Running With a Geek Goal: Ingress.

Are you a nerd who spends way too much time inside on your butt, but wishes that you had a good reason to get off it and out the door? Google might have a solution for you.

In November 2012, Google1, in the form of Niantic Labs, released Ingress, an augmented reality game. The gameplay consists of establishing “portals” at places of public art, etc., and linking them to create virtual triangular fields over geographic areas. The portals can be compared to the control points in orienteering, but they are not physical. They are virtual and only visible on your phone – unless you have a very vivid imagination, of course.

I try to stay in reasonable shape, and running is a great way to do it. But for me, running is more of a chore than recreation. I tend to mostly focus on how exhausted I am, and since I lack any real competitive spirit, I might not make my goal for a run all the time. It’s so much more pleasant to walk than to run around gasping for air.

But Ingress has made running a lot more exciting for me.

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Supercharge Your Android Phone.

A few days ago I got a Nexus 4, an excellent piece of mobile machinery. It’s got a big display, it’s light, thin and lightning fast. I think it’s the best mobile phone I’ve ever used. That said, there’s always a few things that I’d like to do that is not supported out of the box in Android 4.2.2, the mobile operating system the Nexus 4 is running. I’d mostly like to automate a few things, like turning on flight mode during the night, turning off Exchange synchronization outside of normal office hours and opening Spotify when I plug in a pair of headphones.

Here’s a list of applications that will help you to do all this and much, much more. Your imagination and the sensors in your phone are basically what limits you. Be aware that some of the applications listed below will not truly shine unless you root your phone. Rooting is a process that gives applications access to the inner workings of Android and thus enables you to control more or less every aspect of the operating system. It’s a fairly technical process to root your device and I would not recommend that you do it unless you really know your way around a computer. But if you’re interested in giving rooting a go, simply do a Google search and you should be able to find all the information you need to root your Android phone. If you have a Nexus 4, there’s a very good guide posted at XDA Developers that I used to root my own Nexus 4.

The applications listed will set you back a few bucks, but it’s totally worth it and by paying for the software you are supporting some very clever people and motivate them to create even better applications in the future. Without any further delay, here are the applications you need to supercharge your Android phone.

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OK, Glass.

You might have heard of Google’s project Glass, a pair of glasses that could potentially replace your mobile phone. Today Google released a ad for it:

Looks pretty sweet if you ask me. I’ll need a pair of (new) glasses some day and when this product eventually becomes an option for the masses, it’s something to consider. But right now it’s only for a selected and slightly insane few. You see, you can’t simply buy a pair of Glasses. To get them, you have to apply by writing a 50 word or less piece on why you should get glasses on either +ProjectGlass or Twitter, optionally add up to 5 pictures or a video that can’t be no more than 15 seconds long and hope for the best.

If you are one of the chosen ones, you won’t get a pair of glasses to play with just like that. You need to, and I quote:

[…] pre-order a Glass Explorer Edition for $1500 plus tax and attend a special pick-up experience, in person, in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles.

So good luck with that and have fun with your Glasses and think about how you actually paid Google $1500 to work for them. Cool idea, though.

The Subtle Art of Misinformation.

I went all in the other day and ordered a spanking new Dell XPS 12 Ultrabook. I wanted a portable with enough punch for me to sit in the living room with Anniken and play a few games, learn everything about NoSQL, post entries here and have enough screen estate to make the experience less crammed than it would on a netbook.

The Dell XPS 12 covers all those needs and more – with a flip of the screen it turns into a Windows 8 tablet, which will be an interesting experience. The Norwegian Dell site said “delivery before Christmas” and that pushed me over the buyer’s edge: A brand new gadget I could bring with me when visiting family this Christmas. So I placed the order and was very surprised when the estimated delivery date listed on my order status page was January 16, 2013.

The Norwegian Dell site. Spot the link.

The US Dell site with clear shipping dates.

It turned out that the text “delivery before Christmas” (“levering før jul” in Norwegian) was a link that took me to a page clearly stating that the XPS 12 Ultrabook could not be delivered before Christmas. How could I, a seasoned surfer of the interwebs, miss such an important detail?

It’s not really easy to tell that the link is, in fact, a link. I don’t know if Dell did this on purpose just to fuck with people, but they sure managed to screw me over. Now, I could probably cancel the order, but I wasn’t able to find anywhere on the Dell website to do that. Naturally. However, Norwegian law gives consumers who buy stuff on the internet 14 days after they have received the merchandise to change their minds, return whatever they bought and get the money back. Not a totally bad deal, so I think I’ll stick with it. There will be no gadget Christmas present for me this year, but – unless everything goes FUBAR in two weeks time – a nice happy-new-year-present.

I still think Dell Norway should reconsider their link text strategy, though, and perhaps display shipping infromation like Dell’s American site instead.