Android and me – A review of my HTC Desire Phone

June 4th, 2010 6 comments

0_home 0_apps_1I lately bought the HTC Desire as new Phone and after one month of playing with it I thought: “Hey, let’s write a little review”. So here it is.

Instead of writing the common bla bla which you already find on other websites (like performance tests and usability) I’ll write a little bit about the apps I accumulated in that time.

1_SilentTime Silent Time Lite: One of the most useful apps I know so far. It allows you adding daily profiles by time which simply will put your phone silent, on vibrate or at full ring volume. I don’t turn my phone off anymore. It just stays on and does everything else on it’s own. Definitely a must have. It nearly takes no CPU time and therefore doesn’t drain the battery.

2_TaskManager Task Manager: Basically a Task Killer with Auto-Kill option. This is incredible useful: Add those apps you don’t want to run in background all the time once you activate screen-lock. This will safe you memory and especially CPU-time and therefore battery if that app stays active in background.

I also have put apps to the Auto-Kill-List like the Android Market, which results into an auto-kill if the phone switches to screen-lock automatically. But for this you have…

3_KeepScreen Keep Screen: This app stops your Phone locking the screen if a certain App is running in foreground. I use it for the Browser and Android Market and others. This is a perfect combination with Task Manager: I added apps (which drain CPU if running in background) to the Auto-Kill list but as well to the Keep-Screen list. This ensures that the app keeps running once started and the phone is not going to lock the screen (and therefore killing the app while in use).

4_dolphine Dolphin Browser: The stock-browser of the HTC-Desire is quite limited in browsing concerning tabbing. This is where the Dolphine Browser comes to compensate. It also supports addons and different themes, is as fast as the stock-browser and does support flash (like the stock-browser).

 

5_meeboMeebo: Meebo is an instant messanger which supports several network types like ICQ,AIM,MSN,Google Talk,Yahoo,Facebook and Meebo. I’m registered at mostly every of these networks so it’s a must have for me also. It supports contact-grouping and displays every user in a small line. This allows you to have 15+ contacts on the screen at once. Other messangers like Nimbuzz or eBuddy either don’t support grouping or the contacts are incredibly big so you only have like 5 buddys on your screen at once. This is a no-go for me because I have > 150 contacts in all my networks.

6_more_local_2More Local 2: Have you bought your phone in a foreign country like I did? Doesn’t your phone have the localisation for your native language? Then get this App. It enhances your Phone to nearly every language you can think about.

 

 

7_system8_topSystem Manager: Do you want to know which App took the most CPU or RAM? Want to kill those apps? Then you need System Manager. It shows you much details about CPU, RAM and Net usage.

Top Application: As alternative, you can use “top” to see, which app is using how much CPU at the moment. But apps are listed by they java-package-name like com.google.maps.

9_network_monitor 10_astroNetwork Monitor: Are you limited to 2G/3G traffic? Then you must have this App. It takes stats about your network usage and counts the MB. It takes little less CPU. Don’t put it on a Task Killer list.

Astro File Manager: This is one of the best filemanagers I know. It allows you to browse you SD Card and Android System. It has various Extensions like SFTP over OBEX (BlueTooth) and SMB (Microsoft Windows Network). You can select multiple files at once to perform an action on it and browse zip/tar files.

11_cab4me cab4me: Have you ever been in the city at night and the tram didn’t come? If you know what I mean or know different situations then simply turn out your phone and open cab4me. It will find those cab companies which are next to you (including their phone number).

 

 

13_rdp12_connection_botConnect Bot: Do you own a Server which allows you accessing it per SSH? Do you want to mess around with the Terminal of your Android Phone? Then Install Connect Bot. It also allows using private RSA/DSA keys for key-authentication.

Remote Desktop Client: But if you don’t own a server with SSH (Linux System) but a Windows Server instead, then install this App. Works perfectly with every Windows Version which supports RDP.

15_xiia14_shazam Shazam: Do you hear a song in the radio and don’t know it’s name? Use Shazam! It listens to the song, analyzes it and compares it with those in it’s (online) database. It will find it in most cases.

Xiia: And if you like music and can’t stay a minute without your favorite online radio, then use this grandious app. I suggest using 128 kbit/s MP3 streams instead of equivalent 48 kbit/s AAC streams. MP3 just managed to take 25% CPU (causing my CPU not to increase it’s Clock) but AAC used 30-40% CPU (while the CPU clock increased by one step causing to drain more battery).

Those were the most important apps in my opinion you’ll learn to love. I also have different other Apps installed (Compass, Google Night Sky, Calc, Galery, Steam Companion, Cracked Screen, Bluetooth Remote, VZ Netzwerke) but aren’t that important to get noted.

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I need a new Phone

April 28th, 2010 21 comments

My old phone (Sony Ericsson) fell down the stairs a few weeks ago and some keys aren’t working anymore, so I need a new one. I decided to take a good one now with a touchscreen and other cool gimmicks. I got my mind set on the iPhone 3GS very long but noticed how limited it is concerning “software-freedom”. So I looked for alternatives and found cool Android powered beasts by HTC (they also build the Nexus One for Google!) but I can’t really decide which to take.legend

The HTC Legend is a really cool phone: It’s using Android 2.1 Eclaire (latest version) as OS plus an additional GUI called HTC Sense, which gives the phone a very cool look. Here are some technical details:

  • 5 Megapixel Camera
  • OELD Multitouch screen 320 x 480 pixel
  • Aluminium unibody
  • 600 MHZ ARM CPU
  • 384 MB Ram
  • Standby/Talk: 560/440
  • Up to 32 GB extendable internal space
  • HSPA,GPRS,UMTS support for various frequencies
  • Wireless LAN

desireOn the other side there is the HTC Desire, which only differs on a few aspects to the Legend:

  • OELD Multitouch screen 480 x 800 pixel
  • (Dark brown) Plastic body
  • 1 GHZ ARM CPU
  • 576 MB Ram
  • Standby/Talk: 390/360

So you see, it’s the more powerful one and there have been tests between both phones concerning their web-browsing speeds (the main task I wan’t to use it for) and the Desire (photo galery) was quit always ahead. The Desire also has nearly 4 times the resolution of the Legend but is a little bit bigger and weights more. But my main argument against the Desire is, the Legend (photo galery) simply looks much better.

So, what to chose? Both have good arguments for them and good against the other phone.

Edit:

Ordered the Desire today. Found it on eBay for 380€ instead of the 410€ (with Branding) or 460€ (no Branding). It was a phone someone got due to warranty and he sold it now.

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Left 4 Dead Rage-Quitters

April 17th, 2010 10 comments

I’ve been playing Left 4 Dead 2 in the past few weeks more often and one thing annoys me most:

  • People who disconnect on versus if they can’t play infected
  • People who disconnect if they lose
  • People who disconnect in a lobby after 2 seconds

These rage-quits are annoying: You can’t get a game running with those guys. Most of the time, you start a new game just to wait for players who anyway disconnect after the first 10 seconds. Just because they suck at playing the game Frown

My current tactic so far was, choosing infected in the lobby first. This will reduce the chance in the lobby to get full but it allows you playing at least 1-2 rounds: First you play infected. Then the other teams gets infected and if you were good, they other team will be infected on the other round (makes them infected most of the time).

But there are still the rage-quits when you are infected on the second round: VALVE should really implement a way of someone being unable to join another game after he quit a previous for 1-3 minutes. This could reduce rage-quitters by 70% (none wants to wait 3 minutes until he can play again – so he “stays”Wink.

But there should be done something about the lobbies too: People tend to join and disconnect if they cant be infected or if the map is something different than “Dead Center” or “The Parish”. It’s annoying – really.

Anyway, L4D2 is fun. I like to play it but it annoys me that it takes so much more time to find players to play a complete campaign than the campaign is long.

Shhhhh

April 1st, 2010 12 comments

Don’t get fooled today.

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Ooooops

March 13th, 2010 No comments

I’ve resetted my DNS-Zone 2 days ago because I had problems with the E-Mail relay.

It turned out, the reset damaged half of it and it took more than 24 hours to make the entries “repopulate” in the world. Sorry. Everything should work now again.

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Mouse input in games – and why so much developers bork it

March 4th, 2010 14 comments

I lately bought Battlefield – Bad Company 2 and I really dislike how they implemented mouse input control. The game doesn’t feel like the majority of the games I own, and here is the reason why:

Instead of using mouse input directly from Windows (including every feature it has on the desktop such as acceleration etc), they read out the mouse movement from the hardware instead, so they can fuck around with it. This is a really bad idea because it will make every game doing the same feel differently due to different implementations. That’s stupid. The right way would be just taking the mouse input of windows and multiplying it by a sensitivity multiplication for the game (and adding a checkbox which temporarily turns off Window’s mouse acceleration for those who need it).

This brings me to Mouse Acceleration: Many gamers like to say “disable it“, where I like to have it enabled: This allows me using a small sensitivity for precise accuracy while a fast movement maneuver gives me the ability turning around by 180° without moving the mouse 5 times over the pad. Sadly some games force acceleration off with no option to turn it back on.

Here is a small list of games which do it right:

  • hl2_ctf Half-Life 2, Left 4 Dead 1/2 and every Source Engine bases game
  • 1_Squad_COD4 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  • 57_CrysisWarhead Crysis
  • c0f66756fed26578036c9277786449c238302769_medium Killing Floor

And these are now some of the black sheep:

    Battlefield-Bad-Company-2-2-icon Battle Field – Bad Company 2

    You can at least turn on mouse acceleration and adjust the acceleration parameters. But you can neither modify the acceleration threshold nor switch back to “Windows”-like input. So any settings you do here in order to make it feel like in other games are condemned to fail or take ages until you found the one you need.
    Unreal-Tournament-III-2-icon Unreal Tournament 3

    Here you even can’t enable mouse acceleration at all. You can only try messing around with a config-file but this hasn’t revealed any settings for me yet which allowes me making it feel like e.g. Half-Life 2 (which uses Windows mouse input).
Categories: Bullshit, Computer, Games Tags:

gm_mount2 – Use any source-engine content in GMod

February 19th, 2010 120 comments

Description
This addon allows you mounting any source-engine games in Garry’s Mod including default VALVE games, Steamworks content like D.I.P.R.I.P, Left 4 Dead and every installed SourceMod.

Prerequisites
You need to have MSVC 2010 Redistributable x86 installed, or it will not work.

Download

The full version includes spawnicons for some models (several MB). The light version doesn’t, so it is much smaller. But you have to generate the icons yourself.

SVN-Repository

Url: http://svn.daggeringcats.com/mount2
User: anon
Password: anon

Annotations for Left 4 Dead 1/2:
Left 4 Dead maps are not compatible with Garry’s Mod. Don’t try loading them – This will only cause GMod to crash.

Why another mounting addon?
You may know the orginal mounting addon and it’s extension for sourcemods. They work well but I wasn’t really satisfied with the way they work and I disliked their messy sourcecode so I wrote up my own from scratch.
My addon directly integrates into GMod and works on dedicated servers which is not possible without many modifications of the old gm_mount addon.
It also can mount Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 which is the main purpose of this addon, which took me over 3 weeks, around 2000 lines of C++ code and much coffee to figure that out.

gm_mount2 – Mount everything in GMod – Current state

February 5th, 2010 23 comments

In the past two weeks, I have been working on gm_mount2, an adaption but also totally rewrite from scratch of this addon for GMod.

My intention first was making it mount games automatically if you install it serverside (the way it is in that link needs heavy modifications to make it run) and an easy integration into GMod’s default mounting-menu.

This was done really easily and I started thinking about “why can’t garry make GMod mount L4D?”. I took some more deeper research into it and found out, that L4D and L4D2 don’t use GCF-files to store their models, sounds and everything in – They use VPK files which are unsupported for mounting in the OrangeBox version of the Source-Engine where GMod runs on.

Luckily it rushed into my mind that Nemesis, the coder of GCFScape, has a library called HLLib which allows reading from VPK containers. It took me around 2 hours to figure out how HLLib works and I made my first successful attempt in reading from VPKs.

But now the torture began: How shall I tell GMod to read from VPKs? My idea was overriding default FileIO functions of Source which are stored in the interface IFileSystem and IBaseFileSystem. My idea was using MS Detours which is known to be detectable by VAC so I searched different ways for about 3 days before I got told “VAC in GMod is active but does not ban” (yet).

So the plan was clear: Detouring the methods of the interface and intercept if a file within a VPK is requested. It was all so clear and easy in my head but I got beaten down by reality really fast again. The methods of the interface I have to hook/overwrite are virtual, which makes them a pain in the ass to hook. It took me 2 days with the help of mainly Jinto before I was able to hook those. If any developer is interested in, you can find my VDETOUR script here.

Hooking now worked but I first had to figure our a fast and efficient way of tracing opened files so I can tell it’s either a file within a VPK or a “normal file”. This took me 3 more days.

Yes, I suck at ragdoll-posing - In the console you see what the filesystem has done etc and in the background you see Francis

Today I had my first successful attempt reading a file from within a VPK in GMod with GMod’s lua function file.Read but it just read about 500 letters at max – how silly.

Recapitulation: It was a pain in the ass to implement. Especially because my lack of knowledge of GMod’s internals. It could have been so much easier to implement if I’d be the mod-coder.

Update:

Today I made the successful attempt in loading a model of L4D in GMod using my module. It works flawless! No crashes etc. Now I only have to implement some minor stuff like file-searching and the lua-interface. Maybe one ore two more days and I can release it!

Categories: Blog, C++, Computer, Games, Garry's Mod, Modules Tags: , ,

My current plans and projects

January 23rd, 2010 8 comments

I’m currently busy as always with University. In about 1 week I have my first exam of 6. Once this is done, I’ll have time again for “work” – In two ways.

I’m working at my Institute where I did my Bachelor-Thesis. It’s a mini-job with max of 400 € (Just needs me to work for about 28 hours a month. This costs me about one day in the week – and I love my job!

Another thing I’m on is a Trillian plugin which allows chatting with Steam Friends (while Steam is running in the background). It uses Open Steamworks.

One more thing is a new mount-plugin for GMod which shall allow mounting third-party games easily. I know there are about 2 plugings already around, but both have messed up code (They are a sourcemod-plugin and a lua-plugin at once which is shit-code) and are not really userfriendly. My plugin is meant to work easily on clientside and is also meant to mount all available games it finds serverside if you host a dedicated server.

And of course I have to finish #45 of Stargate: The very long expected new release to my famous stargate-mod for Garry’s Mod. I can understand when/why people are unable to wait for #45 (its over one year ago I did a major stargate-release). But all other topics (University and side-projects) eat up all my time so far. I hope I can work out #45 this year and before April.

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Happy Microwave Cap

January 21st, 2010 9 comments

My sister has latelty destroyed our microwave-cap, which is supposed to be put over the dishes in order to keep the microwave clean.

Well, she was lazy and put the dishes onto the cap, which was upside down. This resulted to the plated heating up and melting the plastic of the microwave cap. Well, this was the result.

Categories: Blog, Bullshit Tags: ,