The University of St. Thomas
A support blog for UST Android mobile device users

iOS vs. Android vs. Blackberry, State by State

Published on: Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Remember those blue vs. red state political maps? ’bout time they were used for something useful, like measuring smart phone preferences.

Check out Mashable’s article and graphic on who dominates geographically.

android_map

Android for Academics

Published on: Thursday, July 7th, 2011

See the blog post “Android for Academics” in the current Chronicle of Higher Education ProfHacker blog.  Some useful info, links to a blog with apps for sale, tips & tricks, etc.

SD card troubleshooting

Published on: Friday, June 10th, 2011

Post contributed by Amy Schwartz of IRT:

I have an EVO Shift that I got back in February, opting myself out of the UST program.  It’s Android, so I thought I would send this in case a Thunderbolt user runs into this in the next couple of months.  My SD card kept “unmounting” itself and going into read only mode.  This was extremely annoying because I couldn’t take or access pictures or download anything.  I poked around the Sprint site and found a suggestion to check for updates.  I did this by going to Settings > System Updates and just checking for all the different kinds of updates listed. Something it updated seems to have worked…so far.  Just an idea.  Removing the battery and properly removing the card and putting it back in (done repeatedly over days) absolutely did not help.

UST Mobile Site debuts

Published on: Thursday, May 19th, 2011

ustmobileDid you know that UST recently rolled out a mobile web site? If you go to the university home page (http://www.stthomas.edu) on your mobile device, it will detect that you’re on your phone and automatically redirect you to the mobile site at m.stthomas.edu.

There are some nice features here:

  • news from the Bulletin, Athletics, and TommieMedia
  • directory search
  • the shuttle bus schedule
  • the bookstore
  • and the Libraries mobile site (see a future review for more on this).

The “Sync” button will be handy for folks looking to connect their phones to their UST email & calendar: it takes you to the instructions for connecting your iPhone, Android, or other device via Exchange Active Sync.

Kudos to Web & Media Services for getting this done!

Android Security Vulnerability

Published on: Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Android users should probably be aware of this security vulnerability when browsing on an unencrypted public wifi connection (discussed here on Lifehacker and other places).

Apparently on versions Android 2.3.3 and earlier (the IRT Verizon contract phones included), there’s a login process that’s vulnerable to programs that could grab your Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other credentials.  It’s not supposed to be a problem on secured networks (like UST’s) or your phone’s 3G or 4G connections.  So you may want to avoid using (or auto-connecting to) public wifi connections at your local coffee shop.

Hopefully Verizon will soon make available an upgrade to Android 2.3.4, which corrects the problem.  Thanks to John Kinsella and our old buddy Jonny Quatro for providing this info.

UST Extension Dialing as Easy as BB

Published on: Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Missing the convenience of having the phone add the 65196 prefix to a UST 5 digit extension? Whether you sync with the Exchange Server contacts or upload/create your own now there is no need to modify the data to dial a UST 5 digit extension. This app will add the prefix even if you tap it in by hand.

Prefixer! Remember the suggestion to install a barcode scanner? (See the previous post.) This is the first place it will make your life a little easier. If you have, the steps are simple: scan the first QR code to bolt to the Prefixer install page. After the app is installed, scan the second QR code to add the UST prefix settings to Prefixer. (If using the QR Droid scanning software, select ‘Open’ after scanner decodes then, if prompted, select ‘Prefixer’ from the list of apps.)

Use the barcode scanning software to scan the pictures below, in order, for easy install (manual instructions are further down in the post.)

Prefixer Install Page Link

Prefixer Install Page Link

UST 5 Digit Extention Settings

UST 5 Digit Extention Settings

Now set your preferences.

Read the rest of this entry »

QR Code & Barcode Scanners

Published on: Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

QR Droid LogoYou’ll start seeing them once you use them. The caveat? You need to install a ‘scanner.’ Search the Android Market for ‘barcode scanner’ but I don’t recommend the top return, ‘Barcode Scanner.’ After testing a couple, QR Droid had the options that worked for me; scanning, searching, creating to share info, etc.

Using the app is pretty straight forward. Start it, aim the ‘virtual viewfinder’ at the code and wait for it to be recognized. You are then presented with a list of available options; Open, Email, SMS, etc. Open it for your use or choose one of the send options if you want to share.

If you want to comparison shop while browsing at your favorite store just scan the barcode, choose open and use the browser for an internet search. Unless you are the gotta have it now – online stores can be less expensive. But, not always. I recently found a local retailer who even adding in the MN tax was less then the lowest cost product plus shipping online. Go figure… save money. The internet… it’s a lot like my Dad used to say about flying. If you’ve got the time, fly (that hasn’t changed). Adpated; If you’ve got the time, surf.

You can expect future articles to be populated with QR codes so you can use your scanner of choice to bolt you to a site or load info on your droid without cumbersome thumbing.

Welcome to the UST Android blog

Published on: Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

The blog has been created and is up and running with the first couple of posts. Rick Hendrickson (hend0569@stthomas.edu) and I (jpheintz@stthomas.edu) are the administrators of the blog, so feel free to contact us.

We’d really like to make this interactive, so if you have an app review or tip for Android users, please email it to one of us and we’ll get it posted (members of the UST community only, please).  You’ll get full credit for the content!

The blog is available at: http://blogs.stthomas.edu/android.  It is optimized for mobile, so you’ll see the mobile version if you go there on your device, and the normal version on a desktop or laptop.  If you want to subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed in a reader or in Outlook, the feed address is: http://blogs.stthomas.edu/android/feed.

Battery Life Tips

Published on: Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

If you’ve had your HTC Thunderbolt for more than a few minutes, you know what a battery hog it is. In order to preserve battery life, here are a few tips I’ve gleaned from various places:
  • shut down running apps when not in use: chief among these would be Bluetooth, Wi-fi, and GPS services.  You can do this manually in various settings screens, but it’s easiest to do so with a widget.  To add the stock Android power control widget, find a screen with room for one icon-row’s worth of space, hit the personalize button (or long-press on an open space), hit add Widget, then scroll to Power Control and select it.  This widget gives you options to toggle off or on these functions when not in use.  When you need GPS back on to use Google Maps for example, you can toggle it on or just open the app, which will prompt you to turn it back on.

    I observed a significant increase in battery life by toggling these functions off.

  • try another battery widget from the Android Market.  See my review of the Battery Widget
  • try a task killer application from the Market: these will kill running apps that you don’t need in the background.  I think the jury’s out on whether these are worth it–I didn’t notice much improvement, and I see a lot of ambivalence about these in the forums.
  • See what applications are using the bulk of your battery power and uninstall if not used or close when not used.  Go to Menu>Settings>About Phone>Battery.  In this battery settings area you’ll see various status indicators, and by clicking on the Battery Use link you’ll see a list of what’s been eating your battery power since the last charge.  Most often it’s the Display, so set your screen brightness as dim as you can stand it. 
  • See also John Kinsella’s post on the Ipad blog: http://blogs.stthomas.edu/ipad/2011/02/07/how-to-maximize-battery-life/.  Though it’s addressing Ipads, most of the advice is relevant for any mobile device.

Battery Widget for Android

Published on: Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

My HTC Thunderbolt is a real battery hog, so one of the first things I looked for in the Android Market is some kind of battery widget.  The one I saw reviewed several places and tried is called Battery Widget

Note that this is a widget, not a full-blown app.  So find it in the Android Market, download it, and then to install it on a home screen go to:  Menu -> Add -> Widgets -> Battery Widget.

This widget includes several nice features:

  • on the home screen it displays a graphical icon of battery charge status with a percentage indicator
  • once you tap the widget, it displays:
    • a button link to the battery settings that shows what has been using your battery most since last charge
    • a button link to the display settings so you can make adjustments
    • buttons to toggle on and off the GPS, WiFi, and Bluetooth functions to save battery power

A couple of sample screen shots below:

Battery WidgetBattery Widget Controls