Virgin Mobile Gives Us More Choices


It seems like it was yesterday when I wrote a post about the survey I had taken in which Virgin Mobile was asking me what I thought of the potential names of their upcoming phones.

Almost one month to the day of that post, today Virgin Mobile announced two brand-spanking-new models: the LG Optimus Slider and HTC Wildfire S. Strangely, neither of these phones bear the names for which I was surveyed but with the addition of these two models, Virgin Mobile now has a total of five Android phones for consumers to choose from.

LGOptimus

Virgin Mobile’s LG Optimus Slider (MSRP $199.99)

With its slide-out QWERTY keyboard, the LG Optimus Slider looks pretty much like a replacement for the LG Rumor Touch only it’s running Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

WildfireS

Virgin Mobile’s HTC Wildfire S (MSRP $199.99)

Speaking of clones, it looks like the HTC Wildfire S could be a clone of the LG Optimus in terms of screen size (3.2”), processor (600 MHz), etc. It’s a little thinner and lighter than the Optimus but comes with a 5MP camera and a flash, something previous VM Android models (except the TRIUMPH) lacked. Like the Slider, the Wildfire S also boasts Android’s 3.2 Gingerbread platform.

But with the few pluses comes a huge minus: talk time. According to the specs, this model has an astounding 3.8 hours of talk time. By comparison:

  • Motorola TRIUMPH: 4 hours
  • Optimus V: 6 hours
  • Samsung Intercept: 6.4 hours

Granted, with texting often being the preferred choice of communication these days, talk time may not seem to relevant but hey, I’d expect a little more than that.

All in all, Virgin Mobile seems to be sending in the clones with these two models and I don’t see myself rushing to sell stuff on eBay to buy either of them. The only good thing here is that the prices will definitely drop on all other Android models to make way for these, which is great news if you’ve been eyeballing that Optimus V.

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The Black Eyed Peas Are…


bep

…just so you know.

“Axiom Bloodshot Icarus Spleen?”


outsourced

I think I may have turned down a job opportunity the other day but in the end, it was probably for the better.

I know, in today’s economy, you would be absolutely stupid beyond a reasonable doubt to walk away from any kind of good news that might come waltzing your way, especially unexpectedly.

But that’s exactly what happened Tuesday when I got a call from a number in the 408 area code which I later discovered is based out of northern California – but isn’t really.

See, the person at the other end of the line – we’ll call him Hrundi – was presumably from a recruiting office that was scouring job Web sites for potential contracted employees. I can only guess that Hrundi found my resume on any of those popular ones out there since I do have it posted on most of them.

So my cell phone rang and instead of letting it go to voicemail like I normally do, I chose to answer. (I really should just list my Google Voice number online.) And that’s where I made my mistake because Hrundi might as well have been stringing random words together when he was speaking to me. In fact the only words I understood during the entire conversation were those of my first and last name.

It pretty much went like this with Hrundi’s apparently sentences in [brackets].

Hrundi: [Axiom bloodshot monkey spleen] David Marino? (not my real last name)

Me: (pause) This is David.

Hrundi: Hello, David. [Hummus gahan nirvana slippermen abacab hobo jungle. Blather jewels kaopectate]?

Me: I’m sorry, I couldn’t understand a word you said.

Hrundi: [Radial circumference, spackle armor Shakespeare nickel cadmium endoplasmic reticulum]?

Me: (another long pause) You know what? Forget it.

I then hung up, tired of the language barrier.

And this, my friends, seems to be the latest trend in outsourcing: job recruiters. This is about the third call I’ve gotten from someone who spoke absolutely horrid English yet whose job it was to communicate with potential job seekers. The last person I got a job offer from was also just as bad and I told her that instead of calling me ever again, it would probably be better to send me e-mails from now on. She did and they were just as if she were speaking to me.

At any rate, the phone number on the Caller ID is indeed used to mask the fact that the caller is NOT based in the United States but rather somewhere far, far away. In this case, India.

The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter where the recruiter is based; there’s another job that isn’t in the United States where people are dying to work no matter what the pay rate. And what about that jive about asking to speak to a representative in the U.S.? Come on, people, don’t believe every e-mail your Uncle Bob sends you. I know you’re not that vapidly stupid.

So if there are any recruiters out there using outsourced call centers, know this: the people you expect to do the job are doing tremendously shitty in attempting to attract the talent you so truly deserve. You may be saving some money on labor in some respects but think of how many potential employees you’ve let slip away because of situations like this, where the candidate couldn’t understand one word the recruiter was telling them and in frustration, felt that giving up any hope and hanging up was the best option as opposed to dealing with Hrundi’s nonsensical yammering for another 10 seconds.

And the unemployment line continues to grow.

Fun on the 405


commute

You see that map (click to enlarge) to the left? That there is my daily commute to work and although it’s only Tuesday, I’m about ready to start riding my bike there.

Why? Pretty simple.

The people who take the 405 at the same time I do all suck eggs. They’re a bunch of moronic demons that Hell hath spawned for the singular design of making my blood pressure shoot through the roof and by the time I get to work, trust me, it’s done just that. Just in case you need some kind of idea of what I mean, let me expand on that a little bit by explaining what I’ve seen in the past two days.

Before I even got on the 405 this morning, there was a woman stopped behind me at a red light, who appeared to be taking her daughter to high school. I saw the woman smoking which I thought was no big deal until I saw the daughter, maybe all of 16, take a puff from a cigarette of her own. Nice, mom. Bet they drink together, too.

So I get on the freeway and wait for the light on the onramp to turn green. It does and I step on it because the lane ends quickly and if you don’t get over, chances are nobody will let you over and you’ll have to squeeze in at the last minute and risk driving on the shoulder. This is a daily occurrence.

Not even before I reach the 605, I see a woman in a Mustang zoom by me as traffic was slowing and naturally, at the last minute, she slams on her brakes and just misses rear-ending the guy in front of her. The smell of rubber was overwhelming. Close call, but she seemed to be in a hurry as I saw her weaving in and out of traffic a few times.

death raceI continued my slow drive to work and decide to let a person over since we weren’t going anywhere to begin with. I crawl and give her space only to glance in my rearview and see the guy behind me yelling and waving his hands as if those gestures would somehow push me to go faster. They didn’t and I let the person over. I threw up my hands at the guy as if to say, “Dude, really?” How much of an asshole do you have to be to make this an issue?” Believe it or not, this happens every day.

As my crawl continued, traffic slowed down again at one point to rubberneck the sight on the shoulder: it seems Mustang Woman got a little overzealous with her driving and unlike earlier, she failed to miss the car in front of her. She was now exchanging insurance information with a guy in a white minivan. Serves her right.

Much like the guy I saw yesterday who was tailgating everybody and also weaving in and out of lanes. He passed me early on and I saw him later when he slammed his car into the rear of a Honda Civic a few lanes to the left of me. If he wasn’t already late for work. And that’s only one of the many accidents I’ve seen unfold before me, in either my direction or the other, while going to work.

Then there’s this woman:

I just had merged onto the 405 from the 73 and immediately started to hear honking. It seemed unreasonable to me because a) traffic wasn’t going anywhere and b) I was sure that I hadn’t cut anybody off. In fact even when we were sitting still, somebody was still honking.

It was this woman who was not only honking for no apparent reason but also yelling and throwing up her hands whenever she lacked the words to express how she or her horn really felt. She even honked at me, which is when I realized it was her. (As a side note, she apparently loves Pogo as her “I [heart] Pogo” license frame indicated. People still know what Pogo is?)

And it’s only Tuesday.

So to all of you who take the 405 for your daily commute, I’ve got a few words of advice for you:

Chill. The fuck. Out.

Seriously. We all have somewhere to go and if you just let people over and take it easy, not drive like your collective hair is on fire, we will all reach our destinations in one piece and free of any extensive psychological or vehicular damage. I guarantee that. You might even also make there on time. Should you choose to ignore such a simple rule, that’s when shit like what I’ve posted here happens.

It’s so simple that we can all do it, right?

My Most Essential Android Apps, Part II


As promised, this post will be dedicated strictly to the apps related to photography.

Let’s get one thing out in the open: when it comes to photography apps, iOS definitely has Android beat. I check AppShopper daily on my iPod for literally thousands of free iOS apps and there’s always an abundance of photography apps. There may be a few I’d love to have but being my iPod is 3rd-gen and sans camera, they don’t do me much good.

So I’ll go and check both Android Marketplace and Amazon App Store for the app I saw and I’m not too surprised when I can’t find it. It’s a shame because some of them look like they’d be winners.

But I can’t cry over that, can I? I’ve found a few Android photography apps that I really like and use them more than the standard camera app because they are so versatile. So without any further ado, here they are and in no particular order.

quickpicQuickPic (free): If there’s one thing that I can’t stand about the Android OS, it’s the Gallery photo viewer. It tries too hard to be pretty and visually stunning and as a result, lags badly. I don’t need that. What I need is an app that will show my images when I click on it without any goofy transitions or bells or whistles. This is where QuickPic excels because it does just that: it works, and quickly. Because of this, QuickPic is my default photo viewer and it should be yours, too.

retrocamRetro Camera (standard and full version available, downloaded full version for free as part of Amazon’s Free App of the Day, regular $2.99): This is by far my most favorite camera app. While both free and full versions offer several different camera types, the full version comes exclusively with the Hipsteroku camera which is cool but not stunning. The only setback with this app is that it sometimes takes time to load so if you’re looking to shoot something really quickly, this might not be the app for you but if you see some kind of inanimate objects that would make a nice artsy shot, then this will do you just fine. Here’s a shot I took over the weekend in my hometown of Wilmington, CA:

shot_1315687030238

I’ve printed some shots taken with Retro Camera + and they all turned out pretty clear considering the camera’s miniscule 3.2MP resolution. The full version offers many, many more options such as ASA, shutter button assignment, memory consumption, etc. and is worth the price.

picsayPicSay (standard and full version available, downloaded full version for free as part of Amazon’s Free App of the Day, regular $3.99): So you’ve taken a few pictures with your phone and realize that a lot of them could use a little help. PicSay can easily help you transform your dark, off-color, of just plain dull images into something worth sharing by letting you adjust contrast, RGB, or even add text balloons to them. As always, the standard version will give you a good idea of what the app is capable of doing but is lacking in a handful of features and options, which is why I jumped on this one right away when it was Amazon’s Free App of the Day. If you’re not up to spending the money now, give the free version a shot. It’s pretty cool.

picplzPicplz (free): Part of the fun of owning a smartphone is having the ability to share your images with friends or more than likely, your social network. Picplz does just that and does it rather well, allowing you to post your image to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Flickr, Tumblr, Dropbox, or Posterous – all at once, if you please. All of those options make it my favorite photo-sharing app, despite its poor results if you choose to one of its built-in filters which can be applied before uploading. They look good on the phone but once uploaded, then appear really murky. But hey, that’s why we have PicSay, right?

pocketPocketbooth (downloaded for free as part of Amazon’s Free App of the Day, regular $1.99): Do you remember the old photo booths? The cramped space, that funny, spinning stool that couldn’t support more than 150 pounds, the smell of the photo chemicals on your strip of pictures when they were spit out of the side of the machine? You don’t? Well, I do because I’m old, okay? The Pocketbooth app is just plain fun because it takes people like me back to the days of the photo booth but without all of the mess or claustrophobia. This app takes 3 or 4 images in a row, just like the classic photo booths, in black-and-white, color, sepia or antique. You can also choose (virtual) matte or glossy texture as well as the color of the border. Not quite as fun as the real thing but a bit of nostalgia nonetheless. Here’s a sample taken with the app.

Honorable Mention: Fatbooth (free): Have you ever wondered what you’d look like if you were of a larger girth? Download Fatbooth and see for yourself! I tried it on our cat Monte and the results were pretty funny.

While I’m constantly on the lookout for any new and exciting photo apps for my phone, most of them seem to be rather lackluster. These, in my opinion, are the best ones I’ve come across as of this post. Give them a shot and see what you think.