The Heap Presents: Review of the Motorola Droid Part 1- Overview and Apps

“In a World of Doesn’t, Droid Does,” was the Verizon Wireless advertising moniker for perhaps one of the most awaited smartphones since the revolutionary iPhone. In fact, little was known about the phone, only quick glimpses due to a seemingly secretive yet intriguing marketing ploy used by VZW. The brief TV spots had to have been influenced by the similar secretive approach used by the promoters of the film Cloverfield. Here’s a sample TV commercial clip:

And of course the infamous iDon’t commercial:

Nevertheless, the real question after all of the advertising hype and hoopla still remains: Can the Droid be the first successful “iPhone killer?” Or at the very least, begin the end for Apple’s reign at the top of the smartphone market.

One of the most glorified selling points of the iPhone is the simplicity of its OS. Everything is only a few slides of the finger and a press of the finger away. While I never did have an iPhone, I did have an iPod touch. The interface was extremely navigable immediately. There wasn’t much to learn when t came to general functions or where something may be hidden. Everything had an icon, and you just scrolled to where the icon was located. The most recent update to the iPhone OS even allowed you to group apps on different “pages” of the sliding menu.

Droid’s interface is generally simple, though a first time user does have to learn the functions of certain buttons as well as the extensive settings menu.  Also, the initial clutter that is all of the application icons is a bit daunting as well initially. But the burgeoning Android user will know how convenient it is to have icons to ALL installed apps listed alphabetically in a slide out menu. This allows the user two place all sorts of widgets and the icons of the most used apps on one of 3 main screens.

Motorola Droid

I have yet to become too “app” savvy, and am in need of tips for useful apps! I do use two widgets, The Weather Channel and CNN widgets. TWC widget is a quick and convenient way to immediately check weather and temperature, with forecasts only a click away. CNN seems to be a good news widget, bt to be honest, I don’t look at it too much. I have heard that USA today might be the way to go with regards to a news ticker. I might have to give it a shot.

Don’t forget the “Social” apps! Dont worry. Facebook for Android already comes pre-loaded. So you can check that one off of your list. If you are into Twitter, I recommend Twidroid Free edition. The app allows you to update Twitter, while receiving tweets for those you follow instantly. AIM and Myspace apps are also available.

Droid requires you to have a Gmail account. Thus, your account’s email is synced to the device! It is possible to sync more than one gmail account (like my personal one and the account for The Heap!) and email addresses from other domains. In addition to email, your user name serves as your GChat name as well! Your buddies can chat with you on your phone as well!

The main free sports app for the Android OS is SportsTap. The app itself is very good, as scores from sports around the world, as well as surprisingly detailed box scores/ stats are readily available. The widget was disappointing because it didn’t seem to work most of the time. The favorite teams customization is pretty useful, as you are alerted when your team is playing and of changes in score. (Another Overtime loss for the Lightning tonight, by the way)

Then, like iPhone, there are an endless amount of created apps for just about anything! Some fun ones are the Coin Flip and Magic 8 Ball apps, that use the phone’s accelerometer to roughly simulate the physics of an actual coin flip or the shaking of the 8 ball. Google Sky Map is by far one of my favorites, as it uses the phone’s position and orientation to accurately tell you what constellations celestial bodies are visible by the user! It is absolutely amazing! And lastly, I have some other practical apps, like Flixster movies for times/reviews, Kayak for travel plans and Phoneflicks for organizing my Netflix queue.

As we can see, this has gone for far too long! I’ve decided to cut the review into parts. Part 2 will be about Music Apps, music playback and other media/ entertainment apps/ capabilities! Part 3 will most likely be about functionality, messaging, what I like and don’t like, and what makes Droid a serious contender in the smart phone battle! I might even make my own review video, showing off my Droid and showing you heapsters how it works! Stay tuned!

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

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Happy Holidays from The Heap!

Just wanted to wish all of my family, friends, and readers a Happy Holiday Season! Hope you enjoy the First Annual The Heap Cyber Christmas Card!

We’ll be back to regular writing this weekend. Be safe, and enjoy time with family! Preach Peace!

-The Heap Master

FTDO: A Message of Peace

theheaplogo.jpg picture by jmooser

The Heap presents a special edition of “From The Desk Of” since I really don’t have the chance to write from work anymore. It has gotten extremely busy these days, especially now that it is the end of the year! So I’ll tell the tale from the comfort of home!

I have stories upon stories to tell thanks to the vast array of interesting people my job allows me to help through the county’s patient assistance program. But this ONE story really touched me. I mean, it absolutely makes you appreciate the circumstances I was born into, how fate had it that I was born as an American during a relatively peaceful time, and how one of my patients was born into extreme poverty in what can be considered a third world country. He grew up during a time of political unrest and ultimately bloody revolution. He lives to tell of the atrocities he has experienced.

A lot of my older patients have a hard time understanding the general process of the program we run, and what exactly is needed. Now factor in that he can only speak and understand Spanish, and confusion reaches a whole new level. Both he and his wife are recent immigrants to the US mainland, so despite their age, they are not eligible for the mainstream government programs. Fortunately, they became citizens and are eligible for these other programs directly from the manufacturers of their medication.

Now let’s pause here and think about this. How bad must things be for someone to leave their country at an old age for a land where you don’t know the language and you have absolutely nothing. You are leaving poverty for poverty essentially, and I dare say that living in an impoverished state here in the US might even be worse than that of Cuba. Obviously, it’s not a question of quality of life. While poverty is not the ideal situation to find yourself in, the US has a rich history of community service and outreach programs. Americans are typically very generous.

The problem is that poverty and dependence on the government has such a negative stigma here (and in particular these days as fiscal policy is scrutinized seemingly every hour!). The situation MUST be dire to leave a place where EVERYONE is poor to a place where not only will you be poor, but you might even be looked down upon due to stereotypic generalization. (This is a rant for another day)

My patient takes a medication called Abilify. It helps with depression, but often causes “spaceyness” and forgetfulness. We’ve faced the same problem with the Abilify program for months. They require a state Medicaid denial letter in order to receive beyond the initial shipment of the medication. So of course, we have the task of calling to remind patients that this must be done in 90 days. Needless to say, there are a good number of patients who just don’t cooperate or don’t understand.

Our patient was one that didn’t understand. So he and his wife came to the office to see what could be done. His wife’s medications were simple enough, and we haven’t really had any problems with any of her applications. But for the patient, there were still some medications pending. To make a long story short, I offered to do the Medicaid application for him online.

So we went back to my office, and we just began to talk. My patient preaches a message of world peace. It’s on the top of his prayer list, as he told me. He grew up before and during the Cuba Revolution. He was deemed as a “government asset” and was assigned clerical tasks instead of being forced to be a laborer. Unfortunately, he lost favor with one of his commanding officers and he was forced to join the military, and was given the task of digging graves as well as digging up graves in search of precious metals. It was a period of extreme fear. He would come to work one day only to learn of the government executing a coworker.

He made it through, and somehow was allowed to immigrate into the US with his wife. He was able to bring his daughter and granddaughter over, and they are all able to get by together. They were lucky, and they know it.

This all happened maybe a month or so ago. What compelled me to write about this was that he called me today to with me a Merry Christmas! And again to stress the importance of peace among countries of the world. I was very touched by this.

How can we get to a state of peace here in this world where differences are grounds for war? Is it an attainable goal? It it plausible to even depend on God / religion as a cornerstone for developing peace among peoples? Especially with the issue of “God(s)” being the very issue that many go to war for?

Can society ever become “colorblind”? This is where John Lennon’s “Imagine” makes perfect sense. All possible categories of difference would theoretically have to be eliminated. Anyone have thoughts on this issue? Does religion have to be part of a solution, or would it further hinder the process? Why does the human race place figurative values on a human life according to category?

This Christmas, spread a message of Peace, Joy, and Love.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

The Trashman Chronicles: Back in Time for the End of the Year!

My goodness. Has it really been almost 4 months since I’ve last written? I guess it really hasn’t hit me until recently how much I’ve missed writing for my (hopefully still) loyal readers and well, really, for myself. Alas, there is no Phoenix euphemism for what has occurred this time. (I already used my allotment of those on this blog the last time there was a lengthy break!)

I know that many rumors have been started about The Heapmaster’s whereabouts, especially with the blog’s last twitter update being “The Heap Master is really, really drunk.” No, I am not dead, lost at sea, or buried beneath pile and piles of trash. I was these things at some point in the last few months, but no longer.

One of the worst feelings in the world I believe is watching as the life gets sucked out of you, and knowing there really isn’t much you can do about it. Sure, part of it is your own fault, but for the most part, you’re at the hands of the will of the World’s governing force. It’s almost been 6 months since my last life update, so I guess it’s appropriate that it comes at the end of a rather tumultuous year.

I last left you in July with news of Wedding Bells, luxury sedans, Golden Domes, and relative happiness. I did make it up to PV’s wedding in July, and it was so wonderful to see everyone together getting absolutely obliterated on the dance floor. Heck we even made it to The Backer! The morning after wasn’t so glorious (apologies to the janitorial staff of Carroll Hall), but it was great to walk campus and see everything again. It made it all seem less like a dream.

In August, I started The Heap’s Recycling Project, as I dieted until the end of October. Since I didn’t update, my progress wasn’t logged. But, I lost 30 lbs! I made it down to 240! These days I’m hovering around 245. I was forced to stop the project thanks to the development of a “cevacious cyst” on my back! So after finally getting that removed, I was forced on a month or so respite from doing the trash! So obviously, with that went the hardcore exercise routine. I am back to it, and all efforts will be renewed come 2010 due to a friends bachelor party cruise in September. 3o more lbs and I would be set!

November was an awful, awful month. And to be honest with you, I couldn’t give you specific reasons. Sure, there was the infamous rear ending and ticket fiasco. Almost $200 later after ticket and driving school costs, now I await the jacking up of my insurance rates in June. Work was a little rough as well. And well things were just not going in the direction I wanted them to go. What ever was left of my relationship crumbled away. It will take a little bit of time to heal.

Things started turning around Thanksgiving break after the High School crew came in to town. So as you can imagine, nights of unfettered debauchery ensued. It was fun to see everyone again and meet new people as we went out.

So here we are, at the end of the year. This year, more than any other in recent memory, really flew by fast. A lot has changed in the latter half, and I’m ok with that. I just know that I am back, not only here to my writing duties, but to my commitments as a friend, brother, son, and employee. I feel my spirit returning, after months of seeming like I was a zombie going through the motions. God sends blessings at the most unexpected times. This year seems to be ending on a good note, and I am excited for what 2010 will bring.

-The Heap Master

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser