Tech, Toys, and Tidbits

First:  So I spent some time setting up Google reader yesterday, and I have to say it’s a powerful product!  Combined with FeedR on my phone I can now read up on all my frequented sites from wherever I am.  It’s a thing of beauty!  I’d highly suggest anyone reading this give Reader a try.

Second:  My site here has been languishing a little since all the GW620 firmware development moved over to OpenEtna.  Not that I’m complaining – I think the OpenEtna project is waaay better than anything I was able to hack together on my own.  It just goes to show the power of open source and collaborative development.  However, it does mean that I need to come up with some new stuff to post about – more on that later.

Third:  Now that OpenEtna has stabilized a bit, and we don’t need to wipe every time we install a new version, I’ve actually spent some time getting my phone all set up.  Here’s a brief rundown of my rig:

  1. Launcher:
    • LauncherPro.  I know AWD (the default launcher on the firmware) is amazing, but LauncherPro adds a few key features that I just can’t live without – mostly in the widget department, and the triple-dock.
  2. Desktop Layout:
    • 5 desktops, defaulted on 3. 
    • Desktop 1 – FeedR widget, full screen
    • Desktop 2 – People widget (contacts) full screen
    • Desktop 3 – My main screen.  Google search, weather + news, calendar, gtasks, and a few misc icons.
    • Desktop 4 – Friend widget (Facebook + Twitter feeds) full screen
    • Desktop 5 – Games
    • Dock 1 – Phone – GMail – AppDrawer – Market – Browser
    • Dock 2 – Listen – Audible – AppDrawer – Music – Movies
    • Dock 3 – MPDroid – Mythmote – AppDrawer – Nav – Maps
  3. Everyday apps:
    • AppBrain Market.  Ah, the way the market should be.  I think the official market is moving in this direction, but for now I’m sticking with AppBrain
    • Audible.  I loves me some audiobooks!  Having Audible on my phone means that my iPod hasn’t seen use in weeks.
    • ConnectBot.  SSH from my phone?  Yes please!  I run my home net, my media centers, my websites, and a few of my clients on Linux.  Having SSH on my phone means I don’t always need to grab my laptop if I need to fix/change/fiddle with servers.
    • ConvertPad. Conversion calculator extrordinaire.  Mostly used for mpg-to-l/100km conversions.
    • DrupalEditor.  Lets me edit/maintain my various sites from my phone in a pinch.
    • Evernote.  Keep notes/photos/websnips in the cloud.  Great for all the stuff you just need sometimes.  Ferry schedules, and the like.
    • FeedR.  Simply the best RSS/GoogleReader client for the phone.  I’ve tried a few others, but none can compare.
    • GTasks.  Why Google doesn’t have a Google Tasks client built in to Android is something I will never understand, but this 3rd party app works fine.
    • Listen.  Podcasty goodness delivered straight to the phone.  It’s like RSS for podcasts.  Pure brilliance!
    • Google Maps and Google Navigate.  Must have apps.  Hell, Nav is half the reason I wanted to get up to a current version of android – it doesn’t work on 1.5.
    • Mint.  Financial managment in the cloud.  Beautiful!  Instant access to our budgets and balances from anywhere.
    • MPDroid.  Control my MPD based music system from my phone.  It’s even better than many of the desktop clients, but fits in your phone.  It’s not as powerful as Aria or Theramin, but comes pretty damn close and fits in my pocket.
    • Rogers MyAccount.  Makes it easy to keep an eye on my data usage.
    • Mythmote.  Turns my phone in to a remote control for my MythTV based media centers.  Now Pixy and I don’t have to fight over the remote anymore.
    • PocketCloud.  VNC+RDP client for Android.  Best I’ve used so far, though the full version is a bit expensive for an android app.
    • TD.  Banking client.  It’s not as rich in the planning dept as Mint is, but it lets me do transfers and pay bills.
    • Transdroid.  Keep an eye on my rTorrent server.
    • WikiMobile.  Optimized access to Wikipedia.  Great for looking stuff up when I’m out and about and in the need of factoids.
    • XDA.  By far the easiest way to keep up to date on the XDA-Developers forums.
  4. Games!  This list is totally transient.  More than anything else on my phone the games come and go.  Here’s a list of what’s on there right now:
    • Alchemy.  Mix and match elements to create new elements.  Amusing, funny, and brain twisting logic game. 
    • Angry Birds.  The classic, now for android.  The new version doesn’t run so fast, though I hear with a modest overclock it’s back to being playable
    • Antibody.  Real time Risk, with upgrades, in the microscopic realm.  Great fun!
    • Doom.  Installed more as a demo than to play.  I had to upgrade my computer so I could play Doom when it came out, so having it on my phone is a trip
    • Dungeon Wonders.  Haven’t actually had a chance to play this yet, but it’s supposed to be a pretty good jrpg
    • Evac.  Stylized modern pacman.  Good fun.  May even purchase it.
    • Everlands.  I installed all the hexage ‘lite’ games I could find on the market.  This one is the only one that I’m not immediately considering purchasing.  I’ll have to give it a few more days, and run thru the tutorial, before I decide though.
    • Galcon.  Real-time Risk in space.  Great fun, but I think I prefer Antibody.  This has more game modes, but Antibody has upgrades which lend it a more epic feel.
    • PVZ.  Unsanctioned an illegitimate Plants vs Zombies clone for Android?  Wow!  Popcap should be embarrassed that a lone hacker managed to get their signature game out for Android before they even tried.  Booo Popcap!  I’ll still buy the official PvZ when Popcap eventually gets off their ass and releases it, but for now PVZ fills the void nicely.  This was removed from the Market almost as soon as it was published, but if you google for “pvz.apk” you should be able to find it.
    • Radiant.  Kick-ass shooter!  The best I’ve seen for Android so far.  Lots of different weapons to buy, and flawless controls even on devices without multitouch. 
    • RoboDefense.  Simply the best tower defence game on Android.  I’ve tried a few others, and keep coming back to this one.  If you like the genre, then you owe it to yourself to check this one out
    • Scrambled Net.  Back in the day I played a variation of this game on my PalmOS devices.  Great logic puzzler with an IT theme. 
    • SimCity.  Didn’t even know this existed till recently.  Looks a LOT like they ported the original Simcity to Android.  Sadly, this one doesn’t show up in the market for me so I’m running a less-than-legit version.  I’ll have to find some way to pay for it if I end up playing it for more than a few mins.  So far I find the interface very klunky and not well adapted to Android, but I’ll give it a few more plays to see if it’s worth keeping.
    • Sims3.  Meh.  Thought I’d give it a try, even though it’s not visible in the Market for me, so I’m running a pir8 version.  Buuut, I never did like any of the sims game, and still have a bit of a hate-on for EA for closing the best online (or offline, for that matter) car game and then adding insult to injury by trying to get me signed up for The Sims Online instead.  RIP Motor City Online.  10 years later and there’s still no game that comes close to the level of car customization you offered.
    • Totemo.  Played the first few levels, and it seems like it could be good.  I’ll finish playing the demo and see if it gets harder, but so far it’s a little too simplistic.
    • UnblockMe.  Classic “free the car from a jammed parking lot” game.  Very well executed, and has some devilishly hard levels.
    • WordFeud.  Multiplayer Scrabble via the cloud?  YES PLEASE!