Python has some language features that one might never use, but then
one day you come across them in some other code and need to know what
they do. The following fragments (see the reply by Xoanan on this page) are
To determine the intersection between two lists "list1" and "list2":
intersection = filter(lambda x:x in list1, list2)
To determine the union between two lists "list1" and "list2":
union = list1 + filter(lambda x:x not in list1, list2)
To determine the difference between two lists "list1" and "list2":
difference = filter(lambda x:x in list2, list1)
To determine the distinct elements, those not in common between two
lists "list1" and "list2":
distinct = filter(lambda x:x in not list2, list1) + filter(lambda x:x in not list1, list2)
A discussion of the various ways of extracting the
unique elements from a list
From time to time you might encounter a list which contains some lists,
and you want to flatten this into a single list of simple elements.
artical talks about two ways to do this. Perhaps the more readible
method is with the nested list comprehensions:
nested = [[1,2,3], [4,5], ]
flatList = [x for sub in nested for x in sub]
[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]
this works by the first "for" loop (for
sub in nested) iterating over the top list and on each iteration
picking up a sublist and placing a reference to it in "sub", then the
second for loop (for x in sub)
runs and picks up the selected sub list and iterates over it, placing
each element of it in x. A list of all the individual values that x
takes is built up by the [x ...]
construct. A limitation with this is that all the elements in the
outer list must support iteration (i.e. be lists, tupples or something
else list-like), so you cannot have a simple scalar element in the
A review of the Canon
9900 large format printer. As for the cost of ink here is some info
Speaking with Canon,
I found the
Of course, every
image is different, but in Canon's testing, the company used the ISO
Standard #5 image to estimate inktank usage. (This image provides a
fair and accurate ratio of colors to approximate the average digital
photograph.) Here are the results, according to Canon:
Cyan: 1100 pages
Yellow: 540 pages
Photo Cyan: 380
Photo Magenta: 280 pages
Green: 2300 pages
new red and
green tanks, obviously, are used far less often than the others because
they're primarily used for accent work. They're the last tanks you'd
have to replace.
Jason Bovberg -June 3, 2004
Based on CDN$20 per cartridge (current pricing seems to be in the $15 -
$19 range) this would work out as $0.24 per print. What the poster did
not mention was what the print size was... in a follow up it was said
to be 8x10 on standard printer settings, using Canon Photo Paper Pro
Here is some more information:
I purchased the i9900
about 6 weeks ago
to replace my S9000. The
S9000 is no slouch and a top rated printer from 2 years ago but i9900
is much better. I now shoot with a Canon 10D and Canon L lenses even
though I have thousands of transparencies to scan on a Canon FS4000US
film scanner. The 10D was purchased just prior to a trip to Rome where
I shot about 1000 images.
I just finished
assembling 170 of
the best Rome images into an album using Canon PhotoRecord software
that comes with most Canon digital products. I printed the album on
both Epson dual-sided matte paper and Pictorico dual-sided semi-gloss
paper. The results are amazing. Both papers work extremely well with
the i9900 although they each have their own subtle tinting difference.
This can be corrected easily with color adjustment through the printer
driver. Printing the entire album on the dualsided 8.5 x 11 stock (68
pages total) used no more than half of some of the ink cartridges and
almost none of the red and green. People who have viewed the album are
stunned and amazed with the quality and can't believe it came from an
inkjet printer. The color punch and tone is incredible and the level of
detail and resolution equals or exceeds wet chemistry printing. If you
want to see dots you'll need at least a 4X loupe and there is
absolutely no banding.
It is a mistake to
not consider this
printer because of the limited selection of Canon papers. Epson papers
work extremely well on the Canon printers as do Pictorico, Mitsubishi
and Konica. These are the only papers I've had the opportunity to try.
Needless to say, I am very happy
I bought this printer.
Bob Baron -June 18, 2004
A review of the HP Photosmart A626, this has a built in set of card readers and a 4.8 inch LCD (which in Sept'07 was nearly the largest display on any such printer - the HP Photosmart A826 has a larger 7 inch display) for photo selection and editing (including cropping). This unit prints 4x6 and 5x7 photos, so is a bit limited, but for the Scrap Booker and Grandma type user this may be just the right set of features.
How to get Windows XP File Search to Really Work (again).
The search function of Windows XP (from the start menu "Search") is by
default not set to search the contents of most files. In order to turn
this on you can follow the steps in method #2 on
this page. A similar writeup exists in Microsoft's KB309173.
If you have ever used the "search for text in files" function and it
has failed to find what you were looking for, but you know that the
search should have worked it is probably because the behavior of the
searching changed greatly between Windows 2000 and Windows XP. By
default Windows 2000 would search in all files, but Windows XP will
only search in certain "known" file types (probably .txt. and .doc and
not much else). The fix for this is quite simple, though remarkably
hard to find. Here's what to do:
note that despite the fact this setting is controlled through the
Indexing Service, you do not need to start the Indexing Service running
for this to work.
The European Space Agency has selected its target for an asteroid
The mini-ITX.com store
has a good selection of cases. The Morex
Venus 668 and 669
like the typical SFF case design, and have space for 2 x 5.25" drives.
BatterySpace.com has a good
selection of batteries and chargers. They even have the hard to
find 9V lithium batteries that are great for smoke detectors. BatteryMart.com also has a good
 The FitPC a low-power design (drawing only 5W) gets reviewed here and discussed here on Slashdot. fit-PC has introduced another version, the fit-PC Slim which is available in a very small case (probably less than a bare 3.5 inch hard drive). This is priced from $220 to $335 depending on the options selected and the operating system. The new version gets reviewed here. A new version of this gets an Atom processor for a bit more speed. More details on the fit-PC2 here with pricing starting at $245 for a disk-less model.
Ewayco has a good selection of small, low-power, computer systems.  VideoReDo is a
powerful tool for extracting and deleting scenes from MPEG1 and MPEG2
files. This has a pretty convenient batch edit function that can also
be used to split a single file into a number of smaller files (perhaps
you have a few hours of vacation tape to edit, and you want to start by
extracting the dozen or so interesting scenes into separate files so
they are easier to work with). What you do is explained
on their FAQ (its not immediatly obvious from the help file or
program's controls that you can do this). Since the FAQ is a little
vague, here's a recap:
- open the control panel
then go to administrative tools and open the "Computer
Management" application, set the display to show both the tree view (on
the left) and details list on the right, (the 4th icon from the left on
the tool bar) and the do the following steps in the tree view
under "Computer Management (Local)" you will find "Services and
Applications", and then "Indexing Service"
do a right click on "Indexing Service" and select "Properties"
from the popup menu
the "Indexing Service Properties" window will appear, this has
two tabs, in the tab called "Generation" you will find a check box
labeled "Index files with unknown extensions", you need to check this
and then click the OK button and that is it
AVSMedia sells video format
conversion software, as well as a pretty decent video editing
(which includes the ability to include still images and do simulated
pans and zooms within them). They have a fully functional
try-before-buy version that just puts a logo in the middle of the
output, so its easy to test to see if it will work for you. You can use
this to create DVDs from source material that is in 16x9 aspect ratio,
the trick with this is once you have placed the clip on the time line,
right click to summon the properties menu and then from the properties
dialogue select the "aspect" tab and set 4:3 as the "video proportion"
(which seems counter intuitive). When you setup the initial project you
should also set it to 4:3 aspect ratio, even though what you are trying
to do is to make a 16:9 letter boxed DVD.
has a good selection of SCSI stuff
also has a good selection of SCSI stuff
has a good selection of tape drives and media
A selection of the
less expensive Canon lenses, which may be of interest to those us
purchase one of the Canon digital SLRs, especially the new EOS 300D or
the year-old EOS 10D
 Philips' AJL308 is a clock radio combined with a photo frame. From the product brochure and owner's manual it appears that you can select a song to wake up to.  Interlogic has a good selection of mini-ITX motherboards that are Pentium processor based as well as SBCs for embedded applications.  E-itx has a good selection of mini-ITX, nano-ITX and pico-ITX motherboards.  Simplified Innovation has a selection of small form factor PCs. 
has a good selection of PDAs and accessories, plus free ground shipping
in Canada. Service seems to be quite prompt (Jan'05).
Slashdot discusses selecting
an OS for an embedded system
 7-Zip is a free zip archiver utility, it includes packing/unpacking of: ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2 and TAR formats as well as unpacking of: RAR, CAB, ISO, ARJ, LZH, CHM, Z, CPIO, RPM, DEB and NSIS formats. To use it to unpack a multi-part RAR archive set, just select the file that ends in ".rar" and then hit the extract button (the other parts should automatically be included).  If you are looking for conventional photo frames, Frames by MAIL has a wide selection.  DigiFrames.com has a wide selection of digital photo frames.  The $2500 car from Tata India is shown here and discussed here on Slashdot. My gut feeling is this will be a disaster for India, already their roads are over crowded and converting masses of small motorbikes to hordes of small cars is only going to make the situation worse - welcome to the 24 hour grid lock India! This car is due to go on sale Monday March 23, 2009 - another small step down the world to global crisis. In mid-July the first Nano was actually sold, they had to hold a lottery to select the first 100,000 purchasers.  The FON Google map based locater application works well, hidden in it is the ability to download POIS (points of interest) files which can then be loaded into your GPS. These contain the current list of fonspots for a single country which you select. The official way to get at this data is from the FON maps page, then go to the "Tools" link in the "Menu" box on the left side of the page. Under "Tools" you will find "download to navigation gizmo", click on this and you get to a small form that allows you to pick the country of interest and the file format you want. This only worked for me from the Mozilla Seamonkey browser, both Firefox and MSIE failed to download the file.
- You will probably need to set some program options first, in the "General Parameters" select "Queue to batch clears cut list" and set the "Editing Mode" to "Scene Mode".
- enter the Batch Manager, and select a destination folder,
then enter a "_" (underscore) into the "destination modifier" field, finally
hit the "Done" button
- now pick the scenes you want in each separate file (you
can select several per file if you want), by finding the start of the
scene, clicking on the "Sel. End" button, then finding the scene's end
and clicking on the "Sel. End" button and at last clicking on the "Add
Selection" button. Repeat as needed.
- once your list of scenes is complete you hit the CTRL+B
key (or use the File / Add Edits to Batch Queue... menu item)
- a dialogue will appear that shows you the file name it
will save those scenes to, this should be in the destination directory you
selected, the file name should start with the original file's name and
then have an "_nnn" extension, where "nnn" is a number that starts with
001 and automatically increases each time you hit CTRL+B. Answer "OK"
to the dialogue if the name is correct.
- once you have finished your selections you select the
Tools / Start Batch Manager menu item again, check the "Run Silently" check box
(this doesn't seem to do much) and then press the "Save and Execute"
button and it will build the new set of scene files without needing
further user interaction.
You can get this to work by directly entering a URL like this one for Canada. It has a format that looks like: A new crystalline material that can selectively trap CO2 has been developed, details are pretty sketchy though. Once the material has its fill of CO2 what do you do? Bury it, treat it to release the CO2?  Ars Technica looks at building a green PC, discussed here on Slashdot. They build a lower power (say under 150W) box for game playing and then try to build an extreme green box which uses something in the range of 20-30W. On the extreme box they went overboard on the hard drive and used a 32GB SSD unit which cost $725, they would have done better to have selected a 2.5 inch laptop drive for about $100 (which would have used almost the same power) or found a way to use a 1.8 inch drive (or the kind intended for PMP devices), or use a 16GB CF card mounted in an IDE adapter (they talk about doing this later).  So you're happily coding away on some dialogs and have some special need to use SetFocus() and TABSTOP to get the tab key sequencing through the controls in exactly the right fashion. But sometimes you notice that the focus rectangle is not getting drawn on the control that has the keyboard focus and you think this is a problem in your code and you start to tear out the few remaining hairs on your head.
http://maps.fon.com/main/downloadPois?country_code=ca&format=csv, you can select the different file formats by changing the "csv" at the end (I picked CSV because I wanted to search for all the fonspots in one city) and you can change the country by replacing the "ca" with the country code you are interested in. A note of interest, as of 20-Jan-2008 Canada now has 850 FONspots listed and Calgary has 27. 
If you are using Windows XP or Vista this might not be a problem with your code, it appears that some UI designer (who's brain was obviously too big and has a full head of hair) at Microsoft decided that the keyboard focus indicator was too distracting and ordered it turned off by default. But to make life more confusing the focus box will get drawn when signs of keyboard activity are sensed (such as when you press an ALT key or perhaps the left or right arrow keys - but NOT the TAB key). Then, just to make matters even worse, the Vista team rearranged the way this option is hidden in the Windows preferences system, so even if you found the instructions on how to re-enable this behavior under XP you'll never find the control for it under Vista - this article has a good guide to where to find the setting under both Vista and XP. In short for Vista you need to:
for Windows XP you need to:
- right click on the desktop,
- select the "Personalize" menu item,
- then click on the "Ease of access" link,
- then click on "Make keyboard easier to use",
- then check the "Underline keyboard shortcuts and access keys" option
- and (finally!) hit the "Save" button.
 A software engineering course has student teams build a project in stages, at the end of the first stage they review the work of the other teams and then must select one of the other team's work to continue. An interesting idea, perhaps this could be used in a company which can afford to take a "multiple implementation, select the best of breed" approach to software development. While this sounds wasteful it might be a good way to get higher quality and/or meet tighter schedules. 
SeatGuru is a web site
that specializes in documenting the seat layout, features and comfort
factors of the planes of various airlines, with the objective of
helping you select the best seat.
The Travel Alberta
web site, GetGoingCanada a
selection of the best drives across Canada
 A discussion of selecting the right web framework for the job. And another, more detailed, look at this. 
Different types of voting
systems for national elections, of course in Canada if you live in
the West, your vote never elects the national government. This is
because about 70% of the population lives in the East and the polls
close at the same local time across the country. So by the time the
polls have closed in the East the ruling party has been selected - without a
single vote from the West being counted. We should really have the
polls close across the country simultaneously to eliminate this odd fact.
 PathCatcher is a Windows utility that allows one to right-click on a file or folder or selected group of files in Windows FileExplorer and save its path to the clipboard. Probably a good place to start if you want to write some simple extensions to the FileExplorer.   While replacing the battery of my Tungsten T3 (following these instructions) I noticed a screen that allows you to enter the rules for which days daylight saving time changes on. After completing the installation and reloading my Palm I could not find the screen this is entered on. I did the usual Google search and while this turned up Palm's official update for the new (2007) rules for DST in North America I thought it was odd that no one was mentioning that the Palm actually has a way of entering this information - somewhere! So I did a bit more poking about and eventually found it, here is how to do it:
- right click on the desktop,
- select the "Properties" menu item,
- then click on the "Appearance" tab,
- then click on "Effects..." button,
- remove the check from the "Hide underlined letters for keyboard navigation until I press the Alt key" option
- and (finally!) hit the "OK" button.
Kind of twisted, and this explains why Palm's people had forgotten their software already supported this feature and so released a tool to fix a problem that did not exist.
- Go to the Preferences application
- Select Date & Time
- At this point you see the set date and time entry fields, and a Location, select the Location drop list
- Select Edit List...
- Now you see the short list of locations, select the location you want to fix and hit the Edit button.
- Now you are in the Edit Location display, and here (at last) are the two buttons that allow you to enter the rules for starting and ending daylight saving time.
The above procedure also works for the TX.  This article discusses the purpose of the svchost.exe processes (which you can often see lurking on your system in the task manager). An important aspect of these is that they are the host process for one or more Windows services and you can see which services each hosts by using the command line tasklist/svc program or by right clicking on one of the svchost.exe instances in the task manager and then selecting Goto service(s) from the popup menu. A writeup of all the various services is available here.  Using Python to update selected records in a database or using an SQL command to do this.  A look at the past, present and a guess at the future of web hosting from the perspective of what a startup company needs to spend on infrastructure just to get going. This is worth a read as it does a good job of pointing out that while the cost of the basic infrastructure (servers and software) has dramatically dropped in the last decade (for the entry-level portion of the market) it is still not easy to get the show on the road and while some progress is being made in addressing the scalability issues with things like Amazon's EC2 and Google's AppServer there is still much to be done.
Currently I think a virtual private server (VPS) solution is the best bet for those who need to start small, and while EC2 has some advantages its pricing is currently a lot higher. Going the VPS route has some scalability, some vendors (such as linode.com) offer about a 10:1 scaling ratio in features across their offered services.
Once you have maxed out a typical VPS vendor's offerings you are in the price range of a single dedicated server so the migration path could be continued by switching to a dedicated server or by getting your own hardware and perhaps co-locating it. Doing this could add about a factor of 5 to the scaling curve, so in total, the virtual and dedicated private server approaches should allow you to scale your application about 50 times without having to rework the architecture or selected technology. Once you have grown to encounter those limits you are probably leaving the domain of the startup, so its probably time for a rethink anyway.   pdfrecycle is a module that allows you to build a PDF file out of pages selected from other PDF files. It needs a full LaTeX environment installing to use it though. Its home page is here.  A note on using git-svn to cherry pick selected work from a branch.  Plastic Logic is building an e-book reader based on a plastic display system. They have selected an 8.5x11 screen size to match standard North American paper and appear to be targeting business users (which probably means their device will initially be quite expensive). Still, it looks quite nice.  Windows Vista upgrade installations may start their work by installing an image of Vista and then proceed to selectively tailoring it to your system's needs.  The PLoP Boot Manager can be used to select different operating system installations to boot from. It can be started from harddisk, floppy, USB, CDROM or a network location.  The cost of selection and administration of research grants can be more than the grants being given out, so why bother reviewing applications from qualified scientists?   Using the Windows.Forms.MonthCalendar control from IronPython.  A look at solving the Partition Partition problem with a natural selection (genetic) algorithm.  Slashdot discusses the difficulty of selecting CPUs and GPUs due to the strange naming and numbering systems that are used these days. For comparison purposes the site: CPUBenchmark.net has a number of good performance charts that span a wide range of CPUs, as well the companion site VideoCardBenchmark.net compares GPUs.  The Google Nexus One Phone does work on Virgin Mobile in Canada. As of 26-Mar-2010 I was able to successfully connect my (ATT/Rogers style) Nexus One to the Virgin Mobile network in Calgary, Canada. It runs fine and with the data plan activated it works over the 3G (HSDPA) network quite nicely. Getting connected was much more painful than it needed to be. Here's the story:
 Thoughts after a couple of weeks. I have owned a Google Nexus One for a couple of weeks now and I thought it would be a good time to record some first impressions. In a word BETA. Yes, in keeping with Google's fine tradition of apparently never finishing anything, this is most certainly a beta product. Now given the intended audience (geeks) of the Nexus One this is not a particularly bad thing, but Android is being billed as a mass-market phone (and appliance) operating system and I am finding the smart phone platform is falling short of what a consumer would need, want or expect.
- It all started when I heard from a couple of friends that the unlocked Nexus One was now available to Canadians and that they had taken the plunge. So I did a bit more research and found that there were now two variants: one (the AWS version - for "3G on T-Mobile USA") would only work on the Wind network in Canada and the other ("compatible with 3G on ATT and Rogers Wireless") should work on Rogers, Fido, Telus, Bell and Virgin. I ordered the ATT/Rogers version because it offered me more carrier choices in Canada.
- After researching the various carrier offerings (and rediscovering that the thinly-disguised monopolistic cell phone price fixing conspiracy was still alive and well in Canada) I decided to stick with Virgin Mobile where I already had a pre-paid phone.
- I then called Virgin's support to see if they thought the Nexus One was compatible, they confirmed that the specifications were a match and stated that: as this was not a "supported phone" they could not guarantee data would work. They said when I got the phone to take it to one of their stores and get hooked up using their GSM SIM card.
- I then paid a visit to their North Hill mall booth (they don't really have "stores" just booths in Calgary) only to be told "they only do CDMA phones". Of course Virgin has only recently begun handling GSM/3G type phones, but you'd think their staff training would have mentioned the fact that now they are carrying the iPhone and offering SIM cards and that they had joined the GSM/3G service crowd (like the rest of the Virgin operations around the world). I also visited the Bell booth (Virgin runs on Bell's network in Canada and shares network towers with Telus, competing with Rogers and Fido) and they were ready to try right away.
- Undaunted I called Virgin service the next day, reconfirmed that the phone would work and that I would be able to port my pre-paid phone number and remaining balance to the new plan and then settled back to wait for DHL to deliver the phone.
- Once the phone arrived I returned to the Virgin booth, this time it was staffed by someone who did know that they did more than CDMA, so we got set to the task of hooking up. After about 15 minutes of credit check, verifying that the phone's IMEI number was listed in their database as compatible (for the 3rd time!) we got to the part where they scan in the SIM card's number and associate the phone by its IMEI number. At this point we got a rather odd error from their system saying something like "the SIM card is incompatible with the selected plan". The salesman called his support line and they got the same error and after a few minutes they just gave up. The salesman gave it another shot (this time starting as if I did not have an existing account, in case the pre-paid legacy account was messing things up) and even used a different SIM, but still got the same error. As I was running late, I just called it a day and left.
- The next morning I called Virgin support and told them what had happened, they went through the same registration process (again checking the IMEI for compatibility) and ran into the same error (using a SIM card on their end as I had been unable to purchase one). This time support called their support, and after a few minutes on hold, they returned to say they had got around the error and we could proceed, but that I would have to now buy a SIM card from one of their stores. However, all the account stuff had been done and I had a new (non-working) phone number and once I had the SIM I was to call back and they could complete the process.
- So at lunch time I went SIM shopping, its just a little $5 card that all the Virgin retailers carry and there are several a short ways from my office, so I checked stock levels at The Source (as the Virgin Booth is further away) and walked over. On my way I passed "The Telephone Booth" which had a big Virgin Mobile display at the front of their store, so I went in and asked for a SIM, they wanted $42 for it (unless I registered through them) so I resumed my search for The Source.
- At The Source they said no problem, they had the SIMs but needed to check the phone first, so they checked the IMEI against the database and then got out their "test SIM" (which was from Bell), popped it into the phone and declared it good. So then they proceeded to sell me the Virgin SIM, but at some point in the checkout process they have to have a Virgin Account number (to sell the SIM against), so they wanted to go through the registration process (again!). I told them this had already been started and it was on hold pending purchase of the SIM. They called Virgin, and after about 10 minutes of back and forth (and another IMEI check, credit card check and photo ID recheck) they got the account number out of Virgin and were able to complete the sale. All in all, about 25 minutes to make a $5 sale - how do these guys stay in business?
- Later that day, SIM in phone, I call Virgin back again to resume the process. After about 10 minutes on hold I get an operator and after a brief description of what I need to do she decides another department needs to handle the call, so back on hold. After about 30 minutes more on hold I hang up and call back to the support line again, this time I get through and after about 5 minutes we have completed the next step. The SIM and the IMEI are now associated! So now I have to power off the phone, pull out the SIM, reinsert it, power up the phone and then wait for 2 hours for the phone and network to connect up and then call them back to finish the data configuration step.
- After 2 hours I check the phone and the it appears to be on the GSM network (I don't see any 3G indicator), I can make a phone call with it and I have received two text messages from Virgin welcoming me to the party. Things are looking good, so I call them up, wait for about 15 minutes, talk to someone in support who curtly tells me the phone is not supported by them so 3G ain't going to work, your phone's only going to do what its doing now, goodbye. I hope Virgin reviews their call recordings on that one... Muttering to myself I dig through my accumulated net-searches on Virgin 3G lore and find this helpful article where the author reports the same sort of grief. He mentions that the solution is actually documented on Virgin's site (note: Virgin has since removed this page from their site and when I pointed it out to them they denied it even existed, you can get the information you need from Bell's site, since Virgin just resells Bell's service) in a cunningly concealed section of the page on their SIM cards. I found that following the setup (under the misleading heading "What Do I Get?") for the iPhone 3G/3GS eventually worked just fine. These are the settings that worked for me, there are some other settings that I didn't enter anything for.
To get to the data entry page on your Nexus One go into the Settings menu, then "Wireless & networks", then "Mobile networks", then "Access Point Names", then (for me) it says "virgin pda.bell.ca", I click on this and it gets to the "Edit access point" menu.
Initially it did not seem to do anything, but after a few minutes I thought "what if my phone's too smart, perhaps when it is connected via WiFi it does not display the 3G indicator?". So I shut down my WiFi connection and the 3G icon popped into view, a quick test confirmed that data was flowing through 3G and all was well!
- APN: pda.bell.ca
- Proxy: web.wireless.bell.ca
- Port: 80
- MMSC http://mms.bell.ca/mms/wapenc
- MMS Proxy: web.wireless.bell.ca:80
- MCC: 302
- Well that should have been the end of the story, only the next day I realized that in all of this Virgin never actually shut down the old account and ported the number, so I had to call them again (20 minute hold) and go through the number porting process. This required another SIM remove/replace and wait an hour or two cycle, but now things appear to be working.
- I just have to wait a few days and check that their accounting department did move the unused balance from my pre-paid phone to the new monthly (one month term contract) plan. Oh joy, another half hour of hold time ahead. And yes, they did transfer the remaining balance from the pre-paid plan, so nothing was lost there.
The hardware is quite good, the device looks and feels nice. The screen is very nice, except in bright sunlight. The digitizer generally works quite well, it certainly feels like the iPhones I have played with. The sound quality is good for both phone and media functions. The battery life is good for this sort of device, I'm getting about two days of use out of it by which time the battery level is at about 30%, but I don't do many calls and maybe log about an hour of web surfing, an hour or two of MP3 playback and about 2.5 hours of GPS use in that time. I leave the WiFi and Bluetooth radios on all the time. The fastest drain is when I use the GPS (using Google's Latitude and the MyTracks route tracker applications). I like the fact the battery is user-swapable and there is a microSD card slot.
The only issues I have with the hardware so far are:
The software, this is the part of the phone that's really beta. I have not had any real problems with the underlying OS, I have not had to reboot the phone to get it to function properly or anything like that. My gripe is with the included applications. One of the things I wanted from this phone was a unification of the functions of my old phone plus my old Palm Tungsten T3 PDA, so that I would be able to replace two devices with one and have more functionality at hand too (like the GPS and browsing on the go). So far the places I find that fail are with the basic PDA functions. Here's how I see it:
- The ringer volume (as is mentioned here along with other issues) is too low
- the back cover is rather hard to remove, they could fix this quite easily by including a ridge or slot to get a grip on, or better yet a small latch.
- I would prefer that the microSD card slot was exposed (i.e. externally accessible on one side) so one could change cards without having to power down the phone, remove the back cover and battery and the reassemble everything. My little Samsung flip phone did this quite well. Perhaps there should be two slots, an internal one that is used as fixed storage and an external one that is intended for user-swapping?
- the dock connector appears to only provide a power connection, any other connection must be either through the USB port (which is limited) or via Bluetooth or WiFi radio. This may be a good thing, but at the moment it limits what other things the unit can be used for. Perhaps someone will make a WiFi player dock for it so that the device can be used to play video to an external monitor or TV.
- For a few cents more why didn't they put an infrared transmitter/receiver on this so that it could also be used as a programmable remote control?
- The GMail client is pretty good, its an effective way of doing email triage on the road (train) and the unification of your email into the Google GMail cloud is very well done. You do something on either the GMail web client (at home or at the office or where ever) or on the phone and it's auto-synchronized in a seamless fashion. For anyone who needs to deal with email while on trips this would be worth it alone.
- The contacts manager is also very good, again it pulls off a nice, seamless two way synchronization All you need to do to make this useful is to import your contacts into the GMail contacts lists. I had to do some work on this one because GMail does not have a direct import from Palm devices, you have to export to a CSV and then upload to GMail, which is ok, except GMail import does not understand a lot of the columns that the Palm export provides so it just tosses a lot of stuff into the "Notes" section.
- The todo (tasks) list is missing. Total fail, GMail has a todo list on the web, but to get at it from your Nexus One you must visit a web page! Todo lists have been standard on PDAs since the beginning, so why is this missing?
- The Note taking function is also missing. It seems obvious that this should have been implemented as something that interfaced with Google Docs on the web, in fact there is a third-party free application called GDocs that attempts to fill this void.
- While the device does have a media player that does a reasonable job of MP3 playback and video playback this is a very basic implementation. It lacks the glitter of what the world has come to expect from the iPhone, so it's just basic marketing that this needs to be improved. Note the video formats this can play appears to be pretty limited, so expect to transcode anything you want to view here. Given there are a lot of inexpensive media players that are based on Linux that do a great job of playing just about anything without using super powerful chips one wonders why this cannot be done on this phone?
The last issue is with accessing the microSD card over the USB cable to load or unload data. As a geek I can understand why they have done what they have done, but surely there must be a better way! Here is what the user sees:
In my view what should happen is that when you plug in the USB cable the phone should immediately do all the mounting, the fact it can detect the connection and then prompt you, tells me that there's no real reason why it could not have just done the mounting right away. The mounting attempt might fail if some phone application current was using the SD card (though I have not seen this happen yet), in which case it should notify you of the problem. Then Windows would have quickly opened the drive and you could get onto the important business of dragging over some more MP3s right away. Once you are done with the drive in Windows, you should just use the Windows eject function as normal. Then the phone would detect the end of the session (as it currently does) and instead of bothering you with some more UNIX voodoo it should just silently umount the drive and return it to the normal phone mode - only if there is a problem should it prompt you for anything. This would make the whole process plug and play, the only voodoo left is on the Windows box when ejecting the drive at the end, and that's now accepted as "normal".
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- Upon connecting his Nexus One to a computer via the USB cable he gets a notification that says the USB was connected.
- He then drags open the notifications list and touches the USB notification.
- Then a dialog appears saying: "You have connected your phone to your computer via USB. Select "Mount" if you want to copy files between your computer and your phone's SD card." and it gives you two buttons: "Mount" and "Don't Mount". This simply reeks of geek, and not just any geek, we're talking about 50 year old UNIX geeks with massive beards that wear old hiking boots to work in case they need to climb things in the server room! Mount, don't talk to me about Mount! Steve Jobs must find this hilarious!
- Once you hit "mount" your microSD card becomes accessible from the computer and then you can use it until you use the Window's remove USB devices tool to eject it (in a way equally mysterious, but in this day of USB thumb drives something that most people know how to use).
- Once you do this the Nexus One gives you another notification titled: "Turn off USB storage", tapping this gets you another dialog that reads "Before turning off USB storage, make sure you have unmounted the USB host. Select "Turn Off" to turn off USB storage." and gives you to choices "Turn Off" and "Cancel". Again the mountains appear on the phone.
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