Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘google

Samsung Theatre, RSS-Less Google

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Anybody watch that Samsung Galaxy S4 launch last night on the Webcast from Radio City Music Hall in New York City?

Well, the latest episode of Smash it certainly was not.  I think the entire show could probably have used a dramaturg, but hey, what do I know? The last show I saw at Radio City Music Hall was Iron Maiden sometime around 1985.

But, if Samsung doesn’t exactly have a handle on the number of the thespian beast, they certainly do seem to have learned how to make smartphones.

Once I got past all the drama last night, I was ready to shell out a few hundred bucks to move back into the smartphone camp (I’m currently carrying an LG feature phone from Verizon, because unlike most people, I actually still use my cell phone to TALK to OTHER HUMAN BEINGS.)  I currently depend on an iPod Touch 5th gen for most of my tablet computing (news consumption, email, calendaring, shooter games, travel, etc.)

But at some point, I’m going to create my own harmonic computing convergence and try to come back to one device.

Of course, the price point for an unlocked Galaxy S4 will likely require a second mortage, and that’s if you can even find one.

So I’m also keeping an eye on the downmarket players like BLU Products, a little known player from whom I recently ordered an unlocked feature phone for $35 that I now use as my bat phone.

BLU is introducing a whole slate of new smartphones in April, entitled “Live View,” “Life One,” and “Life Play,” all of which will allegedly be sold unlocked on Amazon and range between $229 and $299.

The Life View model will include a 5.7-inch display (bigger than the Galaxy 5 at 5 inches), a 12-megapixel rear/5-megapixel front camera, 1GB RAM, 16GB of expandable storage, and also a 2,600Ah battery for those lonnngg plane rides to Bangalore.

I imagine that phone will be “good enough,” and you can learn more here on Engadget.

What’s apparently not good enough for Google is having an RSS reader. It was just announced that Google Reader was going to be taken out back to the Google woodshed and shot, as of July 1 of this year, a resultant casualty of Google’s annual “Spring Cleaning.”

To whit I ask, couldn’t they have found something less useful to “clean?”

Not to pile on, but this is a really dumb move for Google, if not for the bad PR value alone (and there’s been plenty of that). Google Reader was a beloved product, if only by the niche social digerati — you know, all those massive influencers with a big social media megaphone.

For my money, it’s a jaded move — Google’s not making any money off Reader, and RSS feeds are notoriously difficult to measure, so why not bury it in the Mountain View backyard? On the other hand, it would be nice for them to keep a useful tool that helps we bloggers keep our blogging sanity, and Reader does/did? just that.

C’est la Google vie…I’ve turned to Feedly online and on the iPod, and Reeder on the Mac, to assuage my soon-to-be Google Readerless existence.  So far, I’m digging the newspaper-ish like layout.  I just hope I can learn how to add and subtract feeds as easily as I was able to on the Google Reader cloud.

As for my post-SXSW-partum depression, the sun’s shining in Austin and I plan to get out and play some golf this weekend.  But I’ll just say this: For me, Best SouthBy ever.  I saw a lot of great speakers and sessions, talked to a lot of cool and interesting people, consumed some of my native city’s great food and drink, and enjoyed myself all the way around.

And for those of you who made it to the IBM party at Haven Saturday night, well how about that?  Definitely NOT your father’s IBM.

The bar she has been raised.

Turbo Imagines Searching Through His Facebook Graph

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Facebook had the world waiting for its news yesterday.

There was interminable hyperbole about what the announcement would bring.

Facebook was preparing to conquer the world of mobile.

Facebook would FINALLY be introducing a mobile phone.

Facebook was going to send a coding team to Mars to write a search engine for Martians.

That last part I made up.

But hey, why not, everyone else in the world was conjecturing what was the primary topic of the looming announcement?

Being a marketer, I was caught up in it like everybody else, and also just as much in the dark.

Which was kind of the point.

There’s no question Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has taken a few pages from the Steve Jobs “secrecy in marketing” playbook.

Announce you’re going to have an announce, be as positively vague as possible, and then wait for the speculation onslaught to begin.

In the end, it was all about search, which has for Facebook’s short life been one of its more miserable capabilities, so in that respect, the news was welcomed.

Facebook was going to fix its search capability, allowing its users (albeit initially in a limited beta) the opportunity to search their Facebook social “graph” across a range of functions: People, pictures, interests.

The fact that it took two displaced Google engineers to come into Facebook to build this function adds only a wee bit of irony to the equation.

I, for one, immediately went and asked to participate in the beta, though my invitation will likely loom ignored in Zuck’s inbox for some time.

In the meantime, I will wait impatiently for the opportunity to go out and search my high school Facebook sub-graph to discern, once and for all, the most popular band during our golden years (My money’s on AC/DC, but Pink Floyd might give them a run for their “Money”).

Or, to discover via the serendipity that is inevitably going to characterize Facebook’s search graph, that Austin still largely prefers Uchi (in South Austin) to Mushashino (off Mopac) for its finer sushi, although the latter is always a good escape valve for the Uchi unagi lines snaking along South Lamar.

Or to find out that Facebookers around the world who root for the Chelsea Blues pretty much detest anything to do with Manchester United, with the exception of one person on the planet (me).  I like ‘em both, but perhaps that’s just my attempt to pick TWO winners to try and make up for the recent massive deficit left by the wandering Dallas Cowboys.

No, much of this I already know, and Facebook search will simply be my new vindication engine, confirming the best and worst I thought of humanity in one fell graph searching sweep.

I just wonder if the new search graph is going to tell me something I don’t know.

Excuse me while I run over to Google to see if I can find out.

Written by turbotodd

January 16, 2013 at 4:01 pm

How Turbo Gets Things Done

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This is a screenshot from Turbo's implementation of "GTD" software, Thinking Rock, which is based out of Australia.  Thinking Rock, in combination with GTD cloud-based app Todoist, along with Google's Gmail and Calendar, helps Turbo keep most of his project and to do balls in the air.

This is a screenshot from Turbo’s implementation of “GTD” software, Thinking Rock, which is based out of Australia. Thinking Rock, in combination with GTD cloud-based app Todoist, along with Google’s Gmail and Calendar, helps Turbo keep most of his project and to do balls in the air.

This blog post is coming hot off the Mac simple word processing app, WriteRoom, NOT my recently rediscovered Royal manual typewriter.

I decided this blog post would just have to go down burning some carbon.

I wanted to continue my theme of “getting s— done” by writing a little bit about my own approach to putting David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” methodology into actual practice, both by elaborating a little about my own approach and mentioning the tools I use.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been a faithful subscriber to the cloud-based taskmaster, “Remember the Milk.”

Though I can absolutely recommend RTM, I’m making some changes for 2013, and have done a little migrating.

My primary replacement tool(s) are a combination of the following:

1) Gmail

2) Todoist

3) Thinking Rock

Allow me to explain.

Nothing beats tying (most) everything back to the cloud, and Gmail’s calendar feature is as good as they come for “remembering” specific tasks (via their “Reminder” function, tied to the Google calendar).

But in the spirit of exploration, I moved from RTM to Todoist (purchasing a year-long subscription for about $30 U.S.) because I liked the simple project structure and user interface (and, the fact that they support just about every computing and mobile device I have!).

And, because I can tie it to my Gmail inbox and calendar, I get daily emails reminding me of what my latest “to do’s” are.

But, with all that said, I still didn’t feel Todoist had the GTD structure I was looking for, especially when it came to breaking down individual projects/tasks.

So, I’ve revived my use of “Thinking Rock,” software from an Australian software provider, as it provides a much more structured interface and database for GTD management, IMHO.

Though I’ve not yet paid for the “full” version ($39 for a license that covers all future upgrades and support), I suspect it’s only a matter of time.

You can see a screenshot from my current “project” list in the embedded graphic above.

I like ThinkingRock’s literal embrace of the GTD approach, and find that when it comes time to really spending time to sit and break down tasks for a project or future actions, it provides the kind of easy-to-input-and-use interface I was looking for.

You can read some of the reviews here, so apparently I’m not the only one of this opinion.

So how do I make them all work together?

It’s actually pretty simple.  Whenever I have a new project or action, I use the “Collect Thoughts” feature in Thinking Rock to start the input.

Then, in the project view, as I start to determine specific actions, when I have one with a specific date attached, I input that into Todoist (a minor bit of duplication that I don’t mind), which is then tied to a specific date.

That way, whenever the due date is up, I’m reminded on either that day, or, if I planned ahead giving myself a buffer, in advance of the final due date.

I generally know which actions need to have reminders on the actual due date versus those that have need for a buffer, and this way, I get automated emails from Todoist each and every morning listing the outstanding “to do’s.”

I also sometimes use Google Calendar to have reminders sent for very specific time-gated concerns (doctor’s appointments, concerts, lunch with friends, etc.).

Mind you, this combination is a recent phenomenon, but so far, it’s working well for me.  So long as I keep up my daily and weekly reviews (which are instrumental to a successful GTD strategy), I have a feeling I could be well on my way to a very productive 2013!

Waiting For The New iPhone 5?

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So tomorrow’s the day.

We find out what the Apple iPhone 5 is all about.

Before we discover what the details behind the new Apple smartphone are, I thought it might be interesting to provide a quick glimpse at the state of the mobile marketplace here in the U.S.

I unearthed a blog post from TechCrunch from September 4th, citing the “latest data” from comScore that suggests Apple’s smartphone market share has grown to just over 33 percent, up 2 percent since April of this year.

That study surveyed over 30,000 U.S. mobile phone subscribers, which revealed that Google’s Android continues to keep the pace, holding 52 percent share, a 1.4 percent increase since April.

RIM, the maker of the BlackBerry, decline some 2.1 percent, down from 11.6 percent to 9.5 percent.

Microsoft’s Windows Mobile platform also saw a 0.4 percent decline in the same data, dropping from 4.0 percent to 3.6 percent.

And Symbian brings up the rear, down 0.5 percent, from 1.3 percent to 0.8 percent.

Despite the recent patent verdict, device maker Samsung is holding steady for smartphone device share at 25.6 percent in the latest period while Apple stood at 16.3 percent.

So what does Apple’s introduction of the iPhone 5 portend for the device market?

AppleInsider’s Neil Hughes wrote earlier today that the new iPhone will have “major implications throughout the personal electronics markets,” suggesting that existing LTE smartphones will come to be seen as “bulky and subpar” while stealing share not only from other smartphone makers, but also from PC makers like Dell and HP.

Hughes also cites J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskovitz in suggesting that the iPhone 5 “will offer better battery performance in a smaller form factor.”

In finding its way to new customers, Apple is also moving away from existing GPS service providers, and will instead transition to the new Maps application for iOS 6.

But will extended battery life and an Apple-owned GPS service be enough to lure loyal iPhone users to the new device, never mind Android loyalists happy with their current devices?

The answer to that question probably lies more in the emergence of new cloud and application offerings than the device characteristics themselves.

More interesting to me this past week, for example, was the report from The Wall Street Journal that Apple was looking to build its own streaming radio service, a move that seems to have helped drive Pandora’s share price down from a recent $12 high to just under $10.

Or consider the expectation Apple will introduce further synchronization between its iCloud offerings into the iOS mobile sphere, apps like Reminders, Notes, Mail, Calendar, and a new “Lost Mode,” which helps itinerant iPhone users find their lost phones.

I know I’ve found that Web-based services like Evernote and Remember the Milk, which synch across multiple devices and/or computers, provide much more utility than those dependent upon a single platform or device.

Whatever the details of the iPhone 5, the world will be watching closely, but my recommendation as one who’s used smartphones across the range of top competitors, including Apple, Android, and RIM, is to look beyond the device and underneath that larger intersection of IP-based services which transcend platform and help unearth the riches of true and unbound universal computing.

Bada Bada Bing

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How can Microsoft get more bang out of Bing?

By hiring Burson-Marsteller PR firm CEO and former Hilary Clinton campaign loyalist, Mark Penn, the well-known strategist and political pollster.

According to the Wall Street Journal “Digits” blog, Penn is being brought in to help ignite “more consumer use of Bing,” Microsoft’s search engine, which lags well behind Google in terms of search market share.

When examining the earnings results from both Microsoft *and* Google this afternoon, it seems that Microsoft needs all the help it can muster in this particular battle.

Microsoft posted a $492 million loss for fiscal 4Q 2012, largely due to a $6.19 billion writedown of its failed acquisition of advertising-service engine aQuantive.

Google, on the other hand, seems to continue to act second only to the Federal Reserve when it comes to printing money, bringing in $1.25 billion in revenue for the quarter, and realizing a 42% rise in paid clicks year-over-year.

However, it seems Microsoft isn’t the only one out looking for some PR help.  Penn’s firm, Burson-Marsteller just released a study of how Global Fortune 100 companies are using social media (conducted in partnership with Visible Technologies) to create more influence.

First, the top most-often mentioned companies on social media in that group: HP, Ford, Sony, AT&T, Samsung, Toyota, Honda, Walmart, BP, and Verizon.

The study examined some key social media vehicles, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Pinterest.

CNET broke down the five key findings of the study:

  1. The Fortune Global 100 were mentioned a totla of 10,400,132 times online in a single month. Gone are the days that companies and brands could tally and sort through all of their media mentions each morning.
  2. Video content creation is on the rise, and there was a 39 percent jump in the percentage of companies with a branded YouTube channel in the last year (and excluding ALL skateboarding bulldogs!).
  3. Engagement is becoming second nature to companies. Seventy-nine percent of corporate accounts on Twitter attempt to engage with other users by retweeting and using @mentions.
  4. Multiple accounts on social media platforms allow companies to target audiences by geography, topic, or service.
  5. Companies are rapidly adapting to new platforms. Google Plus pages for businesses were launched last November, and by February 2012, nearly half (48%) of Fortune Global 100 companies already had a presence on the platform.

The study also highlighted that 93 percent of the Global Fortune 100 companies’ Facebook pages are updated weekly, up from 84 percent and 59 percent each of the past two years.

I’ll add my own two cents, considering IBM is a member of that Fortune Global 100.  In our own Facebook research, for example, we, too, have found video to be an increasingly impactful online resource.

We’re also seeing that the more data we share, the more interest we garner in terms of reshares (infographics are also impactful, but need to be used smartly and selectively).

That is to say, the more useful and insightful data an organization can share through its social media activities, the more they’re able to rise above the information overload fray and present prospects with “news they can use.”

No matter which famous political PR flack they hire.

Written by turbotodd

July 19, 2012 at 9:55 pm

InformationWeek’s IT Pro Ranking: Enterprise Social Networking

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Click to enlarge. InformationWeek surveyed 405 IT professionals to evaluate enterprise social networking software. When it came to success metrics, fifty percent of respondents cited “user activity on the system” as a key metric of success.

We’ve seen a lot of consolidation in the social enterprise scene of late.

Most recently, Oracle bought Involver and Collective Intellect, Salesforce bought Radian6 and, later, BuddyMedia.

We’ve also started to see some report cards being issued about who’s leading in what arena.

Last week, InformationWeek released such a report, entitled “IT Pro Ranking: Enterprise Social Networking,” in which IW surveyed 405 IT pros to evaluate enterprise social networking software vendors.

IW explained that its ratings were based on two broad sets of criteria, the first for overall performance and items such as product reliability, innovation, and cost.  And second, category-specific features like status updates, team workspaces, and social bookmaring.

Six firms made the top box to receive a full evaluation: Drupal, Google Sites, IBM Lotus Live/Lotus Connections, Microsoft SharePoint, Salesforce.com Chatter, and Yammer (the study was apparently conducted prior to Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Yammer).

In terms of overall performance, Google Sites came out on top as the “best-performing” vendor (73%), but IBM’s Lotus Live/Lotus Connections and Salesforces’ Chatter were just a percentage point behind Google (72%), “indicating a tight race.”

Drupal arrived at 70%, and Microsoft 69%.

In terms of product reliability, Google, IBM and Salesforce came in on top with a 3.9 score, the highest mean average ranking for that criterion.

In terms of respondents’ rating of enterprise social networking features, Google earned the highest ranking at 77%, with IBM following at 75%, and Microsoft at 74%.

In terms of data security controls, IBM came out on top at 4.1, although Microsoft was close behind at 4.0.

The report had some other interesting insights, citing the need to “enable new services or applications” as the number one reason for replacing or adding a vendor, followed by “performance gains” and “operational cost savings.”  “Substantial operational cost savings” was cited as the number one reason for “factors resulting in a change in vendor,” followed by “substantial capital cost savings” and “clear technology advantage compared with current vendor.”

You can download the full report here.  Meanwhile, you can learn more about how your organization can garner measurable ROI with IBM Connections enterprise social software here.

Google’s New “Jelly Bean”

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So did anybody else watch that Google I/O keynote earlier today from the Moscone Center in San Francisco?

Apparently, so, because at one point there were nearly 100,000 concurrent viewings on YouTube.

Yes, I said, 100,000.  Pretty impressive for a developer’s conference.

I’ll get to some of the key Android announcements momentarily…first, the show stealer, which for my money (and of which there’s not a whole lot), one-upped Apple’s keynotes in a way they’ll likely never be able to match.

As the team was preparing to introduce the much-discussed Google Glasses (which I hope, one day, I’ll be able to wear on the golf course and announce to my technophobe father exactly how many yards his shot is to the pin without missing a beat), Sergey Brin cut away to an airplane flying high over the skies of San Francisco, all featured in a Google Events Hangout.

I presumed the cutaway was Memorex, but soon found out differently.

The skydivers jumped from the plane, flew in their birdsuits a little ways, then opened their chutes and landed safely on a roof by or at the Moscone Center.

They delivered the Google Glasses to some manic BMX mountain bikers, who jumped a couple of roofs before handing them over to some dudes who were hanging by some ropes.

Before too long, they all came busting into the live keynote and up on the stage to deliver the glasses.

I’ll never think of my FedEx delivery guy the same again.

I guess everyone at Google Marketing and PR was pretty confident all their skydivers’ chutes would open and no Google Glasses were going to go splat along with their mules.  That, or they had a contingency plan to cutaway to poor voice-challenged CEO Larry Page trying to pick up the slack via ASL.

Like I said, the whole stunt got my attention.

There were a range of interesting announcements, including the Glasses (available to developers attending I/O sometime next year), the new Google streaming media player (Yawn), and Google’s own Nexus 7 (is that one step behind Windows8?) tablet.

But the new Android, 4.1, AKA “Jelly Bean,” was the storyline I found most interesting.

Google announced “Project Butter” as the new innovation in 4.1, which helps make transitions and animations in the Android OS run more smoothly (at a cool 60 frames per second).

Googlers also demonstrated more responsive widgets (I hate to wait on any mobile device app!), which users can drag and drop and move around on their home screen.

Android Heavens, open up and save me from thith mobile lag!

The Google voice recognition engine is now going offline, which means you can transcribe to your heart’s content without being connected to the Interwebs.

“Android, go beat up Siri and then send me some funny pics of such that I can view on my newfangled Android 4.1 home screen and share them via my non-lagging new Facebook app on Jelly Bean!”

The new “Google Now” was also a cool new feature, which allows you tor bring up new “cards” that contain relevant and timely information (“How tall is the Empire State Building?”).

If Trivial Pursuit ever makes a comeback, I want to play the Google Now-assisted edition!

Google Now also takes advantage of temporal and physical data it knows to make friendly suggestions to you.  For example, when it’s lunchtime, Google Now could suggest some local restaurants nearby and let you easily make reservations to go there.

I’d suggest you view the video below to learn more about Google Now, but despite my preference to stick with the Apple iPlatforms, me likey the new “Jelly Bean” and hope Apple responds with some similar features in a future iOS release.

Impressions From SXSW Interactive 2012: Q&A With SearchEngineLand’s Danny Sullivan On Google, Bing, And The Search/Social Intersection

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When I introduced myself to Danny Sullivan at SXSW Interactive 2012 here in the IBM Future of Social Business lounge, I bowed down, as if before a monarch, and explained “I’m not worthy.”

It may seem an over-the-top gesture, but considering the value that Danny has brought to search engine marketers, optimizers, and Web masters over the past decade, the tribute is most appropriate.

We spent a good 15 minutes chatting with Danny, covering everything from Google to Google+ to the emergent intersection between search and social…and much more.

Written by turbotodd

March 13, 2012 at 6:22 pm

No Hiding

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After spending six and a half lovely hours at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, watching the miserable snow and misty rain falling out of the sky, my Air Canada flight was finally allowed off the ground and into the air, only to find myself soon in Times Square in NYC, standing amidst more nasty weather.

This is why I left NYC 11 years ago and moved back to Texas.

But, I must say, Pearson is a true business travelers’ airport.

I’m long unqualified for any of the airline lounge programs (unless I want to fork over $500 a year), but Pearson makes such havens unnecessary.  There were plenty of chairs freely available to the masses, nice restaurants and bars (where I enjoyed some insurance sushi and beer before my long-delayed flight), and most noticeably, free wi-fi throughout the airport.

Yes, I said it: Free wi-fi throughout the airport.  The kind of wi-fi you can suck oxygen freely through without gasping for bandwidth.  The kind where you can stream a Netflix show or get your actual file attachments without looking back and forth guiltily at all the the other normally weary, bandwidth-starved travelers.

Steve Lohr with The New York Times just penned a piece this morning about how the web is, by necessity, speeding up, but being nicknamed “Turbo,” I fear it could never get fast enough for me.  But I’ll appreciate every effort that Akamai and others are making to speed up the bits and bytes.

Of course, even as you’re speeding around the information superhighway, you need to keep a look out for who’s watching.  Google’s changed privacy policy went into effect today, and lots of folks are unhappy about it.

Me, I took charge of my own privacy with Google a number of years ago, shutting down their search history feature.  What I’m searching for and when is my own business, far as I’m concerned, but I’m happy to let them put little ads up against my queries if that’s what it takes to keep the service free.

As I explain to people, having that search history feature turned “on” is like having multiple people following you around the shopping mall, with nice HD cameras, capturing your every move.  If you don’t believe me, Google “Ghostery” and download the handy little app to see how many third-party cookies are watching YOUR every move.

Ghostery positions itself as “your window into the invisible web – tags, web bugs, pixels and beacons that are included on web pages in order to get an idea of your online behavior.”

Ghostery “tracks the trackers” and lets you know who all has invaded your machine.

So that if you decide to do a little hunting yourself, you’ll know precisely what you’re looking for.

Written by turbotodd

March 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm

The Turbo Android

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A few weeks ago I blogged about breaking up with AT&T, which meant my iPhone would become an expensive and glorified iPod.

Turbo debriefs on his recent transition from iPhone to Android...and buys the most expensive product he's ever acquired from a vending machine.

That’s okay, you can never have too many iPods lying around.

But, I also promised to come back and tell, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.”

So after AT&T couldn’t or wouldn’t offer me any relief for my cracked iPhone (which also froze for a full 24 hours), I broke up and decided to try something new.

Not because I didn’t like my iPhone…there were lots of things to like about it…except for the bill I got every month, one at an average of $90/month that yet had a cap for both phone and data usage.

I ended up heading out to Best Buy after first doing a little online research, and I decided that a no-contract phone was my best option, but there were several providers. At the Best Buy, a sales associate explained that he thought Virgin Mobile had the best deal, because for only $35 a month, I could get unlimited data (and 300 voice minutes), and if I so desired, could upgrade to $45/month with 1200 minutes and unlimited data, and $55/month for unlimited of both.

Where do I sign?

My fatal mistake, however, was to accept his first recommendation on the device, a Samsung Intercept that looked great, but was not less filling.  It was an early Android release, it seemed to have the RAM of a 1986 386 box, and I couldn’t even take phone calls on it reliably.

After two weeks of trial usage, I went back to the same Best Buy and explained what a piece of junk phone they had sold me, and that I wanted something better.  A new clerk helped me settle on a Motorola Triumph, which I’ve been very happy with (save for the anemic battery life — I have to charge it twice a day if I talk on it with any frequency).

No doubt, I was an irresponsible consumer when I decided so quickly and without much research on the new phone.  However, the shift to Android has been a blessing in disguise.

Let me explain: As much as I liked the tightness of the iPhone/iTunes platform, and the quality of the apps, I could feel myself becoming more and more confined. This isn’t about the device anymore: It’s about access to information and services in the cloud.

For as long as I can remember, mobile phones, smart or otherwise, have become a real pain when it comes to contact management.  With both Androids, that problem was solved on setup: I simply synched with my Gmail contacts, and I was done.  Now, I can add a contact to my phone and have it synched up with the Google cloud and not worry about where I’m going to enter the information.

Similarly, my Google calendar is now pervasive across all my computers, tablets, and, now, my phone.  Why? Simple, because of that cloud connection.  Yes, iCloud may NOW be providing some of these capabilities, but at the price, and with the promise of being in a more open operating ecosystem, I would argue I’ve become much more productive because these simple but often confounding necessities like contact management have become so much easier via Android.

Of course, that includes the synergy I have between my MacBook Air and the Google cloud as well.

As for Virgin Mobile, so far, I don’t have enough good things to say.  I’m able to “top off” my service using a credit card on a monthly basis, and, depending on my schedule, decide whether or not I want to spend $35, $45, or $55 for a month’s worth of service, as opposed to the $90+ my AT&T service was costing.

Furthermore, the Virgin Mobile web site makes it easy for self-service provisioning and account management.  I always liked the way Richard Branson did business — now I have proof why. From his airlines to his mobile phone service, he focuses on the consumers’ needs.

I was so pleased with Android, I stopped and purchased the single most expensive item I’ve ever acquired from a vending machine (this one from Best Buy), an HTC Flyer tablet.  Though it, too, has some battery issues, I’m finding it to be an also very useful and productivity-enhancing tablet experience. Not necessarily as “clean” as the iPad experience, but easy enough to master and use for everything from my corporate email to blogging to reading books to watching Netflix…And it’s only 7″, as opposed to my original iPad.

Geek that I am, I will likely continue using devices across both platforms — you’ll pry my MacBook Air out of my cold, dead hands.  But the Android smartphone experience is proving quite useful, and in the process I’m becoming more familiar with an increasingly relevant platform that, until a month ago, I was only vaguely familiar with.

And did I mention Madden NFL 2011 plays beautifully on the HTC Flyer???

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