Tag Archives: google

Nexus 7 (2013) Full Review: Android Revisited


After half a decade away, I jump back into Android with the launch of the 2013(2nd gen) Nexus 7. Ive got to say, things have changed! I bought this tablet for a few reasons. First, its damn cheap compared to the Galaxy Tabs(Notes), and Apples iPad Mini. Second, it has the highest pixel density out of all the 7 inch tablets currently. And last, its pure Android without the Samsung bloatware. For $230, its a pretty good deal. Some people think tablets are toys and while they can be good fun, I find them extremely useful for doing quick research, reading articles, and quickly looking up a video. Continue reading Nexus 7 (2013) Full Review: Android Revisited

Samsung Chromebook: In Depth Full Review

Hello, my fellow techВ savvyВ friends! It is a wonderful day out, and there is nothing better to compliment the sunshine than to have a new laptop, if I may, accompany you. I was, once again, looking for a budget portable that would do three task: Browse the web, type word documents, and play some tunes while doing so. Well, the Chromebook does all of that and more in a different manner. This review may be outdated because there are a ton of reviews out already, but seeing how I just picked up this convincingly priced machine, I thought I would share my opinions anyways.

Continue reading Samsung Chromebook: In Depth Full Review

I Hate Android: Why It Sucks

Android has gotten better over the years but there are still many things I dont like about it. To put it bluntly, I hate Android. I tried to support it and I actually liked it for a while. Over the years, I got tired of nearly everything about it. I have used Linux for a few years since Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon and fell in love with the open source movement. Ive come to realize that all the hype about being open and portraying Apple and RIM as the evil closed platform was all a deception. Google Play(formerly Android Market) adds movie rentals, books, and music all in one convenient shop. The new market is not open source but a tightly controlled shop that Google aims to make big bucks with. No longer is it a simple library of applications but more like a Barnes and Nobles pushing its own products along with the usual selection. Its not just the changes to the market that I dont like. Theres a list(I love lists). Lets go through them.

Continue reading I Hate Android: Why It Sucks

Diaspora Alpha Impressions

Diaspora Alpha Impressions


3 days ago, I got an email in my inbox from the folks at Diaspora. I finally got an invite to theВ Diaspora AlphaВ after almost a year of waiting! Thats right. Last year atВ joindiaspora.com, I submitted my email and requested an invite. Because it took so long, I thought the project was dead. Now Im in! Ive always been a strong supporter of open-source projects and freedom. Diaspora is both these things. On their website, you are greeted with 3 main principles:В choice, ownership, and simplicity. You have the choice of who you want to share photos and information with. You own all your pictures and posts. Privacy settings and options are simple and clear. This sounds good, right? Finally, an open-source social network. Lets see how well these guys are doing. Ill walk you through my first impressions.



Registering for the site is very simple. You simply fill out a username, password, and email address. There was no email confirmation. Diaspora asks you to fill out a display name, a short bio, and up to 5 interests. Once you continue, you head to their main page. This displays the Stream. From here, you see your profile with an automated posts. Apparently, everyone goes through this. Here is an example of what it looks like:


Hey everyone, Im #NewHere. Im interested in #android, #linux, and #sailing.


Basically, you have some hashtags(#) showing your interests and another one saying that youre new. This is a nice little way for people to greet new members.


Initial Impressions

Unfortunately, thats about the only way to connect with people. I dont have a real Facebook or Google+ account so Im not too familiar with how things work there but they all look similar visually. My immediate impressions were most people that joined are into technology. Mainly Linux and other open-source projects. You constantly see hashtags of #linux, #ubuntu, #kde, #android, etc. There doesnt seem to be an option to search for people by location, school, or work. I know the site is still in Alpha but connecting with strangers from the main stream can only get you so far. For a social networking site, you kind of want to connect with people you know. Luckily, you can connect Diaspora to services like Twitter, Tumblr, and yes, even Facebook. I understand that connecting with Facebook may be a conflict of interest since they are competing services, but Diaspora is no where near as popular as Facebook. In that case, I suppose its a good move. One immediate bug that I noticed was a 500 internal error when I tried adding a hashtag to follow. Its not perfect. A few bugs are expected from an alpha release.


The site doesnt have much features. Unless you already have friends on Diaspora, theres not much to do. Ive tried looking for people but nobody I know in real life is a member. As a matter of fact, I dont think too many people have ever heard of Diaspora. There are no games for you to pass the time. Facebook made that popular with their Mafia Wars and their Farmvilles. Another thing that seemed to be missing is a photo album. I uploaded a profile picture and decided to change it. When I replaced it, the original disappeared so I had to re-upload it. After playing the runaround, I finally figured out that I had to post a picture on my stream in order have it save to my photo album. I cant even call it a photo album because when you click on your profile picture, it brings up all the pictures youve uploaded. This may include funny pics, clipart, infographs, or whatever youve attached to a post. Theres no way to organize them or tag people like Facebook or PicassaWeb. At the time, they were the only social network to sort different people into different groups. Diaspora calls this aspects. Basically, you can sort people you know into groups like family, friends, work, acquaintances, or whatever you so choose. This is a neat feature 2 years ago but since then, Google+ has borrowed that idea into what they call circles. Its basically the same thing.


Final Thoughts

We go back to the three things they advertised on their main page. Choice, ownership, and simplicity. Well, Diaspora sure is simple. If by simple, they mean less featured, theyve done their job. Simplicity is good for beginners, but once people get familiar with the site, theyre going to want more features. Ownership is a great concept. Lots of sites have terms saying that they own everything you post. This means they can sell all your information, including your pictures, to shady folks like advertising firms. This essentially protects you from such abuse but to the common folk, its not a priority. Lots of people complain about Facebook selling users date but they still use it. Out of the 3, choice, is probably the main reason people joinВ Diaspora. I want the ability to choose who views my profile. The concept of privacy is a big deal for users. Whats interesting to note is the fact that Google+ implemented circles which is basically the same thing as aspects. Now the question is, Do people care if Google sees your profile? My guess is, No. People use Google every dayВ and they have built a strong trust with their users.


What does Diaspora offer thats new? Well, so far, nothing. When it was announced, it gained lots of steam with the media. People areВ attracted to the concept of ownership and freedom. Since then, some of the buzz has fizzled. I feel that Diaspora is not developing fast enough. I understand that theyre an open-source project and they dont have money to speed up progress, but going after Facebook and Google will be a massive undertaking. For a social network to be successful, they need to have a large community. In order to attract users to join, they need more than concept. They need an edge. They need to offer users something different. They also need more features like albums, tagging, and the ability to search for classmates and co-workers. Theres a stalker-ish vibe every time I make a search since I have to type in someones full name. It would makes users feel better finding friends by accident than literally searching for their names. Its kind of creepy if you think about it. I understand the work involved in coding these features but lets face it, wereВ spoiled. Also, with Google+ in the picture, people wont care anymore. They would rather pick the lesser of two evils than wait around for an open-source alternative. From what Ive seen so far, only Linux geeks and computer nerds hang out on Diaspora. And lets face it, not everyone will care about Diasporas mission. Most people are willing to accept some privacy issues as long as they have a big community. Fortunately, I am the exception and Im glad there are other like-minded people out there.



Diaspora Alpha has promise but lacks some key features to compete. SlowВ development.


Pros: Looks clean and simple. No ads.


Cons: Not much to do. Small community. Still in Alpha after 1 year+


Check them out for yourself @ joindiaspora.com

Bing Rewards Gives Users A Reason To Switch From Google

Bing Rewards

Since May 10th of 2011, I officially made the switch from Google to Bing. I was using Bing as my main search engine ever since the Panda update that changed Googles search algorithm. This was an unofficial switch as I spend some time reviewing the alternative. Surprisingly, I liked using Bing. I find the home page to be more modern andВ pleasant but looks isnt everything, of course. TheВ search quality is whats important. With Google, what use to take me 1-2 pages to find what Im looking for now takes me 3+ pages. There seemed to be an increase in web spam on Google over the month before my switch. В Ive found more relevant search results with Bing during the Panda update compared to Google and Ive used it ever since. On May 10th, I made a Bing search and made Bing my official search engine after a pop-up invited me to earn credits that IВ canВ redeem for goods and gift cards.



What Is Bing Rewards?

Basically, Bing Rewards is a loyalty rewards system much like the ones you find in most department stores. Think of it as a Stop and Shop card or GameStop Rewards card. Every time you use Bing to search, they give you an opportunity to earn points. You can then redeem these points for novelty goods like Bing Gear which are generic products that have the Bing brand on it. What got me interested was not these merchandise, but the gift cards. Each gift card seems to vary in points but they generally hover a little over 3,000 credits for a $25 card. For example, the $25 Best Buy gift card can be redeemed at the cost of 3187 credits. Thats 127.48 credits per $1.





How Do I Earn?

In order for you to start earning, you must have a Hotmail account or a Windows Live account. I choose to create a new Live account for this purpose. Then you can start earning points. Its not a fast process by any means. To earn 1 point, you have to make 5 Bing searches and you can earn up to 6 points this way per day. However, each day, Bing offers you little tasks that lets you earn instant points. Usually 6 credits. These are usually very simple. I earn 6 points by making Bing my homepage. They will also give you points by promoting some of their services. For example, I earn another 6 points by clicking a link that displayed video games. These little tasks are very simple and notВ obtrusiveВ at all. Some are even interesting. I even earned points by trying out Bing places which seems to be a competition to Googles local search. Even still, it can take a long time to earn anything significant. When you sign up, they give you a bonus 200 credits which is a nice touch. Im up to 321 credits at the moment. ThatsВ equalВ to $2.51.



Is This a Scam?

I highly doubt that Microsoft will scam us with this. In the past, I had a similar experience before Bing came into existence. It was a rewards system offered by Microsoft in partnership with eBay. Basically, you can find hidden treasures when you use Windows Live to search for products and sometimes, there would be an eBay promotion of that product. In my experience, I was looking for Bosch Fatpacks which areВ power-toolВ batteries. They go for about $180 apiece at the time but the promotion offered 30-50% off. I ordered 3 Fatpacks at 50% off which was $270 discount. Yes, Microsoft honored the offer. From this experience, I have confidence that when it comes time for me to redeem my credits, they will honor it.



The Alternative?

I could always use Google but Ive used them for over a decade and made thousands of searches. Maybe more. Never once did I ever thought I would actually get something from these searches. There is a catch though. As we grew wiser, we realize nothing in life is free and these points are no exception. When you agree to this program, you allow Microsoft to retain you search history. Whatever they do with this information is up to them. We are living in a time where privacy is a big concern. When we use Google search, they retain our information anyways so if you haveВ privacy concerns, maybe this isВ a lesser of two evils. And hey, at least you can get a $25 gift card in the process.В Bings search quality is comparable to Google in myВ opinionВ and the trade-off is worth it. These two corporation both retain our private information. At least with Bing, Ill get something back eventually. Ill report back when I redeem me credits.