Why I passed on the iPhone (again) and got the HTC Aria! (Android)

For any of you that read my post and follow me on Twitter probably can tell that the Mobile Phone Space is what I’m interested in and very excited about.

A little history:

I got my first cell phone back in 1997 and I went with AT&T because they were the only carrier that worked where I lived in west central Alabama.
I got my first Pocket PC (Windows CE, what became windows mobile) back in 1999.
In 1999 The internet was still something you had to use a dialup phone connection to access however broadband was starting to no longer be a luxury item for internet access.
Ever since then I knew it was a matter of time before we all had handheld computers with internet access everywhere.

1st iPhone pass:

Apple released this 1st iPhone in 2007 and it caused a lot of hype (or iHype as it was later referred).
I was never into Apple computers for no particular reason, it’s just my career lead me into windows development and business application development, you can’t really do any of that on Apple so I never considered them in a Phone purchase.
In 2007, I got my first Windows Mobile Phone with a data connection and loved it! It was the AT&T Tilt.
Just the idea of posting real time pictures and updates of stuff going on was just revolutionary shift in the way things were and where they were going.
So, for the next 2 years I got to see friends and family with their iPhones and I began to see the appeal of a nice user interface and how touch screens was really where phones were going. That’s what got me thinking that the iPhone would be my next phone purchase (windows mobile wasn’t keeping up).

Windows Mobile downfall:

Windows Mobile began to show it’s staleness by the end of 2009 (probably earlier by what I was reading online around this time). By that I mean they really never changed the UI in ten years. Most phones were still resistive screens instead of the new capacitive screens. But what was the final straw for me was that developers (my peers) where no longer creating/updating apps like Android and the iPhone were getting. Twitter clients were horrible. The one I found that i liked quit updating the program so it didn’t recieve the new retweet format (essentially you missed some updates). The facebook app was horrible as well. What’s a phone that can’t do Twitter and Facebook (LOL, can’t believe i just said that)?

A tough decision:

My contract for the Tilt ended in late 2009.
I could either get the iPhone 3GS which came out about 6mo’s earlier or wait another 6mo’s for them to release a new one (if at all). I decided to wait.
Android 2.0 was just picking up steam about this time, however AT&T had no Android phones.
Rumors of 5 Android phones the 1st half of 2010 was finally announced by AT&T.
In March, the Motorola Backflip was announced but it was still running an older version of Android and the design was just not what I was interested in (including the hardware specs).
Now, what is really interesting and perhaps ahead of it’s time, Google announces the Nexus One. A phone you can order online unlocked ($530) or subsidized through some carriers ($179 or so).
Several advantages to getting an unlocked phone include: no contract, no plan change, no AT&T software, android market freedom, and quick updates from google.
After being underwhelmed by the Backflip and not seeing any more Android announcements from AT&T, I seriously considered the Nexus One but just couldn’t justify the unlocked cost.
Again, I decide to wait.

Final decision:

After being in wait mode for over 8 months, Apple and AT&T announces the iPhone 4.
I had every intent to get this phone on the 24th but still said unless there is an HTC Android phone announced before the 24th.
1 week after the iPhone annoucnement came the HTC Aria announcement for the 20th. I still had a week to make up my mind between the 2 phones. I was disappointed that the Aria didn’t have a 1Ghz processor but other than that the phone looked great. I did a ton of online research on the Aria and by Friday my mind was made up.

Fathers Day Present:

After a lunch, with the family in Tuscaloosa, I went to the AT&T store and picked up the Aria and have been very pleased with it. While it doesn’t have a 1Ghz processor that 600Mhz does a fantastic job. If I didn’t know that’s what was in there I probably couldn’t tell. I also got a $50 loyalty credit, so I got the phone for under $100 plus I didn’t have to change my data plan. I grandfathered in a truly unlimited data plan from my old Tilt phone (no 5gb cap even). I wasn’t going to the iPhone and loose that!

A Quick Review:

AT&T has locked side loading apps from outside the android market as well as select apps in the market (namely Easy Tether). This is very BAD AT&T and against what Android stands for!! This will not allow you to beta test software and such.
I like The HTC Sense Software! I don’t run everything they offer because I do like the android version pretty well and I prefer to run apps like Twidroid and the Facebook App intead of using the HTC version that merges them both. While that is very cool you don’t get functiality like in the main apps.
The HTC Contacts are cool because you get a favorites widget and you can link you google contacts to facebook and get notifications when a contact you are looking at or a favorite updates.
Facebook Sync is cool because now my contacts have pictures without me having to add them manually.
The GPS locks on very fast, I haven’t played with it very much because the network location is usually all I need, but it was like under 30 seconds for a lock where as my old phone it was serveral minutes. (standing still).
Google! If you run many of the google services Android is the way to go. My particular favorite is the Google Voice app! You also get push gmail and push google apps email, google maps, googles, skymap, earth, reader via the browser, buzz, latitude, and the list goes on.
The Aria has an optical trackball which frankly is not useful to me and I wish it didn’t have it. I would have rather seen a larger screen than that. The trackball isn’t really needed with touch screens in my opinion.
I like that it does not have a slideout keyboard even though I can type faster on them.  Without, makes the device so much thinner and lightweight.  Since you have a landscape keyboard typing is pretty accurate.
7 home screens (no sure what i’ll do with all of them)!
Android 2.1.

So, I have 18 to 24 months before i have to do all this again will i get the iPhone then?Probably not but only time will tell.  I really like Android and I think it will be even better by then! The power of open source vs closed!!

Using Twitter Effectively during Severe Weather

With Twitter becoming more mainstream everyday, it becomes obvious that people will use and adapt it to what they do day in and day out.

As some of you know I work with the ALERT group. ALERT is a Ham Radio group that works directly with the National Weather Service in Birmingham to pass spotter reports to forecasters. We are always looking for ways to help gather reports for NWS.

With the help of James Spann the use of the hastag #alwx was born.  Hash Tag terms are used in Twitter to denote ways to search for topics of interest. In this case #alwx stands for alabama weather.  Many spotters across the state (and other states) have adopted this style tag. Other states would use their abbreviation ending in wx. (example: mississippi #mswx, georgia #gawx, ect…)

Now that  you have some background how can you facilitate this?
Here are some tips:

  1. Twitter web page: you can type in search terms in the following box, once entered you get the option to save that search.
  2. Find Twitter desktop client you can run on your pc or mac.
    • Seesmic Desktop: has a way to save searches much like the twitter home page utilizing the bar at the top:
      then you will get a new column that you can click on:
      image  image
    • TweetDeck: also has a way to add a search column to the application.
      image  image
  3. Find a client you can use mobile.
    • PockeTwit: a windows mobile client that has saved searches as a feature as of today.  At the time of this writing I’m not aware of any other mobile clients that have integrated search.

I hope that give you a starting point! I look forward to seeing your weather reports around the Twittersphere!

Questions or comments can be posted here or give me a shout on Twitter! @KV4S

Russell Thomas, KV4S

Live Mesh: My Viewpoint

Mesh is an easy way to “sync, share, and access” files between multiple PC’s.

From their site:
“Your work computer. Your home laptop. Your Mac. Your mobile phone. Devices live in multiple places. But the files you need—and the programs that open them—often don’t. Live Mesh changes all that.”

I began using Mesh during the Tech Preview and I’ve been primarliy using it to sync certain folders between 2 pc’s (even though it does much more). This is valuable because I can do things like maintian my Ham club contact list no matter which pc I’m on, check my bank balance or enter new check register entries, maintain other files and documents i need quickly, and everytime i save i know it will update on the other pc . It also has a website where i can logon and see my files even if i’m on someone else’s pc.

A few weeks ago at PDC2008 (Professional Developers Conference) they unveiled this platform for use on Windows Mobile and Mac. I had been waiting on this from the beginning because I have a Windows mobile phone.

I have established folder sync on my Window Mobile Professional 6.1 Phone (HTC Tilt) so now I can do the same type work no matter where I am and everything stays in sync. I’ve even used this to install programs without having to plug a cable or swap the SD card around. Also, any picture or video I take on the phone is automatically synced to my computer.

If any of this sounds interesting to you I recommend checking out the site I believe it’s an open beta now so you don’t have to get in the invite queue!

Have Fun!
Russell, KV4S

Windows Mobile 6.1 SMTP error fixed!


Update 11/11/2008:

Microsoft has a patch now!


Original Post 10/22/2008:

The following article fixed and error i had sending SMTP email with IMAP:


I have an AT&T Tilt that i had upgraded from Windows Mobile 6 to 6.1.

I have a gmail acct and an account setup on my domain kv4s.com.

My domain mail has been setup as google apps so it works like gmail.

On my Tilt I configured both as imap accounts and both worked.

About a week ago my domain acct quit sending mail but gmail worked fine. I attempted to use cwmx.com in the smtp address because i had to do that on pop3 in the past but that didn’t work for my domain acct.

After a few hours research came across this article installed the cab restarted the phone and did a test email and it worked fine…. thanks a million!

Russell Thomas

Tilt upgrade to Windows Mobile 6.1

The AT&T Tilt phone I got almost a year ago is my first phone that has data and email on it, which I have itegrated more and more in my life.

This past weekend i took on the task of upgrading the ROM software from Windows Mobile 6 to 6.1. Worried that this was going to break my phone I did quite a bit of reading and online research but i couldn’t find anyone that had any problems doing this.

So i went out to the HTC site and downloaded the ROM version plugged my phone into the computer for an ActiveSync connection and in about 10 minutes i was done! Completely painless!

The most time consuming part of the upgrade was getting my programs re-installed and getting the phone setting customized again.

There was no issue with data because i had it all on a 2GB micro SD card. (photos, music, program installs, ect…)

There was also no issue with contacts since I have Exchange Server at work… once i configured ActiveSnyc on the phone all my email, contacts, and calendar items were pushed back to the phone from the server.

So on the next update I won’t be so worried!

Later, Russell

Using my phone as my MP3 Player

I had a Sandisk Sansa c250 I got about a year ago and I had a problem where the sound only came out of one ear. Thinking this was a problem with the earbuds I started looking for some new ones but wasn’t having much luck. I also used an FM transmitter to get sound in my truck but I also noticed it started happening on with it as well. I swapped out some other headphones I had at the house to see if that fixed it be it didn’t. Turns out the jack in the mp3 player was bad as well as the earbud I was using.  Not wanting to spend the money on both I started thinking…. you know there is a lot of hype around the IPhone and all it does is serve as a mp3 player I wonder if i could use my phone for that since i use it for so much else. I came across an article about using your Tilt as your full time mp3 player.

If you don’t already know I have a Tilt from AT&T and I love this phone because i get email and can upload various things to the web over the data connection. I followed the above article and was able to setup my phone to play my mp3’s.  The part that made my decision a definate yes was the Motorola HT820 headset… it’s a bluetooth stereo headset that runs both the voice and sound of the phone so not only can i listen to Netcast and Music on it, if I get a call the sound stops and i hit a button and can take the call. The sound of the call comes over both speakers even though i believe it’s monotone it still sounds better than a single ear sound.

Many phones have the ability to play mp3’s as well as support bluetooth so if you are thinking of getting a mp3 (or replacing in my case) player give thought to getting a stereo headset instead and using your phone.