Make Your Own QR Code and Mobile Website

Last week was a busy week for me.  Monday I attended a great class, “Information Anywhere: Mobile Technology, Libraries and Health,” taught by Technology Coordinator of the Greater Midwest Region, Max Anderson.  It was very interesting, we learned about various apps and devices used in the medical and health science workplace.  We also got a chance to create our own mobile friendly website using Google Site.  Google Site might be the perfect resource to create a quick and simple mobile website, but it would work in a pinch for most places that don’t have a lot of tech people who can easily create a whole new mobile website for the library.  The big thing to consider when beginning to create a mobile website is to remember that the mobile site is not a mini version of the full website.  It is a unique site that is used differently because of the size of smartphone screens AND the way/why we use our smartphone to access a resources. 

Another interesting part of the class was the discussion of QR codes.  I have been seeing these square codes everywhere, from grave markers, party busses, hotels, in the back of a book, and out on the street.  While have seen them  in a lot of places, and I have been thinking of the various ways they could be used in a meaningful way in libraries.  During the class we learned how we could not only create a QR code but also brand the code by adding our logo. Max slides showed a blue one with NLM in the middle, I couldn’t find that online but here here are some other examples of QR codes with logos. We also did some brain storming on how QR codes could be used in the library.  One example that really resonated with me was posting the QR code on the book shelves letting people to scan the code to learn about online textbooks that aren’t on the shelves.  Our library just discussed this problem last week in a staff meeting.  As we buy more and more online texts and even online reference texts how to we guide people to the updated books that aren’t on the shelf.  There are an awful lot of people who still do a lot of shelf browsing and don’t use the catalog to find books.  Perhapswe could add the QR code in an obvious area  on the shelves and have link to that stack’s subject area to online text books.  It is a thought.  I’m not sure how it effective it will be but if you could figure out how to measure usage of those codes that could be one way to measure if people are clicking on them. 

Is your library using QR codes, if so how?  Perhaps you aren’t using QR codes but you have an idea on how they can be used, leave a comment so we all can learn.

Apple’s Medical Apps Section #Fail?

According to iMedicalApps, “Apple tries to help doctors categorize medical apps, but falls short.”  I mentioned last month that Apple created a medical/health section to help healthcare professionals get to good apps and not have to sift through the junk in the general health and medical section in iTunes. 

At that time I was concerned about who would be adding and vetting the apps.  It seems this concern was justified.  Although it appears the section isn’t just an open free for all for any app developer, there is some frustration with what is and isn’t listed in the categories.   

In his post, Iltifat Husain, expresses his concerns not only about the type of apps in the new section but the type sub-categories as well.  “The imedicalapps team was expecting apps to be separated by specialities — or at least by broad medical professionals, such as “nursing”, “EMS”, and “physician centered” — but this was not the case.  Apart from the issue with sub-categories, Apple missed the mark with not only the apps that were included, but also the extremely useful apps they excluded.”

Iltifat does a really great job evaluating the new medical apps section and he goes into a lot of depth regarding the sub-categories in the section and what apps are listed there and what are not. 

I only disagree slightly with his complaints, specifically about sub-categories.  Iltifat would rather see apps in organized into profession sub-categories rather than function sub-categories.  Apple chose to have 6 sub-categories; Reference, Education, EMR & Patient Monitoring, Imaging, Point of Care and Personal Care.  I understand Iltifat’s argument that nurses would rather just go to the nursing sub-category to download all of their needed apps rather than bounce around to different categories to download apps here and there.  However, given that an app on EMR and Patient Monitoring could be in multiple profession categories (doctor, nurse, etc.) I can see why the creators chose to go with function of the app as a category rather than who it is directed towards.  Tomato…tomahto.  Welcome to the world of librarians where we try to categorize everything to make it easy for everybody to find.  As hard as we work at, and as much as we think we did a good job of categorizing, somebody doesn’t think that method of organizing makes sense.

Apple’s method of organziation makes even more sense to me as I read Iltifat’s very good argument that many of the apps listed in the categories are either not really professional apps (WebMD in Reference), are too old to be listed as a good app (USMLERx Step 1 in Education), or missing crucial apps (Osirix and ResolutionMD in Imaging).  The people who organized these apps were not medical professionals and weren’t medical librarians familiar with the medical app world.  The fact that they made several errors not only in the inclusion and exclusion of apps but also what is considered professional and consumer tells me that they wouldn’t know what apps would be appropriate for nurses, doctors, EMS, etc.  Basically they did the best they could. 

There are pros and cons to having the apps organzied by either profession or function sub-categories.  As a result the medical librarian in me would say have both sub-categories with the apps listed in multiple places.  However, that would require them to have a professional (dare I say it?) indexing the apps, placing them in the correct categories and also selecting (and deselecting) appropriate apps as they are developed.  The Apps for Healthcare Professionals section needs a medical librarian, but clearly they don’t have one.

It would seem that the Apps for Healthcare Professionals is a basic place to start if you are medical professional  and you have time to sift through the general medical/health category to find those quality apps that for some reason didn’t get into the professional apps section.  Medical professionals are probably still best served by either looking at what their library suggests/offers or using the web to find suggestions from other medical libraries or sites like iMedicalApps.   

There are many medical librarians out there already selecting apps for that would be of interest to their users or are available through institutional subscriptions.  An added bonus is that many of the medical libraries list more than just iPhone apps (which iTunes of course does not) so it is a one stop shop for many professionals with different devices. 

Some of the libraries that already have lists are:
(Please note if app requires institutional subscription)

So if you are like Iltifat and frustrated Apple’s attempt at organizing medical apps, a medical librarian looking for a good list of apps to start your own list, or somebody that doesn’t have the almighty iPhone, you might want to look at a medical library.

Apple Makes Finding Medical Apps for Professional A Little Easier

According mobihealthnews, Apple quietly launched a new section on the AppStore directed just towards healthcare professionals.  The section which was referred to as an “iTunes Room for Healthcare,” has apps for both the iPhone and iPad intended specifically for healthcare professionals. (There appears to be about a dozen apps that are also for consumer use.) 

Not only will this section be dedicated to apps for healthcare professionals but it will also internal categorization as well.  There are six categories for the medical apps: reference, educational, EMR and patient monitoring, imaging, point of care, and personal care (for consumers).  Mobihealthnews thinks that the “personal care” apps may have been included “as a means to help care providers recommend popular health apps to their patients.” 

Finally!!!!!  That medical/health section had a lot of junk apps that people had to sift through to find good stuff, it is nice to see this professional section come about. My only question is how/who is adding and vetting the apps?  I hope it isn’t a free for all where app developers can just add their app if they feel like (meaning we could return to problem of chaff out numbering the wheat) but I would like it to be open enough that something that was good but accidentally left out or something newly created could be easily added.

Friday Diary: Moving from iPhone to Android. Final Post

To read the first three parts of my switch from an iPhone to an Android click on Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Also check out Alisha’s helpful comment about the Android.

It has been about 4 weeks since I made the switch from an iPhone to Android.  There have been some growing pains but all in all things are alright. 

First off I am going to say I still prefer my iPhone.  It has only been a month and while I have grown to like my Android, it just isn’t my iPhone.  This could be because the iPhone was the first smartphone I ever used and it is what I learned on.  For example, I learned to use Medline on PubMed, but Ovid Medline will always be my DOC (database of choice) because that is what I first learned when I was in library school and what I used years ago when I was an Electronic Resources Graduate Assistant at the University of Missouri Columbia.  

I ran into an interesting blog post yesterday stating basically that you are what you use.  According to Ars Technica, researchers at the University of Illinois believe “people treat brands as they treat themselves, leading users to feel more affected by brand failure instead of less.” Attacks upon people’s favorite brands can be perceived as attacks against their self image.  Because the brand is perceived as a part of ourselves we are more likely to minimize its failures and maxmize the failures of its competitors.  Right now it is the iPhone vs. Android vs. Blackberry debate, but it could easily be Coke vs. Pepsi.  It is hard for me to think that I feel a certain brand is a part of me, I kind of would like to think I am above all that.  But hey if I was able to always have my way I’d be an iPhone talking, Coke drinking, Ovid searching librarian.  But this is life, and things happen.  If Pepsi is in the vending machine and I need caffiene, I’ll drink it.  As much as I used my iPhone and currently use my Android, I can now say that this whole phone thing is like the soda wars to me.  I prefer Coke but the two are so similar in taste that if I want a soda, I will take either one.  I prefer the iPhone but an Android gives me such a similar experience, it isn’t worth the extra $1200/year to be on AT&T with my iPhone.

Now things in the telecommunication world change rapidly.  Who knows maybe a year from now Sprint will sell VirginMobile or VirginMobile’s rates will go up.  If things change and the cost of having an iPhone (on AT&T or Verizon) is cheaper or closer to the same price as my Android then I will go back to an iPhone. 

The biggest problems I have had with my Android have been with the contacts list.  It is horrible.  Hopefully the kinks will get figured out.  The biggest problem I had with my iPhone was the lack of Flash.  Sorry, I know there are people out there who said they don’t miss having Flash.  I missed it.  Both phones have their faults. 

Android doesn’t have as many apps as the iPhone but as I mentioned in an earlier post, most of my favorite apps are available in the Android Market anyway.  If you have specific apps that you rely upon on your iPhone but you are considering moving to an Android, go the Android Market and look to see if it is there.  See if one of your friends has an Android and will install the app for you to play with (assuming the app is free).  However, the Android Market is growing and more more iPhone app developers are also developing for the Android.  According to a survey of 47 developers at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, 47% said they develop their apps for both iOS and Android.  “While that’s admittedly a very small sample,” appolicious advisor says, “it still seems to indicate that quite a few developers are expanding beyond the walls of the iTunes App Store to check the waters in Android’s pool.”  Additionally with the new open source project, “in-the-box” Engadget thinks more iOS apps will be brought to the Android platform.

If you have an iPhone and want to move to an Android it will be bumpy because you are used to things being a certain way, but once you get used to things you will be fine.  I am assuming the same would be true if you went from Android to iPhone. If you have never had a smartphone you don’t have to get an iPhone, you will be happy with the Android provided you do the research to find one that fits your lifestyle.  Hint: Go for the best antenna signal strength, nobody ever complains when their signal is too good, but a constantly weak signal will having you saying words you never knew existed. .

That brings me to one of the strengths of an Android, lots of options.  If you are somebody who likes to have a lot of options the Android is for you.  Everything from camera, OS, memory, etc. are all different for each manufacturer.  An iPhone is an iPhone, there is no extra memory or another “brand” with a better pixel camera. 

The best thing I have gained from this is that I have a working knowledge of both phones.  I am now able to answer questions on either platform fairly easily, which has been helpful on several occasions professionally and personally.

Should Hospitals Buy iPads or Let Doctors Use Their Personal Device?

Does your hospital allow iPads or tablet devices?  How about smartphones?  Nope don’t feel too bad, a lot of hospitals (including mine) still haven’t thought of  personal devices as necessary medical devices.  The personal information device (iPad, tablets, smartphones) represent a watershed event where doctors are able to access medical information on the go.  They aren’t tied down to a computer or laptop.  It will be interesting to see how small and large hospitals deal with this watershed event.  It has been interesting to see what hospitals (well known and not so well known) have made the progressive leap and what hospitals (well known and not so well known) have not. 

There are two schools of thought (three if you count a no adoption policy).  One is the hospital buys one specific device and supports it.  The other school of thought is to allow physicians to user their personal devices.  

FierceMobileHealthcare looked at two institutions that implemented mobile device policies, one hospital bought the device and the other allowed doctors to use their own device(s).  Both institutions are trying to provide doctors with a way to use mobile technology at the bedside, but each have their own reasons for the path they chose. 

Hospital buys the device:

Dale Potter, CIO of 1,300-bed Ottawa Hospital in Ontario, Canada implemented an iPad roll out which was described by FierceMobileHealthcare as “arguably the largest roll out of hospital-owned tablets in the northern hemisphere.”

Dale’s hospital bought 2,000 iPads, has 1800 iPad 2’s on order, and may buy even more  in the year.  Dale believes hospital ownership was important and the way to go for moving his hospital forward to be “recognized as a top 10 health center in North America.”

Because the devices are hospital owned, it allows them to have control over the apps and other software on the devices.  They completely relying on the App store or outside vendors either, the hospital hired 120 developers to create apps for the institution, including a mobile electronic health record and a dozen in-house apps.  Because the devices are hospital owned and they not only can control the apps and software but they have created a remote wipe, log-ins, and other security protocols.  Even though the iPad is $600, Dale says that the costs of buying each doctor an iPad is cheaper than buying the a PC or laptop and “significantly less than other medical instruments that physicians carry with them each day.”

Doctor’s choice:

Todd Richardson, CIO with Deaconess Health System, Evansville, Ind., lets physicians use their personal devices for work.  Richardson’s primary reason for this is the devices are constantly changing making it difficult to remain current financially and logistically (constantly updating new devices with OS updates, patches, etc.).
In addition to the financial issues, management and ownership of the devices can be difficult to deal with.  Todd states that maintaining the devices, providing sync and charging stations and keeping track of them is “a hassle he just doesn’t need.”  Additionally doctors are going to load their own apps and software on the devices regardless, so if it is their person device it makes it easier. 
Deaconess allows doctors to use personal devices because they use Citrix to access the EHR via a secured wireless SSID and physicians must register their device’s MAC address.   
It is an interesting debate, which method is right lies more with the culture of the institution and what the CIO feels will work best there.  At least these CIO’s are addressing the issue. 
Now how does this relate to medical libraries?  Well we probably don’t have much say, if any,  in what direction the CIO goes with.  But once the decision is made, librarians can get on board by supporting the devices.  That means helping with the selection of apps, looking at library and information apps, helping doctors use the apps or the device itself.  There are a few doctors who have come into my library asking about certain resources for their iPad or Android.  Currently my hospital has yet to adopt a mobile device policy so much of the stuff they ask are general questions of getting on the network, how to access a medical video on YouTube (hint: turn off wifi and use 3G), how to connect to full text articles, etc.   But even if you hospital has adopted a mobile technology policy, you will still get questions (especially on ebooks, ejournals, and what databases have apps), so it is important to know what is out there. 

Friday Diary: Moving From iPhone to Android Part 3

Click here for part 1 and part 2 of the series.  Also check out Alisha’s very well thought out comment addressing some of the things I mentioned about my phone in my Part 2 post. Thanks Alisha 🙂

I am slowing starting to get used to my Triumph.  It takes a while for my brain to reprogram itself from iPhone thinking to Android thinking.  I have finally straightened out my contacts list, learned more about my battery life and reception, and looked at some of the top Android apps (non medical).

Contacts List:

Sigh… This by far is Android’s worst feature.  My sister works for a cell phone company in Chicago and her husband works for an even bigger telecom company.  Her company does not have the iPhone, his does.  She uses an Android. (Everybody recognizes iPhones and it would be really gauche of her to have one indicating she is not even using the carrier she works for.)  He has had an iPhone almost since they were a glimmer in Steve Jobs’ eye.  So, when it comes to cell phones I can call for help.  I called my sister and asked her about my contacts list problem.  She made a big sigh and glumly said that it is awful.  She said iPhone does a much better job and that Android and Google have made a real mess of the whole thing.  Judging from the Internet and the Android help boards, a real mess is mild.  The boards are full of people in the same or similar situations as I was with their contacts list.  My sister said her husband helped her with her contacts list and she still has duplicate entries, old emails, etc. that she can’t fix.  Unfortunately in the Android contacts list there can be information that are from FB, Gmail, Yahoo, or anything else you have synced and if that information is a duplicate or wrong you can’t delete it.  You try and it says you can’t delete information because it is from FB. Once I discovered the mess and realized it was from syncing things I turned off syncing.  You would think that would eliminate the duplicate entries and all information in my contacts from FB and Yahoo. Nope, still there and still couldn’t delete it.  That is what was the most frustrating.

I would like to say that now that I have fixed my contacts list that I have learned something that I can repeat back on this blog.  I would like to say that, but I can’t.  Have you ever been working at a problem trying so many ideas that get you partially to where you want things and only by constantly plugging away at it do you eventually get it to work?  That is what happened with my contacts list.  I tried so many things, turning off syncing, turning on syncing, entering my contacts directly into Google, downloading Contact Analyzer 2 (an app that supposedly fixes Android/Google contacts), and manually deleting some info (when it allowed me to).  I tried so many things that I am not entirely sure what worked when, how, why, or whether some things ever worked.  Long story short, I got my contacts list fixed, but I don’t know how. Sorry.

Battery Life:

Supposedly the Triumph battery has 500 min of talk time and 300 hours of standbye time. Uh huh.  Well if they mean standbye time as the phone is sitting on your desk not synced to anything (email, FB, etc.) and you have perfect reception so it doesn’t have search for a signal, then it probably has 300 hours of standbye time.  In real life, like the iPhone it all depends on what you are doing with your phone as to what your battery life is going to be.  I learned very quickly with my iPhone that I needed a car charger.  I would use my iPhone all day and it needed a charge going home. I often used my iPhone in the car for directions and geolocation is hell on a battery.  So I didn’t even blink and bought a car charger for my Triumph.  I also downloaded and installed the free JuiceDefender app, upon recommendation from my husband.  (He said the free version is just as good as the pay version, we’ll see.)  In general I have noticed my Triumph gets about the same battery life as my iPhone.  If I didn’t have JuiceDefender would I notice any difference in my battery?  I don’t know, maybe.  But it all depends on the apps running.  Listening to my Sirius satellite app sucked the battery life out of my iPhone just as quick as my Android. 


Eh. The Triumph does not get good reception inside.  This has nothing to do with VirginMobile’s network (which is Sprint) it has to do with the phone.  If I am outside I can get a signal, if I am indoors it depends.  Like I said this all depends on the phone.  If you are interested in an Android I highly recommend hitting the boards to get as much information as you can about signal strength for the phone.  Not all Androids are alike, some get a better signal, some don’t.  Don’t forget the iPhone 4 had signal problems too.

Another quirky thing, I am able to text and receive calls when my signal is too low to place calls.  I am not sure why receiving is better than placing calls. 

Starter List of Android Apps (non medical):

AndroidStatic tweeted me a list of the “Must Have Android Apps for Your New Android Phone -July 2011.” I agree some of the apps they list are must haves, but others I don’t think are as essential.  But apps are a very personal thing, one person’s essential apps is another person’s waste of screen space.

The apps I use that I feel are essential for my normal Android life are:

  • Facebook -mentioned on the list
  • TweetDeck -Twitter was mentioned on the list. I hate Twitter’s web interface, its mobile isn’t much better. TD has way more features and options.
  • DoubleTwist -They recommend Amazon MP3 but I spent way too much time and money on building play lists. So I am keeping my iTunes and using DoubleTwist. Plus DoubleTwist is so easy, it just uses iTunes, there is no moving files, converting files, etc. 
  • A good radio or music app
    • Sirius Satellite app – I have Sirius Satellite radio and I love it. The app is free but you have to pay for a subscription to the radio content. This app is all I need for live(ish) radio and music.
    • Tunein Radio and Pandora are on the list.  I used to use Pandora and it was fine but I pretty much stopped using it when I got Sirius.
  • Good news and weather app.  I actually like the on that came with my Triumph.
  • Juice Defender -Helps prolong your battery life.
  • Prey Anti Theft – I didn’t have a theft app on my iPhone because I didn’t have a Mac (MobileMe) and at the time I investigated the anti theft iPhone apps a lot of them got very bad reviews and were little more than window dressing.  Prey appears to work pretty well. I tested it by “losing” my phone in my house.  Now the GPS wasn’t exactly helpful for finding it within the house, but it did show up on the map andI could set off the alarm to find it.

Most of the above apps I had on my iPhone and they work almost exactly like they did on my iPhone. (One exception TweetDeck column views are little different but fine.)  In fact the only app that I had on my iPhone that I miss and is not available for the Android is a game, Zynga Word Scramble.  For some reason Zynga has not made that available on the Android. 🙁

Medical Apps:

I am going to lightly touch on medical apps because I hope Iltifat Husain at will be writing more about medical apps on the Android from a physician’s perspective. 

There are not as many medical apps in the Android Market as the iPhone market.  This is kind of a good news bad news thing.  The good news is there isn’t as much junk to sift through when browsing.  Bad news is there aren’t as many medical apps. 

For medical textbooks on the Android, make sure you look at Unbound Medicine.  They are in the Android Market. They have been around forever putting medical texts and resources on mobile platforms (originally with PDAs…remember those).  In addition to selling these apps/texts to individuals, Unbound Medicine deals with instituions providing texts and resources on smartphones to employees, students, etc. 

Epocrates and Micromedex are both on the Android platform and both free.  Lexicomp is available in the free apps, but that is only for a 30 day free trial.

Just like on iPhone there are a lot of fully functional trial versions of medial apps masquerading in the free apps area. Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment, Nursing Spectrum, eMS Pocket Drug Guide TR and other apps are all hanging out in the free app area but are really only trial versions.

Just thinking out loud… I am curious as to why McGraw Hill can get apps of their texts in iPhone and Android, but when institutions access some of their texts through AccessSurgery or other Access sites it doesn’t work on the iPad.

As I said earlier, this is just a brief run down on medical apps. I am looking forward to reading (and linking to) what Husain writes about apps and the Android from a physician’s perspective.






A Physician’s Experiment: Switching from iPhone to Android

Looks like I’m not the only one switching from the iPhone and writing about it (Friday Diary Part 1 and Part 2).  Yesterday I read on the post, “A Physician’s experiment with switching from iPhoen to Android-the beginning,” from Iltifat Husain.  His reasons for trying an Android were partly based on professional curiosity and on a dare from a physician friend.  Basically he said there was no way he could suggest iOS platforms over Androids in the medical community if all he had used was an iPhone and hadn’t used an Android.  Good point. 

I think it should be noted that for his experiment, Husain will still be with AT&T and will be using the Nexus S with Gingerbread (Android 2.3 operating system) running.  Unfortuanetly, he is only giving his experiment 3 weeks.  After moving from an iPhone to an Android I personally think 3 weeks is not enough time to really get used to the feel of the Android.  I bought my Android (Motorola Triumph Android 2.2.2 operating system) about 3 weeks ago and I am still working on reprogramming my brain from iPhone to Android. 

While I have reviewed the basics of switching carriers, the Triumph, and general apps on the Android, I have not started discussing the Android system nor the apps related to the medical profession. It was on my to do list but since I will be keeping this phone for at least a year, I wanted to set up basic functions and apps that I use on a daily basis (like the damn infernal contacts).  While things like the contacts and syncing email are important, they are of a general nature and not specific to any one group or profession.  Thankfully, Husain will be discussing how the Android handles things specifically important to medical professionals.  In his next few posts he will be focusing the quality and number of medical apps, ability to read and store medical literature, and the overall user experience of the operating system (my guess Gingerbread since that is what his phone has).  I will be very interested in his thoughts.  Not only do I want to know about the medical apps doctors would use daily and the differences (if any) between the two platforms, but I am also interested to see what he thinks about Flash and whether having it on the Android is helpful. 

Hopefully between the two of us and our reviews, we will have covered enough about the Android to help people decide what platform they want.  That is if they have a choice, so many hospitals only let people use one platform (usually Blackberry) over others that the decision may be taken away from them if they want it tied into the hospital’s email, system access, etc.  Of course there a lot of people using iPhones (unapproved device) in my hospital that perhaps system integration isn’t as essential to them as the iPhone experience.  If people are willing to trade system integration for user experience, then discussing the differences between the iPhone and Android may be even more important.

Friday Diary: Moving from iPhone to Android Part 2

Part 2 of moving from an iPhone to an Android: (click here for part 1 in the series)

 General or Pre-Installed Apps:

The calendar, camera, camcorder, messaging, market (Android market), and maps are fine with me.  The calendar uses Google Calendar and that is what I use, so for once I didn’t have to do a lot of set up. It pretty much recognized my account right away.  One minor critique is if you have only one thing listed on a day, in the monthly view it appears as if that day is open/available.  Only by clicking on that day do you see that one thing.  So you either have to change your view from monthly or click on the day to make sure.  Maps uses Google Maps and it is very good.  It is more robust than the standard maps app I had on my 3G iPhone.  Google Maps does not speak/talk to you like a GPS might, MapQuest has a free app that does that.  Both MapQuest and Google Map are very similar except for the audible directions feature.  I am testing both out on my way to/from work and errands so that I can see which one I like the best when the time comes that I really need a map.  The Android market is very similar structurally to iTunes, but ther seem to be a lot of comments about apps working/not working depending on various Android operating systems.  (That is just kind you get with an Android.)  Additionally, whenever you download an app you get several warnings about what that app can/will do to your phone and what systems it affects.  Some of the warnings are nice to know but sometimes they are overwhelming and don’t always make sense to average users. Heck downloading a simple stopwatch app had a few warnings.

Clock and Keyboard:

The clock is one of the pre-installed regular apps on my phone that I was disappointed with.  Really how hard is it to have a clock app that also has a stopwatch and timer?  Clearly the developers don’t have kids or stay close to their oven when they are cooking.  I used the timer feature on my iPhone all the time.  I would set the timer for 15 minutes and tell the kids when it rang it was time to clean up, go home, give somebody else a turn, etc.  I would also use it a lot for cooking.  I am no master chef but the timer on my oven is quiet, so in addition to setting it, I would set the timer on my phone.  That would allow me to go upstairs, go outside and watch/play with the kids, etc.  I am just befuddled that somebody creates a clock app for a phone but can’t include a timer and stopwatch.  Stupid. But I did find a good free app called StopWatch & Timer.  It is simple and does exactly what I need it to do.

The keyboard on my Triumph is touch screen, similar to the iPhone.  But it behaves slightly different.  I can’t explain it exactly, but two things I noticed are the keys are a different size and they touch each other.  The iPhone keys are slightly smaller and there is some space (not a lot) between each letter.  I was having some real problems typing on the Android keyboard, but I figured this was just something I would have to retrain my fingers on.  However, the one thing that I loved that wasn’t on my Android was an auto corrector & spell checker.  Now, I know some people (like my husband) HATE the auto corrector & spell checker on the iPhone, but I really liked it.  For all of the funny mistakes my iPhone’s auto corrector made, I came to rely on it and adjusted my text/typing style to deal with it and use it to my advantage.  For example, I would just hit the space bar twice to get a period at the end of the sentence.  The Android had some sort of auto suggestor on its phone, but it didn’t replace words, it didn’t do the double space bar period thing, and its vocabulary was very limited.  Combine that with the slightly different keyboard buttons and it was taking me twice as long to write/text something with a bunch of spelling errors in it.  It was out of my desire for an auto corrector that I found the A.I.type Keyboard app.  Not only does it have an auto corrector but it also allows you to change the style of your keyboard to an iPhone.  While the auto corrector is not as good as the iPhone, it is better than nothing and I am doing better at typing.


Oh I have such a love hate relationship with Google.  I love its email, calendar, docs, search engine, and I think I like G+.  But I absolutely HATE, HATE, HATE having my Google Contacts as my phone contacts.  UGH! What a freaking nightmare and the worst decision for Google to force more people use Google.  If I was more paranoid I would start to believe Google is amassing this information for some nefarious reason.  Why does Google need my mom’s phone number?  I have people in my Gmail who should stay there, not to be duplicated in my phone’s contacts. I also don’t want all of my phone’s contacts moved to my Gmail.  For example, my online bill pay companies all came over into my phone contacts.  Additionally, if you synced your other email accounts and your FB account on your phone, it moves those over as well.  It was and still is a total organizational disaster.  Now there are settings that say only put people in contacts if they have a phone number.  I checked the box, but still I got my online bill pay sites in my contacts.  Additionally, if you have a contact listed in multiple places it duplicates all of their information.  For example my mom’s email address is in my Yahoo and Gmail address book.  When I clicked on her name in my contacts list there were 2 email listings (all the same address) under her contact name, but I couldn’t delete them from my Contacts because they were being imported from my Yahoo and Gmail.  In addition to having multiple people with multiple emails, I had multiple phone numbers listed 3,4,5 times under the same person.  The winner for having the most duplicate phone numbers and emails is Mike.  He has 6 duplicate emails and his cell number is listed 3 times under his name.  His work and our home phone aren’t listed even though I synced those before I moved.  The best part is I can’t easily delete all of these duplicates.  Not only is this frustrating for me personally, but it kills my voice recognition system with my car.  I have a new Ford Flex and one of the things I love, love, love is that it uses Bluetooth so that I can answer my phone or call somebody completely hands free. My phone could be in my purse in the trunk and if somebody calls me I can answer it by tapping a button on the steering wheel.  (The conversation is public, it is heard through the car’s speakers.)  If I want to call somebody I tap a button and say, “Call mom at home.” It then dials my mom’s home number.  Well if you have multiple phone numbers listed under a person that all say home the system gets confused. 

I don’t know what was worse, setting up and fixing all of my contacts or syncing my email systems to the phone.  However, I think I am leaning toward contacts as being the worst feature on my phone so far.  The email syncing took 2 hours and 2 beers.  The contacts mess is taking several days to figure out and work on.  I have yet to find an app that fixes this mess, if you know of one that is free please let me know.  I almost feel like it might be faster if I nuke everything and start loading my contacts from scratch again.  I think I might have to undo or nuke my email and FB syncing to fix it too. This mess with my contacts has almost caused me to run back to Best Buy and return everything and go running back to AT&T.  It also led to a huge fight in my house on how to the damn thing working the way I want it to work. 

DoubleTwist for my music player:

The Triumph does not come with a music player, which actually is kind of good for me.  I already have a lot of songs in iTunes.  I loved using my iPhone as my iPod so I definitely wanted to use my Android in a similar fashion but I just heard of nightmares trying to move your iTunes library into WindowsMedia.  DoubleTwist is a free software and app combo that uses your iTunes library.  You download the DoubleTwist software onto the computer that has your iTunes and you download the app to your phone.  DoubleTwist is like a shell system over your iTunes that builds and syncs your iTunes library to your Android phone.  You still download songs through iTunes, create play lists, and amange titles using iTunes, but DoubleTwist makes it possible for your iTunes work on your Android.  I am told that everything you ripped from CD to iTunes will work on iTunes.  However, if you purchased music on iTunes prior to iTunes Plus (January 2009) that music won’t come over to DoubleTwist due to DRM issues.  But you can make those older songs available on DoubleTwist by paying an extra .30-.60 cents per song. 

Downloading my songs to my Android was where I had my first experience with my memory card.  Memory cards in phones are new to me since iPhones didn’t come with them. You bought an 16GB iPhone, you got about 16GB of memory.  The Triumph comes with a 2 GB mini SD card and wow that is not enough memory.  I wasn’t able to sync all of my songs because I ran out of room.  Had I really thought about memory cards and phones I would have realized this before I even tried to sync my songs, but I forgot.  Thankfully I had an old 8GB mini SD laying around from an old camera that went belly up.  I used that and that worked.  When I get around to it I will probably buy a 16GB mini SD for the phone, or maybe if my 8GB one is doing fine I might just wait around until the prices of a 32GB come down a bit.

Hopefully next week I will have my contacts straightened out and I will let you know that disaster resolved itself.  I intend on looking at a few medical apps that I used to have on my iPhone and see if they are available on the Android and how they work.

Friday Diary: Moving from iPhone to Android

I am briefly suspending my Friday Fun posts so that I can report on my move from my iPhone to my new Motorola Triumph Android phone on VirginMobile. 

I was a big iPhone user. I even had the phone plugged into the wall socket next to my bed. I originally had it there in response to a scary movie I had seen.  But it stayed there long after the effects of the scary movie.  My husband would say that we sometimes would wake up thinking there was a light on in the room only to realize it was the glow of the iPhone as I browsed.  I tried to stay on the WiFi because it was faster most of the time, but when it wasn’t I used 3G.  I averaged about 1G of data each month. 

So why did I decide to dump my iPhone? Well it wasn’t the phone itself it was the cost of the plan on AT&T.  Actually I can’t blame AT&T completely, Verizon’s iPhone plan isn’t much better.  At one point in time I was paying $170/month for two iPhones on AT&T.  My husband recently jumped ship to VirginMobile with an LG Optimus V and I followed him this past Wednesday.  Now we pay VirginMobile $70/month for two smartphones.  What do we get for $70?  Well we have two plans.  Mike pays $25 for 300 minutes of talk, unlimited data, and unlimited texting.  I talk a lot more than Mike so I pay $45 for 1200 minutes of talk, unlimited data, and unlimited texting.  (I have mentioned VirginMobile’s rates in prior posts, they have since changed their prices on their plans. People like Mike who were with them before the rate change were grandfathered in. People like me who just joined go with the new rates.)

I will be saving over $100/month or $1200/year. In my budget concious life, that is monster savings.  Now you could argue that we aren’t exactly saving that much in our first year because we had to buy our phones outright.  Well it depends.  If we upgraded our iPhones we would have had to at least pay $200 for each iPhone and be locked into AT&T for another 2 years.  Mike’s phone was fairly inexpensive, he got it at Target for $125. But Target wanted to buy his old 3G iPhone back from him for $50. So his phone only cost $75.  Compared with buying the iPhone, Mike actually came out ahead by $125.  My phone was a lot pricier at $300.  Unfortunately I had a small crack at the volume rocker on my iPhone, so they wouldn’t take it as a trade in.  The Triumph was more expensive to buy than an iPhone. But it was only $100 more expensive and after 2 months I will have made that money back on the plan savings.

While I am excited about the money I am saving, some things such as time, user experience, performance, etc. are worth almost as much as money.  So, I am approaching this whole thing as a one year experiment to see whether saving the money using an Android on VirginMobile is worth it compared to an iPhone on AT&T. 

Review of the Triumph in general:
It is a little wider and longer than the iPhone but it is thinner and it seems to me to be a little lighter.  It is basically a thin black rectangle, nothing funky.  I am going to want to buy a cover/case for it because even though it isn’t as slippery as an iPhone I want something a little more grippy. Unlike my iPhone you can record HD video or watch HD movies and then play them on the phone or on a TV using an HDMI cable.  Personally I think the HDMI output jack and the mini USB charging jack are way too close to each other.  The size of the holes are very similar and I know there will be some day when I am trying plug the USB into the HDMI or vice versa.  The Triumph has both a front and rear facing camera with an LED flash (other iPhones have this but the 3G didn’t).  It does not come with a music player so you have to download an app for that.  But the Triumph can play Flash! This makes me very happy, I want to see how well this works on a phone. 

Activation and Porting My Number:
I bought my phone at BestBuy because they were running a deal where if you bought it and activated it with them you got a $50 BestBuy gift card (which I used to buy a car charger and screen protector).  Porting a number is a pain in the butt.  I have done it every great once in a while and every time I do it I am reminded why I don’t hop around to different phone companies all that often.  Porting a number to a pay as you go carrier is a little more difficult than regular porting.  Since I let BestBuy do it, it was easy for me (not necessarily fot he BestBuy guy).  One current drawback of VirginMobile is their tech support call center, it is located overseas and you kind of are at the luck of the draw as to who you speak to and their English skills.  BestBuy had to call them twice and during the first call my BestBuy guy had to spell the word “BAY” four times.  I am sure if I had to do all of this on my own I would have been frustrated, but I just browsed the cell phone accessories to pass the time while BestBuy guy did all the work.  Once everything was set through BestBuy, it still took a few hours (which is normal) for my number to move over.  Once it did, I went online to VirginMobile and added money to my account.  The online process was pretty easy.

I don’t have permission/rights to access my work email from my smartphone, so I can’t tell you how to set it up or how it works.   But I do have other multiple email accounts (2 gmail, 2 yahoo, 1  The Triumph has a generic email app and a Google email app preloaded.  The generic email app is finicky and you have to manually set up each email with the correct POP or IMAP settings for each system.  (Finding that information took a lot of Internet sleuthing.)  If you only have email from Gmail you may want to use the Google email app and ignore the other generic email app. If you have Yahoo email you might want to consider downloading the Yahoo email app.  If you don’t mind having your various email systems under different apps then it is MUCH easier to use the Google email app, the Yahoo email app, or other downloadable email apps.  My husband does this and he has no problem.  It doesn’t bother him to have multiple email accounts under different apps.  However, I wanted all of my email under one app (like the iPhone) to make it easier to access.  This was a huge pain in the butt.   Syncing email using the generic email app on the Triumph was ugly. Two beers and several swear words later, I synced all of my email.   I don’t remember having that much difficulty setting up my email on my iPhone.  Now that it is done, it works just fine.

That is about as far as I have gotten so far, aside from the email thing I am pleased so far with device. 

Things I am starting to play with but haven’t really gotten into quite yet: 

  • How do I get music? What to do with iTunes library? Is doubleTwist the answer?
  • General phone apps (clock, maps, calendar, etc.) how good are they or do you need to go Android market to get better ones?
  • Apps in general, what is available on the Android and how is the experience.

My plan is to write about my experiences with these things and other things I encounter next Friday if people are interested.

Doctor’s Going Digital

My husband fowarded me this interesting graphic.

++ Click to Enlarge Image ++
The Doctor's Tech Toolbox  | Infographic |
Image Source: Spina Bifida


Some of my thoughts on the graphic:

63% of doctors are using mobile devices that aren’t connected to their practice! 79% prefer the iPad and 75% have purchased an Apple device. Another 38% plan to purchase an iPad in the coming year. Finally with 86% of physicians wanting to use their mobile devices to EMRs, hospital IT departments Needto get on the ball and deal with iPads and iPhones in their institutions. Clearly they make think it is a personal device, but the graphic clearly shows that doctors think it is more than a personal device, are using it in their medical practice. 

All of that information also means that librairans and library vendors need to make sure their electronic resources are accessible on the iPad.  That means no Flash. It also might mean other formatting issues like reduce the need to scroll. It is a lot easier to scroll with a mouse than to flick scroll with your fingers.  Even if publishers/vendors adhere to the no Flash rule, there are still ways to build interactivity into the material and have high resolution pictures, videos, sounds, etc.  I know a doctor who used his iPad to access a video on WebMD to show at the patient’s bedside what their surgical procedure would be.  Give electronic resources dimension, but make sure it can be accessible on the dominant platform, which appears to be the iPad (if this graphic is correct).

Interesting that despite the growth and popularity of the Android phone in the consumer market, it seems their tablet is much less popular because only 9% of physicians would want an Android model.  Like I said interesting the difference between the phone and tablet market.

Librarians interested in medical apps should take note of the four relatively inexpensive (if you don’t count the camera attachment) medical apps that doctors are using on their devices.

Finally, I find it very interesting that with all the press that Sermo and other closed social networking sites have gotten that “physicians prefer open forums over physician only online communities.”  So it looks like closed sites are not the answer.  Perhaps something like Google+ which allows people to share in an open forum but also selectively restrict things to specific people/circles might become more popular among medical professionals. 

One statistic I find suspect is the one stating  2/3 of the doctors are using social media for professional purposes.  What social media and how?  I find it hard to believe that 2/3 of the doctors are on FB (Sermo, LinkedIn, etc.) for professional purposes.  If it means that 2/3 of the doctors are using some form of social media for professional purposes such as reading blogs and wikis, then I totally can see that statistic. I would like to see how that question was worded because if it asked them what of the following things have you done professionally and it listed read a blog, read a wiki page, use FB professionally, tweet a conference, tweet professionally, etc. I can totally seeing that kind of question skewing things.  They may be using it professionally, i.e. reading a blog post, but they may not be participating for professional reasons i.e. tweeting a conference.

I hope you find the graphic as interesting as I do.  Thanks Mike for passing it along to me.