Tuesday, November 02, 2010

I vote

I voted today.

I'm registered Green, but I voted mostly for the Democratic candidates out of fear that Republicans would win.

I voted for Prop 19 even though I've never smoked marijuana in my life, because I think the "war on drugs" has done more harm than good.

I voted to raise my own taxes to help fund schools, even though I will never have any children and will, therefore, never directly benefit from those schools.

I'm heartened by the early returns that show some of the tea party candidates lost, but I'm very disappointed that so many Americans have forgotten that it was the Republicans during the Bush years that caused our current depression and have seen fit to put the Republicans back in charge of the House, even though their "change" is just "business as usual".

I'm saddened that so many people believe the lies of corporations and their lobbyists. (And, although I was thinking about the propositions on the ballot when I first typed this, I realize it also applies to Fox News and their own lobbying masquerading as news.)

I am an atheist, so I have a healthy fear of all religious groups, but I have to admit that Christians in America scare me more than any other religious group.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My first 24 hours (or so) on Droid X

I got my Droid X yesterday and, although I started researching the implications of a move from BlackBerry to Android over a week ago, I've figured out a lot in the last 24 hours and I want to share with everybody what I've done.

My old setup:

  • I used Outlook 2007 for all my work mail, contacts, calendar and notes.
  • My work email uses generic web hosting (BlueHost.com, no Exchange server involved) and I accessed it via IMAP using Outlook on my laptop and using the built-in email client on my BlackBerry
  • I used BlackBerry Desktop Manager 6.0 to sync Outlook contacts and calendar to my BlackBerry Storm
My new setup is a little more complicated....

Calendar: I’m using Google Calendar Sync to keep my Outlook 2007 and Google Calendars in sync and then I use the standard Calendar app on the Droid X, which reads the Google Calendar. As an additional precaution, I publish my Outlook calendar to iCal Exchange (it’s a free WebDAV server) and I’ve also subscribed to that calendar in Google Calendar.

Email: I don’t try to sync my email. Instead, I kept my work email where it was and I use Outlook on my laptop and the K-9 Mail app on my phone. I also set up GMAIL to pull in my email from my web host using POP3 (but keeping a copy on the server) as a backup option. I’m using K-9 since it has better IMAP support than the native email client on the Droid X (technically, I could use either).

Contacts: I've not found a sync option that works yet. I exported my contacts from Outlook (don’t pay attention to the Google instructions: you’ll want to use the "Comma Separated Values (DOS)" option, not the "Windows" option to get all the contact fields) and then I imported them into GMAIL using their standard import function. The Droid contact list syncs with GMAIL, so any future contact changes will need to be manually synced between Outlook and Gmail until I find an application that I know works (there are no free ones that do this reliably, as far as I can tell).

Tasks: I was rarely using this in Outlook, so I won’t use it any longer.

Notes: I exported my Outlook notes to a CSV file and then I imported them into ResophNotes, a fee Windows application. ResophNotes syncs with SimpleNote, a free, secure web application and there are several Android apps that sync with SimpleNote. I (almost) randomly chose AndroNoter and it seems to work fine.

The biggest hiccup in this process was when the Google Calendar Sync application got stuck synchronizing for many hours and I had to kill it, uninstall it and then re-install it. It seems to be working OK now, but I will probably exit it before I hibernate my computer and try to remember to turn it back on when I wake my computer back up.

On a non-office note, I've also tried out a few different apps...

For Twitter, I first added my Twitter account to "My Accounts" on my Droid X, but I don't really understand what that does and I wanted a real Twitter client. (I used ÜberTwitter on my BlackBerry and it was awesome, but they don't have an Android version.) I tried out "Twitter for Android" and Tweetcaster, before settling on Touiteur, which seems to work pretty well.

For Facebook, I'm using the official Facebook app and it's better than the BlackBerry version.

The other notable apps I've installed through the Market are:
  • Yelp
  • Battery Widget
  • FlickrFree for Android
  • IMDb Movies & TV
  • Google Translate
  • Google Earth
  • Poynt
  • WorldMate (yay! although, it's not yet as cool as the BlackBerry version)
  • Barcode Scanner (love it)
  • Google Sky Map
  • Pandora Radio
I've played with some of the above very little, so I'm not yet prepared to review them.

Monday, September 13, 2010


I've suffered with the first generation BlackBerry Storm since last year, so it wasn't that hard of a decision for me to leave BB behind and switch to Android. I ordered the Droid X last week, and though it's been on backorder, I received notification that it shipped today and I should have it in my hands by Wednesday. It'll be a vast improvement over my old phone, but I am dismayed at the lack of a utility to keep my new phone in sync with Outlook. If my company used Exchange or Google Apps, this wouldn't be an issue, but we don't use either.

My research has led me to one conclusion. I must stop using Outlook and move everything (mail, contacts, calendar and notes) to Google. I've been an Outlook user since before it was Outlook (when it was the mail client that came with Windows 95) and I have almost 1300 contacts, over 1700 appointments on my calendar and over 4GB of mail in PST files (although about half of that is offline copies of my IMAP mail), so choosing to abandon Outlook was not an easy decision, but I don't see any other good solution. Android phones were designed to work with Google and Google and MS do not like to play together.

Of course, I don't have this all worked out yet. Since there is no "Google Notes", I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my Outlook notes yet. And since half of my archived mail is in PST files, I'll have to figure out how I'll get those archives into gmail. I'll probably be happier in the long run, but it all looks pretty daunting to me right now.

If anyone has any suggestions, please comment here and let me know.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Gracie Church: 1998-2010

Today, Kara and I said goodbye to our beloved Gracie. Gracie was a great, loving dog, who loved and protected her family. She enjoyed long walks and barking at the UPS guy, but most of all, she loved to swim. As a matter of fact, the only time she would ever play fetch was in the water at dog beach.

Gracie was adopted by Kara from the Escondido Humane Society (as was her younger adopted brother, Buster) and it was love at first paw for Kara and Gracie. I met Gracie a few months later when Kara and I started dating and Gracie turned me from someone who didn't like dogs into someone who loves dogs.

Although Gracie suffered from separation anxiety (and left a trail of destruction, in some cases, when she was left alone), she handled separation from Kara and me much better after "we" adopted Buster. And when I say we, I mean all of us, as Gracie also adopted Buster, always keeping a watchful eye on him at the park, scolding him if he got out of line, and grooming him whenever he would sit still long enough to take it.

Gracie loved people and got along with most other dogs. She was a protector of her "pack", though, so she was suspicious of any dog or person that she felt was acting "inappropriately", which included being a little too rowdy with Buster. She would bark or snap at other dogs when this happened, but mostly, they were warnings to "keep your distance". With suspicious people (and the UPS guy), she would bark, but never bite.

Gracie had mostly good health over her lifetime, but she had started suffering from arthritis over the last year or so. Her health, however, really started going downhill in the last month of her life, when she stopped eating almost completely. After a few weeks and a few visits to the vet, we discovered that she had cancerous tumors in her liver, lymph nodes and on her back. For the last few weeks until she died, we just tried our best to make her comfortable. Probably her happiest time during this tragic period was when we took her for one last visit to the beach. Even though it was an impromptu visit and we hadn't brought her throw toy for water fetch, she still headed straight into the ocean for a short swim.

Gracie is gone, but she will never be forgotten. And, her family will miss her terribly.

Gracie, we love you.