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Go Launcher Ex is a nice upgrade for Android

I gave Go Launcher Ex a whirl on my hacked Nook Color-turned-tablet. The promise was that it’s faster and smoother than ADW Launcher, the default program launcher that comes with Cyanogenmod. Unlike some promises, it was true. It’s fast, smooth, polished, and customizable.

I was a little apprehensive at first–how does one go about changing something so fundamental as the program launcher–but it was easy.

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How to burn-in an Android

I always burn in my computers. But how do you burn-in an Android?

Here’s what burn-in means, if you’re unaware. When you first buy a computer, the very best thing you can do for it is leave it on for 24 hours nonstop, preferably doing something that’s reasonably hard work. That practice is called burning in a computer. If there’s anything at all wrong with it, there’s a very good chance it will come up in that initial 24 hour period. I’ve been doing that for more than 20 years, and of all the computers I’ve owned in that timeframe–and it’s an army of them, believe me–I’ve only had one machine fail prematurely. One.

The practice works.

So what about a tablet or a smartphone?

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Model railroading with your Droid: Solving electrical issues

Electrodroid is an Android app designed for electronics hobbyists, but it has uses for model railroaders too. Its LED calculator is invaluable when using LEDs to light buildings, cars, locomotive cabs or headlights, or for other projects. Knowing the input voltage, you can then determine what resistors to use to protect the LED.

The voltage drop calculator is useful too, if less obvious.Read More »Model railroading with your Droid: Solving electrical issues

Model railroading with your Droid: Color matching

The biggest problem with making custom (or reproduction) decals for use with trains of the miniature variety is getting the colors on the computer-generated decal to match the paint on the model. Eyeballing the color won’t work; you need a computer’s help to do it.

Enter a free Android app called Color Eye. Launch Color Eye, point your phone or tablet’s camera at the paint you need to match, and your phone will give you the closest color matches that it knows about, including a Pantone color and a CYMK value.

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The Insignia Flex’s long-lost brothers

I had a chance to take a look at the Insignia Flex tablet, Best Buy’s $249 house-brand Android tablet. If you need a basic dual-core tablet that’s reasonably well-built, it’s not bad. I found it responsive and usable–there just wasn’t anything flashy about it. The two things I found I didn’t like were that the settings control panel didn’t let you change much, and it has a 4:3-perspective 1024×768 screen, which is unusual in this world of 16:9 tablets. I’m afraid the old-school resolution might eventually be a problem. And there’s no Cyanogenmod 9 or 10 for it.

But if you need a value tablet in the 9-10 inch range, I have a suggestion for you.Read More »The Insignia Flex’s long-lost brothers

Hot-rod Cyanogenmod 7.2

Whatever you do, don’t call this post Optimizing Android 2.3 for Games, Graphics and Multimedia. I’ll kick your… nevermind.

But of course the first thing I wanted after I installed Cyanogenmod 7.2–which is based on Android 2.3.7–on my Nook Color was to make it run smoother and faster. What else would I want? So here’s some stuff I did, since adding three CPU cores obviously isn’t an option.

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How I turned my Nook Color into a Cyanogenmod 7.2 Android tablet

So, after most of a year, I finally revisited Cyanogenmod 7.2 on my Nook Color. Competent tablets are available for around $100 now, so perhaps this is less interesting now, but I had a Nook Color, and figured I might as well try it out before spending money on something else.

I was never happy running it from an SD card–it was way too laggy and sluggish–but Cyanogenmod 7.2 is competent when installed on its internal memory, at least for the things I most want to use a tablet for–light web browsing, reading e-mail, watching SD video, and reading PDFs–and it leaves the SD card slot open for storing the media I want to consume.Read More »How I turned my Nook Color into a Cyanogenmod 7.2 Android tablet

I may have found a few-compromises 7-inch tablet

So I was tempted when I saw a refurbished Acer Iconia 7-inch tablet for $151. Its specs are outmoded but respectable–dual core 1 GHz, 1 GB RAM, 8 GB of storage, and a microSD slot. And Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is available for it.

But there’s something better around the corner. I say few-compromises, because I haven’t seen a no-compromises 7-inch tablet yet. The 7-inch sector is all about value.

Read More »I may have found a few-compromises 7-inch tablet

Cyanogenmod 7 on a Nook Color

I should not have said yesterday it would take 38 minutes or less to turn my Nook Color into a Cyanogenmod-powered tablet. Big mistake.

I have it running now, more or less. It’s nice. Sluggish at times, but once it’s set up it seems to do better. Time can make it better. Getting started is the big thing. Baby steps. Baby steps.

Read More »Cyanogenmod 7 on a Nook Color