Archive for the ‘Product Reviews’ Category.

Pre-Download Gmail Images

Here is a suggestion I just sent the Android Gmail team:

If an email sender has been previously approved to display images, the images should be loaded when the email is downloaded to my phone.

Right now the images are loaded when the email is viewed for the first time. This means I have to wait for the images to download and depending on my internet connection that could be a while. If I’m checking my email where there is no service (on subways, elevators, about 1/2 of Berkeley CA) the experience totally sucks.

If images are pre-downloaded, it will break “web bug” functionality built into email images. But web bugs have never been a web standard, just a clever, if unreliable hack at gaining metrics. If you’re totally excited about it, you could build a new web standard for when web bugs get viewed. Also, nowadays, if a user cares enough to have emails go to their inbox (and not unsubscribing, or marking it as spam), they are probably interested in reading the email, so web bugs aren’t that important any more.

Thanks for your consideration!

Groupme Emoji

Groupme is a group-texting app for smartphones and dumbphones. I use it all the time to chat with Megan because it’s faster and more reliable than texting with my Virgin Mobile phone (ugh, I know).

I just sent a message to Groupme support with my biggest gripe:

Since the promise of Groupme is (from the homepage) “the best way to chat with everyone you know”… “works on every device”… It would be great if the emoji were similar on the 3 main platforms me and my friends use it on: iphone, android, website. It is frustrating when the emoji I send isn’t the emoji they receive.

Keep rockin

A Phone That Lasts All Day

I haven’t seen a smartphone (android or iphone) that has a long enough battery life yet. This is asinine. My successful workaround is to buy a backpack battery from

I am using an Android HTC EVO 4G 3D phone on Virgin Mobile ($35/month) with the Seidio backpack battery. With the stock (1700mah) battery, my battery sometimes runs out as early as 9pm under “normal” usage. With the (albeit somewhat bulky) backpack battery (4000mah), I can geek ALL day and not run out of power, I can get 2 full days of light-use.

I dunno about rootability yet. The internets says “yes” but I haven’t tried it.

The 3D camera and 3D Lenticular screen on the phone is a pretty cool toy too.

Previously I had a Samsung Galaxy S Android phone on AT&T. I got a Seidio backpack battery for that one too and was quite happy with the battery.

The Hardest To Manage Bills on Are From Chase

Sent to Chase online today (yeah, it’s a small matter, but it bugs me every time I pay a bill)


I know you’ve worked hard to make the new Chase site look and feel good. It’s pretty good but the new Payment Activity page is lacking.

When I go to this page, I am doing accounting and want to see all of my recent bill paying activity. Unfortunately, I only get to see some of it. For some reason, you have separated it into two thumbnails, “My Bill Pay Payees” and “My Chase Credit Cards”. As it stands, I see everything except my Chase accounts, which is rather frustrating. I can click on the “My Chase Credit Cards” page to see the rest of my information, but why should I have to? the types of information on the two pages is the same; please make the two pages into one.

The upshot is that on the Chase Bill Payment website, the hardest to manage bills are from Chase. I’m sure you didn’t intend that. Please work on it.

Can’t Search on Chase Bank Pages

I wrote this to Chase Bank today

Your new version of the Chase site has made it impossible for me to search the page with my browser (for example: ctrl-f). It is important for me to be able to search the page because it is so full of tables that are very easy to search but hard to scan with my eye.

When I try to do a search with my browser on “Pending and Past Payment Activity”, I can’t find text that spans a line. For example, The payee is likely to read something like this because of the tight columns:

Blue Cros
s acct 1234

If I search for “Blue Cross” the search comes up empty. I can tell you why this is the case. Looking at the HTML, it reads:

Blue Cros <br/>s acct 1234

That br tag is messing things up! If not for it, my browser would be able to search across the lines and find the text. Please use CSS instead of hard tags.

Really Good Bike Light

I was riding down a foggy, dark Berkeley hill over the summer thinking, “I can’t see the road! I’m going to get killed!” So I got a bright bike light. I only ended up paying $50 on Amazon and I’m quite happy with it.

  • It is literally as bright as a car headlight! I’ve pulled up at stop lights and the light it cast is comparable to the low beams of the cars next to me. I can see the road!
  • It took a full month to arrive from Hong Kong. But it looks like they are shipping from the US now.
  • You definitely want to get the wide angle lens, otherwise one spot is lit brilliantly and you can’t much see the rest of the road.
  • The battery lasts something like 1.5 to 3 hours.
  • The ONLY problem I have is that it runs full strength until it runs out… which means it could die unexpectedly on the road. So I carry my old 1 watt light when I’m travelling a long distance at night.
  • I tried to take photos of the light at night but they didn’t come out well. I’ll just say that the hard-to-believe-bright images on Amazon and elsewhere are real
  • It isn’t perfectly balanced on my handlebar so when I hit a bump, it jiggles. But it’s pretty good… and just $50! Wait… they lowered the price, looks like it’s $30 + $10 for the lens… ¬†total $40!
  • $40, wow! REI sells similarly bright headlamps for around $200. I hope this one isn’t going to give me cancer or something

Here are the products:
4 Mode 1200 Lumen CREE XML T6 Bulb LED Bicycle bike HeadLight Lamp Flashlight Light Headlamp (Amazon link)

Wide Angle Lens for MagicShine, Gemini, and many other Bike Lights / Headlight (Amazon link)