Google Listen

I’ve never been an Apple guy, but trying to use an old windows mobile 6.1 phone to run with and listen to podcast on was a horrible experience. A few years ago, I bought a used iPod nano 2nd gen and began using it for podcasting and Nike+ for running.

Unfortunately, about a month ago the iPod took a trip through the washer and is no more.

I had gone with Android for my last phone so I thought maybe give it a try instead of spending the ridiculous amount of money they want for a new apple device.

I came up with Google Listen.

I have to say I’ve been pretty impressed with it. I have to point out the barrier to entry is high, its probably not for someone who doesn’t know what they are doing or understands basic RSS feeds. However, I’m a developer, I live technology.

I found the search for a podcast really worthless. (I’ll be using TWIT as my example through the rest of the article.) I tried searching for TWIT – This Week in Tech and I found about everything under the sun that wasn’t it. It was in the list but if you didn’t know, you weren’t finding it.

Going to the podcast home page, I found, was the best way to get a RSS feed url.

Feed Url’s are the driving force behind Listen. When you go to a website and view the podcast feed you are looking for it to enclose the audio file (usually an mp3) in the feed.

Site links sometime setup like this:

What a feed looks like in Google reader Notice the “twit0309.mp3” shows and can be played in reader:

Notice my use of Google Reader, the backend sync for Listen is google reader. While it doesn’t sync your play time (meaning you can’t listen on in reader and listen or switch between and keep your place) but it give you an easy way to manage and add new feeds.

However, to get that to work properly, I ended up adding one feed manually in Listen:

Once i did, I now have a new folder available on google reader I can associate podcast feeds with for Listen specific feeds.

Let’s take a peek at the dead simple interface.

My listen items is anything available to listen too.
My subscriptions shows what you subscribe too.
The other too are worthless to me.

Fresh items are waiting for download or waiting to be organized in the queue.
Queued items work like an ordering system to how your podcast will play (order: top to bottom).

Menu and settings are pretty basic, i recommend only downloading on wi-fi though.

That’s it you are now enjoying your favorite Podcast/Netcast via Listen on your Android phone!

Oh, and I use Endomondo to track my running now (for Android and iPhone), it’s uses the GPS instead of the shoe sensor!

Star Trek Online out of game chat using XMPP with Android

Star Trek Online is my first Multi-Player Online game. I don’t really have time to play games anymore but with it being a Star Trek title I had to give it a try. I had to sacrifice my TV time which wasn’t so bad since most of my favorites went off the air.

With an MMO you really have to immerse yourself with the game and the players to get the full the experience, so even when I’m not playing I’m listening to podcast about the game, checking out forums, and reading the latest news from the game developers.

One of my favorite podcast about the game is STOked, and they have organized an in game fleet for the fans and with that created a chat channel so the members can talk. So here is where out of game chat comes into play. Cryptic is the company that develops the game they have made their user level chat system work via XMPP protocols! XMPP is basically an open IM (instant message) system which also includes a Multi User Chat system as well (MUC). So having that enabled from the game side it’s relatively easy to setup an XMPP IM client to log into the games chat system when you are not playing.

This is easy to setup if you have a desktop client like Pidgin. There are some really good instructions on the games forums to get it going and a prerequisite for setting up an android client.

My dilemma: I’m not on a desktop often enough to make use of the feature but I always have my phone with me so what i needed was an Android XMPP client that would work with the MUC chat so i could chat with my fleet. Easier said that done from what i found out. I tried several Android clients but none seemed to work, or when they did they didn’t work with the MUC which was mainly what i wanted. I spent several weeks, several apps, and emailed developers of the apps. Finally, there was some activity on the forums and someone had success with IMov. I had some back and forth with the user because I has already tried and moved on when i couldn’t get it to work.

So here is how to setup out of game chat on Android:

Before trying to setup your Android phone be sure to check this prerequisite post: here.

Note: Naming convention: “CharacterName”@”@Name” in my case Russell@Russell-KV4S so use those when I refer to them in the article below.
Note: AccountName is the same credentials you use to log into the game client before you have to pick holodeck or tribble.

Post updated: as of 2/13/2012 I have found 2 clients that seem to work, Jabiru and Xabber. I only have detailed instructions on Jabiru listed below but setting up Xabber should in principle be the same.


Once installed from the Android Market go into the account setting and configure as follows:

Jabber ID:
Password: self explanatory
Resource: I believe this is optional but i used CharacterName (this should help match what shows in game for you as well)
security mode should be enabled by default but if not enable it.
that should do it as far as connecting.

once back at the main screen hit Menu>Connect
if all goes well you will see a group called friends Friends

Now for Channels (MUC chat):
hit Menu>Conference
Room: will be whatever the channel name is (if it has a space use the “\20” sign instead of space)
Edit 7/31/13: switch “+” to “\20”
Nick: @Name
Password: leave blank (in most cases)
hit join

intro to the chat window:
at the top of the screen you have a chat bubble that will be your toggle for any chats you have going on
the red x will close the chat you have active so don’t do that on channels chat or you won’t be in the channel chat anymore.
the bottom left icon is the room members this should allow you to see whose connected to the channel.

good luck and happy chatting!

I hope this guide helps someone else and saves them time because it took a lot of mine! 🙂

Alabama vs. Penn State 2010

What a game! Alabama looked great! Like a No. 1 Team Saturday!

The day started out by getting on the road around 11am. Traffic got really bad at the 20/59 I-459 interchange then again when the lanes went to 2 lanes near Tuscaloosa other than that pretty good.  I met my brother and his girlfriend at Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch then we made our way to the stadium where we visited some tail gates until about 5. My brother was able to get us access to the sidelines, before the game started, and i took many photo’s and short videos. When it was time to head home i took some back roads avoiding McFarland and sat in about 30mph traffic until we got 3 lanes, then it went fine until 459, then smooth sailing all the way home!

Album Link:


University of Alabama’s South End Zone Grand Opening

Due to new seats my brother is getting this year he was invited to the Grand Opening of the South End Zone and luckily I was able to tag along!

Most of the event was a crowd getting to self tour around the new in zone and the facilities inside.

I took some video but unfortunately we didn’t know where the speeches were being held so once we found a spot a pillar was in the way.
Here is a quick video of some of the speeches from Rece Davis, Nick Saban, and Mal Moore:

Here is a slideshow of the pictures I was able to take at the event:
Album Link

What I’ve been up to: Video creation with XtraNormal

Did you see the EVO vs Iphone 4 video? If not here it is: (warning foul language)

Well, I dug a little deeper and found it was created from a website:

So I threw this together:

Guys at work go out to eat at least once a week and the conversation about where to go seems the same.

I also put this together:

We have a running group at work and we are always joking around so here’s a taste of their humor!

Tour of The University of Alabama’s Athletic facilities 2010

This was my second time to enjoy this tour! They really have state of the art facilities!

The tour started with the Mal Moore building then over to the Bryant Denny Stadium then back.

We got to see the Hall of Champions, weight room, practice field, locker rooms at both places, the zone, new concessions, and the very top of the stadium.

Here are the photo’s from the trip:
Direct Album Link

Last Years Visit’s Post:

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!!