Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Free SMS on Any Smartphone with Google Voice

Google Voice is not a new service. It has been around for a couple of years providing free call forwarding to thousands of users. The concept is simple. Pick out a new [local] phone number from the website. Provide the phone numbers of all of your phones (Home, Mobile, Work etc). Then when someone calls your GV number, it rings all of your phones until you answer. Voice mail for all lines is handled through one mailbox on GV.

There are many other features that are less used. The following is a scenario where a contractor who travels to areas damaged by storms, needs a local number to provide customers. Many people will trust a "local" contractor before one from out of town.

My favorite feature of GV is free text messaging.  This post is aimed at guiding you through changing your number to your GV number and getting the most conventional SMS experience possible out of your smartphone.

There are many great advantages to using GV.  You eliminate your SMS plan with your carrier that is sometimes marked up by literally 10,000,000%, no really. You virtually get unlimited SMS for free. Another perk is that you may send and receive text messages on the GV website.  You don't need to be anywhere near your phone to LOL to your friends! In fact, your phone could literally explode and you could still send and receive texts on the website. Read messages automatically sync [after a minute or two] between the website and the app. So if you have an entire conversation on the GV website, you won't have hundreds of text notifications on your phone when you pick it up. Disclaimer: these experiences are from me using the GV Android app without any other third party apps like Handcent.

However, there are a few caveats to using GV. First, you must "change" your number to your GV number. Sending a mass text broadcasting your new number is more difficult in GV. The smartphone app proves to be time consuming and the online GV interface limits you to about 10 recipients at a time. I used Mass Text Personalizer because it is compatible with Android 4.0 and also supports GV. (On 4.0 be patient. It will force close but just keep clicking 'wait' and leave it alone)

Your phone must have the Google Voice app installed. This is available on Android and iOS, maybe more platforms. Make sure this app installs on your phone without any problems. You will not be able to do anything with the app until you set up your GV account on the web interface.

The last forewarning is GV does not [at this time] support picture or video messaging (MMS). I for one, do not send many pictures or videos over MMS. There are plenty of services out there (see facebook, imgur, picasa, google+, twitpic, etc) that provide an accessible picture viewing experience on a smartphone. This was a non issue for me.

Another thing I did was block SMS to my primary number (the number provided by my carrier).  Then be sure to remove SMS from your plan. This should save about $30 per month depending on your plan, on most of the major carriers. Remember, carriers charge you for receiving SMS messages whether you open them or not.

The GV app is compatible with many different SMS apps.  Handcent will work just fine. If that is an app that you are used to using, you will feel right at home.

This is how I use this service. share your experiences and suggestions in the comments.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dance Party with Google TV and djtxt

What do Google software engineers do in their spare time? They make awesome independent websites, that's what. Djtxt.me is a crowd sourced playlist generator (read: party sourced jukebox) that runs in a browser on top of Grooveshark. (If you don't know what that means don't worry, keep reading.) Guests viewing the screen can send a text message with their phone to a number provided; first registering with their nickname, then sending one containing a song title and artist. If the songs are found on grooveshark, they play in order also displaying who requested the song.

While the concept is amazing, it doesn't really work well in practice when using a PC or laptop to host the djtxt.me site. Having many people crowded around a small screen is not much fun when you're just trying to party like a rock star.  It's kind of like when poker night turns into "OMG LETS WATCH LOL CATZ ON YOUBUTE" night. This post will focus on using the service on Google TV (2.0) which is an interface that makes more sense for use in a party setting.  We will be utilizing the full Google Chrome browser capabilities (including javascript) that are baked right into Google TV.  With the Google TV 2.0 update came access to the actual address bar in the browser compared to just a search box that accepted a URL in the first release of GTV.

The concept is simple: go to djtxt.me, drag the shortcut to your bookmarks folder, navigate to grooveshark.com then click the djtxt.me bookmark. That way only works on a computer with a browser that allows you to drag the bookmark somewhere to store it. GTV however does not allow this. The fix is relatively simple. The bookmark is nothing more than an enormous line of javascript code. Use the following steps to get this code into your TV!

  1. Read and understand the tutorial.
  2. From a computer drag the bookmark for your party to your bookmarks folder or bar.
  3. Right click on the bookmark and click edit. (These steps should be similar with all browsers, this procedure was written and tested with Google Chrome) 
  4. You should see a URL field containing a bunch of code (javascript:(function(){if('undefined'==......). Copy and paste this text being careful to not include extra spaces at either end. 
  5. Email this text to yourself using a web-based email service that you can access already on your GTV.
  6. Open the email from the GTV browser.
  7. Copy the text from the email.
  8. Go to http://grooveshark.com
  9. Press the Menu key. Select "Go To..." to open the URL bar. (you should then see the URL to grooveshark)
  10. Paste the text from the email into the URL bar, replacing what is there. Again no extra spaces at the beginning or end. 
If done successfully you should see the djtxt screen as usual. The service is $2/hr for a private number and SMS support. You can try the demo for free although you will be contributing songs to a public room. (deleted escort/stripper joke)

At the end of the party you have the option to view and play the entire playlist from start to finish via a unique URL that is available to you and those you share it with. During the party, you can even skip songs and delete a song if it pulls up a version or remix (or the wrong song) you don't like by mistake. 

In practice, we found that it was pretty accurate. Only one crash during a 7 hour party.  Opened grooveshark back up, pasted the text in and all was well.  It even retained the entire playlist.  LOL's were had by all when they saw who requested Amish Paradise and the Barney theme back to back. Take advantage of this while you still can. Its such a great way to have a [dance] party. Much better than "youtubing" or skipping songs over and over on Pandora.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Google Music Increases Invites

Well it looks like Google Music users can now invite up to five friends instead of just two.  This flows well with Google's scaled approach in beta testing for many of it's products. (See Google+ which also followed this scheme and now allows current users to invite up to 150 friends.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Free SlingBox to Insight Customers?

Oh yes there's a catch, there's always a catch.

For those of you who don't know a SlingBox is a set top box that is connected to your existing cable box and the internet via your existing broadband connection that allows you to stream your TV to any capable mobile device computer all for a one time fee of $300 for the box and $30 for the app.

Time Warner announced Tuesday the beginning of a sales promotion that it would reimburse subscribers to it's $99 50Mbps broadband plan the entire cost of a SlingBox.  What does that have to do with Insight customers? Well as it turns out, Time Warner will be acquiring Insight Communications for a cool $3 billion cash.

Depending on the duration of the promotion and the transition to complete, it is plausible for current Insight 50Mbps broadband customers to get a piece of this pie.   

Friday, July 15, 2011

utorrent to launch a paid version...

Irony swings open the door and says "hey hey hey!"


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How to Reuse Limited-Use Online Coupons

When shopping online, one would be a fool not to check RetailMeNot.com for any online coupons applicable to the site you are buying from. There are often many coupons to choose from (especially for pizza restaurants).  But most of these have a usage limit.  For instance, when ordering from dominos.com, most coupons have a limited use of 2 times.

On dominos.com, I've found that simply changing the name, email, and/or phone number allows you to reuse the coupon even if delivering to the same address.  Every site handles the usage count differently so your mileage may vary, but It's worth a shot if you are scrapped for cash. Don't forget about tenminutemail.com, the site that gives you an email address (and inbox) for ten minutes (or more if you need it), and then deletes the account after use.  This can be useful for sites requiring "click-through confirmation" of a link they email you.  This may come in handy when cheating at online coupons [and avoiding spam].

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wireless Phone-to-Car Audio for $60

When in the car, It is always nice to eliminate clutter.  While on a road trip I began thinking that there must be a better way to listen to Pandora than having the power and aux cable plugged into my phone at the same time.  Well, this is a setup eliminates one of those cables, and is one that I use regularly.  For this to work you must have an auxillary input on your car stereo.  Most new cars include this. Most aftermarket stereos at least have it as an option (I had to get a 20$ cable to add an aux in to my Alpine unit). 

Sony Ericsson MW600 Bluetooth headphones
Any 1/8" mini stereo male-to-male cable or in my case, this adapter.

The setup couldn't be more straight forward. The feature of the MW600 that makes this possible is the headphones use a standard 1/8" mini stereo jack for connectivity between the bluetooth reciever and headphones.  You could even plug in your own headphones if you desire. But we will be using this jack to connect our bluetooth headset to the aux input of the car stereo. 

The operation is what really makes this setup shine.  Once paired to the MW600, your cell phone will automatically connect to it when it's in range.  The MW600 will last about 4-5 days powered on, sitting in the glove box, automatically pairing itself to your phone as you get in and out of the car.  In my truck (as shown below) the aux in is right on the front of the CD player, so I chose the adapter route.  This saves greatly on cable clutter.

Ideally you would have a separate bluetooth earpiece for accepting calls.  You can delegate the media and phone audio channels to separate bluetooth devices in the settings of most smartphones (all android phones include this feature).  I use this arrangement for Pandora and Google Maps Navigation.  The navigation voice comes through the car speakers at an independant volume level to that of the media volume if using an Android phone.  While Pandora is playing music, Android will automatically pause Pandora if the nice navigation lady needs to tell you something.  The same can be said if a phone call interrupts Pandora.  The phone call can be taken on either of the two Bluetooth receivers.  When taken through the MW600,  your car speakers act like a speaker phone.     

Below are a couple of pictures of my setup.

How to Destroy Your iPhone's Headphone Jack

Use this:


Monday, July 11, 2011

Google+ vs Facebook [UPDATED]

Many don't see much of a difference in Google+ when compared to our beloved Facebook.  Some of the big differences may not be immediately obvious, so I've pointed out the main differences in the two below in a handy chart:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NCAA tournament on Android

Just sitting here at KFC enjoying the live feed from ncaa.com on my dell streak.  No separate app needed because of flash on board. I <3 Android. (it is an HD feed so a good data connection is a plus.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Google Maps Navigation Now Routes Around Heavy Traffic

I've always been a fan of the official apps published by Google.  Navigation is no exception.  Although it's still technically in beta, I use it as my primary GPS when traveling.  Now Google has added a feature that automatically routes you around heavy traffic.

Google's routing algorithms [already in use in their current traffic layer of Google Maps,] route you around heavy traffic based on historical traffic trends as well as current traffic. Current traffic conditions are calculated by using data collected from Google Maps users that have GPS enabled.  Your average speed is used to calculate traffic density.  Before you privacy buffs freak out and scream from the top of a mountain: "OMG GOOGLE KNOWS WHERE YOU ARE", users often fly through those pesky Terms and Conditions the first time Maps opens.  That's where Google gets consent from the user for anonymous collection of data.

Monday, March 7, 2011

You Know You Have a Fast Car When...

...your fuel pump has a fuel pump.
...it has a 2-stage rocket engine setup that could easily handle a launch into space.
...it can break the sound barrier.
...it outruns bullets.

It looks like what you might imagine- a 45ft rocket car. The car is expected to soar past the sound barrier at a blistering 1,050 mph. For those of you calculating at home, thats over 5 football fields per second. Its fuel pump is a Formula 1 race car engine which pumps a ton of fuel into the rocket in 20 seconds. The car is on schedule to shoot across the Hakskeen Pan, Northern Cape, in South Africa in 2013.  If it reaches full speed it will also break the low altitude air speed record currently set at 994mph.  

New fuel pump? That'll set you back about $450,000.00.

Video after the break.

The Moon, Shown Actual Size (Almost)

Here is a picture of the moon unlike any you've ever seen.  It's 576 mega pixels (24000x24000 pixels).  The resolution is so fine, that you can see the foot prints of astronauts worn into the lunar soil from past landings.  It ends up being about 2ft/pixel.  If you want the whole thing, free up 549MB of space on your hard drive and click here. Smaller version of the image after the break.


"Hey I got a lot on my plate, man. I'm learning to use the toilet, I'm learning what shapes are.  I spent half an hour laughing at my own feet yesterday."

-Stewie Griffin

Friday, March 4, 2011

March Madness Invades Your iOS Device

CBS is bringing every game in the tournament to iOS devices as well as the normal website.  All games are going to be in HD (sorry Android users.) However, I would expect the games to be available to Playon Media Server users.

Playon is a media server that runs on your home PC, (sorry Mac users) that streams content from many sources including CBS's site, to many clients including Android devices.  It does have a fee ($40/yr for the first year- $20/year after that, or $80 one time fee.) Although, there is a 14-day trial which just might stretch long enough to catch most of the games you want to see.  The newly released Playon app for Android even allows streaming over 3G. I've been using Playon all season long for watching Netflix content and Basketball games on ESPN3.

Press release after the break.

Valid Point

Your move, media.

Source: i-am-bored

Louisville vs Providence 3-2-11

VillenHD has done it again.  PK and George Good's senior night.  This one hits the soft spot a little bit. It's been a great run fellas. I feel like PK's leadership has rubbed off quite a bit on our younger guys.

You can definitely tell that PS3 is taking it to heart.  His development throughout this season has been sensational.  The "pass first, second, third, shoot fourth" mentality that PK lives by is going to be the perfect take-away for our young team going into next year.  This is the key to capitalizing on such a young, talented freshman class.  The PK legacy will live on, hopefully preventing any Sosa-type players for the next few classes.

And by the way,  how did VillenHD get the game in HD and I didn't? Oh well... rub it in my face by watching it in HD, fullscreen.

Goggle Intro's "Open Now" Feature on Mobile

I find it frustrating trying to find reliable business hours when searching google.  Google has skipped that problem altogether with the open now feature.  You can now search for business who are only open at the time of searching.  This is especially helpful if you are in an unfamiliar area or searching for a place to eat on a weekend, a time when odd hours are more common.

Pics and source after the break.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

[Hero] Ted Gundy Gets His Black Cap

86 year old Ted Gundy is a veteran of WWII.  He was a sniper then and he is a sniper now.  Watch him send a 3-shot, 5" cluster 1000yds with the AMUs Custom Remington 700 (a feat described as impossible by fellow Black Cap soldiers.) He is even given a replica of the 1903 A4 by Shooting USA and Navy Arms, the same gun he used while in service.  Video after the break.

Ricks Praise

"Sometimes you miss coaching players like this and they kind of restore your faith in everything you believe in as a coach, this team. It was wonderful to coach them this year. I owe them a great debt of thanks because it was a really wonderful, wonderful season."

-Rick Pitino on this years Louisville basketball team

Published from my Dell Streak

Cross Eyed Space Station

Remember when you were a kid and you looked at those books with the pretty patterns on each page where you crossed your eyes to reveal a 3D image? Well here's the same concept applied to a video of the ISS with docked space shuttle Discovery.  Its taken from earth (somewhere in Germany) and you can acctually see the Space Station in 3D using your normal old shitty 8 year old monitor. Dust off your monitor, cross your eyes and go full screen after the break.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The iPad 2 and Why I Don't Want One

First off, let's get one thing straight. I am an Android fan[boi?].  I like the openness of the platform, I like customizing the hardware and software that I have paid for in full.  I feel like if I purchase a product from a company, I should be able to do anything I want with it.  I like the interface, look and feel of the Android UI's (all recent versions).  So of course I'm going to be focusing most of my thoughts on the Honeycomb vs iPad 2 debate.

TiPb posted this nice little chart comparing the iPad 2 to the other current tablet offerings.  I was impressed with the first iPad simply because it was the first major player in the tablet market.  I liked the novelty of the iPad's form factor.  But I still couldn't find myself to see beyond the fact that it was still constrained to the iOS platform, a closed platform.

Mmy thoughts on the iPad 2 after the break.