Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Gluten Free

It seems like "gluten free" is the new "hip" way to eat. I have people bring stuff to my house and announce all proud that it's "gluten free!" Yeah, thanks for that.

Unless you have celiac disease gluten is perfectly fine and natural. Gluten is a NATURAL part of wheat, so removing it from wheat requires additional processing. Therefore no food that has had gluten removed from it is going to be a natural, unprocessed food (unless it had no gluten to begin with.)

Gluten is the part of wheat that contains protein. One of my favorite vegetarian meat substitutes is seitan, which is pure wheat gluten. You wash the starch out of the wheat and you are left with pure protein aka gluten.

I hear people say that removing gluten from their diet makes them feel so much better, bla, bla, bla. Maybe it does. But unless you have celiac disease or some other disorder removing gluten from your diet probably does you no benefit at all.

I think the whole "gluten free" craze is probably created by the food industry as another way to get people to buy more expensive foods.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Getting Email Working on My Droid

Anyone who I have talked to in the last two weeks has heard me complain about the wonkiness of the non-Gmail app on my Droid. It was terrible - sometimes it would update and download email properly, sometimes it would not. Sometimes I had to power the phone off and back on to get it to start downloading the email properly.

I talked to a friend last night who is a long-time Android user and he said that he had always set up his email as IMAP. So I tried that and it worked! Hallelujah!

However sending email properly was not quite as easy. My work server apparently won't relay email from outside the network without a complex series of security settings which my phone doesn't have the sophistication to mimic.

So I tried to send my work email through my personal mail server. The server is smart enough to see that the "from" email address doesn't match the domain so it rejects it, or more specifically doesn't relay it at all.

So then I try to send through my Gmail account, which has worked well for other accounts in the past. The mail goes through, but Gmail changes the from, so instead of saying from "me@myjob.com," it says "from me@gmail.com."

I spent an hour wrestling with this last night, and I got one email through properly. Backtracking from that email I worked out a relatively simple hack. I have at least a half dozen Gmail accounts, and tried sending through all of them. The one that works has my "from" address at work set up as an identity. Thus Gmail does not change the address!

After two weeks I almost have my email working, with the exception that I dislike IMAP. But at least I can now reliably check my email. Not as easily as I would like but it works!

To recap, if you are having difficulty relaying your email through an SMTP server from an Android phone:
  1. Set it to use your Gmail account as an SMTP (smtp.gmail.com, TLS security)
  2. Make sure that the Gmail account you are using as login credentials has the email you want to send from set up as an identity.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

One Week with the Droid

I've had the Droid for just about a week now and I think I've learned most of it's kinks and such. Here are my current thoughts:

This is a beautiful device. It is great at what it does. As a smartphone it is pretty much everything I could ask for. As a business device it is lacking however. My main complaints are with the keyboard, which as everyone has noted is completely atrocious. The touch screen is nice, I've learned to operate it with one hand somewhat.

My other complaint is with the native non-Gmail e-mail program. While the web browsing and Facebook apps and Twitter apps and navigation are beyond compare, the simple e-mail is severely lacking. This was my main use for my old phone - I used it to check email. It wasn't fancy, it didn't render the emails as nicely as the Droid does, but it was simple and effective.

In the morning I downloaded all my email from over the previous night, scrolled through it quickly, replied to anything important, deleted spam or unwanted email and that was it. Bing, bang, boom. Done. With the Droid and the native email program it is far more complex than that. I have to check each account individually, sometimes deleting an email doesn't delete it from the server like it should. Sometimes emails I mark as read come back later as unread. As a business tool the Droid's native email program is severely lacking.

The keyboard makes it very difficult to easily and quickly reply to emails and I find myself putting things off until I am in front of a real computer. The touch screen is kind of wonky - sometimes it's not sensitive enough and sometimes its too sensitive. About half of my emails end up getting sent before I am done with them because I accidentally brushed the screen the wrong way.

The Droid's integration with Google, and the way it integrates contacts, calendar, Twitter, Facebook, email, maps, navigation is incredible. I have no complaints with that whatsoever. I never had that on my old phone, it's nice, but I'd trade it all for a simple, working, basic email app.

I will start to look through the app store and see if I find anything. If I had a good email program this phone would be just about perfect.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Initial Thoughts on the Droid

I've had my Droid for about 12 hours now. Before that I was using some model of the Palm Treo for at least five years. I thought I'd post my initial impressions of the Droid.

Cons:
  • I HATE the keyboard. It is terrible. The keys are flat which makes it difficult to type without looking at the keyboard. On my Treo I could easily type by feel alone. Also the keyboard is a bit too wide to type with thumbs alone.
  • The calendar integrates with Google which is what I had been doing with my Treo. My one complaint is that there is no way to categorize events. I have my Treo integrating with Google integrating with Thunderbird which worked great for keeping everything synched. That still works, but the Droid doesn't allow me to classify events. I usually classify events as "Personal," "Medical," "Business," etc. Being able to see that color-coded on the screen was very useful. This calendar is usable, but not nearly as nice as the Palm's was.
  • Backup - I know everything is supposed to back up to Google but everything does not. I am going to have to find a way to back all of my data up to somewhere, either the SD card or my workstation or somewhere online. I don't trust a phone enough to leave all my data on it with no backup. I have found several backup apps but apparently a lot of them won't restore the settings and config to a fresh phone, which kind of defeats the point.
  • Intuitiveness - the Palm was not very intuitive, and neither is the Droid. I am the kind of person who is willing to click (or touch) around to find out how and where to do things and I have had to do this quite a bit to find various settings on the Droid.
  • Touch screen - I am not a big fan of the touch screen. I almost never used it on my Palm. I prefered to use the navigation button which is only possibly on the Droid when the keyboard is open. Even then you need the screen to do some things. The touch screen has great resolution but it's a bit clunky. Sometimes I need to try several times to get the right level of pressure of whatever to make it work properly.
  • Google - I am most definitely not a Google fanboy, and while I like the Google integration for me Gmail is not my primary email account and I wish I could get the phone around to my way of thinking.
Pros:
  • The app store is great so far. I've been able to find the missing functionality with apps that were fairly easily located.
  • The email is nice. I had some problems setting up my POP accounts, but I was able to work around those (note: not solve them, work around them.)
  • The GPS and map - I haven't used these yet but this promises to be a huge plus.
All around it is a very nice phone. After five+ years of using Treos I think it will take a little getting used to the new interface. I kind of wish I had waited for the Pre, because I tried a Pre and I liked it (especially the keyboard!) I figure that the Pre may be more similar in user experience to the Treo than the Droid is. But so far I like the Droid.

Update: Some additional complaints:
  • When using the (non-Gmail) email in keyboard landscape mode there is no easy way to navigate between messages, at least none I have found.
  • The screen locks too quickly.
  • I also miss have quick keys to get to the functions I use most. I had these custom assigned on my Treo so I could get to email, SMS, phone, calendar, etc. with one key press. With the Droid getting to these involves several key presses, touch gestures, swipes, etc.
Some very useful apps I have installed:
  • Astrid - to do list, much better than Google Calendar tasks
  • Note pad - the free androidware version, not the commercial version
  • Twitdroid - A decent Twitter client.
Note that just about every app that does anything will want to notify you of anything new happening with the phone beeping, vibrating and in the notice bar. Not only will this drain the battery but it is rather annoying to have the phone beeping every 30 seconds when someone I follow posts a new Tweet. I had to disable a lot of these notifications. I usually prefer a silent phone anyway.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Apple

Although I have to admit that some of their products are pretty good I still dislike Apple as a company. I have an older 30 GB iPod, I guess they are calling it an "iPod Classic" now. The battery has always been problematic, I mostly use it in the car where it is plugged in to my outlet and the battery can usually last for the hour or two I am at the gym, though just barely.

It takes, on average, one and a half hours for the battery to go from full to half-empty and when the indicator says half-empty the iPod shuts itself down.

I have replaced iPod batteries myself before, and it is a relatively easy process, but I can't afford to buy a new one right now so prefer to not take any chances.

I know that Apple has a program where they replace the batteries. I call the local Apple store and they tell me that they do NOT replace batteries but I can "recycle" the iPod and get 10% off of a new one.

So then I call the Apple Tech Support. They tell me that they can in fact replace the battery, he tells me it will cost $59 + $7 shipping for a total cost of about $70. The guy then suggests that it would be better for me to just buy a new iPod than to repair the perfectly good one I have. He says that this iPod is old and may break soon. He suggests I trade in my fully functional 30 GB iPod for a refurbished 8 GB iPod Nano, which would only cost me $20 more than replacing the battery. And that I buy an extended warranty on the new iPod Nano.

Really Apple tech support guy? I should pay an extra $20 to get a new, tiny iPod Nano that barely has enough space to store my audio books? I have 80 GB of live concerts on my computer, I have to constantly swap them in and out of my iPod. That seems like a terrible idea to me.

I think after all of this I may just get a replacement battery and do it myself again. I could send it to Apple and have them do it but after hearing two separate people tell me that I should just spend a couple hundred dollars on a new iPod I don't really want to give Apple any of my money.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Improve Everywhere

Potential jumper:

All the Single Babies

Today's viral video, here if you miss it everywhere else it is going to be: