Dolphin HD Browser for Android

December 1, 2010

Lately, I have been doing a lot of research on Android App alternatives for many of its prepackaged apps.  The default Android browser loads quickly and has a decent interface, but it’s overall boring and simple.  Dolphin is an awesome replacement for the standard Android web browser. It allows for quick bookmark access, “gesture” browsing, and tabbed browsing.


Bookmark Access

Compared to the default web browser in Android, Dolphin allows for an easier access to bookmarks. It is as simple as swiping your finger to the right of the screen.  Doing so will display a fully customizable list of your favorite webpages.

Once in the bookmark menu, you have a few options.  You can tap the bookmark you want so that it will open in the current tab, organize the order in which the bookmarks are listed, and edit the information on those bookmarks (URL, gesture pattern, etc…).


Gesture Browsing

This is the most innovative and cool part of this browser. Gestures are basically designs that you draw on top of the browser window.  The browser in turn associates that design to a URL or browser command and then executes it.  It’s easier to understand if you see it rather than try to imagine it.

In picture 1 you see that I have The Outro open.  The button in the lower left section of the screen is the gesture button.  Once you tap it, you’ll see picture 2.  *Note that the yellow squiggly attached to the pointer is the background for the gesture interface. Once you see this page you have to draw out the gesture that is associated with what you want to do.  In this instance, I drew out a cursive o and half of a cursive t (as seen in picture3) which I have set to open http://www.theoutro.com (as seen in picture4).  Picture 5 is proof that theoutro.com has opened.

Tabbed Browsing

This is a nice feature because it mimics the functionality of a desktop browser, like Firefox.   However, it isn’t as easy to use as Firefox.   To add a tab you have to click the plus sign located to the right of the open tab.  Once that is clicked, a window similar to that of the bookmark page with the addition of a URL box will open.  From there you can choose to open a bookmark or type in a custom URL.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the Dolphin HD browser.  It is a very simple yet capable web browser that destroys the default Android browser and gives Opera mini a run for its money.

I give the Dolphin HD Browser a 4.5/5



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Scavenger Hunts and Technology

December 1, 2010

I’m going to let you in on a new pastime that seems to be gathering some steam. Geocaching as defined by its website is:

“Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online.”

What that means is fellow geocachers hide geocaches, which can be any type of container as long as it can hold a log book, outside where it can be legally accessed.  For instance, there is a statue memoralizing Robert Peary located near where I live.  Someone placed a geocache at this site as a way to bring in out-of-towners in to see it.  The container was a fake rock that contained a log book for successful cachers to sign.  Link to Geocache page.

The reason I enjoy this hobby so much is because it takes the good ol’ pastime of hiking and site seeing and mixes it with technology.


Technology


The GPSr (Global Positioning System Receiver) is the basic tool used for Geocaching. Although, it is not the only technological tool. Many popular companies are developing devices and software packages for Geocaching. For instance, Magellan and Garmin have been creating car and hiking GPSr’s, recently, to include modules for Geocaching. Also, software developers for both the iPhone and Android systems have been actively creating and updating helpful tools.


C:GEO

A popular software package that I, as well as the majority of Geocaching Android users, use is called C:Geo. Its a completely free tool that is built for both the casual and hardcore geocacher. C:Geo takes advantage of the Droid’s built in GPSr and allows the user to search for geocaches based on the phone’s location. For instance, say you’re in Washington DC and you suddenly have the urge to geocache. Simply open C:Geo and tell it to search for nearby geocaches, and it will display a list of geocaches base on their locations starting from nearest to farthest.

It also has a built in search function so that you can look up any geocache by name, location, GC numbers (unique number given to each geocache), or username.

Another function that C:Geo provides saves geocachers from a lot of headaches.

Finally, C:Geo allows you to post a “Found it” status on geocaching.com from where you are. No longer do you have to try and remember the names of all the geocaches you found during a long day of caching, you can simply log them as you go.

Where C:Geo comes up short is that it will only allow for live geocache searches while in 3G service. Once you drop signal, which happens frequently in the woods, C:Geo is basically useless.

Thankfully, C:Geo has released an update in which you can save geocaches onto your SD card for later use. This way if you know that you’re going after a certain geocache that won’t be in a 3G zone, you can cache it and pull it up in “offline” mode when needed.


Windows Premium 7 for almost half the price?

December 1, 2010

If I were to tell you that I could get you Windows Home Premium 7 onto your computer for the price of around $127, you’d probably think I was bootlegging it or out of my mind.  Crazy as I am, it seems that Microsoft could be cheating its customers, or at least so it seems.

Recently, I had a Sony Vaio laptop given to me with the task of repairing it.  Once repaired and returned to its owner, the owner stated, with disgust, that the laptop has run like crap since the day she bought it.  She asked if perhaps the laptop could have been a lemon.  “Its not the laptop,” I told her.  “Its most likely Windows Vista that’s making your computer run like crap.”

In desperation, she forked over the money for a Windows 7 Upgrade Disk. Once purchased, I took it home with the thought of what a headache I had before me.  According to Microsoft, I was going to have to format the computer with Vista, install drivers in Vista, and then upgrade to Windows 7 via the upgrade disk.  Turns out, that the Windows 7 Upgrade disk is bootable and has the same interface that you would expect from the Windows 7 Home Premium disk.  I was able to format the partition and install a fresh copy of Windows 7.  Let me remind you that I didn’t install this over top of Vista’s file system.

I haven’t been able to test this on any other machines yet, so it could have been a fluke.  So don’t rush out getting upgrade disks unless you have a legal copy of Vista or XP, just in case.  My only hope for this article is that it potentially saves you the $70+ you could be spending for a full Windows 7 disk.

If you attempt this install, please share your experience by commenting below!

*NOTE: It has been brought to my attention that although it is possible to install Windows 7 without having XP or Vista previously installed, it is ILLEGAL to install it without owning a copy of XP or Vista.