Boogie Robot


image

I found this in the backyard and figured it belonged to the neighbors since my son said it wasn’t his.

I put it on the wall and saw the sun shining through its head. It looked cool so I shot it and manipulated the color of the sky to offset the blue of his body.

And doesn’t it look like he’s dancing?

Device: LG Optimus V
Apps: PicSay Pro for color manipulation

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More Handy Android Apps


As you’ve probably already read in a few of my posts, my LG Optimus V has a tendency to have its memory eaten up in to time flat. As a result, I was often left to go into the Applications menu and clear out caches, uninstall updates, etc.

I did all of that until App2SD Pro was offered for free on Amazon’s Appstore, and the app’s widget did do the trick for a little while. The widget would refresh and display the amount of memory the cache was taking up and if you wanted to clear it, you would press the widget – but not before it asked you if you wanted to do that.

Well, of course I want to. It’s killing my space! So annoying message aside, all widgets only work when the app is installed on the phone’s internal memory which sort of defeats the purpose of having it.

So in an effort to avoid having an app kill my phone’s internal memory just for the sake of having a widget, I scoured the Android Market and came across two handy ones that have since become my replacements for App2SD’s cache widget.

cacheSLW Cache Cleaner Widget (free): While it’s pretty obvious what this app does, what isn’t is how small it is. Like all SLW widgets – SLW is an acronym for Simple and LightWeight – it is extremely compact to save you space and still gets the job done. This one in particular is a whopping 17k. What I like about Cache Cleaner is that it efficiently monitors your cache and whenever you feel the need to dump it, one press of the widget will do it and you’re back in business. No frills, no bells or whistles. That’s exactly how it should be.

storageSLW Storage Widget (free): I use this one in conjunction with Cache Cleaner so that I have a constant tab on how much memory remains on both my internal memory and SD card. This takes the guesswork out it as well as waiting for that dreaded “low memory” message, a definite sign of how this phone can drive you nuts at the most inopportune times. And again, we see the benefit of good things coming in small packages: this one weighs in at 20k. Think your phone can handle that?

Best of all, these as well as all of this developer’s apps are free.

Give them a shot and see what you think.

Disconnected


information_operatorsAs any of you who read my blog regularly might have noticed, I love my Virgin Mobile LG Optimus V. It’s my first smartphone and has really made things convenient: spur-of-the-moment photos and videos, checking account balances, email, games, music and yes, even the occasional phone call I place.

This joy, however, was shattered a few weeks ago when I turned it on and got this dreaded message:

The process com.android.phone has stopped unexpectedly.

I figured this was not a good thing since I couldn’t even navigate through the menus without the message popping up at least every 5 seconds. Seriously, it was that bad.

I went online to look for some solutions and did find a page that offered some potential solutions but sadly, none of them worked. And being that we don’t have a home phone number and use Skype instead, it was of paramount importance that I have my cell phone in working order.

That said, the time had come: I had to call Virgin Mobile Tech Support which, as those of you who have dealt with them in the past know, is more often than not an extremely unpleasant experience in which nothing is ever accomplished.

But much to my surprise, this time was nothing like that.

I was helped by a pleasant rep that, while still sounding like she was reading from The Big Book of Answers, did a great job in assisting me with the problem. After giving her the gist of things, she told me to navigate through a few menus and restart the phone and then a whole plethora of alternatives, all of which did nothing to alleviate the problem.

Then the Hail Mary was called: I was told I had to wipe the phone’s memory clean of everything except the Android OS. (For future reference, hold down the Power + Home + Volume Down buttons on the Optimus V at the same time to access the reset menus. It’s pretty self-explanatory at that point but this is only recommended if NOTHING else has worked. Read on.)

The menu, looking like a slightly upgraded version of MS-DOS, only had a few selections on it that I was told to choose. After choosing both required selections, the phone went blank for about 30 seconds, restarted, and was back to its factory-fresh settings after about a minute. Even the ugly red wallpaper came back.

Once it was determined that phone was functional and error-free, I had to reactivate it which I did in the same call. All in all, it took around 30 minutes to solve the issue which meant that I was 30 minutes late to work that day. This incident happened just as I was leaving the house.

Then the fun of reinstalling apps began and despite having them all on my microSD card, they were wiped clean and I had to download all of them again.

With the time it took to download all of them, you would think of this as a bad thing, wouldn’t you? It actually turned out to be good.

As you know, the Optimus V is extremely limited on internal memory (unless you screw around with it and risk turning it into a brick which I am not willing to do). As such, I had to constantly be shifting around or deleting apps in order to preserve space on my phone in order for it to…well, work. It was a real hassle and downright frustrating.

But with the phone crashing, I didn’t even look back at my download history with Amazon’s Appstore or Android Market. Instead, I only downloaded what I knew I used on a regular basis and didn’t bother with those I couldn’t remember. The bottom line is that I now have my essential apps with about 30MB internal memory remaining, whereas I used to have around 20MB which gets you into trouble if you’re not careful. It even gave me enough extra space to try some other apps I had wanted to try but never had the memory to run.

As far as Contacts go, I had them backed-up in my Google account and only had to replace a few once I synced my Gmail account. Additionally, I didn’t lose one photo, video, or music file on my microSD card.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say this wasn’t so bad because it was a major headache having to reinstall everything. But in the end, considering I’ve got a decent amount of memory left, the hassle seemed to be worth the effort.

Virgin Mobile’s LG Optimus V for $10 at Target on Black Friday — Sort Of


If you’re in the market for either an 8GB iPod touch with iOS 5 or a Virgin Mobile LG Optimus V, or if you just want to buy someone something really spiffy this year, the folks at Target are aiming to make your wishes come true on Black Friday.

Provided things go as planned or as I think they might, the time you spend with all those lunatics beginning at midnight/Friday morning will be time well spent when you realize you could possibly leave the store paying only $10 for the Optimus V.

How so, you say?

Target is offering a $40 Gift Card with the purchase of an 8GB iPod touch which is being advertised at the unremarkable price of $195. That’s a whopping $4 off the MSRP if you’re keeping score but hey, don’t blame the bullseye for the lame markdown — you know how Apple is.

They are also offering the Optimus V for $49.99 which is a bargain among bargains if I’ve ever seen one. (In fact, I’m composing this post on my Optimus V. I added the images at home, however.) So putting those two facts together, one could surmise that getting the phone for $10 is possible if:

  1. The Gift Card is issued at the time of iPod purchase or is an on-pack promotion
  2. It doesn’t have any particular redemption dates

I’ve gotten free Target Gift Cards before and they’ve been pretty lenient about when they can be used. I’ve gone right back in the store and used them or given them to Ann who was behind me in line buying a few items.

So, if the aforementioned rules hold true, then all you’ll need to do is bring a friend — or your split personality if you have one — along with you when shopping. You go for the iPod and your friend grabs the phone. Once you have and pay for the iPod and get the $40 Gift Card, hand it off to your partner in crime for redemption on the phone.

BOOM! A $10 Android phone!

Between the two of you, you will leave the store paying a combined total of only $204 (plus tax, the iPod buyer paying almost all of it). About the only thing you’ll have to do is pay your friend back for the phone, say “Merry Christmas!” and let them have it, or fight it out in the parking lot while a stranger shoots a video of you two and posts it on YouTube with the title, “Two Black Friday Idiots in Target Parking Lot Fighting Over Phone.” Hey, it could go viral. You never know.

Any thoughts on this? Do you plan to do any BF shopping and especially, giving this plan a shot? I don’t. I’m done shopping. But if you’re not, I’d like to hear how it went so post your experiences in the Comments when you return. Or, if you’re on the Twitter, tweet if it worked by posting something like:

“Got Android phone for $10 @target. Thanks, holographicmeatloaf.com! @aeromat“.

The @aeromat mention is me, of course.

So get some sleep after your Thanksgiving feast and go for it. You can thank me later…if it works… 🙂

And hey, if it does work, give my wife some credit and use her Kickbacks code when you activate your phone: UJWQD9VW. We no longer have a home phone and she’s been burning through her minutes, so help her out!

A Virgin Mobile Survey Worth Looking At


Hey, guess what? I got another Virgin Mobile survey in my inbox today and let me tell you, this one is definitely worth sharing.

First of all, it seems that Virgin Mobile is considering a few new interesting options that include “free” lifetime upgrades and, what I will cover first, The Virgin Mobile Phone Fund:

Concept 1

Just as the image dictates, this plan will give payment-punctual users a cool $5 credit each month which can then be applied toward the purchase of a brand-spanking-new phone of their choice (a year from the start of the program, I assume). Seems like a pretty good deal provided you are on a Beyond Talk plan and if you’re not, well, then I guess you wouldn’t qualify. But hey, $60 a year toward the purchase of a new phone is not bad at all and might be enough of an incentive to get people to switch over. This also might imply that Virgin Mobile has a few new models coming up so hey, it’s a win in my book.

I guess my only question would be if this plan is available for those who have the auto-payment option (like yours truly). This pretty much means that I’ll always be on time and that those extra $5 a month are in my pocket just waiting to be used at the end of the year. No other details were given, such as if the credits can be carried over to the following calendar year.

The next feature is also kind of cool provided you want to spend some extra money. This one is called Virgin Mobile’s Free Phones for Life:

Concept 2

“Free” does, however, come with a few caveats:

  • You must pay a one-time $300 “initiation fee” when you join the program, and
  • You must select the $60 Beyond Talk Unlimited monthly plan and make your payments on time (penalty for late payment was not listed)

I suppose that is a good deal if you go through phones like toilet paper or just want to upgrade sans contract every year as I wished I could have when I was with Verizon. I would have no problem paying a initiation fee under one condition: different initiation fee levels for different Beyond Talk plans. For example:

  • $100 for the $25 plan
  • $200 for the $40 plan
  • $300 for the $60 plan

As it is, I rarely come close to using up my 300 minutes under my current plan and the way I’ve been getting Kickback* minutes (thanks to all of you fantastic readers and for your comments as well), there are months that I don’t use my paid minutes. And at home, I use Skype to save even more of my minutes. The $60 plan is definitely out of my league but if things were a little more the way I mentioned in the bullet list above, they might have me on this one. I wish they’d consider such a pricing schedule.

So should these plans come to fruition, and I certainly hope they do, upgrading to a new phone comes down to these options:

  • Get up to $60 a year toward the purchase of a new phone without a fee and stay on a cheap Beyond Talk plan, or
  • Get free phones for life with a one-time $300 fee and a $60 Beyond Talk plan

As for me, the first choice is the best. While I’d love a free phone for life, the point of our switching to Virgin Mobile was to save money on our monthly cell phone bill. I like paying $50/month for two lines; there’s no way to get me to pay $120/month for minutes that will go to waste. I was paying that when I left Verizon so it’s just not going to happen and, quite honestly, I can’t afford that.

Unless, you know, they take my suggestion of initiation fees based on your current monthly plan…

Lastly, there’s this future plan that is more of a feature than anything else. Dig this:

Widget Concept2

At long last, Virgin Mobile is considering a My Account widget that actually does something. Currently, at least on my Optimus V, the My Account widget does nothing but take me to the Virgin Mobile site which, in most cases, can never be accessed. It’s a real pain when I want to check how many minutes I have remaining and as such, I’m always in the dark until I can get access to a computer. And that totally sucks.

With the planned widget, users will have a choice of access options that include the following (my preferences shown below in order of what I deemed important):

widget

Really, Virgin Mobile? You need a consumer panel to tell you that we need this widget? I could easily access my available minutes and account info on all of my previous Virgin Mobile dumbphones yet on my Android OS, this has yet to materialize? While I’m all for this, I’m wondering what the heck took them so long to offer this widget.

If anything, I’m glad that I was given the choice of which features I wanted on it. I’d be happy with my first four choices seen in the image above; everything else is just superfluous.

UPDATE 6/12/11: As an eagle-eyed reader pointed out, two of the options listed above are “Available Data” and “Available Messages” which could imply that Virgin Mobile has plans for limiting both and mark the end of unlimited data and text messages under their Beyond Talk plans. My only guess for those would be that the widget would also be on phones under their PayLo program which does limit both, and that’s what I am certainly hoping for because killing unlimited data and text messages would be a stupid move from a consumer’s standpoint. That’s one of their biggest selling points at the moment. But as for now, pure speculation. [Thanks, Wadya]

So there you have it. Looks like the future is bright for us Virgin Mobile customers. Any thoughts on all of this? Leave a comment below and, thanks to WordPress, you can now log-in using either your Facebook or Twitter accounts!  And as always, I will continue to post surveys as I get them and as long as I remain a customer.

Now go and have your say!

*My Kickback code is dJWQc09H