Category Archives: Mobile

Google Launches Sync for Mobile Phones – General Acclamation Ensues

Google Sync icon Earlier this week Google launched the Beta version of Sync – free tools for synchronizing your mobile phone’s Contacts and Calendar with your Google account.

Phones supported by Sync include the Apple iPhone, Blackberry, Symbian, and Windows Mobile.

As you might suspect, I’m quite excited about Google Sync, and I’m glad to see Windows Mobile support included. I’ve written a few articles already on syncing Windows Mobile Contacts and Calendar with varying services, all without Outlook. Here are some previous tutorials:

  1. Sync Your Windows Mobile Contacts and Calendar Using Funambol for FREE (article link)
  2. Sync Your Windows Mobile Contacts and Calendar with Plaxo, Thunderbird, and Google for FREE (article link)
  3. Sync Your Phone’s Contacts and Calendar with Google for Free using NuevaSync (article link)

I’m definitely going to try my hand at setting up Google Sync, and am especially curious to see how it compares with the mighty NuevaSync. Expect future articles and opinions related to this topic in the near future.

In the meantime, if you have already tried Google Sync, I’d love to hear some thoughts.

Ace that Exam by Studying Flashcards Online (7 Resources)

Classes have started again at most universities, so now is the perfect time to make sure those grades don’t start slipping. While studying hard and making A’s come naturally for some people, most of us need a little help and motivation.

One of the most tried-and-true methods of studying is to create and review flashcards. While I can personally attest that flashcards have helped me pass many classes (especially Latin – semper ubi sub ubi), I hate dealing with flashcards. It seems that I’m always running out, or losing them, or maybe I can’t read what I previously wrote. It’s a mess.

Fear not. Here are seven online resources for creating and managing flashcards online. With a little luck (and some hard work), they can help you make the grade this semester.

Study Bulb logo 1. StudyBulb

Link – http://www.studybulb.com

StudyBulb describes itself as a free online collaborative community for study materials. The site launched in April 2008 and is still in early Beta. Despite their Beta status, they have a growing number of existing flashcards that you can browse, ranging from Elementary difficulty through College. Of course, you can create a free account and start contributing your own.

One handy feature of StudyBulb is the ability to copy an existing collection of cards to your own account. They also provide a mobile link to each collection for reviewing on a web-enabled mobile phone. Nice!

StudyBulb is promising, but is weak on content right now. The interface is simple and slick, so I hope they continue to grow.

Try it now: Test your knowledge of the King Arthur legend.

Quizlet Logo 2. Quizlet

Link – http://quizlet.com

Quizlet is a popular free online flashcard portal with a number of features. Originally created in 2005 by a lone high-school student with the purpose of making French vocabulary more fun, Quizlet has since grown into a massive site with millions of existing flashcards. Naturally, you can create a free account and start your own collections.

To aid the learning process, Quizlet offers five different review modes, ranging from the simple Familiarize mode to the more fun and strenuous Scatter and Space Race modes. Nothing strains your knowledge like quickly typing answers to overhead flying questions, I suppose.

Other neat features include flashcard sharing (Facebook included) and the ability to add friends and classmates to study groups (public or private). Quizlet can also track your study progress with accuracy scores.

Quizlet is impressive, for sure. Once their iPhone app works out some kinks, it will be even better.

Try it now: Test your knowledge of European capitals.

Study Stack logo 3. Study Stack

Link – http://www.studystack.com

Study Stack offers a number of creative ways to help memorize information. Though the foundation of the site is built around flashcards, Study Stack allows you to test yourself in some engaging and unusual ways. Getting tired of traditional flashcards? Try reviewing your material as a hangman game, or maybe a word search. You can even play a game of bug match, in which you maneuver a rather happy spider across the screen in an attempt to catch the bug that represents the correct answer. Think of it as multiple choice, but with… bugs and spiders. Hey, whatever helps you learn….

Study Stack - Bug Match

If your mobile phone supports Java, you can export data to it for review on the go. Study Stack has a decent amount of existing material, but you can always create a free login and contribute your own.

Try it now: Need to do some review for the A+ Certification Exam?

Flashcard Exchange logo4. FlashcardExchange

Link – http://www.flashcardexchange.com

FlashcardExchange proudly boasts that it is the world’s largest flashcard library. That may be true, considering that the current flashcard count is approaching 17 million. It’s also one of the oldest (launched in 2001). However, it’s also one of the only flashcard sites that separates free from premium services.

A free membership will allow you to create unlimited flashcards, plus the ability to study and share them online. That’s about it. A premium membership adds such necessary features as the ability to print and export flashcards to Word or Excel.

To be fair, a premium membership is only a one-time fee of $20 USD, and it does add some other handy features, such as the ability to add pictures (jpg) and audio (mp3) to your flashcards. It’s up to you to determine if $20 is worth it. I’m glad to see that they offer support for the iPhone and iPod Touch, even for free members.

FlashcardExchange is indeed massive, and they have some nice features. I dig the keyboard support for manipulating cards. If you spring for the premium membership, there’s not much you can’t do. Otherwise, the free version is handicapped.

Try it now: Test your knowledge of the Greek alphabet.

Studyblue - logo5. Studyblue

Link – http://www.studyblue.com

Created in 2006, Studyblue aims to be much more than just a flashcard review site. While flashcards are certainly an integral part of their service, they also offer class notes, textbook outlines, study groups, and tutors. In fact, in their efforts to build quality content, Studyblue is willing to PAY you to upload your class notes and flashcards, up to $5,000 per semester. See their blog for details.

Studyblue is more than an individual study portal – it has features commonly associated with social networks. You can invite friends, create groups, send shouts, and participate in forums. There’s a big emphasis on connecting your profile with specific classes. Before you can do much of anything, you first have to add some enrolled classes. The flashcards and notes that you create will be associated with those specific classes.

The interface is slick and easy to use. Studyblue shows much promise, but there is room for improvement. Flashcard printing is not yet supported, nor did I find anything about exporting or mobile access. However, you CAN attach images to flashcards. Because of the emphasis on class, I found it difficult to link to a specific deck of flashcards. Instead, here’s a screenshot of me trying my hand at some French vocabulary review:

Studybulb - French vocab

Studyblue’s all-in-one approach will appeal to a lot of users. The ability to earn some extra cash is an added incentive.

Flashcard Machine logo6. Flashcard Machine

Link – http://www.flashcardmachine.com

As the name implies, Flashcard Machine focuses exclusively on interactive flashcards. No more, no less. Registration is free. Like FlashcardExchange, the service has been around since 2001. There are currently over 9 million available flashcards.

Concerning features, Flashcard Machine has the basics covered. You can create an unlimited amount of flashcards, plus view all the existing cards by subject. You can even attach audio and pictures to flashcards for free, though space is limited to only a few megabytes. You can’t export flashcards to another format, but you CAN print (via printer-friendly HTML). Mobile access on the iPod is available, but it requires integration with iStudyToGo ($20).

Using Flashcard Machine is simple. No, it doesn’t keep any detailed statistics about your overall accuracy, but for quick-and-dirty flashcard review, it’s hard to beat. You can manipulate the cards with simple keystrokes.

Flashcard Machine - Latin words

Flashcard Machine’s simple interface won’t turn any heads, nor does it have any fancy social networking features, but if all you want is to create and learn some flashcards, it’s got you covered.

Try it now: Need to review a little Greek mythology? You can get an overview of the cards, but actually attempting them requires registration (free).

Anki logo7. Anki

Link – http://ichi2.net/anki

Anki derives its name from the Japanese for “to memorize.” As such, it’s in a league of its own among flashcard sites. I debated whether or not to include it in this article because it is primarily an installable application, but it DOES include online access.

Anki is not just a flashcard creator, it’s a Spaced Repetition System (SRS). In a nutshell, Anki intelligently determines how often to repeat individual flashcards based on how well you’re able to determine the answer. If you know the answer easily, Anki might wait several days to show you the card again. If you fumble with the answer (or don’t know it), Anki will repeat the card soon.

Anki - Main

The program is completely free and open-source, and is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. See screenshots. Anki includes online support – you can sync your cards across multiple computers, plus study them online from any Internet-connected computer. Yes, you can even access your cards on most mobile devices, including the iPhone. Windows Mobile support is currently experimental.

You can use Anki to learn most anything, but it excels in subjects that you plan to study for months or years, such as language. If all you want to do is cram for an exam, there are better choices. If you REALLY want to add material to your long-term memory, Anki is a prime choice. I strongly suggest watching the introductory videos to get going quickly.

You can find an assortment of pre-made decks of cards, but Anki works best if you create your own.

—-

So, which resource is the best? Naturally, that depends on your needs. Every service that I mention here will allow you to create and review flashcards – it’s up to you to determine which one has the features and the interface that you like most. If sheer numbers impress you, take a look at FlashcardExchange. If you want a flashcard portal that borders on a social network, Studyblue is your best bet. If you really want to learn a topic over an extended amount of time (such as a language), you owe it to yourself to check out Anki.

No matter which service you choose, may there be only good grades in your future!

How To: Post to Blogger from Your Mobile Phone

One really cool feature of Google Blogger is the ability to quickly create a post directly from your mobile phone. With Mobile Blogging, all you have to do is send a text message from your cell, and Blogger will automatically post the text (and photos!) that you send. Neat!

With mobile blogging, imagine the possibilities:

  • Post photos from that amazing hiking or camping trip.
  • Quickly publish breaking news from an event while in attendance.
  • Post mood and gossip updates while in class (ugh, please don’t).
  • Snap a photo of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, or a UFO before someone confiscates your phone.

Signing Up With Blogger Mobile

Getting started with Blogger Mobile is easy. The only real requirement is a phone with a text-messaging plan.

Step One – Register For Your Mobile Blog

To claim your mobile blog, first send a text message to go@blogger.com. In numerical terms (US only), you can also use 256447. Type REGISTER as the content of the message.

Within thirty seconds or so, you should receive a couple of reply text messages from Blogger. The first will contain a link to the Terms of Service, and the second will contain a link to your new mobile blog, plus a claim code.

The unique code identifies your mobile device so that posts are routed to the appropriate blog.

Note: instead of a text message, you can also send an e-mail from your phone. For it to work, the e-mail should not pass through another gateway (such as an IMAP account or your school account). The Gmail app and Yahoo! Go should work fine. You CAN use both text messages and e-mail to post to your blog, but you have to claim them separately.

Step Two – Claim Your Mobile Blog

Once you have your unique claim code, you can claim your new blog or attach your phone to an existing Blogger account.

On any computer, visit go.blogger.com. Enter your claim code (plus the captcha code).

Step Three – Configure Blog Settings

The final step before you can start posting from your phone is to tell Blogger where to direct your future posts. You can accept the new default blog, or if you already have an existing Blogger account, you can log in and choose an existing blog.

By default, Blogger assigned me the address of husbin147. As you can see in the screenshot above, I chose to direct my mobile posts to an existing blog.

Create a Mobile Post

Now that you have a mobile blog, it’s time to start posting. To create a new post, all you have to do is send a text or e-mail to go@blogger.com. The text that you write (and any pictures that you attach) will automatically show up as a new post. Neat, huh?

In the example above, I’m using Yahoo! Go instead of a text message because it supports a Subject line. The e-mail subject becomes the title of the post.

Within seconds of sending my message, Blogger responded with a Success reply. Sure enough, my new post was live.

I’m pretty amazed by the Blogger Mobile service. I don’t see myself using it every day, but for certain situations, it’s a dream come true.

Other Stuff

A couple other details: You can manage which devices post to your mobile blog by looking near the bottom of your Blogger Dashboard. This is handy in case you get a new phone.

Also, my only complaint about Blogger Mobile is that I have not yet found a way to attach labels to a post. As of now, you have to log in post-factum with a computer and manually add labels. It’s a small price to pay, but if anyone knows an easier way to add labels to mobile posts, please share.

Changing your iPhone’s Battery and 10 tips for Longer Battery Life

iPhone
iPhone

I mentioned in a previous post that the iPhone’s battery needs more attention than simpler phones. And you can’t change the battery yourself! That thing is soldered into place… so unless you are REALLY good with a soldering iron or if you don’t care much about the very real possibility of frying your phone, then changing the batter requires a trip to the Apple store.

Changing your iPhone Battery

Take the phone to an Apple store. The charge for replacing the battery is $79 plus shipping and handling, and just like a laptop repair, it usually takes 3 days. The store can loan you a phone for a fee.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND TRYING TO REPLACE THE BATTERY YOURSELF. If you were looking for a DIY article, then let me try to talk some sense into you. This is a DELICATE device. It was not soldered by a human… it was soldered together with very precise robotic machinery. Don’t kid yourself… you are much more likely to kill your phone than you are to successfully replace the battery.

If you are concerned about battery life, there are a couple products available that can extend or augment battery life, e.g. Backup iPhone Battery, Juice Pack, or check out the recommendations below.

10 Tips for Extending your iPhone’s Battery Life

  1. Lock It — Just turn off the display.
  2. Turn Off Bluetooth — If you don’t have any Bluetooth devices (or if you aren’t using any), disable this in the Settings.
  3. Disable Wi-Fi — This isn’t as much of an energy saver as Airplane Mode, but if you don’t need to join any networks (e.g. if there aren’t any or if you’re happy using the 3G network), then just turn off the Wi-Fi searching under Settings –> Wi-Fi
  4. Turn on Airplane Mode — yes, you can do this on the ground, and it basically makes your iPhone into an iPod… you can’t use the internet or BlueTooth and you can’t make or receive calls. But it really extends the battery life.
  5. Turn off Location Services — Settings –> General. Some applications (like Locly) use your phone’s current location to do stuff, but your battery pays the price when you’re phone is repeatedly asking the world “Where am I?”
  6. Turn Off 3G — If you’re traveling where you’re only ever seeing the Edge network (the tiny E in your status bar), then you can probably loose the 3G functionality. Go to Settings –> General –> Network
  7. Turn off Sound Check and EQ— sound enhancement requires more processing and often more amplification. I also recommend using small earphones (e.g. the white earbuds) because they require less power than a big set of headphones. Yes, louder volume drains the batter faster, so keep the volume down. Settings –> iPod
  8. Fetch Mail Less Often — Settings –> Fetch New Data. Try checking email manually (i.e. when you launch the application).
  9. Store it at Room Temperature — don’t subject your phone (and its battery) to extreme temperatures. The basic rule of thumb is that it’ll be comfortable where you are comfortable, so don’t leave it in a hot car or in a freezer. Extremes will shorten the battery life.
  10. Plug it In — Yes, the iPhone works perfectly when it’s plugged in. It’s good to take it out and use it now and then to make sure the battery gets its exercise, though.

Taking Screenshots on a Windows Mobile Device

In case you are wondering how to take screenshots on your Windows Mobile Smartphone or Pocket PC, let me show you. In my experience (with WM5), Windows Mobile has no built-in way to take screenshots, but there are a few free utilities available that can provide that functionality.

Here are three free tools for taking screenshots on Windows Mobile:

  1. vSnap, by Mobile-SG
  2. Capture Screen Utility, by Fann Software
  3. Screen Capture, by Illium Software

Of the three, my personal favorite is Screen Capture, by Illium Software.

Download and Install

There are two ways to install Illium Screen Capture. The first is to download and run the complete installation file on your Windows PC (with your device connected). But what about Mac and Linux users who also happen to own a Windows Mobile device (like myself)?

That leaves us with method two – download the CAB file directly to your Pocket PC or Smartphone. The original download links on Illium’s site are way too long to type manually, so here are TinyURL links instead.

Type those directly on your Pocket PC or Smartphone to download. Install as you would any other CAB file.

Usage

Using Illium Screen Capture is simple. To launch the program, look under the Start menu for Screen Capture.

When the program is running, hit the default keystroke to take a screenshot. On my Smartphone, the default keystroke is the asterisk (*), but you can change it if you want. If your sound it turned on, you will hear an audible shutter sound.

All screenshots that you take will show up in My Documents on your device, numbered sequentially. Easy as pie.

Hint: Be careful not to hit the Exit button for the Screen Capture program until after you’ve taken your screenshots. If the program is not running, it cannot take any screenshots, right?

Sync Your Phone’s Contacts and Calendar with Google for Free with NuevaSync

Many moons ago I wrote a beefy article on Sycing Your Windows Mobile Contacts and Calendar with Plaxo, Thunderbird, and Google for FREE.

Since I wrote that article, NuevaSync, the free synchronization hub, has added a few features. Notably, NuevaSync now supports syncing directly with Google for Contacts, thus eliminating the need for Plaxo.

Today, I’m going to show you how to simply sync your phone’s Contacts and Calendar with your Google account. Since I have a MOTO Q, this tutorial will be from a Windows Mobile perspective, but NuevaSync also works with iPhone and iPod Touch 2.0.

Tools Required

That’s it. There’s nothing to install on your phone or your computer.

As always, please back up your current mobile data before you proceed. This tutorial should work flawlessly for you, or it may drink all the eggnog in your refrigerator. Always keep a backup.

Step One – Configure NuevaSync

To get started, first create an account with NuevaSync. The main NuevaSync configuration area is quite spartan. All you need to do is click the change button next to Contacts and Calendar and select Google for each of them.

The Contacts area now offers Google in addition to Plaxo. Note: NuevaSync will sync with your real Google contacts, not your suggested contacts.

When you click setup, NuevaSync will ask you to enter your Google ID and request authorization for access to your account. You do not need to give NuevaSync your Google password.

Step Two – Configure Your Phone

Now that NuevaSync is configured, let’s move on to setting up your phone. On Windows Mobile:

1. Launch ActiveSync (Go to Start → ActiveSync)

2. Go to Menu → Add Server Source (or Configure Server)

3. Configure your Server Settings. For the Server Address, enter www.nuevasync.com. Check the box to enable SSL encryption.

4. Next, add your user information. Enter your NuevaSync user name (full Gmail address) and your NuevaSync password (NOT your Gmail password, unless they are the same. If they are, shame on you).

Under Domain, enter nuevasync.com. My phone automatically added the www, but it still works fine. Be sure to check the box to remember your password.

5. On the Options page, only check the boxes next to Contacts and Calendar. NuevaSync does not yet support E-mail and Tasks.

Hit Finish, and you’re done. To start the sync process, go back to ActiveSync and hit the Sync button. If you configured everything properly, your phone should connect to Google through NuevaSync and update your Contacts and Calendar accordingly.

Hint: You can adjust the scheduling frequency in ActiveSync by going to Menu → Schedule.

Final Thoughts

I really like NuevaSync. Though it’s still in Beta, it works surprisingly well, and I appreciate that there’s nothing to install. Of course, I’m patiently waiting for them to support IMAP e-mail and Tasks. With the recent inclusion of a Tasks To-Do list by Gmail labs, it seems like a logical inclusion for NuevaSync to support Gmail Tasks. I would love to see this happen.

Happy syncing! I don’t have an iPhone, but maybe one of my iPhone-toting co-authors could provide iPhone-specific instructions. Stay tuned.

Create a Mobile Version of Your Site for Free with Mippin Maker

Want to create a mobile-friendly version of your website or blog, but don’t feel like coding a version by hand (or paying someone else to do so)? Take a look at the free Mippin Maker service.

www.mippinmaker.com

Creating a mobile version of your site is a simple process, and it only takes a few minutes. Best of all, it’s completely free.

Any site with an RSS feed can be mobilized with Mippin Maker. Yep, that means Blogger, WordPress, and most any other services are eligible.

First, just enter the URL of your site or RSS feed to get a preview of how the mobile version will look:

Mobilize:

Next, choose any custom colors for your mobile site, or upload a logo:

Customize:

The final step is to create a Mippin account and verify that you’re the rightful owner of the site. To do so, Mippin will ask you to post a string of data as a post title, but you can delete that post once you’ve verified your ownership.

As a bonus, you can even opt to include mobile ads and earn some revenue with your new mobile site. Unlike competing services, Mippin allows you to keep 100% of the revenue.

Of course, we have to practice what we preach, so TipsFor.us is now mobile. You can access the mobile version at:

http://m.tipsfor.us (no www)