Sunday, October 31, 2010

Applications for Android - Online vs Offline Installation

Here's a first hand report of everything you need to know about applications for your Android 2.1 - basically a newbies perspective!

I am going to skip a complete background of Android as it is already perfectly written over here at Wikipedia.

Applications like on any other platform can be Paid or free. But the great thing is Android has the highest paid to free ratio for any OS (mobile or PC) of 65%!!!

Ok. Whether free or paid, to get a new app on the phone, step no 1 is finding the apps.
Android Market is the official Google source with 150,000 apps and you typically find the majority listed here. Apps are also hosted on other places as listed here but I have not checked them out yet - I like to get my reviews for Android Apps from

Once you've found your App, there are 2 ways to install them on your Android phone:
1) Online, i.e., directly from your Android phone by browsing Android Market. This is the best way especially if you have a cheap/affordable GPRS/3G plan on your Android phone. You can just open the MarketPlace app, browse through or search, and select to install (if its not free, you have to purchase the app first of course). Your selected app will be downloaded and installed in 1 step! You never actually have to run an exe or script or anything else to install the app.

2) Offline: If your mobile's data plan is expensive (like mine), then the only real option is to download the apps onto your PC using your affordable net connections.
For the Android OS, installation files ends with an .apk extension. Once you've downloaded the apk file your selected app, copy the apk file to your Android Phone (via wifi/usb/memorycard). Then simply use the File Browser app (present on all Android OS by default), select the apk file you copied and open it - you would then be prompted to install. Its not that complicated right?
Unfortunately, you'll find that there are very few applications being distributed officially via apk. I don't know why - especially because its not that complicated to extract an apk once you have installed it directly from Android Market.
There are some sites where popular apks are posted but you have to be cautious as it is not official (meaning it might be a tampered app or a completely different app you find after u install it - but this hasn't happened to me yet with the 25 and counting apps I installed):

One major thorny issue I want to mention about Apps on your Android before you go downloading all those free apps. Android OS has a severe flaw that forces all apps to be installed only in the phones Memory and not in the Memory Card!!! Unbelievable but true!!!!! WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME THIS BEFORE I GOT AN ANDROID DUMB PHONE? What a major setback for a someone rooting for Android from the word go?
What this means is that although my Motorola Quench HT3 supports upto 32GB Memory card, I am stuck with installing only upto 100MB of apps supported on the Internal memory storage limit on my particular phone THANKS TO GOOGLE ##@@^%$%@@!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This issue is finally being touched upon in the latest Android 2.2 where app developers can give the option to the user to choose where to install the apps. Unfortunately, the default is still the phone memory. And unless older apps are updated and reinstalled, it will continue to be in the phone memory. I guess I just have to finally accept that Google is becoming another money-hungry monopoly like Yahoo and Microsoft...
For me with my Android 2.1 Eclair, I have no choice but to limit my applications installations but I have not yet hit the limit mind you. But that's because I was being extra careful by keeping only apps that I use regularly. Currently, there are 20 apps I have installed on my Android.

For top must have apps for Android, check my other post, Favourite must-have Android Apps.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Motorola Quench XT3 XT502 - Day 1 Review

Finally got myself an entry level Android phone yesterday - the Motorola Quench XT3 XT502. So here's a series of quick reviews on it from an Owners point of view.

It's still not available for display in most shops but I was able to check it out the Tata Croma store at Vashi Centre Mall. They received their first HTC Quench XT3 just that morning but they agreed to let me switch it on and have a look even though it was in a brand new sealed-pack.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that unlike what is advertised on Motorola's own site, this phone came pre-installed with Android 2.1 instead of 1.6! I decided to get it right away for Rs 13691 (this includes the additional Rs700 I paid to Croma to get 2 additional years of warranty).
Also, I was able to bargain for a free 2GB Memory card.

Summary of Quench XT3 XT502
HVGA screen with 2.2 inch
Has lots of extra hardware buttons (volume +/-, camera, Dial, Cancel Call, trackball)
No Data cable
Only 262k colors
Compared to other phones, slightly lower capacity battery

Whats in the box?
It came with charger, battery, earphones. That's it.
It does not have any memory card or even data cable. Its very strange that it did not come with memory card as most of the android features including camera need SD card! But as mentioned before, after insisting on a memory card, the Croma store people gave a Sandisk 2GB microSD free.
What's worse is that the lack of data cable means it will be very frustrating for those with expensive GPRS plans and no wifi - they cannot share the internet connection being used on their PC.
The phone has only default android apps with not even a single game. The good news there are EXCELLENT free apps available. Will cover this in a later article.

Comparison with other competing phones
When I was shopping, the only real phones I could compare in this range were
Samsung Galaxy I5801 (also known as )
Song Ericsson Xperia X8
LG Optimus One seems to be taking forever to reach any shops here, so I couldn't consider it.

The screen size is important because most of 1000s of coolest (mostly free) Android apps out there work on the HVGA dimension of 320 x 480 pixels. There is a chance that if your Android phone has a different dimension, apps may run incorrectly if not at all. So this was my biggest priority.
Out of the available phones, no other phone provides HVGA and with 2.2 inch at this price range:
I5801: Only WQVGA although it has 2.2inch size.
Xperia X8: It has HVGA but with very small 2 inch size.

Here is a detailed comparison with some more competing phones:

ModelSony Ericsson Xperia X8Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 MiniSamsung Galaxy 3HTC WildfireHTC Tattoo A3232Motorola Quench XT3 XT502LG Optimus One







SpecialoffersNoneNoneFree Reebok Watch worth Rs2599Free HTC Leather Pouch worth Rs.349NoneFree Adidas Jacket & 4 Movie Tickets of across multiplexes worth Rs.3599NA
CPU600MhzQualcommMSM 7227 600MHzQualcomm(QSC6270), 667 MHzQualcommMSM 7225 528 MHzQualcommMSM 7225 528 MHzQualcommMSM 7227 600MHz600MHz processor
Memory128MB?128MB?130MB?384 MBRAM; 512 MB ROM256 MB RAM, 512 MB ROM100 MB storage, 256 MB RAM; 512 MB ROM170 MB


5MPAuto-focus?3.2MP?Auto-focus?5MPAuto-focus?3.15MPFixed-focus?3.15MP fixed focus + Flash3.15MP Auto-focus?
Resolution320 x480 pixels (HVGA)240 x320 pixels (QVGA)240 x400 (WQVGA) TFT240 x320 (QVGA) TFT240 x320 (QVGA) TFT320 x480 pixels (HVGA)320 x480 pixels (HVGA) TFT








Dimensions99.0 x54.0 x 15.0 mm83.0 x50.0 x 16.0mm113.5x 55 x 12.55 mm106.8x 60.4 x 12 mm106 x55.2 x 14 mm114.9x 56.8 x 12.6 mm113.5x 59 x 13.3 mm
Weight104g88g?118 g113 g114 g129 g
ExtMemoryMicroSDupto 16MB, 2GB includedMicroSDupto 16MB, 2 GB includedMicroSDupto 32MB, 2 GB includedMicroSDupto 32MB, 2 GB includedMicroSDmicroSD,up to 32GB. None includedmicroSD,up to 32GB, 2GB included
BatteryLi-Po1200 mAh Li-Po950 mAhLi-ion,1,500 mAhLi-Ion,1300mAh1100mAh?Li-Po1270 mAhLi-Ion1500 mAh

First time Android user
Since I haven't used Android before, I decided to follow the manual exactly:
Open the cover and remove battery (not really necessary to remove battery for inserting sim and memory, but I just wanted to follow the instructions!).
Insert Sim and my 8GB Memory card from my Samsung star phone (which died last week after a water attack!)
Replace battery.
Charge for 3 hours!

Finally switched on the phone at 12am. First thing I did was a factory reset.

WARNING: Factory Reset will clear all the data on the phone like Contacts, Call logs, installed applications and their data, etc.
But don't worry if you are doing this on a new phone - factory Reset does not affect any of your data on the memory card nor the data on the Sim.

Performing a Factory Reset makes sure that I got a fresh Android OS with no overheads.
For Factory Reset, go to

After doing the Factory Reset, the phone restarts. After a few minutes, it displays the Welcome message with a Tour which you can skip. Then, it prompts you to enter your Google account details or create a Google account. But I skipped this step as it needs net connectivity and my GPRS plan is very expensive. This step will be prompted when you click on any of the Google apps on the phone like GMail, Lattitude, etc.

Pre-installed Apps
The Gallery app is where all your media is displayed. When I opened this app for the first time, it showed as busy with a message "Loading". I guess it was finding all the 3Gb of pics and videos on my old Memory Card. I switched to another app and when I came after 2 mins, it allowed me to view whatever media was loaded while it continued finding more.
But it was REALLY SMOOTH after that! The images are beautifully stacked in the folders. And when clicking on the images loaded them instantly -scrolling to the next pics was just as smooth with instant loading. It think it buffers the next few pics because when I started scrolling through the pics in full screen very fast, my 3MP resolution pics was pixellated and it takes another 1 second for the image to become fully clear.

Anyway, the good part is that it is extremley smooth and fast after that first search. I was interesting that it found each and every single image in my memory card from all scattered locations.

Maybe it's because I have never owned a multi-touch phone before - but I was downright AMAZED by the pinch and unpinch to Zoom and unzoom pics. I mean not only is it very intuituve but it was SUPER FAST and SMOOTH!!!

Another thing is that it showed as busy for about 2 minutes while loading the 2GB pics/videos in my old 8GB Memory Card data before it allowed to start looking at to load all the 3GB of pics n videos in the memory card.

The usual Address Book feature is provided via the Contacts app. However, none of the Phone numbers in the Sim are available automatically in the Contacts . Thankfully, there is an option to Import the phone numbers from your Sim - you can select Import All or just choose the numbers you want to import. To import all the 100 odd contacts in my sim, it took about 3 minutes. Like with the one-time slow processes, I simply switched to another task as the Android can Multitask unlike the iPhone you know :)!

Battery lasts for 1 day with average gaming and calls with no wifi/bluetooth. This was disappointing for me coming from my Samsung Star S5233A which could last me 2 days easily and sometimes even 4. But then this was expected because Android of course supports multi tasking. So you can have your music player runnng, taking cam pics, use your browser, and create a document without closing any of the apps. But since these apps have no close option, they would continue to run in the background for a while before being closed costing precious processor cycles which in turn means more battery usage.
To resolve this, there is an app called Advanced Task Killer - this shows all running apps and u can kill the apps from here too. Also, there is a 1 click shortcut which remembers the apps u selected and killed earlier and automatically kills them! So what I do is just click on this shortcut when I am done using the phone. I was able to get 1.5 to 2 days of battery life once I started doing this.

Tips while building your own computer

Was doing some research for building a computer – was real rusty with the latest info. Summarised my learnings below:



·         An SMPS cannot give the complete power that it is rated for. The actual power provided varies with temperature, load on the system, etc.

So Corsair VX450W (which is an excellent SMPS) can only give 382.5W at 50% load (that is 85% efficiency. Refer here).

So always buy an SMPS higher than your need.

·         Calculate your expected power need of your computer using this online calculator.

So always buy an SMPS higher than your need.


Hard Disks

·         For faster speeds, go for a 7200rpm HDD instead of 5400rpm.

·         A HDD with higher cache (32MB is really good) improves real-life file copy speeds dramatically (especially when going for a slower rpm HDD).

·         Theoretical Interface Speeds:

SATA 3.0 (6Gbps/600Mbps) > USB 3.0 (5Gbps) > SATA 2.0 (3.0Gbps) > SATA 1.0 (1.5Gbps/150 MBps) > USB 2.0 (60MBps)

·         eSATA and eSATAP have the same speeds as the respective SATA versions.

·         eSATA devices need additional power via a separate power cable. USB and eSATAP have built in power through the cable

·         Unlike USB 2, USB 3.0 is bidirectional like all the SATA versions.

·         All USB interfaces (including 3.0) need some bridging to communicate to the HDD ports on the MB which definitely slows down actual data throughput (refer here)

·         For current magnetic HDD transfer rate of 240Mbit/s (average), the latest SATA3.0 or USB 3 interface is overkill. But the latest solidstate drives push the boundary to 355 (refer here) and can benefit from SATA III…

·         If you have 2 drives, try to setup a Raid 1+0 configuration. This gives you much faster speeds and also disk failure tolerance. But the cost is that less space will be available. See how here


Monday, October 11, 2010

Dangerous scripts - safety tips

Hadn't checked Orkut for a while - and was shocked to yesterday to see a virulent script-worm spreading across it... even some of my very net-savvy friends were victims too.

If you clicked on this script link while logged in to Orkut, it steals your password, enrolls u automatically in strange communities, and makes auto-spam posts onto all your friends testimonials, communities, etc. Read details here:

Bottlomline - don't get on the net if you can't learn these simple safety tips:
1) Don't blindly click on Yes when getting browser prompts to run suspicious scripts.
2) Don't ever click on suspicious links or emails even if it's from someone you know well.
3) Don't ever ever click on suspicious links or emails while you are logged on into an online account (specially popular ones like Yahoo, gmail, orkut, facebook, etc)

Also, have at least one good Firewall software running (even though XP onwards have one built-in). Even a free one like Commodo if you are advanced enough.
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