As an entrepreneur from West Michigan, I share my thoughts about entrepreneurship, startups, technology, and marketing.

Category Archives: Gadgets

Jan 24, 2011  |   Gadgets  |   No Comments

Top 15 Best Free Android Apps I Use Frequently

There are so many great free Android apps out there, but here are some of my personal favorites. I decided not include games for this post. For your convenience, I have included QR codes for quick downloading to your phone for most of the apps. Just get a QR code reader (such as Google Goggles, Barcode Scanner, ShopSavvy, etc.) and point it at the QR code.

#15 – Secrets

I know I have way too many username and password variations to remember for the countless web-based services, online bank accounts, etc., that I use. Hmmm… this password needs 5-7 characters, one uppercase, one special character… ugh. This Google-authored app has a master password that unlocks your list of usernames, passwords, and other custom data. All your secrets are encrypted and can be backed up to the memory card and restored if you wipe your phone or get a new one.

#14 – GTasks

I have tried a number of task management apps for my phone and web-based apps on my desktop. However, I’ve found that I am most likely to use a task system that is just naturally part of my normal routine. Since I already spend a lot of my time in GMail, the Google tasks widget has been my task system of choice. And the GTasks app for Android syncs pretty seamlessly with Google Tasks. It has task categories for separating work, personal, next things, someday tasks, etc. While it may not be as fully featured as apps like Astrid, Remember the Milk, or Things for Mac/iPhone, it works fine for me.

#13 – ConnectBot

For anyone who administers Linux servers for their websites, databases, etc., this app is a must. You’re out to dinner and get a call that the web server just ran out of storage space? No need to rush to the office, just pull out your phone and fix the problem before the food arrives. And yes, something like this has happened to me before 😉

#12 – BeyondPod

My favorite app I’ve found for subscribing to, downloading, and streaming podcasts. This app has been a lifesaver during some long car rides when I had forgotten to sync my iPod beforehand. Listening to the latest episode of This Week in Startups is a great way to make the ride fly by!

#11 – FlightView Free

Keep track of your flight numbers and times and even get notified of delays and terminal changes while you’re at the airport.

#10 – Amazon Kindle

I love reading on my Kindle. My Android phone is certainly no replacement, but it is convenient to pull my phone out of my pocket (the Kindle doesn’t fit very well in my khakis) while I’m waiting in line somewhere and pick up right where I left off on my Kindle at home.

#9 – Pandora

Free streaming music that is catered to your likes. I love this app!

#8 – WordPress

Great for checking up on my blog and moderating comments while I’m away from the computer.

#7 – Yelp

Yelp is great for finding a place to eat when I am exploring a new town. It uses the phone’s GPS receiver to locate places nearby and provides ratings and reviews for each suggestion.

#6 – Twitter

What a great way to kill time reading tweets while you’re away from the computer.

#5 – Facebook

Contact synchronization and messaging capabilities are what I tend to use the Android app version of Facebook for the most. It is also great for looking at photo albums.

#4 – Google Shopper

Compare prices in the store with prices online by scanning the barcode or just taking a picture of the object. It did feel a little weird to scan the barcode of an Epson ink cartridge inside the store at Best Buy and complete my purchase at while I walked down the store’s blu-ray aisle, but I saved over $20!

#3 –

Mint does an outstanding job of pulling in all your various bank accounts, loans, investment accounts, and credit cards, and giving you a summary view of where your money is going. It breaks things down by expense type, details out your total assets, liabilities, and net worth, and even alerts you of things like ATM fees you may not have been expecting. The Android app is very well built, just like the website.

#2 – Chase

If you haven’t already seen the commercials on TV and Pandora, this will blow you away (at least it did me). You can deposit your checks from your phone. Really, right from your phone, no need to go the ATM at all. Just snap a photo of the front and back of the check with your built-in camera, verify some account and routing numbers, and you’re done. Plus do things like check balances, sign up for alerts, etc. This app is a major time saver!

#1 – Evernote

Evernote’s tagline is “remember everything.” What I love about Evernote is that it is available for pretty much every platform imaginable — Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, web-based, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile. If used extensively, it can become your external memory by allowing you to take pictures with your camera phone, record voice memos, write text memos, take photos with you MacBook’s webcam, clip web pages, etc. It works seamlessly across devices, everything is stored in the cloud, and everything is automatically OCR’d and geo-tagged (if you want) so it can easily be retrieved later. One of my resolutions for this year is to integrate Evernote into more of my life.

This list only scratches the surface of useful apps for Android. Please comment on this story with other Android apps you can’t live without.

Mar 3, 2009  |   Gadgets  |   21 Comments

EVDO working on Blackberry Storm on Alltel

For more information about activating a Blackberry Storm on Alltel, read this post detailing how to activate the Storm step by step. This guide for fixing EVDO is adapted from Labphoto’s comments on my original post.

1. Locate and install a copy of QPST 2.7 Build 301.

2. Open Blackberry Desktop Manager 4.7

3. Open QPST. You will need to add the COM4 and COM5 ports. Once this is done, you should see a connection on either COM4 or COM5 with your storm.

4. In QPST, start the client service programming.

5. Click the button to read the phone’s contents.

6. Click on the “PPP Config” tab.

7. Open the “AN” tab.

8. Locate the password field and fill it in with the ESN number of your phone. You can get this from the main QPST screen. Make sure to capitalize all characters.

9. Click the button to write to the phone. The phone will reboot and once the signal comes online, you should have full 1XEV signal.

One last thing, if you are not comfortable doing these changes with QPST, THEN DO NOT DO THEM. You can screw up the phone.

Dec 13, 2008  |   Gadgets  |   178 Comments

Blackberry Storm Working on Alltel

Well, I ordered a Blackberry Storm on eBay on Friday in hopes of being able to activate the phone on the Alltel network (the Storm has only been released on Verizon in the United States). This might seem unnecessary with the Verizon/Alltel purchase deal looming, but I prefer my Alltel plan to the Verizon plans available, especially with the My Circle feature.

Now let’s just hope Verizon hasn’t locked down the programming menu of the phone too badly and I will be able to program in the Alltel network id and update the phone’s PRL to pick up Alltel’s towers. I will update this post with my progress in the coming days.

UPDATE (12/29/08):

My BlackBerry Storm is officially working on Alltel except for issues with EVDO (1x works fine). I will do my best to detail the steps I took to make the phone work:

  1. Enter the NAM programming menu by typing ##000000 SEND from the phone screen.
    • Mobile Directory Number (MDN) should be your 10-digit number
    • Home SID (check your current Alltel phone programming menu for this number)
    • BlackBerry Registration Id should be 144 for Alltel. To change this setting, press the BlackBerry menu button and choose “Edit BB Reg Id”
    • SIP User ID should be <your mobile number>
    • SIP Password should be “alltel”
    • MIP User ID should be <your mobile number>
    • Push the BlackBerry menu button and choose “Save”
  2. Now that your phone is programmed, you need to have the MEID hex added to Alltel’s system. You cannot use the web-based tool since this is a smart phone. Call Alltel from a different phone and have them add your phone to the system. You can check your MEID hex by typing #4357* SEND.
  3. You will also need a SmartChoice plan with the BlackBerry option added to your account.
  4. Dial *22801 to enter the Alltel OTA programming system and choose the option to activate your phone.
  5. After the phone is activated, dial *22801 again and choose the option to update your phone’s roaming service. This will update the PRL on the phone to Alltel’s latest version, overwriting the Verizon PRL.
  6. To provision the data services on the phone, go to options…advanced options…host routing table, press the BlackBerry menu key, and choose “Register Now”. This should replace your Verizon HRT entries with Alltel entries and you will receive a message from BlackBerry stating that the handheld has been registered with the wireless network.

UPDATE (3/3/09) – Issues with EVDO have been solved by some members of the Crackberry forum. Read this step by step guide on fixing EVDO.