Cellphone contract due for renewal — either HTC OneX or Samsung Galaxy SIII

My current 2 year cellphone contract is up for renewal this month.  I have been using a HTC Desire for the last 2 years and absolutely loved it.  Comparing to today’s Android phones, the Desire is very limited particularly when it comes to internal memory and storage.

I have already decided to stay with an Android phone so the iPhone is not even on my list to look at.  

I have narrowed my search down to 2 phones namely the HTC OneX and the Samsung Galaxy SIII. On the left you see the HTC OneX which was announced by HTC at the Mobile World Conference and the specs is well known. On the right is what the Samsung SIII might look like.  Samsung has not annouced the phone yet so there is not official images of it yet.  From rumours and leaks, it seems to be in the same spec class as the HTC OneX.

I am a HTC fan so I am leaning towards the HTC at the moment but will wait till the Samsung SIII has been announced and then take both for a test and only then decide. I just hope that my mobile provider, MTN, will be bringing both to South Africa.  They have already indicated that they will be bringing the SIII but have not seen anything about the HTC OneX.

From what I have read about the reviews of the HTC OneX, everybody is highly impressed with the phone particularly with the camera that is on this one.  Seems like HTC has gone out of their way to make the camera experience a real good one.  I use my camera phone fairly often so a good camera is a must on the phone.  I am eagarly waiting for reviews on the Samsung SIII and what reviewers have to say about it.  I am particurlarly looking forward to a side by side review of the 2 phones.  Please comment below if you have seen or read a review like this.

Onwards to my new phone 🙂


Studying again — at my age: Udacity

Today I want to talk about Udacity, a online Univercity if you like and I quote:

We believe university-level education can be both high quality and low cost. Using the economics of the Internet, we’ve connected some of the greatest teachers to hundreds of thousands of students all over the world.

Currently they are running 2 cources


I have enrolled for both but not sure whether I will have the time for the Robotic one.  

I have just completed the first week of the Search Engine one and must say that I enjoyed the way it was teached and the pace at which it was run.  I even did the homework assignment so am eagerly awaiting on how I did with my homework. The course is presented as a series of videos with questions and exercise throughout.  The interactivity is well done and it even has a browser based Python interpretor, so one does not need to install anything on one’s computes.

The course is using Python to build a search engine, I come from a Sofware Development background with years of C, C++ and PHP behind me but has never realy learned Python.  Also just like to mention that I am over 50 years old so studying is a new experience again but as they say, one is never to old to learn.  

Looking forward to receiving my homework assignment result and week 2 of the course.

    Android Favorite Apps – Part 2 – Time Recording

    This is the second part of my series on my favorite Android application and the applications that I use on a daily basis.  Here is part 1 on TV Shows Fav
    As part of my working life, I have to keep time of the work I do and the hours I work.  The Android app that I use for this is Time Recording.  The app is available in a Free version and a Pro version.  I use the Free version that is ad supported and the ads do not realy bother me.
    Basically it has the following functionality:
    Timesheet manager – easy to use, highly adaptive

    Manage your timesheet.

    Basic functionality:
    • Check in & out
    • Task assignment
    • Daily & detailed notes
    • Overview of day, week, month
    • Data export & email as CSV, HTML or XML
    • Integrated backup & restore
    • Google Calendar Sync (one way only, only for Pro users)
    • Dropbox integration for data export, backup & restore (Pro version only)
    • Pro version is ad-free

    Highly configurable, many additional features:
    • Date and time formats
    • Hourly rates, paid overtime
    • Calendar options (first day of week and month, bi-weekly reporting)
    • Target time
    • Widget to display running day total
    • Status bar notification when checked in
    • Tasker/Locale plugin support (Pro version only)
    • Public services for integration into other apps

    • Smallest tracking unit is one minute
    • No multiple trackers
    • No mileage or expenses
    • Only one overtime rate

    If you need to keep time for something work activity then I can highly recommend Time Recording.

    Android Favorite apps – Part 1 – TV Shows Favs

    I have been using Android for almost 2 years already, currently own a HTC Desire running Android 2.2.  This is a series of blogs that share my favorite Android apps which I use on a daily basis.  

    Lets start off with TV Show Favs.  I love watching TV Series and this is the app I use to keep track of what is shown on a daily basis and what I have watched and what is still in my queue to be watched.

    This is what the home screen look like:

    TV Show Favs home screen

    The Schedule menu option list what will be coming up on a daily basis and also what one has recently watched and what is still in the queue to be watched.  Here is what the schedule screen look like.

    TV Show Favs - schedule screen

    As can be seen from the above, I have a fair amount of TV shows I like to watch but to be honest, do not get the time to watch them all.  At least they pile up on my media centre for those cold and wet rainy weekends.  In a future post I will cover my ,media centre setup — yes all running on Open Source software.

    So if you have Android and like to keep track of your TV Shows then get TV Shows Favs .. you will not be sorry.

    TouchPal Android Keyboard

    While browsing Twitter yesterday, I came accros a Swype like keyboard for Android called TouchPal.  It is free in the Android Market and I installed it and started using it.

    I was immediately impressed with how it works.  It seems much more accurate and responsive than Swype and I just prefer the overall interaction with it. I like the little switch on the space bar to switch Prediction on and off.  English is not my home language so prediction can be a real pain.  The only drawback at the moment is that I could not find a Afrikaans (my home language) language pack for it. 

    It even has Voice input and recognition but I have not really tried this so not sure how good this works.

    It is fairly customizable and lots of settings that you can set.  The defaults works just great.

    For the time being this will be my preferred and default keyboard.  Here is a screenshot of me using it in Tweetdeck (my other favourite app at the moment)

    My handset details:

    Handset:  HTC Desire (yes the original from a couple of years back)

    Android:  Version 2.2 (Rooted ROM .. just did not had the need to upgrade)

    Give it a try, you will not be sorry 🙂


    2012 is here and only one wish — let it be better than 2011.

    2012 have arrived very quietly in my household, not that I can say the same for the neighbourhood.  

    I only have one wish for 2012 and that is that it is better than 2011.  It was a very tough 2011 and I do not want to have a year like that again.  

    Wishing everyone a good and prosperous 2012, may all you dreams, goals and wished come true.

    The year (2011) in review – hectic with more downs than ups.

    What a year, one that I do not want to have over.  This must have been the busiest year in my 31 year working live.  I have never work this hard with the accompanied stress levels that goes with it.

    The year started off for me starting a job at Old Mutual for the first 6 months of the year.  It was one of the most interesting projects that I have managed with a great team of developers.  However for some reason Old Mutual decided to treat us contractors not to well and it was time to move on.

    I returned to a company that I worked for in the early 2000’s called Fundamo.  Originally I was employed to become the Software Development Manager for one of the Business Units.  For some reason this position was then canned and I was offered the Project Manager position which I accepted.  I still do not agree with the decision that the Dev Manager position was canned. It is leaving a gap in the governance around Software Development and the proper management of the Development processes.

    I am Project Manager for 5 countries in the Southern part of Africa.  During Novemeber I spend a couple of days in Uganda to visit and meet the people in Uganda.  I must stay that the past 6 months was very hard and is starting to take it’s toll on me.  I am extremely tired and the frustration levels are very high.  Not sure how long I will be able to keep this up.

    On the family side.  My daughter completed her second year at varsity and moves on to 3rd year next year.  My son has one little subject to complete at the beginning of 2012 and if everything goes according to plan, he will obtain his Chemical Engineering degree in March 2012.  Now the struggle starts for him to find a job, so if anybody knows of Chemical Engineering jobs, then please let me know.

    To each and everybody, may you have a joyeous holiday season and a great 2012.  For me, 2012 can only be better than 2011.

    Upgraded Ubuntu to Natty — 11.04 — eventually

    Yes, I know that Oneiric (11.10) is also released but I am only getting around to upgrading my Ubuntu boxes now.  I have 2 Ubuntu desktops and decided to ugrade one of them yesterday from Maverick to Natty.  And I was pleasantly surprised how smooth the upgrade went.  It is not a new machine, in fact it is a couple of years old and run Intel graphics.

    I did run in a couple of small issues:

    • After re-enabling 3rd party repositories and PPA’s, there was no Natty repository for XBMC.  After some Googling I found a solution to just use the Maverick repository.  A while ago I also bought a Samsung 32″ Full HD TV which I use as my monitor and the TV is also connected to my LAN.  I run a DLNA server (minidlna) on my Ubuntu Box and stream my media through minidlna to the Samsung TV so I do not really need XBMC anymore and decided to uninstall it.
    • For NZB dowmloads I used Klibido as my download client but that is not in the Natty repositories anymore and not supported at all anymore.  I did some research and went for LottaNzb which uses SABnzbd as a backend.  After some configuration and testing, I now have a working solution for all my NZB downloads.

    For the time being, I have stuck to Unity but the jury is still out on whether I like it.  It is starting to grow on me but it has only been a day.  However I have seen that my old box seem to be performing a bit better than when I ran Maverick so I might just stick around with Unity.

    I will be running Narry for a couple of months before upgrading to Oneiric.

    My other desktop is even older and run a very old nVidia graphics card so I think that upgrade to Natty will be a bit more challenging.  But that is a task for another day.

    Today 10 years ago .. remembering 9/11 – in the IOL newsroom.

    I was working for Independent Online (IOL) at the time and around 3:30 decided that it was time to hit the road and go home.  As I was walking through the newsroom my eye caught one of the many TV’s in the newsroom that happened to be on CNN.  I could not believe what I was seeing.  For a minte or 2 we all just starred at one another in disbelief and though by ourselves, can this  be real.

    Me going home came to an abrubt halt and the newsroom became a hive of activity.  I was in charge of technology at IOL and we started thinking of what this will mean to our servers and the kind of traffic we could expect.

    IOL was the first news site that had the story up and we immediately saw a spike in traffic.  We kept a watchfull eye on the servers and at the same time needed to ensure that the journalists had an optimum system to keep the stories flowing and keeping the site updated.  That day I came to respect the open source stack that we ran to serve IOL.  It did not strain at all under the load and just kept on ticking.

    At about 11pm that evening things started to quiet down a bit and we could go home for some sleep while the night shift kept things going.  Early the next morning we were all back in the office to keep the news flowing.

    Although we were looking on from afar, it felt like we were right in New York and today my toughts go out to all in America and the rest of the world that lost loved ones and friends.  I know it is a day I will never forget.

    Jelly Bean comes after Icecream — next version of Google’s Android

    From the folks at Phandroid and AndroidandMe comes the news about the next pet name for Android .. I quote from Phandroid:

    If you’re an Android fanboy (like me) there’s probably been a night or two where you kept up late wondering what Google’s name for the next version of Android would be. Well, toss and turn no more! According to a “trusted source” over at ThisIsMyNext, the next version of Android could be named — wait for it — JELLY BEAN. That’s right. Keeping true to Google’s alphabetical order, we’ve seen Android versions Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich and now (possibly) Jelly Bean. Keep in mind it was long rumored that “F” would be Flan before later revealing itself to be Froyo.

    and from the guys at AndroidandMe:

     Google has a tradition of naming Android versions after desserts. Ice Cream Sandwich is currently one of the hottest topics, as it’s the version we are all waiting for at the moment. It’s the Android version that will democratically unite tablet and smartphone software into one.

    Due to the fact that ICS will be such a huge jump, we’ve not stopped to think about what Google will name the next Android version. If we follow the tradition, it should be a dessert starting with the letter J. We’ve heard a few assumptions, like “Jello,” but according to Thisismynext’s sources, it will be called “Jelly Bean.”

    UPDATE: There is an update on this and apparently “Jelly Bean” is only one of the names in the mix.  Wonder how many food names are there which starts with a “J”, not many I can think of and do not think Google will just go with “Jam”.