Double tap to widen a column for reading mobile text

Instead of resizing the screen in order to read a column of text, just double tap on a paragraph of that column. The column will then widen to full horizontal width of screen.

Most web pages are composed of vertical columns with ads and other features on the side columns; the main text is on the center line. Thus, the double tap works most of the time. Even when it works, there still may be a need to drag the page to reposition the newly expanded column.

I don’t know how common this ‘gesture’ UI feature is. Do all browsers running on Android or iOS phones have this capability? They probably have some version of a “smart zoom”.

Tested on Samsung Galaxy Note and Galaxy S3.

Pluggable End User Processors

Today’s smart devices usually have a way of increasing memory. What if it were just as easy to increase processing power?

terms: Network on Chip (NoC), coprocessor, daughterboard, USB, PCI Express

There are several ways of doing this. One is to actually plug in additional processors as the need arises and finances can support. So, a typical scenario is to purchase a simple feature phone that has a simple single or duel core processor and then gradually add more processing.

Another approach is allowing the smartphone to offload processing to traditional devices, such as a PC, or even other smartphones. This is kind of happening now with “Cloud” services and server based processing of complex tasks like voice recognition. The problem with these networked processing advances is latency, bandwidth, connectivity, privacy, and security.

What I’m envisioning is arriving home and your mobile device connects to your home based processing resources. Your home digibiome extends to provide processing and data resources. Your fridge has spare cycles, your clock is not ringing, the alarm system is not armed. All can do stuff.

May 1, 2013: Come to think of it, pluggable processors for any computing device should be possible. Network on Chip (NoC) concepts could be applied to a Network In A Box (NiaB).

July 3, 2013: Will the Motorola Moto X be something that can enable something like this? I doubt it.

Chips as mini Internets
Secure Digital
Network On Chip

Your device's current firmware version is not supported via Kies

Getting this error message when I connect my Samsung Note I717 to Kies on Windows 7 PC. This is with an unrooted phone. Was last updated to Android 4.0.4, but I don’t recall if it was by OTA or Kies.

No real good information on web about this. Just that Kies needs to get updated by Samsung to support the new firmware. Or that it is just a bad error message and really just means you have the latest version of the software on your cell phone.
[May 3, 2013: Apparently, it is the latter in this case. I was able to upgrade to Jelly Bean.]

Looks like Samsung and AT&T are not cooperating too well when it comes to the original Galaxy Note.

Why it matters?
This is how some updates for the phone are distributed, such as the new Jelly Bean update.

May 15, 2013: Just did another update via Kies. Looks like just a firmware tweak.


Model SGH-I717
Android 4.1.2
baseband I717UCMB3
Kernel Version
se.infra@SEP-95 #1
SMP PREEMPT Sat Apr 6 07:12:29 KST 2013
Build JZ054K.i717UCMB3

PC: Windows 7 64bit Professional

Patience: Low


SwiftKey and Swype keyboards for smartphones

Just found out about SwiftKey 4 release for Android smartphone. The company offers a free version to try for one month. This is very important since a keyboard’s usability is very important.

One of the major changes in this version of SwiftKey is that it supports gesture input. Many keyboards support some form of gesture input and this was probably made more popular by Swype, another keyboard.

Does anyone need another keyboard?
If you are already habituated with the stock keyboard and are very thumbsical, you probably don’t need another. If your on an IPhone you may not have much choice in the matter.

Swiftkey or Swype?
So far I think in the gestural aspects, Swype is the clear leader. Swiftkey has a hard time with double keys, for example. One outstanding feature of Swiftkey is the gestural input that incorporates the space bar. You don’t have to lift the finger to type a whole sentence.

Word Prediction
Prediction? Yeah, right. I can predict that the prediction on any keyboard will predictably drive you up the wall.

Example SwiftKey stats
After you use Swiftkey for a while you can access its status screen and see the record of how it helped with your typing. For example, I have:

  • Efficiency: +35%
  • Distance Flowed: 81.06m
  • Keystrokes saved: 1,384
  • Typos corrected: 205
  • Words flowed: 938
  • Words predicted: 9
  • Words completed: 124

And, I’m not even a heavy duty texter.

Keyboard version confusion
The whole keyboard thing on smartphones is not very clear. For example, with these two, they are available in vague ways.

SwiftKey is an app download on Play Store, but it is also included in the new Samsung Galaxy S4, or is only part of the SwiftKey technology included?

Swype is available on Android as one of the stock keyboards one can enable, yet it is has a potential new version. To get that Swype version one must join the beta program to help develop it, currently at version The stock Swype does not have the latest prediction engine (XT9) and voice input by Dragon voice recognition. Will the new Swype ever ship?

Which to use?
I’m halfway thru my trial period using SwiftKey. Do I switch permanently to it? I’m leaning that way. The price is a the same as one cup of coffee, it’s not a money thing at least.

April 25, 2013: Swype finally is released as a non-beta download on Google Play store.


Predictive Automotive Apps

In a previous post, “Synergistic Social Agent Network Cloud” I argued for more proactive apps. I was just reading something that is related to that topic: “Ford Hybrid’s EV+ Feature Learns and Automatically Adjusts Powertrain to Deliver More Electric-Only Driving” Also see “Proactive Agents.”

And, today I see this new product: MEMS tackles contextual awareness. The “future” may arrive one day.

The company Omron has been researching technological progress. They came up with SINIC:

Larger smartphones to be more common?

Looks like a previous post “The new mobile device?” was on the right path. According to “5-Inch Full HD Smartphones to be More Common in 2013

I still think this is just temporary and that hybrid extensible and alternative “presence” technology will be the norm as a presented in my previous blog post.

Check this rumored Samsung Galaxy Note III specs at Tomshardware


  1. The new mobile device?
  2. Samsung Confirms 5.5-inch Flexible Smartphone Screen
  3. 5-Inch Full HD Smartphones to be More Common in 2013
  4. Galaxy Note 3 With 6.3-Inch Display Could be in The Works
  5. Huawei All But Confirms Galaxy Note II Rival, Ascend Mate

The new mobile device?

More people use a smartphone and now depend on it. Mobile computing is now phenomenal growth industry with many companies trying to define and control the market.

Human factors
However, smartphone screen size and other human factors are now becoming limitations. I was reading “10 worries IT won’t have in 2013” and the author wrote: “Apple could release an iTurd and the faithful would still line up for it. Personally, I need a bigger iPhone screen ….” This captures the issue in a nutshell. I see this “need” expressed when someone jokes about my “brick”, yet they have to go back to those tiny little itty bitty screens and squint just to read even the headlines of a news page.

Larger Screen size
One of the ways the market is trying to address this problem is with slightly larger form factors. One of the first successful larger phones is the Samsung Galaxy Note and the forthcoming Note 2. This phone defined the “phablet” form factor. Is a 140.9mm (5.5″) screen the answer?

There are now three main hand set sizes:

Model inches metric
Apple iPhone 5 4.87 x 2.31 123.8 x 58.6
Samsung Galaxy S III 5.38 x 2.78 136.6 x 70.6
Samsung Galaxy Note II 5.94 x 3.17 151 x 80.5

A visual representation is available at many sites; search for “mobile phone visual size comparison”. There is an inverse relationship between usability and mobility, the smaller the more mobile, the larger the more usable. So, is there no perfect size? No. But, there are other ways to implement mobile computing.

Alternative Mobile Computing

1. The separation of interaction from the mobile device. The main role of the mobile device is as a server for other task specific devices. In future, head up displays (HUD) will be the dynamic mobile interface. This is not a new idea; it has been in the science fiction literature for decades. The tremendous power in modern devices makes this possible. But, when not moving, and more precise interaction is required, the mobile server can use a built-in projector to display larger interfaces. And, when secure and private interaction is desired, the mobile device unfolds into a larger screen size, the phablet form factor.

In this model, the ‘mobile device’ is the expensive “server”. The other devices are lower cost and purchased and carried when needed. Yet this is still ‘stone age’, it is like carrying around a giant wooden club while hunting for food.

2. Ubiquitous computing. This concept by Mark D. Weiser while at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), the same ones who ushered in the modern GUI phenomenon. Instead of carrying a computing device, one interacts with an “internet of things”. The surfaces and devices we use in our lives are virtual extensions of our network aspect. Our operating system and profile will be securely available wherever we need it. This is a direct rejection of hardware ‘silos’ and how they attempt to monetize that lock in.

This new form of computing will rise as the proprietary mobile platforms start becoming low-cost commodities, and are seen as dumbphones.


  1. Despite a Slowdown, Smartphone Advances Are Still Ahead
  2. What comes next after smartphones?
  3. Smartphone of the future will be in your brain
  4. Ubiquitous computing
  5. Mobile computing
  6. Note 2
  7. Samsung Galaxy Note II, With Android Jelly Bean, Demands Attention
  8. 10 things you needn’t worry about in 2013

Samsung Galaxy Note is not too big.

Samsung Galaxy Note has the optimal screen size, but the bevels may make it too big for some.

Just got the Note. The AT&T model differs from the prior European model, I believe. Previously I had an iPhone, probably could even be the original one. I think my iPhone was using cogs and gears, so slow. If I opened the map and started entering an address, by the time the screen would respond to the first character, I would stumble upon my destination or get there by stopping at every gas station along the way. Well, anyway.

Most reviews of the new Note carry on about the size. Yes, it is larger but not by that much. In fact, like monitors and flat screen TVs, its the trim (bevel) that makes them look larger. The Samsung Note’s screen size is just about right. If Apple came out with a five and a half inch smart phone all the pundits would be drooling and everyone buying; let’s see how cool this would look in the cafe!

If I put the phone in my shirt pocket only about half an inch sticks out at the top, and that part is the trim where the camera and AT&T logo are located. Highly nerdy looking, btw. It is not very pocketable. They could have made the Note even better by minimizing the top and bottom bevels.

So, since it is a cross between a phone and a pad, where and how do you carry the dam thing? Is it squinting into tiny little screens or “hey baby, I’m happy to see you in a square kind of way!”.

As to the phone’s worth? [After using it a few days? Great!]

Of course, the screen is great. A Netflix movie looks awesome. But, what noob would really watch many movies on a phone; what about cinematography, sound, and all that? Better for shorter stuff like Youtube videos. At least, currently, for my tastes.

Meah. I tried it once, it did not keep up with my strokes. Perhaps, there is a setting for it. I will probably use it if I can adjust that. I think the old Palm Pilot’s pen kept up with the strokes, so a dual-core 1.5GHz system should do better. [update: Tried it a few times. I selected the eraser. If you stroke too fast, the eraser circle disappears. Come on, really?]. I read somewhere that this lag is due to the Note’s processor having to do it all; until Android 4.0 the graphics chip is not really used to its fullest. Don’t know if that is true.

Apps and OS:
It works and looks pretty much like a Galaxy SII Skyrocket. I think they changed a few things and the Skyrocket seems a little smoother and less error prone. Like the soft keys, volume rocker, and sleep switch are just too sensitive on the Note. Maybe it will take getting used to the new form factor so that the hands don’t trigger unwanted actions.

Active Apps app
I was testing the Navigator GPS app that has voice prompting and all that. Then I had to leave on an errand to a different location. The app just kept telling me “turn here, turn here you idiot; your going the wrong way!” Very annoying. I couldn’t stop it.

So, I clicked on the app for active apps, the navigator did not show in the list, huh? Its speaking, knows where I should be going, not where I want to go. So I just dragged the top of the home screen down (nice Android feature) to list the app, opened it, got to its menu, and exited it. In the meantime I almost went off the highway. Yea, don’t drink or mobile while driving, especially with a Note that needs two hands, and a Padma Mayurasana to manipulate. Maybe these things should except an overriding voice input: “shut up!”. Not you honey, this thing that is always so happy to see you.

Feb 21, 2012:
Headphone does not mute speaker volume?
Was using the Note at work today. Had the headphones on. People looked at me like I’m a nut. Turns out the Note was ringing all over the place. I thought my tinkering with the ringtones was just in my earphones. What is up with that? I don’t remember if the iPhone automatically muted the speaker when the headphone was connected. In both, of course, the music, like Pandora was still going through the headphone. Someone told me I first have to reduce the volume so that the ringer is off, then plug in the headphone. Seems convoluted. [that did not work. If you mute the ringer, then only the media volume is working.]

When I Receive A Call, The Ringtone Is Not Heard Through The Hands Free Headset. Is There A Setting To Turn It On?

There are no configurable options or settings available to turn on the ability to hear the ringtones through the headset, they are heard through the handset itself, only. This is a matter of safety, as the decibel level for a normal call is much lower than that of a ringtone. Due to the decibel level of a ringtone being much louder than the human voice, the ringtones are not audible through the headset to protect against possible hearing loss.

That sounds like a lame excuse. If the handset can detect that a headphone plug was inserted or removed it can reduce the ringer volume to a subset of the media volume. Or should, but what do I know?
Blanking of the screen:
The “normal” settings for blanking don’t stop the screen from blanking so quickly. Turns out that is a setting in the custom power saving mode. Maybe it is elsewhere and I missed it.

Good reviews on youtube:

Further Reading

  1. On Wikipedia
  2. Samsung Galaxy Note Top Tips Collection
  3. Download Android app, give away your body, mind and soul?
  4. Samsung Galaxy Note page
  5. Samsung Galaxy Note: Unboxing, size comparison to Galaxy S II

  6. The Samsung Galaxy Note Vs Galaxy S II Vs Pockets Showdown / “Pocketability” demo!

Upload files from PC to Samsung Galaxy II Skyrocket

How to transfer files from PC to Samsung Galaxy II Skyrocket

How do you transfer files from PC to the smart phone?

A family member got the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket. Awesome! I’m stuck with the original IPhone 3G. Time to save my pennies for a real phone.

Anyway, there is a web page with the info here ( The manual as usual is useless in this topic.

Not to criticize that web page’s content, but the instructions are not too clear. My family member was stumped on the very first step. When I get time I will try to explain it for the non-tech user.

Basically though:

  1. The Skyrocket comes with a built-in app called KIES.
  2. You run that,
  3. connect your phone to the PC with the USB cable, or just wireless
  4. then on the PC you open a browser to a specific address that the KIES app is listening on. KIES will indicate the URL.
  5. After that, you get this user interface on the PC’s browser with a bunch of stuff so that you can pick what you want to transfer to the smartphone. KIES gives you access to much more, btw.

I guess it is ok. I’m an old school nerd, let me see the file system, and I’ll copy stuff, thank you, never mind with those straight jackets like iTunes, Microsoft Live, etc. Grumble, grumble. [Update: On my Samsung Galaxy Note, I just connected the USB cable and viola, had access to the Notes file system. Maybe this is possible on the Samsung Galaxy II, but it didn’t work for me.]

An alternative is to use the sync capabilities that most mobile devices have. Good luck with that. My problem with Sync on mobile devices is that they are too intrusive and invariably slow everything down.

A tall tale
I once had a USB stick who’s sync wanted to sync everything, and I mean everything; it was pulling my soul right out of my body, I could see the ectoplasm pouring out. Luckily it was to a Windows PC, that ran out of memory and crashed. If not I would not be typing this post.

* Kies Air Overview on a Samsung Galaxy Note™: AT&T How to Video Series
* Import MP3 Files To Samsung Galaxy S2 Via KIES

Give this work a listen. One the greatest works of electric guitar. Also the drummer is Billy Cobham. Keyboardist is Jan Hammer.

Santana & McLaughlin – Love Devotion Surrender – 03 – the life divine