Andy Laub

Andy Laub is a designer & developer in the Twin Cities.

Published 2006

Skip It »

I had one more post about phones, and figured I’d better get it out there. At least it’s a tutorial this time.

If you’re sick of phone-related posts, skip this. On the other hand, if you’re shopping for a CDMA phone and are wondering about the Mac-friendliness of the Motorola offerings (specifically KRZR/K1m or SLVR/L7c), then look no further. They will work just fine after a little bit of tinkering.

The first thing you’ll want to do when you unbox your new friend is get your contacts on there, right? Assuming that they’re living in your Address Book, you can use iSync to do this. The first thing you’ll want to do is make your phone discoverable using the Bluetooth menu, then find it using the Mac’s System Preferences. You should be able to pair the two without issue, but you won’t be able to do anything beyond that, so don’t worry about it yet.

Instead, go here for instructions on how to modify the file to work with your phone. If you’re on Verizon, you’re done. But if you’re on Sprint, rather than searching that entire forum, just go here for the code you’ll need to paste in.

In theory the SLVR should work just fine as well, using this, but I can’t verify since I don’t have one.

After that whopping 10 minutes of work, your Mac now decides that the Moto is cool enough to share contacts and calendar entries (but not to-do items) with.

The next challenge: how to transfer music and other media back and forth? BitPim is the answer. After downloading, follow these steps for setup (via the forum linked above:

  1. Start Bitpim
  2. Plug in your phone
  3. Go to preferences
  4. As phone select “other cdma”
  5. for the port [click "browse" and] use the first one that says “usb device – vendor motorola…”
  6. press ok and ok again
  7. click on the filesystem
  8. drag the bar on the right of where it says file system to make the filesystem more visible

One note; by default the “Filesystem” option is not turned on, so you’ll need to check that option in the “View” menu.

With that, you’re now able to transfer ringers, wallpapers, and other media to your phone without having to use an uploading service (=bandwidth). I used Audacity to record the ringtones from my old Samsung, exported them as mp3′s, and then transferred them over because the KRZR didn’t have any good (plain) tones.

Little Miss Sunshine is well worth a rental, but it doesn’t dethrone my other favorites from the year.

So… seen any good movies lately?

I just want to put them all in my dock and make words.

It’s ONLY a phone. »

This phone thing has gone on long enough.

This is going to be my mantra for the new year. It doesn’t make much sense out of context, so here goes:

My last two real posts have dealt with my trials and tribulations of finding and choosing a new phone to go with my two-year contract renewal with Sprint. At the outset, this really shouldn’t be that big of a deal. It’s only a phone.

And yet, I’ve written no less than six times about it over the past year. This event has achieved monumental status, my excitement and anxiety growing as The Day drew ever closer.

I’ve had battles of historic proportions raging in my head between the Samsung A900/M and potential contenders, and each time the Samsung had managed to overtake its opponents. Then Motorola had to step into the ring and open my eyes to the magic of media card slots. Well gosh… maybe 50 megs of storage isn’t enough? Was the RAZR a better candidate?

Then I was wooed by the Samsung M610, promising to be all sleek and cool. And expensive; let’s not forget expensive. But it just *had* to be unattainable.

Salvation came, or so I thought, in the form of the Sunday Best Buy flyer. $79.99 KRZR’s for everybody! Get ‘em while they’re hot. Temptation took its hold, and I caved. I became… a Motorola owner. It’s not such a bad deal. Choosing the KRZR (terrible name; I prefer K1m) over the M610 saved me $100 (at least). And now I have a phone that I can actually sync contacts and calendar entries to without having to call in some sort of voodoo, uh, person.

I thought I was done, and then the phone started to irk me. Was it too heavy? Were the side buttons too hard to press? Would it damage too easily? Was I happy?

Hi, my name is Andy, and I have gadget-induced neurosis.

I ended up at Best Buy again tonight, seriously considering trading the KRZR in for a SLVR (similarly equipped but in the candy bar form factor). But I resisted. I went out there to look, and that’s all I did. I left with my phone still in hand, feeling a little better. Either phone is a winner, but there is nothing wrong with the one I already bought. It’s only a phone.

This has been making the rounds, but it’s important. If you have yet to read slash listen to John Hodgman’s (aka “PC“) The Areas of My Expertise, now’s your chance to download all 1000 compact disc’s worth of world knowledge FOR FREE from the iTunes Store.

Line Rider is on its way to the Nintendos. Look out JB.

A little late for the Reboot but still rad: Developing Tank and dabootski 4.0.

Frozen Over »

I’m going to get an M610 if it kills me, which isn’t unlikely.

The Samsung M610, as mentioned here, is awesome. At least, that’s what I’ve heard, as I don’t yet own one. But believe me, it’s not for lack of trying.

Here is the simple procedure I went through to not get my phone!

  1. Went the local Sprint Store. Phone (which is currently online) not available until “after the holidays.”
  2. Called Sprint. Started ordering phone. Phone is not in the system (yet they knew how much it costs? They must have web access too.) and will not be until “after New Years.”
  3. See step 2.
  4. See step 2.
  5. For good measure, see step 2 one more time.
  6. Went to a Sprint “Express” Store. Phone will not be available “for 3-6 months; try a metropolitan area.”
  7. Gave up and tried to order phone online. Thwarted by seemingly innocuous1 credit card errors. On two different cards. Then my computer blowed up. I had to go to the library to type this.
  8. Okay, that last part was a lie.
  9. But seriously, this is ridiculous.
  10. Live-chatted with a CSR. Told to call Order Support. Not open until Monday. More waiting. Wheee!

Maybe I should just settle for one of those other phones after all…

  1. Quote, for whatever it’s worth:

    Sprint is preventing any further orders for the M610 by putting a phony ” Your card cannot be authorized!” message when you try and submit the order.

Succumb »

Has the phone search ended? I have no idea.

For the last month I’ve been back and forth when it came to getting a new phone in celebration of my 2-year anniversary with Sprint. My main contenders were the new-to-Sprint Motorola RAZR V3m or the similar-but-different Samsung A900M. Both had advantages; the V3m has a memory card slot and better battery life while the A900M is more attractive, both externally and from a UI standpoint.

Of course, they both had their disadvantages; the A900M suffers from only 50MB of internal, non-expandable memory and I’m just not that fond of the RAZR in general now that they’re everywhere, especially not with Sprint’s 2-tone color schemes.

So where did that leave me? Like I said, hopping back and forth over the proverbial phone fence like a caffeinated jackrabbit. Well now I say no more hopping. I have an answer and it is none of the above.

Sexophone: The Samsung M610

The solution to the problem, as is often the case, was to throw more money at it! I say that only somewhat sarcastically since it is true in this case, but the phone I’ve settled on is the newly-minted Samsung M610, or as the marketeers like to call it, The thinnest clamshell phone in the US of A.

Thankfully, mercifully, Samsung has managed to integrate the best features from both the A900M and the V3m. A short list:

  • Brand new Tron-esque UI (light on black background; totally hot).
  • 2.0 megapixel camera.
  • Micro SD expansion slot.
  • “Less is more” design philosophy. I’m digging the mini monochrome display on the lid instead of the ridiculous color screens that are so common these days.
  • Estimated 3.5 hours talk time, 2.5 days standby.
  • It’s a Samsung, which means I’ll have the same ringtones as my current phone.

Best of both worlds? I’m certainly hoping so. I want to actually play around with the phone before I commit to it so I’m waiting for them to show up locally, but I have a much better feeling about the M610 than I did about either the A900M or the V3m. Or any of Sprint’s other recent offerings.

iSighted iMac G5s and sub-24″ Intel iMacs lack VESA support. Seriously Apple, now that’s just an asshole move.

Drivl points out some of the inaccurate representations of coding by the entertainment industry:

4. Code is not three dimensional… We may use a dash of color in our shell to make things a bit clearer, but last I checked my terminal app doesn’t require OpenGL.   I’m working here, bitches – I’m not playing quake.

Monday morning = time for Flash games.

Dollars? Cents? According to Verizon, they’re the same.

Currently scouring the internerd to find out:

All I Want for Christmas »

This year Apple could be my secret santa. But that’s unlikely.

If I were keeping up with my tradition, disregarding the fact that I broke it last year too, I would’ve already posted my Christmas list. But I didn’t, and I won’t, because it really doesn’t matter (should I be making a list of the things I know I’m getting? Or should I be making a list of the things that I like but are too expensive? Because there’s not really an in between).

Anyway, rather than get all up ins with the ols and the lis, I’m turning this into my Christmas letter to Apple, of sorts. Everybody know that that they have the best gifts anyway. Aside from the Wii, but that’s neither here nor there.

No, what I want from Apple is a new computer. If MWSF comes and goes with little or no significant news than there will be a shiny 20″ iMac on my desk by the end of January. But as great of a computer as the iMac is, it’s not what I want.

What I do want, Apple, is essentially a headless iMac. An excellent reference point would be the handsome but short-lived and overpriced G4 Cube. Let’s take that form factor, remix it into aluminum, poke some holes in it a la the Mac Pro. Then take all the stuff currently in the Intel iMac and stick it in the cube. Replace the iMac video card with one that has two DVI outs. And you’re done!

We’re left with a machine much more powerful than the mini and much more desktop-friendly than the Mac Pro. Heck, if they announced one, I’d buy one right away after the requisite first revision and another monitor to boot.

Losing status »

Digital killed the graphic design star.

Graphic design is kind of a funny business. A decent designer, generally, will have gone to school for design and been bombarded with all sorts of different art classes in an effort to teach not only the technical and correct processes for doing things, but the ins and outs of making a design look good. It helps even more if the designer has a strong artistic sense already, because it’s not something that can just be instilled in most people, only refined.

The enormous amount of work required even for relatively simple projects was enough to earn designers some respect, but In the last 20 years or so, the actual production process has been made much faster and easier thanks to affordable and intuitive computers and software.

Unfortunately, this gives people the assumption that just because they’re on a Mac with Photoshop they’re the next Saul Bass, or Paula Scher when they don’t even know who those people are. Hell, I barely know who those people are.

The obvious question that arises because of this: how does a real, bona fide designer justify his or her rates as being worthwhile in an attempt to win over the do-it-yourselfers?

I guess the 2007 LA Auto Show (traditionally in January) has already happened. Of particular note was/is the Acura ASC concept, which is exactly what Honda and Acura need to be doing more of.

People can complain about its Batmobile-esque qualities all they want, but I don’t think saying that something looks like the Batmobile can be interpreted as anything but very, very good.

HTTP errors. And also, Teh Internets. Some fine, fine web-related illustration.

Zuno »

Why did Microsoft go for a hard drive rather than flash in the Zune?

Jon Gruber asks if whether Microsoft copied the wrong iPod, stating that the iPod nano (and its imitators) are where the money’s at.

I don’t disagree with this; the flash-based market is massive right now. But I don’t think Microsoft would’ve been able to pull off any sort of nano-esque form factor while retaining the functionality that they’re hoping will set the Zune apart. Case in point is, well, the Zune. At 30 gigabytes, it’s already larger than the 80 gig video iPod, so trying to cram whatever it is that’s making the Zune that large into something even smaller, even with flash memory, is probably a challenge.

Plus, the nano doesn’t play video, which in and of itself isn’t much of an issue, but that’s currently how Microsoft justifies the need for a larger screen (another Zune selling point). Without video, I just need hear the music and know what I’m listening to. Nothing else matters.

Apple has this figured out, so rather than add unnecessary features, they make the device smaller and smaller. Again, not overly practical once you get past a certain point, but that’s where the ooohs and aaahs come from. I don’t want a nano, but I’m still impressed by them. They are eye candy, and Microsoft, because of their feature-driven agenda, can’t quite measure up.

Sometime in the distant future, there will be a Wii in the household I’m sure, and it will mostly be due to things like this:

Everything beautiful about the Nintendo Wii can be summed up in one embodiment: The Help Cat . Living deep within the Photo Channel, this is my 2007 vote for the greatest, weirdest, most terriblewonderful User Interface Design idea of all time – contextual help you have to catch.

I wish the graphics were better in general, but who doesn’t? That’s Nintendo.

Adobe’s Kuler makes picking a color palette so easy it’s pretty much cheating.

Ars Technica‘s Ben Kuchera reviews the PS3:

The PS3 doesn’t have any grand ideas; Sony wanted something high-tech, so they started from scratch with the processor and GPU, but what does it get them? Very little so far. The controller is a mash-up of ideas from their old systems, the 360′s triggers, and the Wii’s motion-sensing capabilities, but once it has that tech it doesn’t really know what to do with it.

Kudos for summing it up so eloquently. Worth the full read.

Top Five »

What if you could only play five games for the rest of your life?

In honor of the notable releases this week. Witless wants to know what your top five video games of all time are. I had a difficult time choosing, but I eventually narrowed it down.

In no particular order:

  1. Grand Theft Auto / Saints Row
  2. Goldeneye
  3. Super Mario Bros.
  4. Gran Turismo
  5. Super Metroid

But then I thought, what if you could only play the same five (video) games for the rest of your life? Then what would your choices be? After some deliberation, here’s what I concluded:

  1. Considering my voracious appetite for sandbox games (eg Grand Theft Auto or Driver) it’s no surprise that one of these ranks high on the list. In this instance I’ll have to go with Just Cause (Xbox 360), a game I bought back in October and just finally got around to playing. The gameplay isn’t anywhere near up to par with the likes of Saints Row or GTA, but it makes up for it by being massive… 250,000 acres massive. At that rate, I’ll still be exploring a long time from now.
  2. In a similar vein, I also enjoy the mind-numbing domesticity that is a trademark of the The Sims franchise. In this case I’ll opt for The Sims 2 (PC), complete with all the latest expansions. Building houses never gets old.
  3. Cars! I can’t have a game without cars. Forza 2 (Xbox 360) is going to be all the awesomeness that the original Forza was and more. I can wait until 2007 to play.
  4. I think some sort of exploratory adventure game would fit well on here, but I’m not really sure which. Any of the 3D Zelda games (aside from Wind Waker, which I’ve finished) are a good option. At the same time, maybe I’d be happier with something larger, like Oblivion or Final Fantasy XII. For now I’ll go with Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii) because I want to play with the motion sensors.
  5. Hmmm, where to go now? We’ve got fast, creative, adventurous, and Xtreme… What about totally violent? A first person shooter belongs in this list. Half-Life 2 (Xbox 360) isn’t out yet, but I’ll wait. The 360 version promises a larger story (it includes both expansion chapters) and online multiplayer. Perfect.

Midway through writing this list I started adding games that are still up to a year away. I know they’re going to be great so I’m comfortable including them, but I’m not sure if that constitutes cheating. Because of that, Just Cause is in danger of losing its place to Grand Theft Auto 4 (only 12 more months!). If I wanted to be even more extreme, I’d add the recently-announced Sims 3 due near the end of the decade. But for now, I’m content with these.

Now it’s your turn. Everybody plays some sort of games, so which five are you committing to?

Did you know that it’s Festival Season at Lutsen Mountains? I did, because I had to build this.