Matt\’s Cuppa

My take on tea, technology, and our environment

Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Emily Chang – eHub: Web 2.0 Meets The Past at Footnote

Posted by telecommatt on July 12, 2007

This is a review I wrote up about Footnote over at eHub. Footnote does some really cool stuff; take some time and check it out. (After you read my review, of course!)

Emily Chang – eHub: Web 2.0 Meets The Past at Footnote
REVIEW: Web 2.0 Meets The Past at Footnote
Written by Matthew Murphy and posted in eHub ReviewsI had no idea what I was getting myself into when I sat down to test drive Utah-based website Footnote. Imagine a mashup of Flickr Diigo a little of for historical documents and you get some idea of the function.

Posted in Betas (as in not-the-fish), eHub, Reviews, Websites | Leave a Comment »

Matt’s Cuppa Reviews MapQuest Find Me

Posted by telecommatt on May 28, 2007

I really try to stay away from reviewing paid services. I actually subscribe to very few paid mobile services myself. Despite this, I recently succumbed to the temptation of my Samsung A920’s GPS functionality. Sprint has a native GPS-based map and directions application, titled “Maps”, that is part of Sprint’s On Demand service; after using this briefly I decided the application was too feature-shy for me to justify spending $3 a month. The nail in the coffin for Sprint’s application was the discovery that MapQuest’s Find Me application/service is only a dollar more a month.


I used the scenario that if Google added GPS support to it’s mobile Google Maps application then I would have my perfect application. I wanted to be able to see myself on a map. I wanted to be able to get directions from point A to point B. I wanted to be able to look up a location by address or business name. Lastly, I didn’t want to spend more than a few dollars a month since this was a convenience rather than a business need for me.

The app is not a Sprint exclusive. It can be downloaded from the MapQuest website, but I chose to download it from the downloads section of the Sprint mobile Vision homepage. Installing the application was painless. Setting up my account on the Find Me website was rather more tedious. You use the website set up to people, places, and things that you will use often. (Not all of this must be done via the website, and you can add places to your Address Book from the mobile application.)

When you start the application, you are given four choices: People, Places, Address Book, and Settings. From the People menu, MapQuest will find various people that you are also using the service and have given you permission to find them. For example, if my wife also used the service, I could ask MapQuest to locate her. This is also where you go to find yourself. As in, “I’m lost! Where the heck am I?” Once you “find” yourself (That sounds oddly esoteric now that I’m rereading this.) you can view your location on a map, get your approximate address, and email or SMS this information to someone.

The Places menu is probably where you’ll spend the most time. This is a menu similar to Google Maps mobile or Microsoft’s Live mobile app. You can search for a location by address or business name, or view businesses near you by category. Once you locate your destination, you can view it on a map, get directions based on where you are currently, add the location to your Address Book, or send the info to someone else. The category search is already proving more useful than I thought it would. You get some pretty admiring looks when your out with friends, trying to decide where to eat, and you can pull up a list of restaurants in the area, get directions from where you are now, and call to make reservations all from the same application!

Your Address Book allows you to bookmark locations for quick access. You can add locations via the mobile application or the Find Me website. I’ve found this to be really useful for storing those places I run errands to often in case we need to stop while on we’re way home from someplace else. The Settings menu allows you to change how often your GPS location is updated, whether or not friends and family can locate you, and edit your screen options.

After testing this application for a month, it’s earned a permanent place on my phone. It meets all of the criteria I set out when I started my search. At $3.95 a month, it fits my budget. Although having GPS-enabled application on my phone was never a necessity, as I’ve learned to comfortably navigate through the application, it’s really grown on me. The killer feature for me has been the ability to get directions based on where ever I happen to be without having to figure out where I am first. I’m still amazed at how much of a time-saver this is! Expect to devote a bit of time to learning the app, the service, and the website, and expect the J2ME application to take some time to load. So far, I have yet to run into any bugs or crashes. The data transaction is quick, and since it links to MapQuest’s database, the results are as accurate as anything out there. I really like the ability to send location information via email or SMS. This certainly beats having to explain to someone where I am when I’m not sure where I am in the first place! This is an application that I would recommend with little hesitation, and I can see even more value for groups and families. I should mention that, like all Sprint’s data services, I can only use this application when I’m within Sprint’s coverage area. This means that if I get lost when I’m roaming (or camping, skiing, climbing Mount Everest, etc.) I’m still out of luck. However, since the service obligation is month to month, this is an application definitely worth a trying.

Posted in Mobile, Reviews, Software, web-based services | 5 Comments »

Matt’s Cuppa Reviews Mobilcast by Melodeo

Posted by telecommatt on May 18, 2007

For about a month now, I’ve been playing with a mobile application by Melodeo called Mobilcast. Mobilcast streams podcasts to your mobile phone. These streams come to you as streaming data, allowing you to save your minutes, and your battery power, for things like calling people. (I use my phone for so many other things that I sometimes forget that it was actually designed for making phone calls.) My opinion so far is that this is a sweet little app! You’ll have to check the website to see if you’re phone is supported. My Samsung A920 seems to get along with it just fine. I’ve gotten used to installed apps loading and immediately crashing on this phone, but so far I’ve had no problems.

Mobilcast Logo

After registering on the website and setting up the application on my phone, it took about fifteen minutes to set up a list of “Favorites.” Using the “Search” feature gave me better results than scrolling through the limited list of pre-selected podcasts. I was very happy with the selection of available podcasts. I was able to find all of my usual shows with the exception of one.(Treehugger Radio, which is pretty hit-and-miss no matter what service you use.) There is a website component, which I have not spent much time with, that allows you to link you’re mobile “Favorites” to your account on the web.

The playback is surprisingly high quality. It won’t make you hang up your iPod, but for streaming data over a cellular network… wow! I expected the tinny sound of overly compressed audio accompanied by plenty of blips and stutters, symptoms of dropped packets. You’ll hear a stutter now and then, but for the most part it’s mp3 quality sound. The playback controls are intuitive, but if you forget how to pause your show, there is button map on screen. I really like that my phone’s volume control works within the application, and that playback continues even if I close the flip. This is great because I can pocket my phone and go. If you’re used to your iPod, it’s a bit inconvenient that you can’t rewind or fast forward [Edit: This appears to be a limitation of my phone, rather than of the application or service. See Rob’s comment below.], although you can skip to the next episode or pause your current episode. If you stop in the middle of an episode, even after quitting the app, starting the episode again will bring you to the point you that left off at.

Over the past few weeks, this application has made it onto my short list of essential mobile applications. I’ve come to love simple applications that focus on doing a few things very well. Mobilcast does just that. With it’s intuitive controls, large selection of available podcasts, and surprisingly good audio quality, I’m totally sold on Melodeo’s Mobilcast. Assuming your phone is supported, this is just an all-around good app to add to your mobile aresenal.

Posted in Mobile, Reviews | 3 Comments »