Android Sensor Applications

Modern Smartphone’s are amazing! And I really love my latest – Epic 4g Touch (Sprint’s implementation of the Samsung Galaxy S2).

This thing rivals, and in some cases exceeds, the capability found in full blown laptops of just a few years ago. What makes Smartphone’s like these so amazing is the massive amounts of ‘sensors’ these devices now contain.
Most have GPS, accelerometers, gyroscopes, light sensors and  more! All in a little hand held form factor. Oh, and they can actually make calls to just about anywhere from just about anywhere.

There are many tools and applications available to help you fully utilize these capabilities and features. Here are some that I use.

Metal Detector application – exactly what is sounds like. Make sure you calibrate it. [which by the way is NOT a gimmick and does work!].

Google StarMap Point your phone at the sky, and Google Sky Map will show the stars, planets, constellations, and more to help you identify the celestial objects in view. You can also browse the skies in manual mode.

GPS Status & Toolbox – not only is this a cool GPS device I’ve found that it is great for resolving other GPS issues; like when you navigation or maps app won’t ‘lock on’ to your location. Simply launch it and reset it or download A-GPS data regularly to keep your GPS fast and hassle free.

AndroSensor A tool that lets you know virtually everything about your device’s status. If you want to see what sensors your Android device actually has AND see what information they are recording/seeing check it out.

Radioactivity Counter Let’s you turn your Android device into a Geiger counter! For real. I may try this app that sounds pretty incredible. You can read more about it here.

Once again HERE is a list of applications installed and the current configuration of my phone.

That’s all for now. Just thought I’d throw up some of these for reference.

Some more notes on the Samsung Galaxy S2

After helping a friend for a very short time with her new phone; initial setup and one-click root downloading a few applications and such. I realized that many of the simple things I did to my phone to make it so kick ass and incredibly usable, I had already forgot how to do quickly and efficiently.

And one of the really cool things about Android 2.3.x devices is that you can configure your home screens AND which order they are displayed and which one is the default one.
So here are some tips for just that – set the home screen(s):

Pinch the home screen. you will then see all your ‘home’ screens. [you can ‘shuffle them around if you like by placing your finger on them and rotating them]

Then click on the ‘menu’ button’ – lower left one at the bottom. This will bring up a option “Set as Home”, click on it then..
Pick the home screen you want to be your primary/first home screen – it will ‘light up’.

Then click on the ‘Done’ item at the bottom of the screen. (don’t click on delete!).

Then simply click on the ‘Home’ menu button (bottom of phone second from left) and voila, You now have the home screen of your choice!
Here is a video of the process (sorry for the blurriness)

And here is a good link with way more in depth information and VERY good video at the bottom. Video alone is worth checking this out.

Also the Galaxy S2 is a really durable device; especially the Super AmoLED+ display. If you don’t believe me, you must check out this short video! It should make any iPhoner cringe.

But of course I still got a case for my phone.

I bought 4 of these things from Amazon. The are models for all Samsungs, here is the AT&T one. I love how slim this is and it fits snuggly. I’m sure that if I continually open and close it (to insert different/new micro sd cards), that it will ‘wear out’. But for the price it simply can’t be beat. Already dropped my phone a few times and it has kept it from scratches or nicks. I’m going to by a few more to have on hand. Like I said for this price it’s silly not to have a couple.

Although the glass is very strong I think I am still going to get a cover for the screen anyways and see if they have any effect on the touch functioning.
Found some highly rated ones here. Sprint or AT&T

Some other items you might consider;

An additional wall charger and car charger.

High quality micro USB cable. I have mentioned before of the need to make sure you have a HIGH quality data cable(s). These often make the difference of being able to quickly and easily sync/connect devices and hour of frustration trying to figure out ‘why’ your device is not quite recognized. Here is one such cable.

Well that’s it for now have fun.

More phone tips Galaxy S2 and some iPhone ones

Just thought I’d put up some feature and tip how-to’s for those that care – mostly me so I can get to them if I need them 🙂

Also if you happen to screw up your phone – ‘brick it’ here is how to restore it; bring it back from the brink. Just go here and CAREFULLY follow the directions.

Here are some very good videos for the S2

Feature tips [Voice mode being neatest] for Galaxy S2

Some Must know tips

More Samsung Galaxy S2 Tips, Features & Shortcuts

Some iPhone tips there too.
Generic and 4S specific.

Good tips for iPhone here:

You can of course search for WAY more stuff if you are just persistent.

Some more S2 tips here:

BRIGHTNESS CONTROL With auto-brightness disabled, tap & hold on notification bar, then after a moment it becomes a horizontal brightness scroll bar.
APP DRAWER Organize the apps with folders. Tap Menu, then Edit.
APP DRAWER Uninstall programs from the App Drawer. Tap menu, then Edit. Programs with ‘-‘ sign can be uninstalled from there, just tap.
BROWSER AGENT Type ‘about:useragent’ in address bar and tap Go.
BROWSER SHOW TABS Pinch inwards twice (i.e. zoom out) to display all open tabs
CAMERA SOUNDS For full instructions on how to mute the focus and shutter sounds read this post.
CAMERA ZOOM In the camera app you can use the volume buttons to zoom in and out. OR you can pinch to zoom in and out.
DIAL CONTACT Swipe right on contact name from the Contact list.
DIAL CONTACT Swipe right on contact name from Messaging list
DIALLER Start spelling out the name of the contact on the phone keys to avoid scrolling through the contact list
FAST SCROLLING In a few apps such as YouTube, Astro File Manager, Market, etc. use 3 fingers to scroll much faster.
EMAIL GROUP BY DATE In the inbox of the Samsung email app, you can pinch to zoom out to group all emails by date, then expand individual dates or zoom in to expand all again.
HOMESCREEN DOCK APPS To change, go to Applications, tap Menu then edit. Tap & hold to move. Only Home/App. cannot be moved.
HOMESCREEN SLIDER The homescreen identifier dots double as a slider to scroll through your homescreens.
KIES Stop it from popping up on your Galaxy S2 whenever you connect it to USB. Go to Settings > Applications > Development > Select USB Debugging. Done.
LOCK ACTIVE SCREEN While watching videos, tap the power button to disable taps on the screen, the touch sensitive buttons and the home button.
MOVE HOMESCREENS From view of all homescreens, tap and hold then rearrange.
PAN TO MOVE This also works on the Application pages.
PINCH TO ZOOM You can also use pinch to zoom on the app drawer.
PINCH TO ZOOM Do it twice in a row (pinching inwards) in the browser as a shortcut to all open tabs.
PINCH TO ZOOM On homescreen, zoom out and see all homescreens at once.
PINCH TO ZOOM In the inbox of the Samsung email app, you can pinch to zoom out to group all emails by date, then expand individual dates or zoom in to expand all again.
RECENT PROGRAMS Hold down the menu button to switch to a recent program or to access the task manager.
SAMSUNG KIES To disable auto launch when you connect to PC via USB: enable USB debugging in Settings > Applications > Development.
SCREENSHOT Press your home button and lock screen button (power button) at the same time to save a screenshot.
SCROLLING You can scroll much faster on some apps such as YouTube, Astro File Manager and Market by using 3 fingers and if you scroll with 2 fingers you get precise scrolling (no scroll momentum).
SEARCH TOOL Some Android phones have a dedicated search button, to access this tool press the Menu button and hold for a sec.
SEND TEXT Swipe left on contact name from the contact list.
SHUTDOWN (FORCED) Push & hold the power button and just keep holding. Probably takes about 7 secs.
TASK MANAGER Hold down the home button to access recent programs and the task manager.
TOUCHWIZ DEFAULT HOMESCREEN To change your homescreen, you can simply download a custom ‘Launcher application like ADW or Go Launcher.
VOICE TALK Quick access by double tapping home button
WIDGET RESIZE Tap and hold, then release without moving the widget location. Re-size tool appears. Does not work on all widgets. Works on:, Agenda (the first one), Ap Mobile, Bookmark, Email, Mini paper, and Picture frame.
ZOOM In the camera app you can use the volume buttons to zoom in and out. OR you can pinch to zoom in and out.

I hope this helps some of you too.

My adventures in a phone upgrade part 1

It all started almost two years ago. I knew it was time to upgrade my phone but I could not find a suitable replacement for my ‘rooted/custom ROM’d’ Windows Mobile 6.5 phone – an HTC Touch Pro2. When I say suitable, I must first explain who I am and what I do. That may help to understand why I need what I do. I will also give out some definitions later too.

I have been having issues with my phone for over a year now, and of course they are not getting better with age. Hardware related problems and not ROM/Operating system issues like the reception of phone (which used to be stellar) getting poorer, data and GPS not working all the time – especially and of course when needed most. So I began my phone search in earnest nearly a year ago.

My background: I am a Network and System Administrator and integrator. I manage systems including Windows Domain(s), Cisco Firewalls/Routers/VPNs, VMware clusters and many Operating systems contained therein – Windows, OSX, Linux, Cisco IOS etc. I have been working in IT for a few decades, so I am very comfortable with technology. I am also not a ‘fan boy’ of any particular type of Operating System or hardware. I have and use Windows machines primarily, but have a Mac and Linux box here under my desk (and many Virtual Machines of those OS’s too). I have owned many machines since my first Amiga in the 70’s as a kid. I simply use the tools that provide me with the best ability to do my job(s) and any other tasks I may wish to.

I settled on Windows Mobile years ago because of the amount of customization and third party tools I needed that I could use with it. I need MS Exchange support, Terminal services/Telnet abilities, MS Office compatibility and other remote management software and tools – all to at least do my job and NONE available on any other platforms at the time. I was also able to put a custom ROM on my device to provide for even more flexibility and control of the Operating System, applications and themes.

I looked at the BlackBerry and iPhones but neither had the application support I needed, let alone the ability to customize the operating system in any real ways.

And the Android phones at the time were also limited in their functionality and performance. But I was sure that the Androids would improve fastest.

So I figured my next phone would be a Android but didn’t rule out the iPhones either. With the increasing ease of ‘Jailbreaking/rooting’ the iPhone and the newer iOs I thought that might be an still be an option for me.

Next and just as important for me is the service provider. I have been with Sprint for over a decade and it has provided phenomenal value, and most importantly RECEPTION in the places I use it most – home and work.
I had a friend who was on ATT and was considered the Blackberry guru – seriously this 80+ year old guy would show the ATT reps how to use their phones! [RIP Gerry] And his phone lost reception at my house and our office fairly often; much more than mine. So ATT was probably out. My fathers Verizon phone(s) too didn’t work well in his house or mine (both very close to each other) and neither did my step-brother’s Verizon phone(s). So Verizon was probably out too. I’ll stop here and say what ever phone you get won’t mean crap if you have no coverage and can’t use it!

A few months ago I demo’d an ATT iPhone and could not get ANY reception at my place – so goodbye ATT. Plus I was still not able to do all the things necessary for my work and fun. Even ‘rooted/Jailbroken’, the Apple device is WAY to constricting for me. Don’t get me wrong. the iPhone is a fine device. It makes phone calls, chats, take pictures and plays music and video well. And all fairly simply for the novice and average user. But to truly customize this device for my uses and needs is nearly impossible.

ALSO and this is NO small point the iPhone 4S is NOT repeat NOT a 4G device! No matter what network you use it on it uses 3G phone services! [look it up if you don’t believe me]. I require fast data connections for many of the management activities I do and it would be foolish for me to not have a 4G device. I also was again tempted to move to Verizon because of their build out of their 4G LTE network, but their recent changes in data plan fees are WAY too costly and restrictive for my uses.

So I stuck with Sprint. Now which phone? I purchased an EVO 3D a few months back but returned it because I just didn’t like the phone enough and the phone itself had some connection issues (much like the iPhone did – poor antennae placements I think) and it just didn’t quite meet my tech needs.

Back to my old dying Touch Pro2…

I found a device to dramatically increase my reception in my home for Sprint called an Airave for only $50.00US on Amazon and decided to give it a try to ‘extend’ the life (and reception) of my poor old phone. WORKED AMAZINGLY! It is essentially an in home ‘cell tower’. It uses your broadband connection to extend your wireless services. [Both ATT and Verizon offer these type of devices too by the way. Except Verizon’s devices START in price from $250.00US and ATT’s the same!] I was also able to install this device behind my home router in a DMZ – so it has it’s own network and is separate from my home systems yet still used my cable broadband.

So on to my final choice. After doing months and months of research (I’m kind of a nut about that) I settled on the Sprint Galaxy S2. And wow, am I a happy camper! I have the ability to completely customize the sh*t out the operating system(s). Blazing speeds on wifi, 3G and 4G and a very nice multi-media device which can actually play more types of media from more sources than the iPhone! With a rooted Android phone I can put any number of customized ROM’s and applications on the device – freedom, yay!

I mentioned rooting/jailbreaking. I would not get any device that did not provide me with this ability.
I completely understand why so many people (probably MOST) would not care one rip about this. They just want to be able to do what ever they can very easily. And they don’t mind be limited by their carrier, hardware or phone operating system as to what they can or can’t do. That is one reason the iPhone is such a huge success. It ‘just works’ as the fanboys like to point out. But of course it only works the way Apple and the carrier ‘let you work it. Period. Me, I must know that I have full control of the device I own! I must be able to make a ‘real full image back up’ of my device not just a file backup. And secondly I do not wish be stuck in a ‘walled garden’ of ‘approved’ applications and devices. I own it I want to be able to do what ever I want with it.

So let me briefly explain those terms.
Some definitions:
What is Rooting/Jailbreaking?:

Android Rooting is a process that allows users of mobile phones and other devices running the Android operating system to attain privileged control (known as “root access”) within Android’s Linux subsystem with the goal of overcoming limitations that carriers and manufacturers put on some devices. A good description of why.

iOS jailbreaking, or simply jailbreaking, is the process of removing the limitations imposed by Apple on devices running the iOS operating system through use of custom kernels. Such devices include the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and 2nd Gen Apple TV. Jailbreaking allows users to gain root access to the operating system, allowing iOS users to download additional applications, extensions, and themes that are unavailable through the official Apple App Store.

A jailbroken iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad running iOS can still use the App Store, iTunes, and other normal functions, such as making telephone calls. Unlike rooting an Android device, jailbreaking is necessary if the user intends to run software not authorized by Apple. A tethered jailbreak requires that the device be connected to a computer each time it needs to be booted; an un-tethered jailbreak allows the device to be powered without computer assistance. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, jailbreaking Apple devices is legal in the United States.


Essentially a ROM is the phone’s operating system that comes with your phone when you buy it.

I was going to explain what a ROM is but this post here is WAY better than I could ever have done so check it out.

I just realized how freaking long this post is! So I am going to write another post about the steps and tweaks I applied to my device along with some tips and tricks for Android and the Galaxy S2 in particular. Stay tuned.. [I post most of this sh$t for my own reference anyways. 🙂 ]

A little side by side with the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy SII