaming on the phone/OS is great. The hardware is very responsive. I’ve only tried a few games so far and have stuck to the ones provided by Microsoft. You don’t need to own a Xbox to take full advantage of gaming on the phone. One really cool thing about gaming on Windows Phone 7 is that most of the games offer a try before you buy option.

Marketplace:

This is where you buy applications, music, games and more. At the time of this writing there are over 10k apps available in the marketplace. The OS is still new so of course all the major players aren’t onboard yet. I think things will get much better after the second generation of this OS is released.  Searching for applications in the marketplace is currently a less then favorable experience. Search brings up pretty much everything currently. So if you search for say Amazon you not only get a listing for the application you also get listings for songs movies and games. Microsoft says this is going to get fixed in the first update.

Zune:

If you’re not familiar with Zune it is Microsoft’s version of Apples iTunes eco system. This is where you get your music, videos, movies, TV shows, podcasts and more. It is also the system/software you use to sync your  device with your PC. In many ways the Zune experience is actually much better then iTunes. First and foremost the software runs much faster then iTunes does on Windows. The Zune marketplace also offers a music subscription service that gives you access to unlimited music for $14.95 a month. This is a great service for discovering new music. You aren’t limited to the short samples of songs via iTunes. Just load anything you want on to your device and listen all you want. Getting music, videos and podcasts onto the phone is  pretty strait forward. The only thing I find strange about purchasing media via Zune is that Microsoft uses a points system like they do on the Xbox. So you don’t pay a direct amount for say a movie rental. Instead you buy points then use them to purchase media.

Office Hub:

If you are a regular Office user you’ll love the Office hub. Its got Excel, Word, Power Point, and OneNote. Even if you never use Office you’ll love OneNote mobile. Its is the best note taking application available. Its especially use full if you also use the desktop client. All of your notes are synced for free via Windows Sky Drive. So you’ve got access to them via the phone, your desktop or a web browser.

Pros:

I believe Microsoft has really gotten off to a great start with Windows Phone 7. The user experience is great in just about every way. The phone is very responsive and super fast. After thirty days of using my phone I’ve yet to have a system crash. This is crucial on a smart phone in my opinion. Navigating through the UI is a pleasure so much so that I’m not sure I agree with Microsoft’s add campaign that Windows Phone 7 is a glance and go device. The UI is so smooth and slick that I find myself just swiping through it out of pure joy!

Cons:

First generation platform means there are of course some features lacking and a few bugs. I have yet to find any deal breakers though. The only possible negative I’ve encountered is the software update eco system. It appears that the carriers have final say in when and how updates will be delivered. Its still to early to know for sure how updates will be delivered. As of this post the first update “NoDo” is slowly being pushed to devices.

Why Apples new iPad will succeed where others have failed.

Posted in Uncategorized by Greg Mackay on May 30, 2010

 

Any one that knows anything about computers knows that the tablet is nothing new. The PC industry has had tablet computers for well over 10 years. In fact there where tablet PCs as early as 1989. One of the first was the GRiDPad and ran MS-DOS. Later devices ran what was called Pen Computing operating systems. These devices where basically Windows based systems with a touch interface. Instead of a mouse and keyboard users interacted with the computer with a stylus. Some systems also have the ability to recognize hand writing. Apple its self even tried its hand at tablet computing in 1987 with the Newton.

The problem with these devices is that they are based on full-fledged computers. This has resulted in overpriced devices with less than friendly user interfaces.

Using a modern PC to surf the web and check e-mail is like using a helicopter to go grocery shopping, its major overkill. Modern day computers are highly technical devices with millions of lines of programing code. They were originally developed by engineers to perform complicated mathematical calculations and hold data in digital format. Eventually programmers wrote games for them and then they figured out a way to allow computers to communicate with each other over great distances. This is where and how the internet got started and what led up to how most people use them today. We are using devices that can decode the human genome to plant crops in Facebook, look at pictures of naked people and send dirty jokes to co-workers via email.

This is where Apples new iPad comes in. You see it isn’t a computer in any way. Sure it has microchips, a battery and a computer like screen but it’s something entirely new. Instead of doing what others of done in the past Apple started from scratch and developed a device specifically for what most of use computers for today. The iPad is built to do exactly what we will be using it for. Surfing the web, checking e-mail, reading the New York Times and of course playing games. Its simplicity and relatively low cost will make it succeed where others have failed.

No one wants to have to run security software, install updates or most of all call customer support just to play a game or see what their friends are up to on Facebook. Modern computers are a nightmare for regular people to use especially when they are malfunctioning.

Many of the technology pundits are complaining about all of the features missing from the iPad. This is because they are looking at it from a geek’s point of view and not a user’s point of view. As geeks we love to fiddle with our PCs. Not being able to print, connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot or check our e-mail is a challenge to use. It’s a chance to dig into our operating system and figure it out. Well your grandmother doesn’t want to figure it out; she just wants to see the most recent pictures of her grandkids!

If you’ve ever installed Linux on your PC, set up WPA-2, wrote a script to automatically back up documents or debated the advantages of Open Source over closed software then you’re probably not the target market for Apples new iPad.

PayPal took my money and all I got was a broken Blackberry .

Posted in Uncategorized by Greg Mackay on November 19, 2009

Recently I’ve heard a lot about how eBay and PayPal have changed their policies in an attempt to make doing business on eBay safer. They have added features that make it much easier for buyers to obtain refunds for items they bought that were not as described. On the surface this seems like a very good thing and in many ways it is. It protects buyers when they get an item that is damaged, not the right size, not the model listed in the add, not in “perfect shape” and a slew of other things. Before this policy buying on eBay was much more risky. You might buy an item that was listed as brand new in the box but when it arrives you find out that it isn’t new at all and it was pretty much up to the seller whether or not they would refund your money or offer an exchange. The burden of proof was on the buyer and eBay didn’t offer much if any help. All of this seems well and good but what if you’re not the buyer? What if you are the seller?

eBay used to be a great place to sell stuff. You could list your item for a small fee and it would potentially be seen by thousands of people.  If you where really lucky a few people would end up in a bidding war over your item and you would end up selling it for much more than it might be worth. As long as you where honest in your posting and shipped the item promptly things worked out well. The buyer got the item they wanted and you sold something you didn’t want. Of course things didn’t always go smooth. There are always people that find a way to complain about something. Or you end up dealing with someone that just has to much free time and gets their rocks off messing with people and of course we can’t forget about the scammers. But for the most part doing business on eBay was a pretty straight forward deal.

eBay has gone completely over board in their attempt to offer increased protection to buyers.

Well unfortunately things have taken a turn for the bad if you’re on the selling side of the transaction. eBay has gone completely over board in their attempt to offer increased protection to buyers. I unfortunately learned this the hard way when I recently attempted to sell a perfectly good working used Blackberry cell phone on eBay. I have been selling and buying on eBay since mid 1999. I currently hold a 100% feedback ratting. Well of course when I upgraded my phone. Selling my old one on eBay was the logical choice, so I thought. I listed the item with a .99 cent starting price and a $100 buy it now price. It sold for the buy it now price in less than 48 hours. The buyer paid via PayPal right away and I shipped it right away. As in my past experiences on eBay everything seemed to have gone great.  

28 days after the buyer had received the item I get an email from PayPal letting me know that my account has been charged $115.

Fast forward 28 days and things turn out to have not gone well at all. 28 days after the buyer  received the item I got an email from PayPal letting me know that my account had been charged $115. The reason for the charge? The buyer had submitted a claim to PayPal stating that the item he received is not as described. He claimed that the phone was damaged and does not function properly. I immediately called PayPal to find out what was going on. I explained to the representative that the phone worked fine when I shipped it and that it’s been 28 days since the buyer received the phone. I explained to the rep that if the phone was damaged the buyer should of said so within a few days.  The rep told me that PayPal would review the claim and then get back to me.

This guy had the phone 28 days and clearly damaged it. Then falsely claimed that he received the item damaged.

It took PayPal less than 48 hours to decide in favor of the buyer. They decided that the buyer was to return the item for a full refund. I received the item several days later. Of course when I tested the phone it was defiantly damaged. The audio functions did not function just as the buyer claimed. The buyer neglected to mention that he dropped the phone causing the damage himself! The phone was not returned with the protective sleeve I shipped with it. It also had easily visible damage to the external casing. This guy had the phone 28 days and clearly damaged it. Then falsely claimed that he received the item damaged.

They even went as far as to tell me I should consider myself lucky that they even had the buyer return the phone to me.

Dealing with PayPal and eBay customer service is beyond a joke. First of all don’t even think about calling them directly. They make finding their number on their website a challenge to say the least. I ended up getting their number via a Google search. When I did manage to get someone on the phone they would basically say anything to try and make you happy. Unfortunately they don’t end up doing anything. I had to appeal the claim 3 times before they even addressed the fact that the buyer didn’t return all the items he received in the sale. As far as the damage, PayPal told me that it was there policy to side with the buyer. They even went as far as to tell me I should consider myself lucky that they even had the buyer return the phone to me. The rep said “credit card companies don’t even do that”.

In the end after I filled a complaint with the better business bureau. PayPal reluctantly refunded me the cost of having the phone repaired ($25).

eBay is basically forcing sellers to provide a no questions asked 45 day full refund.  

If you are planning on selling anything on eBay I highly suggest that you think twice, read their terms of service carefully and possibly consider selling on Craigslist instead. eBay is basically forcing sellers to provide a no questions asked 45 day full refund.  

Full featured browser coming to the Blackberry.

Posted in Tech News by Greg Mackay on August 25, 2009

Although the iPhone seems to be catching all the buzz lately the Blackberry is still the number one selling Smartphone and it appears that RIM is planning on keeping it that way.

One of the features that launched the iPhone’s success is its true web browser. Until the iPhone was released web browsing via your phone was marginal at best. Sure you could visit websites but they were heavily compressed and the formatting was horrible. The iPhone’s Safari browser changed all that. Finally web browsing on your phone was an enjoyable experience.

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Well it appears that RIM is planning to one up the iPhone. According to BusinessWeek, RIM recently purchased Torch Mobile. Torch Mobile develops web browsers for mobile phones based on WebKit. The open source project that Safari is also based on. It also appears that RIM is planning on adding full Flash support to their browser (According to Technorati). Something iPhone doesn’t have. This could be key since the majority of modern websites use Flash heavily.

As a devoted fan of the Blackberry Smartphone I hope this is true and RIM releases the new browser soon.   

The new Nokia Netbook

Posted in Uncategorized by Greg Mackay on August 25, 2009

Five reasons not to be a long haul truck driver.

Posted in Uncategorized by Greg Mackay on August 22, 2009

1. Being away from home.

As a married man with a child this is by far the biggest negative of being an over the road truck driver. On average I spend 3 to 4 nights a week away from home. When I do get home it’s usually around 8pm or latter. This leaves little time with the family and little time to do the normal things we all do when we aren’t working. Like cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, helping the kids with homework and just hanging around the living room relaxing.

2. Using public restrooms.

This may seem a bit petty but imagine if 80% of the time you used the restroom it was a public one. I am so sick of smelling strangers bowl movements. Yes, mine smell to. Everyone’s do, trust me on that. I’ve smelt enough to know.

3. Not being able to start the day with a shower.

If your hygiene isn’t important to you this may not matter to you but I do care about hygiene. Especially when I’m in public. Unless I spend the night at a truck stop, my home or a company terminal with showers I may not have an opportunity to shower until late in the afternoon if at all.

4. Being at the mercy of shippers and receivers.

In the trucking industry shippers and receivers set load and unload appointments that drivers must adhere to. Unfortunately these same shippers and receivers feel they aren’t obligated to also adhere to these appointments. Just because they set an appointment for say 8am and you arrive at or before that time doesn’t in any way mean that they will load/unload you at 8am. They will load/unload you when they get around to it and you will not complain about it.

5. Dealing with casual drivers.

A day doesn’t go by without some ahole flipping me the bird. Usually it’s because they are trying to merge onto the interstate and have no clue how to do so successfully. Traffic merging onto an interstate is supposed to do just that, merge. If you are unfamiliar with the word you should look it up in the dictionary. It does not mean that traffic currently traveling at highway speed should do whatever it takes to move out of your way. YOU are the one doing the merging! Also if you can’t come up with something better than flipping the bird then don’t even bother.

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