Creative Blog

Issues important to discern and creatively explore!

DroidX is in the HOUSE! My Overview!

OK…after many requests…here are my initial thoughts of the DroidX! I do have to give a shout out to Robin Blackwood at JDPR for letting me play with this toy!

Well…watch the video first of all. This video covers the apps I use, the Mobile Hot Spot feature and a few other details.

One of the big questions from a lot of developers is whether the DroidX can be rooted. Basically to get to the core of the code. If this is your cup of tea…here is the link to the Engadget Post –> CLICK HERE or watch the video below!

I have a new video coming comparing the video playback of the DroidX and the iPhone4. Good stuff and I am using the cameras from the phones to show the difference in the video quality.

One of my close friends (Brian Lindenmeyer) recently purchased the DroidX and has been working on a document with his review of the phone (Below). I think he has some great thoughts and even slams my beloved Apple iPhone4, but I like his points overall.

Device Overview by Brian Lindenmeyer (@lxadoz104)

Awaiting the update to fix some Wi-Fi signal issues, corporate sync issues, and battery meter issues.  Overall, this device is more than I could have ever imagined.  Lots of this love for the Droid is based on the simple, but robust, integration to Google services.  We’ll cover this under applications.

UPDATE 7/20/2010 (9am) – I got the update from Verizon – so far things are definitely improved.

Couple other things:  I think the built-in launcher is fine, but did like Launcher Pro (may try it again).  I also didn’t find that any enhancement to the SMS messaging was needed.  Lastly, I do set up Twitter and Facebook as I like the contact integration, but the Twitter app that is built-in only supports one account, so grab another one if you have two…I’m still looking.

Platform/ROM/Built-in Apps

Not that I need to given the RAM, but I am looking forward to ROOTING this device to removes some bloatware (Amazon MP3, Blockbuster, CityID, etc.).   Otherwise, the first thing any Blackberry converts like myself need to realize is:
1.      Android manages memory much better
2.      Instead of folders to remove or arrange icons on the main screen, you have desktops to do this.  Your “cabinet” or folder of applications is more like an iPhone.

Aside from the bloat (and l lack of rooting/custom ROMs – we’ll skip that at the moment) – this phone simply rocks.  If you aren’t a Google Fan, you better be if you use this.  The integration to Google services is without a doubt the best integration of any device – and I’m including the MobileMe Apple garbage.  REMEMBER – Apple charges for that – Google doesn’t.

Must have – The Google Additions:

I’ll start with the Google Apps (or tightly integrated to Google services):

Google Voice:  If you don’t have a google voice number – get one.  The ability to use this phone as a secondary number is fantastic, along with the ability to call international at low rates.  But what is the best part is free visual/transcribed voicemails.  Yes, you can even text from your Google Voice number (although I’ve never done this, since I only text my friends who have my cell phone number – no need to confuse the less-technically savvy.  Fantastic launcher replacement with tons of options to tweak and lots of great features.  I still like LauncherPro Beta better (see below), but this one is a very close 2nd.

GTasks:  This app/widget allows you to enter tasks into your Google Task list and syncs with the server.  This task list is integrated into the Google calendar online.  Only issue is that Google Tasks doesn’t support reoccurring tasks, so for that I suggest you make reoccurring events on your google calendar.

Google Listen:  I thought the worse thing leaving my Blackberry behind would be losing PodTrapper – which I used to automatically get podcasts delivered to my device OTA so I could listen on planes or when driving.  Enter Google Listen.  This app is integrated to Google Reader (the RSS application Google has) and allows you to subscribe to RSS podcast feeds.  The only issue is that it doesn’t queue the podcasts automatically, but I have found that it downloads them quickly and allows for offline listening.  PERFECT.

Google Maps/Navigation:  Built-in, better grab the update that’s available from what was loaded just to be sure.  By the way, I gave my wife my Garmin Nuvi…this GPS is better.  Only issue is that the ETA is a bit off, even after calibration.  I guess Google is trying to be green and tell me to slow down.

Google Shopper:  Simple app that allows image, voice, or type searches on products to give you local and web pricing on the item.  This is just like going to shopper.google.com, only it’s built for the phone and has the voice and image search.  I took a picture of a RedBull Sugar Free…and instantly found the lowest price locally near me (KMart) and of course some online vendors

Google Talk (GTalk):  Since I lost BBM (Blackberry Messenger), I’ve had to get back on GTalk.  Well, the beauty I forgot about is that GTalk can save chat history in your GMail so that you can search for it later.  Great when sharing links with friends, etc. or you just want to refer back to the thread.  Use “is:chat” in the GMail search…and yes, you can also do this from the GMail phone app!

SMS Backup: OKAY – I know this isn’t a GOOGLE app, but folks, this may be the best FREE app there is.  Simple and does what the title says – backs up your text messages to your gmail account. This is a must have since this makes it easy to search texts (They get automatically labeled as SMS).  SIMPLY AWESOME.  I will pay for this app if/when needed.

Market Apps I use:

Quick Settings: Quick access to all the essential settings (ringer, brightness, wifi, bluetooth, etc.) with an easy to use UI. You can select from many different settings to display on the main dialog, and can even add a shortcut to it in your notification bar.

Pandora: Great app as usual

Slacker Radio: I have this in addition to Pandora as I don’t have a ton of custom channels on Pandora – and if I want to just listen to 80’s, Slacker has all the channels pre-configured.  While Pandora is my bread-n-butter, this is a close 2nd in terms of streaming radio/media.

Amazon App:  Look, I’m a prime member, and I basically order everything from Amazon.  Great app, just as good as it was on the Blackberry, only now I have a huge screen to look at the stuff!

Kindle App:  Again, I had this on the Blackberry, but now I have a much better screen.  Who needs a Kindle when you have a Droid X that can read just fine!

ShopSavvy: Great for comparing prices by scanning UPC codes. It will search online as well as nearby stores (if you let it use GPS). This also is a built-in QR Code reader as well.  Worth keeping just for that.

TempMonitor: Keep an eye on your battery or cpu temps by sticking it in the notification bar.  Since I have the cardock, the device can get hot running GPS up near the window.  Good to monitor this.

Facebook for Android: Syncs pictures (not flawless, but works), and is a decent app.  The widget is the main thing, but the fact is that I use the web / touch web interface.  I do use the social network app/ widget built-in that gives you a feed of twitter and facebook in on view.

Twitter for Android:  Yes, this is on my device because all other apps over this past weekend (7/18-7/19) didn’t work due to API issues.  I will go to Touiteur or Tweetcaster.  I like Tweetcaster since it is Free and supports 2 accounts (it does have ads on the bottom).  But I may drop the money on Touiteur since my buddy on a Droid swears by it.

Adobe Reader:  While OpenOffice is built-in for viewing, I like the Adobe Reader app as it has more functionality and I get a ton of pdf attachments via email.  Enough said.

HomePipe:  Access files on your home PC directly from your phone.  You can also stream your mp3s to the built-in media player.  Great app for basically connecting all PC’s you have that are on and running the PC-based app.  Not completely cloud, but still cool

QuickDesk Beta: Lets you access your most used programs from anywhere, without having to minimize anything you’re working on.

SyncMyPix: This app actually stores the Facebook photos in your Google Contacts, whereas Facebook for Android only matches the photos up so they display in your Contacts on your phone.  If you don’t want people’s Facebook profile pics stored in your Google Contacts, don’t use this.

Bubble:  Simple bubble app and leveler.  While the bottom of the device isn’t completely flat, still cool in case the wife asks you to hang some pictures!  Works on all sides.

DirecTV Scheduler: Great app for those with DirecTV and DVR’s.  Search, browse, and schedule recordings from your phone for any of your DVR’s.  Supports single or season recording.  Was using it when it came out for Blackberry, glad to see it’s here on Android.

FitDeck Mobile (Bodyweight):  I travel and this is a great app for bodyweight exercises I can do in the hotel room.  The also have a Pilates, Office, and Stairs program.  I own Pilates, and will be buying the other two soon.

iHeartRadio:  Yes, in case Pandora and Slacker aren’t getting it done, I can switch to iHeartRadio (Clear Channel).  Not great, but still worth checking out.

NotePad:  Since Google Docs, and the integration in general, doesn’t have a replacement for Outlook notes, I use this.  Doesn’t sync, but still a nice app.  If need be, I just create a task (with no reminder) on GTasks, or I go to Google Docs via the browser.

ScoreMobile:  Great score app  (alternatively I’m trying out SportsTap as well…both are equal, but I like ScoreMobile since I’m used to it from Blackberry days)

USAToday:  I read it when in the hotels, now I get it on my device.  The news feed widgets are preconfigured for USA Today feeds so this may be a bit redundant.

Other Apps recommended (but I haven’t tried), compliments of Rbb Christie (@ronx):

TripIt: If you use TripIt online, this is a must-have. Gives you quick access to your travel itineraries in an easy-to-read format. The TripIt service is pretty cool. You can email confirmations you receive from airlines/travel services/hotels to the tripit email address and it will automatically add all the info to your account.

IMDb: App for looking up movies, showtimes, trailers, etc.  I use the website all the time on my PC, so this should come in handy.  Just recently released, so I haven’t had many chances to use it yet.  Good chance this will move into my must have list once I start using it.

Communicating beyond the boundaries…true friendship!

Steve Hartman is probably one of the most gifted storytellers on the planet. He not only has a way with words but has the incredible ability to seek out the stories with layers, ones that are the most relevant.

I do not need to write anything about this video other than, these are the types of stories that define the very fabric of our natural being, What it means to cross all boundaries and find true friendship. Here are two creatures different in so many ways: size, type, and even communication. But they find a way connect…WOW!

We should only hope to achieve.

Teaching is fun…especially when NetworkBash is involved!

I have a few passions in my life, my lovely wife, my family, teaching, and telling stories. The semester is about to begin at Clemson and I teach Business Writing. It is listed by the registrar as English 304 and housed in the Department of English as an Advanced Writing class. This is actually kind-of funny, I enjoying writing…creating a story that resonates with an audience. But I am not the most technically/grammatically proficient when it comes to articulating my thoughts. I get emails all the time from people reading my blog criticizing the way I write. Well…I write in an conversational tone, mainly as a stream of consciousness. I write to articulate my passion…passion is the key word.

Regardless…I am getting excited. Extremely excited. The semester is getting ready to begin. I get to put away business twice a week, and work with the next wave entrepreneurs. ENGL 304 is set-up to help students articulate thoughts and ideas using business communication to tackle the business world. If you look at the boiler-plate syllabus, we are supposed to teach students how to write proposals, memos, resumes, emails, etc. But…this ENGL 304 instructor will be working with students to learn how to use these tools to become business leaders. I am teaching how to become thought leaders and build business relationships using these tools.

My ENGL 304 class also has the sole responsibility to execute three events this semester,  NetworkBash 2010: Ignite, Excite, Engage! Three events strategically planned to allow students to build career relationships. Three events:

NetworkBash 2010
Ignite: September 8, 2010
Excite: October 6, 2010
Engage: November 4, 2010

Three events, three opportunities, three great ways for students of ENGL 304 to build a great connection point for other Clemson University students, engaging and having real conversations with potential employers. We have partners both financial and strategic. We work with the Michelin Career Center, Clemson Alumni Association, and the Advanced Writing Program. Our financial partners are to come, but last year we worked with the Consortium for Enterprise Systems Management, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, CH2M Hill, Immedion, and Tiger Properties.

So the point…each event will have an individual theme, bringing students and employers together to build relationships. Not to talk about a resume, but to learn more about each other, ultimately helping students learn the value of connections and relationships.

NetworkBash: Ignite (9/8/10) is designed to prepare students for the Career Fair put together by the Michelin Career Center on September 15, 2010. Students will interactively learn interview skills, how to pitch themselves, and ultimately how to get beyond the resume.

NetworkBash: Excite (10/6/10) is designed to allow students to learn how to use different Social Media techniques and technologies to build relationships.  This will be a discussion around different Social Media(s) and how they can help each of them open the door to career relationships.

NetworkBash: Engage (11/4/10) will be coordinated with the Clemson Alumni Association the Thursday before the NC State Football weekend. Alumni can can come into to town a day early (before the football game) and spend time with students networking, sharing how they built the relationships that helped them professionally.

The best part about these events, ENGL 304 students helped design and will help execute these events. They will use Business Writing as the fundamental technique to put on an event that ultimately will benefit their long-term goals.

This event was a product of a group of students in the Spring of 2009. One day I was teaching the class how to use Twitter to create a clear and concise elevator pitch (take their pitch and write it in 14 characters). One student looked at me and said, “this is great but I need to get a job and I am not sure how to get in front of the right person to use these skills.” So we decided to begin putting together an event where students and professionals could come together and network. Not just using the typical resume interaction, but really network and have a conversation that build a relationship. Here we are and this will be the third iteration of NetworkBash. I am excited! I am passionate…this is why I teach.

“Follow Me” just does not work?

There is this big trend that has been going on for a while, especially when promoting our Twitter accounts, asking people to follow you. You see it on CNN, on blogs, in marketing collateral…it is the common jargon when asking individuals to join the community.

I guess it all started with the fundamentals of Twitter with “Following” and “Followers.” But are we a community of leaders. Following suggests we are leading the pack, heading in a direction and the people in our community are right behind us as we dive through our social conversations.

Are we really followers or we just a part of a community of social exchange. When you are interacting in your social communities, do you choose to follow someone. Think about it for a second. Let’s say you go to the grocery store and meet your next door neighbor for the first time. You have a conversation and realize you have something in common. Maybe it is a football team or your kids are in the same algebra class. You choose to continue the relationship, choose to get to know the person. Are you clicking the follow button? Or are you joining a community of conversation that is ultimately building a relationship wrapped around trust.

Twitter has created a discourse wrapped around “Following.” It is a community of fun conversations, interactions, and relationships. But there are many who have chosen to take on the “Follower” discourse as literally as many interpret the Bible. It is the golden truth. We as marketers even leverage the discourse as we build campaigns for our clients. The goal of this literal discourse, create a “Thought Leader.” We build these accounts, set-up blogs, create fan-pages, develop YouTube channels to become “Thought Leaders.” But who are we leading?

Are we really thought leaders in this wide approach to social media communities. Do we really have followers? Is it necessary to tout that we have so many followers? Is it really ego driven and not about community? Do we let it get to our head so much that it has become a pecking order, like the high-school popular crowd. It almost builds a dichotomy, a distinction between the haves and the have nots as we watch individuals/organizations rack up big “Followers” numbers. Or is it really about sphere of influence. We want to increase our followers so we can influence more and more people with our message.

It can be addicting, where everyday we click to see if our numbers have changed. Is it mass media or is it a definitive way to measure success. We use the numbers as a ROI metric which helps marketers calculate value for the dollar. Followers…and interesting choice of words.

Have you sat back and really thought what it means to have “X” number of followers on Twitter. I kind of like Facebook’s approach to the whole thing…”Friends.” We have connected with our “Friends” and we have an exchange of conversation. We get to sit back and watch our friends enjoy their day, and we just say hello or even “Like” something when it strikes our fancy.

Building a community of conversation is not about followers, it is about like minded individuals that chose to engage with one another. The discourse of “Followers” will always be there but we should interpret the language in a different way. We should “Engage.” We should rethink how we interpret the number of “Followers” and “Friends” in our social networks, remember it is a community of people and they are humans.

If these social networks are supposed to be the digital metaphor of our human, social interactions…would you walk up to someone, shake their hand, share a story, then ask them to follow you? Maybe if you are politically minded. Instead you would listen and try to find another time to meet and chat again. To bad we have to chose online to “Follow.” I still like the idea of clicking to find a “Friend.” It makes more literal sense.

Why not take the Dalai Lama approach to our constituency bases and and let them lead the pack?

Because an educated world is a better world!

Have you read the words to the script from the video above. If you have not watched the video…you should. Ignore the fact it is a University of Phoenix promotion, but look and listen to the words and the pictures. Seriously, take 60 seconds and watch and really listen…focused listening.

Now…read the words:

it is 2010 and everything is different
different jobs
different challenges
different opportunities
so why would universities stay the same
what if an education could adapt for the time we live in
and i am not just talking about 2010, but beyond it
adjusting curriculim to serve ever changing job markets
hiring faculty who are still working in the fields they teach
and using new technologies to enhance learning
if an education could adapt to the way the world works today
could that same education help the world to adapt
to work better tomorrow
university of phoenix
because an educated world is a better world

Now…watch the video again! It is 2010 and we are faced with so many challenges, right here in our in our neighborhoods, right here in our states, in this great nation. We are in a place where we are trying to find new ways to innovate, and it is finally that time! We can really invest in our educated future. Yes, I said our “educated future.” It is that time, to find new ways to invest in the next wave of entrepreneurs.

University of Phoenix has figured it out. Now I have heard many seasoned, accredited academics look at the University of Phoenix and critique “quality” of education. But, let’s burn down the ivory tower and let’s talk about education that is going to retain and sustain tomorrow’s leaders…today.

It is my prediction that Clemson University is going to essentially become a private institution within the next five years. Now I know that Clemson will not be able to claim it’s private nature, yet over 90% of it’s funds will reflect private dollars. Universities like Clemson are going to have to become more market driven. The funding arms that will keep the doors open will demand talent driven success and a return on their investment…human capital.

It is time…it is time to invest in initiatives and programs that are going to innovate and inspire the next wave of entrepreneurs, the next wave of leaders, the next wave of human capital. Look at the initiative of the Consortium of Enterprise Systems Management, “To facilitate and create a pipeline of talent that will support the future of IT.” How? Change the discourse in the world of K-12 and higher education that the world of IT is cool.

Look at the Call Me Mister Program, with the sole initiative to empower African American males to become elementary education teachers here in South Carolina. These are the goals and initiatives it takes to create a pipeline of talent for tomorrow’s demands. We not only need to continue to empower those who will teach our children, but those who will pave the path for our smarter communities.

How do you write? How do we educate?

I was walking through a little thrift store today and noticed something…and it struck me. A pencil sharpener…remember those days? I remember when I was a kid and it was this time of the year. Mom would load us up in the car and take us to the store for school supplies. We had a list of items from our school sent home informing the parents what supplies we will need for the coming year. Notebooks, paper, pencils, crayons, etc. created havoc in the local store where moms and dads were loading up children’s school bags.

I remember getting those brand new pencils. They were freshly packed and un-sharpened. They came in all different types of colors; red, blue, yellow, and green. Sometimes you could buy them with your name on them, especially if you had a common name like Bobby. Remember the first pencil you pulled out of the pack and you could go sharpen the pencil for the first time. It was more fun to sharpen the pencil than actually take part in the classroom exercise. I even remember some of my teachers started the day with the whole class in line, sharpening our pencils before starting the lesson.

Do they still have pencil sharpeners in classrooms? Some schools, maybe…if the buildings have housed generations of students. They are still probably on the walls or bookshelves, well because they have become nostalgic reminders of our yester-years. Public education is changing faster than the technology that is leading the way. Dollars are decreasing, teachers are being laid off, classrooms getting crowded, and some of the best and the brightest are loosing site of the age ole testament…education shapes our future.

Just a few months ago, I bought an iPad from Apple. The new wave of the future when it comes to personal and business computing. It is not only a computing tool but a business class communication tool. As a college instructor at Clemson, we are being challenged to find innovative ways to engage our students and still conserve if not cut costs. I have made a vow to try to teach the whole class this coming semester using just the iPad. I am not sure if I can execute this plan, but I am going to try.

Today’s teaching tools are technologies that are shaping the way we teach and the educational process of our future. At the end of last semester’s class, I asked each student to write a thank you note  to one person that has shaped their future. I asked them to hand write the note, with their signature, and hand write the envelope. Some students were perplexed with the assignment, either not understanding the purpose or the means to execute the assignment. The hand written note is so much more powerful that an email. Think about those hand written notes you receive in the mail. I am hate throwing them away, so I have a place for each one that I receive.

Writing a hand written note takes time, effort, dedication, and thought. If you are writing a two page letter and it is pen…you better chose your words carefully. It is hard to go back and fix something. We now are surrounded by spell check and other grammatical word fixing mechanisms…you know the red and green lines under a word or sentence. They use those colors so we feel annoyed until we fix the error. But they become our crutch. I am a poor speller; by the mere fact that I am not only an educated individual, but one that depends on technology.

So what is the balance? How do we still teach our next wave of leaders, our new knowledge economy how to think like practitioners and not as technicians.  How do we teach them to evolve with the technologies and not be so dependent upon a tool. How do we teach to creatively write and allow the tools to facilitate the process instead if dictating the process.

If we are going to have a bigger and brighter knowledge economy, we have to compete on a fundamental level…in our education system. Yes…it takes dollars, but it also takes a commitment to tomorrow and knowing our past. There are days where I wish I could have a pencil sharpener again, bringing the fun back into the creative process. But I sure do like the iPad as well. But, we have to find the middle ground between age old technology and new innovation to set the stage for tomorrow. We can’t just go lay-off old teachers just because they are going to retire eventually, but we can’t just lay-off the new teachers because of seniority. We need to be selective in who is teaching in our public schools, ones that are going to inspire the next creative class of human capital.

I will leave you with this…have you ever heard of the Call Me Mister Program, housed at Clemson University? The sole purpose of this program is to empower and educate young African-American males to be elementary school teachers here in South Carolina.  To put more African-American males in leadership roles to become role models for our young students. Imagine the opportunity to change the face of South Carolina by changing the image of African-American males from the years of oppression this state has witnessed. Now that is innovation. It did not take technology…it took vision.

Protecting our name & online accounts from being hacked!

So I get this email below from my father this morning…I have been hacked! Oh yes, someone has broken into my email and hacked me. What have they done, sent out emails (from my contact list) including some weird link that leads them to a place of no return. BLAH…

Almost a year ago, I was hacked in a different way. I had someone break into my car and steal some very expensive items from me. Yes, I was hacked (well robbed) here as well. I am convinced this situation was predicated by someone learning my location based on conversations on Social Media sites, broke into my car in the middle of the night, and steal my stuff. That is why I am weary about some of the geo-location, social media technologies (Foursquare, Gowalla, Google Latitude, etc.)

We are being hacked everyday from our new, digital lives. Whether it is a email account being hacked, houses broken into, social security numbers compromised, bank accounts with malicious charges, or Twitter accounts being used on our behalf with contradicting messaging. Look at the gulf and the BP situation, “Terry” created @BPGlobalPR to spread off color messages about the gulf situation, BP’s brand was hacked! Or was it really?

College coaches everyday deal with someone using the college coaches name to maliciously sell advertising to make a buck. Hackers are on so many levels compromising our very core of our own brand identity…so we are forced to squat. Seriously, go out and find all the digital domains, acquire them, and hold them so no one else will use them maliciously.

I wonder if Coach Steve Spurrier knows if his name is on this site, using Steve Spurrier’s brand equity to sell ads for someone else’s benefit? Are they hijacking his name or is it Coach Steve Spurrier’s fault for not knowing how other’s are using his name online? Maybe Coach Steve Spurrier knows about this site and is benefiting from the traffic? I know this…I am not clicking any of the links on this site until I know that Coach Steve Spurrier is benefiting from his brand equity being used, or any Steve Spurrier for that matter.

So let”s back up and think more about the main reason why I am writing. First of all, one of my accounts was compromised. Some person or person(s) used my email account to email a group of my contacts (my sphere of influence) to market their “product.” Yes, this is a technology inconvenience.  My mother called me and said, hey you should just delete all the contacts and close account. Let’s think about this for a second.

Yes, I have logged into this account (which is an old hotmail email account) and deleted all of the mail in the inbox, outbox, folders, sent, etc. I also deleted all of the contacts in the address book. I even went ahead and changed the three year old password. But, I am not going to delete the account. Why? Because it is my name, my brand, my face. The email account is BobbyRettew “at” hotmail.com…if deleted, someone else can open a BobbyRettew “at” hotmail.com account and begin emailing using my branded name.

Why do I care, because I do not want some other person using my name to communicate a message that I cannot control. Now it would be different if I was JohnSmith “at” hotmail.com, but I have a unique name. There are very few Bobby Rettew’s out there, and I would like to make sure I protect the branded name I have worked so hard to build. I do not want someone using this email account for reasons that could potentially “hack” my brand equity.

Leason I have learned: continually change my password. Yes, I am squatting on this email account…but that is my choice. Our name is everything to us…it is our branded image, even our email accounts.

iPhone4 and the iPad ready for a cruising!

So once I had both my iPhone4 and iPad set-up and ready to go…it was time to get ready for the road. Since I burn up the road…I had to find tools necessary to make travels fun, practical, and safe. With this said, I had just dumped XM Radio because their in-ability to correctly bill the right amount, on the right terms, and never fixed the problem. Let’s just say after a few months of unnecessary billing and no reasonable resolution, I had American Express handle this situation and cancel my account. Now with this said, I needed a decent alternative.

I only listen to some local radio, mainly sports talk radio for Clemson Sports. Other than that…it was music from my iPhone. So once I bought the iPad 3G it was time to take advantage of Internet service while mobile. Especially with the recent multi-tasking upgrade for the iPhone…it was Pandora time.

So installed the iSimple iPod, iPhone, and iPad Direct Connect Kit. This basically installed the ability to plug directly into the docking area of the iPhone4 and iPad to play music and sound into the stereo system. It also charges the iPhone4 but not the iPad. Now, I can open up Pandora, ride down the road, and listen to music…using the 3G and Edge service from AT&T. I sometimes even prop the iPad right under the radio to see the Google Maps app for directions. I have also downloaded the Sports Radio app for local, regional, and national sports talk radio.

I have also bought a bluetooth headset for the road. Now, I do not like all those peeps that have these weird ear pieces in their ear as they walk around stores, restaurants, etc…”Beam Me Up Scotty.” But, I was tired of the ear buds getting tangled up while driving and talking. So I bought the Motorola MOTOROKR  S9-HD Bluetooth headphones. A colleague of mine swears by them and they also had good reviews. So I am trying them out…so far, LOVE THEM!

Just a few solutions for me to make my traveling time a lot easier, fun, and hassle free!

Just Met Mr. DroidX – It is so COOL! First Look!

OK…so here it is! Watch the two videos below. I want to thank Robin Blackwood at JDPR and Verizon for giving me an opportunity today to sit and play with the new DroidX. First of all it is cool. The first video shows me just playing with the DroidX for the first time.

The second video shows this cool feature called “Swype” where you can drag your finger across the keyboard to spell different words.

More to come and I might have one in my hands to play with for an extended amount of time? Maybe even next week!

Second Look: HTC Incredible & Preview of DroidX

In the video, I basically look over some of the functions that I have been testing, but after taking on this project…I have had so much interaction about this craze over Android, Droid, DroidX, and on, and on, and on. I have more friends, fraternity brothers, and some random people calling for my opinions and thoughts. Some have even offered me money for the HTC Incredible…we know that is not going to happen. But, I have found a new community of advocates for a totally different platform other than my iPhone status-quo.

But here is my question…or thought, I am still trying to sift my way through all this branding mess. So when I was in Best Buy the other day, I asked the dude to explain a couple of things to me. How is Android different from Droid and DroidX? Two very similar branding conventions that have some things in common but totally separate brand. I have honestly been walking around this whole time, after seeing all the Droid commercials, thinking that Droid was just a shortened version (from a naming convention) of Android. I just began to realize that Android is the platform, Droid is a phone, and DroidX is the newer version of of the Droid. This is freaking confusing for someone who is the target market for Verizon…to entice to make the switch. I have to admit that Apple makes all this branding so freaking simple. I even learned that Motorola had to pay a butt load of money to Lucas Films to use the word “Droid.” That is a lot of money and I still had to get out a pen and paper to connect the dots for the Ah Ha moment.

OK, now that I have tackled that little conundrum. I do not care if people think I am an air-head, but Verizon and Motorola need to sit back and think through some of this branding…Android, Droid, DroidX…RoboCop please. I really do like my friends at Verizon and have enjoyed playing with the Incredible, I even want to buy one and sign-up for a package. Enough on the branding…that is a problem for the big daddy marketing company that has the big daddy contract.

Now on to the what else I found in Best Buy…a demo model of the DroidX. It is a  non-functioning demo, but it gave me a chance to hold it and compare it side-by-side with the HTC Incredible and the iPhone4. The DroidX is bigger…well I think a lot bigger. Bigger screen size, bigger camera, bigger battery, bigger in width and height, and has a ridge in the back that props it up somewhat.

I just wonder what it is like to put it in your pocket and use it on a daily basis. I have also heard that Motorola might either lock down the “Root” or even encrypt the “Root” making it a lot harder for “hackers” to boost the performance and alter the settings. I even had one of my buddies tell me if he finds out the “Root” is encrypted then he will forgo the DroidX and just get the HTC Incredible.

My fraternity brother called me tonight and had a long conversation about the DroidX and he spent about an hour telling why the DroidX is going to ROCK. He then went on to remind me that since I am a video guy that the DroidX is going to not only be able to shoot HD Quality video but also immediately replay it with the HDMI out. That would be kind-of cool in a client meeting! Here is a link he sent me comparing the DroidX and the HTC Incredible.

http://www.geeksugar.com/Droid-X-vs-Droid-Incredible-8892870

Here are some pictures comparing the DroidX and HTC Incredible.


The Interview – Documentary Approach to Storytelling!

No I do not mean a job interview, but this can be loosely applied. I am thinking about what it means to conduct an on-camera interview for a story using video. Once, again…a story. One of the most profound ways to tell a video story is through the eyes, ears, experience, and perceptions of others. Writing a story for the news, for video, or however you want to display the information can be done in so many ways. But one way is through interviews. We can write the best copy, but interviews provide that red-string that binds a compelling story together.

This post is dedicated just to the interview…not to the implementation of the interview into a story. One fundamental ideal I always carry with me comes from a long time journalist and NBC Corespondent Bob Dotson. I remember the first time I ever listened him to speak to a group of journalists (photojournalists) at the NPPA week long boot-camp in Norman, Oklahoma. The best way to conduct an interview is through a series of questions and statements; but what ever you do, ask the question and stare…make the interviewee fill the void. When you get back to listen to the tape, you do not want to listen to answers with your “Uhh Haa”, “Really”, or “Wow”. You want to have the interviewee’s audio as the only audio in the interview.

Conducting an interview is like telling a story…the interview needs to have a beginning, middle, and end. You want to create a conversation between you and the interview subject. Also…you want your interview subject to forget that the microphone and the camera are surrounding them!

When I conduct an interview for a story…I first think of how to make the technology go unnoticed. The first thing that needs to happen is that the wireless microphone needs to be put on the subject FIRST. It needs to be put on in a way so that it is hidden from the view of the camera and thus the final audience. I like to have the transmitter placed behind the subject, maybe of the pants waste-band, then the microphone and wiring under the shirt, blouse, or sweatshirt. The end of the microphone near the neckline of the shirt to pick up the audio of the subject. Then, the camera needs to positioned in a place that the subject is not focusing on the camera. It can be placed in the adjacent room where the lens can zoom to shoot through the doorway.

Once the camera is rolling, I like to start off with what I consider throw-away questions and answers. I ask a series of questions that have nothing to do with the subject matter at hand but merely to learn more about the person to gain trust. This is to build the conversation so that when the real questions are asked, the answers come naturally.

As I move into the questions that are the purpose for the interview, I am building up to the main questions, the main purpose of this interview. I always have notes of topics that I want to cover on a notepad, but in topic form so that I do not use the piece of paper to recite the question. I use the interview as an opportunity to explore the subject’s expertise, gaining knowledge not only for me as the storyteller but for the audience.

As I move through the questions…I always have a few questions that are the most important, the ones that require the best response. I place these appropriately in the line of questioning that makes sense and come out naturally. I build the interview to these questions where each question leads to the next response that ultimately leads to the questions that matter to the interview.

The Interview is merely the process of telling a story. Allowing the interview subjects to provide supplementary information that supports that main object of the story. The interview provides context and allows their “expertise” to bring credibility to the story and context to the audiences minds.

Conducting an interview is just a conversation, an exploration…learning more about their experiences and expertise. The video camera is merely a device to help us relay this story to the intended audience.

Foursquare & Gowalla – The Next Bonus Card?

Where ever you live or how ever you shop…you have been asked to sign-up for a bonus card or discount card. You know that little card that you can put in your wallet or on your key-chain. The one that is swiped each time you walk in that store and make purchase. You might be that person with all sorts of bonus cards from the local grocery store, hardware store, and even your local sporting goods store.

You were attracted to this card because of the immediate savings you will see when you check out. You can experience the “buy one, get one free” or even the “half off” special. Whatever the promotion, swiping the card earns you savings. Swiping the card provides the retailer a better understanding how to stock the store based on your demographics. It is a smart way to not only audit the “stock” but to audit buying tendencies of each consumer.

Is Foursquare and Gowalla the global bonus card system? Well, first off…let’s look at the incentives of this innovation:

  • Some retailers are offering promotions when checking or checking in multiple times.
  • Finding like minded individuals who have been to the same or similar location(s).
  • Reading reviews and/or experiences of other “consumers” at a particular location.
  • Ability to build a map or trip for group of individuals to enjoy.
  • Providing community based marketing for retailers and organizations.

How do you feel when you walk up and swiping that bonus card? Other than the great savings you are experiencing? Do you think about what tendencies are being saved when you swipe that bonus card then your debit/credit card. Now I am not preaching this whole conspiracy theory that the government is out to get us. But, what are retailers saving about us on the world wide grid. Are tendencies are being saved, each time we swipe the bonus card, the credit/debit card, when we do a keyword search in Google, and even when we Tweet. I have Google Alerts set-up with my name as the search keyword and look what was sent to me in my daily update, a link to this:

http://shopalize.com/bobbyrettew/all

Yes…I have not seen this site before (Shopalize), tracking keywords in my Tweets. Where ever I go, what ever I say; in this digital world, someone is aggregating my information for marketing purposes.

As I was sitting here writing this post, a Verizon Commercial (above) played. The one thing that stood out in this commercial (as this lady walked through the town…chatting on her phone) the “world” around her was “tuned” to her position. Each turn of the corner…tuning to her Tweets, her “Check In’s”, her searches, her purchases. Her “Check-In’s” geo-located to aggregate all the relevant purchasing power this lady has during this little trek. She has walked this path before and the little towers tuned to her position are the collectors of the magic little bonus card in her palm…the mobile device.

Foursquare, Gowalla, Geo-Location…the new ROI?


It was just two years ago and everyone was going nuts about Twitter and creating lots of comparisons between Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn…and so on. Books were being written about the business applications of these Social Media outlets and conferences around the industry being put on, talking best practices. But the one thing that kept on arising…what is the purpose behind all the mess. Both sides were asking these questions…the groups that created these platforms and those engaging. ROI was a huge discussion. Both the investors of the platforms and the business using these outlets…why and how?

Then…this crazy thing called “geo-location” was emerging publically. Basically not only telling the world what you are thinking, but where you are located when you are saying your thoughts. These crazy technologies popped up with lots of traction, ie. Foursquare and Gowalla. People tagging their location by “Checking In.” A new craze of people jumping on board. The early adopters trying them out and others sitting back to watch the recourse.

A few months ago, I shared a few beers with Olivier Blanchard at a great pub in Greenville and we talked about what all this mess means. Well, a few beers brings out lots on creative thoughts but we both agreed on a few things. But here are two points that came up in the discussion (fyi…I am not speaking for Olivier):

1) These geo-location technologies are the true ROI for Social Media. Why, because now retailers and organizations can now place a name, information, and demographics to a decision making process.

2) These geo-location technologies are creating a true paradigm shift how retailers and organizations reach audiences. This is the point I am excited to write about.

Imagine this…you are planning a trip.  You are getting on a plane and you live in a metropolitan area like New York City. You get up in the morning, grab your bags, and head out the door. On the way to the subway, you drop into a coffee shop for a java and “Check-In.” This coffee shop knows you well because you have been “Checking In” for a while and they already have your carmel latte ready right when you “Check-In.” You grab that java and out the door you go to catch the subway. You have made this trip before because you travel for business. As walk down sidewalk, you stop for a paper and “Check-In” at the local paper stand. After picking up the paper, you make you way down the stairs into the subway…there are television and LED screens along the walls. This geo-location has tracked your tendencies, knows what food you like, what shoes you like…because you “Check-In” to the spots all the time. So now, based on your preferences, there are ads showing on these television screens targeted specifically for you. There is even one that tells you that your plane is on time and references you by name. Geo-location is creating a direct, one-to-one conversation between your location, your tendencies, your buying power….AND their message. This is just one scenerio in this Time Square Effect!

These “Check-In’s” are the public domain of your credit card transactions. But now they are combining your purchasing power with your location from a public position.  This is like the “global” version of your CVS or Walgreens Card…telling everyone where you are going and what you are doing. The marketers are eating this up as fast as they can, leveraging the information we knowingly post publicly; why…to help you make purchasing decisions.

Our Social Media transactions (both on a conversational side and a location side) are becoming the collective database we knowingly support each time we go the local super market for eggs and milk and “Check-In.” We are creating the ROI for marketers. This comes to no surprise because we are a debit card/credit card carrying society. Now…it is more public.

This post is not meant to poke holes in our Social Media tendencies but bring an awareness to the massive database we are creating. There is so much value in the “Checking In” model. We are helping the local retailers compete with the big box providers. If there is one group that should try to leverage this technology…well it is the small retailers or companies trying to compete in a global economy.

Video – Good Ole fashion Storytelling

It took years and years for me to get to the point of understanding what it means to tell a story. A Story…which is comprised as a Beginning, Middle, and a End.

Hmm…let’s think about this for a second. It is currently recommended that if you are creating online video content, that you keep it within a few time parameters.

1) If it is a single person speaking right at the camera…then a minute is about as long as the human attention span can stay engaged.

Jakob Nielsen’s “Talking-Head Video is Boring Online” states that “Eyetracking data show that users are easily distracted when watching video on websites, especially when the video shows a talking head and is optimized for broadcast rather than online viewing.”

2) If there are more shots beyond the headshot edited over a person speaking (a narrator), then a person’s attention span on average is willing to hang around for about 2.5 minutes. What do I mean? Well, there needs to be a variety of shot selection instead of just looking at the one talking head shot.

Now, given these parameters…let’s talk about Beginning, Middle, and End edited so that it tells a cohesive story between 1 to 2.5 minutes. OMG….seriously. Did you know that if you wrote a script for a video that is:
– one full page length on an 8.5×10 in piece of paper
– one inch margins
– single spaced
– 12 point font size
then it would take roughly 2.5 – 3 minutes to narrate the script. Most people have a hard time condensing a blog article less than five paragraphs. This is why I like Twitter…tell a story in 140 characters.

Many people in advertising and pr like to plan, and plan, and plan, and pre-plan the plan. You know, write the script with the message/vision in mind. Dictate what the narration is going to say, script each person in the video so that it is a controlled message. There is tremendous value in controlling the message.

I typically take a more journalistic approach to creating messages for the clients who choose to work with me.

  • Identify the context by analyzing the Audience, Purpose, and Delivery.
  • Identify the cast (people/subjects featured in video)
  • Identify the storylines that provide context for each subject
  • Write an overall OUTLINE of the story
  • Schedule Interviews
  • Outline the questions/points for the interview
  • Interview each subject on-camera as a conversation
  • After each interview, log and transcribe each interview
  • Write final script
  • Identify gaps in story
  • Write narration and on-camera host scripts that interweave the interviews that display the story (Beginning, Middle, and End).
  • Edit the story. Be prepared to deviate from script based on pacing and story execution. Place each piece of the puzzle together to support overall message.
  • Revision Cycle with stakeholders
  • Deliver the message to the target audience

Now this is a basic overview of the “journalistic approach” to storytelling. But really…it is the approach of letting the subjects tell the story. Using keen interview skills to listen to responses, and being prepared to alter/adjust the interview to pull relevant topics from the subject…bottomline, to meet the needs of the message. This most important part of this process is…LISTEN! Listening is the key to telling a good story. Listen to the subjects, listen to the message, listen to your instincts, listen to the responses on tape, listen to facial expressions of the subjects, listen to the clients reactions.

So how do we listen? Well, let’s talk about listening during a few keys areas of the process.

1) Listening during the interview.

Bob Dotson (NBC Correspondent) said the best way to listen during an interview is to ask a question/make a statement then sit there and force a response. Do not say a thing, create a silent void for the subject to fill. Do not sit there and do the typical “Ahh Haha” or the “Yes” while the person is talking…you will corrupt the audio recorded!

Listen to the subject by watching their facial expressions while you ask questions. This is key to seeing and understanding what makes the subject tick. Did you know that the first two or three questions are typically throw away questions. Questions that get the subject warmed up…use them to your advantage…make them feel comfortable and forget the camera is there. While you are listening to the responses…stay tuned into the how the subject’s mood changes so that you know when to ask a hard question. LISTENING will help you frame your interview session. Interviewing a subject is like telling a story…there is a beginning, middle, and end to the question an answer session.

2) Listening during the logging/transcription session

This is the time to watch, listen, and analyze whether the interview session translates the intended message. Listen for changes in the storyline both in the interview and the over-arching story that is being created. Listen and log “soundbites” that fit into the storyline. As you are logging/transcribing take note to the “soundbites” that might fit in the beginning middle, or end. Listen and take note to the comments….additional “B-Roll” or footage might be needed as complimentary video to reinforce the comments.

3) Listen during editing process

As you are constructing the message from the script…listen as the message flows. If it feels awkward, forced, contradicting, etc; then be willing to listen to your instinct to change so that you feel “at peace” with the pacing.

4) Listen during the revision process

Watch and listen to others as you present the story to your peers and the stakeholders. Watch their facial expressions. Notice when each person starts to lose interest by playing with their iPhone, or looks away. Notice when there is a complimentary emotion that matches the moment in time in the story. If someone cracks a joke, then the audience should smile or laugh. If not, the editing did not execute the purpose. Listen to the responses and be willing to step away from the creative enterprise to think critically about the overarching goal. Be willing to question and listen to why each person had a particular response

LISTENING HELPS US TELL STORIES!!!!

Android Apps – Must Have, I think?

Ever since I have started comparing the iPhone4 and the HTC Incredible, I have had so many people reach out offering advice, information, and I have even re-connected with old friends and fraternity brothers from Clemson (Lambda Chi Alpha). One in particular (Brian Lindenmeyer who is a long time childhood friend and  fraternity brother) has been sending me tons of great information about the Android platform and raving about Verizon’s network. He should be the poster child for Android and Verizon. You can follow him on Twitter: @lxadoz104

Brian has been on the Verizon network for close to 10 years where he began with his Palm Treo moving to the Blackberry and then on to the Android platform. He and one of my other fraternity brothers Rob Christie (@ronx), who is a Senior Software Architect at GlaxoSmithKline, have been sharing a Google Doc with their “Must Have” Android Apps. They have agreed to let me share with you, so here ya go and enjoy!

ADW Launcher: Fantastic launcher replacement with tons of options to tweak and lots of great features. I still like LauncherPro Beta better (see below), but this one is a very close 2nd.

3Banana Notes: Great note taking app. Lets you create an account on their website for free so that your notes are synced automatically.

AppBrain App Market: Lets you install apps through a web interface! Review and select apps to install from the comfort of your PC, then use the app on your phone to sync your selections and easily install them to your device. I also use this as a way to back up the apps I have installed so I can easily reinstall them when I wipe and install a new ROM.

Assistant Free: Easy access to all your financial accounts (bank accounts, credit cards, etc.) and even your bills (phone, utility, etc.). I was skeptical about this one at first, but I’ve read some articles that proved their credibility. This is a great app.

Astrid: Task list. Syncs with RTM (rememberthemilk.com)

ASTRO: Nice file manager application. This also lets you install APK programs that you download to your SD card (the ones that aren’t available on the market)

Auto Ring: On my BlackBerry, I had a sound profile called “Ring Only” which would silence all alerts except for phone calls. I use my phone as an alarm next to the bed, so I want it quiet at night, but I still want to be able to get phone calls in case of emergencies. This app lets you set up a whitelist of whose calls should get through, and when to enable/disable.

AutoKiller: Automatically adjusts memory settings for best memory usage so your phone always performs well.

Chrome to Phone: Only for Froyo, this lets you click a button on your Firefox or Chrome toolbar to immediately send the link to your phone. Great for sending links to google maps directions to your phone for navigation.

Dropbox: My favorite free online cloud storage utility now has an Android app that lets you access your Dropbox from your phone! Check out http://getdropbox.com

Beautiful Widgets: Costs a buck or two, but gives some pretty nice home screen widgets. The big clock and weather display I have on my main screen is one of the widgets from this app.

FeedR: Great program for my RSS/news feeds

Google Voice: I don’t use Voice to make calls, nor do I give out my Voice number often, but the Visual Voicemail functionality is great.

Grocery iQ: Build new shopping lists quickly by saying the item name, scanning the barcode, or using predictive search.

Handcent SMS: Improved text messaging functionality

LauncherPro Beta: Absolutely the best launcher in existence! Multiple screens, multiple custom dockbars, VERY smooth 3D applauncher. DOWNLOAD THIS NOW!

Lightning Bug – Sleep Clock: Listen to thunderstorms, rain, beach sounds, etc., to help you sleep. Very configurable; excellent quality!

Maps: Find places in relation to where you are. Street view. Turn-by-turn GPS navigation!

Mint.com Personal Finance: Manage your personal finances in one place. Mint.com has gained tremendous popularity over the past few years as an intuitive, secure, central location to manage all of your accounts and get personalized reports and overviews. Now there’s an Android app that lets you do all of this on the go!

OpenSudoku: Gotta have my sudoku

Pure calendar widget: All sizes of widgets that give you a nice list view of meetings, events, etc. for the week. Also integrates with Astrid and/or GTasks.

Quick Settings: Quick access to all the essential settings (ringer, brightness, wifi, bluetooth, etc.) with an easy to use UI. You can select from many different settings to display on the main dialog, and can even add a shortcut to it in your notification bar.

Pandora: Best music streaming app I’ve tried.

ROM Manager: If you will be rooting your device and want an easy way to manage backups, load new ROMs, and interact with your Recovery module, you will NEED this.

Root Explorer: **Only for rooted devices** Best file manager for /system file manipulation. Very powerful.

SetCPU: **Only for rooted devices** De facto way to overclock your device after it’s rooted. You must install a new kernel (easy to do with ROM Manager) first. You can set up profiles to automatically adjust your cpu clock speeds if the battery gets too low or if your battery or cpu get too hot. Very configurable. Buy it through the market or download it for free on xda-developers.com.

ShopSavvy: Great for comparing prices by scanning UPC codes. It will search online as well as nearby stores (if you let it use GPS). This one has saved me from impulse buys quite a few times.

Swype: Awesome replacement on-screen keyboard that lets you trace the letters of a word with amazing accuracy. Because of this, I never use my slide out keyboard anymore! This app is currently in closed beta (not available to the public), but it should be available again soon. In the mean time, try ShapeWriter Keyboard. Same idea, and I’ve heard it’s almost as good as Swype. (or, just let me know and i’ll send you a copy that works without needing a beta account)

TempMonitor: Keep an eye on your battery or cpu temps by sticking it in the notification bar. Useful if you use SetCPU to overclock your device.

Terminal Emulator: **Only for rooted devices** Access the OS shell (command prompt) for all your h4x0r needs.

Titanium Backup: **Only for rooted devices** Essential for backing up all your apps and data to your SD card

Touiteur (premium): My preferred twitter client. I like the interface (and theme) better than any other client, and the developer is always updating it in the market.

USAA: I can check my balances with Assistant Free (a.k.a. Personal Assistant Free), but with this one, I can pay bills from my USAA checking account, transfer funds, and do other tasks that require a little more security.

XBMC Remote: If you have a HTPC and use XBMC, you will love this one.

AndChat: Nice free IRC client

Barcode Scanner: Good for scanning QR codes or any other type of barcode. I don’t use this anymore since ShopSavvy can scan QR codes for links now.

Caller ID Faker: App that uses BluffMyCall to let you spoof your caller ID. The free service only lets you make 2 minute calls, and requires you to listen to a brief ad before the call goes through, but it’s worth it for freaking out your friends.

Facebook for Android: Though I think the main interface is lacking, the contact picture sync is decent and it provides the ability to “share to facebook” for pictures and other things. If all you care about is synching pictures with your contacts, check out SyncMyPix (see below).

Gmail Notifier: Provides more customization options for your gmail notifications. I use this to customize the LED notification when I get new emails.

IMDb: App for looking up movies, showtimes, trailers, etc. I use the website all the time on my PC, so this should come in handy. Just recently released, so I haven’t had many chances to use it yet. Good chance this will move into my must have list once I start using it.

QuickDesk Beta: Lets you access your most used programs from anywhere, without having to minimize anything you’re working on.

SyncMyPix: I used to install Facebook for Android only for the feature that syncs facebook contact photos with my Contacts list on the phone, and it would still miss quite a few of my contacts. I just found this app yesterday and it works much better for what I want it to do. It does a great job matching up your facebook contacts with your google contacts, and after it syncs, it shows you the results. You can then manually match facebook contacts to the appropriate google contact for any that did not auto-match. One thing to note about this app, though. This app actually stores the Facebook photos in your Google Contacts, whereas Facebook for Android only matches the photos up so they display in your Contacts on your phone. If you don’t want people’s Facebook profile pics stored in your Google Contacts, don’t use this. I actually like this, though, because I have never bothered to manually set profile pics in Google Contacts. If none of this makes sense to you, chances are you’ll like this behavior too 😉

iheartradio: For general music streaming, I use Pandora. iheartradio doesn’t buffer nearly as well, and has some other glitches, but it’s the only app I’ve found that lets me listen to my local morning radio show when I’m not in the car.

Movies: App by Flixter that lets you easily find information on movies. Box office, just released on DVD, etc. I like this app for watching trailers. NOTE: I don’t keep this app installed on my phone anymore because I hardly ever used it. It’s still a good app and worth mentioning though. *Update: IMDb may end up replacing my need for this*

Poke A Mole: Fun “Whack a Mole” game

Scanner Radio: listen to live audio from over 2,200 police and fire scanners, railroad communications, and weather radio broadcasts from around the world. Very fun!

Shazam: I hardly ever use this app, but it’s really nice when I do want to use it. Identifies songs by listening to a few seconds.

SMS Backup: Backs up your text messages to your gmail account. Very nice — now I can search my texts via gmail. Will probably move this to my must have list pretty soon.

TripIt: If you use TripIt online, this is a must-have. Gives you quick access to your travel itineraries in an easy-to-read format. The TripIt service is pretty cool. You can email confirmations you receive from airlines/travel services/hotels to the tripit email address and it will automatically add all the info to your account.

Toss It: Very fun (and addicting) game of wastebasket hoops