The past few weeks have been big news weeks from the Boston bombing to the West, Texas explosion to the usual viral YouTube videos. Most of the coverage has been captured by smartphone cameras and the recent viral hits have highlighted one of my biggest pet peeves – ridiculous vertical videos! Case in point is the West Texas explosion recording that’s been rebroadcast thousands of times. Rarely has such a massive explosion and accident been caught on camera so close but Johnny-on-the-spot just had to film it vertically, grr! I’d love to take off on a rant right about now but I won’t because I’m sure I’ll digress into a putrid name calling tirade, instead I’ll try and politely give some simple advice that though I think should go without saying, it’s evident that it must be said. I can list many examples of why technology is wholly geared to view images, motion or still, in landscape mode but instead I’ll only list the couple of examples where portrait mode is acceptable. The first is the printing of still images and the second is Instagram. Instagram clips images so they will display most effectively in portrait mode on a mobile device. A recent example is Vine a new app released by Twitter that only formats short videos for portrait mode viewing. That’s it folks. Let me ask you, have you ever seen a camcorder turned sideways to film a video? Short of trying to capture some funky special effects angle it’s doubtful you have. The camera lens in a smartphone is only a smaller version of the those used in camcorders and work on the exact same principle. Check out this great parody illustrating this lens limitation. One more thing, forgot to turn your phone once you began recording that video? Please don’t turn your device horizontally midstream and expect the images to flip automatically like they do when engaged within an app. It won’t. You have to stop the video, flip your device horizontally, then began anew else you’ll be filming your own version of the movie Sideways and the title will be more than just an analogy for life.
I’m going to assume that you’ve already made you mind up on taking the Android plunge or already have and want to upgrade or add a device (smartphone/tablet). With this in mind my advice will be succinctly simple; buy a flagship device. Every device manufacturer will have one that easily rises above all others in prestige, options, marketing, and of course price. Can’t afford one? Save until you can. Why? Again very simple, because of support. Many device manufacturers customize the basic Android software for their phones or tablets. Why is debatable, what’s important is these are usually device specific customizations so if you want to stay current on software and updates your best bet is to simply stick with a flagship phone because theoretically they will be treated with top priority regarding support and software updates. Not sure which manufacturer to go with and whose customization is the best then please visit CNET.com to access indepth reviews for best cell phones and best tablets. One last piece of advice go hands on with one at a store and play with the interface and see what suits you best. It might be worth noting my personal opinion is that the one who pays most attention to the quality of hardware cares the most about your experience. With that in mind my personal favs right now are the HTC One smartphone with it’s svelte aluminum body and the Nexus 7 tablet for it’s pure Android experience and its killer price to feature ratio.
Updated 5/8/13: It’s pretty much become a two horse race on the Android smartphone front between Samsung and HTC (that is until Motorola shows itself again since being purchased by Google). Check out this great article pitting both manufacturer’s flagship phones head to head-HTC ONE vs Samsung Galaxy S4.
If there’s one piece of practical advice I plan to offer up above all else it’s this simple statement, “Just hit restart.” It’s a piece of advice that I almost never abide by but never fails to come full circle on me when ignored. By nature I’m just inquisitive so any time I run into a bug or system error or whatever I will put on my detective hat and dive in until I’ve found the root cause and corrected it. Problem is, and if you’re like me, I’m honestly only mildly successful. Truthfully only about 50% of the time. So why take advice from me then? Don’t, just take it from nearly every IT guy I’ve ever bugged on far too many occasions. Just restart your computer or other device. For years I would get so irritated when they asked me “Did you try restarting?” Honestly what does that solve?! How does that help me the next time this happens? One day I had an epiphany, I spent 2 hours trying to get my desktop to talk to a router (Routers…Grrr!) and finally gave up and shut the computer down. A couple minutes later I thought of something I had not tried so I restarted it and wouldn’t you know, network problem magically resolved! To this day I don’t know what the problem was, no matter because I still have network access. Time is precious, do yourself and your IT people or that buddy you call for a favor and just restart your system…first. I promise there’s a better than 50/50 chance of success. Note this advice extends to many of today’s mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. In case of such a device I recommend you perform a hard restart (sometimes called hard reset), look up in your manual or online for advice on how to do that. Just be careful not to perform a factory reset in the process; you’ll lose all data and settings if you do.
-Bonus Tip– If you perform a shutdown instead of a restart wait about 15-20 seconds before restarting if you have a spinning hard drive (most common type). These types of hard drives take a few seconds to stop spinning and it’s much healthier for them if you allow them to spin down before restarting.“Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do & die, ” – Alfred Lord Tennyson