Grooveshark Preview – Bye Bye Flash

If you are a fan of Grooveshark you have probably been using either the Flash based site or if you are VIP, the AIR application. Both work the exact same way except they rely on Flash and are very resource intensive. If you’re on a laptop and trying to conserve battery Flash is not something you want to be running a lot.

I posted a tweet last week when I realized just how much resources Grooveshark AIR application was taking up while working on a slower computer.

Pro Tip: Listening to @Grooveshark in a browser is far less resource intensive than with the app.
@nickdenardis
Nick DeNardis

Luckily this last week Grooveshark released a preview of their new fully HTML site! It’s not fully HTML5 because it doesn’t have all the features yet. It is only available to VIP members and you have to be running Google Chrome. It looks very similar to the current site. I have included a screen shot above. They did tweak the actual player at the bottom made it more fluid. I personally like it more.

Testing out the resource allocation between the two versions you can see from the activity monitor below the difference is phenomenal! The CPU % was the largest improvement.

Current Flash Version

New HTML Version

I won’t go into the details of the new version of Grooveshark but I just wanted to point out and give the Grooveshark team props for migrating their app into something (almost) completely native. Great job guys, keep up the awesome work!

The new HTML version is available at: http://preview.grooveshark.com/

First 24 hours with the Palm Pre

Palm PreLet me just preface that I have owned Palm Treo devices in the past. I also love Apple and their products, I don’t have an iPhone because of the AT&T lock in and ridiculous pricing structure.

When Palm announced what seems like years ago they were developing a completely new phone web based OS I got excited. I live and breath the web and know the power of web devices. Finally they announced the Palm Pre and it was released yesterday, June 6 2009. Of course supplies were going to be limited so getting in line early was key. The Sprint store by my house opened at 8 am and I got in line at 6. I ended up being #19 and there were 3 people who actually camped overnight. The store ended up having about 80 of them so I easily got one. Here is a breakdown of my first 24 hours with the Palm Pre.

Feature Run Down.

Initially reading the reviews everyone said the plastic was flimsy and the phone was too light. I found none of these to be true, the phone is a great weight and doesn’t feel cheap at all. The only piece that does feel flimsy is the little cover for the micro USB port. You have to open it carefully the first few times to break it in, it feels like it is going to break if you are not careful. But after a few times opening and closing it it loosens up and I feel more comfortable about it now.

Palm Pre ScreenshotThe Web OS is Amazing! very fast and fluid. Launching applications and switching between them takes almost no effort at all. It feels very similar to the iPhone except you can use gestures instead of always clicking the center button to move back a screen. Moving between apps and launching apps happens super fast, not sure how it compares to the iPhone but it blows the Backberry Storm out of the water.

The screen is very bright and the colors, transparencies and shadows are amazing. Its almost like when someone moves from a Windows PC to a Mac. The window placement, transitions and movement are just so fluid you don’t know how you ever worked on a PC. I was scared that the feel of the screen was going to be like the Blackberry Storm, (I hate the feel of the storm screen) but its not rubbery at all, its not glass but its super solid. Very reactive and sensitive. It reacts to your fingers without effort. Only thing I could not figure out at first was how to do is take a screen shot, one thing I like that the iPhone/Tough can do in just two keys. I finally figured it out with the OrangeSym, and P keys (kind of a hassle).

The App Catalog is limited at the current moment, I really hope Palm releases the SDK soon because it looks super easy just from the apps I have downloaded. I downloaded 6 so far and they have all been pretty good. Tweed could use some more options but it works, I am sure someone will create a better Twitter client once the SDK comes out.

The audio quality is amazing, both in the ear piece and on speaker, I think better than my Blackberry. I love that there is a full headphone jack at the top, a great position for it and the iTunes integration is awesome. The Pandora app lets you stream music right over the air (no need to be on wifi, but if wifi is enabled it will use it) and can even keep playing in the background. Something the iPhone cannot compete with.

The notification system is really cool to say the least. It comes through at the bottom of the screen with tiny icons or one line text till you touch it and all notifications expand and moves your application up a little, no need to quit your app it just keeps running. Clicking on a notification launches the app and still keeps your old app running in the background.

The battery life is good so far. It came about 40% charged and playing with it the battery was going down quick. After charging it to 100% it only went down 10% in about 4 hours. Its hard to say how good the battery life is yet, I will post an update in the next few days.

Palm Pre ScreenshotThe browser is solid and loads pretty much any web page, zoom happens with the normal two finger actions. One thing I was disappointed by was the lack of Flash. I really hope it comes in a update soon. Updates get pushed through in the background and looks like they are going to be updating the OS often. There already is an update for Web OS to 1.0.2 and it updated without issue. The Sprint network is amazing, I was getting 358 kbit/sec with 0.215s latency data transfer. Site Used: DSL Reports Mobile Speed Test

The keyboard I heard form reviews was hard to type on and the keys were too small. I did not find this to be the case. The only issue I found with the keyboard layout is how close the “back” and “enter” keys are to each other. Without looking I often went to click the back button but ended up clicking the enter key. Bummer but totally possible to get use to.

The network integration is awesome. No need for the Google Sync app its all built in. The only downside is that Google Sync allows you to pick your “My Contacts” instead of “All Contacts” by default in the Pre. So it pulled in 500+ contacts and a lot of them I didn’t even know I had in my book. Took me a little bit but I finally cleaned up my addresses and now all is good. Adding Facebook contacts only complicates things further, wow there is a lot of people in your phone now. I ended up removing Facebook contacts for now.

Wrapup

Overall the Palm Pre is a pleasure to use. It makes using a phone seem effortless and fun again. I really hope they release the SDK soon so they can get more Apps in the catalog, this will be the make or break feature for the phone. The features and positives definitely outweigh the negatives. If you are looking for something different the Pre is definitely for you, its not your run of the mill phone and hopefully will compete for some of the iPhone’s market share. Competition is good and this phone will definitely keep Apple and Google on their toes.

[Review] DialinFree – MI Free Dial Up Internet Service

dialinfree-logoEvery year we go upnorth for New Years and with a bunch of friends in the summer for vacation. One thing that is lacking is an internet connection, being wired is essential.

In the past we have had the luxury of using free dial up service through Wayne State University and MichNet. MichNet unfortunately discontinued the service two years ago. Last year I just signed up with NetZero. It worked but was kinda clunky, they are a needy ISP (requires software and ad bar) and eventually would not leave me alone for quitting. The connection speed was not too hot either, sometimes dropping down to 14.4 KB/sec.

This year I went out to find a free service and stumbled upon http://dialinfree.net/ which claims to be “Michigan’s only free unlimited dialup service!” They also don’t ask for anything besides an email address and a zip code. Asking around online I could not confirm if the service was legit. So I decided to give them a try and let you know my experience in hopes to demistify the DialinFree service.

First Time Use

The first time connection it was super simple, just put in the phone number, email and password into the regular connection screens on OS X, there is no need to install additional software. It dialed up, got the great connection noise and we were off and running.

google-pingJust as a test I decided to pint Google to see how fast the response was. Not too bad, No lost packets and 226 ms avg connection time.

download-rate

Next I wanted to checkout the download rate so I began downloading a medium sized PDF and the download topped out at 5.5 KB/sec. Not too bad for dial up.

Issues

So after being connected for a few hours the first two days (I think we were online for 7+ hours) the third day connecting we ran into an issue. It would dial, connect and get stuck on the Authentication. After about 2 minutes of waiting it would just disconnect.

hungupBut after waiting an hour it started working again. We did get the error randomly after that but we could just try it again and it would work. Not sure why it was happening but it seemed to be on there end.

Overall

If you are looking for a truly free dial up internet service without a hassle in Michigan this is the one for you. They don’t require any special software, no credit card information or even personal information. They do ask that you use their homepage and run your Google searches through them when connected but it is not a requirement.

By far this is the best dial up service I have used next to MichNet. It was fast (although you are still on dial up), they have a ton of access numbers and they did not require ANY personal information to start up. It never disconnected us and the only issue was at initial connection as mentioned above.

They also have a spot where you can donate money to keep the service alive. I recommend even if you use the service just once to compensate them for your use, keep this service alive and others will thank you.