Upgraded G1 to Android v1.5

Well, I decided to take the plunge and perform a manual upgrade of my T-Mobile G1 phone to the recently released Android version 1.5 (cupcake). I was excited about some of the new features and didn’t want to wait until T-Mobile eventually pushes it out.

The manual install was pretty straight forward, using these simple steps

The hardest part was actually getting the update zip file to the microSD card on the G1! I was unable to get my Windows XP machine to properly see the SD card as a mounted drive via USB connection. So….I opted to go a different route. I ended up installing an FTP client application from the Android Market called “AndFTP”. The FTP app had no problems directing downloads to the SD card, so I connected the G1 to my WiFi network and pulled the nearly 50MB down file from the Windows box running an FTP server.

Once I had the file downloaded, it took about 5 minutes or so to do the upgrade, which went without a hitch.

The first thing I decided to check out was the camera. It was touted as being much faster taking pictures – and from my handful of tests, it was quite a bit faster. Unfortunately, the quality of the pictures still seem about the same – pretty poor. I was hoping for some options for manual adjustments, but no such luck. On the plus side, they did manage to include a “soft” shutter button on the touch screen, this can used to snap a picture instead of pressing down the button on the side of the phone – for me, this button was generally hard to press and hold down without causing camera shake resulting in blurry pictures. There are a couple of samples below.

The G1 also has the ability to capture video now. My initial video capture proved to be a bit choppy, but hey, it’s better than nothing.

Now on to my favorite two features: the soft keyboard and automatic screen orientation. The automatic screen orientation feature is not turned on by default. You have to go into Settings->Sound and Display-> Orientation and turn it on. I didn’t think it worked at first, however I quickly figured out that it doesn’t work on the home screen (or the dialer and contacts apps either). It seems to work just fine with all of the other apps I’ve tried.

So, what good is automatically switching to a landscape mode without sliding out the keyboard? That’s where the soft keyboard comes into play. Basically, if you tap your finger or press the trackball in a text box, a soft keyboard appears on the bottom of the screen. This makes it much easier for one-handed texting episodes.

Other than that, I haven’t had the chance to spend a whole lot of time checking out new features. I did notice that the GPS seems to update my location quicker than before and scrolling through all of my apps seems to be much more responsive and smooth.

So far so good, I’m impressed with the new features of the Android 1.5 update and hope Google keeps them coming.

Android 1.5 update for the T-Mobile G1

I’ve had my T-Mobile G1 “Google” phone since it’s initial release back in October 2008.  Since then, I have received a couple of updates but nothing of real importance from my point of view.  Overall I’ve been fairly happy with the phone so far, however, there are a few things that have been on my wish list (besides T-mobile 3g coverage in my area, which still isn’t available).

After living with this phone for over 6 months now, one of my biggest complaints is the camera – granted, I don’t buy a phone for the built-in camera.  However, if a company is willing to include one, it should at least be able to perform somewhat reasonable.  The G1’s picture taking ability is average at best.  It boasts a 3.2mp camera with autofocus, but no manual adjustment settings.  The slightest bit of movement with the camera or within the scene will pretty much render the picture a useless blur.  After having an iPhone, I would say from a realistic use perspective, the iPhone takes much better pictures.

Well, I’m hoping that’s all about to change.  Google has released a new version of Android – 1.5.  There is a pretty big list of new features and improvements.  A couple of the new features that I’ve been anticipating:

  • An on-screen “soft” keyboard.  There are many times when I don’t want to slide out the keyboard for a quick sms, so this will be a huge benefit.
  • Video recording.  It will be very interesting to see how well this works, considering it’s using the  built-in camera that has proved to be lacking thus far.
  • Batch actions on Gmail messages.  There have been many times where I’ve wanted to delete or label multiple messages, but have to go through the process one message at a time.

As for performance improvements, the following were listed having been improved:

  • Faster Camera start-up and image capture
  • Much faster acquisition of GPS location
  • Smoother page scrolling in Browser
  • Speedier GMail conversation list scrolling

Now I’m just debating whether to manually update my phone this weekend or wait for T-mobile to push it down sometime in the next couple weeks.  It would be nice if T-mobile allowed you to pull down the update rather than pushing it down to customers…maybe when version 2.0 rolls around.

Switch to fivebean web hosting

I recently switched my web hosting provider from godaddy to a company called fivebean – an inexpensive, full featured web hosting provider.   I was getting rather tired of godaddy’s very busy, clunky interface – and the performance was atrocious.

I signed up with fivebean’s “mini” plan which gives me 5GB of storage and 50GB of bandwidth with up to 5 domains. They’re running a sweet promotion right now – 50% off of their hosting packages. The mini package is only $17.50 a year right now – that comes out to less than $1.50 a month! That’s just insane!

The process of switching over from godaddy to fivebean was a piece of cake. The sign-up was quick and painless and I was up and running in no time. The hardest part was pulling down my content from godaddy.

Once I uploaded my content to fivebean’s server, it was just a matter of getting a couple of MySQL databases established for my apps and then switching over my DNS servers.

One of the coolest things these guys offer is VPS (virtual private server) hosting packages. I really don’t have a need for this right now, but maybe in the near future. You basically get an entire virtual machine to yourself to run one of a variety of Linux distros. This gives you the ultimate in flexibility. Right now they offer 3 VPS packages, pricing is essentially based on the amount of RAM, storage, and bandwidth.

I can’t begin to express how happy I am to have switched to this new hosting provider. The management interface is clean and quick, my pages are popping up lightning fast, and best of all….the price is nearly 70% LESS than my previous hosting provider.

For those of you looking for a new web hosting company, you should seriously consider giving fivebean a shot – and take advantage of the killer promo packages.  And did I mention this promo isn’t just an introductory price for a few months or a year or two?  It’s for life!

Spring Break at Boyne Mountain

Well, the family and I headed up to Boyne Mountain for spring break this year.  It wasn’t our first choice in vacation destinations, but we had just returned from a trip to Arizona a few weeks ago.  So this was basically a “use it or lose it” vacation…plus we also wanted to get away with the kids during spring break.  We had purchased a “sampler” package from Bluegreen resorts last year and it was going to expire in a couple months (this is worth a whole other blog post in itself).

Anyway, Bluegreen’s resort at Boyne Mountain was one of the only resorts within driving distance that had open availability.  We’ve been talking about going to the Avalanche Bay indoor water park for quite some time now, so this seemed like a good opportunity, especially since the resort is only about a half mile away from Avalance Bay.

After checking in at the resort on Saturday afternoon, we headed directly to our room.  We were presently surprised at the accommodations.  We had a 2-bedroom unit with a fireplace, full kitchen, and a large jetted tub in the master bath – much better than a cramped hotel room.  We hadn’t really planned any activities for this vacation besides the water park, so having some extra room to sprawl out and relax ending up being a huge plus.

My wife and I have never been skiing before, and being as the temperature was still in the 30’s and 40’s, that’s really what people come here for.  The slopes were still snow covered and there were quite a few people out there.  It looked like a lot of fun, I’d like to try it at least once.  Maybe next time – assuming we are a little more prepared and bring some appropriate attire (it is supposed to be spring, right?).

The Walker Roadhouse

wpbar1After getting some bad news at work this week, some friends and I decided we should get together this Friday for a drink or two.  My buddy suggested we head out to the Walker Roadhouse on the corner of Leonard and Remembrance Rd in Walker.  I’d never been there before, and I’m always open to try new places.

We met up after work at the restaurant as planned.  Luckily, we beat the Friday evening rush and were seated right away (the place was packed by the time we left).  I ordered up a Guinness as we began to chat and look over the menu.  This night was about kicking back after a tough week, spending time with my friends and enjoying the conversation more so than it was about the place we decided to go or the food to eat.

So, you’re probably wondering, why I am blogging about the Walker Roadhouse then?  Well, it just so happened that the food was fantastic – I only wish I would have tried the sweet potato fries!   We were pretty deep in conversation, so I quickly scanned the large menu selection, and decided on the turkey pretzel sandwich.  You’ve probably seen these before at other restaurants – some sliced turkey on a pretzel roll.  Nothing too crazy.  I must say though, the sandwich was excellent.  A nice soft pretzel roll with a load of  turkey, topped off with lettuce, onion, and a slice of tomato – it just hit the spot.

The Walker Roadhouse has a nice atmosphere, the prices are reasonable, they have a huge menu selection, and the food is great.  What more could you ask for?  I only wish my wife could have been there to enjoy it with me.  Hopefully next time.

To my friends who joined me this evening – I had a great time and hope that we have more of these opportunities to get together in the future.  Only next time without a “reason”!

Work in Progress

I decided a couple weeks ago that I would punish my body and try the Fifth Third Riverbank run coming up in May.   Since it would be my first “race”, I thought I should stick to the short, 5k run.  But I’m a glutton for punishment and am up for a challenge, so I decided I should give the 10k a shot.

Being that the temperature has been, on average, below 20 degrees for the last couple weeks, I’ve been limited to only running on the treadmill so far.  All I can say is that I hope it’s a lot easier running on solid ground as opposed to a thin piece of rubber moving at a high rate of speed.  The longest I’ve run since I’ve started this adventure is only a little over 2 miles…I’ve got a long way to go.

Last night I made the mistake of trying to see how fast I could run 1 mile…I really need to have my head checked.  I hit the start button and hit the psuedo-pavement at 8mph…20 seconds later…9mph…a few seconds more…up to 10mph.  I proceeded to put my life in danger for about a whole minute and thirty seconds, before promptly going back down to 8mph….then to 7…then to 6, which is where I ultimately finished.

My Arch Enemy

    My Arch Enemy

So, how did I fare you ask?  Well, I didn’t even make it a whole mile; I stopped at about 3/4 of a mile.  I don’t think I’ll ever do that again.   So tonight, it’s back to normal…hopefully I can settle down and find a nice pace and try to make it 3 miles tonight.

Eat, drink, and be merry

My wife and I went out with some friends last night to Founder’s in downtown GR, it was our first time there. We had a great time and enjoyed some good food and drink. The place was pretty packed; kind of hard to find a table to fit 11 people on a Friday night, but somehow we managed to squeeze in.

bfstout

I went with the Breakfast Stout, it was a nice smooth stout with a definite chocolaty coffee taste that also packed a pretty good punch. Patty went with the Pale Ale, which she wasn’t too fond of. I tried a drink of her Pale Ale and wasn’t a big fan either. You win some, lose some.

As for the food, Founder’s had a pretty big selection of different sandwiches and appetizers. Patty and I shared the “Godfather”, a sandwich loaded down with pepperoni and capicola – it was excellent. We also tried the “Beer Cheese Dip” with some sort of toasted bread and tortillas, it was also quite tasty – although I could have skipped the part of burning the roof of my mouth and tongue – the dip must have been boiling right before it was given to us!

We had a great time and hope to be able to do it again in the near future.