Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fun with Tasker Part II: Covert mugshots!

Okay Blog, I've been neglecting you. Today, I'll outline a neat little trick once again using the amazing automation tool, Tasker.

First, I've an admission to make. My phone doesn't use one of those coded lockscreens. There's a couple reasons for this... I don't have time to deal with it, and it's far too easy to get around those screens by looking at a screen at a shallow angle and seeing where the fingerprints are.

That said, my phone hardly is lacking in the security department. I've written a few pretty involved scripts in Tasker that will, when I text the phone a secret phrase, turn my phone into an information-gathering powerhouse.

Specifically in this post I'm going to describe how I can covertly and remotely grab photos from the front and rear cameras on my phone as well as see the ugly mug of the last person who unlocked my screen, and have those photos quietly emailed to me. This can be an awesome tool if your phone is stolen or if you just want to know who the last person to unlock your screen was.

Let's get started!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Still alive!

I'm still here! Work has been taking up a lot of my time as of late, and I've resumed my Cisco studies. My goal is to be able to take the CCNA exam at the end of August. I'm already well versed in ICND1 (which I'm halfway through re-reviewing now) and I'll commit 3 weeks to studying ICND2 before taking the CCNA exam.

Helping motivate me is my friend Bob, who recently went to work for Google. He's studying for the CCNA too, and we're meeting weekly via Google+'s new Hangout system to discuss our progress.

For those of you still interested in Android phone news, check out this article by AnandTech:

As usual for AnandTech, the review is excellent.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Android Invasion: My impressions of our new Neato XV-11 robotic vacuum

So, my girlfriend has always been saying that the one thing she wishes she had more of is time. She joked around with me several months back about getting a Roomba to make life a little easier for us, and my curiosity was piqued.

Tomorrow is her birthday, so I went all-out and bought a Neato XV-11 robotic vacuum. I've only played with it for about an hour, so consider this more of a "hands-on" review than anything thorough.

First, important "good boyfriend" tip. Never get your girlfriend something that you're even more excited about getting than she is, even if she said she wanted it. She certainly likes it, but I've definitely been given the "oh I see why you got it" treatment. I really did get it for her because I wanted to see her smile as a machine cleaned the house for her, but since it benefits the both of us, perhaps it wasn't exactly the best birthday present choice. Duly noted!

Read on past the break for my review.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Empire Strikes Back: Qualcomm's Dual-Core benchmarked

AnandTech has gotten their hands on a Qualcomm prototype, brought it home and benchmarked it. The dual-core, 1.5 Ghz development phone runs at max clock speeds and isn't a perfect example of what we'll see in production handsets, but it does give a taste of what Qualcomm has in store for the mobile industry later this year, and the results are impressive. This unit also packs a next-gen Adreno 220 GPU and is optimized for graphics performance.

Take a look!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Necromancer

The title of this blog post also happens to be the name of the book I'm reading. Perhaps I've just been inspired to do a little necromancy of my own, but with less cadavers and more circuit board.

I'll explain; let's start with the fact that something's been bugging me. My desktop PC does not have a discreet GPU (video card).

You might be thinking, "WTF, and you call yourself an electronics freak?!" Well, you've got me there, but I do have reasons. One primary reason is that I'm not a gamer anymore. I do almost everything on this laptop nowadays, and I only took my desktop out of storage a few weeks ago so that I could get a decent VM box running in the basement next to my HTPC and my Cisco lab hardware.

However, my integrated GPU (despite it being a reasonably beefy AMD HD 3200) just ain't cuttin' it for some of the video processing and RemoteFX stuff I'd like to mess around with.

Fortunately, I have an NVIDIA 8800 GTS in a static bag that should do what I need it to do. Unfortunately, it's going to take a little more than me popping this sucker into my PC to get it running.

Problem #1: The graphics card does not have an enclosure for the heat sink; the fan cannot circulate air to keep it cool.

Problem #2: It's damaged goods. (Okay, I lied, the card isn't entirely dead. But someone who brings sick people back to life is a doctor, and that's a lot less fun than being a Necromancer!) It displays bands of pixels vertically across the screen that are visible during the boot process, which means it's a hardware issue, not a driver problem. Additionally, it usually won't boot into Windows, causing the system to hang when the operating system is starting up. On the rare chance it does make the boot into Windows, graphics are horribly distorted.

So, I'm screwed, right? Hell no! I wouldn't pass up an opportunity like this! Read on to see how I got this old workhorse running again.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Smartbench 2011: your multi-core benchmark

Smartbench 2011 is now on the Android market! I encourage everyone who likes to benchmark to download and use this excellent tool. (Insert disclaimer: benchmarks are benchmarks, nothing more; they should not be used as proof for anything.)

It's the successor to Smartbench 2010, which I've done a lot of testing with on behalf of it's developer, Acei, the admin over at Smartbench 2010 demonstrated itself to be an excellent benchmark, working far better than some of the alternatives, (coughQuadrantcough).

Smartbench 2011 takes it a step further with multi-core support, as well as a really cool benchmark score aggregator that displays the scores of like-clocked phones and those running the same custom ROM averaged together. Thus, not only does it show you what phones are performing best in the benchmark, but what ROMs and overclocks are dominating the field.

Even if you don't have a dual-core phone, it's a worthy improvement over Smartbench 2010, and a far cry better than the-benchmark-that-shall-not-be-named.

Tegra 2 vs OMAP 4 vs Cortex-A8 vs 2nd-gen Snapdragon

AndroidAndMe has done up a pretty decent comparo of the current Android smartphone kings:

Ugh, my blog posts are getting lazy. I've been getting my networking lab put back together though and hopefully I'll be able to start doing some real posts again!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

MWC Overload!

I'm just going to drop in here and say that some of the stuff I've been reading from MWC is absolutely insane.

Tegra 3 chips demoed?!

TI OMAP 4430's upclocked SGX 540 outperforming Tegra 2?!

Galaxy S II's Mali-400MP GPU benchmarked!

Qualcomm's successor to Scorpion?!

Cortex-A15 news!

As you can see, AnandTech wins my approval for the best articles. As usual, they provide well-written, well-researched articles that manage to dig up tidbits of SoC information that I'm not able to find anywhere else (and ultimately are accurate!) I'll give AndroidAndMe the runner-up because when it comes to NVIDIA's Tegra platform, Taylor Wimberly keeps his ear to the ground.

I recommend reading through AnandTech's Smartphones section for some great info as to what the SoC future holds in store for us (and the future looks bright!) If you're pondering getting a Tegra 2 phone, trust that AndroidAndMe will keep you up to date on any developments.

I hate to say it boys and girls, but these guys have got everything covered... I've got no inside scoop this time around. That said, I'm glad to see more tech blogs take a much more interested and informed approach to SoC comparison compared to a year ago, and manufacturers are releasing much more information about their chips now that the mobile market is interested in more than just clock speeds.

Thank you, tech bloggers. I originally wrote my Hummingbird vs Snapdragon article out of frustration with the amount of poor information available to those wanting to compare or understand ARM hardware. Since then, perhaps due to the increased availability of information available by the SoC manufacturers, we're seeing much-more informed articles about ARM hardware making it out to the masses.

I may end up on the sidelines, but I'm happy knowing that readers have a lot better reading material to base their smartphone investment upon!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fun with Tasker Part I: Weather-adaptive alarm clock.

One of those things I always dreamed of having was an alarm clock that woke me up early on those mornings where Mother Nature decided to hand me a nice blizzard before work or school to struggle through.

A couple months back I started playing with Tasker, an amazing Android application that you've probably already heard me gush about in previous posts. In short, for about the price of a Value Meal at McDonalds, Tasker allows you to set up triggers on your phone that you can use to carry out a virtually limitless set of actions. And really, that'll pay for itself, because you can set it up to do countless things for you that other applications charge for. I've got a bunch of profiles I've set up and I'll be sharing them here on my blog over a period of time.

So I'll cut to the chase. I used Tasker to create a weather-adaptive alarm clock, and posted the profile on Tasker's Wiki page, so feel free to try it out!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

More on Samsung; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Well my last post was the good... now we're about to see some of the bad and ugly. I've been on a lot in the last couple months, (I've got over 100 posts there). Today an anonymous tipster posted some insight into why none of the Samsung Galaxy S phones have received Android 2.2 (FroYo) officially yet.

Anyhow, read past the break, I'll let his post speak for itself.