All posts by Jake Joraanstad

Jake Joraanstad is part owner of Myriad Devices, a mobile consulting and development company in Fargo, ND. Myriad Devices consults and develops mobile apps for a multitude of companies and has achieved hundreds of thousands of downloads worldwide.

Google and Dish Network: A potential new era in wireless

google-signGoogle and Dish Network have been in the news a lot lately, and for good reason: it seems as though Google is very interested in becoming a wireless carrier, potentially partnering with Dish and its wireless spectrum that was purchased back in 2008.

This matters. And I think it matters a lot. Let’s talk hypothetically: imagine Google enters the wireless carrier space, whether through Dish or some other path. What does that mean for other networks like Verizon and AT&T, or even Sprint? Both Verizon and AT&T have completely embraced Android up to this point, with both carrying the best-selling Samsung Galaxy S3, which is currently outselling the iPhone 5. Most devices being sold on these networks are Android, which is owned by Google.

If Google entered the space, why would Verizon and AT&T want to fund and sell their competitor’s system? This is a serious consideration for Google. Entering this market will definitely anger the likes of the Red and Blue.

Here’s my prediction, and it’s a stretch. I believe that if Google enters the market as a wireless carrier, this move will be so earth-shattering that Verizon and other wireless carriers will be forced to stop supporting Android devices. If this is the case, my second prediction is that the mobile device and wireless carrier battles will overlap. I believe that there would be serious considerations by all wireless carriers to look into supporting only one mobile operating system.

For example, Google would only run Android devices on its network, giving them complete control of their entire mobile ecosystem. This could lead to better services, better devices, and potentially better prices. Verizon would then choose a platform. My prediction for the Big Red would be that it will choose to go with Windows Phone 8. AT&T would take the obvious choice of going with iOS. Apple would love to have complete control over its ecosystem, and going with only one wireless carrier in the U.S. would give them that. Sprint would feel a little left out, as it does now, and be forced to choose a poor performing platform like Blackberry or some other variation.

After all that, the real war over our mobile lives would begin. This would be the biggest shift in the wireless industry in years, but I think it is entirely possible.

Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments.

Image credit: Shawn Collins

Google’s Awesome Sauce: The Nexus 7 Tablet Review

Google has been doing impressive things lately, by anyone’s standards. Google Glasses, and the awesome live streaming skydiving stunt Google pulled at Google I/O this year blew the minds of fans all over the world.

At that same conference, Google announced the release of two Nexus devices: the (Asus) Google Nexus 7 tablet and the Nexus Q.  (The Q is sexy, smooth, different, and just about useless to the average consumer. It’s an expensive media streamer for your TV.)

Let’s get down to the Nexus 7. My Nexus 7 device arrived last week, which was very fast compared to what I’ve read about shipping times on the internet. I was stoked.

About the reported packaging problems

Some people have reported that it is difficult to remove the Nexus 7 from its original packaging.

Unlike the rest of the world, I believe when expensive electronics are shipped halfway across the country, if not the world, they should be packaged in such a way that they do not fall out or easily get stolen. Therefore, I bring a knife when I attempt to open a new product, unlike these ridiculous people.

Yes, the packaging of the Nexus 7 is tight. No, the packaging of the Nexus 7 should not deter you from purchasing one.

 

Awesome-Sauce Software with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

As the first device shipping with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, I can say that this is the most beautiful and “buttery” smooth Android tablet I have ever used, and is as good as the iPad 3. Google has definitely done a bang-up job on Jelly Bean and Project Butter to get Android finally caught up to iOS as far as smoothness goes.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean includes Google Now, which is software that can anticipate your schedule and location throughout the day and provide helpful information like traffic time, current weather, and upcoming calendar events. No input is needed – Google Now helps you throughout the day without any prompting.

Since getting Google Now, I’ve used it way more than I ever used any previous voice search feature on a phone (including iPhone’s Siri).

Switching between recent apps is a great experience, and I find myself doing it just for the fun of playing the animations over and over again. Transitions are fast and responsive. Apps open and close quickly so your tablet can finally be as productive as you are!

The default Chrome browser is very impressive, with great loading speeds (over a decent WiFi connection), fast renders, and good support for HTML5 (finally).

Using apps on Android can finally be fun, not the chore it used to be with laggy and slow-loading apps of yesteryear. Congrats Google!

Hardware: Quad Core and a Brilliant Screen

The Nexus 7 did not fall short on hardware or design. With a quad core Tegra 3 on board and a brilliant graphics processor, apps on this device look better than any other Android tablet device I’ve seen, including the Asus Transformer Prime. While playing Dead Trigger (a great zombie shooter), this tablet becomes a hardcore gaming device in a perfectly sized 7-inch form factor. The screen really shines and shows just how incredible technology is becoming.

What makes this device nice to hold is that just-right thickness that makes it feel like it won’t break or fall out of your hands, but also fits great in your pocket. The soft-touch plastic on the back really adds grip to the device as well, so you won’t be dropping this thing any time soon.

Unbeatable Price Tag

$200 bucks. That’s all I need to say here. If you haven’t jumped on a tablet yet, or are looking for that second or even third screen, this is the best Android tablet on the market today. Period.

The Nexus 7 can be purchased directly from Google.

HTML5 and the Future of Mobile Apps and Gaming

HTML5 will change the way we view mobile apps, and will change the way we think about how software has to be viewed on a mobile device. It will even change the way we view desktop applications. HTML5 is the biggest game changer since Apple’s App Store.

But if what I am saying is right, then why hasn’t this all come true yet? The reasons are many, some minor and easily overcome, and some not so much. Let’s start with an explanation of what HTML5 and JavaScript advancements are already doing in the mobile world.

HTML5 is the new HTML standard.

Major enhancements such as the <“video”> tag, CSS3 animations and better JavaScript support are what have made HTML5 such a hot topic. With the power of HTML5, web developers and programmers can write software in a cross-platform language and save significant time and effort.

HTML 5 Development Platforms

Some companies, such as Sencha who developed Sencha Touch, and Prism Technologies who developed PhoneGap, have created mobile development platforms that reach from Android and iOS all the way back to Blackberry and Windows Phone 7. The reason these platforms are so flexible is because they utilizes HTML5, advanced JavaScript and CSS3 to replicate a native app using a web browser.

I’ve had experience using Sencha Touch and PhoneGap (PhoneGap makes it easy for users to load HTML5 libraries into a native app “wrapper”, which can access hardware-specific functions such as the camera and accelerometer, for distribution on an app market) and have found that while it is very useful while building information and text driven applications, it is not very effective in creating graphically intense applications such as ones with photo galleries, interactive menus, or games. This leads me to why HTML5 has its limits in the mobile world today.

Mobile Browsers

Each mobile OS has a browser that is used to generate the HTML5 application. The problem is that not every browser was created equal, especially when it comes to HTML5 support. When looking at HTML5 on an iOS devices such as an iPhone 4s, HTML5 is very responsive and smooth.

This is not so true with Android and Blackberry. Although Android has good support for most of HTML5, it has many “artifacts” or poorly handled graphical renderings that make it slower, less attractive, and overall less responsive than its iOS counterpart. This is the main reason development of HTML5 has not surpassed development of native applications to date. There are a few other limitations to HTML5 such as hardware support when accessing components like the camera or file systems, but HTML5 hopes to circumvent that soon with future standards.

The conclusion is that HTML5, while being very powerful and flexible when used with JavaScript and CSS3, is not yet a suitable replacement for native development and therefore one must first consider the goal of the said application before deciding to proceed with development in HTML5 or native environments.

But don’t forget, according to Strategy Analytics, more than 1 billion HTML5 supported phones will be sold worldwide by 2013. Read more here.

You can read more about mobile HTML5 support here.

Why PvP Games are Lame and Need Revamping

PvP IS LAME!!! AHHH!!!

What is wrong with player versus player video games? This is a question I asked myself a few years ago when I was gaming on a daily basis. PvP is always limited to a nice little box or a specific mode in a game. The argument about this or that being real PvP(Minecraft, WoW, ect…) is out there, but in short, PvP has failed as a true concept in the video game world, in my opinion.

I want to suggest an idea I have to possibly solve this problem, but I don’t want to reveal much,  as I would like to pursue it privately before talking it up too much. Here it goes:

Imagine a game where players fill almost every role, from store owners to farmers to warriors to guards. But each role is an entirely needed position and a farmer can make a living in the game without having to be a warrior. He can spend hours on his farm raising crops and animals to support himself and to sell at the markets.

But here’s the best part: the markets are run by players too, so that farmer is actually employed by a store owner in town. That store owner needs the farmer to produce food so he can sell that food at a higher price to the big beefy warriors that pass through town. And the big beefy warriors are employed by leaders of townships and such. The warrior’s job is to protect the city as well as wage war to gain new land for citizens to live and generate new forms of revenue.

And in the end, if warriors march into your town and destroy your farms and shops, then so be it. Your city was not protected well. You did not employ enough city guards or have a good trade relationship with the nearby city.

PvP needs to be more interactive and raw

Here’s the deal; if a game wants to truly have PvP, it needs to be PvP all the time. The system has to balance the game so it is not normally beneficial to slaughter people. A player-run justice system is what I am hinting at, but I won’t expose more.

I hope a great conversation can be sparked in the comments. Hopefully a conversation that can bring about better ideas than the current state of the repetitive and boring massively multi-player world today.  And if you are interested in funding or developing such a game, please let me know in the comments!

First Look at the Asus EeePC X101 – MeeGo or NoGo?

With the hugely successful release of the Asus Transformer and a great lineup of laptops, Asus is truly stepping it up this year, and definitely living up to its motto “Inspiring Innovation. Persistent Perfection.”.  And the Asus EeePC X101 is no exception.

101x sized up with the 15

What a brilliant piece of hardware engineering! This is the first netbook I have ever used that has truly intrigued me. It’s incredible thinness (17.6mm!) and featherweight design is unbelievable. The battery life is awesome (4-7hrs). The keyboard is actually very usable (I am typing this article entirely with the X101), the processor is snappy (latest Intel Atom), and the white color and textured cover take it to the next level.

10

I can finally walk into a room and impress people with this netbook. The hardware is so sleek, so smooth, and so refined.

But there is one downfall.

As you probably noticed, I haven’t talked about the software yet. The Asus X101 I am using comes pre-installed with MeeGo, a Linux operating system first developed by Nokia. Don’t get me wrong, the idea behind MeeGo is great, build a lightweight Linux operating system for netbooks that utilizes a simplified interface for more productivity on a smaller screen. The real problem, as in most failing OS’s, is the support. Nobody makes applications for MeeGo because it’s not widely used. Asus has attempted to fix this by having an “app store,” but so far I have yet to see any productive software available aside from what comes pre-installed.

Even with the different problems in the OS, the social integration is great. It actually includes a Twitter and Facebook app that generates a feed for you that is really nice. OpenOffice is installed as well, which gives you the ability to do just about anything you’d do in Windows. And Chromium is always great, so the software isn’t unusable, it’s just not future-friendly.

101x vs. Transformer

And that brings me to another point. Asus did a great job making sure the pre-installed software did what 95% of people do with computers; browsing and word processing. On this front, Chromium, the open-source browser on which Google Chrome is built, is the only pre-installed browser and does a great job utilizing the small 10.1 inch screen. Tabs are minimal and there is no utility bar taking up extra space.

A great color choice
Clothed in White
The Asus EeePC X101 with MeeGo is rumored to be priced at $200 USD , which would put it at an incredible price point. The question is, would MeeGo be a stumbling block for most users? If you think it would be, I would ask you to consider installing Ubuntu on the X101. Ubuntu has just released it’s redesigned Unity user interface that was built for small netbooks just like the X101. So, buy the X101 for $200 with MeeGo, then install Ubuntu 11.04 and you have an incredibly light, fully capable and fast machine! At $200 bucks, you can’t buy a better netbook.
Check out Engadget’s coverage for more information.

Review: Asus K53E-A1 Laptop Review – 15.6″ Brown Beauty

Asus makes all kinds of laptops. Sometimes it’s hard to even know which model is what with the number-based naming scheme. But, I believe that I am using a laptop that is noteworthy in its design and usability, the Asus K53E-A1. The more I use this laptop, the more I enjoy it.

Running Chrome, playing Minecraft, streaming Netflix, and watching YouTube are all great and flawless experiences on the K53E. As a browsing and media-consuming laptop, the Asus K53E is great. Just don’t plan on going unplugged for long, as the battery life is about 3-4 hours.

Asus seems to love the new brown look. Many of the newer laptops by Asus, the Transformer tablet with Android, and now the K53E-A1 laptop all have options in this color. The brown is a great color and a fresh take on the usual “black” electronics. The aluminum on the upper side of the body is also a great touch and gives the laptop a richer feel.

 

As a “daily driver” work laptop, I am very happy with the K53E. The keyboard is Asus’s chiclet style, which I love. It is easy and responsive to type with, and it even fits in a nice number pad. I use Google Docs as much as possible, using all the features including Google Draw, which I find exceptionally pleasing because of the incredible Asus touch-pad. Multi-touch functions work great, scrolling is smooth even horizontally. It’s great to finally start seeing touch-pads that compete with Apple’s.

This model includes the Intel CORE i3 processor running at 2.10Ghz,  a 500Gb hard drive, 4Gb of ram, a 15.6″ HD screen, and a full size keyboard with num pad. Even with all these features, this laptop sells for just under $600 on Amazon. It comes with Windows 7 Home Premium and the usual Asus software including Asus Web Storage which can be very useful if you store a huge amount of data at home and want to take it anywhere with this laptop.

If you are a student looking to get a great laptop for school, someone looking for a good browsing laptop for a good price, or a business person looking to have a comfortably sized laptop, the Asus K53E is a great choice. Just be prepared to have an extra battery on those long trips.

Network Neutrality and Where You Should Stand

The Internet has become an insurmountable force in the daily life of almost every human being on planet earth. From quick searches and online collaboration to Internet gaming and video streaming, the Internet has made many things seemingly impossible, possible. A key factor in this beautiful technology is its openness. That is where the issue of network neutrality comes into play.

This article attempts to explain the current state of this openness and the proposed laws that attempt to shake the ground of this openness and equality the Internet was built upon. By comparing and contrasting the two sets of laws, this article points the reader to a conclusion that the new network neutrality laws being proposed are unfair at best.

What Is Net Neutrality?

Today, the access to limitless information is taken for granted. At any time, almost from any place, any person can have unlimited knowledge at their fingertips. The development of the Internet has given us the ability to know anything at anytime. Whether it is to research a school project, check sports scores, or find that song that is stuck in your head, you can find it with the click of a button almost instantly. But what if that was to change?

One of the key aspects of the Internet is that any website is uploaded onto a device at the same speed as any other website would be uploaded. This fundamental idea is known as network neutrality. Network neutrality is the reason there is no discrimination from one site to another. In other words, the Internet is a level playing field where big corporations and small hometown businesses are treated equally. At this point, the speed of the Internet is not owned by anyone.  This allows for competition in business and keeps the world balanced and not controlled by a single person or corporation.

Net neutrality also allows all sources of information to be accessed without discrimination. In this aspect, net neutrality is often equated to intellectual freedom. That is, “the right of all peoples to seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction”. (Network Neutrality) Net Neutrality should always be here to makes sure that if it is on the Internet, whether it is good or bad, it can be accessed equally.

Net Neutrality Now

At present, the Internet experience most Americans are familiar with is governed by the principle of network neutrality. Despite this, many Internet users remain unaware of the important role net neutrality plays in maintaining a free and open Internet. This is largely because net neutrality is actually implemented in the equipment and connections that make up the structure of the Internet, which most users don’t often directly interact with. As a result, its effects aren’t always obvious to someone without technical knowledge on the subject of networking.

When a user accesses a web site, the content is broken up into a series of packets. These packets are then forwarded through a chain of routers, which may be owned by different ISP’s, until they arrive at their destination. When a packet of data arrives at a router, it is placed in a queue along with packets from other computers (Sharp 9). Since each of the “tubes” the router is connected to has a limited capacity to transfer data, only some packets in this queue can be forwarded at any given time. Under net neutrality, incoming packets are removed from the queue and forwarded in the order they were received. In other words, the packets are waiting in a line, and it’s strictly first-in first-out. Without net neutrality, ISP’s would be free to assign higher priority to certain packets, based on their source, destination, or other criteria. For example, packets containing video data from YouTube could be allowed to cut in line, forcing traffic from competing websites to wait longer and thereby diminishing the quality of their service. Although net neutrality is seldom noticed by the average Internet user, its effects are very real.

One sign of net neutrality in action that is the binary nature of Internet access purchases; you either have access to the Internet or you don’t. A modern ISP won’t offer access to a certain subset of all available content, as one might expect when purchasing cable, satellite, or other subscription services. All websites are made available with the purchase of Internet access, with the main difference between service packages being the total amount of bandwidth made available for the consumer to use. However, any web site or network can be accessed equally using this bandwidth, with the data transfer speeds limited further only if the server running the website can’t send data back fast enough to make full use of the customer’s available bandwidth.

The idea of having equal access to all web sites has created a level playing field for companies of all sizes to compete in. With some technical skill, any small startup company can be just as easily found on the Internet as a large company with an established web presence. Many of today’s most prominent web sites owe their existence to the principle of net neutrality. Imagine if Google had been forced to pay extra fees to Internet service providers or have their site load significantly slower than an established competitor. With competing start-ups forced into the slow lane, large corporations with enough money to make these kinds of deals would have dominated the Internet (Virtual 75-76). Consumer choice and freedom would surely have suffered as a result. Internet service providers should not be given the power to pick winners and losers in the Internet marketplace, but the removal of net neutrality would all but guarantee this corporate takeover of the Internet.

Proposed Net Neutrality Rules

Large corporate companies have been in a long and sometimes bitter battle in the United States over the proposition of new network neutrality laws. These new proposals are laws that would allow companies who act as Internet service providers(ISP’s) to moderate and charge for the speed at which data is passed between public networks. These laws also propose to allow companies to provide faster services to companies and users who pay a premium to each ISP. (Joch, 14)

Cable and phone companies say that they need to be able to control the delivery of web content to maintain the performance of their networks. AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast are some of the biggest proponents of these potential laws. These companies believe it is their right to control and monitor the information that flows through their networks and services, even if the user is not in direct contact with said companies. These companies also want permission to give preference to certain websites over less used websites. For example, YouTube.com would be given “special privileges” or faster access by the user over a local business website This would allow for these companies to generate more income via services provided to all Internet applications across the country. (Bogardus)

The outcome of these new laws would cause companies that provide Internet services, or content providers, to pay each ISP a premium in order to provide the content fairly to all customers. If this premium is not paid, the services could be significantly hindered by the ISP in areas where the content provider cannot afford to pay the premium fees. Along with these premium fees, companies want to be allowed to charge for “bytes” of data they supply, similarly to how people are charged for the use of gas or other physical commodities. The problem with this idea of charging for “bytes” is that the data is not a physical or limited quantity and does not require transportation in the way that other physical commodities do.

The rules that have been proposed could have detrimental affects on small businesses, college students, non-profit organizations, and the average Internet user, which encompasses most of the country. If these laws were put into effect, the Internet as we know it could be changed forever.

Policies That Should Be Protected

Proponents of Net Neutrality have put forth a piece of legislation to the FCC to look over. This is the FCC docket 09-93. In this docket, proponents of Net Neutrality say that the FCC must protect and enforce the four policies stated in the Internet Policy Statement of the Communications Act of 1934 that was amended in 2005. The four policies are things that citizens of this country take advantage of on a daily basis.

The first of these policies is that the FCC is to encourage the deployment of broadband to the country and to preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet. This means that consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice. So, this means that any users of the Internet here in the United States are able to access any website they want as long as illegal activity is not taking place. An example of this is that a user can visited Facebook as much as they wish without interference but as soon as that user crosses into a website dealing with illegal activities, such as downloading of pirated movies, the user can lose their access to the Internet.

The second policy is that the consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of the law. This means that users can use any Internet application, or application that accesses the Internet or Internet Services, as long as it is not used to violate the law. So a user is free to use Netflix as much as they want to watch movies and TV shows, but that user is not allowed to go and download movies and TV shows through an application like Bittorrent.

Policy number three that needs to be protected is the policy that says that consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network. This is a two-sided policy. First there is the concept of legal devices. A legal device is a device that is solid in retail that has gone through the proper testing to make sure it meets all standards. So a device purchased over the black market would be considered an illegal device. The second part of this policy is that of harming the network. A legal device can be used to harm a network. In this world of smart phones and mobile applications, it is easy to turn a legal device into a device intended to harm a network – hacker applications are an example of this.

The final policy that needs to be protected is that consumers are entitled to competition among Internet Service Providers, network providers, applications, and content providers. This is that, just as in the free market concept, you the user are entitled to your choice of providers. If your current provider is not meeting your standards, you can change who your provider is. These policies are the cornerstone for maintaining the open and interconnected nature of the Public Internet. The next two policies, additions the proponents of Net Neutrality believe need to be protected, are drafted to prevent the removal of Net Neutrality.

The first of these new policies is that the FCC is to require an ISP to treat lawful content, applications, and services in a nondiscriminatory manner. This is how the current model of the Internet is, no matter who is the user’s ISP, that user has access to anything and everything on the Internet, as long as it doesn’t violate any of the original four policies. Opponents of Net Neutrality believe that services should be unique to the ISP, thus meaning that the user does not have access to everything on the Internet.

The last of the new policies is that the FCC is to require an ISP to disclose information concerning network management and other practices. Currently ISP’s look at header information in the packets of data coming through their routers. A new practice coming about is the concept of dissecting the packet and looking at the full content of the packet. From here, the ISP could sell the information in the packet to whomever to start creating personalized advertisements and spam emails related to what the user was looking at while connected to that ISP. This is a major break in security. The ISP has no right to look at what the user is looking at.

How Does This Affect You?

The new net neutrality laws proposed will affect the individual greatly. The new laws would drastically hinder the speed of local websites that the average person accesses on a daily basis. For example, a local news station may not be able to afford the higher Internet speeds. Therefore, the people who access these websites would be put in the slow lane. This invades the daily lives of most of the population.

The proposed Net Neutrality laws are, at the very least, unfair to small businesses. They would mean that the creators of websites would have to pay the Internet providers to run their websites at the faster speed. This makes it easy to see why it is unfair to small, start-up businesses. The larger corporations could easily pay the fee to be put into the fast lane of the Internet, but smaller companies would struggle to make those payments. This would cause those companies to lose business when their customers have the choice of waiting to access the small company’s website or instantly access the larger company’s website.

What Can You Do To Preserve The Current Model of Net Neutrality?

There is one clear way of preserving the current model. This is overthrowing the Federal Government. But since that is not how civilized people act, that way will not be feasible. So, the way to prevent change of the Net Neutrality model is that you the user write to your congressmen urging them to support keeping the current model. Also, since most people do not have time to make fighting this issue the main focus of their life, you can donate to the cause at SaveTheInternet.com.

Conclusion

Net Neutrality is one of the fundamental ideas on which the Internet is built. The internet maintains the “level playing field” status. It is clear to most people that this is the way the Internet is meant to be. No one controls it, people can just add to it. No websites are deliberately served faster than others. It should be based on the design and idea of the website whether or not people visit it, not based on which website loads faster.

With this status being threatened by big corporations, what will become of the Internet? Will the speed of the Internet be sold to the highest bidder while everyone else is left in the dust which will create monopolies like the world has never seen? Or will people voice their opinions and bring reason, not greed, back to the minds of our congressmen and save the Internet?

Bibliography

Bogardus, Kevin, and Kim Hart. “Companies Lobby Newest FCC Members on Net Neutrality Rule.” The Hill. 11 Nov. 2009. Web. 03 Apr.2011.

Broadband Network Management. Federal Communications Commission, 07 Jan. 2007. Web. 03 Apr. 2011.

Eshoo, Anna G. “The state of the Internet.” Feb 6, 2011. February 27th, 2011.

Free Press, Et. Al. Petition for Declaratory Ruling. Federal Communications Commission, 1 Nov. 2007. Web. 03 Apr. 2011.

Gerdes, Louise I. “Chapter 5: The Patriot Act Threatens Internet Privacy.” The Patriot Act: Opposing Viewpoints. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2005. Print.

Joch, Alan. “Debating Net Neutrality.” Communications of the ACM Oct. 2008: 14-16.

Melanson, Donald. “House Subcommittee Votes to Block FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules.” Engadget. 10 Mar. 2011. Web. 04 Apr. 2011.

“Net Neutrality.” Times Topics. The New York Times, 21 Dec. 2010. Web. 03 Apr. 2011.

“Network Neutrality.” American Library Association. Web. 04 Apr. 2011.

Ohm, Paul. “Viewpoint: When Network Neutrality Met Privacy.” Communications of the ACM. Apr. 2010. Vol. 53 Issue 4, p30-32.

“Save the Internet.” SaveTheInternet. Web. 04 Apr. 2011.

“Series of Tubes.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 04 Apr. 2011.

Sharp, John E. “With Net Neutrality, Freedom through Regulation Is Not an Oxymoron.”

Journal of Internet Law (2009). Print.

“A Virtual Counter-Revolution.” Economist. Sept. 4, 2010. Vol. 396 Issue 8698, p75-77.

United States, FCC Docket 09-93

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia for Android Review

Written by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert contributors, the Britannica Encyclopedia is regarded as the most scholarly of encyclopedias (it even beats out Wikipedia!).  This incredible gift to society has become mobile,  hitting the Android Market in a full and trial version.

Using the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia for Android for the last week and a half, I have to tell you, it is an amazing information tool to hold in the palm of your hand. Back in the day, you had to carry the whole mass of some 20 volumes of books in order to hold the knowledge you can now hold on your phone. Thanks to the developers at the Paragon Software Group, the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia for Android is one of the most useful phone applications I have ever had.

Sitting around the table, chatting with friends has given me multiple opportunities to utilize the Britannica Encyclopedia. A friend would ask what a certain group of people believed spiritually and I would offer my knowledge gained from the encyclopedia application. I was even able to do these searches in places where a data connection was not available because the entire application is stored offline right on my phone.

One of the greatest features in the application is the ability to not only search for whatever you are interested in, but it allows you to do even further research by allowing you to click on words that are used to explain what you are searching, and dig deeper into those words and their descriptions as well.

The only complaint I have is the search button on my phone was not bound to the search feature of the Britannica application. If it were, this would allow for quicker and easier searches instead of having to reach up to the top left and press the search button.

There isn’t a lot to say about the application aside from how incredibly useful it is. In the time that I was able to spend with the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, I found it quick, easy, and powerful. Never once did the application force close. If you are in search of knowledge about the human endeavor, a know-it-all and wanting to improve, or love to research, the $19.99 price tag on the Android market should not stop you. For everyone else, there is a free trial out there so give it a try!

The Ultimate Tablet Guide – Spring 2011

“Which tablet should I buy?” That seems to be the question a lot of people are asking.  The one tablet that fits all my needs continues to elude me. This article is to help guide those of you who are in this same situation and are still waiting for the right tablet to come along. In the meantime, here’s a list of the best tablets out now or coming in the very near future to help you in your search.

Motorola Xoom

Price: $600 with Wifi, $800 with 3G/4G
Android Version: 3.0 Honeycomb
Processor: 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual Core
Screen: 10.1” WXGA 1280×800
Front-Facing Camera: 2MP
Rear Camera: 5MP 720p HD video support
Storage: 32 GB Internal
Memory: 1 GB
Sensors: GPS, Bluetooth 2.1, accelerometer, magnetometer, light sensor, gyroscope, barometer
Ports: HDMI out, Micro USB 2.0, 3.5mm Audio Jack
Carrier: Verizon (GSM version coming soon)
Release Date: Available now!

The Motorola Xoom is Google’s flagship tablet to usher in the new version of Android, Honeycomb 3.0. The Xoom is a great piece of hardware.

BUY IT? If you don’t mind dropping $600 to $800, you won’t be disappointed.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Price: Unknown
Android Version: 3.0 Honeycomb
Processor: 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual Core
Screen: 10.1” WXGA 1280×800
Front-Facing Camera: 2MP
Rear Camera: 8MP 1080p HD video support
Storage: 16/32 GB Internal
Memory: 1 GB
Sensors: Accelerometer, light sensor, gyroscope, digital compass
Ports: 3.5mm Audio Jack
Carrier: Unknown
Release Date: March 2011

There is not a lot of solid info out about the Galaxy Tab 10.1, but we do know that it is very similar to the Xoom. The back of the tablet is the only real difference as it has a molded shape to it.

BUY IT? If it costs less than the Xoom, it is the tablet to buy.

LG G-Slate

Price: Unknown/Competitively
Android Version: 3.0 Honeycomb
Processor: 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual Core
Screen: 8.9” WXGA 1280×720 3D Capable
Front-Facing Camera: None
Rear Camera: Two 5MP cameras, 3D/1080p HD picture/video recording
Storage: 32 GB Internal
Memory: 1 GB
Sensors: Accelerometer, gyroscope, Micro USB
Ports: 3.5mm Audio Jack
Carrier: T-Mobile
Release Date: March 2011

Price is key here as well. If you don’t mind a slightly smaller screen and the price is right, this tablet will do well for you. If LG decides that their fancy 3D cameras are worth jacking up the price for, I would stay clear of this tablet. Unless you buy into the 3D craze, of course…

BUY IT? This tablet will most likely be over-priced because of the dual-cameras and 3D display. Probably not the best buy unless you dig the 3D.

Notion Ink Adam

Price: $350 w/WiFi + LCD, $425 w/WiFi  + LCD + 3G, $500 w/WiFi + Pixel Qi, $550 w/WiFi + Pixel Qi + 3G
Android Version: 2.2 Froyo + Eden Custom UI
Processor: 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual Core
Screen: 10.1” WXGA 1024×600
Camera: 3.2 MP rotating camera, capable of front and rear viewing
Storage: 8 GB Internal
Memory: 1 GB
Sensors: HDMI-out, two USB 2.0 Hub(for peripherals/drives), Accelerometer, gyroscope, Micro USB, Mini SD, SIM
Ports: 3.5mm Audio Jack
Carrier: N/A
Release Date: Available now!

The Notion Ink team has been one of the few companies to really shake up the industry. With a large and dedicated following,  cheap price, solid hardware,  and a slightly different form factor, the Adam is a tablet that is definitely worth considering. The Pixel-Qi model allows for E-ink style viewing, as well as the usual full color display. With two USB hubs and HDMI-out, you can dock this tablet to any screen in your house, hook up the mouse and keyboard, and have a full workstation in minutes. The software is a little rough, but much can be done to counter-act this. Currently running Froyo 2.2, Notion Ink has promised the release of Honeycomb 3.0 as soon as possible.

BUY IT? If you are a nerd, this is a great choice. The hardware is solid, the possibilities are unlimited, and Honeycomb is on it’s way. If you love tinkering, this tablet is for you. Just look at the price!

HP TouchPad

Price: Unknown/Competitively
Android Version: HP WebOS 3.0
Processor: 1.2GHz Snapdragon Dual Core
Screen: 9.7” WXGA 1024×768
Front-Facing Camera: 1.3MP support for video calling
Rear Camera: None
Storage: 16/32 GB Internal
Memory: 1 GB
Sensors: Accelerometer, gyroscope,
Ports: 3.5mm Audio Jack, Micro USB
Carrier: Unknown
Release Date: March 2011

HP is making their first big jump into the tablet market with the HP TouchPad. The TouchPad has some incredibly smooth software and beautiful hardware. It seems that the TouchPad may be one of the best alternatives to the iPad’s ease of use.

BUY IT? Want something simple? Sleek? Easy to use? Want something like an iPad without the crazy control of Apple? Buy this tablet.

HTC Flyer

Price: Unknown
Android Version: 2.2 Froyo with HTC Sense
Processor: 1.5GHz Snapdragon Dual Core
Screen: 7” 1024 X 600
Front-Facing Camera: 1.3MP
Rear Camera: 5MP
Storage: 32 GB Internal
Memory: 1 GB
Sensors: G-sensor, ambient light sensor, digital compass, gyroscope, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS
Ports: Micro SD, Micro USB, 3.5mm Audio Jack
Carrier: Multiple
Release Date: March 2011

Looking for something different? The HTC Flyer is just that. The Flyer includes a “magic pen” that allows for very accurate gestures and control of the tablet. Touch up photos, write hand-written letters, and paint a masterpiece with this device. It may seem gimmicky, but this all depends on how HTC implements the pen.

One issue is that on it’s release, the HTC Flyer will not have Honeycomb 3.0. This will be a disadvantage in the short-term, one that HTC hopefully remedies with a future release of Honeycomb.

BUY IT? I am on the fence for this one, but if you are looking for a smaller form factor, HTC almost always has great products. If it gets Honeycomb and the price is right, go for it.

Asus Transformer and Slider

Price: $399 – $699
Android Version: 3.0 Honeycomb with MyWave UI
Processor: 1 GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual Core
Screen: 10.1” 1280 X 800
Front-Facing Camera: 1.2MP
Rear Camera: 5MP
Storage: 32 GB Internal
Memory: 1 GB
Sensors: Bluetooth
Ports: HDMI-out, USB hub, Micro SD, 3.5mm Audio Jack
Carrier: Multiple
Release Date: March 2011

The Asus Transformer and Slider could be winners. With a docking station utilizing the Transformer as a 10 inch screen, a full QWERTY keyboard, and a mouse pad, the Transformer could be a very powerful workstation. When it is time to play, just ditch the docking station and have fun with the power of the Tegra 2 in your hands!

The Asus Slider has identical internal specs. The key difference is that the Slider always gives you access to a keyboard by allowing the screen to slide up, revealing the slim QWERTY underneath. The Slider is still a slim tablet, even with the keyboard. Perfect note-taker, anyone?

BUY IT? Definitely, as long as the price stays below $700. The ability to dock the Transformer into a full workstation with a keyboard and mouse pad is awesome. For the Slider, the concept of a slide out keyboard on a tablet is great. You’ll have to wait till April for these guys, but it might be worth it.

Viewsonic G-Tablet

Price: $350-$400
Android Version: 2.2 Froyo with Tap N’ Tap UI
Processor: 1 GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual Core
Screen: 10.1” 1024 X 600
Front-Facing Camera: 1.3MP
Rear Camera: None
Storage: 16 GB Internal
Memory: 512 MB
Sensors: Bluetooth
Ports: HDMI out, USB hub, Micro SD, 3.5mm Audio Jack, Mini USB 2.0
Carrier: N/A
Release Date: Available now!

The Viewsonic G-Tablet is one of the first tablets to arrive with the Tegra 2 platform, along with the Notion Ink Adam. After reading review after review, I am almost convinced I should buy this tablet. The initial software was very poor, but Viewsonic has updated the software and the functionality has greatly improved. On top of that, XDA-Developers have many ROMs available that you can load yourself and complete refresh and enhance the experience.

If you are looking for something easily accessible (the G-Tablet is sold at many chain stores), cheap, and pretty darn powerful, this is the tablet to buy. One problem is that many have complained about the very poor viewing angles and quality of the screen.

BUY IT? If you can get over the screen, love to tinker, and can load ROMs, this tablet has a lot of potential! NERDS: BUY!

What Not to Buy

Let’s start off with some basics. No one wants a resistive touchscreen. For those who don’t know what this means, I am talking about the ridiculously horrible touchscreens of years ago that had you practically hyper extending your pointer finger just to push a simple on-screen button. Sadly, this type of screen is still being used today and is the culprit behind almost every tablet under $200.

Tablets that are sub-$200 are most likely not worth buying. They usually originate from China and are knockoffs of true tablets. Slow and buggy software usually comes with the package.

DO NOT BUY:

  1. iPed, iRobot, APad or EPad tablets – COMPLETE JUNK
  2. Anything that does not specify “CAPACITIVE” screen
  3. Tablets bought at Toys R’ Us or Walgreen’s

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