Android: More recommended apps for the Australian user

Just a quick post to recommend useful apps:

  • Credit Usage, paid app but very good for those of us on a cap plan. Enter your call/text/data rates, and you’ll be able to keep a close eye on your credit. Even allows you to mark friends to make free calls on (e.g. 3/Vodafone users), but it’s useless for Telstra users like me.
  • Brut Google Maps – turn by turn sounds useful, but I’ll comment when I actually have a chance to test it out while driving.
  • Barcode Scanner – QR scanning beats the tedious input of long URLs into your mobile phone anyday, highly recommended. Barcodes are fun to have and show off, but largely unnecessary to me in daily life.
  • Handcent SMS – I wasn’t really tempted to use it at first, but one annoying feature on the default Sense SMS app convinced me right away. I was in the middle of a phone call and the SMS alert began playing right into my ear, making me unable to hear anything the other party was saying for about ten seconds (yes I have a loooong alert tone). Quick research concluded I was unable to do anything about this, but Handcent allows you to silence any text alerts while you’re in the middle of a conversation, spiffy answer and it’s a free app – win!

And one other thing: why can’t the lock screen wallpaper be customised to another one?! I absolutely refuse to pay for an app for the sole purpose of changing my damn lock screen wallpaper.

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Basketball: Thoughts before the next game

I had a pretty horrible session on Wednesday evening, and it really got on my nerves for the next couple of days. Not that it was a bad thing, since I actually took time out to think about deficiencies in my game, and how I should improve upon them.

Random food for thought:

Minimising turnovers

  • Habit: I have this fond habit of making quick inbound passes when a teammate is cutting into the paint – I honestly think this is an aftereffect from reading too much Dear Boys manga; damn Takumi and his awesome passes!
  • Problem: Conveniently forgot the simple fact that not everyone is used to catching heavy straight passes. Most times, it ends up either going out of bounds or a loss of possession.
  • Solution: Minimise passes of this style, especially when I know for a fact that some guys are not used to this sort of pass. Lester and Stan are the guys who can finish good with those kinds of passes, other guys are not as comfortable with it.

Being more aggressive on the offense

  • Habit: I tend to lapse into a pass-first, shoot-less mentality on occasion.
  • Problem: I get less involved on offense, scoring goes down (especially if teammates do not score after passing to them) and we end up losing games.
  • Solution: I’m not a good point guard (yet), and I don’t have to force myself to be one – let the passing sort itself out! Give the ball to a teammate, help create offense by running around or posting up if the movement is at a standstill. If not, find enough space to get my own shot.

Defending shooters better

  • Habit: I have this habit of giving up space to the attacker while defending.
  • Problem: If a confident shooter comes along, it becomes an open invitation to hit shots.
  • Solution: Close him off, force him to drive – especially if the guy is not good at that. Funnel him to the baseline or his uncomfortable side, make him get a bad shot off.

Going for the rebound more actively

  • Habit: I tend to lapse and not go for the rebound sometimes.
  • Problem: Lose the offensive rebound, lose another possession.
  • Solution: Screen my guy out RIGHT AWAY when a shot gets off, and get the board if I can.

Saturday’s session ended up being much better, and I believe part of it was due to a conscious desire to execute the ideas I had. Give it a try the next time you have a bad game, I’m pretty sure this will help somewhat.

On another note, I think my vertical leap is still about the same as it was ten years ago. Should I be relieved that it’s the same, or sad that there’s been minimal improvement?

Android: Tweaking the Desire & recommended apps

Day 2 of having the Desire, and I’m finding that the phone itself is pretty awesome. Tweaking the phone takes a bit of work, because you have to think about what widgets and apps on the main screens would suit your needs, more of an accessibility issue than anything else.

To do a brief compare & contrast between interfaces, seeing as I have both the iPhone 4 and the Desire:

  • iPhone’s interface is more simplified, not much customisation and easy to use, everything is relatively intuitive, seeing as you don’t have much choices to begin with. (Unless you want to jailbreak it of course!)
  • HTC’s Android provides lots of room for tweaking even before rooting, but especially so after it’s been rooted. Allowing widgets is a great thing, and one thing I like is about keeping installed apps separate from the home screen – put stuff you want within easy access, and let the rest of the rarely used apps stew in that list. Having the Desire just makes me want to play around with it more, to make it do what I want.

If you’re looking for help, the HTC help for Desire should be the first place to begin. Next up would be Google, and the various forums that pop up as search results.

Audio alert customisation’s not exactly very intuitive so I thought I’ll explain it here for other people. The procedure’s basically the same throughout:

  • Connect your phone to the computer via USB
  • Now this part differs according to what you want.
    • If it’s an alarm tone, the folder should be named Alarms.
    • Text messaging alert? The folder should be named Notifications.
    • Ringtone? The folder should be named Ringtones.
  • Dump the file(s) inside the folder.
  • Disconnect the USB connection, and the phone will show those files as choices thereafter.

Simple, but I probably wouldn’t have thought of it on my own. Might’ve been easier for HTC to create the folders in advance, so we know where to dump.

Recommended apps:

  • JuiceDefender: very useful, gives options to save battery e.g. turning off 3G/Wi-Fi during specified hours (esp when you sleep!), tweak CPU speed, good stuff when free, great stuff when you pay a few bucks for it.
  • Tasker: ultimate in customisation for Android phones, choose all sorts of situations and corresponding actions you want taken e.g. use Wi-Fi automatically when you’re at home, set a super annoying morning, lengthen the screen timeout when you’re reading ebooks, possibilities are seriously endless – you just have to come up with it. That being said, super customisation takes a bit of work, and you should look at the Tasker wiki for readily downloadable profiles.
  • 3G Watchdog: Watch your data usage – very important especially in Australia. Use in conjunction with JuiceDefender, cut your 3G usage once it hits your monthly quota. Also works as a widget on the home screen so you can monitor it all the time. One note, you should set the
  • Battery Widget: always good to have around, seeing as the default battery icon is very very tiny.
  • AppBrain: good place for app hunting.
  • Whatsapp: Think of it as text messaging via the internet, very popular alternative to MSN on smartphones. Did you know this is free on Android?
  • Vlingo: Speak into the phone and get stuff done, how cool is that? I spoke: “Text Ellen I will be home late don’t wait for me to have dinner”. Dialog came up confirming which of Ellen’s numbers I wanted to use, and the message was 100% accurate, all ready to be sent.
  • Aldiko: ebook reader (.epub anyone?), rave reviews seen but yet to test on my own.
  • Anti-Theft: F-Secure provides an easy way to remotely lock, locate and even wipe your phone just by sending a text – handy stuff IMO.
  • Pro Basketball: NBA news and scores, choose your favourite team even. Must-have for every NBA fan. CELTICS HOORAH!
  • Angry Birds: One of the most popular games on the iPhone, which involves launching grumpy red birds on a catapult to knock stuff over. Did you know the full version is free on Android? Check out the trailer below.
  • Not recommended – app killers: these apps provide an interface for you to kill apps, think of Task Manager in Windows. You should not be using one because it messes with the way Android works. Read the lengthy FAQ provided by Geek For Me if you’re really interested.

That’s all I have for now, more recommendations to come in a later post when I find really good stuff.

Android: How I rooted my Telstra Desire and upgraded to Froyo

So I finally got the HTC Desire via Telstra yesterday thanks to another of those everyday screwups; my order was placed last week but not delivered due to “unavailable stock” (but I wasn’t informed, and kept getting a perpetually delayed delivery date via their IVR) so I ended up “going to a local Telstra retailer” (read as: get all paperwork redone since it’s a new application) to get my Desire. Things like these happen so often here, I just go “So how do we fix this?” rather than asking “Why the fcuk did this happen?!”. One accident is a PITA, ten thousand accidents reduce you to numbness after awhile – life is trying to tell me something here.

Anyway.

One thing about the Telstra HTC Desire A8183 handsets being delivered at this stage, they do not contain Froyo, or the v2.2 firmware that has received excellent reviews everywhere. So if you’re interested in using Froyo on a Telstra Desire, be prepared to spend time and get the dirty work done. It took me about two hours in total, and I used a laptop (Windows XP Professional) for most of the install with relatively little problems.

Here’s basically what I did, with additional notes that I thought the guide should have covered:

  • Visit T-Mod and read the guides – several times.
  • Required Downloads: I used radio ROM 32.46.00.32U_5.10.05.17_2 and T-Mod 2.0 – read reviews on Whirlpool about 2.0 being more stable.
  • Setting up an ext3 partition on your SD card:
    • You need to download a stable live ISO of gparted and burn it as an image – do not burn it as a data CD!
    • Also, when reducing the size of the FAT partition in your SD card, change the field labelled Free space following (MiB) to 512 – do not change Free space preceding (MiB). Refer to the GParted screencap to see the screen in question, it’s labelled A closer look at the resize/move widget…
  • Preparation: unrevoked3 no longer requires installation, it’s a straight run .exe which confused me a little. All you need to do is to download the .exe file and the USB drivers, extract and head on to the next step.
  • Rooting your Desire: I used Method 2. One thing that was left out in step 1; unplug the phone after completion, then reboot it so that it goes back into normal instead leaving it as recovery mode with a white screen.
    After rooting is complete: I had a problem with busybox, and clicking on the “Problems” button and redownloading busybox fixed it.
  • ROM Installation: Follow the instructions to the exact letter and all should be good. You should note the Telstra APN issue however, I had problems checking my data usage on Telstra until I set my APN to the recommended settings.

The entire process wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, but it’s manageable so long as you follow the instructions. I’m still in the process of installing useful apps, tweaking stuff to enhance battery (details might be in another post). So that’s all there is to the root process, hopefully this helps some other person out there.

Basketball: Are you ready for Oct 26?

The first NBA season game for the Boston Celtics! Fully reloaded for the coming season with a surprisingly deep bench (as opposed to the previous season), will banner #18 be lifted before the CBA spoils everything?

Opponents, none other than the much-vaunted Miami Heat. Will the C’s triumph against the newly-minted superteam that boasts a backcourt of Wade + James?

  • Pick and roll looks to be a glaring weakness, especially when Perk is still out on rehab; Harangody and Erden are still learning how to hedge and recover, Shaq is probably never going to be good at defending a pick and roll. I can foresee him standing like a brick wall, and woe to the fellow who drives and slams into his bulk. That impact should take several years off the attacker’s lifespan heh.
  • Rondo will probably slaughter Chalmers, but if James or Wade take over as the 1, the massacre is probably going to go the other way round; I can’t foresee Rondo being able to guard Wade or James 1on1.
  • I’m hoping Lasme gets chosen for the 15th spot, so that we have a backup option when a defensive stopper is needed – especially when it comes to dudes like Wade/James/Kobe. Lasme feels like a taller TA on steroids who commits a lot less turnovers.
  • The Big Three look to be in excellent shape, so that evens things out a bit. KG is returning to his crazy trash talking monster mode, Pierce looks to be fitter this season and is moving well, Ray as always is cool and collected, making his shots with perfect precision and driving the transition breaks with smooth finishes.

Meanwhile, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Delonte to get healthy after the 10 game suspension! We’re definitely gonna need a guard who can run the offense. Nate has awesome offensive energy, but is still nowhere as good in distributing the ball right now. Bradley doesn’t look to be in shape anytime soon, which is a big disappointment to everyone including himself I bet.

And did I mention how impressive Marquis looks in preseason? Long range shots, ooh yeah! Big Baby is playing great too, hitting shots from midrange and showing great moves in the post. I hope Harangody keeps his mad shooting form up, those quick release shots sure are ugly but formidable as hell.

Now if only I can get League Pass soon dammit.

Wedding: Sorting the details #2

Just about time; updated portions bolded:

  • Date: 15 May 2011, Sunday.
  • Venue: Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) in Tecoma Pavilion. Got a letter earlier about scheduled public works, which turned out to be a false alarm.. for now. I’ll have to check back in March 2011 to confirm that my venue isn’t affected.
  • Celebrant: Met up with John Byrne over the weekend, who has an office setup in his own den (awesome!), and extremely organised+efficient – a man after my own heart. A good balance of humour and seriousness, sounds like what I need. Have a bunch of materials to go through, and next meeting will be in April 2011.
  • Sequence of events: A less sketchy idea of how I want things to go has been written down, with ideas on wet weather plans, and plans to conduct a rundown a week before actual.
  • Equipment setup: Met up with Peter from The Wedding Zone in August 2010, quotation obtained. In process of deciding stuff needed (chairs, accessories blah blah) with thoughts towards wet weather.
  • Wedding rings: I have confirmed my design, but there are two minor snags on V’s ring – 2.2mm width does not make engraving an easy job, and we need to size her ring finger according to US measurements pfft. My idea is to just buy the rings, and worry about engraving later. Got a reply from Larsen Jewellery that they’ll be able to assist with the engraving so that’s one step forward.
  • Wedding gown: V is ordering this via I-Ling from a supplier in China, measurements self-taken.
  • Guest list: Set reminders to confirm attendance for other overseas people at a later date, and am in process of trimming the guest list to a manageable size.
  • Photographer: Michael (aka TX) will be handling my actual day photography.
  • Airfare: Zhiming/Alvin/Nick/my parents have bought their air tickets via Emirates (thanks to Zhiming!) which takes some checks off the list. Still pending V’s family’s air tickets.
  • Accommodation: Deposit placed with Katz Apartments, pending payment of remainder.
  • Invitations: Have a rough idea of what I want, delegating to Stan for actual design.
  • Videographer: Stan volunteered to be one of the videographers, cool!
  • Makeup artist: To be done later.
  • Car hire: To be done later.
  • Florist: V likes the arrangements from Basia Puchalski, will be heading down to have a look and get quote.
  • Honeymoon: Possibly Tasmania!

More updates in another post.

Basketball: Great assists = good mood.

We were supposed to play at Balwyn yesterday evening, but got busted yesterday due to ongoing badminton sessions. Called around to other stadiums/complexes, all full out booked. Moral of the story? If you wanna play indoors, you’d better book the damn court.

Stan and I hopped down to Carlton Gardens just now for a bit of shooting, and somehow ended up playing 2v2 against two random dudes. They unfortunately got slaughtered pretty handily, seeing as Stan and I have been playing together regularly this year. Stan outlets to me, runs back in for a catch under the basket. If I can’t get a pass into him right away, I dribble and wait, or drive in. Stan’s defender jumps at me, I feed it in – easy!

Making pinpoint passes always gets me into a good mood; just enough to offset the disappointment from last night.