American FourSquare Badges

I have been using FourSquare for a while now and I enjoy collecting these badges.  If you are not using FourSquare, here is a little bit about it:

Foursquare is a mobile application that makes cities easier to use and more interesting to explore. It is a friend-finder, a social city guide and a game that challenges users to experience new things, and rewards them for doing so. Foursquare lets users “check in” to a place when they’re there, tell friends where they are and track the history of where they’ve been and who they’ve been there with. For more information on how foursquare works, see our searchable FAQ.

There are badges that you can get for checking into specific types of places in a certain order. So I created a few of my own badges for people to collect. Here are the badges and how you can obtain them.

American Obesity Badge

FourSquare American Obesity Badge

Using your rotund fingers, check-in to four or more fast-food restaurants in one 24 hour period to unlock and add this badge to your collection.

Juvenile Diabetes Badge

FourSquare Juvenile Diabetes Badge

Check-in to McDonald’s six or more times in one week to unlock and add this valuable (and increasingly more common) badge to your collection.


FourSquare Meth Cooker Badge

Check-in to three or more drug stores in one four-hour period (after buying up all the Sudafed of course) to unlock and add this valuable badge to your collection.

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Motorola Droid: Part 05 – 9 month update

So it’s been 9 months since I joined the smartphone revolution and I have to say, “Mine eyes have seen the glory!” Going from a dumb phone (calls and text only) to a smartphone (apps, email, calls, text, gps, etc.) would be the Plato’s Cave of technology.

Of course I had the option between iPhone and Android. I choose Android because it was not on the AT&T network. I was a loyal (if not foolish) customer of AT&T for several years but felt burned by my last customer service experience. So I moved to Verizon once the Motorola Droid was released. Best decision ever!

I lived in Los Angeles at the time I got the phone and had no issues with any of the 3G or voice networks. I have since moved to Las Vegas and the network is still strong. People who visit and use the iPhone have trouble making calls and getting text messages. To be honest, that totally blows, especially in a 24 hour city where you are bound to get separated from your main group. In the past 9 months, I have also visited Seattle, WA, the coast of Alaska (via cruise ship), and Portland, OR.; in each location there are strong data and voice networks.

The Android OS has had two major updates in the past 9 months. The most recent version being Fro-yo (Android 2.2). Here is where I can start to complain. The Droid is on the Verizon network and monitored by Motorola. So when an Android OS update is released, I have to wait for Motorola and Verizon to modify the OS and make it “Droid Ready”. This usually means the disablement of certain features and OS functions. For example, the current version of the OS allows for wi-fi hotspotting, but the Droid OS does no. This is a carrier issue as the Nexus One (T-Mobile) does offer free wifi hotspotting. Overall, it’s a small concession and something Apple US users also deal with. But I would rather have the Android OS be released by Google and not have to wait for the Moto-Verizon version to be “released”.

The Droid is an amazing phone overall. As I mentioned before, the audio is fantastic. Even when using the built-in speaker, it’s crystal clear. The camera takes amazing pics (especially during the day; at night, not so much). There are a few issues I have with the hardwear. First, there is no line-out option. When I bought my phone, I also purchased the car mount kit. That kit came with a dash mount and power adapter. However, unlike the iPhone or iPod, the USB plug on the Droid does not pass audio. This means that I have to plug an mini-jack audio cable into the headphone jack of my Droid. Then  I have to crank up the volume. I would rather have an audio source that is not pre-amplified by the device.

My second complaint is getting music onto the Droid is not a pleasurable experience. This disappointment stems from the 5 years I used iTunes. Although iTunes is a resource hog, it does what it does real well. Getting music onto my iPod was easy. No drag-and-drop needed. Just tell it what to sync and it did it. There are several apps in the market that try to replicate this, but I think they all fall short and that is disappointing.

Currently, I carry my iPod (fully loaded with music, video, and misc. audio books) and my Droid (loaded with the music, podcast, and audio books I am currently listening to) with me on road trips. I no longer carry a point-and-shoot and don’t need a separate GPS device. If you are on the fence about moving to a smartphone, I have to suggest getting an Android based phone on the Verizon network.

Motorola Droid: Part 04 – More than a Month Later

WOW, has it been over two months – YES! Do I still love my Motorola DROID – YES! Am I bummed about Obama-care – YES! (but I digress.)

Again, the phone is great, I love the display, the audio is AMAZING. People have been asking me, “If I have an iPod, will I like Android?” In my opinion, yes. There are a lot of apps in the Android Marketplace (sorry, there are only a few FART apps, but I’m sure some more are on the way), and there is a small learning curve, but I’m sure you’re smart enough to figure it out.

Getting my music on the phone was easy, but it got even easier with upgrades to DoubleTwist and SongBird – check them out. You can download music from the Amazon store.

The one thing I don’t miss is having to run Apple’s (bloated)  iTunes software. In fact, you really never have to plug the phone into any computer if you don’t want to. You can transfer media via the micro-SD card, easy on a PC, easier on a Mac.

What do I want from my phone? Some apps are missing and I really want them. First, – please build a Android app. Second, I want the OS update to 2.1 (comes standard on the Google Nexus One).

Do I wish I had the Google Nexus One? Yes and no. Yes, because I want the OLED screen and Android 2.1. No, because I love the DROID’s keyboard.
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Motorola Droid: Part 03 – Two Weeks In

Well, as you can see from the post title, its been two weeks with my Droid. Over the week I experienced Christmas and family as well as a lot of driving to strange places.

Car Home

There is an application called CAR HOME on the Droid. This app is a handy little piece of software that puts all your common driving needs on the screen. Similar to a standalone GPS device. You can do a voice search, view your current route, and look up contacts. The apps was handy for getting me from my cousins house to my other cousins house and then to the bar. In addition, when I was at my cousins house I did a voice search for “ICE” and it found a few 7-11’s as well as a liquor store down the street and a Ralphs. Not bad. It’s a great time saver.

Google Listen

While I was driving from house to house, I needed some music. I am a big fan of podcast and have been using Google Listen in place of iTunes. One benefit of Google Listen, downloads the media via 3g (so far no size issues) and then adds it to the playlist. Most of the programs I listen to could be found just by searching from within the Google Listen app. There were a few that I had to copy the RSS URL and paste it into the app, but overall, it was a pretty painless experience. When I was leaving the house, I could add some podcast to the Listen playlist and let it run. My music is playing via the 3mm audio jack in my car stereo, but I can buy a new stereo with bluetooth and transfer the audio in that way. I’m ready to make the jump.

Other Applications I Love

You can fire your radio as soon as you sign up for Pandora. Same great program, all the music you love plus the new stuff. Last.FM, same same. Pick it up. Google Goggles is fun but I don’t find myself in strange areas to often (more of that next week). Google Voice has yet to disappoint me. It handles calls and SMS with out a flaw. If you can get an invite, I suggest you move your life over to it.


I purchased the Motorola Car Mount and Rapid Car Charger. More on that next week as I travel to Las Vegas via car and stay well off the strip with my friends. I am also going to try out a new (to me) application for organizing my media. So far, Songbird is great, but some have suggested DoubleTwist. So We’ll see who wins.

Motorola Droid: Part 02 – The Long Weekend

Alright, it’s been just short of a week and I still love the Droid. I have some suggestions, but otherwise, good stuff.

I went to a party Saturday night and I unsuccessfully took some night shots using the flash. I think it was user error regarding auto focus and the flash options. I’m not ready to hate the camera flash just yet. On the bright site, the Droid takes great photos during the day light hours. Here’s the shot I took today inside Best Buy (click the image to see the full 5 pixel glory).

Droid Photo During Day inside Best Buy
Droid Photo During Day inside Best Buy

Now I would like to talk about the problems I’ve had. One problem really – getting media onto the device. Specifically music and podcast. I’m not going to deny the fact that iTunes, as flawed as it is, is the best media management software I’ve used. As of today, iTunes does not allow Android products to sync or manage media. So that leaves me with sub-par, non-Google, non-Motorola software applications and 3rd party plug-ins to attempt to manage my media.

If you have less than 16GB of stuff, you’re going to be fine. You can drop all your music and stuff onto you media card. However, I have about 100GB of music, videos, and photos – so I am required to manage my stuff. I found a decent solution – Songbird with the Folder Sync add-on. It’s alright, but it does not replace the thought and development that went into iTunes.

I hope that Google realizes that when the original iPod came out, it was using Music Match to organize the music, and it sucked. So what did Apple do, they built iTunes because they knew that if you can make the management of the media easy, it’s reflected in the product itself. It makes the product (iPod) seem easy to use. Google needs to take a few months and build their own media management software. Either based off the Songbird engine or a stand-alone product of their own for the Android system.

**UPDATE: I was using Songbird ver1.2. The new version, 1.4 was released and supports the Droid and other devices much like iTunes. It does not run in Win7 perfectly, but an update should be out soon. It’s much better then what I was using before.**

Motorola Droid: Part 01 – Initial Thoughts

My Droid arrived on Monday. I had it sent to my office, but I was sick on Monday and Tuesday, so I didn’t get my hands on the device until Wednesday. Cracking open the Amazon box reviled the Droid packaging. Having been an Apple user (iPods mostly) I am used to elegant, well thought out packaging. Motorola did not put too much thought into the packaging. The box is thin and feels like cheap cardboard.

But I didn’t buy the phone for the packaging. The device itself is fantastic. It has a good weight in my hand. It’s a hair taller then the iPhone and the same width and height as the iPhone. Compared to my old phone (Sony Ericsson w350), the phone feels like a brick in my pocket. However, eliminating the iPod, phone, camera, and video camera from my bag is a huge benefit.

The screen on the Droid is bright, crisp and sharp. The audio on the phone is loud. The screen is responsive, but there is a learning curve coming from the iPod/iPhone interface. Software for the phone is fantastic. I have several gmail accounts. I put all of them into my phone and added my Facebook account. The phone pulled all my active contacts from all my gmail accounts and my Facebook account and created contacts for each person. I only had to move one or two phone numbers into the phone. That was a killer time saver and now I have all my contacts backed up in the Google cloud.

Having access to a slide out keyboard is awesome. Using the on-screen keyboard is fine, but I prefer to slide out the keyboard and type away. Also, the camera flash is a nice feature. I look forward to documenting this Christmas with just this one device.

I’ve spent that last two days just getting used to how the phone works and researching some apps. So far, this is one of the best smartphones I have played with. If you are in the market, and have never had a smartphone, I would suggest you start with the Droid or some other Android based phone (myTouch, Droid, etc.). If you have been using an iPhone for the past few years, you might want to stick with it.

I have yet to plug the phone into my computer and get some music on it. I will also be downloading some apps from the Android store. I’ll be posting my experiences with these in the coming days.

Motorola Droid: Part 00 – My Expectations

Motorola Droid Press Photo
Motorola Droid Press Photo

So I have decided to enter the world of Smartphones. I’m sure you are all familiar with the iPhone and BlackBerry product lines, but I am going with the newest player in town – The Motorola Droid (by Google). From a user experience perspective, I would like to take this opportunity to give you a day by day, feature by feature journey into this new platform. I will start with my expectations of this new device.

Today I ordered the device from I choose the 450 minute plan and basic data package. I opt’d to not select a messaging plan (more on that later). My monthly price will come to $69.98 + taxes. There will also be a one-time $35 activation fee (whatever Verizon). I am anticipating that this device will replace the following devices and monthly services:

  • AT&T Cell Phone with Text Messaging – $55/month
  • iPod Touch – no monthly fee
  • Point-and-Shoot Camera – no monthly fee but it’s in my bag, taking up space
  • Flip-Cam HD – no monthly fee, but another device
  • OnStar Navigation – $28/month for Turn-by-Turn directions tied to my car

Out of the box, the phone comes with Turn-by-Turn navigation, mp3 player, video, camera with flash, multi-tasking OS, and high-definition screen. It also comes with a slide-out keyboard option along with the on-screen (soft) keyboard. In all, it’s a hair larger than the iPhone in width and height.

I have a Google Voice account so my voice mail and SMS/MMS will go directly to my inbox. I can also send SMS/MMS directly from the Google Voice web page. Therefore, I will not need a Text Messaging plan from Verizon Wireless.

My order has been placed and I show the phone will be delivered on Dec. 21st (wha!). Next post will be the un-boxing and initial thoughts on the feel and interface.

**UPDATE – my shipping expected arrival date was just changed to Dec. 15th**