Bits about technology, gadgets, DIY and more!

Windows Phone 8 Review

I've been using the new AT&T Nokia 920 phone for two weeks, so here are my thoughts:

PROs: Great display, fast processor, smooth web browsing, live tiles provide a great start page, camera images are sharp (although color balance is inconsistent, hopefully an update will fix this)

CONs: No notification center, (although I hear that is coming eventually) lack of some key apps, many unappealing existing apps, random reboots reported by some users. (although I have never experienced one)

My two biggest gripes however are the lack of WAV file playback (WAV is a Microsoft format! My BlackBerry played WAV files!) and the fact that the battery and signal level indicators disappear after a few seconds instead of remaining visible. I'm hopeful that since these items could be easily fixed with a software update that they will be addressed in the near future. I also miss the "profiles" feature of my BlackBerry that allowed different email accounts to have different audible notifications.

The bottom line for me is that Windows Phone 8 suits my needs and integrates well with the Windows desktop, MS Office and Skydrive. I'm not a huge apps user but so far almost all the apps I need are available: Skype, Evernote, Facebook and Twitter among others. The lack of Instagram has been a deal breaker for a number of people, but I find the panaroma, self timer, and cinemagraph features to be much more useful and appealing than permanent image distortions. (I know, Instagram is a social tool too...) I'm also looking forward to developing my own apps on this platform, leveraging my existing knowledge of C#. Physically, it's a large phone that I made even larger with a thick protective case, so now it is massive! This thing is like a lead monolith. I prefer the heft and feel of a solid phone, though. If you are in the market for a slim device, the 920 is probably not for you.

Here is an example of an image captured by the 920: (the resolution has been severely reduced to fit this page)


Building Awesome Projects With Netduino

The Arduino is a popular open source microprocessor system for hobbyists, artists and experimenters to build interactive projects and devices. The Netduino is based on the Arduino but runs on the .NET platform and can be programmed in C Sharp, a huge boon to C Sharp programmers like myself. My first project is to convert an old analog jukebox from vinyl to mp3 using the Netduino to replace the relays that control the logic in the old system. My second Netduino project will be to build an energy tracking system for household use via a current sensor and online graphing using cosm.