Thursday, July 29, 2010

+1 for xmind... download and use it, it's awesome!

http://www.xmind.net/

I've just downloaded this, and I've used it to create about 9 diagrams in two days. It's totally awesome. It can be used to create the following charts with no fuss at all, with nice icons if you would like to include that sort of thing:
  -- Brainstorming map
  -- Organisation chart
  -- Spreadsheet-style chart
  -- Fishbone chart

The concept map style chart really helped me to capture the major tasks, goals, responsibilities and relationships for me and my team, bringing together kinds of information that are otherwise quite difficult to relate to one another. It really helped me talk to them about how things tie together.

I've also used the other chart styles to map out processes, systems and challenges, showing my boss and various colleagues how things hang together.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review of the Nexus One

Okay, so the Nexus One has just been released in Australia, and I am now a proud owner. This is my first foray into Phones 2.0, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I also have insanely high standards, and the quality of the computing platform comes into my evaluation.

Review: Three and a Half Stars / Pretty good / Somewhat exceeds expectations

Based on the iPhone4 articles I've read, antennae issues aside, the iPhone4 would rank at 4 stars. (out of 5 in both cases).

The Nexus One has a good enough processor. It successfully gets over the bar of being an acceptable computing environment. I believe it's a 1Ghz chip, and I would say this is about the minimum you'd want before regarding a phone as a proper computing platform.

The best thing about the Android is that it is open source. This means you can install stuff yourself, use the phone to do what you want, access any websites you and and basically freely use your own property. I've already used this to my own advantage and this was an overriding concern for me. That's where my perception of the iPhone lost a star.

There are a few negatives I can report. The battery life is lousy. I'd expect this to be true of all the competitors, but it's just annoying to have to recharge twice a day (if you are using it somewhat actively). I don't think it's Google/HTC's fault as such, but it's an annoyance which I expect is present on every new gen phone.

It doesn't have a front-facing camera, which means no video calls and no potential for cool face-recognition software. It could do with an extra camera.

It doesn't do such a great job of flash. It will play YouTube (thank goodness) but if you stray to other sites with flash payloads, you'll be in trouble. I know "it's coming" but it's not there yet.

The side buttons are a bit annoying. I accidentally push one of them every time I'm putting the phone back in its carry-case, usually the volume. The buttons at the bottom of the phone are also a bit random. There are four permanent buttons, plus a trackball. Unlike other users that I've read comments from, I don't find the trackball to be completely useless, because it lets you be more accurate about what you are selecting with the cursor. You wouldn't type with it, but it's not too bad for careful navigation or some games. That said, it does seem to be taking up some valuable real estate. There's a permanent "search" button which is basically pointless.

The voice recognition is far from perfect, but it's also much quicker than typing. If they can figure it out, then it will be a great input mechanism. Don't talk for too long or it will stop listening and abandon the attempt.

The keyboard is okay, and probably comparable to other phones. No comment really.

I haven't gotten Python up and running yet. I failed on the first attempt, but haven't started to analyse the problem, so I expect it will be working soon.

Anyway, that's my 2c!