Backing up your Photos for Free With Google+

So now that all your photos are digital, how are you backing up your photos? Are they just sitting on that old dell, waiting for a hard drive failure to wipe them out? Or did you back them up to DVD or external hard drive, only leaving yourself open to loss by theft, fire, flood, kids, or whatever else life throws at you? And did you include your hundreds of in-the-moment camera phone pictures in your backup scheme, or are you a toilet incident away from losing those too? The majority of people I know don’t back up their photos well because it’s too much work. They’d have to go through those 400 pictures from Mexico, organize them, remember how to back stuff up to DVD, etc, etc. Using Google+ to back them up solves a few problems like:

  • Backing up photos at a reasonable quality
  • Organizing photos
  • Providing automatic, minor photo touch ups
  • Highlighting interesting photos
  • Managing both your SLR or Point and Shoot camera photos AND your camera phone photos.

Google’s also pretty good about letting you download your stuff if you decide to leave for another service. So here’s the scoop: Google+ lets you do unlimited photo uploads at 2048 pixels, that’s about 3 Megapixels if you’re counting and that’s plenty to do regular sized photo prints. Picasa, Google’s desktop photo managing software, lets you automatically resize and upload pictures from your computer, while the Google+ app on iPhone or Android lets you automatically resize and upload pictures taken on your phone. As of this writing, backed up photos aren’t shared with anyone other than yourself, but you can modify that setting if you wish.

Step 1: Create a Google+ account. Use the same login as your phone if you have an Android. Circle me ūüôā¬†https://plus.google.com/103100489574462492633

Phone to do:

  1. Download the Google+ app on your phone.Google plus
  2. Head into settings, camera & photos, auto backup
  3. Set photo size to standard (2048 px)
  4. Set it to backup photos (I usually set it to only backup when on Wi-Fi)
  5. Hit “backup all” (this step will take a while as your phone uploads all your pictures)
  6. Realize that if you have any naughty pics on your phone, this is probably going to back them up too.

Desktop to do:

  1. Download Picasa from Google. http://picasa.google.ca/Picasa
  2. Install it
  3. Start it, let it find all your pictures (this step might take a while)
  4. Go into tools->options
  5. Set your default upload size to “best for web sharing” 2048 px
  6. Hit the “don’t confirm every sync” (it’s annoying)
  7. To upload, you can either go through the bulk upload, or hit the “sync to web” slider in the top right on all the folders you want to sync.
  8. The blue pinwheel in the top right will start spinning to let you know it’s backing stuff up.
  9. Remember that it’s backing up any naughty pics too. (Not that you have any)

options

After:

After it’s all said and done, you can login to Google+ and go to your photos area to see all your photos. At least your photos are now somewhere infinitely safer than your desktop PC. Even better, Google+ automagically touches up your photos (while still keeping a copy of the original), touching up colors, pulling together smiles from multiple group pictures to make an impossible “everyone smiling at once” photo that’s so hard to get with kids. It also automatically highlights photos, so you can upload 400 photos from your Mexican vacation guilt-free and it’ll find the good ones. One other thing it can do at a basic level is understand what’s in the photos. You can search for things like “cats” and it’ll find pictures with cats in them. As Google gets better at understanding what’s inside images, this feature will really start to get useful. In short, make Google+ do all that stuff you’ve been meaning to do with your photos, but didn’t have the time to.

Alternative route: If you demand more resolution or are scared of Google, use Flickr or burn your pics to DVD and put them in a safe, and then bury the safe and encase it in cement.

iPhone for 15 Days

The microusb connector on my Galaxy Nexus cratered, so I had to revert to an iPhone 4 while it was away on service. I took this opportunity to compare and contrast the 2 platforms and a bit of the hardware that’s typical on either one.

iPhone Pros:

  • Better connector. Yeah, Lightning is proprietary and that means it sucks, but the physical connector is more robust, easier to use, and better. Micro USB is a miniaturization of a 16 year old design (USB). Lightning is a clean-sheet effort and it shows.
  • Super easy and fast to get the iPhone 4 onto iOS6. Depending on the news outlet, iOS6 adoption was north of 30% total users a mere 1 week after release. Android hasn’t hit that level for 4.0+ despite that version being out for a YEAR.¬†The whole updating system on Android is a mess of manufacturer delays and carrier delays. Maybe they’ll clean things up with the Nexus 4 since there’s absolutely no manufacturer or carrier customization at all.
  • I was able to use my side of the his and hers iPhone docking station I have at home. There are lots of peripherals and devices that are built for the iPhone. Despite the Galaxy Nexus being out for a year, peripherals still aren’t available on Google Play. The phone has contact points on the outside that would be perfect for charging and would reduce the wear and tear on the microusb port, but they’re useless without the peripherals that support them. The situation at local phone shops is no better. No car docks, no home docks, no desk docks, nothing.
  • Great battery life. I got through a day without any issues.

Android Pros

  • Bigger screens. The iPhone screen is small by modern standards and terrible for browsing text content. The iPhone 5 screen is barely any better. The bigger screen is harder on the battery, but if I’m using it and I like using it, who cares? (Update: The Nexus 4 can take me through a work day and still have 75% battery left after moderate use, it rocks!)
  • Static back buttons: Android got this one right. The back button in Apple is in different places depending on the app. Androids back button works in app AND out. Popping into a new notification, reading it, and then heading back to where you were before the interruption is ridiculously easy.
  • No planned obsolescence. There’s no good reason why this iPhone 4 doesn’t support turn by turn navigation or Siri. It’s got the horsepower. My similar era Samsung Captivate is running CM10 and has all the new OS goodness. Unlike Apple’s OS updates, Android updates generally make older devices faster, not slower.
  • Multitasking. On Android, apps auto-update, downloads happen, everything works great.
  • Notifications. The pull down notification bar that Apple ripped off from Android just isn’t nearly as good. I will NEVER post to Facebook from my notification bar, so why the hell is it there? I also don’t care about stocks. Lockscreen notifications are also pretty weak in comparison.
  • General usability in Android is just better. The app store on iOS6 is an abomination, making you scroll through searched apps one at a time. Apps in Android communicate with each other and make content share-able in ways that Apple locks down.
  • Data portability is better. Total pain in the ass to get my contacts and info on the iPhone. Without that iTunes link, it’s really terrible and the locked down iCloud isn’t any better. Try putting an MP3 on the phone somewhere. On Android you can download it via the browser, or plug your phone in and drop it into a folder. How the heck do you do this on an iPhone without the iTunes abomination?

So there you have it, some pros and cons from someone who has used both platforms.

I Hate Windows 8

Before I begin, I must disclose that I’m a creaky old Windows power user and peaked in usage/hacking on the OS during win2k/XP days. Every new update since results in a loss in usability for me. I skipped Vista entirely, but once I was forced onto Windows 7, I had a few minutes of good productivity that I lost everyday searching for shit that should be easy to find, like “uninstall program”. I lost options in troubleshooting drivers and other nasty things, but the speed improvements made up for it. I’ve been playing with Windows 8 Release Preview for a month or two now so I can tell you without any uncertainty, I hate Windows 8.

It’s not so much the change, I’ve loved learning iOS and Android on phones/tablets. It’s that Microsoft has tried to create a middle ground OS that works on PCs and tablets alike. In the release preview at least, they’ve forced their “Modern UI Style” (formerly Metro) on hapless desktop users and it’s just not a good fit. My personal conspiracy theory is that they needed lots of usage data on the Metro UI, and didn’t so much need it on desktop, so they forced it to get more usage stats as desktop users struggled to adapt. Really, the New UI is just awful for desktop users.

The Start Menu and Windows 8 apps

After logging in, you’re greeted with the start menu, a . . .desktop made of tiles. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the tiles except what they represent. (mostly Windows 8 apps) To anyone used to full power desktop apps, be prepared to be¬†disappointed¬†with all Windows 8 apps. Why do I make such an absolute statement? Because the apps are designed for touchscreens, both their strengths and weaknesses. If you try using them with a mouse and keyboard, you get 10 seconds in before asking, “how do I…” and getting an answer of “you can’t”. In the maps app. . .how can I switch to satellite imagery? You can’t. Can I at least drag select a box area and zoom into that? LOL, no, tablets don’t do drag select! In the pictures app, how can I delete the images from my camera sd card after the computer has copied them? Any normal person would probably want to do that, but you can’t. On the mail app, I’ve got my images in a weird folder, how can I quickly get to that folder? You can’t, browse to it one folder at a time like some sort of 1990’s caveman. In the photo’s app, how can I drill into a folder instead of a library? You can’t. What can I do from the photo’s app? Well, you can email¬†a picture if you’d like. Just like on your phone, but with a machine that’s 10x more powerful, flexible, and more precise.

Well, the apps do show things on the Start menu. So you can see things like the weather, and new incoming email. Better than “You’ve got Mail!”, but now competing with my smartphone, which is hard to beat on the notifications side. And really, if I was using email on Windows, I’d be using GMail or Microsoft Outlook. Not Outlook.com, and absolutely not this stripped down tablet-pablum email app that’s built in. So what other apps are available in the Windows 8 marketplace?

Some of the websites you know and love. Wait, that sounds weird, right? Websites as apps? Well, it’s true. You too can get weird, stripped down versions of websites instead of the full meal deal. Google’s trying to do this too with apps for Chrome and I’ve got the same thoughts for that plan. Weird and unnecessary.

I can’t really complain about all of the apps. The AllRecipes one was done pretty nicely and is great if you want pictures of random strangers’ food on your Start menu. If you want the full power experience in all its ad-supported glory, you again have to go to the website.

The rest of the apps I saw did not offer nearly the glimpse of usefulness that the AllRecipes one did. Wikipedia looked like it offered the opportunity to have random articles show up, wooohoo. Couldn’t really see much use to the others. It’s a real shame that nothing useful like Skype or even INTERNET FUCKING EXPLORER showed up as tiles. Google made Chrome a Windows 8 app, but I think Microsoft knew better. They knew that desktop users could never transition to the tile and Metro interface because:

The Desktop is Where it’s at

Crazy idea for you: Take all your useful Windows programs, and make desktop shortcuts or pin them to the taskbar. Now, NEVER touch the new Start menu unless it’s to rocket you straight to the desktop. Welcome to usability paradise, where things operate the way they should, and you don’t have to settle for half baked goods! Try not to ever tweak system settings or do power user-y kinds of things, and you’ll be safe. The desktop does cool things, like not break basic use cases that Windows users have gotten used to like. . .managing Windows! The Windows 8 apps don’t tile/resize/do anything they’re supposed to. On the Chrome Windows 8 app, you can’t drag and drop images onto your WP blog post. On the desktop version you can. On the app version, you don’t get a minize/resize/close trio of boxes in the top left, you get a small bar at the top that you can use to drag and throw away the window down to close. Does that sound like a terrible compromise for tablet users? On the desktop version, you can have multiple windows. On the tile version, just multiple tabs. If you don’t get the picture yet; desktop rocks, tiles and Windows 8 apps don’t.

I CAST THEE INTO HELL!!

It’s a crying shame, because any of the space you make up from not having a taskbar at the bottom, is lost because of that stupid bar at the top that lets you drag the window to the garbage. You can’t do anything else. The next piece that breaks is the taskbar. You now have your desktop, with the normal programs that run in it and use the Win7 taskbar at the bottom to manage, and you also have a left taskbar for Win8 apps. It groups all your normal apps into a “desktop” app, and all the shitty tile apps into their own apps drawers. Kind of like Android 3/4.

I think the worst part about all of this is that it’s forced. If I could just get a faster version of Windows with a prettier UI, I’d dish out the cash for it. If that same version came with some backend supporting code to make Windows work great on tablets, go nuts. But this version insists upon itself. Want that “share” thing to be useful? Configure and use the Windows 8 Apps. Get a call on Skype while you’re in a Windows app? Bahahaha. Even worse, if ANY of my family members gets this and asks for help, I’m going to have to start from scratch with them. In the end, Windows 8 is just awful on the desktop. Microsoft better hope that Windows on tablets takes off, because otherwise, it looks like they’re fucked.

You want to hear my idea of real productivity on Windows? Take Windows XP, make the taskbar double height. Too big you say, takes up too much screen real estate? Take a look at your default Win7/Win8 taskbar and stop your complaining. Now JAM your most used apps into the quick launch bar (which you’ll have to turn on) and limit the horizontal on your quick launch so you don’t soak up a bunch of running app room. If you do it right, you should be able to fit the apps that make up 97%+ of your typical week, have a regular taskbar that only shows apps that are launched and doesn’t mix launched vs not launched, and not have to deal with start menus at all. Sadly, where it’d be useful to skip all the insanity on Windows 8, there are no more quick launch toolbars. Oh well, back to icons all over the fucking desktop like in Windows 3.1

Agree with me? Think I’m a total idiot and want to give me the gears? Comments are down below, fire away.

Upgrading a Rogers Galaxy Tab 7 to CM9 (ICS)

It’s really hard to find info on these original 7″ GSM Galaxy Tabs from Rogers. It’s even harder trying to do advanced things like rooting/unlocking/changing bootloaders, flashing, etc. If you’ve had your eye on that alpha build of ICS, you’re headed for a ton of pain in getting information for it, so I thought I’d put up how I got it done. If you’re a super nerd, it’s totally worth it. If you’re a regular joe, it’s too much pain for the gain for now, and I’d wait. There’s got to be easier ways, but I thought I’d document my madness anyways. I’m assuming you’ve used Samsung’s Kies to upgrade your Galaxy Tab to Gingerbread and that you have no problem totally ruining your warranty and potentially bricking your device. Again, probably easier ways out there to do this, but it worked for me. If/once there’s an easier way to get Clockworkmod recovery on the Galaxy Tab, I’d imagine these steps could be chopped in half. This guide will likely work with Galaxy Tabs from Bell, Virgin Mobile, etc. I’ve structured my howto below as a high level guide¬†and have omitted some details. If you can’t get past a step, Google it.

Download: Superoneclick 2.3.3, Samsung phone driver pack, Overcome GB Stock Safe v5, Overcome 7 Series v4.1 Wipe ROM, Overcome Kernel v4.0.0, heimdall suite 1.3.1, Odin 1.7, and the newest rom, kernel, and Google apps pack from HumberOS. Some files available from XDA forum, others from TeamOvercome, others you have to find.

  1. Download SuperOneClick, set your tab to USB debugging mode, and click some buttons to get root. This might not be necessary, but it’s easy enough.
  2. In order to get Clockworkmod recovery setup, I had to go through a bit of a convoluted process using team Overcome’s process. Start out by getting their stock ROM installed using Odin. You’ll need gt-p1000_mr.pit from the zip, as well as the modem that corresponds to your device. For more details on steps 2 to 5, see “the guide
  3. Once you’re booted into the stock rom, you’re going to copy their new 4.1 ROM to the file root of your device using USB mass storage mode.
  4. Then you’ll start in download mode, and flash the 4.1 kernel. I had to use Heimdall, because the kernel wasn’t available as a tar file and I was too stupid to figure out how to use Odin to flash just a kernel. I was even too stupid to use Heimdall’s frontend to flash just a kernel and copied the zImage to Heimdalls directory and used the command line to move the kernel to the device. Use “heimdall flash –kernel zImage”
  5. On reboot, your device will be taken over by a devil harpy who will format your device to ext4 and do some other stuff that probably doesn’t matter.
  6. Next up, you install the 4.1 ROM from ClockworkMod recovery, then reboot. Whip through the OS setup part, it doesn’t matter.
  7. Add the 3 Humber files to your root over USB.
  8. Reboot into recovery, clear data, clear cache, clear dalvik cache, then install the ROM, Kernel, and finally gApps.
  9. Reboot, enjoy ICS.

Terminology:

“Reboot into ClockworkMod Recovery”: Depending where you’re at, you might have this as an option when you turn off your device. Otherwise, Volume Up+power until you see the Galaxy Tab logo, then let go.

Go into download mode: from device off: volume down and power until you see the android digging with a shovel.

Most features work: Bluetooth (tested with audio and the Logitech keyboard for android 3.0+), front facing camera for Skype, gsm data, chrome for android, flash, etc. Still, there’s no camera still shot, chrome crashes for me when I go into settings, and a few other apps were a bit buggy. All in all, pretty good and very close to a real released version.

Logitech Tablet Keyboard for Android 3.0+ Review

Logitech Tablet Keyboard Box
Logitech Tablet Keyboard Box

One of the major holes with the whole “use a tablet instead of a computer” philosophy is that software keyboards SUCK compared to old fashioned, hardware keyboards. It’s just really tough to beat that tactile feel of a key, plus all those years or decades of keyboard practice you’ve built up.To make up for the loss, many manufacturers are building Bluetooth keyboards for Android tablets and iPads. Some come as part of a case or sleeve, while others leave your tablet alone. The Logitech Tablet Keyboard is a bit of both, offering a Bluetooth keyboard and a keyboard case that doubles as a tablet stand. At $70, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

Setup
Setup itself was as easy as I imagined it would be. I had to pull two well labelled tabs to engage the batteries, flip the on switch, search for bluetooth devices on my Galaxy Tab 10.1, select the keyboard, and punch in a numerical value on the keyboard. That sounds like a lot, but I can assure you it took less than a minute. Turning the keyboard off then on again results in the tablet quickly re-pairing with the keyboard automatically as expected.

The Keyboard
I LOVE typing with this keyboard. It’s thin, but the keys are well spaced out and I found it a breeze to hit some really good typing speeds. I always thought of tablets and phones as slow input devices, but this keyboard has shown me the way. I have a Dell mini10 netbook next to me, and that keyboard SUCKS compared to this one. Where the Dell’s keys are cramped and flush mounted, these keys stick out and have some space between them. Striking depth on the actual keys is reduced compared to a regular keyboard, but I don’t really miss it.

In Use
Actual use of a tablet keyboard like this should be limited for most people. A tablet is afterall, a device of convenience designed for maximum portability. Lugging around even a sleek keyboard like this one is not really what they’re intended for. But for the times when you need to crack out a lengthy email, or a blog post like this one, it’s unbeatable. The real reason I bought this tablet was to see if it was possible to get rid of the Dell Netbook. The netbook provided some great portability, and when it came to content creation, it still beat the pants off the tablet. With this keyboard, that’s no more. With a few other peripherals like the USB host and SD card adapter, this tablet should handily take the place of a laptop or desktop for most home users.

Knocks
1. The keyboard comes powered by AAA batteries, and I see that as a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because in 3-4 years when a built-in battery would be starting to die, this keyboard can still be running strong on fresh, off-the-shelf AAA batteries. A curse, because I can’t imagine AAA’s would last longer than a well integrated rechargable lithium battery pack.
2. The keyboard does not lock into the keyboard case, it just kind of hangs out in there. It trades convenience for a really sure lock on the keyboard.
3. The keyboard comes with some extra functions like media starting, home, browser, etc. Like the extra function keys on my regular keyboard, they will never ever be used. The keys are only ever hit by accident, and I’m almost always pissed off when I do. My keyboard at work in particular, has a sleep button placed right over the arrow keys. A great example of why I hate them. In any case, the function keys on this keyboard are mostly kept out of the way by use of an Fn button, but there’s still the home and back buttons that camp out right next to the space keys. Time will tell whether these are useless or despised.

I think that’s about it. I haven’t had a chance to play with a lot of tablet keyboards, but if they’re all like this, wow. I used the Logitech Tablet Keyboard to type out this post, and it worked like a hot damn. I think that netbook’s days are numbered.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=adrielmichaud-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B0054L8N7M

4 Killer Features in The New Chrome for Android

The Chrome for Android beta was released today¬†a few days ago and so far, it’s been a smoking release. In a lot of ways, it’s similar to other Webkit based browsers and while there’s a lot different under the hood, I wanted to show a select few of the front end features that I think rock. Keep in mind that it’s ICS Android 4.0 only, so you won’t be able to run it on your older phone unless you root it and upgrade to Cyanogenmod9 or similar.

1. Synchronized tabs with desktop. Want to keep reading a website from work at home? Just leave the tab open. You can still hibernate, and the tab is saved so that you can resume on your phone or tablet. You used to use Chrome2Phone for this, but now it’s been eclipsed.
2. Clustered link selector. That wasn’t the link you were trying to hit with your thumb? Chrome zooms in when there are a few links clustered around in one spot so that you can hit the right one
3. Synchronized bookmarks. I’ve always been a bit lazy with my bookmarks, letting them roam wild on every single computer or device I’ve had. Now they’re all totally identical. I had to do some categorization to make it work for mobile, but now I’ve got all my links in all the same places.
4. Sweet tabbed interface. On the phone, tabs are sorted vertically, while on a tablet, they’re sorted horizontally. Looks awesome, and makes it easy to switch between websites.

Knocks
Likely will never get Flash support, which comes in handy the odd time.

That’s it. The browser has a more sensible UI and with the features above, it dominates the other browsers out there. Even though it’s in beta, I’m already using it in place of the standard browser. Add it to your shortcut bar today.

 

 

 

 

Pocket Casts Android podcast manager review

Google’s podcast manager for Android, Google Listen, was starting to get really messed up when playing podcasts over Bluetooth in my car, so I hunted around for a suitable replacement. If I wanted to go really low tech, I could use Google Reader and then download the mp3 podcasts to my Android phone. But there’s a better way. If you have an awesome data plan, you can stream using Stitcher, but I really wanted to download them to my phone over wifi so I wouldn’t stress my data plan. Pocket Casts¬†from shiftyjelly did just that.¬†I originally ran Pocket Casts on my Samsung Galaxy S Captivate, and recently started using it on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Requirements:

  • Must download podcasts over wifi
  • Must auto-delete old podcasts (I’ll only listen to a podcast once)
  • Must take incoming calls or other interruptions and properly handle Bluetooth control with my JVC avx740

Nice to have: auto download and retry failed podcasts in the background. The wifi reception in my office can be a bit spotty in parts, so I’d like a podcast manager to tenaciously retry failed downloads. Realistically, I can just click the download all button when in wifi range, but this is 2012 damn it! I want my $2.99 app to do all that for me!

In Use

I primarily listen to podcasts on my daily commute. Pocket Casts alerts me when a new podcast I’m subscribed to is available, and if I’m on Wi-Fi at home or work, downloads it automatically. In the car, I have to pull out my phone and start Pocket Casts. I’d rather just hit play on my deck, but whatever. Once started, it plays the podcast just fine. Calls, navigation instructions, etc interrupt the podcast being played just fine. There’s lock screen control as well as a homescreen widget. I have Pocket Casts set to auto add any new downloads to the playlist as well as to delete any that have been played. The Pocket Casts Android app handles the use case that I outlined above just fine.

Knocks Against Pocket Casts

  • The UI seems overbuilt for me. Several of the screens do almost the same thing, and I find that I don’t need 80% of the features provided. Maybe if you’re a real podcast power user, you’d appreciate some of the extra categorization and segmentation. I don’t really need it.
  • The app developers seem to be in a state of flux on whether they use the Android download manager or their in-app one. It’d be nice if this was better tested to understand which should be used.
  • For Ice Cream Sandwich, the system settings button should be used instead of the in-app gears.

Summary

Pocket Casts Android Podcast Manager Review

Reviewed by Adriel Michaud on Feb 14, 2012

An easy to use podcast manager for Android
If you’re looking for a great way to spend some time in the car and not have to listen to commercials or the same song over and over again, load up a few hours of podcasts using Pocket Casts and you’ll be set.
Rating:4

Review: Sony PS3 Wireless Headset

Do you game late into the night, to the chagrin of your family members? Do you want to watch action movies at their intended volume without having police show up at your door? Then, my friend, you need a headset. I was looking for one to hook into my PS3 and ideally my computer too. Extra points if I could use standard comp cables to hook into my audio receiver, if the headset was wireless, and if the headset was easy to setup and use day to day. While this headset didn’t match all those requirements, it hit the ones that mattered at a price point that was reasonable. I compared features and reviews with the¬†Turtle Beach PX3, P21, and a few Tritton’s. Overall, the Sony unit was the lowest cost wireless option with virtual surround. Usability was easily the best on the Sony unit.

Form

The form on the Sony PS3 Wireless headset is a take it or leave it kind of design. The main headset band is fine, but the side panels jut out and make the headset look chunky. Personally, I wouldn’t wear these things in public. But in private in my house late at night, who cares? Those big chunky side panels have nice volume and chat vs game sound sliders that traditional headsets can’t hide. No dial or external controls, just easy to use bits right on the headset. As other reviews have noted, the¬†extendible¬†mic boom is all plastic and isn’t super robust. I’m not quite so sure that it matters, as the un-replaceable battery would probably wear out before the mic boom would.¬†The headband part can extend for¬†different sized heads, and fit both my¬†3 year old and mine with room on both sides. So unless you have some sort of mutant shaped head, it’ll fit. The ear cup material is faux leather and will probably make your ears sweaty in the summer. Charging is via a mini¬†USB port. While the headset doesn’t come with a mini USB cable, these things are everywhere and used by everything including your PS3 controllers, digital camera’s, and some older cell phones.

Use

This headset is a textbook example of great usability. Take it out of the box, plug the USB dongle into your PS3 or PC if that’s what you’re using, hold the side button for 3 seconds, and you’re off to the races. Click that same button instead of holding it down for microphone mute/unmute. That side button is easily found while gaming, which makes it easy to mute in-game so that you don’t broadcast your personal off-line conversations to all the people you’re gaming with. If you’re using the headset with your PS3, an on-screen notification can show headset statuses like battery level, microphone mute/unmute, and whether or not you have the virtual surround sound effect on. Turning the headset off swaps you back to your speakers.

Sound

I found the sound to not be as powerful as other headsets I tried, but by the time I hit max volume it was loud enough anyways. This headset uses 40mm drivers, were 50mm are more standard on other sets. That all said, I found that it delivered plenty of bass, and tanks in Battlefield3 sounded fantastic! With my 5.1 speaker setup, I normally had to have the subwoofer set to minimum to avoid waking the dead. With the headset, it’s like a totally different experience. The virtual surround lacked the same kind of directionality that I had with the 5.1 surround setup. With the headset, I had to move my head in game to get a good lock on where shooting was coming from, whereas I could instantly resolve direction with the 5.1 surround to about 5 degrees of accuracy to where the shooting was coming from. That slowed me down about a half second in some situations. Where the set made it up was hearing quieter sounds from enemies closer to me. A guy shouting that he was throwing a frag is now a marked man, where I barely would have made it out at the volume I played before on the 5.1 setup. It’s also a lot easier to make out different guns and vehicles with the much better range on the headset.

Technicals

I really wish they had just made this thing Bluetooth. I’m sure there’s a great reason why they didn’t use the built-in Bluetooth that PS3’s come with, but it would have saved me having a vulnerable USB dongle sticking out the front of my PS3, just waiting for a 3 year old to snap off. I put in 5 hours of gaming and movie watching last night and didn’t phase the batteries one bit. A lot of the reviews out there are claiming 8-10 hours of real world use, which is phenomenal given the fact that the headset doesn’t weight a ton from heavy batteries. Using better li-ion batteries instead of cheaper ni-mh or ni-cd batteries like most cordless phones out there probably helps with weight. I did use it with a PC running Windows 7 to watch a movie and it was slick. I had to tell the PC to use the new audio device, but it detected and installed it without any issues.

Sony PS3 Wireless Headset Review

Reviewed by Adriel Michaud on Jan 19, 2012

You can’t really get a cheaper and easier to use wireless headset for gaming on the PS3.
The Sony PS3 Wireless Headset is super easy to setup, sounds good, and integrates voice/game beautifully. You can’t get the features in this headset elsewhere for under $150.
Rating:4

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How “not provided” Data Gives you Google’s Marketshare of Accounts

Normally, I’d put this on Top Draw’s blog, but this one’s pretty nerdy and we’ve already got lots of posts for now. If you’re in website analytics, you might be a bit bummed that Google has decided not to forward on organic keyword data for logged in users of Google.com. And while that loss of data is too bad, we’ve accidentally gained a new insight: information on how many of the customers in that segment are logged into Google. With my blog, I’ve got a bit of a unique situation in that almost all of my traffic is organic, and almost all of it is topical: people come in for information on one topic, and then leave. I’ve also got a range of Google-centric and Google-uncentric blog posts to compare against. Without further ado:

Let’s Use Science!

First, we need a base segment that could¬†be affected by the change: google.com users on non-mobile devices. To get there, I chose the following advanced segment in Google Analytics (Hopefully, I’m getting mostly Google.com users which is why I’m only segmenting US visitors)

I added the “not provided” keyword for my next segment and chose to apply these 2 segments to landing pages¬†so that I could effectively compare, side by side, the Google market saturation on a topic by topic basis (at least, from Google’s own search engine). I’ve also limited the date range to just that most affected by the change.

What I’m not taking into consideration:

  • Users of Bing/Yahoo are probably unwashed and using a non-Gmail email. Which would bring down the real world % shown above.
  • Not everyone is going to be logged in all the time. Which would bring the real world % from above up a bit.

All in all, this is telling me that Google has somewhere around 20-25% penetration into the online US market, which I found to be pretty good for email/docs/other reasons people create and stay logged into Google Accounts. Email accounts are somewhat fragmented, and many people that I meet have had the same email address for 6+ years. To put it into context with their greatest internet competitors, I guess Google still has a ways to go before they have the 52% of Americans that Facebook does.