Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Google Android

I figure it's about time to give some love to our Google Android team, Android Connect! We've kinda kept it under the radar for a long time, but since we've already submitted our project to google for Phase 1 of their Android coding competition, I figure it's ok to talk about it now.

Our idea was to use the GPS functionality built into Android to allow phones to sense and track proximity to each other. The analogy we used in development was an infection spreading through a population. Not the most user friendly analogy, so the one we submitted under was a smile passed from person to person =). We have a webservice which accepts updates from any device running our Android Connect application, which will then track location, and infection. One of the portions that I'm working on at the moment is building an emulator to simulate a bunch of Android Connect devices roaming around downtown Honolulu. That way when a new user joins up and gives their GPS updates, if they're in downtown Honolulu, they can see their infection spread across the simulated devices in real time.

If you want to check out our Android Connect project, you please visit this website: Android Connect

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

MacBook Pro - Pros and Cons

* Cost - There is no doubt that buying high end Apple hardware has a high sticker shock. The only way I could justify it to myself is that as a computer professional with delusions of grandeur and an overinflated sense of self worth, I deserve a high end machine =P
* Weight - The MacBook Pro is a heavy laptop. But that's ok, I think of myself as physically stronger than your average geek.
* Crappy Driver support for Win XP - For such a powerful machine with dual boot capability, Apple has some Win XP graphics drivers that are far behind the times. I mean, why can't they roll Nvidia's latest drivers into their bootcamp driver package?
* OSX Quirks - Yes yes yes, OSX is pretty cool, but it does have some annoyances. Luckily all of the ones that have bothered me so far are solved with some nifty 3rd party addons. I mean really...... who at Apple decided that Apple+Tab will bring an application to the forefront, but not give focus to the last window.... really...

* Build Quality - This laptop is the most well constructed laptop that I have sampled, and while I didn't take the time to look at any Asus or Acer laptops, the MacBook Pro clearly *feels* better constructed than a Dell XPS or Latitude, or Sony Vaio.
* Keyboard - This is the best laptop that I have typed on yet. Keyboards are like mice, every person has their preferences. For me, the keys feel solid, with just the right amount of *springiness* and response. Typing is crisp.
* Looks - There is no doubt that when considered from all angles, the MacBook Pro is better looking than all other laptops in its price range. Lately, I've been more into minimalist designs in the things I buy, and Apple's current designs tickle me.
* High End Components - 2.6ghz proc with 6mb cache, 2gb ram (soon to be 4gb), 250gb hd, 802.11n, 512mb graphics card, LED screen.
* OSX - I consider OSX to be a selling point. To me, it feels that OSX took the GUI usability of Windows XP, included functionality from the *nix world (like multiple desktops), and added a heaping spoonful of eye candy. So far, it's seemed well put together.
* Nifty Things - Little things that make me go "hey, that's pretty cool". Examples are the magnet power connector, the backlit keyboard, the autodimming screen, the good keyboard, etc.
* Multitouch - I so thought that multitouch was just a gimmick. When I added a 3rd party addon called Multiclutch, it put multitouch firmly in the category of a must have. I know that Firefox has addons that do gestures, but you still need to click and drag. Multitouch is faster. Now only if firefox can have the appropriate Cocoa "hooks" so that I can have my multitouch AND firefox extensions, I will be in web browsing nirvana. Seriously, I only use safari because I can extend the multitouch functionality with the multiclutch addon.

Laptops only

My personal computing life has taken a change recently. I have moved from a homebuilt desktop only kinda guy, to a laptop-everywhere-I-go kinda guy. It all started when my graphics card died on my desktop, and I realized that in order to fix my pc I would need to rebuild it from scratch as my components were 2-3 generations old. So I figure I'll try a laptop. I originally bought a Gateway MT3422 from Best Buy, and I firmly believe that as of today, it is the most laptop that you can buy for the money.

Then came a lan party. I haven't been to one of those things in years, and indeed it had been about 2 years since I had played a pc game. Holy crap I forgot how much fun gaming is! So since my trusty gateway had only integrated graphics, I decided I needed an even better newer laptop. I began looking around at the flagship laptops from Apple, Dell, Lenovo and Sony. Do you know what the interesting thing is? When you spec out a Sony, Dell, or Lenovo to equivalent specs of a MacBook pro, they end up being about the same price! With that in mind, and the fact that you can use bootcamp to dual boot WinXP/Vista with OSX, I figure... why not. So I splurged and bought the high end 15" MacBook Pro. 

I've had my MacBook pro for about a week now, and I can honestly say that it is tied with my first homebuilt pc as the finest piece of computing hardware that I have ever owned. It is totally worth the money that you pay.