Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Google Apps and the Wonder that they are

Generally I've used Google Apps for mail and shared calendars and little else. I have, however, been asked to play with them to host a website and I've found them to be truly excellent in what they can do. Firstly a few tips:

  • If you want your www.yourdomain.com to point to your Google Apps site, make sure you set up the "sites" page to something like sites.yourdomain.com and then create your Google site and point it to www. via DNS. A CNAME DNS entry will take care of this.
  • Make sure your DNS is nice and tidy for all of this to work properly.
  • When creating your site, if it's the site for everyone to reach don't forget to make it public.
There is a great range of templates and options for configuring your webpage and I urge you to play with them all. I've found many amazing different options for working with the site and the ability to easily use Google Maps and embed other things like shared calendars is terrific.

I've also found the response times from the Google App servers to be less than what they advertise. Today it was indicated it would take up to 3 hours for a change to complete and it was done in about 20 minutes. 

The email and calendar aspects of Google Apps are excellent, much like the Gmail offering from Google. I have a lot of documents floating around my Apps account and find that sharing this info with my wife works brilliantly. She is relatively tech literate and that makes it even easier. I've found with some of my clients who are not technical in any way, that Google Apps are intuitive and easy for them to work with. The interface is clean and very usable with being intimidating.

About the only gripe I have is that I like to have my Gmail and Apps accounts open at the same time in the same browser and it doesn't like that. Perhaps its more my work process there than Apps so I don't hold it against them.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Review: Motorola Backflip - an update

So after having used the Backflip for a while now I can offer some insights.

Firstly I have had to reset it to factory default and re-install everything. The reason was simple - the damn phone was resetting at random intervals and when I need to make a call... an urgent call to Police, the bastard thing wouldn't work and reset twice before I was able to get through. Completely unacceptable and I was ready to throw it out the bloody window and stamp on it. After recovering from my hissy fit, I reset it on advice from my local Optus dealer and re-installed some of the applications. One of the most commonly installed apps - Advanced Task Killer lite - was causing all of the grief. I paid for it and have had no problems since then so I'm happier.

I've played with lots of widgets and things and found that once the phone's uptime reaches about 400 hours, it needs a reset. If you aren't making a lot of changes it's settled and you can leave it for longer without any problems. Current uptime on my phone is 450 hours plus. Battery life can be affected by some of the crap you install on it, so be wary about what you do install and what you've got enabled on it. I found with bluetooth and wifi enabled the battery lasted about a day. Without those two added I got 3 days out of it which is quite acceptable (especially with the number of calls I made during those days). GPS also seems to impact battery life significantly.

Generally I've found the phone functions to be good, texting to be acceptable and email to be acceptable. The Gmail sync has been very good so that's all very nice. The touch screen is quite good and the keyboard is also pretty good although I find the tactile response from it somewhat lacking at times. I wouldn't want to write an essay on it for example. I've been using the "Beautiful Widgets" set and find the weather is excellent. I've also got various other things running like System Info and System Panel. I don't mind spending a little bit on these things and find the application support better on the Backflip than on my iPhone 3GS. Performance on both is much the same.

I really like Android though. There is something about the interface options, the many applications and the performance with such moderate specs that appeals to me. I find the Apple way to be a more difficult way to understand and since upgrading (forced to) to iOS 4, my iPhone is slower and has demonstrated more problems. It won't unlock at times which I find exceedingly frustrating. In conclusion, I am now much happier with my Backflip than I was - trial and error getting the right software has become an interesting exercise rather than a frustrating one.